In this side-by-side product review Outside Pursuits leads you through everything you need to know in order to pick the best cordless impact wrench for your specific needs and shop’s requirements.
We’ll take a look at who makes the best battery-powered impact wrench and what to avoid. Also see How To Choose A Cordless Impact Wrench later in the article. What is the best cordless impact wrench and driver?
Quick Answer: The 5 Best Cordless Impact Wrenches
Best Cordless Impact Wrenches
|Milwaukee 2763-22 M18||DeWalt DCF880HM2||Craftsman C3|
|Torque||100/700 ft lbs||150 ft lbs||300 ft lbs
|Weight||15 lbs||8.5 lbs||2.2 lbs
|Special Features||Max 700 rpm, Max 2300 ipm||Max 2300 rpm, Max 2700 ipm||Max 3000 rpm, Max 3000 ipm
|Customer Ratings||4.8 / 5.0 Stars||4.5 / 5.0 Stars||4.5 / 5.0 Stars|
Also see: Cordless Impact Wrench Comparison Table
Best Cordless Impact Wrench Reviews
- 100/700 ft lbs of torque
- Max 700 rpm
- Max 2300 ipm
- 15 lbs
It has two different modes. The low torque setting of up to 100 foot pounds of force works well for light work and a nut-busting torque of up to 700 foot pounds of force for heavy jobs.
This is serious power we’re working with. It breezed through every test we threw at it with no problems at all.
To keep power steady, the battery output is stable from full charge to when it dies. This translates to no frustrating power loss as you work (just remember to keep it charged).
In the long term, the Milwaukee 2763-22 M18 has received rave reviews for how long it lasts. Milwaukee are so confident that they have given the gun and charger a five-year no-nonsense warranty, even paying for postage themselves.
It uses a brushless motor, which Milwaukee claims to last up to ten times longer due to lower heat generation. As a further safety feature, there are heat sensors within the gun, which shut off the power if any part of the wrench overheats, from the battery to the gun itself. In the unlikely event it does overheat, give it a minute to cool before picking it up and going again.
Stretching way out in front on the price scale, the question is whether it justifies its cost. If you don’t spend too much time in the garage, you could see it as too expensive. However, I would have no hesitation in saying that buying the Milwaukee 2763-22 M18 gets you the best impact wrench on the market.
- 150 ft lbs of torque
- Max 2300 rpm
- Max 2700 ipm
- 8.5 lbs
Two batteries make life a lot easier. If one runs out halfway through your job, you can just reload and get straight back at it. With each one lasting for 4 amp hours, and with a fast charging unit, it is unlikely you’ll find yourself without power.
Three LEDs light up when in use for work either at night or if you’re under a hood with restricted light. Having three lights gives you all-round illumination so there are no shadows. After releasing the trigger, these lights stay on for another 20 seconds so you can still see what you need to.
It takes on all standard work to more or less the same standard as compressed air impact wrenches, but could possibly struggle a bit with some big old and rusty bolts.
In brief, DeWalt impress again with their quality. The DCF880HM2 is a great addition to any toolkit. Light and small enough so it is really easy to use, with enough power to comfortably take on any job.
- 300 ftlbf torque
- Max 3000 rpm
- Max 3000 ipm
- 2 lbs
It is a lightweight model that packs a serious punch, easily taking on everything we threw at it except the most arduous tasks. On paper, it is significantly more powerful than the DeWalt DCF880HM2, maxing out at 3000 rotations and impacts per minute, and dishing out 300 foot pounds of torque.
The battery lasts an impressive 4 amp hours, quelling the fears that have historically plagued battery powered impact wrenches. Like the DeWalt model, the Craftsman C3 has three lights to help in dark conditions, casting no shadows.
Although the overall performance is impressive, I found a couple of drawbacks. The build quality doesn’t feel quite as solid as wrenches in a higher price bracket. Over time, users claim that the battery falling out and the rubber handle coming loose in oily conditions is an issue that is uncommon, but possible.
The second bad point for me is the lack of range. With just one power setting, it doesn’t have the same flexibility as other products.
In summary, despite the negatives I outlined before, the Craftsman C3 performs surprisingly well. It is practical and powerful, and for the price, it is difficult to beat.
#4 Ryobi P1833
- 300 ft lbs of torque
- Max 3200 ipm
- 1.6 lbs
It is the lightest item listed here, but takes no prisoners in its specifications. It has the standard 300 foot pounds of torque for a mid-sized battery impact wrench which takes care of standard tasks with ease. Couple that with a maximum of 3200 impacts per minute, and you have a seriously robust cordless impact drill.
The Ryobi P1833 beats the pack in terms of settings, which I see as an important feature. With three different power settings, you can cover the most intricate bits all the way up to the nut-busting jobs, without fear of doing damage.
The lithium battery has a very impressive life that didn’t die throughout the entire test. There is a noticeable increase in temperature, but nothing that would cause any serious problems.
In summary, the Ryobi P1833 is a real competitor in the cordless impact wrench market. The fantastic power to weight ratio, long lasting battery and three speed settings have kept plenty of users more than happy.
