What is an Impact Wrench
At first glance, impact wrenches look almost like screw guns with the exception that they have a bulkier upper front housing and a special square pin, also called anvil, for attaching the impact sockets. They are used only for rotating the hex nuts, bolts, lag screws, and similar fixings. Some might wonder: why would they need it if you could use similar sockets with the electric drill? The answer is simple: the impact wrenches output high torque that can unbolt even the most tightened or even rusted fasteners. Their motor delivers quick pulses in addition to the rotation motion that also helps with it.
You might have seen them used for changing the race car's wheels on Formula-1 pit stops, where they produce a distinctive rattling sound. Therefore, they are also often called the rattle guns. Furthermore, they can be employed on construction sites, in furniture manufacturing, repair shops, and simply any place where the quick power tool with strong torque is required for assembling or removing the screwed bolting. There are different types that work with different power sources, but more of that below.
As a side note, a torque wrench is a must-have tool in any car trunk for the urgent wheel change on the road. If you need other tools for working with screws, check out our reviews on the best electric impact drivers or manual screwdriver sets.
What Features to Compare
There are 3 major Impact Wrench Types:
- Electric wrenches can be either corded or battery-powered. The first type is usually lightweight and frequently used at assembly lines, where the operator stays in the same place. Obviously, the cordless rattle guns are portable, offering the mobility to their users.
- Pneumatic air guns have to be connected to an air compressor in order to operate. They are mostly bought for car repair shops where there is a compressor for inflating the tires and pumping the pneumatic jacks, lifting the cars.
- Hydraulic torque wrenches are very power-efficient but also the largest in size among the impact wrenches. They are highly specified to special jobs, require a hydraulic compressor, and mostly assigned to heavy industry. Therefore, we won't mention them in this review.
Check out the Anvil Size. It is a square shaft for mounting the impact sockets on it. If you already own a set or two of these sockets, choose the same anvil size to save money. The most popular are the 1/2" and 3/8" pin sizes. Models with 1/4", 3/4, 1", and other sizes can be found on the market as well.
Always check out the following Performance Factors. Revolutions per minute (RPM) are responsible for winding/unwinding rotations speed; Impacts per minute (IPM) - for how hard it can tighten the bolt or the nut; Torque is measured in foot per pound (ft·lb) and refers to the output force for removing the tightened or rusted bolts. Simply put, the bigger their numbers are, the better overall efficiency will be. Note, that there's no much use for a tool with a high nut-busting torque in assembling the furniture pieces together, though you might require it for car or large appliance repairs.
Usability. The major features here are the Weight and overall Dimensions of the tool. As a rule, the cordless impact guns are heavier due to the battery weight. The pneumatic models are somewhat lighter than even corded models. However, they offer less mobility due to the air hose at the grip bottom that is connected to the compressor on the other side. Some models also boast such things as LED lights at the front, battery charge indicators, a special handle design or an extra battery.
Milwaukee 2763-22 M18
Choose the Mode
Milwaukee company originated from the city under the same name is one of the leaders of power tools and construction equipment in the US. Their 2763-22 1/2" model of impact wrench currently tops the best-selling impact guns on the market, so we couldn't but bring it in our review too.
Almost every mechanism in this Milwaukee impact wrench features a patented technology. The patented POWERSTATE brushless motor is powered by 18 V Li-Ion battery, producing up to 700 ft-lb fastening torque for excellent efficiency. Additionally, motors without the brushes are comparatively quieter and much cooler than their brushed counterparts. Thus, it can work longer without overheating.
The REDLINK PLUS and DRIVE CONTROL technologies are implemented for reliable performance in both speed modes. The first one is used for working with new or small fixings on soft, pressure-sensitive materials like wood or plastic that may crack if pressed too hard while the second mode works best for strong tightening thanks to the staggering 2300 IPM rate. Hold the grip tight as the nut-busting torque reaches up to 1100 ft-lb in the reverse mode for removing the most tightened or stuck bolts.
With Attention to Details
As we have mentioned, this Milwaukee impact wrench boasts 2 speed modes that can be switched by pressing the button on the base part of the grip. The LEDs will tell which of the modes is on at the moment. Furthermore, the special REDLITHIUM battery has a charge indicator that can be checked anytime even when it's detached from the gun. Car mechanics will love a small flashlight that lights up when the trigger is pressed and stays on for a few seconds after you release it, allowing checking the results of their work. Another special technology, called REDLINK Intelligence, protects both a battery and a motor from the overload, optimizing the whole process. The best part, though, is that you get a couple of 4 Ah batteries packs in the package that you can quickly switch like a pistol clip when one of them goes flat. By the way, the included recharge works with 18 V and 20 V Milwaukee batteries, too.
