An impact wrench might seem like a luxury until you strain a wrist trying to budge a rusted bolt. A power tool like an impact wrench is a great addition to your power tool collection, providing enough torque for even the most stubborn, stuck fasteners, while saving strain on your hands, wrists and arms. And with today’s technology, you can count on smaller, cordless versions to deliver plenty of power and efficiency. These tools are compact and light, and they offer a great benefit to professionals and amateurs alike – for example, consider keeping one in your truck for quick tire changes with no fuss.
If you’re interested in researching which might be the best impact wrench for your needs, keep reading. We’ve compiled impact wrench reviews from across the spectrum of models on the market today – we can help give you a head start on deciding which one might best match your projects. Let’s take a look.
Impact Wrench Comparison Chart
|Brand/Model (Click Item Text to Scroll to Review)||Rating|
|1. Milwaukee 2767-20 M18 Fuel High Torque 1/2-Inch Impact Wrench|
Our Top Pick for 2019
|2. DeWalt DCF899HB 20v MAX XR Brushless High Torque 1/2" Impact Wrench||9.7/10||CHECK PRICE|
|3. DeWalt DCF889B 20V MAX Lithium Ion 1/2" High Torque Impact Wrench||9.6/10||CHECK PRICE|
|4. PORTER-CABLE PCE211 1/2" Impact Wrench||9.6/10||CHECK PRICE|
|5. Makita XWT08Z LXT Li-Ion Brushless Cordless High Torque Square Drive 1/2" Impact Wrench||9.5/10||CHECK PRICE|
|6. NitroCat 1200-K Kevlar Composite Air 1/2" Impact Wrench||9.4/10||CHECK PRICE|
|7. Ingersoll-Rand 2130 Heavy-Duty Air 1/2" Impact Wrench||9.4/10||CHECK PRICE|
Best Impact Wrench Reviews
1. Milwaukee 2767-20 M18 Fuel High Torque 1/2″ Impact WrenchCLICK TO CHECK PRICE
With maximum productivity and high-torque fasteners up to two times faster than competitors, this impact wrench is our No. 1 pick. Featuring an industry-leading, four-mode drive control with bolt removal, this wrench gives you ultimate control and is the most compact cordless impact wrench in its class at 8.39 inches. With its high power and small size, you can use it effectively even in tight spaces.
This impact wrench can deliver 1000 ft. lbs. of fastening torque to help loosen rusted and stubborn bolts – using this model, you can get jobs done faster and be more productive. With this version, you’ll enjoy easy and quick, tool-free socket changes with a half-inch friction ring anvil. In addition, the rubber overmold keeps you comfortable while using the wrench for larger, more involved projects that require prolonged use.
Milwaukee is a trusted name in power tools, and this particular tool lives up to the brand’s reputation. With anti-burnout technology built in and anti-overload software, you can use the wrench with confidence, knowing that the motor and battery are protected from burnout and damage.
Reviewers love the remarkable level of power this wrench delivers, plus the control it allows the user to maintain. It’s both effective and comfortable to use. Some users have expressed dissatisfaction with what they describe as reduced power/quality after the first few uses, but most users say it’s worth the price and a good value – overall, you’ll get a lot of bang for your buck with this one.
2. DeWalt DCF899HB 20v MAX XR Brushless High Torque 1/2″ Impact WrenchCLICK TO CHECK PRICE
From one of the best-known brands in power tools, this impact wrench features a brushless motor that can ensure superior run-time, durability and performance. With its heavy duty impact mechanism and max torque of 700 ft./lbs., this impact wrench features best-in-class torque. In addition, its three-speed selector switch lets the user set application-specific torque and drive control. With an LED work light also included, you can be sure of visibility when tackling projects even in dimly lit spaces like basements and garages.
With its light weight and comfortable, ergonomic design, this wrench is a solid addition to your home power tool kit, and it’s perfect for mechanics or those who do a lot of home auto repair. In particular, it’s great for removing lug nuts to change flat tires. This impact wrench is resistant to cleaners, grease and chemicals, and the hog ring allows you to make quick and easy socket changes.
Reviewers love the three-year warranty and long-lasting battery, though it might be a bit heavy for some users and comes with a higher price tag than many of its competitors. Reviewers also say that its three-speed selection allows for delicate control, and they appreciate its high-quality, half-inch anvil.
Many reviewers also praise this model’s toughness – though small, it can stand up to the challenges of an intense worksite. And users love the included LED work light.
Overall, it’s a solid tool that can help you get the job done with little drama.
