10 Best Impact Wrenches | April 2017

10 Best Impact Wrenches | April 2017
Best Mid-Range
Best High-End
Best Inexpensive
We spent 31 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top selections for this wiki. Yes, these are probably too much gun for that IKEA bookshelf, but if you've got a tough job ahead, don't work hard, work smart. Let one of these powerful electric impact wrenches do the twisting and turning for you. Our top picks include both professional quality models and ones that are perfect for home DIY-ers. Skip to the best impact wrench on Amazon.
The Hammerhead HDIW075 isn't the most powerful option available, but for the price, that shouldn't be expected. It is suitable for most home DIY projects, though, and features a durable metal gearbox housing to keep the vital components protected.
  • easy for first time users to operate
  • forward-reverse rocker switch
  • very heavy at 8 pounds
Model HDIW075
Weight 8 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0
The top-quality Bostitch BTMT72391 allows you to quickly switch between full, medium, and low power, so you can promptly move from job to job and get your work done quicker. It's a compact, relatively lightweight, unit that still packs a punch.
  • variable speed trigger
  • exhausts from the handle bottom
  • only has single stage reverse
Model BTMT72391
Weight 5.9 pounds
Rating 3.7 / 5.0
Tackle any job with the reliable, smooth Ingersoll-Rand 231C. It has an average air consumption of just 4.2 CFM, so it won't make your compressor work too hard. The built-in pressure-feed lubrication system ensures that it will stay in good working order for years to come.
  • adjustable power regulator
  • 2-piece design is easy to service
  • max torque is just 425 ft-lbs
Brand Ingersoll-Rand
Model 231C
Weight 6.5 pounds
Rating 3.6 / 5.0
The American-made AirCat 1150 Killer has a patented tuned exhaust system with a low 86 dB sound level, which is surprising considering how powerful of a tool it is. It provides constant power as the wrench delivers up to 1,400 blows per minute.
  • very responsive trigger control
  • large rotor for maximum power
  • doesn't secure sockets very tightly
Brand AirCat
Model 1150
Weight 5.1 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0
The Chicago Pneumatic CP7748 has a sturdy composite housing to stand up to the toughest jobs, and its 922 ft-lbs of nut loosening and/or tightening power can handle almost any bolt. It can be used to change tires in minutes or to help disassemble a whole engine block.
  • buttons and switches move smoothly
  • quiet handle exhaust
  • thermo-plastic rubber injected grip
Brand Chicago Pneumatic
Model CP7748
Weight 5.4 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0
Weighing just over two pounds, the DeWalt DCF813S2 is the optimal choice for contractors moving all around a worksite or home DIYers who don't need a large, heavy tool. Its battery can be fully recharged in less than 60 minutes to get you back to work quickly.
  • includes a contractor's bag
  • gets to full speed instantaneously
  • changing sockets can be difficult
Model DCF813S2
Weight 4.4 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0
Coming with two batteries, a charger, and a carrying case, the Bosch IWH181-01 is a great value, especially when considering how well it performs. It is ideal for use in tight areas because it measures just six inches long and has an LED light to illuminate the bolt.
  • has a lot of torque for its size
  • comfortable rubberized grip
  • simple intuitive controls
Brand Bosch
Model IWH181
Weight 7.2 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0
The Ingersoll 2235TiMAX offers optimized air flow and enhanced controls, for greater comfort and convenience. It is a powerful, professional grade tool that somehow manages to weigh in at just 4.6 pounds, which means it will cause minimal user hand fatigue.
  • durable hard coat anodized end plate
  • can break old rusted bolts with ease
  • patented forward-reverse push button
Brand Ingersoll Rand
Model 2235TIMAX
Weight 5.4 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0
With its Kevlar composite housing, the NitroCat 1200-K can stand up to any job site bumps or bruises without ever failing on you. It feels well-balanced and fits comfortably in the hand, making it suitable for all-day use, plus it's surprisingly quiet.
  • twin clutch provides a hard hit
  • exhausts debris away from the user
  • doesn't use up a lot of air
Brand NitroCat
Model 1200K
Weight 5.4 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0
The Milwaukee M18 delivers superior performance with up to 700 ft-lbs of fastening torque and constant power output that provides twice the run time of weaker models. You can also choose a 100 ft-lbs setting for more delicate jobs.
  • battery lasts a long time
  • allows for fast socket changes
  • easily handles stubborn bolts
Brand Milwaukee Electric Tool
Model MWK276322
Weight 15.5 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

Buyer's Guide

All About Impact Wrenches

An impact wrench is a tool used to make tightening and loosening tough bolts or nuts easier and more efficient. They reduce the effort and exertion of a user, while delivering high torque output in way that won't damage bolts or nuts. An impact wrench can produce a much higher amount of force than a person can with their hands, without the need for additional leverage. This makes them ideal for hard to reach places or stubborn bolts.

