If you work on vehicles, tractors, engines, ships, building construction or other types of heavy-duty machinery with nuts and bolts holding parts together, then you must already be familiar with the function of an impact wrench.
Unlike a regular socket wrench, an impact wrench is designed to deliver a sudden high torque output measured in ft-lbs. through the output shaft called the anvil.
This high torque output applied on a nut or bolt by means of a socket wrench allows the user to loosen stuck or rusted lug nuts and bolts that will be extremely difficult or impossible to loosen by hand with a regular socket.
Choosing the right impact wrench for your projects can be difficult and time-consuming because there’re many types to choose from with different tool brands producing them. That’s why w’ve created this guide to help you make the right choice.
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How We Tested and Chose the Best Impact Wrenches
We understand that every project is going to require a different type of impact wrench, with different torque ratings and size.
An impact wrench suitable for automotive repair and heavy duty construction projects will not be suitable for woodworking, DIY or simple home repair projects.
While the former requires a unit with a very high torque range to loosen stubborn fasteners in car suspensions, engines and other components, the later does not require as much torque. In fact using one with a very high torque on certain materials can either damage the fastener or even the material you’re working on. You can strip screws, nuts and bolts if you’re not careful or if you’re not using the right one.
Our selection favored impact wrenches with adjustable torque settings because this allows you to use the same wrench on different projects since the torque can be adjusted easily.
We also used a torque tester to check the torque ratings of all the units we selected, to ensure they align with what the manufacturer specified.
For battery powered units, we checked how long the batteries lasted on a single charge before it needs to be recharged.
We also check for ergonomics, how heavy each unit is and how comfortable they are to hold. Finally, we used the results from our tests and combined it with feedback from hundreds of users from different online marketplaces, to create our list of the best impact wrenches below.
1. Milwaukee 2767-20 M18 Fuel Cordless Impact Wrench – Best for Automotive Repairs
Anvil Size: 1/2 inch, Max Torque: 1000 ft-lbs, Speed: 4 speed (0-550, 0-1400, 0-1750, 0-2000)RPM, Impacts Per Minute: (0-950, 1750, 2100, 2400), Weight: 7.5 lbs, Power Source: Cordless.
Reserve the toughest and most stuck lug nuts for this Milwaukee 2767-20 M18 fuel impact wrench. Gone are those days when only a pneumatic impact wrench can bust the rustiest nut in the workshop or barnyard.
This Milwaukee 2767-20 produces up 1000 ft-lbs of torque for fastening or tightening nuts securely and up to 1400 ft-lbs for removing very stuck nuts from their thread.
So, if you’re really ready to work lose some nuts in the workshop or disassemble some heavy yard equipment, then this Milwaukee 2776-20 should be at the top of your list.
It’s cordless, so you don’t have to worry about owning an air compressor as is the case when you’re using a pneumatic impact wrench.
The model 2767-20 from Milwaukee features a 4 mode drive control so you can adjust the torque produced according to the demand of the job or the task at hand.
There’s a bolt removal mode that gives you the ability to remove nuts and bolts in a more controlled manner. With the bolt removal mode, the impact wrench slows down 750 rpm after the fatern has been busted loose from its stuck state.
Equipped with a ½ inch anvil, changing sockets on this Milwaukee 2767-20 is tool-free and seamless. You’ll hardly experience any downtime using it.
Ergonomically, Milwaukee made sure that it features a handle with a rubber overmold material to ensure good grip and maximum comfort during prolonged use.
Overall, the Milwaukee 2667-20 high torque impact wrench definitely stands out as one of the best tool you can use for the most stubborn fasteners either in the workshop or out there in the field.
What I like about it
Related: Types Of Wrenches And Their Uses
2. Dewalt Atomic DCF923B – Best for Plumbing and HVAC Installations
Anvil Size: 3/8 Inch, Torque: 300 ft-lbs max fastening torque and 450 ft-lbs max breakaway torque, Speed: 4 speed settings, Weight: 2.8 lbs, Power Source: Cordless.
If you’re looking for a lightweight and compact impact wrench to use in tight spaces, this Dewalt atomic DCF923B is one I’ll recommend in a heatbeat.
Even though it’s small and compact, it packs plenty of torque with 300 ft-lbs and 450 ft-lbs of max fastening and max breakaway torque respectively.
