The Best Cordless Impact Wrenches of 2022

Harness the bolt-busting power of these heavy-duty cordless impact wrenches.

By James Fitzgerald and Tom Scalisi | Updated Sep 12, 2022 11:56 AM

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The Best Cordless Impact Wrench Options

Photo: Tom Scalisi

There are few things more frustrating than struggling with stubborn nuts and bolts that don’t want to budge. A handheld ratchet wrench has its well-deserved place in every garage, but sometimes something with real moving and twisting power is necessary. That’s where the impact wrench comes in.

These power tools have the capacity to loosen or tighten even the most stubborn fasteners with minimal effort. Though they used to be available only as air-powered (pneumatic) options that required an air hose and compressor, technological innovations have led to the creation of cordless options that can go practically anywhere. So, if it’s time to replace those air hoses with batteries, read on for tips on finding the best cordless impact wrench.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Makita 18V Cordless 1/2 in. Impact Wrench Kit
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: ENEACRO 20V Cordless Impact Wrench Brushless Motor
  3. UPGRADE PICK: DEWALT 20V MAX XR High Torque 1/2-Inch Impact Wrench
  4. BEST HIGH-TORQUE: Milwaukee 2767-20 1/2″ High Torque Impact Wrench
  5. BEST COMPACT: DEWALT 20V MAX Cordless Impact Wrench Kit
  6. BEST KIT: KIMO Cordless Impact Wrench
  7. ALSO CONSIDER: DEWALT 20V MAX Impact Wrench Kit

ALSO TESTED:

The Best Cordless Impact Wrench Options

Photo: Tom Scalisi

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Cordless Impact Wrench

Choosing the best impact wrench will depend largely on the use it will see. Keep the following features in mind when determining which impact wrench is the most suited to a given set of needs.

Brushed vs. Brushless Motor

Without getting lost in the complexities of power tool motor mechanics, it’s enough to say that brushless motors don’t have as many moving parts as brushed motors. Moving parts create friction, and friction causes a loss of efficiency. Consequently, a cordless impact wrench with a brushless motor has several advantages over one with a brushed motor. This includes a greater power-to-weight ratio, higher motor speeds, a longer lifespan, and less maintenance.

But all these advantages come at a cost. Because of their superior features and more advanced technology, cordless impact wrenches with brushless motors can be considerably more expensive. However, considering that brushless motors tend to last longer and require less maintenance, the extra cost might well be worth it.

RPM, Torque, and IPM

Torque, rpm, and ipm are the three key factors that determine an impact wrench’s power. Of these three, buyers should pay the most attention to the torque value. Simply put, torque is the amount of twisting power an impact wrench has, so an impact wrench with higher torque will have more overall power and generally perform better.

Also, keep in mind that many models have two torque values: nut-busting (or loosening), and tightening. Nut-busting can be more than twice the torque value of tightening, so it’s a number worth looking out for.

Additionally, rpm and ipm are important values to keep in mind. Standing for “revolutions per minute,” rpm represents how fast an impact wrench can drive fasteners. Standing for “impacts per minute,” ipm refers to the number of impacts from the “hammer” (the internal mechanism that puts the “impact” into an impact wrench) generated per minute. A higher ipm value will make the wrench work harder as the resistance increases.

Batteries and Run Time

Cordless impact wrenches receive their power from rechargeable batteries. Consequently, the battery’s power (measured in volts) will greatly influence the overall power (measured in torque, rpm, and ipm) the cordless impact wrench can possess.

Cordless impact wrenches most often have 18-volt batteries, but there are some exceptions. Impact wrenches with greater amounts of torque can have batteries as large as 20 volts, while less powerful and more compact impact wrenches can have batteries as small as 12 volts.

Although the volt rating of a battery determines the tool’s power, it doesn’t say anything about how much runtime the battery has. That’s determined by a battery’s amp-hour (“Ah”) rating. For example, an 18-volt 3-Ah battery will run about twice as long as an 18-volt battery with a 1.5-Ah rating.

Drive Size

Every socket is composed of two primary parts: the drive socket and socket head. The socket head is the female part into which a nut and bolt fit, while the drive socket is the female component that’s attached to the wrench. A cordless impact wrench’s drive size is based on the size of its anvil, or male input shaft that the socket fits onto. In other words, an impact wrench’s drive size dictates the size of the sockets it can use.

