Air impact wrenches are powerful and produce high levels of torque. They are the go-to tool when removing lug nuts or rusted bolts. When shopping for the best pneumatic impact wrench, consider the size of the drive, as this dictates what tasks you can do.
We show you the 8 best air impact wrenches for your money.
- 4-way power setting
- Titanium hammer casing
- Running speed of 8,500 RPM
- 1,400 blows per minute
- 1,295 ft-lbfs torque
- Quiet exhaust at 86 dB
- Adjustable power output
- Ergonomic 2-piece design
- 8,000 RPM speed
- 11,000 RPM speed
- 1,200 beats per min
- Lightweight at 2.8 lbs
- Twin clutch hammer
- Patented ergonomic handle
- 8,000 RPM speed
- Tool & socket set in one
- 6-vane motor
- Includes a carry-case
- Lightweight at 2.5 lbs
- Has silencing technology
- Compact design
- Entry-level tool
- 8,000 RPM speed
- 0.50-inch drive
What Is an Air Impact Wrench?
An air impact wrench is a socket tool that delivers high amounts of torque with the minimum effort for the user, to remove rusted and stubborn bolts and nuts. The energy gets delivered through rotational force. They also tighten bolts in applications that require impact force.
The power comes from compressed air, fed through a compressor, and the striking mechanism consists of an engine, a spring, an anvil, and a hammer.
What Is an Air Impact Wrench Used For?
Typically, you find air impact wrenches in garages and auto-shops. They are used to tighten bolts and nuts using high torque force so that they stay tight. They are also used to remove stripped and rusted bolts and lug nuts when making repairs to machinery and cars.
Mechanics love them because they speed up their work rate when stripping down engines for repair.
How To Choose the Best Air Impact Wrench
There are many factors at play when choosing the best air impact wrench. Here are some of the basics to look out for.
Drive sizes range from 0.25 inches to 1-inch. Smaller drive sizes limit the work you can do with the device because it hampers its ability to produce torque. Drives of less than 0.50 inches are better suited to lighter duties.
Above 0.50 inches, you get a higher torque, which increases the type of applications you can undertake. Auto-repair shops typically use 0.50-inch or above. They will tighten or loosen almost anything you can think of in the garage or on the construction site.
Torque and Speed
Torque and speed go hand in hand. The amount you have determines what you can tighten or loosen. As we’ve said, smaller drive impact wrenches have lower torque levels, which reduces the types of jobs you can do.
Torque is the rotational force of the impact wrench, while speed controls how fast it spins. For stubborn bolts, you should use a low speed and a high degree of torque. Imagine it like twisting the cap off a jar. You turn hard and slow.
Speed influences how quickly you tighten a bolt or unscrew it once you have loosened it using torque. A higher speed air impact wrench will loosen a bolt faster because the number of times the hammer strikes the anvil increases.
Weight and Dimensions
These are secondary considerations but important, nonetheless. A heavier wrench will be more tiring for prolonged spells of use. Hand and wrist fatigue can be crippling, and it directly influences the amount of time you can work. It can even lead to accidents.
The dimensions of your wrench dictate the versatility of the work you can do. A wrench with a long nose can access bolts in hard-to-reach places. And engines have many awkward and inaccessible spots.
These tools are expensive, so getting the best quality you can is essential. The type of work they do means they should be robust and able to withstand punishment. Look for an impact wrench with reinforced housing, using Kevlar or other strong materials.
Check what material the hammer and anvil are, as they have the most demanding task and are prone to wear and tear. And always check the reviews of well-known websites before you buy. Some are startlingly honest, and you will quickly learn about any complaints. Surprisingly, you will spot the common ones as they appear several times.
Air impact wrenches are noisy; that’s an unavoidable fact. But, some are noisier than others. The difference in volume could be as much as 10 dB. Some wrenches use sound-dampening technology to reduce the volume.
You should always wear ear defenders when using an impact wrench to protect your ears from damage.
Check how the wrench feels to hold. This is tricky when ordering online, but you can check out how it feels before buying it if you are in a store. Using one all day can take its toll on your hands, wrist, and arms.
Getting a wrench with an ergonomically designed handle will improve your user experience and reduce fatigue.
