The 8 Best Corded Impact Wrenches
This wiki has been updated 19 times since it was first published in October of 2016. If you need power and efficiency at your industrial job site or automotive shop, one of these corded impact wrenches will deliver. Our list includes durable models with tough exteriors and powerful motors capable of loosening and tightening just about any fastener. Be careful as you shop, and make sure the tool you're considering has an anvil style and size that are conducive to your needs. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
April 26, 2021:
Designed to deliver a high torque output, impact wrenches are most commonly pneumatically powered by compressed air. Recent iterations, however, can be electrically or hydraulicallye powered, with cordless electric devices becoming increasingly popular. They are commonly used in the automotive industry for loosening wheel lugs, but are also widely used in many industries, such as heavy equipment maintenance, product assembly, and major construction projects.
In this update, we replaced several options with the most up-to-date models and removed some that are no longer available. The previous offering from Dewalt has been discontinued as it was a relatively large model with mediocre build quality. Their new models are now battery-powered, since recent advances in battery technology allow for more versatility without loss of performance. We chose to include the Keyhao Portable as a budget-friendly option that is ideal for keeping in a vehicle. It isn't powerful enough for big jobs but should be sufficient for changing a flat at the side of the road, and is powered via the 12-volt battery, either through the cigarette lighter or using the included terminal clamps. Choosing between a heavy-duty model, such as the Metabo HPT WR25SE, and an affordably priced one like the Craftsman CMEF900 or the Porter-Cable PCE211 will boil down to how often you intend to use the tool and the amount of torque needed. Daily use will undoubtedly cause the cheaper models to wear out fairly quickly, as will repeated removal of rusted or stuck fasteners.
November 25, 2020:
Without any exciting new developments in the category over the past year, it was a fairly straightforward round of updates, but we found a few places to brush up on things nonetheless:
Firstly, we decided to remove the Kobalt 694 from our list. This consumer-level tool was currently only available refurbished, and while we will include refurbished items in our rankings from time to time – typically in cases where options for the category are sparse, or situations where we judge that the refurbished option presents a better choice than the brand-new alternatives – this time seemed like a questionable call. As it was, this option was already fairly close to the bottom on a list full of often-superior alternatives, so we reasoned that it wouldn’t be missed.
Secondly, we replace the Metabo HPT WR16SE with the Metabo SSW 650. Before you go looking them up to compare them side by side, note that the “HPT” in our former selection's name is actually part of the brand name, and not the model number. In 2018, Hitachi rebranded its full line of tools to be Metabo HPT tools, but the Metabo brand still operates independently, sometimes producing tools that compete with its sister company. In this case, the SSW 650 – which sports a 16-foot power cord and a maximum no-load speed that bests the WR16SE by more than 30% – appeared to be the more appealing option, so a swap was due.
Lastly, we added the Makita TW1000 to our list — a heavy-duty model that puts out 738 foot pounds of torque. Notably, it’s also the second model we listed that has a one-inch anvil, with the first being the Metabo HPT WR25SE. While I definitely agree with the last editor for this page – who focused it on tools with 1/2-inch anvils, which are much more common – a second one-inch option to add a bit of balance seemed like an appropriate addition.
If you find a tool you like on this list, but the anvil size doesn’t jive with your needs, don’t be afraid to dig around a bit to see if the company in question offers an alternative that’s right for you. DeWalt, for example, offers corded impact wrenches with 1/2-, 3/4- and one-inch anvils, not to mention your choice of hog-ring or detent-pin configurations.
If corded power isn’t an absolute must for you, you might also be interested in checking out our generalized page for Best Impact Wrenches, which includes several cordless options.
June 12, 2019:
Corded impact wrenches are a relatively new tool in a market that has long been dominated by pneumatic options. For a long time electric impact wrenches couldn't match their air-powered brethren in the power department, but that is beginning to change. No tool better shows that then the Metabo HPT WR25SE. With 740 ft-lbs of torque, the chances of encountering a nut it can't crack are slim. It is ideal for professional mechanics that expect to subject their impact wrench to a lot of use and require a lot of force. Other professional-quality options on our list are the Metabo HPT WR16SE, DeWalt DW293, and Milwaukee 9070-20. Of these four, the Metabo HPT WR25SE is the most compact and best for precision work, since it features four selectable impact ranges.
As one might expect though, commercial-quality tools are generally costly. While we recommend that if you are going to buy a tool, it is always best to buy a durable and dependable model that will last for years, we do understand that the average consumer who may only use their impact wrench every few months for rotating their tires or the odd job around the house may not want to buy a professional-level tool. For those users, we have included the Porter-Cable PCE211, Kobalt 6904, Hammerhead HDIW075, Craftsman CMEF900, and Capri Tools 32200. All of these should be able to handle the demands of most DIYers, but we feel the Porter-Cable PCE211 performs best on stubborn bolts, and the Capri Tools 32200 represents the best value. If you aren't very experienced using impact wrenches, you may be best served by the Kobalt 6904, due to its rubber boot that can minimize the chances of you damaging something.
