Known by many other names, including impactor, impact gun, air gun, torque gun, or windy gun (that’s a lot of guns to get confused between there…) an impact wrench is a tool that delivers high torque power output.
By using stored energy from its rotational movement, it’s able to rapidly supply this energy to the output shaft.
While you can find impact wrenches that have an electric or hydraulic power source, the most common type is powered by compressed air, which is what we’re looking at throughout this article.
To help you find the best air compressor wrench to suit your next DIY job, help repair your car, or perform general maintenance around your home, we’ve reviewed five of the best options currently available for you to compare.
We’ve also put together a list of features that you should keep in mind when making your decision in our buyer’s guide, as well as answering some of the most frequently asked questions.
In a hurry? Check out the killer performance of our top pick below!
|AIRCAT 1150 Killer Torque ½-inch Impact Wrench||Prime||Buy Now|
|ACDelco ANI405A Impact Wrench Tool Kit||Prime||Buy Now|
|Dewalt Impact Wrench||Prime||Buy Now|
|Ingersoll Rand 231C ½-inch Air Impact Wrench||Prime||Buy Now|
|WORKPAD Air Impact Wrench||Prime||Buy Now|
With a name like “Killer Torque”, it’s easy to understand why anyone who’s looking to get a powerful performance out of their air impact wrench would be impressed with the AIRCAT 1150.
The rotor is larger by 15% for unmatched power, and it’s capable of 1,400 blows per minute which is incredibly strong for a hard-hitting twin hammer in this price range.
Despite the 1,295 foot-pounds loosening torque and maximum torque of 900 foot-pounds, one of the stand-out features of this impact wrench is the substantially reduced level of noise (just 86 dB!) for quieter operation, which is thanks to its patented quiet technology.
It’s not too heavy either, weighing 4.62 lbs and measuring 7.5 x 2.8 x 7 inches in terms of size, so it won’t overly strain or fatigue your hand.
It offers superior performance for even longer thanks to its durable composite and metal construction, and it’s even finished with a powder coat for added robustness.
The ½-inch size means it can be used for a range of applications, and it features a flip lever for easy operation both when you’re using the forward and the reverse torque.
You can choose between variable speeds, with a maximum of 9,000 RPM. It might be at the slightly pricier end of the scale in terms of cost, but it has a lot to offer in return.
- Large rotor for enhanced power
- Highest torque we’ve included in our list
- Lightweight and easy to handle
- Surprisingly quiet operation
- Durable with a powder coat finish
- Variable speed options
- More expensive option
Next, we reviewed the ANI405A air impact wrench from ACDelco which comes in at a close second to our top pick.
With 4 free speeds to choose from and up to 8,000 RPM as a maximum, there’s also 1 reverse speed so you can select the output that suits your needs.
With a powerful 500 foot-pounds torque, this twin hammer pneumatic impact wrench comes with a kit that contains everything you need, including the wrench itself, a bottle of lubricant, and an air hose adaptor.
It’s also equipped with a ½-inch alloy steel head which is great for tire rotation and removal, as well as being capable of performing a whole host of different jobs that you may find easier with one of these tools.
The soft grip ergonomic handle design ensures maximum comfort even when you’re using this tool for longer periods of time, and the secure grip means you’ll be able to control this lightweight air impact wrench with a steady hand.
Plus, the slim body molds to balance the hand torque so that the vibrations that pass to your hand are drastically reduced to cause less strain.
It also means that it offers quieter performance, as the handle exhaust helps to reduce the noise around you and stops air from blowing around your work area.
- Affordable choice
- Versatile use thanks to multiple speed options
- User-friendly design
- Complete with value kit
- You get what you pay for to a certain extent
- Less durable than other options
Next up we have the Dewalt ⅜-inch Impact Wrench, which has a smaller drive anvil than our top pick and is thereby better suited to jobs in more compact spaces.
However, the 300 foot-pounds maximum torque can still break free any stubborn fastenings.
It can fasten at high speeds thanks to the twin hammer mechanism and the 11,000 RPM. There’s also a ¼-inch air inlet which is pretty decent and it operates at 1,200 blows per minute.