The budget always has a role to play. As with all tools, you get cheaper models, mid-priced and high-end air impact wrenches. If you spend more, expect more. The lifespan of the wrench should be longer and don’t settle for any cheap elements in the design and construction.
If you are spending less, accept that it will malfunction at some point and likely need replacing. Budget impact wrenches are better suited to occasional use, so they could still represent excellent value. If you are looking for an air impact wrench for commercial reasons, get a high-end model.
What About the Warranty
Air impact wrenches are not cheap items. So, once you’ve decided which one is right for you, you need to know you are protected should anything go wrong. Warranties offer peace of mind to the buyer. They can range from 1 to 3 years.
A warranty is a great way of gauging how confident the manufacturer is about their product. Longer warranties indicate full confidence.
The Best Air Impact Wrenches of 2022
With so many air impact wrenches to choose from, we single out 8 of the best.
1. Ingersoll Rand 2235TiMAX Air Impact Wrench
Best Overall Air Impact Wrench
Ingersoll Rand dominates this market, and users sing their praises all the time. This model has a twin hammer mechanism and a 4-way power setting. This makes it easy to adjust to cater to smaller jobs, and when called for, increasing the speed for heavy-duty tasks.
It produces 1,350 ft-lbs of torque and has a running speed of 8,500 RPM. The drive size is 0.50 inches, so it can be used in a commercial setting, and it generates 98 dB, which isn’t the quietest air impact wrench on the market.
This wrench has a 2-year warranty, so you can purchase it with confidence knowing that you are covered in case of malfunctions. The casing is robust and hard-wearing, and the hammer has a titanium housing to make it lighter without compromising the strength.
Great Brand Name
You cannot argue with the brand name. They are undisputed industry leaders, and their air impact wrenches are a firm favorite with professionals across the globe. These tools come highly recommended, and you cannot beat that kind of feedback when making your choice.
Titanium Hammer Casing
Titanium is both lightweight and extremely robust, so reducing the weight of the impact wrench while maintaining the core integrity of the design is crucial. It reduces weight without any adverse effects on performance.
Lots of Power
For such a compact tool, it produces a high level of torque. This increases your ability to work on the most stubborn bolts and nuts. It also ensures you have the tightest fit when reassembling engines and machinery.
This is a noisy air impact wrench. You will need ear defenders when using this tool. Some impact wrenches are a lot quieter.
|Dimensions (inches)||7.6 x 2.91 x 7.48|
|Adjustable speed||4 speeds|
|Drive size (inches)||0.50|
2. Aircat 1150 “Killer Torque” 0.50-Inch Air Impact Wrench
Best Heavy-Duty Air Impact Wrench
This Aircat has a twin hammer action, like the Ingersoll Rand. It also has a 0.50-inch drive, but where it differs is in the BPM, or Blows Per Minute. This air impact wrench generates 1,400 BPM, making it the most powerful on the market compared to similar models.
It doesn’t generate the same torque levels as the Ingersoll Rand, at 1,295 ft-lbs, but the hammer action more than makes up for this shortfall. It’s the reason it is such a great heavy-duty impact wrench.
Couple the enhanced BPM with a rotor that’s 15 percent larger than the rest, and you start to see why this is such a heavy-duty tool. And compared to others, this is quiet too. It creates 86 dB of noise, which is still loud, but not for an air impact wrench.
1,400 Blows per Minute
The BPM of this model is what gives it such an advantage over other models. The faster and more blows you get, the more effective the wrench is at tightening and loosening bolts and nuts.
This wrench is almost half the price of the Ingersoll Rand model, making it an outstanding value for money. Okay, it has less torque, but not enough to make much of a difference to the performance.
The dB levels on this impact wrench are far superior to others in its class. It generates 86 dB, which is about the same as a domestic vacuum cleaner.
Lacks Adjustable Speed
You only get forward and reverse. There are no other speed options, so it drastically reduces your capabilities when tackling different scenarios.
|Dimensions (inches)||7.5 x 2.8 x 7|
|Drive size (inches)||0.50|
3. Ingersoll Rand 231C 0.50-Inch Heavy-Duty Air Impact Wrench
Best Industrial Air Impact Wrench
This heavy-duty impact wrench has 600 ft-lbs of torque and a top speed of 8,000 RPM. It is the ideal tool to use in industrial settings like auto-repair shops and factory production lines. It is slightly heavier than other models, weighing 6.4 pounds, but it does have a twin hammer action for greater impact.
