Pneumatic or Air wrenches are the most powerful on the market, and while having a noisy compressor is often undesirable it’s the only way you’ll get a truly powerful tool. There are loads of options when buying but the best pneumatic impact wrench will remove that tough nut fast.
When looking for the best air impact wrench you’ll need to start with how much power you need. That means looking at maximum torque and minimal effort on your part. Whether you want a reliable and well-known brand or a bargain entry level you’re going to want the best pneumatic wrench for your money.
The difference between electric and pneumatic’s are, that the pneumatic’s are powered by compressed air. These also require an extra air compressor and not just a battery or plug. There are 5 common sizes ranging from 0.25-1” drives and larger drives can exert torque as high as 3,000ft lbs.
The air wrenches can last all day as long as the compressor is running but still use the same hammer and anvil principle that electric ones use. The biggest disadvantage to pneumatic wrenches is that it’s often difficult to control the power, and with the higher power it’s easy to strip out or break a screw if you’re not careful.
In a Hurry? Check out our top pics at a Glance
Top 5 Best Air Impact Wrench Reviews
1. AIRCAT 1150 Killer Torque 1/2-Inch, Black – Top Rated Air Impact Wrench
- sheer power and performance of 1,295 Feet-pounds (ft-lb) of loosening torque and Max. Torque 900 ft-lbs
- 1,400 Blows Per Minute makes this the strongest hard hitting Twin Hammer 1/2 Impact Wrench on the market
- 15-Percent larger rotor creates unmatched power
- Patented quiet technology at 86 decibels
- 2 year parts and labor warranty
- With a well-known brand name, the Aircat produces an impressive 1295ft.lb of torque and 1400 hits per minute. Its twin hammer has driven, the same as the Bostitch, which makes it extremely strong. The tool is fairly lightweight in comparison to others on the market.
- The handle has an ergonomic grip to make using it for a longer time easier. There’s also a special exhaust system which produces a very quiet 86 decibel output and a large rotor for better power.
- There’s a lot of shakes when using this which makes it difficult to use for long periods and can shake parts loose like the snap ring.
- It’s powerful but isn’t suited for heavy duty jobs because of this. The rating is also misleading as this only really functional up to about 500ft.lb.
2. Ingersoll-Rand 2135TiMAX 1/2-Inch
- Maximum power - 780 feet per pound maximum reverse torque and weighing just 3.95 pounds
- Maximum control - featherable trigger, wider range of power regulator settings, and patented one hand forward/reverse switch
- Maximum reliability - rugged design backed by a new two year limited warranty
- Through-handle exhaust; 360 degree swivel inlet
- IR is known as a great brand for tools, but it’s also costly because of that. With a lightweight and super duty air impact wrench at under 4lb, this is a very maneuverable tool. It’s maximum 780ft.lb power seems low compared to the Aircat but it’s genuinely got that power consistently which is more important.
- Considered to have the best power-to-weight ratio in this class the sensitive trigger also helps to produce excellent control and performance. The power regulator dial also helps to make the pressure adjustable so that it’s fully adjustable. The four positions give this the widest range of settings of any here.
- This also has a standard 1/2” driver and is considered to be very durable if maintained properly.
- While this has extra power it’s also not a twin anvil drive so while there’s extra torque it’s impact isn’t as great as the Aircat or the Bostitch and uses a 1/2” hose which actually seems to impede the power.
3. NitroCat 1200-K 1/2-Inch Kevlar Composite Air Impact Wrench
- AirCAT 1200-K 1/2" NITROCAT Impact wrench 1250 ft-lb
- The durable casing is made of kevlar so this can really take a beating. The 86 decibel quiet technology is comparable to that of the Aircat and uses similar technology.
- The impact wrench with twin-clutch mechanism adds extra power to it’s hitting capacity with a torque capacity of 1295ft.lb which is a step up from the dual hammer of the Aircat.
- The 3/8 hose is comparable to the Bostitch and it also has a weight of 4.5lb which is quite easy to handle. Like the Aircat, the Nitrocat exhausts through the handle so you don’t have to worry about debris or back-pressure.
- The flip lever is a little fiddly to operate when switching back and forth between forward and reverse.
- There’s no case and it’s also got a rounded anvil which can damage sockets over time. In fact, the whole assembly seems to have issues with heavy use and longevity.
