Too Many Cordless Impact Wrenches To Choose From? We’ve Got Your Back!
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 and determined which models deserve your consideration.
Editor’s Note: This article is part of PTR’s “Best of 2022” series and was originally published on January 26, 2022. There have been no updates to our recommendations… yet. Be on the lookout for our 2023 updates!
Best Overall Cordless 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 wrenches in our book. They’re available in a 3/8-inch friction ring (2960), 1/2-inch friction ring (2962), or 1/2-inch pin detent styles (2962P).
Price: $249 bare tool, $429 kit with two 5.0Ah batteries (based on the 2962 friction ring)
Best 3/8-Inch Cordless 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.
Price: $229 bare tool, $329 kit with two 2.0Ah batteries, $429 kit with two 5.0Ah batteries
Best 1/2-Inch Cordless Impact Wrench
Makita 40V max XGT Mid-Torque Impact Wrench GWT07/GWT08
Makita’s latest 40V max XGT mid-torque impact wrench is definitely worth your consideration as the best cordless 1/2-inch impact wrench. It boasts 560 ft-lbs of fastening torque and 810 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.
It’s a reasonably compact option for considering the amount of power you get (6.7 inches). 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.
Price: $349 bare tool, $549 kit with two 2.5Ah batteries
Best Compact/Stubby Impact Wrench
DeWalt hit the scene with an unexpected surprise for us in the Atomic line—a compact stubby with 450 ft-lbs of breakaway torque… and we verified on our test rig! It’s also legitimately compact with the sub-5-inch head angled up to ensure the battery doesn’t get in your way.
For control, there are two standard and two assist modes. While there are other brands with more advanced controls, you have to give up some power to get it.
Price: $199 bare, $419 with two 5.0Ah batteries (3/8-inch version also available)
Best Budget Cordless Impact Wrench
Ridgid 18V Octane 1/2-Inch Mid-Torque Impact Wrench R86011KSB2N
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.
Price: $149 kit with one 4.0Ah battery
Who Makes the Best Cordless Impact Wrench?
Considering the number of options available, 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 has a more refined design 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. Plus, the 40V XGT system is giving Makita some additional room to expand its higher-performance offerings.
More Cordless Impact Wrench Recommendations from Brands We Trust
Most of the time, the best cordless impact wrench for you is one that uses the batteries you already have. If that’s you, here are our top recommendations from other brands we trust to get the job done.
Bosch revitalized its 18V lineup with advanced batteries and BiTurbo brushless motors to form the ProFactor line, and the newest 3/4-inch high-torque impact wrench is a beast! The 3-speed GDS18V-770 packs 770 ft-lbs of fastening and 1250 ft-lbs of nut-busting torque with merciless efficiency. Right now, it’s in the hands of our marine mechanic, saving him some torch time by breaking loose bolts that have been exposed to saltwater way too long.
Price: $249 bare tool
Best Craftsman Cordless Impact Wrench
Our favorite Craftsman cordless impact wrench is the 3/8-inch CMCF910. Its power is a bit lower than some of its competition at 165 ft-lbs, but that’s still plenty to tackle most automotive tasks aside from lug nuts. If you’re on the Craftsman V20 system, this is an easy addition for under $100.
Price: $99 bare tool
As our friend Paul pointed out to us, DeWalt has a ton of cordless impact wrenches to sort through on the 20V max line, plus some 12V Max offerings. So which one is would we pick if we could just have one? The 1/2-inch Atomic we mentioned above certainly makes a strong case. However, it’s the DCF894 that we turn to for all-around performance. It’s a solid mid-torque pick with 330 ft-lbs of fastening torque and 600 ft-lbs of breakaway along with 2000 RPM on the top end. You also get the option between hog ring and pin detent drive style. If you’re a fan of Tool Connect, you can get the same bones with the added tech as the DCF896.
Price: $219 bare, $419 with two 5.0Ah batteries ($269/$449 for the DCF896 with Tool Connect)
Flex only has one cordless impact wrench at the time we’re writing this, but it’s a good one! The FX1471 is a 1/2-inch high-torque design with 800 ft-lbs of fastening and 1150 ft-lbs of breakaway torque controlled by three electronic speeds and an assist mode. Considering the performance and that the kit comes with a 5.0Ah battery and fast charger, its $299 price tag makes it one of the best high-torque values you get in a Pro-level impact wrench.
