Have you ever struggled trying to remove a lug nut while changing a tire? Or maybe you’ve skinned your knuckles trying to tighten a nut in a tight space. Maybe it’s time for you to consider purchasing an impact wrench. With an impact wrench, you’ll be able to remove those lug nuts almost as fast as a NASCAR pit crew.
Before you purchase an impact wrench, we’ll explain the different types and their uses. It’s important to understand how an impact wrench works before you decide on a model. For your convenience, we’ve reviewed some of the most popular cordless models available to help you in your buying decision.
What is an Impact Wrench?
A wrench is a tool used to provide grip while applying torque to turn an object, usually a nut, bolt, or screw. Torque is applied to either loosen or tighten the fastener. When a manual wrench doesn’t give you enough torque or won’t fit into a small space an impact wrench is the next tool to try.
An impact wrench (also known as an impactor, impact gun, air wrench, air gun, rattle gun, torque gun, windy gun) is a power tool designed to do the same job as a manual wrench except it has the advantage of more power. The power is derived from a motor that applies torque (rotational force) in short bursts called impacts. Compressed air is the most common power source used by professionals, but today there are also impact wrenches powered by power cords and batteries.
Types of Impact Wrenches
There are two main types of impact wrenches: pneumatic and electric.
Pneumatic impact wrenches are powered by pressurized air provided by an air compressor. This type of wrench is typically used by mechanics and other professionals. While it does provide powerful torque, it must be connected to an air compressor making it a poor choice for home or small shop use.
Electric impact wrenches plug into a standard electrical outlet or can be powered by batteries. Corded electric impact wrenches have a consistent power supply but are limited by the length of their cord and accessibility to an outlet. The convenience and portability have led to the popularity of the cordless impact wrench. The downside is that the cordless models burn through batteries quickly and do not produce as much power.
How to Choose the Right Impact Wrench
The decision to purchase one or the other depends on your intended use, availability of power, and price range. Pneumatic impact wrenches offer the most power making them the best option for professional use. Because they must be connected to an air compressor, they may not be a good option for small projects. If you can sacrifice a little power for the convenience of not needing an air compressor, the electric impact wrench is the way to go. The corded electric impact wrench has more power and is cheaper than the cordless, but if you can get by with less torque the convenience of the cordless version is worth the extra money.
Because the cordless impact wrench is the most popular and practical for home use, we are reviewing the most popular models here for your convenience. We researched and reviewed hundreds of wrenches so you don’t have to.
Ingersoll Rand W1130-K2 12V Cordless Impact Wrench Kit
This little powerhouse offers 100 ft-lbs. of reverse torque in a compact design that’s perfect for removing lug nuts or working in small spaces.
It is lightweight and has an ergonomically designed handle that reduces fatigue during longer jobs.
This wrench is constructed of metal, making it durable and optimized for maximum power and efficiency.
It has a variable-speed switch with electronic brake for precision control.
The only downside we found with this wrench was the limited power of the 12 volt batteries. Although it got favorable reviews from users, there are better wrenches with more power for less money. The Ingersoll Rand Cordless Impact Wrench Kit doesn’t measure up to its price of $270.71.
DEWALT DCF880HM2 20-volt MAX Lithium Ion 1/2-Inch Impact Wrench Kit with Hog Ring
The DEWALT DCF880HM2 is a lightweight impact wrench that is compact enough to fit into the tightest spaces, delivering 1824 in. lbs. of maximum torque.
With the battery attached, it weighs just under five pounds, allowing you to use it for a variety of jobs.
This tool is a handy, portable alternative to air powered impact guns with a variable-speed trigger delivering up to 2300 RPM and 2700 IPM.
It comes with a 1/2 in. hog ring anvil to make socket changes a breeze. As an added bonus, it has LED lights to illuminate your project, eliminating the need for an additional flashlight.
If you are looking for a cordless impact wrench in the middle of the price range, this is the winner at $239.99. It comes with same features as most of the wrenches we reviewed but with a lower price tag. It has enough torque to quickly remove stuck lug nuts and includes two batteries so you’re never out of power.