4. Ingersoll Rand 231C Super-Duty Air Impact Gun For the Money
- CLASSIC CHOICE: Lightweight and easy to maintain, this impact wrench is a reliable choice for auto hobbyists and professional mechanics alike; It provides dependability and durability at exceptional value
- RELIABLE PERFORMANCE: The 231C Air Impact Wrench delivers a maximum torque of 600 foot-pounds, and offers enough power to install and remove stubborn bolts, lug nuts, and other hardy fasteners
- ADJUSTABLE POWER: Its adjustable power regulator lets you easily adjust power output needed for your task at hand; The twin hammer mechanism helps ensure efficient performance with impressive rotational speeds of up to 8,000 rpm
- COMFORT + CONTROL: At 7.3 inches in length and weighing only 5.8 pounds, it’s compact, ergonomic design minimizes stress on your wrists and hands; The contoured handle makes it easy to carry and control
- READY TO USE: For added convenience, this impact wrench arrives fully lubricated, so it’s ready to use right out of the box
- This is a long-running product that has been around almost 25 years. It’s both powerful and versatile at only 7” and just over 5lb. The max 425 ft lbs torque might not seem like much but it also has variable power and 8000 RPM which more than makes up for it.
- The performance is seamless and reliable. This factor alone made us give Ingersoll the best pneumatic wrench award.
- There’s an adjustable power regulator and an option for reverse while choosing the power output. It has a patented impact system that uses twin hammer mechanism and unique construction that breaks down into 2 pieces.
- The sleek handle looks great but can end up slick and hard to hold and there’s no noise reduction included so it’s quite loud in comparison.
- The trigger is a little poor in quality and is the first thing to break but it’s repairable.
5. BOSTITCH BTMT72391 1/2-Inch
- Twin hammer mechanism
- Aluminum Body
- Adjustable power regulator
- Bottom Handle Exhaust
- Touch control trigger
- This has power and performance and it’s durable with a 1/2” drive. This is a twin hammer drive that produces high torque housed in an aluminum frame that is light and durable. There’s also a switch to adjust power regulation over three settings so you’re less likely to damage your bolts. The rubberized handle makes it easy to handle even with grease or water on your hands.
- The load is up to 500ft.lb of torque which isn’t huge but it’s also less than $100 so you’re looking at a cheaper product.
- The bottom exhaust is easy to maneuver and you’ll need to keep the 3/8 hose rather than trying to use an adapter and another size as it throttles the wrench and impedes the power.
- The reverse setting does not have multiple power options, and even the forward setting doesn’t give consistent power between the three modes.
- Unlike electric wrenches, there’s also no lights and no-frills. It’s also questionable if the 500ft.lb boast is close to true as it struggles at only half that.
Ultimate Pneumatic Impact Wrench Buyers Guide
- If you are a professional or you fix your machines, then you might have experienced the fact that working in tight spaces, with rusted or corroded parts or in tight spaces are extremely tough. They often will leave you with broken tools, busted or skinned knuckles, broken tools and hampering schedule as they consume much time for simple jobs.
- None of this is your fault; even some of the most experienced professionals face such difficulties regularly. There is another set of problems which you often face these include difficulties in tightening loose bolts which are left as under tightened or over-torquing of some screws which snap their heads.
- In both of the above cases, the job gets highly complicated and consumes much time than typical examples, thus decreasing your overall productivity.
What’s the solution to the above problems?
- The Answer is a powerful Air Impact Wrench which can solve both of the issues. It can generate much larger torques which impossible to just achieve by hands thus enabling you to tighten almost any kind of bolts easily.
- Secondly, with its controlled torque, you can avoid over-torquing of bolts. Also, it can complete the works in a matter of minutes which would take hours by hands. So now you can understand how a heavy-duty air impact wrench comes to save the day.
What is an Air Impact Wrench?
An air impact wrench is automatic socket wrench tool which is engineered to deliver high torque output and requires minimum exertion by the user.
It generates an enormous amount of torque which is far more in comparison to that of a cordless or electric and miles ahead of the torque produced by hands. Also, there are features such as pre-adjusting the torque limit to prevent over-torquing and direction of the torque can be changed just by the flip of a switch.
Working Mechanism – Does It Really Work?
- Well if you look in the market then you can find air tools in different shapes, some of them are designed like that of a pistol others might seem like a screwdriver. Let me make something clear, whatever they may look like, but they all work similarly and on precisely on the same principle.
- Every impact wrench consists of a motor (rotating mass) which rotates by the pressurized air. This rotating mass exerts a force onto an anvil which is located at the end of the wrench. This creates a sudden intense torque and a twisting motion in small bursts of power which is used to rotate the output shaft.
- The small hammer mechanisms that strike the anvil connected to the drive, which in turn transfers this force onto socket tighten the bolt or o break the bolt loose. During the operation, it’s held firmly and pressed against the bolt which provides sufficient friction for gripping the bolt.
Why do you need Air impacts?
I can give lots and lots of reasons to have a heavy-duty air impact wrench kit in your home, but let’s be focused on some of the major ones.
- Efficiently and easily removing Machine tightened Nut-bolts: There are nuts which have been bolted by machine, such bolts cannot be loosened by hands. Even if you can, it will consume a lot of time. These bolts and screws can be undone easily and quickly with the help of an air impact wrench.
