Impact wrench (cordless) advice

“Because you’ll be able to use the torque wrench on lots of things you wouldn’t use the impact gun on.”

What would you say is the most common or frequent/likely task thats going to really let the torque wrench shine in place of the impact gun? I mean im sure you could find a suggested torque for every last hose fastener and screw or bolt from radiator replacement to battery but im genuinely curious within the bounds of reason.

Anything with a torque spec I’d prefer the torque wrench to torque sticks, except for lug nuts. But if you’re just wanting to do routine maintenance plus change tires, an impact wrench plus the right torque sticks would be fine.

I had 200lb craftsmen. Would not remove lug nuts. Sold it.

You might want to check out the other cordless tools made by the impact wrench you choose. I have several Ryobi 18v tools, so I’d go with them to keep everything interchangeable. You might choose a wrench partly based on it being compatible with other tools you might want later.


Matco arguably has the best battery powered impact wrench. It is shorter than most so it gets into tighter spaces and it uses a physically smaller and lighter battery (16V) so you need several batteries if you are using it all day, but it seems to be the favorite of the pros. BTW, this little monster produces 1600 ft/lbs of torque. But it is $$$$.

If you plan on getting other tools like a drill and maybe a sawsall or a circular saw, you want to pick a line that will have all the tools you will need. Dewalt, Ryobi, Makita and Milwaukee have pretty extensive lines. Chose the price point based on you expected usage. I have Ryobi, which is the lowest price point of the bunch but I do not use my tools professionally. I use them a lot but if I needed them for my job, I’d pick one of the others.

BTW, Milwaukee has an impact wrench with 1300 ft/lbs of loosening torque, Ryobi has one that is 1100 ft/lbs loosening. Mikita has a pretty good one to and I believe that Dewalt has also upgraded theirs from the one @Tester linked to.

Now, about the battery. There is some misinformation out there on this. A bigger battery is heavier, but they not only last longer between charges, they do provide marginally more power. Actually that can be significant between the smallest battery and the largest. But a newer generation battery that is smaller can proved as much or more power that a previous generation larger battery.

For example, Ryobi has 18v batteries 1.5 AH, 2 AH, 3AH, 4 AH, 6H and 9AH. A second generation 3AH would actually out perform a first gen 4AH. It has to do with internal impedance (resistance). The lower the internal impedance, the more current flow it can provide dead short. This means that the battery with lower internal impedance drops less voltage internally so it delivers slightly more voltage (and current) to the tool. The 3rd gen batteries are out and they are impressive, so much so that I think they dropped the 9AH. The third gen 4AH is lighter than the 3AH second gen.

BTW, there is no difference between a Lithium Ion 18 volt battery and a Lithium Ion 20 volt battery. They both have a no load voltage of around 21.5 volts. The actual voltage delivered to the tool depends on the internal impedance of the battery and the impedance of the tool. The 18 or 20 volt designations are just the nominal voltage under load, but that varies greatly by the tool, and to a lesser extent, the battery.

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I like corded, so many dead batteries over the years, I am done with rechargeable, probably because I don’t use them enough, or maintenance mode was not working right.

all NiCd or NiMH rechargeable tools I had ended up in trash, but LiIon18V line of Ryobi works for me many years now, only 1 battery was thrown away after 5-6 years and by my mistake of not charging it up for a month after I depleted it

I picked up Ryobi impact driver around 3-4 years back at post-Chrismas sale for something like $50 and this thing works very nicely for lug nuts and suspension bolts.
From how often I use it and if it was not $50, I would rather get a better set of sockets and a breaker bar :slight_smile:

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Same here, no new batteries needed in 5+ years.

When looking at pneumatic tools and compressors you must look at both the PSI and the Standard Cubic Feet per Minute. Impact wrenches require a large SCFM, intermittent use tools such as nail gun, not so much.

Impact guns are a pneumatic tools that use less SCFM than other pneumatic tools.

