Best Cordless Impact Wrench Reviews 2020
On the hunt for the best cordless impact wrench this year? You’re in the right place! While impact wrenches are one of the core tools for mechanics covering the automotive and heavy equipment sectors, construction, landscaping, MRO, utility, and so many others use them as well.
We got our team of experts together to offer our recommendations across a wide range of priorities. Did we miss a category you’d like our thoughts on? Leave us a comment below and we’ll take a look!
Best Cordless Impact Wrench for Automotive
Milwaukee M18 Fuel Mid-Torque Impact Wrench
Using Milwaukee’s latest generation of M18 Fuel mid-torque impact wrenches, we’re getting the performance that helps us avoid turning to high-torque models thanks to fastening torque up to 550 ft-lbs and nut-busting up to 650 ft-lbs. When you’re working on passenger vehicles, this one impact wrench can replace the need for a heavier high-torque 95% or more of the time. Even for heavy equipment and diesel mechanics, they handle a ton of the work aside from lug nuts.
At the same time, these impacts are incredibly compact for their power level, just 6 inches in length and weighing right at 5 pounds with a 5.0Ah battery. All that makes this generation of M18 Fuel models the best cordless impact wrench for automotive in our book.
- Makita 18V LXT 4-Speed Mid-Torque Impact Wrench XWT17/XWT18 ($459 at Acme Tools)
Best Cordless 3/8-Inch Impact Wrench
Milwaukee M18 Fuel 3/8-Inch Mid-Torque Impact Wrench
Milwaukee’s next-gen M18 Fuel impact wrenches have a 3/8-inch option and that model is our top choice as the best cordless 3/8-inch impact wrench. Aside from the performance and size we discussed above, there are a couple of big feature upgrades.
The 3-LED light ring does a much better job of eliminating shadows than foot-mounted lights. There’s also a 4-mode Drive Control that includes an assist mode. Using it, you can set nuts or bolts quickly before the tool automatically stops at 35 ft-lbs max. From there, use your torque wrench to finish it off and ensure you don’t damage the workpiece by over-tightening.
Best Cordless 1/2-Inch Impact Wrench
Makita 18V LXT 18V Mid-Torque Impact Wrench XWT17/XWT18
Makita’s latest 18V LXT mid-torque impact wrench is definitely worth your consideration as the best cordless 1/2-inch impact wrench. It boasts 520 ft-lbs and fastening torque and 740 ft-lbs of loosening torque. But Makita is more humble than most, and we find that their impact wrench real-world performance frequently exceeds what the specs say.
This is another compact option for considering the amount of power you get. But what really sets it apart is the 6 assist modes—3 in forward and 3 in reverse—to go along with 4 standard speeds. Each one gives you a different level of tightening or loosening before automatically stopping and is really helpful when you’re working with fasteners that have various load sensitivities.
Best Cordless 1-Inch Impact Wrench
Milwaukee M18 Fuel 1-Inch D-Handle Impact Wrench
There aren’t a ton of options available if you’re looking for the best cordless 1-inch impact wrench, but Milwaukee has three to choose from. The best is the M18 Fuel 2868 and 2869. These D-handle models fasten up to 1900 ft-lbs and are capable of breaking 2000 ft-lbs.
The standard anvil (2868) is your go-to option for industrial fastening applications while the extended anvil (2869) is where you want to turn for diesel and heavy equipment operations. Milwaukee also included a lug nut mode on the extended anvil (enabled through One-Key) that helps prevent over-tightening.
Best Cordless High Torque Impact Wrench
Ingersoll-Rand 20V Brushless High-Torque Impact Wrench W7152
While most of our recommendations go to traditional cordless tool powerhouses, we’re really impressed with Ingersoll-Rand’s brushless W7152 as the best cordless high-torque impact wrench. Well aware of what professional mechanics and MRO crews need, this 1/2-inch impact wrench is capable of 1000 ft-lbs of fastening torque and 1500 ft-lbs of loosening.
Its 4 modes are dialed in a bit differently than most: full power, half power, wrench tight, and hand tight. Available in friction ring, friction ring with an extended anvil, and pin detent, the only downside might be that IR doesn’t have as wide a range of compatible tools as other brands.