3. DeWalt DCF889B 20V MAX Lithium Ion 1/2″ High Torque Impact WrenchCLICK TO CHECK PRICE
This is a professional-grade, battery-powered impact wrench boasting 450 ft. lbs. of torque and designed to help you carry out a broad range of heavy duty fastening applications and projects. Its ergonomic handle lets you enjoy both control and comfort, while its variable-speed trigger and electric brake also add to user flexibility and control. This impact wrench also comes with a durable magnesium gear case and includes a three-year warranty.
This is a great impact wrench for plumbers, automotive maintenance and repair professionals, remodelers and mechanical contractors, just to name a few. If you’re looking for an impact wrench to help with difficult fastening projects like driving and removing fasteners in metal, wood and concrete, this may be the power tool for you. With this version, you’ll have the durability, power and control you need to master your job site’s toughest projects – and it’s light, weighing in at just over five pounds.
Reviewers give this impact wrench high marks for its heavy duty and sturdy design, plus its hard-to-beat level of power. In addition, many users have been pleasantly surprised at the long-lasting battery life. This impact wrench is billed as an excellent tool and a great value for its affordable price point. A handful of reviewers have reported trouble with this version having enough power to budge truck lug nuts, but overall reports are that this impact wrench is equal to most tasks you’d put in front of it.
DeWalt’s power tools continue to top the charts of our various power tool articles. To see some of the other DeWalt tools that use their 20V MAX system, look no further than these three: Best Impact Drivers, Best Scroll Saws, and Best Circular Saws.
4. PORTER-CABLE PCE211 1/2″ Impact WrenchCLICK TO CHECK PRICE
This impact wrench features a 7.5 amp motor for heavy duty applications and delivers 450 ft. lbs. of torque for both removing and installing heavy fasteners. Featuring a half-inch hog ring anvil, this model offers easy and quick socket changes, plus a forward/reverse rocker switch. It weighs in at a little more than seven pounds, and its 2200 RPM and 2700 BPM guarantee fast and easy applications.
Porter-Cable is a lesser known brand in this space, but the company consistently delivers solid, hardworking products you can count on. But – this line may be better suited for smaller jobs around the house and/or basic car maintenance rather than competing with the professional-grade, heavy hitters you might also find in this category.
This impact wrench is backed by a three-year limited warranty and also includes a one-year free service contract and a 90-day, money-back guarantee.
Reviewers are impressed that this model packs lots of power and is also comfortable and simple to use. While it’s a little heavier and bulkier than many of the other models reviewed here and makes a little more noise, users are overwhelmingly pleased with the results they’re able to achieve with this impact wrench. In fact, it’s described often as “powerful,” and even as “a beast.” And because this impact wrench is a corded electric version, some users report that it delivers a more consistent and seamless user experience since you don’t have to use an air compressor or worry about losing battery life during use.
5. Makita XWT08Z LXT Li-Ion Brushless Cordless High Torque Square Drive 1/2″ Impact WrenchCLICK TO CHECK PRICE
This model combines 740 ft. lbs. of fastening torque and 1,180 ft. lbs. of breakaway torque with one of the industry’s most extensive run times – plus speed control for unmatched performance. Its brushless motor eliminates the need for carbon brushes, which enables its motor to run cooler, more powerfully and more efficiently, ultimately leading to a longer product life. In addition, its half-inch anvil with friction ring makes for easy and fast socket changes.
The XWT08Z is also efficient – it can be electronically controlled, which lets you save battery energy use and gives you up to 50 percent longer run time per charge. Its three-speed power switch lets you choose the most precise fastening control. This is a great model for pipe fitters, iron and steel workers, forming carpenters, railroad and automotive mechanics and more.
It comes from Makita, who has built a solid reputation over the past few decades, consistently ranking among top power tool manufacturers across the globe. This model also features a three-year warranty and comes with Makita’s Star Protection Computer Controls, which help protect against overloading, overheating and overdischarging.
Reviewers love the power, versatility and reliability of this impact wrench, and it comes highly recommended by some users for your most heavy duty projects. A few users report diminished power/quality after only a few uses, which may be related to manufacturer defects. Overall, reviewers report that this is a great tool for the price.
6. NitroCat 1200-K Kevlar Composite Air 1/2″ Impact WrenchCLICK TO CHECK PRICE
This model’s biggest plus may be its combination of extreme power and quiet mechanism – it’s a hard-hitting, air-powered, half-inch impact wrench that boasts outperforming every other impact wrench in its class. With 1295 ft. lbs. of torque, it can handle your toughest, most difficult-to-budge fasteners with ease. Used by many NHRA Top Fuel race teams, this version features both powerful strength and outstanding durability. It’s also extremely light at only five pounds.
In addition, this model features a patented tuned exhaust muffler technology, which allows discharged air to pass through with no back pressure. This lets the wrench retain more power while still running quietly. Plus, with its through-the-handle exhaust design, you can count on minimized hazards from breathing exhaust or getting particles in your eyes while you’re using this model. With its patented handle, this model provides superior balance and a unique grip that can help reduce overall strain on operators’ hands, arms and wrists and make it easier to use for prolonged periods of time without as much fatigue.
