Lug nuts so tight it’s impossible to remove your tires? Rusty nuts and bolts got you down? The answer just might be an impact wrench.
These tools, known by a host of other names like air wrench, air gun, impactor, and the oh-so-cute windy gun, are perfect for when you need high torque at a decent speed. They’re used for mechanical work, manufacturing, and much more.
They come in both electrical plug or battery types as well. Therefore, we decided to take a look at the best air impact wrenches currently on the market to find the perfect addition to your arsenal?
- 1 Top 10 Best Air Impact Wrenches for the Money in 2021 Reviews
- 1.1 1 Ingersoll Rand 2235QTiMAX 1/2” Drive Quiet Air Impact Wrench – Best High Powered Air Impact Wrench
- 1.2 2 Aircat 1076-XL 3/8” Nitrocat Compact Composite Impact Wrench – Best Compact Air Impact Wrench
- 1.3 3 Campbell Hausfeld TL140200AV 1/2” Impact Wrench – Best Home Repairs Air Impact Wrench
- 1.4 4 Aircat Nitrocat 1/2” 1250-K Air Impact Wrench – Best Impact Wrench for Trucks
- 1.5 5 Ingersoll Rand 261 ¾” Super Duty Air Impact Wrench – Best Heavy Duty Air Impact Wrench
- 1.6 6 TZTool Diesel 1200 1/2” Air Impact Wrench – Best Impact Wrench Package Kit
- 1.7 7 DEWALT DWMT70773L 1/2-Inch Impact Wrench – Best Impact Wrench for DIY Projects
- 1.8 8 NEIKO 30128A 1/2” Composite Air Impact Wrench – Best Light Maintenance Air Impact Wrench
- 1.9 9 ACDelco ANI405 ½” Heavy Duty Twin Hammer – Best Budget Air Impact Wrench
- 1.10 10 Chicago Pneumatic CP734H 1/2-Inch Drive Heavy-Duty Air Impact Wrench – Best Value for the Money Air Impact Wrench
- 2 Best Air Impact Wrench Buying Guide
- 3 Looking for Something Else?
- 4 What is the Best Air Impact Wrench?
Top 10 Best Air Impact Wrenches for the Money in 2021 Reviews
1 Ingersoll Rand 2235QTiMAX 1/2” Drive Quiet Air Impact Wrench – Best High Powered Air Impact Wrench
We begin with a trusted tool manufacturer with a more than 100-year history. Ingersoll Rand has two impact wrenches on our list, and the first is a tough little workhorse. Weighing in at 4.6 pounds, this one of the best lightweight air impact wrenches with some serious punch as well.
The 2235QTiMAX features a twin-hammer impact mechanism with adjustable torque. It has a rotatable power regulator to set power in the forward direction, or full power in the reverse direction to pull fasteners off with brutal speed.
What kind of power are we talking about here?
This wrench is rated up to 1,300 foot-pounds of nut-busting torque, ideal for heavy-duty applications. It can bring you 900 ft-lbs of maximum reverse torque and 870 ft-lbs of forward torque in regular working conditions. That’s a lot of power for a small machine making one of the best high torque air impact wrenches on the market.
Yet, it still runs fast. This gun has a free speed of 8500 rpm hits at 1220 BPM. And it easily brings the torque you need for light to medium automotive maintenance and body shop work. As well as oil and gas, shipbuilding, and a host of other applications.
Built to last…
This impact wrench features a rugged composite and heavy-duty plastic housing and titanium hammer case for really impressive durability. Of course, the price of this tool is pretty high, but we think you’re getting what you’re paying for. That is a durable, strong, and fast machine that runs quietly and is going to last.
- Great power and speed, plus speed control.
- Tough and durable.
- High price.
- Quite front heavy, which can create strain on your wrist with frequent use.
2 Aircat 1076-XL 3/8” Nitrocat Compact Composite Impact Wrench – Best Compact Air Impact Wrench
The Aircat brand has made a mark in the automotive tool industry. Nitrocat is a brand by the same company that focuses on strong, robust, yet lightweight tools that are finding a lot of favor with pit crews and home mechanics alike.
