Tools & Equipment

10 Best Air Impact Wrenches of 2021

Best Air Impact Wrench

Photo: PowRyte

Also referred to as an air gun, impactor, windy gun, rattle gun, or torque gun, an air impact wrench is a high-torque socket wrench that operates with less exertion from the user.

This high torque output makes the tool ideal for loosening or tightening large bolts, frozen/rusted fasteners, lug nuts, and other stuck nuts or bolts.

However, you need to pick the right one for the job, and in this article, we look at the best air impact wrenches in the market. Read through, then take your pick!

IMAGE

PRODUCT

FEATURES

NitroCat 1355-XL Composite Air impact Wrench

1. NitroCat 1355-XL (Best Overall)

  • Hard hitting twin-clutch, twin-hammer
  • Durable Kevlar-reinforced housing
  • Lightweight (2.75 lbs.)
Ingersoll Rand 231C Super Duty Air Impact Wrench Drive Size: 1/4"

2. Ingersoll Rand 231C (Best 1/2-inch)

  • 6-speed adjustable power regulator
  • Ergonomic 2-piece design
  • Pressure-feed lubrication system
NitroCat 1200-K Kevlar Air Impact Wrench

3. NitroCat 1200-K (Best for Breaking Bolts)

  • Bolt-breaking 1,295 ft-lbs of torque
  • Easy operation flip lever
  • Quiet-tuned exhaust muffler
Ingersoll Rand 2235QTiMAX Quiet Titanium Air Impact Wrench

4. Ingersoll Rand 2235TiMAX (Most Powerful)

  • Nut-busting 1,350 ft-lbs of torque
  • Finely-tuned twin-hammer impact mechanism
  • 4-position power regulator
Aircat 1056-XL

5. Aircat 1056-XL (Best under $100)

  • Affordable
  • Lightweight (2.5 lbs.)
  • Convenient trigger-mounted control switch
Ingersoll Rand 2115TiMAX 3/8 Inch Impact Wrench

6. Ingersoll Rand 2115TiMAX (Best Compact)

  • Compact & lightweight (2.48 lbs.)
  • Quick 15,000 RPM speed
  • Optimized air flow system
AirCat 1000-TH Air Impact Wrench with Twin Hammer Mechanism

7. Aircat 1000-TH (Quiet)

  • Low noise emission (86 dB)
  • Easy-to-use flip lever
  • Durable metal & composite housing
Campbell Hausfeld TL140200AV Air Impact Wrench

8. Campbell Hausfeld TL140200AV (Low Vibration)

  • Smooth twin hammer mechanism
  • Soft ergonomic rubber grip
  • Variable 3-speed mechanism
ACDelco ANI405 Heavy Duty Air Impact Wrench

9. ACDelco ANI405A (Multi-Speed)

  • 4 forward speeds & a reverse setting
  • Durable heat-treated helical gears
  • Balanced slim body design
Chicago CP7748

10. Chicago CP7748 (Ergonomic)

  • Ergonomic contoured grip handle
  • 3-speed plus reverse adjustment
  • Convenient rear control switch

PRODUCT

1. NitroCat 1355-XL

(Best Overall)

NitroCat 1355-XL Composite Air impact Wrench
  • Hard hitting twin-clutch, twin-hammer
  • Durable Kevlar-reinforced housing
  • Lightweight (2.75 lbs.)

2. Ingersoll-Rand 231C

(Best 1/2-inch)

Ingersoll Rand 231C Super Duty Air Impact Wrench Drive Size: 1/4"
  • 6-speed adjustable power regulator
  • Ergonomic 2-piece design
  • Pressure-feed lubrication system

3. NitroCat 1200-K

(Best for Breaking Bolts)

NitroCat 1200-K Kevlar Air Impact Wrench
  • Bolt-breaking 1,295 ft-lbs of torque
  • Easy operation flip lever
  • Quiet-tuned exhaust muffler

4. Ingersoll Rand 2235TiMAX

(Most Powerful)

Ingersoll Rand 2235QTiMAX Quiet Titanium Air Impact Wrench
  • Nut-busting 1,350 ft-lbs of torque
  • Finely-tuned twin-hammer impact mechanism
  • 4-position power regulator

5. Aircat 1056-XL

(Best under $100)

Aircat 1056-XL
  • Affordable
  • Lightweight (2.5 lbs.)
  • Convenient trigger-mounted control switch

