What’s that? Countless times?
Yeah, so did I.
Dealing with frozen bolts manually can be a real pain in the neck, especially in big projects that require replacing thousands of them. That’s what makes the impact wrench a godsend tool for any tradesman. No bolt can stand in the way of the impact wrench, no matter how rusty and old it is, which is why we consider it to be a must-have machine in any toolbox.
The question is; which is the best impact wrench that you can get today? How can you make your choice when it comes to such a majestic power tool?
Well, find out through my best picks and buying guide.
Types of Impact Wrenches
Impact wrenches come in two main types depending on their power source: cordless and pneumatic.
Cordless Impact Wrench
A cordless impact wrench is one that’s powered by a lithium-ion rechargeable battery. This is the most commonly used type because of a simple reason: portability and convenience.
Compared to their air-powered counterparts, cordless models are a bit less powerful. But the latest model impact wrenches are effective and longer-lasting because they feature brushless motors, whereas older ones came with brushed motors.
- Related info: Brushed vs brushless motor comparison.
Air Impact Wrenches
Air compact wrenches offer higher RPM, torque, and IPM compared to Cordless models. They’re mainly used for heavy-duty applications and projects, as they don’t have a limit on their working potential, which means that you can use them continuously without worrying about the battery dying out on you. Cordless impact wrenches are quickly catching up, though, which is why many professionals are going cordless rather than pneumatic these days.
A pneumatic impact wrench costs way less than a cordless one. However, if you do not own a compressor you have to factor the additional cost of an air compressor for impact wrench.
Pneumatic or air tools are ideal for shop floor uses where you have a continuous supply of compressed air and you don’t mind the air hose attached to them.
- Further reading: Cordless vs air impact wrench, Pros and Cons.
Best Impact Wrench – Top Picks
Over the years I have used several impact tools both cordless and pneumatic versions. Hence the following impact wrench reviews reflect my own experience and expert opinion. Please note that, rather than putting together a long list of tools and forcing you to go through each review, I decided to list only the best impact wrench in each category.
#1. Ingersoll Rand 2235TiMAX – Best Air Impact Wrench
Made by one of the world’s most-known pneumatic power tool manufacturers, the Ingersoll Rand 2235TiMAX is an impact wrench that packs enough punch for any project, and that will allow you to bring your A-game to any task that involves bolts and nuts.
The 2235TiMAX from Ingersoll Rand weighs only 5.9 pounds, meaning that you won’t find it hard to use it for extended periods of time. Despite the size, the unit can deliver an incredible amount of power that goes for up to 1,350 foot-pounds of nut-busting torque and 930 foot-pounds of reverse torque. It’s also exceptionally durable, as it boasts composite housing and steel wear plate, and it comes with a heavy-duty, titanium hammer case. This means that this tool not only lightweight but also will easily outlive the rest of your impact tools.
The convenience doesn’t stop there, as the 2235TiMAX operates while producing no more than 109 decibels, making it one of the quietest impact wrenches out there – in the pneumatic category, that is.
The level of control offered by this impact wrench is second to none, as you get a four-position power regulator (airflow) so that you can easily switch between modes and accommodate the needs of all of your assembly/ disassembly tasks.
All of that, along with the two-year warranty offered by the manufacturer, make this impact wrench a worthy investment, and a solid candidate for the title of the best air impact wrench.
- Rugged construction for extended lifespan
- 1,350 foot-pounds of nut-busting torque
- Lightweight and compact
- A bit pricey
#2. Campbell Hausfeld TL140200AV – Best Value for Money
It’s tough to find a compact impact wrench that offers enough power for most assembly and disassembly tasks, but the Campbell Hausfeld TL140200AV does just that.
Delivering maximum nut-busting torque of 550 foot-pounds (a 750lb-ft version is also available) along with 1,200 IPM and 8,000 RPM, the Campbell Hausfeld TL140200AV is suitable for both construction and automobile jobs.
The good news?
It’s so darn light, weighing merely 4.4 pounds, which means that you can take it with you anywhere and use it for as long as you need it without having to worry about comfort. Furthermore, thanks to its compact size and ergonomically-designed, soft rubber grip, this is a one-size-fits-all kind of tool, meaning that you can use it no matter your hand’s breadth.
I have tested this power tool on automotives and it can comfortably remove any wheel nut with ease. If you have small shop vac and need an impact gun for chaging tires or light duty work, then this small tool works great.
The only niggle with this impact wrench is the warranty, as it’s covered for one year only.
All in all, the Campbell Hausfeld TL140200AV is affordable, powerful, and lightweight, making it one of the best impact wrenches that you can get in the pneumatic category and a device that will surely give you the bang for your buck.