It’s also very versatile because it has 4 speed settings you can use to adjust it to suit whatever project you’re working on.
Another thing I really appreciate about the Dewalt DCF923B is that it looks and feels well-made as most Dewalt tools are. I don’t think it will be falling apart any time soon.
It also has an LED light that will illuminate your workpiece if it’s dark around it.
All in all, if you’re need an impact wrench that can handle tough fasteners but compact enough to fit into tight spaces, this Dewalt DCF923B is one unit you should check out.
What I like about it
3. Makita XWT08Z – Best for Heavy Duty Construction Projects
Anvil Size: 1/2 inch, Torque: 740 ft-lbs fastening and 1,180 ft-lbs max breakaway torque, Speed: 3 speed (0-900, 0-1000, 0-1800)RPM, Weight: 7.0 lbs, Power Source: Cordless.
Get this nut cracker to the workshop or jobsite and your guys will likely be jealous. The XWT08Z LXT is one of Makita’s cordless high torque impact wrenches that will never disappoint you when it comes to going at the toughest fasteners.
With a Max Torque of 740 ft-lbs and a breakaway torque of 1,180 ft-lb, you’ve got yourself a highly capable impact wrench in this Makita XWT08Z LXT.
Although it has all this power, you can still control the monster. It features a 3 speed power selection switch you can use to change the speed from 900 rpm to 1000 rpm to 1800 rpm, allowing you to match the speed to the application.
The wrench is equipped with a BL brushless motor, which means there are no brushes to change, no friction, it will run cooler and more efficiently over the course of your using it. There’s no need to service it. As long as there’s juice in the battery, you’re good to go.
The brushless motor is electronically controlled to optimize battery usage, which means longer usage per charge for you.
A built in LED light with pre-glow and afterglow helps light up the work area helping you get the job done even when there’s not much illumination in the work area.
With a weight of 7.9 lbs. the MakitaXWT08Z LXT high torque impact wrench is not the most lightweight, but it’s definitely not something a good hand can’t handle. Although overhead tasks can begin to cause some fatigue after some time.
It features a ½ inch box-head anvil with a friction ring so you can change or switch sockets easily on the job.
Other features such as a forward/reverse switch and an electronic makes the Makita XWT08Z LXT even more easy to operate and more versatile, helping you to improve productivity.
Let’s not forget the tool hook that allows it to be easily secured in place when it’s not needed right away.
Overall, it’s safe to say that Makita definitely built something very good with this XWT08Z LXT cordless high torque impact wrench, and having it in your cordless tool arsenal will definitely go a long way boost what you can do on the jobsite or in the workshop.
What I like about it
4. Aircat 1778-VXL Impact Wrench – Best Pneumatic Unit For Automotive Repair
Anvil Size: 3/8 inch, Torque: 1450 ft-lbs fastening and 1700 ft-lbs max breakaway torque, Free Speed: 5400 RPM, Weight: 7.5 lbs, Power Source: Pneumatic.
While we talk about cordless battery powered impact wrenches, it will be a very huge mistake to forget about pneumatic ones because even though it’s a little inconvenient to use them due to their air compressor reliance and the messy air hoses, pneumatic impact wrenches have served the craftsman for years. They have a better power to weight ratio and they’re still very applicable till date.
Now, if you have a good air compressor in your garage and you’re in the market for an air powered impact wrench, one of the best ones I’d quickly recommend is the Aircat 1778-VXL with Vibrotherm drive.
It comes in 3 drive sizes. You’ll find a ¾ inch, ½ inch and 3/8 inch drive size. This one here is the ¾ inch drive and it’s capable of producing 1700 ft-lbs of torque, allowing you to handle the toughest fasteners like those on trucks, trailers, tractors and other farm machinery.
Equipped with Aircat’s patented vibrotherm drive pin-less/twin hammer clutch, the absence of a pin that takes the full impact of the hammer in the Aircat 1778-VXL makes it lasts longer than the competition due to the reduced wear and vibration.
The pin-less twin hammer clutch reduces the vibration of the tool by up to 40 percent and increases the lifespan by up to 50 percent. Thus, if you get one of these, you’ll find out that it works quieter compared to other pneumatic impact wrenches, and you’d definitely be using it for a longer time.
An inbuilt noise muffler also helps to reduce the noise helping to keep your hand and ears at ease as you work with the tool.