Concluding, this incredible portable socket wrench is a safe choice for anyone who values the efficiency, mobility and their time above anything else.
More Products to Consider
If you are planning to work with it in tight places, grab a sturdy rubber impact cover to protect it from the scratches and grease and gunk from the nearby details. Make sure to have a quality impact socket set in stock just as well.
Ingersoll Rand 2235TIMAX
The Ingersoll Rand 2235TIMAX 1/2" Drive Air Impact Wrench is the pneumatic model, so you will need an air compressor with 90 PSIG pressure to reach its maximum capabilities. And they are pretty impressive. For starters, the rattle gun delivers 8500 RPM rate, resulting in lightning-fast bolt screwing or removing. The wrench has only one speed mode, so you might require a bit of time to get used to it. When you press the trigger, the compressed air outputs the nut-breaking 1350 ft-lb and then drops down to 900 ft-lb until you let it go. However, you can calibrate the maximum tightening torque with a variable throttle so that a socket doesn't instantly twist a bolt's head off.
For Extreme Conditions
In our opinion, this air wrench can be recommended for the repair shops where you will need a powerful and, above all, super-fast tool to unscrew the rusted bolts in a washing machine or to quickly detach a car wheel. The metal housing is made of the titanium alloy, ensuring the long service life. Still, it's not too heavy - only 4.6 lbs, however, the attached air hose will inevitably add to the weight when you hold it above your head, standing in a pit under a car. The reverse switch is placed in the rear along with the 4-step torque regulator.
The manufacturer ensures us that each part of this air impact wrench goes through a severe and thorough test check before it's shipped to the buyer and also backs it with 2-year warranty to prove it. As a result, this is a safe and solid choice for any workshop that has an air compressor.
More Products to Consider
Although a housing from titanium-alloy is commonly considered to be extremely durable, its plastic part might still need additional protection. For this purpose we'd recommend you to get a special tool boot and keep it covered. The other thing you better think of in advance is getting some oil to lubricate the tool from time to time for its smooth performance.
In a Matter of Seconds
Since the beginning, in 1998, AIRCAT company has been actively employing the best techniques and technologies for their range of pneumatic products. Among other notable blueprints, the company has obtained the patents for their special ergonomic handle design and the unique tuned exhaust system for quiet performance. Both of these features can be found in this AIRCAT 1150 1/2" Impact Wrench.
Obviously, it requires an air compressor in order to operate. With it, the tool can deliver unbelievable 9000 RPM, while the impact mechanism leaves no chances to the rusted nuts, owing to the maximum 1400 IPM rate. Again, 9000 RPM is a really impressive number. Therefore, attaching the wheel of a repaired car can be done in less than a minute. In the reverse mode, the air gun outputs up to 1300 ft-lb nut-busting torque at the start and then goes down to 900 ft-lb. Thus, if you often deal with rusted, stubborn bolts or nuts at work, this is the safest choice. Such overwhelming characteristics make it one of the top choices in its price range.
Taming the Beast
Of course, such powerhouse requires a convenient handle for a steady grip. The rugged handle has small finger separators and pitted back for better control, so rest assured, it was designed for your safe use. However, we still strongly recommend using protective glasses and gloves when working with it. The tool's weight is only 4.5 lbs without the air hose. The PSIG output can be quickly adjusted by switching the regulator on the back to one of the 3 positions. When the same regulator is switched all the way to the left, the square drive will move in reverse, allowing you to remove different fittings.
If you are not the only worker in the auto repair shop, you might appreciate its comparatively quiet performance. The noise level is stated to be around 86 dBa, which is approximately the same as a working food blender or a gas lawn mower. It's safe for screwing a couple of bolts. However, if you are going to use it more often, don't forget some ear protection as the impact noises can be quite loud anyway.
Summing up, the AIRCAT 1150 Killer Torque 1/2" Impact Wrench is one of the most convenient, powerful and inexpensive air wrenches currently available on the market.