This impact wrench comes with a two-year limited warranty on both parts and labor.
Reviewers give this wrench high marks for its quiet yet powerful performance, and they love the light Kevlar body. Most users say it’s worth the higher price to make sure you have the extra torque for your toughest, most stubborn jobs, though some reviewers report diminishing power after just a few uses.
7. Ingersoll-Rand 2130 Heavy-Duty Air 1/2″ Impact WrenchCLICK TO CHECK PRICE
This wrench offers you both advanced features and the powerful performance you need to complete your projects just the way you want them on the very first try. With a robust twin-hammer mechanism and composite housing, you’ll enjoy outstanding ergonomic comfort, and the durable design can help ensure many years of reliable, quality performance.
The Ingersoll Rand family of power tools is well known for performance and quality, and this impact wrench is no exception. It’s lightweight at just over five pounds, yet still houses a powerful twin-hammer mechanism, which can provide 550 ft. lbs. of max torque for your most heavy duty professional jobs. With fewer working parts, simple maintenance requirements and less wasted energy than many of its competitors, the 2130 is a solid choice for professional mechanic jobs. It’s ideal for removing and tightening lug nuts, rotating tires, brake work and much more.
This unit comes with a one-year limited warranty.
Reviewers love the multi-position power management and easy forward/reverse switch, which provide the control you need for precision work. It’s also light – and with a length of 7.25 inches, many users say you can use it in tight spaces without putting any unnecessary strain on your hands and wrists. Most users report that this impact wrench has the same durability and reliability Ingersoll Rand products are known for. This is a solid product that won’t let you down. Keep in mind, though, that it is a pneumatic wrench, so make sure you have an air compressor to run it before you purchase.
How an Impact Wrench Works
Many people turn to an impact wrench when no other tool can get the job done. When you need extra force and grip for an especially stubborn or difficult-to-loosen fastener, this tool can be your best friend. Powered by either an air or electric motor, an impact wrench delivers concentrated, acute rotating force to a resistant bolt or other fastener, usually in short bursts coming in approximately five-second intervals. The wrench basically operates by storing energy within a rotating mass and then delivering it suddenly and powerfully to the shaft. These intense and repeated bursts of power eventually budge your stubborn lug nut or bolt – either loosening or tightening as you need it. In fact, an impact wrench is a valuable tool whether you’re assembling or disassembling materials. And because of its high torque output, an impact wrench requires very little effort from the user and can help relieve stress on the user’s arms, hands and wrists.
After delivering its impact, the impact wrench is designed so that the hammer once again spins freely, which means the user doesn’t feel very much torque even though a powerful level has just been applied to the fastener you’re trying to budge.
Besides adding extra force to improve the impact wrench’s torque, the pressure also pushes the fastener forward – this helps the impact wrench work much faster and more efficiently than you could ever hope to simply working by hand.
Impact wrenches are typically powered either by compressed air – this type of wrench is known as a pneumatic impact wrench – or by electricity. In fact, the most common power source for an impact wrench is compressed air, while those powered by electricity are designed to be cordless – cordless versions have become much more popular in recent years.
Pneumatic wrenches are known for providing the most torque and are widely viewed as the most professional-grade on the market, while an electric impact wrench typically delivers plenty of punch for the average DIY project master. They are often used for automotive repair, large equipment maintenance and complex construction projects. If you’re looking for a wrench to carry in your car in case of tough-to-budge lug nuts, an electric impact wrench is likely your best bet.
Impact Wrench vs. Standard Drill
Many users may wonder what the major differences are between an impact wrench and a standard drill; they look almost identical, so it’s easy to assume that they can be used interchangeably. And maybe for some smaller projects they can. But – while an impact wrench stores energy and delivers it consistently through tiny and powerful impacts, a standard drill simply rotates its bit, without the added power of torque that the impact wrench can provide.
Drills are basic components of any homeowner’s tool set, and they are best used for projects like making holes and driving in small fasteners, while an impact wrench is better suited for dealing with larger, more difficult-to-remove fasteners, which are typically associated with more complicated or professional-grade projects.
Standard drills are usually cost-effective and versatile since they can accommodate a large variety of drill bit sizes, and they’re well suited for smaller jobs that don’t put as much physical stress on the user’s hands, wrists and arms. For example, drills are ideal tools for when you need to create a hole, tighten a small bolt, set a nut or drive a screw. But when you’re working on a large or stubborn project that needs some extra force behind it, you’ll likely need the extra torque an impact wrench can provide. An impact wrench can likely also help you get through more work more quickly.