Cordless impact wrenches are available in sizes from ¼ inch to 1 inch, with each size having its set of advantages and disadvantages. As a general rule, the larger the impact wrench’s drive size, the more powerful the impact wrench. On the other hand, a wrench with a larger drive size will be larger and bulkier and will be more difficult to fit into tight spaces. For general-purpose use, an impact wrench with a ½-inch drive size will be the most versatile since it’s both moderately powerful and compact—allowing it to accomplish the widest variety of tasks.

Sound and Vibration

One might think that an impact wrench with more power is automatically better in every way than one with less power, right? Not so fast. As with so many other things in life, there’s a trade-off. When it comes to a cordless impact wrench’s power, that trade-off is in the form of increased sound and vibration. Although battery-powered impact wrenches don’t generate as much sound and vibration as their pneumatic counterparts, both forms of impact wrenches are known for causing hand and ear fatigue. For users who expose themselves to either for too long, the sound and vibration can lead to damage to these areas.

Thankfully, many cordless impact wrenches incorporate vibration-reducing ergonomic handles to buffer the impact of excessive vibrations through the user’s hands. Many also allow for adjustable torque levels to limit the exposure to the loud and physically jarring high-torque setting to times when it’s really necessary to bust a fastener loose. But no matter what noise and vibration reduction features an impact wrench might have, always wear hearing protection and take regular breaks when operating it.

Grip

Cordless impact wrenches have two basic grip styles: pistol grip and in-line grip. As the name implies, pistol-grip handles resemble the handle and trigger assembly of a standard pistol. This is the handle type that most power drills and impact drivers have and is also the most commonly found on impact wrenches. Pistol-grip handles are the most popular because they’re comfortable to hold and create less hand fatigue during long work periods.

Impact wrenches with in-line handles are long and slim, somewhat resembling a regular screwdriver. With in-line impact wrenches, the anvil aligns with the body of the impact wrench, and the handle and trigger are integrated into the back side of the wrench. This variety is best for maneuvering in tight and compact spaces where a pistol-grip impact wrench can’t fit. However, there are compact versions of traditional pistol-grip impact wrenches that serve this purpose as well.

Adjustable Speeds

Many of the best cordless impact wrenches feature adjustable speeds that the user can toggle through. This gives the user the ability to control how fast the anvil and socket are spinning, ensuring that they don’t damage the nut or bolt threads while tightening or loosening.

Many models have three settings: high (which can be up to 3,000 rpm), medium (which is usually around 2,000 rpm), and low (which can be around 400 to 1,200 rpm). Low speeds are typically suitable for most jobs, but higher speeds can get the job done faster.

There are also models with variable-speed triggers. The user throttles the speed of the impact wrench by modulating their trigger squeeze. A light squeeze is slow, while a heavy squeeze is full speed.

Our Top Picks

That’s a lot of brain-wrenching background information on the best impact wrenches. Even so, shopping for one of these tools can be intimidating. For help, refer to the following list of products. These models made the list by hitting all of the important considerations outlined above.

Best Overall

Best Cordless Impact Wrench Makita
Photo: homedepot.com

The Makita 18V Cordless ½-inch Impact Wrench Kit offers a full package of power, runtime, and versatility. Its brushless motor can generate 430 foot-pounds of torque that users can control with its 4-speed power selector. This level of control prevents users from overtightening in one direction, and its “reverse rotation autostop mode” automatically stops the rotation when it detects the fastener is loose.

This kit comes with two 5-Ah batteries, a charger, and a carrying bag. A lightweight and compact design allows the user to fit this ½-inch drive impact wrench into tight spaces like engine bays or wheel wells. It features four adjustable speeds: 0 to 1,000 rpm; 0 to 1,800 rpm; 0 to 2,600 rpm; and 0 to 3,200 rpm.

During testing, the Makita proved to be our favorite model. While it’s not listed as the most powerful model, it still has plenty of oomph, and we had a hard time finding something it couldn’t loosen eventually. It fits almost anywhere but the tightest of engine bays, and the LEDs will light up those greasy crevices. The only thing we didn’t like was that switching through the different speeds and autostop modes was a bit confusing.