6. Ingersoll Rand 2115TiMAX

(Best Compact)

Ingersoll Rand 2115TiMAX 3/8 Inch Impact Wrench
  • Compact & lightweight (2.48 lbs.)
  • Quick 15,000 RPM speed
  • Optimized air flow system

7. Aircat 1000-TH

(Quiet)

AirCat 1000-TH Air Impact Wrench with Twin Hammer Mechanism
  • Low noise emission (86 dB)
  • Easy-to-use flip lever
  • Durable metal & composite housing

8. Campbell Hausfeld TL140200AV

(Low Vibration)

Campbell Hausfeld TL140200AV Air Impact Wrench
  • Smooth twin hammer mechanism
  • Soft ergonomic rubber grip
  • Variable 3-speed mechanism

9. ACDelco ANI405A

(Multi-Speed)

ACDelco ANI405 Heavy Duty Air Impact Wrench
  • 4 forward speeds & a reverse setting
  • Durable heat-treated helical gears
  • Balanced slim body design

10. Chicago CP7748

(Ergonomic)

Chicago CP7748
  • Ergonomic contoured grip handle
  • 3-speed plus reverse adjustment
  • Convenient rear control switch

1. Best OverallNitroCat 1355-XL 

NitroCat 1355-XL Composite Air impact Wrench

Photo: NitroCat

  • Drive Size: 3/8 inch
  • Torque: 700 ft-lbs
  • Free Speed: 10,000 RPM
  • Weight: 2.75 lbs.
  • Noise Level: 86 dB

A powerful, durable, lightweight and safe design makes the NitroCat 1355-XL our best overall air impact wrench. It has a hard-hitting 3/8-inch drive with a twin-clutch mechanism and a twin hammer.

This system delivers 1,350 blows per minute at 10,000 RPM, with 700 ft-lbs of nut loosening torque, making it one of the best 3/8-inch air impact wrenches in the market.

Despite this powerful performance, the wrench weighs only 2.75 lbs. due to its lightweight and durable Kevlar-reinforced composite housing.

Other than that, you get a patented, safe through-the-handle exhaust that keeps debris from flying to your face, thereby preventing injury or breathing in air particulates.

This exhaust is quiet-tuned using muffler technology, which allows discharged air to pass through without developing back pressure. As a result, the tool retains more power while producing very little noise (86 decibels).

The control flip-lever is patented for easy operation and is used to switch between forward & reverse. It also adjusts the speed to slow, medium, or fast.

However, even though the wrench has an ergonomically-designed handle with finger grooves, the surface is not fully covered in soft rubber material to minimize vibrations to your palm.

Pros

  • Hard hitting twin-clutch, twin-hammer
  • Durable Kevlar-reinforced housing
  • Lightweight (2.75 lbs.)
  • Safe through-the-handle exhaust
  • Quiet-tuned using muffler technology

Cons

  • No full soft-grip handle

2. Best 1/2-inch: Ingersoll Rand 231C 

Ingersoll Rand 231C Super Duty Air Impact Wrench Drive Size: 1/4"

Photo: Ingersoll Rand

  • Drive size: 1/2 inch
  • Torque: 600 ft-lbs
  • Free Speed: 8,000 RPM
  • Weight: 5.8 lbs.
  • Noise Level: 99 dB

As a 1/2-inch drive wrench, the 231C stands out because it has an adjustable power regulator with a 6-speed system. This makes it easy to find the ideal speed for perfect tensioning of lug nuts every time.

The tool is also very easy to service. It has an ergonomic 2-piece design that can be easily dismantled for maintenance purposes. However, before you get to this, the pressure-feed lubrication system keeps the internal mechanisms working optimally for a long time, thereby reducing maintenance requirements.

A twin hammer mechanism delivers a maximum torque of 600 ft-lbs on the drive, which is enough to install/remove hardy fasteners such as stubborn bolts and lug nuts.

On the downside, the piece is quite heavy (5.8 lbs.), and it has a smooth metal handle that can be slippery if you have sweaty palms.