More Products to Consider
Buy Once, Use Forever
Almost every review of the cordless electric equipment on our site features a Dewalt product. It's no wonder, actually, because this company has over 90-year long successful history in the manufacturing of the construction tools. In 1960, the Dewalt was bought and assimilated by Black&Decker company. Thereafter, it became one of the leaders not only in the US market but all around the globe.
But enough with the history background. This DEWALT DCF883M2 3/8" impact wrench is an excellent portable tool. Most and foremost, it comes with a recharge, a spare 20 V battery and a hard case for storing or carrying it. The motor delivers up to 2700 IPM that will help you remove stubborn bolts and nuts. As you might know, the cordless wrenches are mostly designed for household purposes. Therefore, the motor can deliver up to 130 ft-lb torque that is more than enough for small tasks around the house or during home remodeling. It's also a considerable choice for on-call maintenance workers for quick on-site repairs.
Note, this impact wrench has a 3/8" square drive for the sockets. Thanks to this, all of the parts are a smaller and more lightweight, compared to the generic 1/2" impact guns.
Never Forget to Recharge
Evidently, the company has set the goal to create not only powerful - for a portable device - tool but also reliable and easy to use. Under the car hood or under the roof, the DEWALT 3/8" Impact Wrench is very handy, thanks to the light weight and compact dimensions. What's more, there are 3 bright LEDs placed around the square drive for working in dark places. The lights are turned off with a 20-second delay so that you could check out the results.
No need to worry about the battery charge as well. The 4.0 Ah will satisfy most people's needs. Even if the battery goes flat, simply switch to the second one that comes in a package and recharge the first one. Still, when you drown yourself into work, you may forget how long ago you recharged any one them. At this particular moment, you can quickly check the charge by pressing a button on the battery housing. For more convenient use, you can buy a special hook and hang the wrench on your toolbelt when you need to have your hands free.
In conclusion, we readily recommend the DEWALT DCF883M2 20-volt MAX Lithium Ion 3/8" Impact Wrench for any on-call handymen, car owners, small workshop workers, and for the construction workers employed in small renovation projects.
More Products to Consider
Together with impact wrenches, a handymen engaged in the woodworking often buy power drills and torque wrenches.
As Long as Required
Another often guest in our power tools reviews is Porter-Cable - a subsidiary company of Stanley Black & Decker corporation. The PORTER-CABLE PCE210 Impact Wrench is a corded model with a 7.5 A motor for delivering a moderate, up to 240 ft-lb torque. This is enough for most of the household needs. Evidently, the only limitation here is the length of the cord. There's no fuss with compressors, air tanks or recharging batteries. Just find a socket to plug it in, and it's ready for work.
The mains electricity supply allowed to improve the RPM rate up to 2200. This makes it a considerable choice for furniture assembling factories or small repair workshops where a nut-busting feature may not be required at all. Still, this corded impact wrench can help you remove a stubborn bolt or secure the fixing, thanks to its 2700 IPM rate.
On close inspection, we've found out that the housing is made of a single-piece cast metal that effectively transfers and dissipates the heat, reducing the risk of overheating and adds to the overall durability and service life. Yet, the real advantage is that electric-driven tools require less maintenance than battery-powered models. Thus, you can save more money on battery packs that will eventually stop holding the charge over time anyway. The 6-ft cord provides enough mobility for most daily tasks. Also, feel free to use it with an extension lead as well.
At the end of the day, the PORTER-CABLE PCE210 Impact Wrench with 1/2" hog ring anvil offers you a reliable performance for the attractive price. Couldn't ask for more.
More Products to Consider
Quality home improvement tools are what all handymen value a lot. Whether you're a skilled contractor or you do occasional repairs at home, you should have a chop saw, a polisher, a finish nailer at hand.
1. 4 Tips for Sizing an Impact Wrench, DoItYourself.
2. Impact Wrench Buying Guide, eBay. March 3, 2016.
3. How to Choose a Cordless Impact Wrench, Acme Tools. May 9, 2016.
4. Buying and Maintaining an Air Wrench, CarsDirect. February 21, 2012.
5. Types of Sockets, ThomasNet.
6. Types of Impact Wrenches, HubPages. November 28, 2016.
7. Benjamin Jerew Tool Guide: Air Tools vs Electric Tools, NAPA. August 3, 2016.
8. Rohini Mohan Air Vs. Electric Tools: Which is Better? Buzzle.com. July 29, 2016.