Gearheads know that having the right tools for the job is key to being able to tinker with your car with minimal frustration and maximum enjoyment. That’s why you need a cordless impact wrench in your auto toolkit. Because they’re easier to maneuver than a corded electric or air impact wrench and able to exert high levels of torque on nuts, screws and bolts, cordless impact wrenches make the process ofa whole lot smoother.
There are many different kinds of cordless impact wrenches, though — so how do you know which one is right for you and your? Size and price will ultimately dictate your choice, but so will your personal needs, so it’s important to have the right electric impact wrench guide before getting started.
Here are our picks for the best cordless impact wrenches across a variety of categories, chosen based on customer satisfaction, expert opinion and hands-on experience. Please note that unless otherwise stated, the prices given are for the wrenches themselves. Kits that include batteries and other accessories may cost more.
After the cordless impact driver selections, read on for more information about them and what they do.
If you want a cordless impact wrench that offers reliability, a reasonable price and high torque, it’s hard to beat the Milwaukee 2767-20 M18 Fuel High Torque 1/2-Inch model. Made by one of the most respected manufacturers in the power tool field, the 2767-20 may very well be the only impact wrench you ever need.
The 2767-20 weighs under six pounds, but it doesn’t sacrifice power for size — its brushless motor delivers 1,000 pound-feet of fastening torque and 1,400 pound-feet of breakaway torque for removing stubborn fasteners like a lug nut. The 1/2-inch socket size is one of the most common, meaning that it can handle many of the nuts and bolts you’ll encounter.
The Milwaukee M18 Fuel 2767-20 is currently the second-best selling power impact wrench on Amazon, with an astonishing 4.9 stars out of five. That rating is based on over 4,400 reviews, meaning that the cordless wrench has a lot of satisfied customers. Not only is this Milwaukee impact wrench sold by itself, but it’s also available in one- and two-battery kits.
The Milwaukee impact wrench may take the top spot, but competitor DeWalt’s 20V Max XR Impact Wrench isn’t far behind. It’s comparable to the Milwaukee model in most ways with a brushless motor and variable speed trigger, and the truth is, you can’t go wrong with either one — we preferred Milwaukee’s wrench, you may prefer DeWalt’s.
The Milwaukee 20V Max XR impact wrench is a durable model, which helps when doing work that can potentially get gritty. It can survive a six- to eight-foot drop and the body of the tool is resistant to chemicals, grease, and cleaners. Basically, it’s tough enough for your garage.
It’s a little bit heavier than the Milwaukee model (at 6.4 pounds) and the maximum breakaway torque is a little lower, but Amazon’s customers are just as satisfied with this model — it’s got 4.9 stars out of five with over 7,000 ratings and it’s the best-selling battery powered impact wrench on the site. If you already have some DeWalt batteries in your arsenal this impact wrench is available by itself or with batteries.
While 1/2-inch is a common size for impact wrenches and will allow a user to fasten or loosen many of the bolts, nuts and screws with which they come into contact, sometimes a smaller size is needed to get the job done. For that reason, 3/8-inch wrenches are also very popular.
DeWalt’s DCF883M2 model is comparable to the Max XR, just smaller. It offers less nut busting torque, but removing smaller fasteners requires less torque. Like the larger version, it has a hog ring to make changing sockets a breeze.
And like the Max XR, it boasts many satisfied customers — the tool has 4.8 stars out of five on Amazon, with over 600 ratings. Please note that the price is for the complete kit, which includes a lithium ion battery pack, charger, and kit box.
Torque, or twisting power, is one of the most important factors when it comes to choosing an impact wrench. The more torque a wrench provides, the easier it will be to tighten and loosen rusted bolt fasteners with it. This is especially important when old (and sometimes rusted) nuts are standing between you and a job, like changing a tire.