The handle of the Aircat 1778-VXL is produced with triple injection molding process ensuring maximum operator comfort.
Aircat combined the power trigger and the forward/reverse control all in one place at the trigger position, providing a one hand operation and ensuring that control of the tool is all at your fingertips.
The 1778-VXL features a through-bolt motor assembly construction which eliminates misalignment of components, thereby reducing wear and motor air leakage, and at the same time increasing the performance of the tool.
If you want a high performance, highly durable pneumatic impact wrench with an incredible design, then you should be looking at these Vibrotherm Drive ones from Aircat.
What I like about it
5. Ingersoll Rand 2235QTiMAX 1/2 Inch Titanium Air Impact Wrench
Anvil Size: 1/2 inch, Torque: 1300 ft-lbs max breakaway torque, Free Speed: 8500 RPM, Blows Per Minute: 1220, Weight: 4.6 lbs, Power Source: Pneumatic.
When talking about air tools, it’s a little bit difficult not to bring Ingeroll Rand into the picture. That’s why when I saw this Ingersoll Rand 2235QTiMAX Air impact wrench, I simply had to see what’s it’s made of.
And guess what, it didn’t disappoint. If you’re going to get a pneumatic one, this Ingersoll Rand is definitely a very good option to go for.
When you get the Ingersoll Rand 2235QTiMAX ½ inch drive pneumatic impact wrench, you get a highly compact tool that delivers up to 1300 ft-lbs of rusted-nut busting torque you can use wherever you work.
Whether you repair vehicles, heavy trucks, maintain or build ships, install or maintain rails, or work in an industrial construction lineup, this unit from Ingersoll Rand will definitely help get the job done.
Adjusting the torque and direction of the anvil is very easy, with a four-position torque regulator at the back of the wrench, and a forward and reverse direction button also at the back of the tool.
This allows maximum control over the tool so it can be adjusted to fit any application.
Talking about design and durability, this Ingersoll 2235QTiMAX is well designed and built to last.
It features a rugged composite housing and a hammer case made of titanium, ensuring it can withstand rigorous use both in workshop and jobsite settings.
And with just 4.7 lbs. of weight, you can use this wrench all day without getting tired of wielding it.
Overall, the Ingersoll Rand 2235QTiMAX ½ inch drive impact wrench will serve you well when the most rusted stuck nuts needs to be loosened.
What I like about it
6. Porter Cable PCE211 Corded ½ Inch Impact Wrench – Best for DIY and Home Maintenance
Anvil Size: 1/2 inch, Torque: 450 ft-lbs max torque, Speed: 2,200 RPM, Blows Per Minute: 2,700, Weight: 7.5 lbs, Power Source: Corded.
Most mechanics and pros normally gear towards using battery powered impact wrenches due to their portability. They can easily be picked up and used anywhere inside the workshop and around the workshop as long as the battery is charged.
However, some folks still prefer the old ole corded model, one of which is the Porter Cable PCE211. This is a 7.5 Amp corded impact wrench capable of producing 450 Ft-lbs. of torque.
Now this is not as portable as a cordless model, but the advantage for someone using this is there’s no more downtime as result of battery running down. It’s just plug and play any time you want.
For cordless and air powered units, the torque produced reduces as air pressure drops or as the battery runs down. On the other hand, with a unit like this corded Porter Cable, it receives consistent electric current and power from an outlet and therefore produces consistent torque.
Producing 2,200 rpm of speed and 2700 BPM, the Porter Cable PCE211 is a very efficient power tool suitable for intense or very demanding jobs. It’s a workhorse that will not slow down like battery powered units as their battery runs down.
It comes equipped with a ½ inch hog ring anvil for easy and quick socket changes during use.
What I like about it
7. AVID Power – Ideal for DIY and Home Maintenance Projects
Anvil Size: 1/2 inch, Torque: 330 ft-lbs fastening and 370 ft-lbs max breakaway torque, Speed: 0-2000 RPM, Weight: 3.45 lbs, Power Source: Cordless.
Producing a maximum torque of 330 ft-lbs, the AVID power cordless impact wrench is not your ideal tool for loosening lug nut of tractors and those of bridges.
However, it will fit perfectly for the average car owner or small workshop owner for loosening wheels off cars, motorcycles, automotive repairs and construction such as scaffold dismantling.