If you need to adjust your output for a specific job then you can, as this Dewalt air impact wrench features an adjustable power regulator for improved user control.
In terms of design, the ergonomic handle was engineered with a rubber cushion grip and it even has a bottom handle exhaust.
There are shock-resistant housing bumpers to protect the tool, which was manufactured using composite materials for an extended lifespan.
- More affordable choice
- Suitable for smaller jobs in compact spaces
- High RPM rating of 11,000
- Composite body design for added durability
- Not suitable for larger jobs
Another ½-inch air impact wrench we looked at was the Ingersoll Rand 231C.
It delivers a maximum torque of 600 foot-pounds which is less than our top pick, but it has enough power to loosen or tighten even stubborn bolts and screws.
The twin-hammer mechanism means that the performance is more efficient, and it can reach up to 8,000 RPM.
You can choose the torque output that most suits the job you’re working on thanks to the adjustable power regulator which can deliver a maximum torque of 600-foot pounds.
One quick glance at the classic, reliable design of this air impact wrench shows that it can be used for sustained periods of work.
It weighs 5.8 lbs in total and it’s only 7.3 inches in length, so it won’t feel too heavy or uncomfortable in your hand.
It’s both easy and convenient to maintain, as the two-piece construction is extremely streamlined.
You won’t have to do a thing when it arrives, as this impact wrench is fully lubricated so it’s ready for immediate use.
- Reliable twin-hammer mechanism for efficient performance
- Lightweight and comfortable in your hand
- Easy to operate
- Adjustable power regulator for improved control
- Ready to use straight out of the box as it arrives already-lubricated
- A few customer reports of the trigger becoming stuck due to rust if not properly maintained
Lastly, we took a look at this option from WORKPAD, the final ½-inch air impact wrench we have for you to consider.
It was designed for professional use, so you can be guaranteed of a certain quality, although it’s also perfect for general-purpose applications around the home.
Due to its intended use, it’s an incredibly durable option that’s made with high-quality composite materials, and the anvil underwent special heat treatment in order to ensure a long-lasting lifespan for this tool.
The composite housing is also comfortable to hold, as it’s not too heavy and features an ergonomic grip design.
The handle exhaust has a muffler which helps to reduce the amount of noise and vibration produced by this tool, as well as stopping air from blowing into your work area when it’s in use.
It’s not quite as quiet as our top pick, but 93 dB is definitely not as loud as it could be when you consider how powerful it is.
It’s easy to operate and it has a maximum torque of 958 feet-pounds, as well as a power regulator with three forward power settings to choose from and one reverse setting for the ultimate user convenience.
- More affordable price
- Durable construction and high-quality composite materials
- Power regulator with 3 forward and 1 reverse option
- Comfortable to hold
- Quieter performance than some other air impact wrenches at 93 dB
- Requires a lot of maintenance
Best Air Impact Wrench Buyer’s Guide
Air impact wrenches are preferred by professional mechanics and tradesmen due to their reliable power supply and the fact that they’re more powerful and lightweight, which makes them easier to use.
Aside from these advantages, what else should you look out for when you’re looking to buy a new air impact wrench?
We’ve put together this buyer’s guide to answer exactly that, and we explain some of the other key features of this useful tool.
Before we get into it, the basic rule of any tool is that you need the right one for the right job.
In order to find the best fit for you and your needs, the first thing you need to think about is what you think you’ll be using your air impact wrench for.
For bigger jobs and more heavy-duty applications, you’ll want to focus on durability and power. For smaller maintenance jobs, you might value more forward and reverse torque capability.
The torque of an air impact wrench is what determines how powerful it will be. You’ll also be given a rotational speed rating which is measured in revolutions per minute (RPM).
Rotations are how these tools create and store energy which is then used to deliver power, so wrenches with a higher RPM will apply more torque to the screw or bolt in question.
Remember when we said about intended use…? This is where that comes in, as you don’t want to be forking out for a wrench that’s got a higher torque range than you actually need.
