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Blast Fasteners Away Like a Pro With These Impact Wrenches

These impacts will make stubborn fasteners the least of your concerns.

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BYHank O'Hop/ LAST UPDATED ON May 9, 2022

Working with your hands can be therapeutic and give you the opportunity to ponder life’s big questions as you're loosening fasteners. That is up until the point you remember that it’s the hottest, most humid day of the year and you’ve only just started to rotate your tires.


Adding an impact wrench to your collection may change your life. You'll spend less time fussing over stubborn bolts and more time actually enjoying the work or your car. Even if you’ll only ever use one for freeing wheels and tires, it’s still worth adding to your collection because of the dramatic impact it’ll have on your working experience.


And there’s no shortage of options for new impacts, either. Nor is it hard to track down the latest and greatest model with all the bells and whistles. Is that really what you need for your project, though? Obviously, there is such a thing as overkill, but you also don’t want to go cheap and wind up with a fancy paperweight. That’s what we’re here for as our goal is to highlight some of our favorite impacts on the market so that you can decide what’s best for your home garage.


I'm all for doing things the hard way. Taking the long way around is a great way to grow closer to your car and do more of what you love doing most. However, some jobs just suck. An impact wrench is usually the best way to blast through them. Something as painstaking as breaking the lugs and lifting the vehicle so you can finish removing the wheel becomes as trivial as pulling a trigger. Using impacts is also a good way to rival the efficiency of the competitors if you're into doing this sort of thing for a living. There are a ton of options out there, and it can be tough to decide which is worth your while if you're new to this side of the industry. I'm here to help.

Best Overall

Milwaukee M18 FUEL Mid-Torque Half-Inch Impact Wrench

Summary
The power and thoughtful features you need in a manageable package. This Milwaukee impact is a prime example of why professionals are loyal to the name.
Pros
  • Compact and manageable 
  • Excellent performance 
  • Thoughtful features 
  • Five-year warranty
Cons
  • Expensive
  • No batteries included
Best Value

Ryobi One+ 18V Half-Inch Impact Wrench Kit

Summary
This impact is proof that you don't need to go broke keeping up with the big dogs. It's got the power and features you can expect to find on the top shelf without the price.
Pros
  • Affordable 
  • Includes battery and charger 
  • Compact and easily manageable 
  • Great performance 
  • Three-year warranty
Cons
  • Short battery life
  • Quality control issues
 
Honorable Mention

Milwaukee M18 FUEL 18-Volt Half-Inch Impact Wrench Kit

Summary
Need to rotate the Earth? No problem. This Milwaukee impact can dish out 1,400 pound-feet of torque.
Pros
  • High power output
  • Bolt removal control prevents accidents
  • Includes bag, battery, and charger
  • Competitive price
Cons
  • Issues with batteries and charger
  • Too large for regular use
Blast Fasteners Away Like a Pro With These Impact Wrenches

Our Methodology

Impact wrenches are some of the first tools you learn about when you start slinging wrenches. I'm willing to bet most of us skipped right over learning the ins and outs of ratchets and other hand tools to drool over impacts because they're way cooler. Despite offering vast improvements in efficiency and making many projects far more enjoyable, there's really not all that much to them, and it's easy to learn about what makes one better than another. I made sure to do the research on every top pick. I factored in what both pros and hobbyists have to say to come up with a list that offers something to anyone with grease under their fingernails. 

Why Trust Us

Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

Learn more

Best Impact Wrench Reviews & Recommendations

Specs

  • Manufacturer: Milwaukee
  • Part Number: 2962-20
  • Type: Cordless

Pros

  • Compact and manageable
  • Excellent performance
  • Thoughtful features
  • Five-year warranty

Cons

  • Expensive
  • No batteries included

Milwaukee's Mid Torque half-inch impact may not be the brand’s most powerful offering, but it's what I consider the most practical. The six-inch length fits easily into many spaces you'll encounter on the job, and the weight of just 5.1 pounds is something you can easily manage. It's also no slouch in terms of performance and is capable of belting out 650 pound-feet of torque and reaching 2,575 RPM. The automatic shutoff to prevent stripping during assembly and bolt removal control functions further separate it from the competition, and a five-year warranty offers customers the protection they need in demanding environments.

As a Milwaukee tool, the price is the reason folks are going to pass up on it. By the time you invest in the battery and charger, which aren't included with this part number, you're easily paying double what you would for some other impact tools.

Specs

  • Manufacturer: Ryobi
  • Part Number: P262K1
  • Type: Cordless

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Includes battery and charger
  • Compact and easily manageable
  • Great performance and features
  • Three-year warranty

Cons

  • Short battery life
  • Quality control issues common

Ryobi has clearly stepped up its game with the One+ line. This half-inch impact is a clear choice for the home mechanic and is even making waves among professionals. That's because it's able to deliver 600 pound-feet of torque in a compact package that closely rivals the top-shelf alternatives. It's also working with an automatic stop mode that prevents stripping fasteners out while tightening or slinging them across the room when loosening. Toss in a three-year warranty, and it's hard to see why it's not everyone's first choice.