A tiny little thing…
It weighs an unbelievable 2.5 pounds and is only 4 ¼” long. So it’ll squeeze into the most cramped of spaces to get at those really tricky fasteners. At the same time, the amount of torque it can produce is impressive. We’re looking at 550 ft-lb maximum torque and 750 ft-lb of loosening torque.
This little puppy runs fast – 9000 rpm and pounding at 1650 bpm, with its jumbo hammer mechanism delivering impressive performance. It’s got a trigger mounted combined forward/reverse, and butt end power management switch to give you three levels of power.
All of this adds up to one of the fastest air impact wrenches available. However, we have to note that the direction switch positioning makes this a right-handed tool. Lefties beware!
What else can we say about this machine?
It runs quietly. Aircat has included their patented “Silencing Technology” to keep the noise level to 85dB(A). This makes it one of the quietest air impact wrenches you can buy.
Its composite plastic and alloy construction is tough and will stand up to abuse in the shop. Because it’s so small and light, this stubby impact wrench is a great undercarriage tool, especially if you don’t have a lift to work under.
A superb secondary choice…
On the downside, it is small, light, and not strong enough for a lot of industrial applications. It’s probably not going to replace your ½” gun, but it might be a great complement to it.
- Low price.
- Small and lightweight, so great for cramped spaces.
- Lacking the power of a ½” wrench.
- Direction switch may make this uncomfortable for left-handed use.
3 Campbell Hausfeld TL140200AV 1/2” Impact Wrench – Best Home Repairs Air Impact Wrench
The TL140200AV from Campbell Hausfeld is in the same ballpark as the 1076-XL Nitrocat we just saw.
Let’s compare them…
First of all, the Campbell Hausfeld provides 550 ft-lbs of nut-busting torque and has a regular working torque of 75-400 ft-lb. So this impact wrench is not nearly as powerful as the Nitrocat. At the same time, it’s a way bigger and heavier tool, weighing in at 5.2 pounds. That’s a lot for the relatively low torque it brings.
But it draws a lot less air off your compressor. While the Nitrocat takes a surprising 8CFM, the Campbell Hausfeld only uses on average 3.5 CFM.
This means that you can get away with a much smaller compressor, and that’s why this impact wrench is considered more of a home-use tool than an industrial one. It’ll still help you rotate your tires and do regular repairs and maintenance and repairs to your car, but don’t expect this guy to stand up to continued use at a garage or body shop.
It just doesn’t have the power, Captain!
All that being said, it’s a tidy little machine for home use. The composite design and rubberized grip make it comfortable to use. It also has a 3-speed power regulator switch on the back of the gun to allow for more sensitivity when tightening.
And let’s not forget the price. This impact gun is a little more than half the price of the Nitrocat, and only about 1/6th the price of the more powerful Ingersoll Rand 2235QTiMAX. If you’re looking for the best impact wrench for housework, this one isn’t a bad choice at all.
- Very inexpensive.
- Can be used with a very small air compressor.
- Low torque and limited application outside the home.
- Relatively heavy for a low torque tool.
4 Aircat Nitrocat 1/2” 1250-K Air Impact Wrench – Best Impact Wrench for Trucks
We’ve found ourselves back to the Aircat company, with another Nitrocat to examine. The 1250-K is a fair bit cheaper than the 1076-XL, and also features a ½” drive as opposed to the 3/8” drive of the 1076-XL we already saw.
What are the other differences between these machines?
The 1250-K is a bigger tool, built for bigger ½” driving that would send the 1076-XL spinning. At 4.5 pounds, it’s very nearly double the weight, and that weight is needed to help keep it steady and keep vibration low when working with a larger socket set.
At the same time, both of these tools pull up pretty even on power. The 1250-K provides 950 ft-lb maximum torque and 1,300 ft-lb of loosening torque, so they’re quite even in that department. They both take a lot of air, matching at 8 CFM, so in both cases, you’re going to need a large-capacity air compressor.
While the 1076-XL runs super-fast, the 1250-K gets into it with a slower speed (8500rpm vs. 9000rpm) and only 1000 hits per minute, so it’s much better suited for loosening stuck bolts. This also makes for a smoother ride with this twin-clutch mechanism. You get a lot of force but pretty tolerable vibration.