- Working with bigger bolts: When you are installing brackets shelves that are going to support heavyweight, they require bigger bolts which cannot be easily be tightened by hand wrench. In this situation, an air impact wrench would be great.
- Working with engines, cars and lawn movers: These are few areas where you cannot compromise on the quality of the job. So you cannot merely depend on hand wrench as if bolt comes out it can lead to severe accident. Air impact wrenches can easily tight these bolts to the required level without much stress.
These are only a few examples; there are countless out benefits that you get with an air impact wrench. We will have a discussion about them at some later point in time.
Major Applications Of The Air Wrench
The use of these air impact wrenches is simply limitless, they have revolutionized working process and reduced the time requirements for a job. Some of the significant fields where they are utilized are mentioned below.
- Automobile Industry: Talking about their application over here, they are used right from the assembling engine to putting together the entire automobile precisely.
- Construction business: Here we require them now and then for various purposes such as attaching fittings, installing windows or standing supporting frames and structure.
- Equipment maintenance: If maintenance is your line of work then this is a must-have tool for you. It is the most valuable tool will ever come across.
- Automobile repair: Guess what you are going to need when opening a lug nut, or a rusted bolt or fasteners which are over torqued.
Well, these are only some field, these wrenches have some other applications in the day to day life.
What To Look While Choosing
There are many factors involved in choosing the air impact wrench. The type of job which you are going to perform primarily determines the kind of wrench you need. Ideally, you must have a look at the below mention features.
An impact wrench is known by the amount of torque which it can generate. Higher the torque rating easier will be a job completed. This also improves the capability of the wrench. Higher torque gives you the ability to remove and install fasteners swiftly and without breaking a sweat. Consider a minimum of 700 ft.lbs of torque for your tool.
It comes in similar weight configurations as that of cordless impact wrenches. There are a lot of models available around the 5lbs mark. Try to go for a model with slightly lower weight and more significant on the power option. As it will be easy to work long hours with the lighter machine, also they can be controlled & handled easily.
It is the most deciding factor to while purchasing any product, first identify your needs and them how much you can afford. You can find some decent models in a range of 100-200$ which is a great deal for the money.
4. Air Compressor requirement:
Before selecting the compressor just have a look at PSI and CFM rating of your wrench. Then get a compressor that has PSI and CFM ratings slightly higher. That will surely deliver the best performance.
The size of the wrenches is not a big deal over here but what you need to look at is the size of the air tank. It is not designed to be taken to different work locations but sees how you can move it around in? Usually, we say for size “the smaller, the better.” Search for dimensions of the tank such that it comfortably fits in your workspace.
6. Power regulator:
Various models come with a power regulator to adjust the torque requirement for a particular job. As these wrenches dish out high torque, so a power regulator is must to carry out the smaller tasks easily.
If your work depends on the wrench so much, try to look for a model widely used by people and with a maximum number of user reviews. Some products come with a limited warranty. You should look for the warranty period when you choose. This way it would be quite easy to get a quality product.
8. Drive size:
This depends on the type of job you perform, a bit famous drive among users is the 1/2″ size takes care of most of the jobs besides 1/3” is also a popular choice but it has lesser torque rating.
9. Noise Suppression technology:
If you are going to work in a residential area then the noise from the impact wrench could disturb your neighbors for sure. So try to go for a model with Noise Suppression Technology to avoid complaints from others. Indeed it will cost a few extra bucks.
10. No-load speed:
No-load speed is the speed in terms of revolutions per minute at which it turns without load; the best air impact wrenches for automotive usage have a no-load speed in 8000 – 15000 rpm.
A compact impact wrench which fits better in your hand will give you better work experience. As it will provide better balance and reduce strain and fatigue while working.
When you are about to purchase equipment which would use a lot, its warranty and maintenance become one of the most concerned points. Depending on the manufacturer to manufacturer the warranty varies. Try to avoid the model with the limited warranty period. But obviously added warranty comes at an increased cost, so look what you wish for.
So now you know exactly what features you need while selecting your new pneumatic impact wrench. This guide gives you the complete idea of what to look for while making the purchase. Identify your job requirements and the feature that must be there to serve them.
Choosing the best one is one of the most challenging things. So carefully decide your budget. And select the only features that you need and don’t get carried away while looking at features which may be of hardly any use to you. Read the air impact wrench review of the most popular brands in the market before deciding what model you need.
If you’re price conscious but still want performance go for the IR 231C, it’s a longtime workhorse that produces what it says it does, unlike the Bostitch which is questionable. For high performance, the IR 2315 can’t be beaten because of the dual-clutch system, but it’s also costly.
The IR 2315 is also the most durable, though the 231C isn’t far behind. Overall, Ingersoll Rand is the all-around winner when it comes to picking the best pneumatic impact wrench. Check out our Air Impact Wrench Comparison Chart for Quick selection.