As unbelievable as this impact wrench seems, a couple of issues bring it back down to Earth. The battery life of this tool is short in comparison to the competition. Also, there are some quality control issues that are evident in the many reviews of defective tools showing up on customers' door steps.

Specs

  • Manufacturer: Milwaukee
  • Part Number: 2767-21B
  • Type: Cordless

Pros

  • High power output
  • Bolt removal control prevents accidents
  • Includes bag, battery, and charger
  • Competitive price

Cons

  • Batteries and charger issues are common
  • Too large for regular use

Milwaukee's M18 half-inch impact is what us power nuts are after. This absolute monster can slam hardware with up to 1,400 pound-feet of torque. Despite what you might think, it's not all that massive. With an 8.39-inch length and weight of 7.5 pounds, this isn't small, but it's pretty good for the power. Of course, Milwaukee's bolt removal control carries over to keep you from sending fasteners to the moon, as does its five-year warranty. The price is also decent considering that it comes with the battery, a charger, and storage bag.

As for the downsides, the batteries and charger are a real issue, with many complaints surrounding malfunctioning units. This also isn't the most practical choice for regular use around the shop. Although it’s not as massive as it should be for the power, you still need plenty of room to wield it.

Specs

  • Manufacturer: DeWalt
  • Part Number: ‎DCF923B
  • Type: Cordless

Pros

  • Compact
  • Excellent power to size ratio
  • Precision Wrench control prevents accidents
  • Three-year warranty

Cons

  • Takes a while to reach max torque
  • Quality control issues common

DeWalt's Atomic impact is way better than you need it to be. It can hit fasteners with 450 pound-feet of torque, which far surpasses expectations for something of its size. It boasts a low weight of 2.77 pounds and a length of just five inches, which is more than within reason for all-day use. It also offers control to prevent stripping threads and losing fasteners while you plug along. DeWalt also backs this solid piece of equipment with a three-year warranty.

It's only fair to note that this is not going to effortlessly apply 450 pound-feet of torque. It will take some time to get there. There are also a few complaints about defective units.

Specs

  • Manufacturer: Ingersoll Rand
  • Part Number: ‎2235TiMAX
  • Type: Pneumatic

Pros

  • High-quality
  • Power and performance suited for demanding environments
  • Four-position power regulator
  • Two-year warranty

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Ergonomics need improvement

This Ingersoll Rand impact took my top pick in my air impact buying guide, so it's only fair to give it the same award here. At just north of four pounds, this mighty little monster is ready to deliver 1,350 pound-feet of torque. It rivals the power of cordless tools nearly twice the size but surpasses them in speed with the ability to free spin up to 8,500 RPM. You don't need to worry about it damaging everything it touches, however. A four-position power regulator gives you control over all that grunt. This is a professional-level tool that's built to withstand harsh environments and offer years of service to its owner. Ingersoll Rand backs it with a two-year warranty.

Unfortunately, there's no denying that the price is high for a pneumatic impact, and it doesn’t work for those who don't have an air compressor. Also, some criticize its poor ergonomics.

Specs

  • Manufacturer: DeWalt
  • Part Number: ‎DW292
  • Type: Corded

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Convenient for home mechanics
  • Simple rocker switch operation
  • Three-year warranty

Cons

  • Bulky
  • Underpowered

DeWalt's corded air impact is an affordable option for those who don't want to drop a ton of money just to bust lug nuts. Unlike most other options, that price you see really is all you pay. There's no need for batteries or a compressor. Just plug it into the wall and get ripping. It works with a rocker switch to control forward and reverse rotation. DeWalt also backs it with a three-year warranty.

This impact is great, but it's really only going to serve those who don’t need much from an impact. Its 345 pound-feet of torque isn't going to cut it for serious jobs. It also weighs in at right around eight pounds and is underpowered for the size.

Specs

  • Manufacturer: Milwaukee
  • Part Number: 2564-22
  • Type: Cordless

Pros

  • Perfect for tight spaces
  • No air hoses
  • Thoughtful features
  • Five-year warranty

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Batteries have short life

Milwaukee's M12 Fuel right-angle impact isn't the only one of its kind, but there are a few reasons it takes the title. For one, it's not pneumatic. Ditching the air lines typical with this type of tool for a compact M12 battery is perfect for tight spaces. This wrench comes with two M12 batteries and a charger to get you laying down 220 pound-feet of torque right away. The automatic shutoff and bolt removal control functions also save lives in tight spaces by preventing stripped threads and lost fasteners. As you would expect, Milwaukee's five-year warranty backs this impact for peace of mind.

This is a tool that's great when you need it but is expensive for something that sits on the shelf most of the time. The M12 batteries also drain fast, so you’ll want to use this tool sparingly.

Our Verdict

The Milwaukee M18 FUEL Mid-Torque Half-Inch Impact Wrench is a clear choice for those who need something practical, reliable, and powerful. Those of us tearing it up off the clock will find the Ryobi One+ Impact Wrench Kit more reasonable. It's more affordable but still delivers the performance you expect from modern power tools. 