Product Specs

  • Motor type: Brushless
  • Torque: Up to 430 pounds
  • Drive size: ½ inch

Pros

  • Powerful compared to other compact models
  • Bright LED makes working in dark spots easier
  • Compact design fits nearly anywhere

Cons

  • Different modes and speed settings were a little confusing

Get the Makita 18V impact wrench kit at The Home Depot.

Best Bang for the Buck

Best Cordless Impact Wrench ENEACRO
Photo: amazon.com

Eneacro’s 20V Cordless Impact Wrench has 300 foot-pounds of torque and a brushless motor to tackle tough tasks but offers an easygoing price tag. This brushed ½-inch model features three speeds including 1,600; 2,100; and 2,800 rpm, along with a variable torque selector to choose just the right amount of power for the job.

This impact wrench kit comes with a carrying case, 4-Ah battery, battery charger, and four different-size sockets along with the tool. It also features a rubber-coated grip. Although this tool is more geared toward hobbyists than pros (it doesn’t even clearly list the torque values), the price point makes it worth considering.

In testing, the Eneacro 20V cordless impact wrench was somewhat of a surprise. No, it couldn’t keep up with the other models in sheer power, but for DIYers who want to rotate their tires a few times a year, it’s more than sufficient. We liked the price point and the 4-Ah battery as well.

Product Specs

  • Motor type: Brushless
  • Torque: NA
  • Drive size: ½ inch

Pros

  • Affordable price point
  • Decent-size batteries for the price (4 Ah)
  • Comes with a kit of sockets

Cons

  • Not overly powerful

Get the ENEACRO 20V impact wrench on Amazon.

Upgrade Pick

Best Cordless Impact Wrench DEWALT
Photo: amazon.com

DIYers or pros who need a powerful impact wrench should check out the 20V Max XR High Torque Impact Wrench from DeWalt. This 20-volt brushless impact wrench features a ½-inch anvil, maximum nut-busting torque of 1,200 foot-pounds, and a typical torque value of 700 foot-pounds. It comes equipped with variable speed selection, allowing the user to choose between 0 and 400 rpm; 0 and 1,200 rpm; and 0 and 1,900 rpm.

The DeWalt impact wrench features a durable design, allowing it to withstand up to a 6-foot drop. The anvil has a hog ring–style detent for keeping sockets in place, and the LED work light illuminates the work space.

The 20V Max XR High Torque Impact Wrench from DeWalt proved to be one powerful impact wrench during the test. It drove and broke lags, lug nuts, and everything else we could throw at it. The brushless technology helps it run as efficiently as possible, while the wrench is also compact for its features. We liked that it uses our countless DeWalt batteries as well since the kit didn’t come with any. One complaint? The hog ring on the anvil is very, very snug, and it makes removing and replacing sockets difficult.

Product Specs

  • Motor type: Brushless
  • Torque: 700 foot-pounds; 1,200 foot-pounds nut-busting
  • Drive size: ½ inch

Pros

  • Extremely powerful motor
  • Compact design for its output
  • Uses the brand’s popular 20V batteries

Cons

  • Doesn’t come with a battery
  • Hog ring is very stiff

Get the DeWalt 20V MAX XR impact wrench on Amazon or at The Home Depot (with battery).

Best High-Torque

Photo: amazon.com

For some serious heavy-hitting power, the Milwaukee high torque ½-inch impact wrench packs a punch. This model uses Milwaukee’s 18-volt batteries to produce up to 1,400 foot-pounds of torque to bust nuts loose, and 1,000 foot-pounds under typical circumstances. It features a 4-speed variable power controller that lets users choose between 0 to 550; 0 to 1,400; and 0 to 1,750 rpm. The additional nut-busting mode starts out at full speed (1,750 rpm) and then slows down to 750 rpm when the nut is loose.

This impact wrench has power to spare, and we enjoyed testing it head to head with the other torque monster in the test. This model was barely noticeably slower, but these models are more about sheer power than speed. We liked that the Milwaukee featured a very compact design, being the smallest of the heavy hitters in the group. Our biggest groan about this model is consistent with other heavy-duty impact wrenches: the hog ring’s stiffness is excessive. Also, ours didn’t come with a battery, but this model is available as a 5-Ah kit.

