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WHAT IS THE BEST PNEUMATIC IMPACT WRENCH FOR THE MONEY?

Christopher Clark by Christopher Clark

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (12 votes, average: 4.58 out of 5)
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Last Updated January 24, 2019

Best Overall
Ingersoll-Rand 2235QTIMAX small
Ingersoll-Rand 2235QTIMAX

Pros

  • Powerful
  • Easy-to-use
  • Reliable, durable
  • Compact
  • Quiet

cons

Price

Air hose fittings not included

AIRCAT 1055-TH small
AIRCAT 1055-TH

Pros

  • Power
  • Lightweight, compact
  • Durable
  • Quiet
  • 2-Yr. limited warranty

cons

Painted housing

Trigger may be stiff

Ingersoll Rand 231C review (5)
Ingersoll Rand 231C

Pros

  • Very affordable
  • Adjustable power
  • Lightweight, durable
  • Fully-lubricated, ready-to-use out of the box
  • Easy-to-use
  • Easy maintenance, easily rebuilt
  • 1-Yr. limited warranty

cons

Adjustable power only, not speed

NitroCat 1200-K review (3)
NitroCat 1200-K

Pros

  • Powerful
  • Quiet
  • Durable blow/impact-resistant body
  • Lightweight
  • Easy operation
  • 2-Yr. limited warranty (parts and labor)

cons

No variable speeds

Best Value
DEWALT DWMT70775 review (5)
DEWALT DWMT70775

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Durability
  • Adjustable power
  • 90-Day money back guarantee
  • 3-Yr. limited manufacturer’s warranty, 1-Yr. free service

cons

No variable speeds

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Buyer’s Guide

PNEUMATIC IMPACT WRENCH 2Price, product construction, durability, and reliability are important criteria for a review of air impact wrenches. The best rated tools put out significant torque, and their casings are durable enough to withstand blows and hard knocks and protect the internal workings of the tool. A standard half-inch drive is sufficient for heavy workloads.

Also check our review about the best air hammers on the market.

Types

Air impact wrenches may be:

  • air-powered,
  • electric
  • battery-powered (cordless).

Air-powered impact wrenches must have an air source (compressed air) to operate. Electric impact wrenches must be plugged into an outlet. Battery-powered, or cordless, impact wrenches have charging stations and rechargeable batteries. Professional mechanics and industry typically use air- or electric-powered air impact wrenches. The home mechanic may find a battery-powered air impact wrench is more convenient and quiet.

Benefits/Drawbacks of an Air Impact Wrench

Air impact wrenches are easy to use and provide significant power and torque when connected to an air compressor. The cost to buy an air impact wrench has significantly decreased, making purchasing one of these tools a viable solution and makes professional, industrial, hobby, or DIY automotive and other applications more efficient. Air impact wrenches are designed to remove or install bolts and nuts faster and more easily. They also provide more leverage than a manual wrench, thus increasing overall productivity. Safety and accuracy features have also improved.

The primary drawback of using an air impact wrench is the risk of securing the bolts too tightly. Over-tightening can result in stripped threads or reduced bolted joint integrity. Applying too much torque can also twist off the bolt head, which will then necessitate drilling out the bolt. Cross-threading is also common. It is recommended to start the bolt manually then finish driving it with the impact wrench.

What to Look for When Buying an Air Impact Wrench

Air impact wrenches generally have similar features with minor exceptions or patented technology specific to the brand. There are many things to consider when buying, although the primary considerations should be:

  • the torque needed for your particular application
  • your air source (size of compressor and air hose reel).

Decide what type of work you need the impact wrench to do. This determines the power source, and the weight and size of the tool (and sockets). Smaller jobs, for example, may only require a model that holds ¼” sockets. Larger projects may need a wrench that holds 3.5” sockets.

Ensure you do not underestimate the amount of torque you need for your particular job/application. Also ensure your air source meets the airflow requirements and you have the correct accessories. Air impact wrench tool, power source, and accessory requirements are usually found in the operator’s manual provided by the tool’s manufacturer or distributor.

