ProCarReviews is reader-supported. We may earn commission on sales through our links at no extra cost to you. View policies.

The Best Air Impact Wrench 2021

best air impact wrench

An air impact wrench uses a high torque motor to easily tackle any automotive nuts or bolts. Unlike a cordless impact wrench, the air powered alternative is lighter and provides additional power for heavy duty tasks.

The best air impact wrench is the Ingersoll Rand 2235QTiMAX-2, which uses a quiet yet high torque motor capable of 900 FT-LBS reverse torque.

Rather than using power from an outlet or a battery, an air impact wrench uses compressed air, which spins the motor. This produces a large amount of force that allows the wrench to act as a hammer.

Table of Contents

Best Air Impact Wrench

Air Impact WrenchMax TorqueReverse Torque
Ingersoll Rand 2235QTiMAX-21,350 FT-LBS930 FT-LBS
AIRCAT 1150 Killer Torque900 FT-LBS1,295 FT-LBS
Nitrocat 1250-K950 FT-LBS1,300 FT-LBS
Campbell Hausfeld XT00100130 FT-LBS160 FT-LBS

Unlike a cordless alternative, an air compressor will be required to use an air impact wrench. This limits the portability of the wrench but if you intend to use it within the garage, the power and lightness outweigh the drawbacks.

If you already own an air compressor, you will want to ensure that it is capable of providing enough airflow for the impact wrench to operate.

Below is a list of the best air impact wrenches that are available with a 1/2 or 3/8 inch drive sizes and high torque motors.

Ingersoll Rand 2235QTiMAX-2 Air Impact Wrench

Ingersoll Rand are known for their impact wrenches and the 2235QTiMAX-2 model is a premium option. It is the successor of the popular 2135 series that promises to provide maximum durability and performance.

This particular model by the brand uses an innovative quiet technology but is still able to produce high torque.

Other features of the Ingersoll Rand 2235QTiMAX-2 include:

  • 1/2 inch drive size
  • 1.300 FT-LBS of nut busting torque
  • 900 FT-LBS of reverse torque
  • Free speed of 8,500 RPM
  • 6 CFM average air consumption
  • Lightweight at just 4.6 LBS
  • Made in the USA
  • Built with a titanium hammercase
  • Composite housing

Ingersoll Rang produce a range of impact wrenches but the 2235QTiMAX-2 is the best option for durability, performance and reliability.

It does come with a premium price tag but the high quality construction and performance make it a worthwhile investment.

Check it Out

AIRCAT 1150 Killer Torque Air Impact Wrench

By far the most popular air impact wrench available is the AIRCAT 1150 Killer Torque model. The brand claim that it is the most powerful 1/2 inch impact in it’s class and this is due to the hard hitting twin hammer mechanism.

This impact wrench isn’t just powerful but it is also quiet due to the patented tuned exhaust system. The AIRCAT 1150 only produces 86 dBA without any power loss.

Other features of the AIRCAT 1150 Killer Torque include:

  • 1/2 inch drive size
  • 1,295 FT-LBS of loosening torque
  • Maximum torque of 900 FT-LBS
  • Includes a 2 year warranty
  • Lightweight at 4.5 LBS
  • Durable composite housing
  • Additional accessories available

Overall, the AIRCAT 1150 Killer Torque is an impressive air impact wrench that combines performance with value for the money. For peace of mind, it comes with a 2 year warranty and has been assembled in the USA.

Check it Out

Nitrocat 1250-K 1/2 Air Impact Wrench

The Nitrocat 1250-K is another premium air impact wrench that uses a hard hitting yet smooth twin clutch mechanism. As with the AIRCAT 1150, it uses a specifically tuned exhaust that quietens the noise output to 86 dBA.

Nitrocat offer a range of different models but the 1250-K is new and improved wrench that offers more torque.

Other features of the Nitrocat 1250-K Impact Wrench include:

  • 1/2 inch drive size
  • 1,300 FT-LBS loosening torque
  • Max torque of 950 FT-LBS
  • Ergonomic kevlar handle
  • Flip lever for forward or reverse
  • 4.5 LBS in weight

Overall, the Nitrocat 1250-K is an excellent all-round air impact wrench that will not disappoint. From lug nuts to hub nuts, this unit has enough power to easily remove rusty bolts and remain quiet whilst doing so.