TruePower 300 FT.LBS 1/2 Inch Drive Cordless Impact Wrench Kit, 19.2 Volt
If you are looking for a basic impact wrench with no frills, this is the one for you.
Priced at under $100 for the entire kit, it’s a bargain but it’s still tough enough to get the job done.
The TruePower cordless impact wrench produces up to 300 ft-lb for tightening or loosening nuts and bolts.
This Impact Wrench is not just powerful, but convenient and comfortable to use.
This is the only wrench in our review for under a hundred dollars at $88.48. Although this one doesn’t come with any of the extras like a second battery or carrying case, it does come with four commonly used sockets. It has enough torque to get the job done and is a great entry level tool.
Craftsman C3 ½” Heavy Duty Impact Wrench Kit Powered By 4ah XCP Cordless Tools High Torque
The Craftsman C3 19.2-Volt XCP Impact Wrench Kit combines 300 ft-lbs. of torque with 0-3,000 RPM/IPM that is perfect for a mechanic or a do-it-yourselfer. The motor has plenty of power to help you loosen the tightest nuts and drive the thickest bolts with ease.
It’s designed with a 1/2-in. square anvil with detent pin retention for up to 3,000 impacts per minute and up to 300 ft-lbs. of torque for heavy duty applications.
The battery included in this kit is a 4Ah XCP lithium-ion battery, which works in all weather, from temps of 5 up to 158 degrees Fahrenheit. The technology behind this lithium-ion battery increases the torque by 20% and adds up to 4x longer runtime over a NiCd battery. The included multi-chemistry charger delivers a full charge in an hour or less.
This cordless impact wrench is no frills, but it does pack some power at 300 ft-lbs. of torque and 0-3,000 RPM/IPM. The price is fair at $167.29 since it doesn’t come with the extra battery or carrying kit. If all you need are power, dependability, and the basics (wrench, battery, and charger) then this is the one for you.
Makita XWT07M LXT Lithium-Ion Brushless Cordless High Torque Square Drive Impact Wrench with Friction Ring Anvil Kit, 18V/3/4″
Tired of cords and hoses that are standard with electric and pneumatic wrenches? Cut the ties and get yourself a Makita Brushless Cordless High Torque Square Drive Impact Wrench and experience battery operated freedom without losing power. Makita has the world’s largest cordless tool line-up powered by an 18V Lithium-Ion slide-style battery. These 18V batteries have the fastest charge times in their categories.
The electronically-controlled BL Brushless Motor is designed for longer run time, increased power and speed, and longer tool life. It efficiently uses energy to match torque and RPM to the changing demands of the application. This robust motor provides a range of 0-1,800 RMP and 0-2,200 IPM. The combined 780 feet pounds fastening torque and 1,250 feet pounds break-away torque combined with extended run time and speed control yield unmatched fastening performance. You’ll be able to break-free the tightest nuts with ease.
Makita’s proprietary hammer and anvil impact mechanism are manufactured from high quality steel using a unique heat hardening process for maximum fastening and driving power. This tool is applicable for a broad range of professionals from iron and steel workers to pipe fitters, railroad, and automotive mechanics, forming carpenters, and your everyday handyman.
At a price tag of $489.00, this is the most expensive cordless impact wrench we reviewed. If you are looking for the most powerful, well-built tool this is it. It has the most additional features and comes with a three-year warranty. If the price is not a factor, this tool packs the most torque. Even if it’s a little heavier than the others, you’ll get the job done faster so you won’t have to worry about fatigue.
It’s important to find the tool that’s right for you and the job you need to get done. Cordless impact wrenches are will make your life easier if you have to remove stubborn, rusty, or overly tightened bolts and nuts. The hammering action of the impact wrench loosens rust and allows you to remove nuts and bolts that won’t budge with an ordinary manual wrench.
Although cordless electric impact wrenches are more expensive than other types of impact wrenches they make up for it with their convenience and portability. Because cordless impact wrenches have less power than their corded counterparts, it’s important to read the reviews and specs to make sure you pick the best one to get the job done.