Ingersoll Rand’s 1/2-inch 20V Cordless Impact Wrench provides more torque for heavy duty jobs than any comparable model — even the Milwaukee Fuel High Torque tool that ranked as our top overall pick. Its maximum breakaway torque (which is the torque needed to take care of those old nuts and bolts) is 1,500 pound-feet with a 20-volt battery. It’s hard to beat that level of power in a 1/2-inch impact wrench.
Ingersoll Rand’s high torque impact wrench has a similarly high rating, as well — it’s currently got 4.8 stars out of five on Amazon, with over 400 ratings. In addition to being offered by itself, this cordless impact wrench is also available with a charger and battery packs.
DeWalt makes the list again, but this time with a more modest model. That doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with it, though, as it manages to top our list in two categories — not only as the best compact impact wrench (it weighs 4.5 pounds), but as the best wrench for the money ($135 for the complete kit).
The price, especially, makes the Xtreme 12V Max Impact Wrench accessible for those who are new to the world of cordless impact wrenches — or those who just want to save some money. The 200 pound-feet of breakaway torque output may seem a little on the low side, but given that it’s a 3/8-inch model, it’s great for the size and cost to zip off a wheel nut or stubborn bolt.
Like the other DeWalt cordless tool models on this list, it comes with the endorsement of hundreds of Amazon users. The Xtreme 12V Max has 4.6 stars out of five, with over 500 ratings. It’s also the ninth-best-selling power impact wrench model on the site.
Stubby impact wrenches are smaller than normal pistol-grip impact wrenches, making them lighter and giving them greater maneuverability. Typically, this means there’s a bit of a tradeoff in terms of power, but the price is usually lower, as well.
Our pick for the best stubby cordless impact wrench tool is Milwaukee’s M12 Fuel 2555-22 model. At a weight of two pounds and a height of just over eight inches, it’s easy to hold for long periods of time and maneuver into tight spaces.
Like the other models on this list, it comes highly recommended by Amazon customers. It has 4.8 stars out of five on the site, with over 500 ratings. If you’re specifically looking for a stubby model, this kit is the way is the way to go that includes a battery, charger and carrying case.
It turns out that you can break old bolts and nuts without breaking the bank. While it’s true that many of the models on this list run well into the hundreds of dollars (and we’ve made sure that they’re worth the price), you can also do jobs that require an impact wrench without spending quite as much.
Avid Power’s 20V Max Cordless Impact Wrench with 1/2-inch chuck combines a reliable tool with a good price. It’s not quite as powerful as some of the other comparably sized models listed here, but 369 pound-feet of torque is good for a 1/2-inch wrench to use when you’re in bolt removal mode. It also comes with a lithium ion battery, saving you extra expenses.
Like the other impact wrenches on this list, it has a seal of approval from Amazon’s customers. It currently has 4.6 stars out of five based on over 2,300 ratings, and it’s the fourth best-selling power impact wrench on the site.
While an impact wrench and an impact driver are two separate tools (see below for more information on how they differ), it doesn’t mean that they can’t be combined — and the resulting tool ranks as our most versatile impact wrench.
The Bosch Freak 18V is that wrench, with a 1/2-inch drive for impact sockets and a 1/4-inch drive for bits. This means it can be used for many more types of jobs than a regular impact wrench and, while the maximum torque is a bit low at 150 pound-feet, the versatility makes it a worthwhile tradeoff for many buyers.
Customers on Amazon are almost universally satisfied with the range of use afforded by the Bosch Freak. It has 4.8 stars out of five, with nearly 150 customer ratings.
If price is no object and you want to get the best, most deluxe cordless impact wrench experience on the market, you’ll want a full kit. Not only do you get the wrench in question, but you get an all-important rechargeable lithium battery, as well as a charger and a carrying case.
Makita’s Cordless 1/2-inch Drive Impact Wrench Kit gives you the best of both worlds — a powerful wrench and all the accessories you need to keep it running for a long time. The deluxe kit comes with 5.0Ah batteries and the wrench has a brushless motor, both of which give you more power.