Ingersoll Rand Although they don't supply any corded models, Ingersoll Rand offers a wide range of pneumatic impact wrenches and are well known for their durability and compact profile, delivering rugged reliability and the best power-to-weight ratios on the market. ingersollrand.com
Bauer Harbor Freight buys directly from the same factories that supply the expensive brands and pass on the savings to the customer. Their selection of Bauer impact wrenches are available in corded and battery options, and are constructed with lightweight, high-impact housings for durability. harborfreight.com
The Tools Make The Man (or Woman)
But when the 21st century home repairman needs to secure 16 lug nuts in a hurry, they're in luck.
Humanity has come a long way since the days of crafting hammers and spears out of sticks and rocks. Indeed, the tools we have used throughout history serve as reliable markers of just how developed our society is. During the Renaissance, scientists classified some of the most basic systems for altering how force is applied to objects. These tools are called simple machines. The screw, and by extension the bolt, is unique among these six original designs in that it's a combination of two others. A screw is actually an inclined plane wrapped around the axle of a wheel-and-axle machine.
While researchers and craftsmen have used simple and complex machines throughout human history, the material used and the strength of the force applied have changed dramatically. Rarely today are wooden pegs used to hold quality furniture together outside of Amish country. Powerful equipment like cars, generators, drill presses, and 3D printers are made of high-strength steel components held together with hundreds of foot-pounds of torque.
From the stone age until beyond the Industrial Revolution, superhuman levels of torque were generally hard for the average laborer to achieve. But when the 21st century home repairman needs to secure 16 lug nuts in a hurry, they're in luck. For the last few decades, DIY enthusiasts have rejoiced in the availability of powerful, compact, inexpensive power tools.
It's easy to see how adding 110 volts of power can add a lot to any project. But what about the rusted lug nuts, frozen bolts, and concrete-sunken screws? An everyday hand ratchet and socket set just doesn't offer the mechanical advantage needed to disassemble and rebuild large machinery. An electric drill simply won't provide the oomph to turn that nut that hasn't spun freely since 1978. Sure, a long breaker bar might do the trick, but that takes a lot of elbow grease, and might not even be adequate. The answer to this problem may be an impact wrench.
A Lot More Than A Screwgun
We know that hand tools can't always get the job done when constructing or repairing large equipment. But does your workshop really need an impact wrench, or can you use an everyday drill or electric screwdriver to drive and remove heavy screws, nuts, and bolts? The answer lies in friction.
But if you hit the end of that wrench with a hammer several times, you just might succeed — and that's exactly how an impact wrench works.
Static friction is the amount of force that a surface exerts on a stationary object, preventing it from starting to move. Sliding friction is the resistance that object experiences while it's moving across a surface. And these forces have everything to do with tightening lug nuts.
While a nut, bolt, or screw is being drilled into inches of concrete, sliding friction between the medium and the fastener eventually reduces the kinetic energy of the screw until it stops turning. At this point, even if you increase the constant pressure by turning up the screwgun or pulling on the wrench harder, you're unlikely to turn the screw any farther. This is because the static friction in the system has become greater than the force applied by your tool.
So, you're pulling with all your might and still can't break that last rusted bolt free. But if you hit the end of that wrench with a hammer several times, you just might succeed — and that's exactly how an impact wrench works. A strong motor spins a driveshaft with a massive amount of torque. At the end of that shaft is a mechanism that catches at specific points in the shaft's rotation, rather than the fixed gears that provide a standard drill with constant force. The result is rapid bursts of high-powered rotation that easily overcome static friction, turning that screw much more quickly and safely than a breaker bar and a sledgehammer can.
A Good Tool Makes A Huge Impact
With the growing popularity of in-home construction projects, there are more options than ever for building your power tool collection. The standard type of power used in a lot of high-torque tools, particularly impact wrenches, is compressed air. Moderate to heavy-duty air compressors can give your workshop a lot of power and are very durable, but there are a few drawbacks. They can be expensive; they do sometimes require maintenance; there's a warm-up period while the air pressure builds; and, most apparently, they're really loud.
A quality impact wrench should have a standard 1/2-inch drive, but some top models boast a heavy-duty 3/4-inch size for added security.
But there's a simple solution to this, and it comes in the form of electrically powered impact wrenches. These units plug into any grounded (three-prong) 110-volt socket and provide incredible versatility while making far less noise than their pneumatic counterparts. They also vibrate considerably less during use, making the job that much safer and easier on your hands and joints.
A quality impact wrench should have a standard 1/2-inch drive, but some top models boast a heavy-duty 3/4-inch size for added security. Be certain to use high-hardness sockets and adapters that are specifically designed for impact wrenches to keep from snapping or shearing those made of weaker steel. Breaking tools can be costly, time-consuming, and dangerous.
When comparing impact wrench choices, pay careful attention to the options you're considering. While they're a similar concept, impact drivers have much lower torque and often utilize a 3/16-inch bit, so they can't serve the same heavy-duty purpose as actual impact wrenches can. Also, keep in mind that impact wrenches provide massive power, but it's not usually well measured and can sometimes make things too tight. In some situations, you'll need to follow up the impact wrench with a torque wrench. You could also try a hammer drill, a tool very similar to an impact hammer that usually offers variable speed and torque control for more intricate jobs.
All in all, there are more brands than ever to choose from, and some of the most familiar companies are still making great products. The home handyman and the professional mechanic have never had such great selection.