This wrench price is a lot less than the other Ingersoll models featured, making it a great choice for beginners. It also has an adjustable power regulator so you can switch up the power when needed.
It arrives fully lubricated and ready to use straight out of the box, and the ergonomic 2-piece design makes it easy to use and comfortable.
Adjustable Power Output
The ability to dial-up or down on the power is super-convenient. It makes the tool more versatile when switching tasks and you need to adjust the settings to match the job.
Ergonomic 2-Piece Design
The 2-piece design makes this wrench ergonomic and a delight to handle. It also makes it easier to perform basic maintenance tasks to keep it in working order.
Ready To Use
It arrives fully lubricated, so you can start using it straight out of the box. There is minimal set-up, saving you precious time. Now that’s what we call convenient.
99 dB Loud
This impact wrench runs at 99 dB, which is louder than other similar makes and models. You definitely need your ear defenders with this air impact wrench.
Weighs 6.4 Pounds
Thank goodness for the ergonomic design because the added weight could put extra strain on your hands, wrists, and arms. This tool weighs 6.4 pounds, which is over 2 pounds heavier than the Aircat.
|Dimensions (inches)||3.4 x 8.2 x 8.8|
|Drive size (inches)||0.50|
4. DeWALT Square Drive Air Impact Wrench
Best Air Impact Wrench for Light Duties
Sometimes, when you have lighter tasks to perform around the house or garage, you need an impact wrench that caters to lighter duties. This DeWALT is the perfect tool for occasional use around the home. It has a drive size of 0.375 inches, making it unsuitable for many heavy-duty or commercial applications.
However, it still packs a punch. It has 300 ft-lbs of torque and spins at a maximum of 11,000 RPM. It also generates 1,200 beats per minute. As it’s a DeWALT, you can expect state-of-the-art features like a shock-absorbing bumper and an ergonomic handle for comfort and extra grip.
It even has a twin hammer action to rival the bigger, more powerful impact wrenches.
This impact wrench falls squarely into the category of entry-level tool, and the price reflects that. It costs a fraction of the Ingersoll Rand models, making it an ideal beginner’s wrench to learn the ropes.
Ideal for Light Duties
It is the perfect wrench to keep around the home and garage. It performs lighter tasks, freeing you to get on with your day. Stripped bolts or rusted fasteners, deals with them all with ease.
Lightweight and Sturdy
It only weighs 2.8 pounds, so using it should be a breeze. But because it is light does not mean it lacks durability. It has a rugged housing that is almost indestructible.
This is a smaller impact wrench designed for lighter duties. It only has 300 ft-lbs of torque, which might restrict the applications it can do. The drive size also plays a role in limiting its versatility.
|Dimensions (inches)||9.33 x 8.33 x 2.88|
|Drive size (inches)||0.375|
5. Nitrocat 1200-K 0.50-Inch Kevlar Composite Air Impact Wrench
Best Quietest Air Impact Wrench
This Nitrocat wrench comes with a twin clutch, which delivers power, but differs from the twin hammer mechanism. It does make the wrench a little slower than the competition, but it still gets the job done.
The grip is ergonomic, and it weighs 4.6 pounds, which is in line with other similar models. Where this impact wrench stands out is in the noise levels it produces. It creates 86 decibels, so it is considerably quieter than the Ingersoll Rand models.
This is all the more impressive when you consider the power output of this tool. It generates 1,295 ft-lbs of torque and has a top speed of 8,000 RPM. The drive size is 0.50 inches, and it has a patented forward and reverse operation lever for increased control.
It even has Kevlar housing and a patented ergonomic handle.
Twin Clutch Hammer
The twin-clutch hammer delivers an impressive impact to loosen rusted and frozen bolts. Couple that with the 1,295 ft-lbs of torque, and you have a serious air impact wrench for the toughest tasks.
It seems like a list of firsts with this impact wrench. It has a patented ergonomic handle, a patented forward and reverse switch, and a patented quiet tuned exhaust. It all adds up to an impressive tool.
This tool runs at 86 dB, making it one of the quietest air impact wrenches on the market. 86 dB is about the same as a vacuum cleaner.
