Find the Best Cordless Impact Wrench in 2018 – Our Thorough Reviews

Impact Drivers—The Mechanic’s Friend

Commonly used on lug nuts, an impact wrench is useful for breaking loose any highly-torqued, rusted, or damaged fastener. If you look in any auto shop or mechanic’s tool chest, you will likely find an impact wrench. You can also spin nuts and bolts much faster than with a hand tool, and drive lag bolts and concrete anchors. In the past, impact wrenches were not an option for the DIY shop—but now that prices have dropped, there is no reason not to add one to your tool set.

Testing Breaking Torque Power

It is technically impossible for the end user to accurately test the manufacturer’s claimed breaking or “nut busting” torque specs—there are too many variables including thread condition, nut/bolt type and size, even temperature of the metal. However, for each wrench in this test, we used the same 1 1/4 bolt in clean threads and tightened it to 50 lbs. over the tool manufacturer’s claimed breaking torque just to see how successful the wrench with a fresh battery could be at removing it.

Get the Best Cordless Impact Wrench for the Money

There are a lot of good impact wrenches on the market today. Let’s look at some of the best 1/2-inch cordless impact wrenches and see how they hold up in comparison testing.

Best Cordless Impact Wrench Comparisons 

Best Cordless Impact Wrench - Reviews

1. Milwaukee2763-22 M18 18V Cordless Wrench

The Milwaukee impact wrench is a long-time choice of professionals and comes in at the top of our review both in terms of price and performance.

It passed our nut-busting test with ease, and also cranked the bolt back down to slightly beyond the 700 lb. tool rating. The Powerstate brushless motor has no wearable components and puts out more power than competing tools, yet runs cooler. Dual modes let you set the wrench’s fastening power at maximum 100 or 700 ft.-lbs. to avoid damaging things. A metal housing cover protects the working end of the tool.

This wrench runs at the high end of the price range, but it comes with two batteries. We had the friction ring model, and it worked well during testing—we’ve heard of these rings losing retention capability after years of hard use, but such a problem is unlikely to show up other than in industrial use settings.

Using the Milwaukee is a two-handed job because it weighs 15 pounds, but the heavier weight also gives it a balanced feel when wielding all that power. If you are looking for a lifetime tool, make sure to check out the Milwaukee M18.

What we liked

  • High torque
  • Two-speed motor

What we didn't like

  • Occasional product defects have been reported

2. DEWALT DCF899P1 20V MAX XR Wrench

The DEWALT DCF899P1 20V MAX XR is another high-power impact wrench.

The famous DEWALT durability, 1200 ft. lbs. of breaking torque and 700 ft. lbs. of max torque, combined with the ability to handle a 6-8 foot drop make this tool at home with hard use in professional shop settings. The wrench can apply 2400 impacts per minute (IPM) to bust loose even the most stubborn nuts. At 7.2 pounds, its power-to-weight ratio is outstanding, and it has the usual DEWALT detailing including a sculpted grip with rubber over mold cushioning, a built-in LED work light, and a choice of detent pin or hog ring socket release setup.

This wrench has generous amounts of power in both forward and reverse. In fact, a primary consideration with this tool is avoiding breaking bolts off. The DEWALT DCF899P1 easily passed our breaking test on the first try and with only a few seconds of impact needed. We had the detent pin model, and the pin was very stiff, but we assume it will become easier to operate with age.

This is a sturdy-built tool, although it feels a bit top-heavy. As with any DEWALT tool, there is not much to say except buy it if you can afford it.

What we liked

  • DEWALT durability
  • High torque
  • Battery charge indicator
  • Ergonomic grip

What we didn't like

  • Has an unbalanced feel
  • Comes with only one battery

3. Bosch HTH181-01 18V Cordless Impact Wrench

The Bosch HTH181-01 is an 18-volt impact wrench that has been around since 2010, but still shows up in the top ranks of high-performing wrenches.

It has a sleek design, with a sturdy metal nose piece and a compact 10-inch head that lets the wrench get into tight spaces. The HTH181 puts out 500 lbs. of torque and had no problem breaking loose the test bolt at 525 lbs. The hammer works at 2,100 IMP on a spring-loaded mechanism that isolates much of the torque reaction so the wrench is easier to control.