Consider Secondhand

When we start shopping for tools and products, we never overlook the secondhand market. In fact, it’s usually the first place I look. Whether you’re scrolling through Amazon’s Renewed section, eBay for car parts or tools, or flipping through the pages of Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist, you have hundreds of thousands of used tools, parts, and gear ready to be shipped to your doorstep. Refurbished to like-new status, they’ll be willing to give you many more years of faithful service all while saving you money. 

If those options don’t have what you need, swap meets are a great resource. Just Google it and head on down.  

Secondhand Tips

To make your secondhand search easier, here are two tips to finding the best deals and making sure your new-to-you stuff wasn’t destroyed by the previous owner. 

  • Pneumatic impacts are easy to rebuild and repair. Buying used is a great option if you don’t need the latest and greatest features. 
  • If you’re buying used cordless impacts, make sure replacement batteries are available. Battery life decreases with time, and the batteries for the model you’re considering might be discontinued. 

What to Consider When Buying Impact Wrenches

Buying an impact is a fun, straightforward endeavor. I have no doubt in my mind that you can master the subject and shop around like a pro with just a little bit of research. This quick buying guide is intended to get started in the right direction. 

Types of Impact Wrenches

Pneumatic

Pneumatic impacts are the choice in many professional settings. The robust internal workings will take hours of abuse each day without flinching. They also offer a far better power-to-weight ratio, which makes a big difference when you need a lot of juice from a tool you’re handling all day. Many professionals favor pneumatic impacts because the shop they work in has an air compressor. That can significantly reduce their overall investment when compared to cordless tools that require batteries. 

Cordless 

Cordless impacts are a go-to for many simply because they have grown to be the most sensible option. Cutting ties with air lines and power cords is a huge deal in a small shop. There's also no need to sacrifice floor space or invest in costly compressed-air systems. The drawback to cordless impacts is that they usually have to be larger to match the power of their pneumatic counterparts. Cordless impacts are growing more and more powerful as time passes, however, and what they can dish out is often more than enough for the average mechanic and will certainly serve the DIYer well. 

Corded 

With just one corded impact on the list above, it's easy to see that they aren't all that common. They generally aren't as powerful as cordless or pneumatic impacts, nor does every leading manufacturer offer a corded impact. Still, they are highly attractive to the right person. Some DIYers just need something to bust lug nuts and nothing else. Investing in a pneumatic or cordless impact and the batteries or compressor to power it isn't justifiable in that situation. Corded impact wrenches, which don't require either, are far more practical in that situation and worthy of your consideration because of it. 

Key Features 

Torque Output

There are a few performance characteristics you want to research, but torque is the spec every manufacturer wants you to know. That's because it tells us how much power an impact can hit fasteners with. More often than not, the torque output of impacts is higher than any torque spec on your vehicle, but the numbers given are still relevant. The higher the output, the easier it is for the tool to deal with the fasteners you encounter, including those that need a little extra grunt due to rust and gunk. Other performance specs to look at are revolutions per minute (rpm) and impacts per minute (ipm). They also give you a good idea of how the tool performs under various conditions. 

Weight and Size

Unless you're only using an impact to bust lug nuts, you will be forced to balance weight and size against power and performance. You need an impact that you can use in the spaces you're forced to work in, and the weight has to be something you can manage for extended periods. As you can imagine, decreasing the size often means cutting power. That’s why you don't want to be consumed by who has the most powerful tool overall. Instead, you should look at who offers the best performing tool relative to a size that fits both into your typical working area and your budget.

Variable Speed Control

Maximum power can become more of a liability than an asset if you can't control it. You don't need to hit absolutely every fastener with maximum force because that’s how you break things. Sometimes a little is all you need. In the case of battery-powered impacts, you're also just wasting battery life by using the highest setting when you don’t need it. Most modern impacts offer variable speed and power control for these reasons. You just need to make sure the impact you're considering offers settings that you feel comfortable using. 

Pricing 

How much you spend on an impact wrench depends on the type, level of performance, and quality of the unit you select. An entry-level air impact is about $50, while a top-of-the-line unit will land anywhere from $300 to $500. A good cordless impact will cost about the same, but most entry-level units start around the $100 mark unless you're buying a tool without batteries. Corded impacts are a different story as they rarely go for more than $200, with the most affordable options starting around $30-$50. 

FAQs 

You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers.

Q: Is it worth getting an impact wrench?

A: Yes. An impact wrench is worth buying. Even if you use it solely for busting lug nuts, it will transform your working experience. Whether it's worth investing in the top-of-the-line model relies on your intended use and how much scratch you're willing to spend. 

Q: Can I use regular sockets on an impact wrench?

A: Nope. Regular chrome sockets shouldn't be used on impact wrenches. They are harder and more brittle than impact sockets. You might get away with it a few times, but there is a potential for chrome sockets to crack and shatter when used on impact tools.

Q: What can I use an impact wrench for?

A: Impact wrenches are fantastic for wheel, chassis, and suspension work, and you're pretty much free to use them in any project that falls within those categories. You don't want to use them for engine or driveline work, as they are usually far more sensitive to torque settings, and the vibrations could cause harm to the many delicate parts.

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