  • Power / Torque: The air impact wrench’s torque is the amount of power it can produce. It is necessary to have adequate torque to remove/install a fastener (nut or bolt). The more torque the tool produces, the easier the application should be. A standard (medium-duty) air impact wrench is a good choice for a variety of different undertakings. Higher torque (min. 150 ft. lbs.) provides more power and is typically used by professional mechanics, automotive teams, etc. The torque may also be affected by the size of the air compressor you use. An air impact wrench that has power settings that allow torque adjustment can help reduce the risk of over-tightening a bolt or twisting off a bolt head.
  • Compressor/Tank Size: Compressor tank size, motor horsepower (hp), air volume output (CFM), and air pressure (psi) must be sufficient to operate the particular air impact wrench. The volume of air the compressor produces (CFM) and the air pressure contained in the tank (psi) are the most important considerations and they can impact the tool’s power and performance. These specifications are typically marked on the tank’s label.
  • Impact Wrench Weight / Size: Air impact wrenches that are heavier may be fine for small/short projects. Heavier impact wrenches can cause wrist/hand stress and fatigue faster when working on a larger project. A heavier wrench will become more difficult to control as a result. Smaller, more compact and lighter weight wrenches also allow you to get into tighter spaces.
  • No-Load Speed: The speed (revolutions) the air impact wrench turns (when there is no load) is its no-load speed. Faster/higher speeds secure fasteners faster, although torque is sacrificed. The air impact wrench with a higher torque, rather than speed, is your better choice.
  • Impact per Minute (BPM): The hammer mechanism of the air impact wrench allows the hammer to freely spin, impact the anvil, release, and freely spin again. The impact wrench’s impacts per minute tell you how many times the hammer strikes the anvil in one minute. The higher the BPM, the faster the air impact wrench can drive the fastener or loosen the bolt.
  • Driver Size: Standard impact wrench driver sizes range from ¼” to ½” or larger. The most common driver sizes for professional and DIY/hobbyist automotive applications are ½” (most popular) and ⅜″. A one-half inch drive suffices for most applications. Three-eighths inch typically comes with impact wrenches that have less torque.
  • Handle and Grip: Air wrenches commonly feature ergonomic, rubberized handles that absorb some of the high torque vibration. They should have a comfortable grip and be well-balanced to ensure stress and fatigue are reduced during use. Many air impact wrenches have smaller, pistol grip handles that are easier to hold and control. Pistol grip handles are designed shorter to allow better access into tighter spaces. Progressive triggers also tend to be more controllable and safer to use.

PNEUMATIC IMPACT WRENCH 4

Conclusion

Determine the size of your project. Although most air impact wrenches offer similar features, do your review research to decide which brand, type, and model is the best one for your particular project or application.

The Ingersoll Rand 2235QTIMAX ½” titanium model is a powerful, easy-to-use, quiet, air impact wrench. It is considered the best ½” air impact wrench on the market. It features MAX power, reliability, noise reduction, and enhanced control, and provides the best power-to-weight ratio in its class.

It stands out as our top rated pick, as well as the choice of NASCAR racing teams and hobbyists alike.

There are brands like Ingersoll Rand and Chicago Pneumatic that have been in business a half-century or longer. Reviews have consistently rated them in the top five of top rated air impact wrenches lists.

Remember that the least expensive air impact wrench may not be as sturdy, durable, reliable, offer the best warranty, or have features that simplify use (i.e. adjustable power and speed settings). Conversely, the most expensive tool may be well-made, but heavy, long/unable to fit into tight spaces, or difficult to control.

Reviews

01

The Ingersoll Rand 2235QTIMAX ½” titanium model is a powerful, easy-to-use, quiet, air impact wrench. It is considered the best ½” air impact wrench on the market. It features MAX power, reliability, noise reduction, and enhanced control.

It provides 1350 ft. lbs. of maximum torque, which is the best power-to-weight ratio in its class. Its working torques range between 50-900 ft. lbs. This air impact tool is the choice of NASCAR racing teams and hobbyists alike.

Ingersoll-Rand 2235QTIMAX -

The 2235QTIMAX air impact tool has a titanium casing that is a stubby 7.6 inches long, making it ideal for professional automotive or industrial work and maintenance operations. The smaller size allows easier access into tight spaces.

It is also a lightweight 4.7 pounds, which reduces operation fatigue. Its ergonomic design includes a comfort pistol-grip handle with a professional feather touch trigger.

The patented easy-reach forward/reverse settings allow you greater control and a wider range of variable power speeds (in forward mode).

The 2235QTIMAX patented Quiet Tool technology moderates sound without sacrificing performance, making it one of the quietest air impact tools on the market. Ingersoll-Rand also offers you a 2-yr. warranty though the MAX Protection Program when you register the tool.

Specifications
Weight
4.7 lbs.
Max. Torque, ft.lbs.
1350
Max. Speed, rpm.
8,500
Reverse
Yes
Pros
  • Powerful
  • Easy-to-use
  • Reliable, durable
  • Compact
  • Quiet
  • 1-Yr. limited warranty; 2-Yr. limited warranty w/tool registration
Cons
  • Price
  • Air hose fittings not included
Ingersoll-Rand 2235QTIMAX small

Ingersoll-Rand 2235QTIMAX

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02

The AIRCAT 1055-TH model is a powerful, lightweight, quiet, ½” compact square drive air impact wrench. It is considered the air impact tool market leader in the “stubby” category. It features a jumbo hammer reliability, noise reduction, and enhanced control.