- Milwaukee M18 Fuel 3/4-Inch High Torque Impact Wrench with One-Key 2864 ($529 at Acme Tools)
- Metabo HPT MultiVolt 3/4-Inch High Torque Impact Wrench WR36DAQ4 ($339 at Acme Tools)
Best Cordless Mid-Torque Impact Wrench
Milwaukee M18 Fuel Mid-Torque Impact Wrench
Choosing the best cordless mid-torque impact wrench was a genuinely difficult task between Makita’s XWT17/18 and Milwaukee’s updated M18 Fuel models. In the end, we gave the nod to Milwaukee, but it wasn’t a unanimous decision. So here’s the argument for each:
Milwaukee gives you more fastening torque in a more compact and lightweight package. We also really like the move to a 3-LED light ring and that there’s an assist mode to help prevent overtightening.
Makita offers better nut-busting force and typically outperforms its specifications. The assist mode controls are more refined with 6 total in addition to its 4 standard modes.
- Makita 18V LXT Mid-Torque Impact Wrench XWT17/XWT18 ($459 at Acme Tools)
- DeWalt 20V Max Tool Connect Mid-Range Impact Wrench DCF896 ($429 at Amazon)
Best Cordless Compact Impact Wrench
Makita 18V LXT Compact Impact Wrench XWT14/XWT15
We were much more united on our pick of Makita’s XWT14 as our best compact impact wrench (the XWT15 is the pin detent version). It’s a surprisingly powerful tool for its size and has the same 6 assist modes (3 in forward, 3 in reverse) as the larger mid-torque model.
In our testing, it broke well over its rated 400 ft-lbs of breakaway torque. In fact, it broke bolts we set to 500 ft-lbs on our test rig! While you might still come across passenger vehicle lugs that need the muscle of Makita’s mid-torque, you’ll be able to handle most lugs and the majority of your other automotive fasteners with this much lighter tool.
Best Cordless Stubby Impact Wrench
Milwaukee M18 Fuel 1/2-inch “Stubby” Impact Wrench
If power is your main priority, the best cordless stubby impact wrench is Milwaukee’s M18 Fuel next-gen compact series. The 1/2-inch model is rated to 250 ft-lbs of breakaway force but broke 400 ft-lbs in our tests, greatly exceeding our expectations! Available in 3/8-inch friction ring, 1/2-inch friction ring, and 1/2-inch pin detent versions, these are the strongest cordless “stubbies” we’ve tested. ANd yes, the M18 isn’t officially designated “Stubby” by Milwaukee—but it’s certainly small enough to be considered as such.
There are other good options available if weight is a big deal for you. Milwaukee’s M12 Fuel stubby is a bit more compact and lighter without dropping much performance. Ridgid also has 3/8-inch and 1/2-inch Sub-Compact stubby models that are even more compact and rated to 225 ft-lbs of nut-busting torque.
- Milwaukee M12 Fuel 1/2-Inch Stubby Impact Wrench ($269 at Acme Tools)
- Ridgid 18V Sub-Compact 1/2-Inch Stubby Impact Wrench ($139 at Home Depot)
Best Cordless Utility Impact Wrench
Milwaukee M18 Fuel 7/16-Inch Utility High Torque Impact Wrench
Milwaukee’s M18 Fuel 7/16-inch utility impact wrench raised the bar over the competition with its latest version. Now with 750 ft-lbs of torque and 2300 RPM, it’s putting a big gap over other cordless options and getting within sight of hydraulic models.
Improvements to the balance of the tool and height of the handle to accommodate lineman’s gloves pull together a complete package that makes the M18 Fuel the best cordless utility impact wrench currently available.
Best Budget Impact Wrench
Ridgid 18V Octane 1/2-Inch Mid-Torque Impact Wrench R86011KSBN
Coming up with a single recommendation for the best budget impact wrench means we have to make some assumptions and trade-offs. For some folks, a compact model is all they need while others might legitimately need higher torque. We might not agree on everything, but we did agree that today’s cordless mid-torque impact wrenches are the best all-around, so that’s the direction we’re heading.