The heavy duty job kit may be expensive, but it’s worth the price be it for the bare tool or in the kit that includes everything. It has 4.8 stars out of five on Amazon with nearly 800 customer ratings.
Comparison of the best cordless impact wrenches for 2022
|Make||Model||Drive size||Voltage||Max breakaway torque||Price|
|Best cordless impact wrench overall||Milwaukee||2767-20||1/2-inch||18-volt||1,400 pound-feet||$260|
|Best cordless impact wrench overall runner-up||DeWalt||DCF899HB||1/2-inch||20-volt||1,200 pound-feet||$217|
|Best cordless 3/8-inch impact wrench||DeWalt||DCF883M2||3/8-inch||20-volt||130 pound-feet||$339|
|Best cordless impact wrench for torque||Ingersoll Rand||W7152||1/2-inch||20-volt||1,500 pound-feet||$287|
|Best compact cordless impact wrench/Best cordless impact wrench for the money||DeWalt||DCF902F2||3/8-inch||12-volt||200 pound-feet||$149|
|Best stubby cordless impact wrench||Milwaukee||2555-22||1/2-inch||12-volt||250 pound-feet||$237|
|Best cordless impact wrench if money is no object||Makita||XWT11Z||1/2-inch||18-volt||295 pound-feet||$387|
|Best affordable cordless impact wrench||Avid Power||JSS1||1/2-inch||20-volt||369 pound-feet||$85|
|Best versatile cordless impact wrench||Bosch||GDX18V-1800CB15||1/2-inch||18-volt||150 pound-feet||$159|
What is a cordless impact wrench and how does it work?
An impact wrench is a battery power tool designed to loosen and tighten nuts and bolts just like a manual socket wrench, but since it has a power source greater than just your arm, it can provide far more torque (it also needs special sockets given the amount of torque at play). The most common automotive applications for impact wrenches are loosening and tightening lug nuts for the purpose of changing tires.
While pneumatic air impact wrench models have been the standard in the past, they require connection to air compressors, meaning that they’re not accessible for all DIYers. “Cordless tools are lighter weight than air tools, which makes them more portable for use overhead or in tight spaces,” says John Linden, lead designer at MirrorCoop. Linden has years of both construction and design experience. “These are considered ‘good’ as they don’t need any extra equipment (like a compressor) to run.”
“Cordless impact wrenches have made great strides in the past decade in terms of increasing performance and decreasing size,” explains Joshua Tarini. Tarini is group product manager — impact wrenches and specialty fastening at Stanley Black & Decker. “Benefits of cordless/electric options are freedom from hoses, not being dependent on an air supply and, in general, less maintenance than when using an air tool. Many professional automotive mechanics have made the switch to cordless as their primary tool platform and away from pneumatic.”
Today, cordless battery electric models are more popular, especially for home use. They just need to be charged and they’re ready to go. While corded electric impact wrench options are available, as well, the cordless ones are favored for their portability. The tradeoff is that they typically provide less power than the other two types of impact wrenches (but still a sufficient amount for most home garage applications).
Like regular socket wrenches, battery impact wrenches provide the twisting force known as torque, just in greater amounts. The user holds the impact wrench steady, but the end of the tool, which grips the nut, bolt, or screw that needs to be loosened, spins in short, fast bursts. Like other cordless tools, they’re powered by internal batteries that can be recharged, though all batteries eventually experience permanent drainage.
Finally, it’s important to note that battery impact wrenches and impact drivers are two separate tools and the terms should not be used interchangeably. An impact driver is used for driving screws and bolts with similar bursts of power to those of an impact wrench, but it’s more comparable to a power drill or screwdriver (just with more torque).
How do cordless impact wrenches vary?
