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If you spend much time on auto repair or DIY projects that involve repetitive tightening or loosening of nuts and bolts, you likely know how rough those movements can be on your hands and wrists. The solution? An impact wrench, which is a handheld tool designed to make quick work of the task, sparing you a great deal of strain.
Impact wrenches deliver tremendous torque—turning power—to nuts and bolts, making it a breeze to loosen or tighten even a large or stuck-in-place fastener.
Here are the best impact wrenches across a variety of categories.
From assembling the patio furniture to removing stubborn lug nuts on vehicles, the Milwaukee Fuel High Torque 1/2-Inch Impact Wrench can handle almost any job. The cordless high torque wrench has a four-mode drive control with bolt removal that makes it a stellar choice for serious weekend warriors. You'll appreciate the L-shaped handle with rubber over mold that offers a comfortable grip while plowing through lengthy jobs.
The tool is just over 8 inches in length and has a bright LED light that covers a wide swath of work area. The friction ring cuts back on difficult socket changes, and the Redlink Plus intelligence prevents the tool from overheating or overloading and damaging the many moving parts. It is one of the more powerful wrenches on the market for its size and has 1,000 foot-pounds of fastening torque and 1,400 ft-lbs of nut-busting force.
Porter-Cable makes a powerful line of tools, and they are affordable to boot. The tool company’s PCE211 7.5 amp ½-inch impact wrench is one of the better reviewed models on the market. It has 450 ft-lbs of torque with 2,200 rpm, so you're not sacrificing anything with this impact wrench. The forward-and-reverse rocker switch is easy to manipulate with one hand. This is an ideal tool for removing lug nuts on commercial vehicles as well as quickly changing out nuts and bolts on lightweight items such as furniture, shelving, and door hinges.
For those just starting out or who want to buy an all-inclusive starter package without paying a bundle, this wrench kit deserves attention. Designed for comfort and power, the DeWalt DCF899M1 20V Max XR Brushless High Torque Wrench Kit packs a punch for a reasonable price. And it has all the high-end features that you would want in a wrench kit.
With up to 700 ft-lbs of max torque, the DeWalt kit is powerful. It is small and lightweight, measuring just 8-13/16 inches and weighing in at 7.2 pounds. The impact wrench is versatile with multi-speed control to be used in a wide range of odd jobs. It has a bright LED light with a 20-second delay for tight, dark spots and a half-inch anvil with detent pin.
For jobs that require power but no fuss, the DeWalt 20-Volt Max Lithium-Ion Cordless Impact Wrench Kit offers maximum torque without the inconvenience of a long cord. The DeWalt DCF883m2 has 1,560 in-lbs of maximum torque that will get you through wood, masonry, and metal in no time. It is a breeze to use in small spaces, and cuts through rusted bolts or oxidized lug nuts quickly and easily. It is also stocked with items for long-term use in places that may not have easy access to power. The kit includes two 20-volt lithium-ion batteries with built-in fuel gauge so you can go longer and faster on those difficult jobs that put you in a tight squeeze. The three front-facing LED lights offer brightness to dark workspaces. It’s also one of the smaller impact wrenches with the most torque at 3.4 pounds.
Sometimes a tool that is required to do two things at once actually does one thing better than the other. This isn't the case with the Bosch Freak 18-Volt Impact Wrench. It’s both a driver and a wrench, and it makes quite an impact.
It uses ¼-inch hex screwdriver bits and ½-inch impact sockets. The practical tool quickly switches between screwdriver and nut-driver bits (as well as sockets), so you won’t have to search around for an adapter for the more complicated jobs that require different tools. The powerful brushless motor delivers a maximum of 1,800 in-lbs of torque and up to 4,200 impact-per-minute for professional power and impact.
The Freak comes with battery, charger, and soft case, as well as a belt clip to keep it near at hand.
Best for Lug Nuts: DEWALT 20-Volt Max XR Lithium-Ion 1/2 in. Cordless Impact Wrench Kit with Detent Pin Anvil
Removing stubborn lug nuts can be a painstaking task, so you'll want to invest in a heavy duty tool that can get the job done quickly. Our top pick is the DeWalt 10V Max XR Lithium-Ion Cordless Impact Wrench because it has 2,000 in-lbs of maximum torque and a brushless motor that will extend its life. A ½-inch anvil with a dent pit makes the wrench resistant to breakage and the annoying shearing that so often comes with lug nut removal. It can handle drops from as high as 8 feet with its compact design and durable casing. This impact wrench also has an LED light with a 20-second delay for use in dark spaces.
If you're looking for a high-performance tool that is lightweight but still able to pull off big jobs, the Ingersoll Rand 2235TiMAX Drive Air Impact Wrench is a great option. It has a well manufactured drive mechanism to put out serious spin ability with 1,350 in-lbs of torque. Ingersoll’s ½-inch air impact wrench is known for its power-to-weight ratio, as it weighs in at only 4.6 pounds and has a four-position power regulator (which makes the torque easy to adjust).
The Chicago Pneumatic CP7732 ½-Inch Stubby Impact Wrench is an absolute workhorse. It can easily maneuver tight spaces and it packs a powerful punch. It can strip pull out stubborn stripped screws or oxidized bolts that are squirreled away in an inconvenient location. If a bolt or lug nut is lodged in a difficult place, the user-friendly stubby impact wrench won’t hold you up as you grapple with finding a good grip on the handle. It has a one-hand operation trigger with three position settings that come in both forward and reverse. Plus, this tool works well for people who are left-handed and right-handed.
The Milwaukee Fuel High Torque Impact Wrench (available at Amazon) is one of the most powerful impact wrenches for its size; it makes quick work of even the toughest nuts and bolts, letting you loosen or tighten them with ease. But if you merely need an impact wrench for simple tasks around the house or garage, and don’t demand the utmost in power and torque, you’ll find the Porter-Cable PCE211 (available at Amazon) is very reasonably priced and a great choice for the average DIYer.