It provides 500 ft. lbs. of maximum torque at 9,000 rpm and 1,600 BPM. This air impact tool is the choice of professionals, industry, and hobbyists alike.

The AIRCAT 1055-TH air impact tool has a low weight aluminum alloy housing that is a stubby 4.75 inches long, making it ideal for professional and industrial performance and maintenance operations. The smaller size allows easier access into tight spaces.

It is also a lightweight 2.75 pounds, which reduces operation fatigue. Its ergonomic design includes a comfort pistol-grip trigger-mounted reverse and power settings switch.

The patented forward/reverse settings allow you greater control and one-handed operation.

The AIRCAT 1055-TH patented “silencing technology” reduces noise to 89 dBA without sacrificing performance, making it one of the quietest air impact tools on the market.

Specifications
Weight
2.75 lbs.
Max. Torque, ft.lbs.
500
Max. Speed, rpm.
9,000
Reverse
Yes
Pros
  • Power
  • Lightweight, compact
  • Durable
  • Quiet
  • 2-Yr. limited warranty
Cons
  • Painted housing
  • Trigger may be stiff
AIRCAT 1055-TH small

AIRCAT 1055-TH

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03

The Ingersoll-Rand Super Duty 231C is a powerful, compact, easy-maintenance ½” air impact wrench. It is also one of the more affordable impact wrenches. This super duty air impact wrench is considered “the workhorse” of its class.

Its twin-hammer (2-piece) construction improves the product that has been available to the public for 25 years. Its ability to be simply and easily rebuilt enhances its long life.

It provides 425 ft. lbs. of driving torque and 600 ft. lbs. of reversing torque at 8,000 rpm and 1,200 BPM for fast and effective performance.

The lightweight and easy maintenance makes this air impact wrench a good choice for automotive professionals and hobbyists.

The Super Duty 231C air impact tool is fully-lubricated and ready-to-use out of the box. It has a low weight aluminum alloy housing that is 7.3 inches long, and a steel drive shaft extension. It is also 5.3 pounds, which minimizes operation fatigue.

Its ergonomic design includes a contoured handle that allows you to easily carry and control this air impact tool. The adjustable power regulator allows easy power output adjustment and greater control for consistent results. It permits variable power in one direction and full power in the other.

Specifications
Weight
5.8 lbs.
Max. Torque, ft.lbs.
600
Max. Speed, rpm.
8,000
Reverse
Yes
Pros
  • Very affordable
  • Adjustable power
  • Lightweight, durable
  • Fully-lubricated, ready-to-use out of the box
  • Easy-to-use
  • Easy maintenance, easily rebuilt
  • 1-Yr. limited warranty
Cons
  • Adjustable power only, not speed
Ingersoll Rand 231C review (5)

Ingersoll Rand 231C

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04

The NitroCat 1200-K (part of the AIRCAT tool line) is a powerful, mid-priced, quiet, ½” air impact wrench. It outperforms other impact wrenches, and is considered the most powerful air impact wrench in its class.

Its twin-hammer and twin-clutch increases the power of this air impact wrench. The patented exhaust muffler technology provides through-the-handle-bottom air discharge that increases power and also prevents debris from being blown toward the face and reduces noise.

This air impact tool provides a maximum torque of 1,295 ft. lbs. and a working torque of 200-900 ft. lbs. at 8,000 rpm no-load speed for fast and effective performance. It is the choice of NHRA Top Fuel racing teams and hobbyists alike.

NitroCat 1200-K review (2)

The NitroCat 1200-K air impact tool has a Kevlar™ composite body, which is blow-resistant and adds high-strength and durability.

It is a lightweight 4.5 pounds at a longer 8.25 inches. It has an ergonomically-designed contoured grip that relieves stress and reduces operation fatigue. This patented AIRCAT handle offers better weight distribution for overall balance.

The unique grip makes it easier to use for long periods. The forward and reverse settings are operated by a patented easy-operation flip-lever.

The NitroCat 1200-K patented quiet tuned exhaust moderates sound to 86 dBA without sacrificing performance.

This is far below OSHA guidelines, placing it among the quietest air impact tools on the market.

Specifications
Weight
4.5 lbs.
Max. Torque, ft.lbs.
1295
Max. Speed, rpm.
8,000
Reverse
Yes
Pros
  • Powerful
  • Quiet
  • Durable blow/impact-resistant body
  • Lightweight
  • Easy operation
  • 2-Yr. limited warranty (parts and labor)
Cons
  • No variable speeds
NitroCat 1200-K review (3)

NitroCat 1200-K

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05

The DEWALT DWMT70775 is a compact, powerful, square-drive, ⅜” air impact wrench. It has a twin-hammer mechanism with an adjustable power regulator for constant air flow and maximum control.