Pros

  • 6-speed adjustable power regulator
  • Ergonomic 2-piece design
  • Pressure-feed lubrication system
  • Twin hammer mechanism

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Slippery handle

3. Best for Breaking Bolts: NitroCat 1200-K 

NitroCat 1200-K Kevlar Air Impact Wrench

Photo: NitroCat

  • Drive Size: 1/2 inch
  • Torque: 1,295 ft-lbs
  • Free Speed: 8,000 RPM
  • Weight: 4.5 lbs.
  • Noise Level: 86 dB

With a no non-sense hard-hitting but smooth twin clutch mechanism, NitroCat's 1200-K delivers a whopping 1,295 ft-lbs of torque, which is enough to break bolts. That said, the unit has a 9/16-inch bolt capacity and turns at a free speed of 8,000 RPM, which is very fast.

A flip lever is built-in for reverse setting or to adjust the speed/torque to three levels for different applications. This switch is patented for easy use.

Air from the system is channeled through a patented quiet-tuned exhaust muffler, which eliminates back pressure. This mechanism retains more power while producing very little noise (86 decibels).

Next to this exhaust system is a swivel 1/2-inch NPT/BSP air inlet, which allows you to move around easily with the air hose attached. The entire system is housed in a durable Kevlar-reinforced composite housing. However, the tool is relatively expensive but is worth the money.

Pros

  • Bolt-breaking 1295 ft-lbs of torque
  • Easy operation flip lever
  • Quiet-tuned exhaust muffler
  • Swivel air inlet

Cons

  • Relatively expensive

4. Most PowerfulIngersoll Rand 2235TiMAX 

Ingersoll Rand 2235QTiMAX Quiet Titanium Air Impact Wrench

Photo: Ingersoll Rand

  • Drive Size: 1/2 inch
  • Torque: 1,350 ft-lbs
  • Free Speed: 8,500 RPM
  • Weight: 4.6 lbs.
  • Noise Level: 88.7 dB

Ingersoll Rand 2235QTiMAX is the most powerful air impact wrench in its class because it delivers 1,350 ft-lbs of forward torque and 930 ft-lbs of reverse torque.

This performance is made possible by a finely-tuned twin-hammer impact mechanism, and a 4-position power regulator helps you control the output for precision use. You also get a one-handed forward/reverse button, giving you complete control.

The hammering mechanism is housed in a hard titanium case and steel wear plate, while the other section is packed in a composite cover. These materials protect the wrench from the harshest environments to prevent damages.

Coming in at 4.6 lbs. in weight, the unit is balanced and has an ergonomic handle for comfortable use. The only issue is that it is expensive, but it is worth the money and is backed by a 2-year warranty.

Pros

  • Nut-busting 1,350 ft-lbs of torque
  • Finely-tuned twin-hammer impact mechanism
  • 4-position power regulator
  • Durable housing
  • Balanced design with an ergonomic handle

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Quite heavy

5. Best Under $100: Aircat 1056-XL

Aircat 1056-XL

Photo: Aircat

  • Drive Size: 1/2 inch
  • Torque: 550 ft-lbs
  • Free Speed: 9,000 RPM
  • Weight: 2.5 lbs.
  • Noise Level: 85 dB

At less than $100, the 1056-XL is very affordable, and despite this, it has some impressive features. For starters, the unit is very lightweight (2.5 lbs.). This enables you to work on your project while experiencing minimal fatigue.

A patented ergonomic grip handle further enhances this user experience because it has finger grooves for comfortable holding. You also get a trigger-mounted forward/reverse and power management switch for easy use.

The exhaust system consists of patented silencing technology, which reduces the noise output to 85 decibels. This ensures the tool retains maximum power while being very quiet.

On the inside are reliable alloy steel hammer and anvil parts, which are triple-heat-treated for maximum durability. However, the hammer is a jumbo type, which is inferior to a twin hammer mechanism in terms of torque.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Lightweight
  • Ergonomic grip handle
  • Convenient trigger-mounted control switch
  • Durable triple heat-treated parts

Cons

  • Inferior jumbo hammer

6. Best Compact: Ingersoll Rand 2115TiMAX 

Ingersoll Rand 2115TiMAX 3/8 Inch Impact Wrench

Photo: Ingersoll Rand

  • Drive Size: 3/8 inch
  • Torque: 300 ft-lbs
  • Free Speed: 15,000 RPM
  • Weight: 2.48 lbs.
  • Noise Level: 104.2 dB

Measuring less than 6 inches in length, the 2115TiMAX is a very compact air impact wrench that can fit easily in tight spaces. The tool is also lightweight because it weighs only 2.48 lbs. As such, it minimizes hand fatigue during long periods of use.

