The Best Cordless Impact Wrenches: Blast Fasteners Away Like a Pro

These impacts will make stubborn fasteners the least of your concerns.

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The Best Cordless Impact Wrenches: Blast Fasteners Away Like a Pro © The Best Cordless Impact Wrenches: Blast Fasteners Away Like a Pro

Working with your hands can be therapeutic and give you the opportunity to ponder life’s big questions as you're loosening fasteners. That is up until the point you remember that it’s the hottest, most humid day of the year and you’ve only just started to rotate your tires.

Adding a cordless impact wrench to your collection may change your life. You'll spend less time fussing over stubborn bolts and more time actually enjoying the work or your car. Even if you’ll only ever use one for freeing wheels and tires, it’s still worth adding to your collection because of the dramatic impact it’ll have on your working experience.

And there’s no shortage of options for new cordless impacts, either. Nor is it hard to track down the latest and greatest model with all the bells and whistles. Is that really what you need for your project, though? Obviously, there is such a thing as overkill, but you also don’t want to go cheap and wind up with a fancy paperweight. That’s what we’re here for as our goal is to highlight some of our favorite impacts on the market so that you can decide what’s best for your home garage.

I'm all for doing things the hard way. Taking the long way around is a great way to grow closer to your car and do more of what you love doing most. However, some jobs just suck. An impact wrench is usually the best way to blast through them. Something as painstaking as breaking the lugs and lifting the vehicle so you can finish removing the wheel becomes as trivial as pulling a trigger. Using impacts is also a good way to rival the efficiency of the competitors if you're into doing this sort of thing for a living. There are a ton of options out there, and it can be tough to decide which is worth your while if you're new to this side of the industry. I'm here to help.

Summary List

    Our Methodology

    Impact wrenches are some of the first tools you learn about when you start slinging wrenches. I'm willing to bet most of us skipped right over learning the ins and outs of ratchets and other hand tools to drool over impacts because they're way cooler. Despite offering vast improvements in efficiency and making many projects far more enjoyable, there's really not all that much to them, and it's easy to learn about what makes one better than another. I made sure to do the research on every top pick. I factored in what both pros and hobbyists have to say to come up with a list that offers something to anyone with grease under their fingernails. 

    Best Cordless Impact Wrench Reviews & Recommendations

    Our Verdict

    The Milwaukee M18 FUEL Mid-Torque Half-Inch Impact Wrench is a clear choice for those who need something practical, reliable, and powerful. Those of us tearing it up off the clock will find the Ryobi One+ Impact Wrench Kit more reasonable. It's more affordable but still delivers the performance you expect from modern power tools. 

    Consider Secondhand

    When we start shopping for tools and products, we never overlook the secondhand market. In fact, it’s usually the first place I look. Whether you’re scrolling through Amazon’s Renewed section, eBay for car parts or tools, or flipping through the pages of Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist, you have hundreds of thousands of used tools, parts, and gear ready to be shipped to your doorstep. Refurbished to like-new status, they’ll be willing to give you many more years of faithful service all while saving you money. 

    If those options don’t have what you need, swap meets are a great resource. Just Google it and head on down.  

    What to Consider When Buying Cordless Impact Wrenches

    Buying an impact is a fun, straightforward endeavor. I have no doubt in my mind that you can master the subject and shop around like a pro with just a little bit of research. This quick buying guide is intended to get started in the right direction. 

    Types of Impact Wrenches

    Pneumatic

    Pneumatic impacts are the choice in many professional settings. The robust internal workings will take hours of abuse each day without flinching. They also offer a far better power-to-weight ratio, which makes a big difference when you need a lot of juice from a tool you’re handling all day. Many professionals favor pneumatic impacts because the shop they work in has an air compressor. That can significantly reduce their overall investment when compared to cordless tools that require batteries. 

    Cordless 

    Cordless impacts are a go-to for many simply because they have grown to be the most sensible option. Cutting ties with air lines and power cords is a huge deal in a small shop. There's also no need to sacrifice floor space or invest in costly compressed-air systems. The drawback to cordless impacts is that they usually have to be larger to match the power of their pneumatic counterparts. Cordless impacts are growing more and more powerful as time passes, however, and what they can dish out is often more than enough for the average mechanic and will certainly serve the DIYer well. 

    Corded 

    With just one corded impact on the list above, it's easy to see that they aren't all that common. They generally aren't as powerful as cordless or pneumatic impacts, nor does every leading manufacturer offer a corded impact. Still, they are highly attractive to the right person. Some DIYers just need something to bust lug nuts and nothing else. Investing in a pneumatic or cordless impact and the batteries or compressor to power it isn't justifiable in that situation. Corded impact wrenches, which don't require either, are far more practical in that situation and worthy of your consideration because of it. 

    Key Features 

    Torque Output

    There are a few performance characteristics you want to research, but torque is the spec every manufacturer wants you to know. That's because it tells us how much power an impact can hit fasteners with. More often than not, the torque output of impacts is higher than any torque spec on your vehicle, but the numbers given are still relevant. The higher the output, the easier it is for the tool to deal with the fasteners you encounter, including those that need a little extra grunt due to rust and gunk. Other performance specs to look at are revolutions per minute (rpm) and impacts per minute (ipm). They also give you a good idea of how the tool performs under various conditions. 

    Weight and Size

    Unless you're only using an impact to bust lug nuts, you will be forced to balance weight and size against power and performance. You need an impact that you can use in the spaces you're forced to work in, and the weight has to be something you can manage for extended periods. As you can imagine, decreasing the size often means cutting power. That’s why you don't want to be consumed by who has the most powerful tool overall. Instead, you should look at who offers the best performing tool relative to a size that fits both into your typical working area and your budget.

    Variable Speed Control

    Maximum power can become more of a liability than an asset if you can't control it. You don't need to hit absolutely every fastener with maximum force because that’s how you break things. Sometimes a little is all you need. In the case of battery-powered impacts, you're also just wasting battery life by using the highest setting when you don’t need it. Most modern impacts offer variable speed and power control for these reasons. You just need to make sure the impact you're considering offers settings that you feel comfortable using. 

    Pricing 

    How much you spend on an impact wrench depends on the type, level of performance, and quality of the unit you select. An entry-level air impact is about $50, while a top-of-the-line unit will land anywhere from $300 to $500. A good cordless impact will cost about the same, but most entry-level units start around the $100 mark unless you're buying a tool without batteries. Corded impacts are a different story as they rarely go for more than $200, with the most affordable options starting around $30-$50. 

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