It seems this impact wrench takes 1 to 2 seconds longer per bolt than the competition when removing stripped bolts and rusted fasteners. It isn’t such a problem but worth bearing in mind.
|Dimensions (inches)||9.25 x 8.5 x 3|
|Drive size (inches)||0.50|
6. Ingersoll Rand 2317G Edge Series Air Impact Wrench
Best Automotive Air Impact Wrench
This Edge Series impact wrench comes complete with a socket set and a 170G ratchet. It is everything you need to start repairing your vehicle straight out of the box. The wrench has a twin hammer action for maximum impact, and the handle is ergonomically designed for increased comfort and grip.
The ratchet head is heat-treated for improved durability, and the 6-vane motor on the impact tool achieves the maximum power to weight ratio. The impact wrench creates 500 ft-lbs of torque, and the ratchet wrench delivers 55 ft-lbs.
The drive size is 0.375 inches, so while it doesn’t have the same strengths as larger wrenches, it is the ideal tool for vehicle maintenance.
Tool and Socket Set in One
It is the ultimate complete package for vehicle maintenance, thanks to the socket set and ratchet wrench. It means you have everything you need to start stripping that engine and making repairs.
Optimal Power To Weight
The 6-vane motor delivers the best possible power to weight ratio. It means you get the maximum performance from this tool every time. Nothing is wasted, making it an efficient device.
This set costs the same as a bare tool, and yet, you get all these accessories. It’s the reason we chose this as the best impact wrench for making car repairs.
All the sockets, the ratchet wrench, and the impact wrench are housed securely in a handy carry case. It keeps all your tools in one place for added convenience and saves you from losing them.
Smaller Drive Size
The smaller drive size might limit you to the sorts of tasks you can undertake. It reduces the versatility of the tool and restricts you to fewer applications.
|Dimensions (inches)||13.2 x 13 x 4.25|
|Torque||500 ft-lbs (55 ft-lbs for ratchet wrench)|
|Drive size (inches)||0.375|
7. Aircat 1076-XL Compact Impact Wrench
Best Compact Air Impact Wrench
If you are on the lookout for a compact impact wrench, look no further than this Aircat. It is the perfect tool for getting into those hard-to-reach spots thanks to its diminutive dimensions.
It weighs just 2.5 pounds and is 4.25 x 3 x 7 inches in size. You would expect it to lack power thanks to its size, but that’s not the case. It delivers 550 ft-lbs of torque, and it has a triple heat-treated hammer, constructed from alloy steel for power and impact.
It also has silencing technology that reduces the volume of the wrench, as well as an ergonomic handle that helps enhance the grip and comfort levels.
Lightweight and Compact
If you want a tool that makes it easier to get into tight spots, like when stripping an engine, this is a great choice. It is compact, lightweight, and easy to handle. It also means you reduce hand, wrist, and arm fatigue.
Most air impact wrenches run at about 90 to 100 decibels, but this model is far quieter at 85 decibels. You will still need ear defenders, but there will be less impact on your eardrums over prolonged use.
Great Value for Money
This is a perfect tool to learn how to use an impact wrench, and it also comes with an entry-level price-tag. It costs a fraction of the price compared to some of the bigger and more powerful impact wrenches.
You are limited to the types of applications you can do thanks to the drive size, at 0.375 inches. It is still an effective wrench, but it might be better suited to home and garage duties than in an industrial setting.
|Dimensions (inches)||4.25 x 3 x 7|
|Drive size (inches)||0.375|
8. Campbell Hausfeld 0.50-Inch Air Impact Wrench
Best Budget Air Impact Wrench
This is the budget model, so it gets a big tick for price. It’s the type of wrench you would buy to get the job done with minimum cost. It doesn’t really excel at any one thing, but as a package, it is excellent value for money.
It produces 550 ft-lbs of torque and a top speed under no strain of 8,000 RPM, so all good so far. It even has a 3-speed regulator and a twin hammer mechanism. However, it feels cheaply made, so you know it will suffer in the harsh environment of the workshop or factory, making it better suited to the home or garage.
The casing deteriorates quickly as the chrome hammer housing scratches and corrodes. Also, users reported that internal components worked loose, which is never a good thing to happen. It seems you get what you pay for.
Low Cost, High Return
For the price, you cannot argue that this is good value for money, especially when you see the torque output matches that of far more expensive models.