Price: $299 kit with 5.0Ah battery
Best Greenworks Cordless Impact Wrench
Greenworks has been busy expanding its line of 24V/48V lawn care equipment for homeowners and there are power tools that run on the same battery to supplement them. For an impact wrench, check out Greenworks’ 24V brushless 3803402AZ. This 1/2-inch 3-speed model is capable of breaking up to 540 ft-lbs—plenty for most jobs around your house and garage. It’s also easy on your wallet for a brushless impact wrench.
As an added bonus, there’s a USB port built into the battery so you can use it as a power supply.
Price: $89.99 bare tool
Best Hart Cordless Impact Wrench
Hart has been creating a DIY emporium at Walmart and even expanding into other cordless products you can use around your home, such as vacuums. For impact wrenches, they have a couple of choose from. While they don’t have a brushless model (yet), the 1/2-inch HPIW01 can break up to 350 ft-lbs to handle the majority of your home and garage needs without breaking the bank.
Learn more at Hart’s website.
Best Hilti Cordless Impact Wrench
Hilti is high on quality and a great choice for commercial and industrial jobs in addition to general construction and they’ve announced the Nuron line as a higher-performing platform moving forward. For installation or steel construction jobs, get your hands on Hilti’s Ultimate Class 1/2-inch SIW 8-22. With 738 ft-lbs of fastening and a monster 1217 ft-lbs of nut-busting torque, it’s the most capable model currently in the line. Backed by a 20-year warranty, this premium professional impact wrench is sure to still be kicking long after other models hit the trash bin.
Price: Starting at $334
Ingersoll Rand’s W9000 series 1-inch cordless impact wrenches are the most powerful models by a wide margin. Boasting 3000 ft-lbs of breakaway and 2200 ft-lbs of fastening torque, no one else comes close. With standard and extended anvils available, they use a pair of batteries to help fleet and heavy equipment techs leave the days of dragging a hose behind.
Price: $1399 kit with four 5.0Ah batteries
Look no further than Kobalt’s XTR line for a high-torque impact wrench if you’re on the hunt for solid power on a budget. The 1424A-03 is capable of an eye-popping 1200 ft-lbs of nut-busting and 750 ft-lbs of fastening torque. At the same time, this advanced tool is just $269 as a kit. At the time we’re writing, it’s an even sweeter deal for $219 (sale ends 2/2/22).
Price: $269 kit with 4.0Ah Ultimate Output battery
Metabo HPT’s 36V MultiVolt line is unique in that the entire line is compatible with an AC adapter, giving you the option of cordless convenience or infinite corded runtime without switching tools. If that sounds appealing to you, the MultiVolt 3/4-inch impact wrench is an excellent high-torque option. Heck, even without the AC option, it’s still a powerful tool with 812 ft-lbs of fastening and 1328 ft-lbs of nut-busting torque.
Price: $289 bare tool
Heads up: Be on the lookout for a new mid-torque option coming from Metabo HPT for the 36V MultiVolt line soon! It’s boasting even higher performance than Milwaukee’s cordless mid-torque.
Ryobi has a couple of cordless impact wrench options on its high-performance 18V One+ HP Brushless lineup. The stronger is the 1/2-inch P262. Its brushless motor can deliver 450 ft-lbs of fastening and 600 ft-lbs of breakaway torque. We get the feeling there might be something stronger in the works, but for now, it’s a solid level of power in the mid-torque range.
Price: $169 bare tool
Skil’s PWRCore 20 brushless 1/2-inch impact wrench is rated for 200 ft-lbs of breakaway torque, but actually exceeded it by breaking nearly 300 ft-lbs in our testing! Like other Skil impact tools, the IW5739-1A hit harder than it seems on paper. Delivering more than you expect for the price has been a consistent characteristic since Skil rediscovered itself as a high-value brand with very real Pro potential.
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 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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