The DWMT70775 air impact tool provides a loosening maximum torque of 300 ft. lbs. It has a no-load speed of 11,000 rpm and 1,200 bpm for fast and effective, high-power fastening performance.

It has a ¼” air inlet and bottom handle air discharge exhaust that increases power and functions as a safety feature, stopping debris from flying into one’s face while operating.

The 2.8-pound DWMT70775 air impact tool has a lightweight composite housing with shock-resistant housing bumpers for durability.

It has an ergonomically-designed rubber cushion grip that maximizes comfort and minimizes fatigue. Forward and reverse settings are easily accessed from the back.

Specifications
Weight
8
Max. Torque, ft.lbs.
300
Max. Speed, rpm.
11,000
Reverse
Yes
Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Durability
  • Adjustable power
  • 90-Day money back guarantee
  • 3-Yr. limited manufacturer’s warranty, 1-Yr. free service
Cons
  • No variable speeds
DEWALT DWMT70775 review (5)

DEWALT DWMT70775

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06

The Chicago Pneumatic CP7748 is a relatively new, professionally-popular, strong, high-torque impact, ½” air impact wrench.

It has gained immediate popularity within the short 3 years it’s been publically marketed. Its twin-hammer and twin-clutch increases the CP7748’s power, making it the most powerful air impact wrench in its class. It offers the best price to performance and durability ratio.

This air impact tool provides a loosening maximum torque exceeding 1,200 ft. lbs., a maximum reverse torque of 922 ft. lbs., and a working torque of 75-580 ft. lbs. at 8,200 rpm no-load speed for fast and effective performance. It is well-suited for all light and general vehicle maintenance applications.

Chicago Pneumatic CP7748 review (5)

The CP7748 air impact tool has a lightweight composite housing with aluminum back cap. It weighs 4.4 pounds and it is a longer 8.25 inches.

It has an ergonomically-designed smaller diameter, and a contoured thermoplastic rubber-injected grip that makes it extra durable and comfortable. The full-teasing trigger reduces stress and operation fatigue.

Forward (low, medium, and high) and reverse settings are easily accessed from the back. The CP7748’s air motor withstands dust and dirt better than its composite competitors.

The CP7748 has a swivel air inlet and quiet handle air discharge exhaust that increases power and functions as a safety feature, eliminating debris from flying into the operator’s face.

Specifications
Weight
4.4 lbs.
Max. Torque, ft.lbs.
922
Max. Speed, rpm.
8,200
Reverse
Yes
Pros
  • Great value
  • Strong, powerful
  • Lightweight
  • Adjustable power and speed
  • 1-Yr. limited warranty (manufacturer defects, parts and labor)
Cons
  • Air hose fitting not included
Chicago Pneumatic CP7748 review (6)

Chicago Pneumatic CP7748

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07

The AIRCAT 1000-TH is one of the strongest, high-torque, square drive ½” air impact wrenches in its class. AIRCAT offers superior mechanics and internal mechanisms (i.e.: quality air chambers, turbines, bearing surfaces, etc.).

Its twin-hammer and twin-clutch increase the power of this air impact wrench.

The patented exhaust muffler technology provides through-the-handle-bottom air discharge that also increases power, reduces noise, prevents the inhalation of airborne particulates and minimizes debris being blown into the face.

This air impact tool provides a maximum loosening torque of 1,000 ft. lbs. and a working torque of 200-800 ft. lbs. at 8,000 rpm no-load speed for fast and effective performance. It is a powerful and quiet tool that is ideal for home, garage, or shop applications.

AIRCAT 1000-TH review (4)

The AIRCAT 1000-TH air impact tool has a limited edition camouflage composite housing, which is blow-resistant and adds a great deal of strength and durability. It is a lightweight 4.5 pounds at a longer 7.5 inches.

It has an ergonomically-designed contoured grip that relieves stress and reduces operation fatigue. This patented AIRCAT handle offers better weight distribution for overall balance, and the unique grip makes it easier to use for long periods.

The forward and reverse settings are operated by a patented easy-operation flip-lever.

The AIRCAT 1000-TH patented exhaust muffler/filter technology reduces the noise level without compromising power and torque.

It moderates sound to 82-86 dBA, which well below OSHA guidelines, making it one of the quieter air impact tools on the market.

Specifications
Weight
4.5 lbs.
Max. Torque, ft.lbs.
200-800
Max. Speed, rpm.
8,000
Reverse
Yes
Pros
  • Powerful
  • Quiet
  • Durable blow/impact-resistant body
  • Lightweight
  • Easy operation
  • 1-Yr. limited warranty (parts and labor)
Cons
  • No variable speeds
AIRCAT 1000-TH review (5)

AIRCAT 1000-TH

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FAQ

Frequently asked questions