- 300 ft lbs of torque
- Max 2600 rpm
- Max 3000 ipm
- 9 lbs
The OEMTOOLS 24486 has a similarly impressive battery life to the Ryobi model, lasting at least a day’s worth of work.
In this time, you can draw out 260 ft·lbf of torque for tightening, and 300 ft·lbf to remove nuts. Its speed is particularly impressive, with a maximum of up to 2600 rotations per minute and 3000 impacts per minute.
One drawback is its weight compared with its competitors. It is not a deal-breaking problem, but there are significantly lighter products out there.
With only a one-year warranty, it doesn’t give you the security of other electric impact wrenches on this list, but users who have owned it for a while do not report any problems with durability.
All points considered, the OEMTOOLS 24486 is a great tool that easily holds its own against the more recognized brands. Undercutting the DeWalt and the Milwaukee by a significant amount, it is the best on this list in terms of value for money.
Cordless Impact Wrench Comparison Table
|Best Cordless Impact Wrenches||Price||Torque (ft lbs)||Weight||Special Features||Customer Ratings
|Milwaukee 2763-22 M18||$545.25||100/700 ft lbs||15 lbs||Max 700 rpm, Max 2300 ipm||4.8 / 5.0 Stars|
|DeWalt DCF880HM2||$217.99||150 ft lbs||8.5 lbs||Max 2300 rpm, Max 2700 ipm||4.5 / 5.0 Stars|
|Craftsman C3||$143.96||300 ft lbs ||2.2 lbs||Max 3000 rpm, Max 3000 ipm||4.5 / 5.0 Stars
|Ryobi P1833||$146.00||300 ft lbs ||1.6 lbs||Max 3200 ipm||4.7 / 5.0 Stars
|OEMTOOLS 24486||$109.98||300 ft lbs ||9 lbs||Max 2600 rpm, Max 3000 ipm||4.6 / 5.0 Stars
How to Choose A Cordless Impact Wrench
Everybody from NASCAR mechanics to wannabe engineers in their garage can make good use of a cordless impact wrench.
We’ve all been there. You’ve tried karate chopping a regular wrench and shouted expletives at it, but that tight old bolt just won’t budge. This is when an impact wrench takes center stage.
They make tightening and loosening jobs much safer. Instead of getting yourself into a sweat trying to yank off a nut, just a few seconds with an impact wrench will get the job done.
The world of impact wrenches can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you’re new to the market.
The range of confusing numbers and measurements to take into account can seem confusing and irrelevant to a lot of users. Below, you will find out what they mean and how they apply to impact drivers.
Read through my buyer’s guide below for an explanation on what factors are important and what to look for when choosing the best cordless impact wrench for you.
Key points to consider
- Power needed for basic jobs
- Different settings
- Revolutions Per Minute (RPM)
- Impacts Per Minute (IPM)
- Battery Powered
- FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions
- Final Thoughts
The most important thing an impact wrench needs is the force to twist difficult bolts.
This rotational force is called torque, a measurement you might be aware of if you own a 4X4 or if you’ve spent a respectable amount of time in a car garage. It is measured in foot pounds of force (ft·lbf).
For impact wrenches, you might think the higher your torque, the better. That’s not exactly the case.
What kind of equipment you want to work on determines the power you need. The section below will give you an outline of what kind of power you will need for the task at hand.
Power needed for basic jobs
In general, the torque needed for loosening lugs has no upper limit.
However, for smaller tightening jobs, such as engine work or any interior work, low power is better. Too much power can easily strip threads on smaller nuts or screws, and when you only need to move a screw a short distance, lower power gives you much more control.
High-torque impact wrenches are for work such as rusted suspension units, pitman arms and other heavy-duty jobs.
A cordless impact wrench with a mid-range torque is definitely the best place to start if you don’t have a specific job in mind. They cover around 90% of the regular jobs you would need it for.
What’s more, when tightening, impact wrenches should only be used to make fasteners snug, before using a torque wrench to guarantee the correct torque. In these circumstances, the main objective of an impact wrench is to speed up the process, not to apply massive amounts of torque.
To provide variable power, many of these impact wrenches feature different settings so you can use the same wrench for all of your different projects.
Delicate engine work can actually become more difficult with more torque and revolutions per minute, as the wrench can pop your bolts out too quickly. Not only that, but a change of power can have a significant effect on battery life.
Revolutions Per Minute (RPM)
High torque takes care of the strength your impact wrench has, and the RPM determines how fast your wrench spins.
The revolutions per minute stated in the ‘at a glance’ section of the product reviews details the revolutions when not attached to anything. On tough lugs, this slows significantly, but as a general rule, the faster your wrench spins, the faster your bolts come loose.
Impacts Per Minute (IPM)
Whereas revolutions per minute deal with spinning speed, impacts per minute is how often torque is applied to the bolt. It replaces the role of a hit on a manual wrench and saves your knuckles.
More impacts per minute means more of an attack on any resistance. Compared to manual work, 3000 impacts per minute, such as that in the OEMTOOLS 24486, translates to 50 impacts per second. Try doing that with a mallet.