Product Specs

  • Motor type: Brushless
  • Torque: Up to 1,200 foot-pounds of nut-busting torque
  • Drive size: ½ inch

Pros

  • Most compact heavy-duty model
  • Tremendous amount of power
  • Brushless design and tech

Cons

  • Hog ring is too stiff

Get the Milwaukee impact wrench on Amazon or at The Home Depot (without a battery).

Best Compact

Best Cordless Impact Wrenches DEWALT
Photo: amazon.com

The DeWalt 20V Max Cordless Impact Wrench packs a big punch in a little package. This model features a very compact design, allowing it to fit into tight spaces like under the hood of a vehicle. It also has three bright LEDs for lighting up those dark automotive quarters. Though the tool’s 130-foot-pounds of torque won’t win any awards for high-torque performance, it’s got plenty of juice for many smaller jobs.

This model came with two 4-Ah batteries, a charger, and a carrying bag. While it doesn’t have speed selections available, it does have a variable speed trigger that allows the user to control its speed (up to 2,300 rpm).

We weren’t able to test this model against the other models, as it’s smaller and comparing torque wouldn’t have made sense. Instead, we took the DeWalt under the hood of a project car. The car has an aluminum block, and we appreciated the variable speed trigger, as it allowed us to apply enough torque without over-torquing and stripping the threads. We also liked how light this model is and how it fits in some tight spots. The only thing it’s missing is adjustable speed settings, but we almost preferred it the way it is.

Product Specs

  • Motor type: Brushed
  • Torque: 130 foot-pounds
  • Drive size: ⅜ inch

Pros

  • Compact design fits in very tight places
  • Variable trigger offers speed control
  • Powerful enough for smaller jobs

Cons

  • No speed settings

Get the DeWalt 20V MAX impact wrench kit on Amazon or at The Home Depot (tool only).

Best Kit

The Best Cordless Impact Wrench Option: KIMO Cordless Impact Wrench
Photo: amazon.com

Impact wrenches will shatter standard sockets, so a model that comes with a relatively comprehensive starter kit of impact-ready sockets is a huge plus. The Kimo Cordless Impact Wrench has a kit to offer, including 7 impact sockets (10, 12, 13, 15, 17, 19, and 21 millimeters) and 3 extensions (3, 5, and 10 inches). It also comes with a belt clip and a carrying case.

This 20V model features a brushless motor that produces up to 300 foot-pounds of torque. It also has three speed settings, including 0 to 1,800 rpm; 0 to 2,500 rpm; and 0 to 3,000 rpm. There’s an onboard LED, and the kit comes with a 2-Ah battery and charger.

We appreciated the kit that this impact wrench came with. It’s also fairly powerful, though other compact models did beat it in output. Also, it’s hard to argue with the Kimo’s budget-friendly price point.

Product Specs

  • Motor type: Brushless
  • Torque: 300 foot-pounds
  • Drive size: ½ inch

Pros

  • Kit comes with several sockets and extensions
  • Powerful enough for smaller jobs
  • Budget-friendly price point

Cons

  • Maybe slightly underpowered

Get the Kimo impact wrench on Amazon.

Also Consider

The Best Cordless Impact Wrench Option: DEWALT 20V MAX Impact Wrench Kit
Photo: amazon.com

For DIYers hunting high and low for a powerful impact wrench with two high-capacity batteries but a relatively affordable price tag, the DeWalt 20V Max Impact Wrench Kit might be the one to consider. This kit comes with a 400-foot-pound impact wrench and two 4-Ah batteries while still costing less than many bare-tool kits.

The DeWalt 20V MAX Impact Wrench Kit doesn’t have any speed or impact selectors, but it does feature a 1,500 motor and a variable speed trigger. Also, it has an onboard LED work light for illuminating dark spaces. The magnesium gear case and metal transmission help shed weight while still remaining durable.

During testing, we really enjoyed this impact wrench from DeWalt, but it’s not perfect. Due to its brushed motor, it was actually larger than the more powerful brushless models, and that’s a significant consideration. However, it did have plenty of power, worked smoothly, and doesn’t feature a hog-ring anvil—something we’ve come to appreciate.

Product Specs

  • Motor type: Brushed
  • Torque: 400 foot-pounds
  • Drive size: ½ inch

Pros

  • Lots of power and speed
  • Built-in LED work lights
  • Variable speed trigger

Cons

  • It’s pretty big

Get the DeWalt 20V MAX impact wrench kit on Amazon.