Both air wrenches run at 85dB(A) of sound with the patented quiet exhaust system. While the 1076-XL is better suited to undercarriage and autobody work, the 1250-K can readily handle frame work, and medium to heavy-duty trucks.
- A quiet running, light tool that’s comfortable to handle.
- Packs a powerful punch.
- Kevlar-reinforced body for extra durability.
- At 8 inches long, this gun is a bit big for tights spots.
- A bit on the high side for a ½” gun.
5 Ingersoll Rand 261 ¾” Super Duty Air Impact Wrench – Best Heavy Duty Air Impact Wrench
The next contender for best air impact wrench is the super-duty 261, once again by Ingersoll Rand. And this time, we’re looking at a beast. If you want the most durable air impact wrench, this is probably the one.
Let’s start by pointing out that this impact wrench is the biggest, heaviest, and most expensive one on our list. The price is high by any measure, so everyone will ask the same thing.
Is it worth it?
This wrench is powered by a jumbo hammer mechanism that includes a built-in pressure feed lube system. While most other wrenches have to be periodically oiled, you can use this tool for long periods without having to work so hard at maintenance. And that’s a good thing because we have a feeling that you’re gonna put this one through the paces.
Let’s talk about power…
This is a much slower machine, running at only 5000 rpm and bashing away at 1000 bpm. This slow, steady, powerful force is what helps it generate a consistent working torque of 200-to-900 ft-lb with a maximum torque of 1,100 ft-lbs. This big boy draws 9.5 CFM off your compressor. So you’re going to need something big to run it, though it’s still rated at 90 psi.
A great feature…
The rotatable power regulator and switch. This allows for full power in one of either forward or reverse, but reduced power in the other direction, or just full power in both directions. So there’s a lot of sensitivity there for a wide range of jobs.
It also features a chrome-alloy casing for superb durability. This slow and steady wrench is going to work well for vehicle and machinery maintenance, repair, and overhaul of all sorts, heavy or otherwise.
- Slow and steady with lots of power.
- Lots of speed control in both directions.
- Most expensive impact wrench on our list.
- Heavy and hard on the body to use all day long.
6 TZTool Diesel 1200 1/2” Air Impact Wrench – Best Impact Wrench Package Kit
Now here’s something a little different. Rather than just the tool, like all of the other items on our list, the Diesel 1200 by TZTools comes with a set of impact sockets (sizes 10-24). Plus a 3-piece set of extension bars (3″, 6″, and 10″ lengths). All of this is packed into a storage case and sold for a very nice price.
Is the tool any good?
While it advertises a maximum nut-breaking torque of 1100 ft-lbs, we found that the working torque was a lot less. While it’s not stated by the manufacturer, our estimates hovered somewhere around a max of 400 ft-lbs. So what we’re looking at here is another tool for lighter DIY and home garage applications. Much like the Campbell Hausfeld tool we saw earlier.
This impact wrench does have a variable speed control offering low, medium, and high settings in the forward drive direction. But only full speed in reverse. It draws on 8 CFM, so it takes a much larger compressor to handle this wrench than the Campbell Hausfeld, which is a tricky trade-off for about the same amount of torque. The manufacturer suggests at least eight gallons.
Important to note…
Though the machine is lightweight and has a seemingly durable casing, our major issue was with getting hooked up and connected. The air intake here is metric because this machine is made in China, so you’ll need a ¼” NPT to an M14 fine-pitched male to make this work on your normal system.
Other than that, it runs okay for a home-based tool. And though it’s a bit loud at 93dB(A), it’s comfortable enough to use once in a while.
- Lightweight and comfortable enough to use.
- Comes with a good set of impact sockets.
- Higher price for a simple home-based tool.
- Needs a big compressor for relatively little torque.
7 DEWALT DWMT70773L 1/2-Inch Impact Wrench – Best Impact Wrench for DIY Projects
DeWalt is the industrial tool brand of the Black & Decker company. They advertise their tools as tough, rugged, and built to last.
How does the DWMT70773L hold up to that reputation?
Running at a free speed of 7500 rpm (rated at 90 psi), this air impact wrench can produce a maximum torque of 650 ft-lbs to pull off stiff and rusted bolts and lug nuts with ease. It runs off of 5.9 CFM of airflow, so you’re getting quite a good trade-off here between compressor size and torque.