At $149, Ridgid’s Octane mid-torque is hard to ignore considering it comes with a 4.0Ah battery and charger. Up to 620 ft-lbs of nut-busting torque, an assist mode, and a 3-LED light ring give it the performance and features we like to see at a price that sets it apart. Act quickly, though. Home Depot lists it currently as a “Special Buy” and we’re not sure how long they’ll offer it.
- DeWalt 20V Max 1/2-Inch High Torque Impact Wrench Kit DCF899M1 ($199 at Acme Tools)
- Kobalt XTR 24V Max 1/2-Inch High Torque Impact Wrench Kit KXIW 1424A-03 ($199 at Lowe’s)
Best Cordless DIY Impact Wrench
Skil PWRCore 20 Brushless 1/2-Inch Impact Wrench IW5739-1A
With 200 ft-lbs of available torque, Skil’s PWRCore 20 brushless impact wrench has a nice balance of performance, size, and weight for your weekend projects and to-do lists. Two standard speeds keep you in control and Reverse Control Mode stops the fastener so you can hand thread it the rest of the way off.
It comes packed with a PWRJump charger to get you back in the game quicker if you reach the end of the kit’s 4.0Ah battery. The kit even includes a USB adapter for the battery so you can use it as a power source to keep your devices charged up.
- Ryobi HP Compact 3/8-Inch Impact Wrench PSBIW01B ($119 at Home Depot)
- Hart 20V 1/2-Inch Impact Wrench HPIW01 ($119 at Walmart)
Who Makes the Best Cordless Impact Wrench?
Considering the number of recommendations we’ve offered, nailing down the best cordless impact driver brand is tough. However, Makita and Milwaukee are leading in a two-horse race with their latest generations.
In general, Milwaukee is leading by pushing the performance envelope further and moving into cordless models—such as their 1-inch line—that others haven’t made the jump into.
Makita seems to have a more refined assist mode system in play that’s neck-and-neck with Milwaukee in performance. They don’t have as many categories of impact wrench, but where they compete, they are highly effective.
What We Look For When Testing Cordless Impact Wrenches
Power and Speed
Whether your fastening or loosening, power is the name of the game for cordless impact wrenches. The more power you have, the better chance you have of getting the fastener moving quickly and not straining the motor.
Speed is secondary but still important. If you’re in construction or landscaping where you’re running long timber screws and the like, you want to run those as fast as you can while keeping them under control.
Size and Weight
Once you know how much power you need, finding it in the smallest, lightest package you can without giving up on quality is high on the list. Most impact wrenches are much heavier than impact drivers, and the vibration and noise of the tools can fatigue you quickly. Rising up to take the title of best cordless impact wrench in any category requires a lot of attention to the power-to-weight ratio.
In general, there are 3 primary categories to look at: compact (including stubby), mid-torque, and high-torque. You move up in power as you move up in size. Just keep in mind that today’s brushless models perform at a much higher level than before. It’s common to use a class size smaller to get the same performance as larger models that are just one generation back.
Electronic Assistance and Smart Controls
Assist modes and smart controls are highly valued features for impact wrenches. Many fasteners have a torque rating and it’s easy to over-torque them if you’re not careful. Having an automatic stop helps you run a nut or bolt quickly and still leave it short to finish off with a torque wrench.
In reverse, auto modes can back off a fastener and stop or slow down significantly so you don’t run it completely off. When you’re working at height or just hate chasing rogue nuts and bolts, it’s incredibly helpful.
Smart controls such as Milwaukee’s One-Key, DeWalt’s Tool Connect, and Bosch Connected tools have added benefits. Inventory management and tracking are the major highlights, but there’s a lot more inside the apps that are worth considering.
Impact wrenches are violent, noisy, heavy tools and ergonomics can be an afterthought on some designs. However, reducing the weight, perfecting the balance, and creating a comfortable handle all make the tool easier to use and less fatiguing on long days.
Price and Value
As always, value is a big part of what we look at with any tool. It’s not about which one is the cheapest, it’s about getting the job done well while getting the most bang for your buck.
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