It has a maximum speed of 2000 rpm, but it also features a variable speed trigger that allows the user to vary the speed between 0 and 2000 rpm to match the application.
Equipped with a 3.0 AH battery with a fast charger that charges it in less than 2 hours, the AVID power impact wrench kit comes with every accessory you need to increase your productivity on the job.
Other accessories include 4 pieces of ½ inch impact sockets and a tool bag to carry and stow the tool when not in use.
What I like about it
8. WORKPRO – For Simple DIY
Anvil Size: 1/2 inch, Torque: 320 ft-lbs, Speed: 2 speed (0-2100, 0-3200)RPM, Weight: 6.5 lbs, Power Source: Cordless.
If you carry out simple DIY projects around the house and you need an impact wrench to maybe loosen a few nuts from the lawn mower or maybe change out a car tire, and you need a relatively inexpensive impact wrench for this, then this WORKPRO will work just fine.
It’s advertised as producing 320 ft-lbs of torque. However, it doesn’t really produce as much as that, but it will work very well for most DIY projects and some car maintenance issues you may have like loosening lug nuts and bolts from your car.
Like I said, it’s a relatively inexpensive tool just below 100 bucks. So, you shouldn’t expect to knock off nuts holding bridges together with this. Don’t go into the tractor yard looking to break off some lug nuts. This might not be powerful enough. But for your car and SUVs, you’ve got a good chance.
It features a ½ inch chuck, which means sockets will be easier to come by, and it comes with a 20V 2.0 AH battery pack. Also included is a fast charger to energize the battery once it’s down.
The battery may be a 2.0 AH battery but it holds its own, allowing the user to get a lot of work done before running down, and sometimes with lots of battery juice still remaining.
What I like about it
Here’s How To Choose The Right Impact Wrench
Torque is the most important factor you should consider when choosing an impact wrench for your projects. The higher the torque the more power it has to tighten or break free lug nuts.
Impact wrenches usually have 2 torque specifications from the manufacturer. The fastening torque and breakaway torque. The fastening torque refers to how much torque the wrench produces for tightening a fastener, while the breakaway torque refers to how much torque it produces for breaking loose a fastener. The breakaway torque is usually higher because it has to overcome static friction especially for rusted lug nuts that haven’t been loosened for a very long time.
So, try to consider what you want to use the impact wrench for. If you’ll be loosening lug nuts from a small car or small outdoor equipment like lawn mowers, you don’t need a behemoth of an impact wrench with a very high torque rating. About 300 – 400 feet-pounds of torque should get the job.
On the other hand, if you’ll be working on heavy-duty lug nuts like those found on tractors and big truck tires, then you need as much breakaway torque as you can get. Between 700 to 1400 should get the job done.
When it comes to choosing an impact wrench, speed is also very important. High speeds can help you drill faster, while lower speeds with a higher torque and IPM (impacts per minute) can help you loosen tighter fasteners.
Too much speed can damage the workpiece. It can break bolts and strip nuts. That’s why some units come with a few speed settings that will allow you to adjust the speed to suit the type of project you’re working on.
Size is also very important. It determines how heavy it is, how easy it is to maneuver and what you can use it for.
Large impact wrenches are usually more powerful and accept larger sockets, but can’t be used in tight spaces and are quite tiring to hold on to because of their weight.
On the other hand smaller ones are compact, can fit into tight spaces and are lightweight. However, they’re not as powerful, they have smaller anvils, accept smaller sockets and are more suited for lighter duty tasks.
The power source is also very important. An important wrench can either be cordless/battery powered, it can be pneumatic/air powered, or it can be corded electric.
Pneumatic and corded electric units are very powerful, but are not very portable because of the cord or air hose you have to drag along. Pneumatic units also require that you to own an air compressor machine which you may not have.
Even if you have a suitable air compressor, it also means you’re limited to use them only in the workshop, because taking them out means you have to string along a bulky air compressor machine.
On the other hand, cordless or battery powered impact wrenches have none of those limitations. They’re very portable, and there’re many new models that will produce as much or even more torque than pneumatic units.
Apart from pneumatic, corded and battery powered impact wrenches, there’re also hydraulic units which make use of high-speed hydraulic motors.
Hydraulic impact wrenches like this produce very high torque and have high power to weight ratio. You’ll find these in large construction sites like shipyards, automobile factories, and large repair shops where a suitable hydraulic supply is on standby.