Also Tested

TECCPO Impact Wrench, 20V MAX Cordless Impact Wrench

The Teccpo Impact Wrench ended up being quite the disappointment for us during our test. On the surface, it has the specs: 300 foot-pounds of torque, 4-Ah battery, and a brushless motor. But in practical use, this impact wrench was really lacking in power. It was quite clearly the least powerful model in the group, and it couldn’t loosen nuts set by any other model in the test. It simply impacted several times, slowed down, and stopped working completely—even with a full battery. It’s absolutely worth passing on.

Dobetter 20V Cordless Impact Wrench 4000 mAh Battery

There’s a funny thing about the Dobetter 20V Cordless Impact Wrench: It’s the same exact tool as another model we tested. It’s made from the same mold; uses the same generic, non-branded batteries; and features the same uniquely angled handle. The specs are also the same: 4-Ah battery, 300 foot-pounds of torque, and the same three speed settings. The only statistic that differed was the price: the Dobetter is less expensive.

So, then, what was the problem? Despite being the same tool, the Dobetter performed worse. It was slower and less powerful than the other model. We even swapped the batteries between models to see if there was an issue with the Dobetter battery, but that changed nothing.

Our Verdict

For those who’d prefer a compact impact wrench with plenty of features and power, the Makita impact wrench kit offers 430 foot-pounds of torque, high speed, and technology, making it a great overall choice. However, for those looking for something with a bit more power, the DeWalt 20V MAX XR impact wrench and Milwaukee impact wrench are both torque monsters, so DIYers should choose one that works with their current battery lineup.

How We Tested the Best Cordless Impact Wrenches

We sure felt the pressure when it came to putting together a list of the best cordless impact wrenches. These tools are all about power, and we needed to really put them through their paces. This is what we did:

First, we used them for basic wrenching. For the larger models, we removed and installed lug nuts on an old 4×4 to see how well they worked on their different speed settings and torque outputs. For the smaller model, we took it under the hood and tightened up some exhaust manifold bolts and other parts to see how it worked in tight places. Next, we put these models head to head by torquing some hardware down and seeing which models could loosen them, and how quickly they could do it. Finally, we drove 6-inch lag bolts into a wet 4×4 before removing them again.

With these tests done, we had a good idea of what each model could do and which ones would make our list of the best cordless impact wrenches.

Safety Tips for Using a Cordless Impact Wrench

All power tools should be used with caution—and cordless impact wrenches are no exception. The first step of using an impact wrench safely is to read the user’s manual for instructions on proper use and recommended safety considerations. Be sure to select the recommended torque setting for the sockets in use, and don’t force the tool to operate beyond its stated performance specifications.

Be sure to use all the necessary safety accessories (like hearing protection, safety goggles, and gloves), and take frequent breaks to avoid fatigue. Using an impact wrench for only its intended purpose with the proper safety equipment will go a long way toward keeping safe, but here are a few more tips:

  • Inspect the impact wrench for damage before using it, and if there are any defects, either fix or replace it.
  • Make sure the sockets are rated for use with an impact wrench because if they’re not, they can break and cause injuries.
  • Dress appropriately, avoiding baggy clothes, loose jewelry, and free-flowing long hair.

FAQs 

A cordless impact wrench can be a considerable investment, so it’s natural to have some questions. Since there are many factors to consider and options to choose from, discovering the answers to these common questions might help bring more clarity to the decision.

Q. What is a cordless impact wrench used for?

A cordless impact wrench is used for loosening and tightening nuts and bolts, especially those that are too difficult to adjust with a manual socket set.

Q. How does a cordless impact wrench work?

It applies short bursts of intense twisting force to loosen or tighten.

Q. Which voltage should I choose for a cordless impact wrench?

That depends on what you’re going to use it for. If you’re mostly going to be working in tight spaces, a 12-volt impact wrench should be sufficient. On the other hand, if you’re working with 1-inch drive sockets, you’ll probably need a 20-volt impact wrench. For general-purpose use with the greatest versatility, an 18-volt impact wrench is probably your best bet.

Q. Will a cordless impact wrench remove lug nuts?

Absolutely! You can easily remove lug nuts with a ⅜-inch or ½-inch anvil.