Updated June 12, 2019 by Brett Dvoretz

The 9 Best Corded Impact Wrenches

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This wiki has been updated 14 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 any fastener, while also being versatile enough to meet the demands of the professional mechanic and do-it-yourselfer alike. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best corded impact wrench on Amazon.

9. Capri Tools 32200

8. Craftsman CMEF900

7. Hammerhead HDIW075

6. Kobalt 6904

5. Milwaukee 9070-20

4. DeWalt DW293

3. Metabo HPT WR16SE

2. Porter-Cable PCE211

1. Metabo HPT WR25SE

Editor's Notes

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.

The Tools Make The Man (or Woman)

An electric drill simply won't provide the oomph to turn that nut that hasn't spun freely since 1978.

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.

A strong motor spins a driveshaft with a massive amount of torque.

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.

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.

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.

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Brett Dvoretz
Last updated on June 12, 2019 by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as in front of a laptop screen, Brett can either be found hacking away furiously at the keyboard or, perhaps, enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He has been a professional chef, a dog trainer, and a travel correspondent for a well-known Southeast Asian guidebook. He also holds a business degree and has spent more time than he cares to admit in boring office jobs. He has an odd obsession for playing with the latest gadgets and working on motorcycles and old Jeeps. His expertise, honed over years of experience, is in the areas of computers, electronics, travel gear, pet products, and kitchen, office and automotive equipment.


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