An impact wrench by itself is not going to get any jobs done for you. You need a set of sockets. These are the small metallic circles that all have one consistent end that attaches to the impact wrench and another end that has a range of sizes to fit different sized bolts.
All of the products on this list are half-inch wrenches, which means the consistent end matches your wrench, while the different ends fit onto the bolt.
It’s hard to shake a reputation, so you can be forgiven for hearing “cordless impact wrench” and automatically wincing at the weight, comically short battery life and far-from-ideal torque.
Luckily, the lithium-ion revolution has spread to impact wrenches too. Their fantastic energy density means you can get more power out of a battery that is both smaller and lighter than the previously used nickel-based batteries that caused so much frustration.
All of our picks in this list have lithium batteries, so worrying about battery life is quickly becoming a thing of the past.
Battery impact wrenches have seen a huge decrease in weight since the introduction of lithium-ion batteries in the mid 2000s.
A lighter impact wrench gives you a lot more flexibility and versatility. It puts far less strain on your wrist, meaning you can use it in awkward positions for areas that are difficult to reach.
A comfortable grip is quite a basic feature that the best impact drivers have as standard.
All of the items in these impact driver reviews have a molded handle and a rubber grip which sits comfortably in the hand, reducing the possibility of dropping it and increasing safety.
Battery Powered vs. Air Powered Impact Wrenches
Battery powered impact wrenches are a relatively new addition to the market, and some users see eye them with a hint of suspicion.
You’ll find that most air powered, or pneumatic, impact wrenches generally have a higher maximum torque than the average battery powered one. You can also modify the amount of torque output by adjusting the air pressure input.
However, a huge downside, and one of the main reasons battery powered impact wrenches have risen in popularity, is that you need an air compressor and tank for it to work. This is far from practical for most users.
Aside from the extra costs and storage space it takes up, you increase the amount of connections and instruments, which in turn increases the amount of things that can go wrong.
The hose in particular can be very awkward, especially when working in small spaces. Similarly, it is a constant hazard when moving around your garage.
The best cordless impact drivers overcome all of the disadvantages of a pneumatic impact driver, with their small, compact, cordless design. You can store them in a tool bag with ease and getting your wrench into tight spaces is no problem.
In summary, the only real scenario I would recommend an air powered impact wrench is when you already have an air compressor in your garage. If not, the extra cost and difficulty is not worth the savings on the tool itself.
As long as you are smart about your battery use, keeping it charged when necessary, or going for a model that comes with two batteries as standard such as the DeWalt model listed here, a battery powered driver is a far more practical option.
FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Can I use regular wrench sockets with an impact wrench?
Answer: In short, no.
Regular wrench sockets are designed to be used with ratchet levers and are made of a much thinner metal. Regular sockets will almost certainly fracture under the power of an impact wrench and can cause serious damage to your sockets, your bolts and your body.
Question: Do impact wrenches damage lugs?
Answer: There is a danger of over torquing smaller lugs and stripping threads.
To avoid this, don’t pick up your impact wrench for every little job. Impact wrenches are perfect for loosening lugs in the blink of an eye, but torque wrenches are often a much more risk-free way of tightening them.
Question: Can I use an impact wrench as a drill?
Answer: The main function of an impact wrenches is not to drill through objects, such as walls, but in certain circumstances, they can be used.
In practice, if you have a drill bit that is suitable for use with an impact wrench, you can use it without fear of damaging the drill bit.
However, if you need accuracy, whether it is for the position of the hole or the roundness, an impact wrench is far from the ideal tool. Only use an impact wrench as a drill if accuracy is not a concern, such as drilling a hole to pass wires through.
Question: What is the difference between an impact wrench and a hammer drill?
Answer: Impact wrenches are specifically for turning fasteners with threads on, while hammer drills are for creating holes in concrete.
An easy way to visualize the difference is that an impact wrench rotates what you are working on like a strong, fast wrench, while a hammer drill has a back and forward motion, like a strong, fast hammer.
Question: What is nut-busting torque?
Answer: Nut-busting torque is a marketing term that refers to a tool that can break a nut free that has rusted into place or been fastened too tightly.
Put simply, it means a very high level of torque.
Question: Do the products come with batteries and a charger?
Answer: All of the impact wrenches shown here are delivered with batteries and a charger.
A positive exception to this is the DeWalt model, which comes with two batteries.
Impact wrenches are an essential part of any toolkit. They save a lot of physical effort and are more consistent than manual ratchets.
Since the mid 2000s, there has been a gradual shift from traditional pneumatic impact wrenches toward the more practical battery operated impact wrenches due to impressive advances in terms of weight and battery life.
I hope this article has helped you find the best cordless impact wrench for automotive work, and I’m sure that whichever product you choose from this list, you’ll find it a great addition to your arsenal.
Thanks for reading The Best Cordless Impact Wrenches. We hope this article has helped you to discover the best choice for your needs when selecting a rechargeable impact driver for your shop environment.
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Last update on 2019-02-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API