- Lightweight, compact, and comfortable
- Powerful enough for most automobile and industrial applications
- Short warranty
#3. DEWALT DCF889B – Best Cordless Impact Wrench (Battery Operated)
No list of power tools is whole and complete without at least one device from DEWALT, the giant American manufacturer. The DEWALT DCF889B is our pick for the best impact wrench in the cordless category for a plethora of reasons that can be resumed in three words: powerful, compact, and comfortable.
DEWALT’s battery operated impact wrench measures 10 inches in length and weighs 5.8 pounds. Sure, it’s not the smallest nor the lightest on our list, but it’s still one of the tiniest machines you can get. If you wear cargo pants, you can toss it in your pocket without worrying about it falling out.
The DEWALT DCF889B delivers 300 feet-pounds of torque. Now, that may not seem impressive when put against the power provided by the pneumatic models reviewed above, but for cordless impact wrenches, 300 feet-pounds is pretty much the standard. With such torque, no lug nuts will stand in your way, though you may have to put in some extra efforts to tackle really stuck ones. The power is also adjustable thanks to the variable speed trigger, which means that you can adjust the performance to your heart’s content.
To accommodate the needs of different users, this unit boasts an ergonomically-designed, comfortable grip. Although comfort isn’t of great importance when you’re simply moving the tool around, it actually goes a long way in making your work easier when you’re using the wrench, considering that you have to keep a firm grip throughout the operation. For example, if you are using the impact wrench for scaffolding, you need a lightweight cordless tool with a comfortable grip.
The DEWALT DCF889B is covered by DEWALT’s standard three-year warranty, and it’s ahead of the competition in this aspect.
Unfortunately, this impact wrench is sold as a standalone tool, which means that you’ll have to get the charger and battery separately. Knowing that those accessories aren’t cheap, especially when coming from a big brand such as DEWALT, you must consider your budget before picking this unit as your best cordless impact wrench.
- Variable speed trigger for added control
- Powerful (for a cordless impact wrench)
- Durable, lightweight, and compact
- This is a bare tool
#4. Milwaukee 2454-22 – Best 3/8-Inch Impact Wrench
All of the above recommendations feature a 1/2-inch drive, which, although the most used size, may not be ideal for some applications. That’s where the Milwaukee 2454-22 comes in to save the day as the best 3/8-inch impact wrench – one that’s lightweight, compact, and durable.
This impact wrench can deliver 117 ft-lbs. of torque. Granted, the rest of the products on our list exceed that by a long shot, but you need to keep in mind that this tool is cordless, which means that you’ll have to sacrifice a bit of power in exchange for design convenience and brushless motor efficiency. For the speed, the 2454-22 delivers 2,650 RPM and 3,500 IPM.
The Milwaukee 2454-22 is on the costly side of the spectrum, but the cost is justified as, unlike the DEWALT impact wrench reviewed above, the Milwaukee 2454-22 does come with the necessary accessories, including a REDLITHIUM 2.0 Compact Battery Pack, which delivers 2X more recharges and up to 20% more power than standard lithium-ion batteries.
All in all, the 2454-22 impact wrench from Milwaukee is an ergonomically-designed, lightweight tool that can take care of any small to medium task you throw at it. The torque is not the highest around, but unless you’re planning to use this wrench for industrial applications, no bolt or lug nut will stand in the way of the Milwaukee 2454-22.
- Durable construction
- Compact and lightweight
- Comes with a REDLITHIUM 2.0 Compact Battery Pack
- Not much torque
#5. Ingersoll Rand 2317G – Best Budget-Friendly Combo Kit
Why settle with a bare impact wrench when you can get a full bolt-wreaking kit, right?
If you’re looking for a combo kit that won’t cost you an arm and a leg, then we recommend taking a look at the Ingersoll Rand 2317G, which includes the 231G Impact tool, 170G ratchet, and a combo socket set.
You can use this starter kit for the majority of unprofessional mechanics, and it surely won’t disappoint when performing such tasks. The 5.8-pound 2317G impact wrench can deliver up to 500 ft-lb of reverse torque, which is more than enough to tighten and loosen lug nuts or take care of any task requiring quick removal of fasteners, for that matter.
Everything in this combo kit is well-made and designed with durability in mind, which should give you some peace of mind knowing that you won’t have to spend any extra money any time soon.
In conclusion, this is an excellent starter kit for the weekend mechanic, occasional tradesmen, and those who cannot afford to get each tool separately.
- Durable starter kit
- Powerful enough for most automotive tasks
- The tools are made in China
Best Impact Wrench – Buying Guide
Now that you’ve taken a look at our picks for the crown of the best impact wrench, in both the pneumatic and cordless departments, it’s time for you to make your final decision by going over our buying guide.