Cordless impact wrenches are powered by batteries, but apart from that, they vary in many ways. The two main shape categories into which they fall are inline (shaped more like a screwdriver) and pistol-grip (shaped like a handgun). Pistol-grip wrenches are typically bulkier, but the design also allows for larger socket sizes — at ½-inch or above, you’ll likely be using a piston-grip wrench.
Another variation comes in the power delivered by the batteries. Like all electric tools, their power is measured in voltage. Most impact wrench batteries are either 18 or 20 volts, with the 20-volt models usually considered preferable since they provide more power, though factors like motor type also influence power.
“Generally speaking, 20-volt is better than 18-volt,” says Tim Koster, founder of Clever Creations. Clever Creations is a website dedicated to DIY projects, repair guides and tool reviews. “The higher the voltage, the more power the tool has. That said, a specific 18-volt model impact wrench can still be stronger than a different model that works on 20-volt. Voltage is not the only thing to consider.”
Another important consideration when choosing a cordless impact wrench is torque. Torque, the twisting force that gives impact wrenches their abilities, is measured in pound-feet, which is determined by multiplying the force acting on an object (in pounds) by the distance of the lever being used to exert the force (in feet). While an impact wrench doesn’t use an actual lever, pound-feet can still be used as a universal scale by which to measure torque. However, the abbreviation is often written in reverse, as “ft-lb.”
Torque varies based on impact wrench size, with 1/2-inch impact wrenches providing an average of 300 pound-feet of torque and 3/4-inch impact wrenches providing an average of 1,200 pound-feet. An impact wrench’s torque can’t be adjusted by itself, but there are attachments that can vary the torque. Additionally, torque shouldn’t be confused with inches per minute (IPM) or revolutions per minute (RPM). While there is a mathematical relationship between the measurements, IPM and RPM measure speed, not torque.
Of course, the amount of torque you need depends on your application, as well: “If you do a lot of automotive work, then you can benefit from up to 500 pound-feet of torque,” says Koster. “If you only do light work, on the other hand, 200-250 pound-feet will be more than enough.”
There are other features that differ between battery impact wrenches, as well. For instance, some have variable-speed triggers, which means that the speed at which the wrench turns is controlled by how hard the user presses the trigger. Impact wrenches also differ based on how their sockets are secured, with ball or pin detents providing more security and friction (or hog) rings providing easier release.
“A friction ring is typically preferred, especially when swapping out sockets a lot,” says Koster. “Detent pins are notoriously difficult to work with.” That said, if you won’t be changing sockets, you may prefer the tight grip of a pin detent.
“Each anvil style has its own benefits,” says Tarini. “For users who need maximum socket retention and are generally not changing sockets frequently — such as those working at height where a dropped socket might be hazardous — the detent pin design would be preferred. For users who are switching socket sizes more often, the friction ring design allows for strong socket retention while allowing an easier socket change. In the case of the automotive user, the friction ring is the preferred design as it provides the socket retention needed while allowing the user to quickly change sockets without additional tools (which may be required on some detent pin designs).”
5 things to know before using a cordless impact wrench
- How will you be using your battery impact wrench? If you know the exact applications for which you’ll be using your wrench, you’ll have an easier time answering the following questions and picking the wrench that works best for you.
- What socket size do you need? Those same applications will dictate the socket size you need. While 3/8-inch and 1/2-inch are common sizes — and both are good for removing lug nuts — you’ll want to make sure you pick the size you need.
- How much torque do you need? Torque varies based on wrench size, but you still want to make sure that your wrench has enough torque to do the jobs you need it to do. A standard 1/2-inch wrench has 300 pound-feet of torque.
- Which kind of socket-securing method suits you better? How often are you going to be changing sockets? If you’ll be changing them frequently, you might prefer a friction ring, but if you’ll be keeping one on, a ball or pin detent could work better.
- How do you use your impact wrench safely? As with any other tool, it’s important to make sure that you follow all included instructions. That’s the best way to avoid injury or property damage.
Written for Roadshow by Scott Fried.