Like other Bosch tools we have used, this wrench looks unusual but has very good ergonomics and feel in the hand. The balance between the head and the lower battery deck is almost perfect, and the handle is spacious and fits the hand well. At 6.7 pounds, the Bosch is weighted about right for easy use. It powers through most medium-duty tasks without a hitch. Battery life is fine, and the charger has the unusual feature of an on board cooling fan. Recharging this wrench takes about 30 minutes.

While the Bosch is priced on the high end, it comes with 2 batteries and German quality.

What we liked

  • Good ergonomics
  • Light but powerful
  • Sturdy build 
  • Comes with 2 batteries

What we didn't like

  • Brushed motor
  • Free spins after trigger release
  • LED light is not bright

4. Ingersoll Rand W7150-K1 20V Cordless Impact Wrench

Although not as feature-rich as some of the more expensive models, the Ingersoll Rand W7150-K1 is a very powerful impact wrench built to hold up in rough work conditions.

The aluminum hammer casing is lined with steel to protect the all-metal drive train from drops and impacts. The neodymium rare-earth magnet 1900 RPM motor puts out the power that generates this tool’s exceptional torque values, and it also offers an extended working life. An electronic brake on the variable-speed trigger switch helps you control the power and torque.

This wrench looks sturdy with its polished aluminum casing and aggressive stance. It has about the best ergonomics and balance of any wrench we tested, and is also very light at 6.8 pounds. The Ingersoll Rand broke our test nut free from 1200 ft. lbs. with a quick squeeze of the trigger—and at 780 ft. lbs. of forward and reverse torque, it has the most power of any wrench in this test. It is on the noisy side with factory specs of 89/100 dB, so ear protection is needed for extended operation. The USB port on the charger was a nice touch.

With a tool case, battery, and charger included, we think the Ingersoll Rand represents the best impact wrench for the money.

What we liked

  • High-torque
  • Sturdy build
  • Low price for a full kit

What we didn't like

  • No LED light
  • Single-speed

5. Makita XWT08Z LXT 18V Cordless

The Makita LXT delivers high torque in a light package with the durability and ergonomic excellence that we have come to expect from this tool brand.

The 18 Volt motor outperforms many corded models to produce 1,180 ft. lbs. of break-away torque and 740 ft. lbs. of fastening power. Three speeds give the user great control over the tool’s maximum 1,800 RPM capability, and allow for setting impact levels at 0 - 1,800 , 0 - 2,000, or 0 - 2,200 IPM. Its easy and comfortable operation along with features like the dual LED work lights, a broad trigger, and an electric brake make all-day operation less tiring and more productive.

We found a lot of power in a slim, light package with this Makita wrench—it chattered a bit more than the big Milwaukee on our breaking test, but it did get the job done. The heavy head of the tool as compared to the slim battery made it feel off-balance, but it also provided stability and gave a good pushing surface. For long periods of operation, the head weight will also reduce fatigue by absorbing some of the torque.

Although this wrench arrives at a high price point for a bare tool, it will deliver a long service life. Certainly the home user cannot go wrong with the Makita XWT08Z LXT.

What we liked

  • Slim and light
  • More powerful than the 18-volt competitors
  • Long battery life and quick charging

What we didn't like

  • Has an unbalanced feel
  • Does not include battery

6. Hitachi WR18DBDL2 18V Cordless

The Hitachi WR18DBDL2 is ideally suited to the home shop—it does not have the raw power of wrenches like the Milwaukee and DEWALT, but it weighs far less, costs less, has nice balance and good ergonomics, and comes in a full kit with two batteries and a charger included.

It puts out 225 ft. lbs. of torque, plenty for the average user, and with a 4-speed selector, the power is much more controllable than is the case with the larger wrenches. It weighs only 3.3 pounds, which makes it easier to use overhead and in odd positions. Details like the belt hook, bright LED light, and extensive rubber overmold grip make the Hitachi very user-friendly.

We liked the way this Hitachi feels in the hand—the head is not so big and heavy that it would over-balance the lower portion. The handle has a slim contoured fit, and the broad trigger has a positive feel.