If you plan on using an air tool on a continuous basis, it is a good idea to multiply the “Average CFM” x 4 to get a continuous CFM rating for the tool.

Air Tool Description Average CFM @ 90 PSI
Angle Disc Grinder - 7" 5-8
Brad Nailer 0.3
Chisel/Hammer 3-11
Cut-Off Tool 4-10
Drill, Reversible or Straight-Line 3-6
Dual Sander 11-13
Framing Nailer 2.2
Grease Gun 4
Hydraulic Riveter 4
Impact Wrench - 3/8" 2.5-3.5
Impact Wrench - 1/2" 4-5
Impact Wrench - 1" 10
Mini Die Grinder 4-6
Needle Scaler 8-16
Nibbler 4
Orbital Sander 6-9
Ratchet - 1/4" 2.5-3.5
Ratchet - 3/8" 4.5-5
Rotational Sander 8-12.5
Shears 8-16
Speed Saw 5


I have a small compressor, and it worked fine with my impact wrench for swapping out two sets of tires each fall/spring in Anchorage. I would have to wait a few seconds for it to catch up, but no big deal.


Ryobi impact wrench, drain auger, and string trimmer, and just one battery.

I tried my compressor with an impact I borrowed from work and had the same experience. I was able to get the lug nuts off, but had to let the compressor catch up. I think I’d rather buy a corded electric impact and just avoid the waiting, since I haven’t bought anything yet.

Although I have no idea how tight the lug nuts were. The tire shop were the last ones to put them on. They may have over tightened them

That’s how I’d go now, more convenient. I still have the compressor, but I use a Ryobi tire inflator instead, set the pressure and it shuts off automatically, plus no hose to wrangle.

Im looking at a Dewalt set (model#DCF887D2) from lowes for $199 at the moment. Is there a way to actually shop based on internal resistance specs?

Nothing impressive here but could this work as a starter for removing lug nuts and tough bolts? At that price, cant feel too bad if the battery goes bad sooner than expected. When more demanding tasks start coming my way, i could always upgrade.

NO! Look at it closer. It’s 1\4" and in inch pounds. For light duty stuff.


Yep, that one won’t work for lug nuts, period. If $150 - $200 is too much, just get a good breaker bar and use your sockets with an extension on the lug nuts.

ps - make sure it’s a 1/2" drive, 18" or longer.


Check out the “Project Farm” video. This guy is great. Real-world testing of things do-it-yourself people use.

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Unfortunately no. Manufacturers are a bit tight lipped on specs. Part of the reason is that the batteries are assembled using cells made by other manufacturers. Most of the time, the assemblers want two or more suppliers just in case there are labor, supply chain issues etc from one supplier. The cells may not be identical from the different suppliers.

Another reason to be tightlipped is that there may be minor improvements in the cells during a production run and the manufacturer does not want to be pinned down to a set of advertised specs. But as a general rule larger batteries of a specific generation/manufacturer will provide a little more performance than the smaller versions.

Batteries are consistently getting better. They are providing more power/size and are lasting longer. BTW, for Ryobi users, the old blue tools that came with the NiMH batteries work just fine with the new LiIon batteries. In fact, they work better.

Do NOT confuse an impact driver with an impact wrench. Impact drivers are 1/4" and use hex shaft bits. They are for woodworking/construction, not auto repair. Impact wrenches are either 3/8" or 1/2" square drive.

BTW, Ryobi and Milwaukee are both owned by TTY. Milwaukee is targeted toward the pros and is very competitive with Dewalt. Ryobi is targeted toward DIY customers. Dewalt and Black and Decker belong to the same parent company where Dewalt is aimed at the pros and B&D aimed at the DIY homeowners. So pick your price point. Makita seems to attract the elitist DIYers, you know the ones with the F350 dually 4X4 crew cab long bed that has never carried more than two people and a bag of groceries.

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