It features a forward/reverse switch for quick and easy directional changes along with an adjustable power regulator. However, we have to point out that the forward/reverse switch is a bit inconveniently located right at the grip. This means it could get knocked by your hand when using the wrench.
A Goldilocks impact wrench…
This isn’t the strongest or most powerful tool in the bunch, but it’s a pretty solid middle-of-the-road choice. With its plastic composite construction and twin hammer mechanism, we think this is one of the best impact wrenched for home garage applications.
You could probably sneak it into a garage or body shop and have some decent results, especially if you’re able to run it off a bigger compressor with lots of extra airflow.
- Good price for a decent, middle-strength ½” impact wrench.
- Gives a good level of torque for only pulling 5.9 CFM of airflow from your air compressor.
- The forward/reverse switch is inconveniently located so that it could accidentally be switched while the tool is in use.
- The casing doesn’t seem like the most durable tool in the shed.
8 NEIKO 30128A 1/2” Composite Air Impact Wrench – Best Light Maintenance Air Impact Wrench
Despite the full name of Neiko being “Neiko Tools USA,” this company is actually Chinese, and this 30128A ½” air impact wrench is made in China as all their tools are.
Is that a problem?
Well, it might be if you compete with Neiko. This gun delivers okay performance at a really low, almost cutthroat price. If you’re looking for an air-powered impact wrench that will work well for occasional home and garage use, this might be it.
The 30128A claims to have a maximum breakaway torque of 600 foot-pounds with a working torque of 450 foot-pounds. Although, we don’t think it’s able to produce that much power, maybe with a really big, powerful compressor.
We found that this gun had some trouble getting lug nuts off tires. That may be because it runs fairly slowly (7500 rpm) and only draws 6.5 CFM off your compressor. Hard to get enough power that way.
Good for the small stuff…
At the same time, it’ll just do the job, and if you’re just an occasional mechanic, it should be enough for light maintenance and repair work. Don’t expect to be ripping down heavy trucks with this little fella.
On the plus side, at 5.64 lbs, it’s not too heavy, and with its plastic composite body and rubberized grip, you don’t feel too much vibration using this gun. It’s comfortable enough for sporadic use, and you’re not going to put it through really hard garage work anyway.
Choice of power levels…
The other good news is that while there’s only one reverse setting, you get three different power levels for forward driving, so you can be slow and careful if need be.
- Durable build and comfortable to use.
- Really inexpensive.
- Working torque comes in low, and it can just handle lug nuts on most cars.
- Runs pretty slow.
9 ACDelco ANI405 ½” Heavy Duty Twin Hammer – Best Budget Air Impact Wrench
ACDelco throws their hat into the ring with the ANI405 ½” impact wrench they call their “Heavy Duty Twin Hammer”. Well, that’s the mechanism inside, as with most of the tools we’ve seen in this best air impact wrench review. But what happens with this very low-priced gun?
Not quite heavy-duty…
The manufacturer claims it has enough power to offer as much as 500 ft-lbs of torque, but they don’t mention whether this is nut-busting torque, working torque, or what. In our experience, we’re looking at somewhere in the sub-400 ft-lb area for sure. Is that enough to pull off lug nuts?
Most would say yes, and running this guy through a larger compressor will ensure you have the maximum power you need. However, with a smaller compressor, like most once-in-a-while home mechanics might have, this tool struggles.
The noise. This gun runs free at a pretty loud 98dB(A), and you better believe it’s louder when loaded. It’s also fairly heavy, weighing 5.72 lbs. Now, a part of that weight is the aluminum alloy housing, and you certainly can’t complain there. It’s definitely going to stand up to a fair bit of abuse with no issues.
What’s the good stuff?
Something we liked about this impact wrench is that it has two independent speed control knobs. So you can set high torque in one direction and low in another. There are five settings for each direction, which means you can set your controls quite specifically.
All told, this is one of the best affordable air impact wrenches, and if you’re using it at home for occasional light jobs, it might be a good bet.
- Very low price.
- Independent forward and reverse speed controls.
