Kobalt 1/2-Inch Mid-Torque Impact Wrench Gets A Major Facelift
The third generation of Kobalt 24V cordless tools is hitting the market boasting better performance, more features, smaller profiles, and faster charging. Among them is the KIW 124B-03 Kobalt 1/2-inch mid-torque impact wrench. We’re going to dive into the features and upgrades so you can decide if it’s the right choice to fit your needs.
Kobalt 1/2-Inch Impact Wrench Performance
On paper, Kobalt’s brushless motor produces 500 ft-lbs of fastening and 650 ft-lbs of nut-busting torque. The max no-load RPMs range from 950 on low, 1500 on medium, and 2200 on high. The corresponding impact rates are 1100 on low, 2000 on medium, and 2800 on high. When comparing that to the previous model, we see an increase of 300 revolutions per minute and 400 impacts per minute.
One of the many improvements Kobalt made to this impact wrench is to both the impact rate as well as the drive speed. It uses a 3-speed drive unlike the KIW 1524A-03 it’s replacing which featured a single-speed motor.
Kobalt did a great job of keeping the speed and torque controls simple on this impact wrench. There is a small control panel at the base of the handle with two buttons that allow you to easily cycle through the standard and assist modes.
This tool features two special modes that are specifically designed for those in the automotive sector—”Auto Slow” and “Hand Tight”.
Auto Slow is activated when the tool is set in reverse and will automatically slow rotation once it senses the fastener is loose. This mode helps to prevent the bolt or nut from falling or being thrown out of the socket.
The Hand Tight function is activated when the tool is set to forward and stops rotation once the tool begins to impact. Doing so prevents over-tightening, thus, mitigating potential damage to the threads.
One advantage we have when it comes to getting reliable torque test numbers is our Intertia Torque Impact Tool Torque Tester. We set up the Kobalt KIW 124B-03 on the tester and ran through all three settings to see what it could do. Here are our results:
- Torque 1: 223.5 ft-lbs.
- Torque 2: 248 ft-lbs.
- Torque 3: 418.2 ft-lbs.
As you can see, there’s a pretty big jump between settings 2 and 3. Just to be safe, we retested with a fresh battery to see if the numbers change. After conducting the second round of tests, here are our results:
- Torque 1: 223 ft-lbs.
- Torque 2: 258.6 ft-lbs.
- Torque 3: 437.8 ft-lbs.
Editor’s Note: Our test method is three 5-second bursts with a 3-second break between each. Under a longer load, you can reach higher torque levels such as the 450+ ft-lbs in our photo above.
The first time, we started with a fresh battery and ran each test from low to high. The second time, we topped the battery off for each test and had the advantage of the full max voltage of the pack. For modes 2 and 3, these results show the difference between a battery running at peak voltage vs. nominal voltage. Click here to learn about the difference between the two.
Why the difference between the torque specs and what our meter measured? The meter’s hydraulic system actually reads ~65% – 85% of the purest hard torque readings. That’s normal because of the way the mechanism works. Kobalt’s numbers are on the high side of the range, which isn’t surprising considering Kobalt’s impact wrenches have historically hit harder than its competition in the same class.
Ridgid’s 18V brushless mid-torque has the same torque specs on paper and measured a maximum of 252 ft-lbs in the same test. Kobalt beat that in mode 2 and was nearly 185 ft-lbs stronger in mode 3. That’s a big difference.
More importantly, it shows us that this is a solid all-around impact wrench. From stubborn bolts on a vehicle to the toughest construction fasteners, Kobalt covers a wide range of applications.
Kobalt 1/2-Inch Impact Wrench Design
Kobalt did an excellent job shaving some of the excess weight and length off of this tool. They shortened the tool body by about 3 inches making it fit the mid-torque class better in terms of size. Additionally, this model is 1.5 pounds lighter than its predecessor.
The big deal here is that the shorter body and lighter weight allow for better access in tight spaces and a lighter load when working overhead.
The overall feel and balance of this tool are really nice. The grip is draped in a heavily textured rubber overmold and there are a few protective bumpers on the head to help offer some protection to any workpiece you set it on.
- LED light
- Reversible belt clip
Kobalt 1/2-Inch Impact Wrench Price
Right now at Lowe’s, you can get this Kobalt 1/2-inch impact wrench for $229 kitted with a 24V Max 4.0Ah battery. At the time we’re writing, it’s not yet available as a bare tool. As far as pricing is concerned, it’s where we expect to find Prosumer models and earns a high-value rating from us when you wrap in its performance level.
Kobalt includes a 5-year tool warranty and a 3-year battery warranty with this kit as well as a soft carrying case.
The Bottom Line
The Kobalt 24V 1/2-Inch Impact Wrench has you covered when it comes to tackling a full range of mid-torque impact tasks. From our experience, it’s an excellent value when you consider its compact size, feature set, and performance. We recommend it for serious DIYers and for Pros who don’t mind a little more size and weight to gain significant price savings.
For more information on the Inertia Torque L-1000, click here.
Kobalt Cordless 1/2-Inch Impact Wrench Specifications
- Model: Kobalt KIW 124B-03
- Power Source: Kobalt 24V Max battery
- Max Torque: 650 ft.-lbs. (nut-busting), 500 ft-lbs (fastening)
- No-Load Speed: 0-950/1500/2200 RPM
- Impact Rate: 0-1,100/2,000/2,800 IPM
- Weight: 4.25 lbs (bare), 6 lbs (with 4.0Ah 24V MAX battery)
- Warranty: 5-year (tool), 3-year (battery)
- Price: $229 (kit)
This new generation of Kobalt has me reconsidering starting fresh on a new platform.
I am a professional field technician, I own almost every brand of tool you could think of, from Snap-on to Pittsburgh and everything in between. I have always factored cost in to what I expect from a tool and found kobalt to be a good value, and would put them at the top of homeowner/DIYer class. I own this tool, purchased the tool kit for $179.99 and it has exceeded my expectations by far. I use it a few times a week and it does what I need it to. If you need a cordless impact for all day every… Read more »
Kobalts junk, save your money folks.