They’re more expensive the more powerful they are, so only choose one with a power capacity that you think you’ll need.
For tougher jobs, you should aim for a torque of 900 foot-pounds or more, whereas 500 foot-pounds and above is fine for medium-level tasks.
Some air impact wrenches offer an adjustable power regulator so you can alter the power output to suit the task at hand.
You’re never going to find one with an output that’s 100% accurate, but the higher-quality wrenches will have better control accuracy.
Impact wrenches are available in a variety of sizes which will hugely influence the scale of jobs you’re able to use it for.
When we talk about size, we don’t mean the overall tool (although will come into play later on), but the size or dimension of the drive anvil.
The different size offerings you’ll typically see, whether you’re buying online or if you pop down to your local hardware store, include ¼-inch, ⅜-inch, ⅓-inch, ¾-inch, and a full 1-inch.
Each size is best suited to different applications, which we’re about to cover in more detail.
- ¼-inch and ⅜-inch: These are the smallest options you’ll find therefore they’re perfect for use in tight spaces or in any situation that calls for precision over power.
- ½-inch: The most common size for impact wrenches is ½-inch which sits comfortably in the middle of the scale to produce an equal performance of balance and power. They’re suitable for a range of jobs without being so powerful that you risk any damage by applying too much torque.
- ¾-inch and 1-inch: These are the biggest options of air impact wrench, and can therefore handle the biggest jobs. As a result, they’re not particularly common for home use and are better suited to construction site work.
As always, when thinking about the durability of a tool, the materials used in its manufacture are going to be a big factor to consider.
Due to the nature of what an air impact driver is used for, it’s important that your tool can handle the environment it’s being used in.
Composite material and industrial plastic are the best you can buy, as they’re more lightweight and will extend the lifespan of your tool.
However, these features mean you’ll be looking at a higher price tag, so while this is what we’d recommend for professionals, if you’ll be using your wrench for home-DIY use then you should be okay with something a little less heavy-duty.
Seeing as this is a tool you’ll be holding in your hands, perhaps for an extended period of time depending on how stubborn the screw or bolt you’re attempting to loosen is…
It’s therefore important to think about how it will feel in your hand while you’re using it and a lot of this is down to how heavy it is.
Wrenches that are more lightweight are less straining on your hands and wrist joints, but with great weight comes great power, so you might have to compromise on this.
It’s also worth noting that although your hands will be less fatigued, lighter wrenches are slightly flimsier and less durable.
You might save money in the long run if it allows you to complete more DIY jobs around the home without having to hire a professional, but air impact wrenches are a fairly expensive piece of equipment to have in your toolbox.
As such, you should think carefully about how much you’re willing to spend before you start looking to save yourself from falling in love with a model that’s out of your price range.
We’ve included air impact wrenches that range in price from the best budget option we could find to some seriously high-end options, in order to help you find an amazing tool that’s within your spending limit.
Like we mentioned earlier, it’s important to think about what you’ll be using for, and this will help indicate what kind of price tag you’re looking at.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the difference between an impact driver and an impact wrench?
Don’t let the similarity in their names fool you, as there is one key difference between these two types of power tools.
Although they both create a fair bit of noise, look kind of the same, and generate force using very similar rotating movements, an impact wrench is much more powerful than an impact driver.
Both impact wrenches and impact drivers can drill longer types of screws and they can be reversed to do the opposite and loosen or tighten bolts.
Due to their difference in power, the former is a great tool for car repairs, assembling products, or big construction jobs, whereas the latter is mainly useful when it comes to renovations or home improvements.
Can you use WD40 on air tools?
It’s a universal rule of air tools that you should regularly oil them to make sure everything is running smoothly, but WD40 should be avoided when it comes to your air impact wrench.
In order to prevent damaging your tool, you should use a specialist lubricant that won’t have any negative impact on the performance of your air impact wrench.
What type of air compressor do you need?
This depends on what the wrenches’ PSI and CFM ratings are, as you’ll need to find an air compressor that exceeds both of these ratings.
You should try to get an air compressor that’s at least 1.5 times more than what the recommended ratings are.