Uses of Impact Wrenches
Many people don’t really understand the uses and applications of impact wrenches. Some even confuse them with electric drills, thinking that they’re one and the same. Here are the primary purposes of this power tool:
- Home Projects and Construction: Using an impact wrench, you can easily and securely fasten lag-bolts into beam and post.
- Construction Sites: Impact wrenches are used in any task that involves tightening bolts and nuts.
- Car Repair Shops: With an impact wrench at hand, changing the tires of any vehicle becomes a breeze.
Those are only some of the applications, of course, and the list goes and on.
Why You Should Get an Impact Wrench
Many would argue that using similar impact sockets with an electric drill or an impact driver is better than doing so with the best impact wrench. While I understand where that argument comes from, I can’t help but further support the impact wrench because it offers more power and can even unbolt rusted fasteners. Have you ever tried unbolting one before?
As the motor of an impact wrench delivers power and rotates in quick pulses, you’re less prone to experience wrist fatigue when using such a machine, and you get high output torque that’s capable of handling any job you throw at it. Despite the power an impact wrench packs, it’s still pretty lightweight and portable. What else could you ask for in a tool that helps with fastening bolts and tightening screws?
What to Look for in the Best Impact Wrench
As I mentioned above, cordless impact wrenches pack brushless motors, whereas air models come with brushed models. Brushed motors are more powerful, but they’re less effective when compared to brushless units. In other words, choosing the right motor type will, once again, depend on the requirements of your projects.
As you know, torque is the bread and butter of any impact wrench, regardless of its type. In simple words, torque is the ability of a power tool to produce rotations, and it’s measured in foot-pounds. The higher the amount of torque an impact wrench can produce, the easier it will be able to remove bolts and tighten screws, and the less fatigue you’re going to experience.
When looking for the best impact wrench, you need to consider what kind of projects you’re going to tackle more often. The bigger your jobs, the more torque you’re going to need. As a general rule of thumb, aim at no less than 200 foot-pounds of torque, as that will get you by for most medium-sized tasks.
The speed an impact wrench can produce is as important as the power and torque. As I told you before, the impact wrench relies on rotations of the hammer to with fasten bolts and tighten screws. The more rotations a unit can deliver, the less effort the user has to exercise.
Skimping on the speed of your impact wrench can wreak havoc on your projects and slow them down significantly, which is why I recommend looking for a model that can deliver 3,000 RPM or more. Of course, if you’re only looking for the best impact wrench for small DIY projects, spending extra money on higher RPM would be overkill.
The IPM, or Impacts Per Minute, is yet another essential metric to consider when searching for the best impact wrench. As the tool requires a helluva lot of contact to push down screws or bolts or loosen them up, you need to make sure that your best impact wrench offers enough IPM to accommodate the needs of your projects. At the very least, you need to find a device that balances the torque, RPM, and IPM if you can’t afford (or don’t need) an impact wrench that delivers plenty of all of them.
The drive size goes hand in hand with the torque performance, making it another critical factor to consider when searching for the best impact wrench. The drive comes in three sizes: ¼, 3/8, and ½ inches. Knowing that the bigger the drive, the higher the torque, I recommend getting a unit that has a ½-inch drive. If that’s not possible for one reason or another, go with a 3/8-inch drive.
Size and Weight
As the impact wrench is a handheld device, it must be light enough for you to use it for extended periods and move it around easily. Cordless impact wrenches take the lead in this department because they’re significantly lighter than their corded and pneumatic counterparts.
Power tools can be dangerous, especially when using them involves bolts and screws. That’s why you must check the safety features before making your final choice. Some of the functions that you can look for include anti-overloading cooling, etc. No matter your level of expertise, this is an aspect that you shouldn’t take lightly.
If you decide to go with a cordless impact wrench, then you ought to check the battery type of your preferred model. If you don’t mind spending some extra cash, we recommend investing your money in a Lithium-ion battery, as they tend to give out a steadier rate and to hold more charge.
When inspecting the battery, there are two metrics to keep in mind; the voltage, which is the amount of power the battery can deliver, and the Amp Hours, which refers to the amount of time the battery can hold the charge.
You should also consider getting an impact wrench that allows you to swap batteries so that you can keep several ones in your toolbox and switch them when necessary.
I hear you; making a choice is not easy. I understand that, but I can’t really pick the best impact wrench for you because the right addition to your toolbox will depend on your own needs and what kind of projects you tackle frequently. Just make sure to read this buying guide carefully, and the best impact wrench for you will be obvious.
Good luck, fellow tradesman!