Despite its small size, the unit delivers 1,500 blows per minute at 15,000 RPM. This results in fast hammering for quick fastening or loosening.

An optimized airflow system ensures you get maximum output, and a 7-vane motor is built-in to complement this system. Controls are done via a feather-touch trigger, and there is a patented one-handed forward/reverse button for easy use.

You also get a 4-position power regulator to enable you to adjust the speed for perfect tensioning.

On the downside, the tool has a low torque output of 230 ft-lbs and 300 ft-lbs on forward & reverse, respectively. This means less driving power on every impact. Also, it is quite loud because it produces 104.2 decibels.

Pros

  • Compact and lightweight
  • Delivers quick blows at 15,000 RPM
  • Optimized air flow system
  • 7-vane motor
  • 4-position power regulator

Cons

  • Quite loud
  • Low torque output

7. Quiet Air Impact WrenchAirCat 1000-TH

AirCat 1000-TH Air Impact Wrench with Twin Hammer Mechanism

Photo: AirCat

  • Drive Size: 1/2 inch
  • Torque: 800 ft-lbs
  • Free Speed: 8,000 RPM
  • Weight: 4.5 lbs.
  • Noise Level: 86 dB

Aircat's 1000-TH features a patented tuned exhaust muffler technology that allows air to pass through the outlet under the handle without developing backpressure. This reduces its noise emission to 86 decibels while retaining more power.

That said, the unit produces 800 ft-lbs of torque at 8,000 RPM using a twin hammer mechanism. This can be dialed down to 200 ft-lbs or reverse torque via an easy-to-use rear-mounted flip lever for better control.

These mechanisms are housed in a durable metal & composite housing in a unique limited-edition camouflaged design. You also get an ergonomically designed handle with finger grooves for comfortable use.

However, measuring 7.5 inches long, the tool is not very compact and might not fit in very tight spaces.

Pros

  • Low noise emission (86 dB)
  • Easy-to-use flip lever
  • Durable metal & composite housing
  • Ergonomic handle

Cons

  • Not very compact

8. Low-Vibration: Campbell Hausfeld TL140200AV 

Campbell Hausfeld TL140200AV Air Impact Wrench

Photo: Campbell Hausfeld

  •  Drive Size: 1/2 inch
  • Torque: 550 ft-lbs
  • Free Speed: 8,000 RPM
  • Weight: 4.4 lbs.

Campbell Hausfeld's TL140200AV operates using a balanced twin hammer that delivers accurate results with minimal vibrations.

On top of this, it has a soft ergonomic rubber grip that absorbs most of the shaking, leaving a smooth tool that is very gentle to your hand.

The twin hammer mechanism delivers 550 ft-lbs of torque at 8,000 RPM, which is enough to bust nuts open in no time. A variable speed mechanism is built-in to adjust the torque and speed to low, medium, or high for more control. You also get forward and reverse directional adjustment.

A durable metal & composite housing protects the internal mechanisms from damages for long-lasting use. The tool is also very affordable, but it is not intended for assembly line or commercial usage.

Pros

  • Smooth twin hammer mechanism
  • Soft ergonomic rubber grip
  • Variable 3-speed mechanism
  • Durable metal & composite housing

Cons

  • Not ideal for assembly line or commercial usage

9. Multi-Speed Air Impact Wrench: ACDelco ANI405A

ACDelco ANI405 Heavy Duty Air Impact Wrench

Photo: ACDelco

  • Drive Size: 1/2 inch
  • Torque: 500 ft-lbs
  • Free Speed: 8,000 RPM
  • Weight: 5.72 lbs.
  • Noise Level: 108.66 dB

This air impact wrench is characterized by 5-speed settings that are easily adjustable using a side knob. Four of them are for forward-spinning with a maximum of 8,000 RPM and 500 ft-lbs of torque, while the last one is a reverse setting. These give you complete control for various applications.

Once set, durable heat-treated alloy-steel helical gears come into action, driving the twin hammer mechanism to turn the 1/2-inch alloy-steel head.

The wrench has a slim body design that fits securely and balances in your palm. However, the handle is not very ergonomic because it is smooth and slippery. Therefore, you might have to wear grippy gloves. Also, with a 108.66 dB sound emission, it is loud.

On the bright side, you get a value pack that consists of a lubricating oil bottle and an air hose adapter as accessories.