Great Entry-Level Wrench
As a starter wrench, this does the job admirably. It is no-frills or fuss, and minimal cost. These are all qualities that beginners look for when learning the ropes.
Despite being a cheap model, it comes with a drive size that gives it maximum versatility when switching applications. It is at home in the workshop and the house.
You can see and feel when something is of quality, and this just isn’t. It feels cheaply made, with easily damaged housing and poorly fitting components. This is not going to last a lifetime, so maybe going cheap is a false economy.
|Dimensions (inches)||9.85 x 3 x 9.06|
|Adjustable speed||3 speeds|
|Drive size (inches)||0.50|
|Product||Best||Weight||Dimensions||Torque||Adjustable speed||Drive size||Decibels||Warranty|
|Ingersoll Rand Air Impact Wrench||Overall Choice||5 lbs||7.6 x 2.91 x 7.48″||1,350 ft-lbs||Yes||1″||98||2-year|
|Aircat Killer Torque||Heavy-Duty||5 lbs||7.5 x 2.8 x 7″||1,295 ft-lbs||No||1″||86||2-year|
|Ingersoll Rand Heavy-Duty Wrench||Industrial||6.4 lbs||3.4 x 8.2 x 8.8″||600 ft-lbs||Yes||0.5″||99||1-year|
|DeWALT Square Drive||Light Duties||2.8 lbs||9.33 x 8.33 x 2.88″||300 ft-lbs||Yes||0||N/A||3-year limited|
|Nitrocat Kevlar Composite Wrench||Quietest||4.5 lbs||9.25 x 8.5 x 3″||1,295 ft-lbs||No||0.5″||86||2-year|
|Ingersoll Rand Edge Series||Automotive||12.08 lbs||13.2 x 13 x 4.25″||500 ft-lbs||No||0||N/A||1-year limited|
|Aircat Compact Impact Wrench||Compact||2.5 lbs||4.25 x 3 x 7″||550 ft-lbs||No||0.375″||85||2-year|
|Campbell Hausfeld Air Impact Wrench||Budget Pick||5 lbs||9.85 x 3 x 9.06″||550 ft-lbs||Yes||0.5″||N/A||1-year limited|
What Size Air Compressor Do I Need for an Air Impact Wrench?
Typically, you will need an air compressor with a 4 to 5 CFM (cubic feet per minute) and a 90 PSI to operate a 0.50-inch impact wrench. It’s also advisable to get a 20-gallon air compressor to avoid delays between applications.
How To Use an Air Impact Wrench
Before you start using the wrench, put on your safety gear. Safety goggles and gloves are essential to protect you from shrapnel and to give you a better grip. Also, wear ear defenders to help cancel out the noise of the wrench. These tools are extremely loud.
1. Assemble the Wrench
Unlike electric wrenches, air impact wrenches require some assembly before use. Attach the air hose from the tool and the compressor. Make sure both ends are screwed tight, so you achieve the correct air pressure.
Check the air pressure to make sure it is functioning correctly. Also, check your hoses for splits or holes that might cause the air pressure to drop. Pull the trigger to see if the wrench is working. If the socket spins, it works.
2. Select the Speed
Rotate the speed selector dial to choose the speed that the socket spins. Select the rate of rotation based on the job you are undertaking.
3. Loosen the Nut
Select the correct socket size for the nut or bolt you want to loosen. Test it for size on the bolt before inserting it into the wrench. It should fit snugly, without room for slippage. The last thing you would want is the socket getting stuck on the bolt if the fit is too tight.
Choose the reverse setting on the impact wrench and insert the socket. Place the socket over the bolt and push it in place. Hold the wrench firmly and pull the trigger, and the bolt will start to twist loose.
4. Remove the Bolt
Once you feel the bolt spinning freely in the socket, take your finger off the trigger and lay the impact driver aside. Now you should be able to loosen the nut by hand and remove it.
For tightening a nut or bolt, do the reverse of this procedure, remembering to select the forward setting.
A Wrench for All Tasks
Air impact wrenches are the perfect tool for removing stubborn and rusted nuts, bolts, and fasteners. If you are working on a car and need rapid progress, an air impact wrench gets it done without any fuss.
So, the next time you decide to strip an engine, get an air impact wrench and keep it handy.