We thought this light tool might struggle on the breaking test, which we set at 250 ft. lbs., 25 more than the stated rating. It took a couple of tries, but once we got the speed setting right and a good grip on the tool, the Hitachi pulled through. It’s a good tool at a budget-friendly price point.

What we liked

  • Well-priced
  • Comes with two batteries
  • Light and easy to handle
  • Brushless motor

What we didn't like

  • Not suited for heavy-duty use
  • Sockets fit loosely

7. Rockwell RK2855K2 20V Cordless 

The Rockwell RK2855K2 is an example of a compact form-factor wrench, the type that is popular for work in tight spaces.

This is the tool you need for getting under the hood of the car, doing appliance assembly work, and similar applications where the difficulty comes from lack of room to maneuver rather than breaking loose big, rusty fasteners. The Rockwell has some pro-grade features like a brushless motor, computer-controlled power distribution, push-button speed control, a belt hook, and an LED light.

The little Rockwell does pack a punch, with a 3-speed drive that is claimed to put out 2600 inch-lbs. of torque. That is about 215 ft. lbs., and sure enough, this wrench broke our test bolt loose at 225 lbs. without too much trouble. It can lay on 3300 IPM, but when the tool only weighs 3 pounds itself, the effect of the impact is much less.

The Rockwell is the top-quality tool in our test at this price point—get it as a handy household tool or as a companion to a bigger, more powerful wrench.

What we liked

  • Good value for the money
  • Compact but powerful

What we didn't like

  • Trigger has too much play
  • Sockets fit loosely

8. Ryobi P1830 18V One+ Impact Wrench

Ryobi P1830 18V One+ Impact Wrench

The P1830 is a newly-designed 18-volt wrench that features more power and better ergonomics than Ryobi’s previous model.

This detent-pin wrench puts out 300 ft. lbs. of torque and up to 3200 IPM, and it is rated for heavy-duty use. A 3-speed selector switch adds to accuracy and control when torqueing to specification or driving into wood or other materials. The generous use of rubber overmold and a broad, positive-grip trigger make the tool easy to handle.

We classify the Ryobi P1830 as a compact wrench—it does put out pretty good power, and broke the test bolt in one try on the high-speed setting. We also liked the rugged front housing design on this tool, and details like the 3 LED lights. All switches and controls showed some good design thinking.

Ryobi has had some quality control issues in the past, and time will tell if this revamped impact wrench has the durability we look for. However, the price is right for a package that includes battery and charger, and this tool should be a good buy for DIY purposes or even light professional use.

What we liked

  • User-friendly design
  • Sturdy build 
  • Fair price point

What we didn't like

  • Detent pin sticks at times
  • Open rear housing is vulnerable to debris

9. Craftsman ID2030K C3 19V Cordless Wrench

The Craftsman C3 offers the occasional user the chance to own a fairly good impact wrench kit at a very competitive price.

This single-speed 19-volt wrench is no high-power beast, but with 3000 RPM and 300 ft. lbs. of torque, it can certainly handle most jobs around the home garage. The detent pin anvil can put out 3,000 impacts per minute, which matches many of the more expensive wrenches.

This Craftsman will work fine for home auto repair and tasks like bolting together the kids’ bikes. The C3 spins at high speed, so it is a great option for those looking for a tool that will make fast work of small nuts and bolts on household assembly projects.

It would not pass our breaking test until we backed off the torque on the bolt to 280 lbs.—but in all fairness, this is a homeowner-grade tool. It is comfortable to use and has some nice features like 3 LED lights and a battery discharge indicator. For the friendly price point, the Craftsman impact wrench is a good tool to have around the garage.

What we liked

  • Bargain-priced
  • Has some good features

What we didn't like

  • Light-duty use only
  • Battery and charger not included

Make an Impact 

Impact wrenches take a lot of abuse as users tackle over sized, over-torqued, rusty, or damaged nuts and bolts. These wrenches also tear themselves up because of the impact hammering process. So in our search for the best cordless impact wrench, we put a premium on heavy build as well as power, which left us with a list that tends toward the higher price ranges, but most of these tools are also high-quality. Any one of these wrenches will give you high value and good service.

Sean J. Stone
 

Sean has been a woodworking enthusiast for 8 years, and in that time has written huge resources on woodworking and tools.

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