Pros

  • 4 forward speeds & a reverse setting
  • Durable heat-treated helical gears
  • Balanced slim body design
  • Includes a few accessories

Cons

  • Not very ergonomic
  • Very loud

10. Ergonomic Air Impact Wrench: Chicago CP7748

Chicago CP7748

Photo: Chicago

  • Drive Size: 1/2 inch
  • Torque: 730 ft-lbs
  • Free Speed: 8,200 RPM
  • Weight: 4.4 lbs.
  • Noise Level: 105.3 dB

Chicago's CP7748 is characterized by an ergonomically contoured grip handle that is comfortable to hold and does not slip if your palm is dirty or oily. This is due to its thermo-plastic, rubber-injected design, which also enhances the tool's durability.

Aside from that, the wrench features variable speed adjustment with three settings: low, medium, and high. These vary the torque output to 180 ft-lbs, 480 ft-lbs, and 730 ft-lbs, respectively, to suit different applications.

You also get a reverse setting that produces 960 ft-lbs of nut-busting torque, and the adjustment switch is placed conveniently at the back for one-handed use.

A swivel air inlet allows you to move around with the hose connected, while the durable composite housing and aluminum cap protect the internal components from damages for long-lasting use.

However, even with its quiet handle exhaust, the tool is quite noisy because it emits 105.3 dB.

Pros

  • Ergonomic contoured grip handle
  • 3-speed plus reverse adjustment
  • Convenient rear control switch
  • Swivel air inlet
  • Durable housing

Cons

  • Quite loud

How to Buy the Best Air Impact Wrenches

How to Buy Best Air Impact Wrench

Photo: DeWalt

1. Torque

While we recommend the highest torque for superior performance, you should consider your application first.

For tasks like tightening and loosening lug nuts, 80 – 100 ft-lbs is enough for both forward and reverse directions. However, if the nuts are stuck, and you want to undo or even break them for replacement, the higher the torque, the better.

For this reason, you should consider getting a powerful wrench with adjustable settings, which gives you more control over the torque for specific applications. The more the adjustment settings, the better.

2. Speed  

Aside from torque, consider the air impact wrench's speed for performance purposes because they go hand-in-hand.

This factor determines how fast the drive turns, and therefore, you should balance speed and torque for quick loosening or tightening. Also, it should be adjustable for better control, with a maximum of around 8,000 RPM.

3. Weight 

Since these tools are handheld, their weight matters, especially if you have to hold them for long periods as you work on your project. Lightweight pieces that weigh less than 3 lbs. are the best for such tasks because they cause less hand fatigue.

That said, powerful wrenches are usually heavy, and therefore, you should not compromise this by getting a lightweight unit for commercial use. For instance, Ingersoll Rand 2235QTiMAX weighs 4.6 lbs. Though quite heavy, this is reasonable for its performance.

4. Grip

A good grip over the wrench is a must-have for safe and accurate use. Also, the hammering mechanism in the wrench causes some vibrations, and thus, you have to hold the tool firmly.

Ideally, the best handle should have a soft rubber-molded grip with finger grooves. This design will minimize vibrations, reduce fatigue, and prevent slipping.

5. Drive Size

Most air impact wrenches have a 3/8 or 1/2-inch drive, and each is for different uses.

That said, 1/2-inch drive wrenches are ideal for working on large fasteners such as lug nuts. On the other hand, the 3/8-inch drive is suitable for light fasteners. These include those found in timing belt assemblies, front covers, oil covers, and cam covers.

There is also a smaller 1/4-inch wrench drive, but this is suitable for very light fasteners like those found in control module covers and interior trims.

6. Noise Level

This factor is a no brainer. The more quiet the air impact wrench is, the better because it will be more gentle to your ears. Measured in decibels, we recommend ratings that are lower than 100 dB. However, if they exceed this, they should not go past 110 dB.

Conclusion 

In conclusion, NitroCat's 1355-XL is the best overall because it has the perfect balance between power and weight. The tool churns out 700 ft-lbs of torque but only weighs 2.75 lbs. It is also very durable and safe to use.

For extremely heavy-duty use, though, such as in assembly lines and commercial use, you should check out Ingersoll Rand 2235QTiMAX. It has a finely-tuned twin hammer that produces 1,350 ft-lbs of torque.

However, if you are on a tight budget, Aircat's 1056-XL is the best air impact wrench to consider because it costs less than $100.

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