Impact wrenches can be found in a variety of settings from auto shops to large construction projects and may sometimes be called air wrenches (as many of them are pneumatically powered), torque guns, or impactors. In addition to pneumatic power, they may also be powered via a direct electrical connection or a rechargeable battery.

During operation, an impact wrench stores energy in a rotating mass and then quickly delivers it in short bursts to the output shaft. Inside of an impact wrench their is a hammer mechanism that is responsible for delivering the impact. It is designed so that once it hits, it releases and then hits again. This hammer hitting, releasing, and then hitting again is what gives impact wrenches their telltale sound and also the reason why their operator feels minimal torque when holding the tool.

Impact wrenches were first patented in 1939 by Harold C. Reynolds and Francis A. Jimerson, who worked for Chicago Pneumatic. The company is still known for making great impact wrenches and a variety of other air-powered tools, such as air hammers and pneumatic drills.

Air Impact Wrench Versus Electric Impact Wrench

Until recently, air impact wrenches were the most commonly used, especially for commercial applications. This is beginning to change though as electric impact wrenches, more specifically the corded versions, are now being offered that can produce roughly the same amount of power as pneumatic models.

Air impact wrenches, also known as pneumatic impact wrenches, need to be directly connected to an air compressor during the entire time they are in operation. They are best used with large air compressors as small ones may not be able to supply them with the adequate amount of air. If the user only needs to loosen a couple of bolts, then a small compressor can do the job, but if one plans on using an air impact wrench continuously for an period of time, only large compressors will suffice.

Due to their need for a large amount of air, pneumatic impact wrenches are best for shop work and aren't suitable for on the go repairs. Another downside for those not experienced at using air impact wrenches is that most lack a variable speed trigger. This can make it hard for beginners to control them.

Electric impact wrenches come in cordless and corded varieties, each with their own unique benefits and drawbacks. Corded impact wrenches are similar in size, power, and speed to air-powered models, making them a good alternative to those who don't want to buy a compressor, or don't have the space to store one. Having access to a power supply at all times and running a large extension cord, which must be maneuvered around a busy workshop, can be problematic for some though.

Battery powered impact wrenches are often smaller and less powerful than corded and pneumatically-powered models. This makes them less effective for large or rusted on bolts, but better for getting into small spaces and on-site work. Often a home DIYer will find a battery-powered impact wrench to be the most convenient as they usually don't have to deal with as large or as stubborn of bolts as commercial users do.

Common Mistakes People Make When Using Impact Wrenches

The number one mistake most users make their first few times using an impact wrench is to overtighten their nuts and bolts. This is because they usually underestimate how much force the impact wrench is actually applying since they don't feel it in their hands. This can cause them to strip threads or even break the bolt itself. Luckily there are ways to remove a stripped screw or bolt.

Ideally those new to impact wrenches should look for one that has a torque limiter, which prevent overtightening. Another good way to avoid this is be using an impact wrench solely for loosening items, and a torque wrench for tightening.

Another way inexperienced users damage threads is by not setting the bolt or nut perfectly before using the impact wrench. Cross-threading a fixing and then using an impact wrench will nearly always cause damage. The best way to avoid this is by threading the fixing by hand a few times before using the wrench.

Impact wrenches require special sockets as ordinary sockets are not designed to be used under a cyclic load, but many consumers don't know this. Impact wrenches may cause standard sockets to break, or at the very least wear quicker causing them to become oversized and slip. To avoid this, buy a set of sockets designed specifically for impact wrenches.

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Last updated on April 27 2017 by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as behind the computer screen, Brett can either be found hacking furiously away 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 hopes to one day become a modern day renaissance man.