- Fairly heavy and loud.
- Power is just enough to loosen lug nuts, usually.
10 Chicago Pneumatic CP734H 1/2-Inch Drive Heavy-Duty Air Impact Wrench – Best Value for the Money Air Impact Wrench
CP has been making tools since before we were born. We have one question about the CP734H 1/2-Inch Drive Heavy-Duty Air Impact Wrench.
Have they still got it?
Let’s run down the specs. This impact wrench provides a working torque from between 25-310 ft-lb and a maximum torque of 425 ft-lbs. It runs free at a pretty peppy 8400 rpm and hits at 1020 BPM.
What’s great is that it does all this off just 3.75 CFM of air from your compressor. That means it can even run off of something as small as 6 gallons without a serious drop in performance.
At 5.13 pounds, this gun is mid-weight – not light but not too heavy. It features four positive power settings and full power in reverse, with a one-touch forward/reverse switch that is not in the way, thankfully. On top of this, it runs smoothly with low vibration and a good feel to the grip. This smoothness is due to its oil-bath clutch mechanism.
Price-wise, this is in the lower end of things but is by no means a cheapo low-end tool. The body is a durable alloy and is built to last even in a rough shop environment. You could use this impact wrench for general repairs or work on transmissions, exhaust systems, framing, and large machines as well. We think this tool definitely lives up to the CP reputation.
- Good price for a powerful, durable gun.
- Smooth operation and comfortable feel.
- Not the most powerful but will get the job done.
- Runs off only 3.75 CPM of air.
Best Air Impact Wrench Buying Guide
Now we’ve just tossed around a bunch of stats, numbers, and acronyms to describe these different products. But to get a feel for the right impact wrench for your shop or home, here’s a breakdown of what to look for in these tools.
Torque gets measured in a bunch of different ways, and guess what? Manufacturers and tool dealers try to impress you with the biggest numbers. Maximum torque is the peak power the machine can exert on a perfectly locked object.
Nut-busting torque (yep, sounds painful) is the amount of torque applied to loosen a nut BUT over a set period, and that time can change to inflate numbers. What you really should look for is working torque. This number tells you how much power you’re getting when driving a really stiff nut, either forward or backward.
Bottom line, don’t let the big numbers seduce you – working torque is the best measure for a working tool.
So how much power do you need? If you’re going to be using the impact wrench around the house or for light automotive maintenance and repairs, 300-500 ft-lbs of torque will be enough for your needs.
If you’re working in a shop with large machinery or heavy trucks, for example, you’re going to need more and should look to 700 or even up to 1000 ft-lbs of torque to get big jobs done easily.
Air tools need to match the capacity of the air compressor they’re running on. There’s no point in getting a whopping 1000 ft-lb impact wrench to run on a 6-gallon compressor because it simply won’t be able to put out the power you need.
In general, a good match is an air compressor that supplies about double the average air consumption of your tool. So if your wrench takes 3 CFM, then a 6 CFM or greater compressor should help it run its best.
The ideal impact wrench would be hugely powerful but light as a feather. Well, that’s never going to happen, but at least look at the tool weight and think about how often you’ll be handling the thing. An occasional user might find using a heavy tool isn’t a problem, but if you’re in the shop all day, look to pay a bit more for a lighter, more compact tool.
As for your ears, well, we should all wear PPE when possible. But when it isn’t, you want as quiet a gun as possible. Many manufacturers are making this a priority, with handle exhausts and quiet technology coming on board steadily. If you already work in a noisy shop, using a quieter impact wrench will make everyone happier.
Speeds and Switches…
The design might be one more thing to think about, but it’s no small thing. Variable speed in both forward and reverse directions can mean the difference between a successful drive and stripping a thread clean. However, the controls for speed and direction should be convenient and not somewhere where they can be hit accidentally.
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What is the Best Air Impact Wrench?
We got the chance to look at ten air-powered impact wrenches that span from cheap and wimpy to giant industrial strength. For our money, though, there was a clear winner.
We liked the price, the durability, the power, and the low air consumption of the…
This is a great gun from an all-around point of view. But if it’s not the best for you, we had a lot of other great options as well. Get the tool you need and start feeling the power.
Until next time, go get it done.