Think of drills and impact wrenches as similar tools that can be used for similar projects, but at different ends of a spectrum – the drill is for lighter, easier jobs, while the impact wrench is your big gun that you bring out for tougher assignments. You might use your standard drill for jobs that require precision and delicacy, while bringing out your impact wrench when you can use some extra muscle.
Setting up and Maintaining an Impact Wrench
As with most power tools, impact wrenches work best when properly used and maintained. You’ll want to follow the steps below in order to take the best care of your new impact wrench.
Set Up Compressor
If you’re using a pneumatic version, make sure you set up a proper air supply and that the compressor has enough air output to provide sufficient juice for your wrench. In order to keep it working efficiently, have your air compressor regularly checked by an expert.
Regularly Check for Air Leaks
Every time you use your wrench, make sure to check all fittings, couplers and air hoses to look for air leaks – and repair any you find as quickly as possible. Air leaks can sap the power of your impact wrench and lead to expensive repairs. If you repair a leak as soon as you find it, you can prevent any damage to your impact wrench.
Check Your Piping
Check all piping to make sure it’s adequate size – and make sure to use all appropriate hoses and fittings. They shouldn’t be too large or too small; either case can reduce your impact wrench’s power.
Watch for Moisture and Debris
It’s fairly common for any pneumatic tool to fail because of moisture and debris. Damp areas inside a wrench can cause metal parts to rust, and debris can cause damage to operational parts if it gets lodged inside. Make sure to clean your impact wrench both before and after every use. You can use a blow dryer after cleaning to make sure the internal and external parts get completely dry and can stay free of rust.
Oil, Oil, Oil
Your impact wrench will need to be oiled regularly in order to guarantee its optimal performance. You can use an inline oiler after using the device in order to allow it to oil all moving parts.
Make sure to inspect your wrench on a regular basis to make sure nothing is amiss. Carefully observe the work output and have it repaired as soon as possible if you think it isn’t working as it should be. Handle your impact wrench carefully and make sure not to drop it. No piece of equipment lasts forever, but you can extend your wrench’s useful life by taking good care of it.
Best Impact Wrench Buyer’s Guide
Properly chosen and used, there’s no lug nut or hard-to-turn bolt that an impact wrench can’t budge – when combined with a little elbow grease. Especially if you work in a professional automotive garage or a fabrication shop, an impact wrench is a must-have – once you have it, you may wonder how you ever lived without it. There’s a wide range of prices and features so you’ll need to know what features are must-haves for you. In order to find the optimal option for your budget, you should consider a few key points, which we’ve outlined below.
You’ll need to consider three elements: torque, RPM and IPM. For best performance, look for a wrench that can deliver a torque of at least 200 – torque simply being the force the wrench can deliver. In addition, look at the rotations per minute. A higher RPM – above 3,000, for example – means you’ll need less human effort. The RPM is simply a measure of the speed at which the wrench is working The same can be said for impact per minute, or IPM, which defines the wrench’s work performance per a given time. Usually, the higher one of these elements, the higher are the other two as well.
One of the greatest benefits of the impact wrench is its design; you’ll want to find the lightest and most compact version that can still deliver all the power you’ll need. The better the design, the easier to transport and use when and where you need it.
Consider whether you’d prefer a brushless motor or one with brushes. If you’re opting for a cordless version, you can count automatically on a brushless motor, but some other models employ brushed motors, which are more simplistic in design and often not as effective as their brushless counterparts. They also typically have a shorter useful life.
You can choose from quarter-inch, 3/8-inch or half-inch. Drive size adds to torque performance, which means that in most cases you’ll want to go for the half-inch size if possible. Most cordless impact wrenches are equipped for adjustable power control, which is ideal for making sure your torque rate is what you need it to be, depending on your project.
Most cordless impact wrenches allow you to swap out external batteries, which are mostly lithium-ion – though some cordless wrenches use more traditional nickel-cadmium batteries. If you can swing it, you should definitely pay extra for lithium-ion, which not only holds more charge, but also delivers it at a steadier rate. You may also want to purchase extra batteries; most cordless wrenches require frequent battery charging.
Summing It Up
Impact wrenches are powerful and versatile tools with a variety of applications – they’re basically the tool you turn to when nothing else is working. They can help drive and tighten nuts and bolts securely in a wide selection of projects, whether they be related to home construction or car repair – or anything in between. With the right choice of impact wrench, you can perform any professional or DIY projects quickly and efficiently, with a little extra force and grip, and without strain on your arms, hands or wrists. No hard-to-turn bolt or stripped screw will ever stand in the way of completing your job.
The impact wrench reviews presented here are hardly exhaustive, but they do give you a good start along the way to familiarizing yourself with the key players and top products in the market. With a little patience and research, you can definitely find the best impact wrench for you and your needs.