Check it Out

DEWALT DWMT70773L 1/2 Air Impact Wrench

Dewalt are one of the most well-known tool brands and the DWMT70773L air impact wrench follows the great reputation. You can easily use this wrench with one hand and it comes with a simple forward or reverse switch for fast directional changes.

Unlike many of the alternatives, the DWMT70773L has a cushioned grip and ergonomic handle for comfortable usage.

Other features of the DEWALT DWMT70773L Wrench include:

  • 1/2 inch drive size
  • 650 FT-LBS of maximum torque
  • Maximum air flow of 5.9 CFM
  • Operates at 1,100 BPM
  • Bottom handle exhaust
  • Free speed at 90 PSI
  • 3 year manufacturers warranty

Overall, the DEWALT air impact wrench is a durable option that comes with a long warranty for peace of mind. The shock resistant housing bumpers provide heavy duty protection and the motor is more than capable of removing stubborn lug nuts.

Check it Out

Campbell Hausfeld 3/8 Air Impact Wrench

The cheapest air impact wrench that actual performs is the Campbell Hausfeld TL140200AV. It has a compact design that is the lightest within this article as it weighs just 2.8 LBS, which allows you to comfortably use it for long periods.

It uses a balanced twin hammer mechanism, which the brand claims reduces vibration significantly for reduced fatigue.

Other features of the Campbell Hausfeld TL140200AV include:

  • 3/8 inch drive size
  • 160 FT-LBS loosening torque
  • 130 FT-LBS max torque
  • Rubberized ergonomic grip
  • 1,300 BPM and 12,000 RPM
  • Compact and lightweight design
  • Includes a 2 year warranty

Although it is a cheap 3/8 air impact wrench, it certainly has many beneficial features and a long warranty.

Unlike many of the alternatives, it has enough torque to tackle stubborn lug nuts and is easy to use with 3 speed setting to match your application.

Check it Out

Air Impact Wrench Buying Guide

Unlike a standard impact wrench, the air alternative uses compressed air, which spins the motor. The spinning motion is then transferred into a rotating mass energy that acts as a hammer, which passes force from the hammer momentum to an anvil.

This is how the torque force is produced and is able to tackle stubborn nuts or bolts that will not move. Some brands even include dual hammers or a clutch for increasing the amount of torque that the wrench can deliver.

To help you make an informed buying decision, we have produced the below guide regarding air impact wrenches.

best air impact wrench for the money

Drive Size

The drive size is one of the most important factors that will ensure you can tackle certain tasks. The most common is a 1/2 inch air impact wrench as they offer adequate power for most jobs, compact in size and are very versatile.

If you plan to use an air impact wrench for lug nuts, suspension and other heavy duty tasks, the 1/2 inch drive is the recommended size.

Another popular size is the 3/8 inch air impact wrench, which is mostly used for tightening fasteners, bodywork and small bolts. For the heavy duty work, the 1/2 inch alternative is the best option.

Torque Rating

The torque of an impact wrench refers to the amount of twisting force an air impact wrench places upon a bolt. In most cases, the higher the torque rating will results in an easier removal of a bolt. However, you shouldn’t want to overtighten a bolt as this can lead to issue.

Most air impact wrenches include various torque settings that allow you to control the amount of torque. Manufacturers also state a reverse and maximum forward torque rating, which allows you to decide upon a wrench that best suits your requirements.

Speed Settings

If you want to be able to screw on or off more quickly, you will want to check the speed rating. High speed wrenches work best when loosening stubborn bolt but the increased speed reduces the torque, which can be a drawback.

Size and Weight

Whilst working on your car or truck, you may find yourself having to reach bolts that are in awkward positions. Wrenches with a bulky design can be difficult to use but you can use a torque stick to help you reach the stubborn bolt.

A major benefit of an air impact wrench is that they are lighter than the cordless alternatives. However, there are some heavy air impact wrenches that can become uncomfortable to use for long periods. Units that are 5 LBS and under are the recommended wrenches to purchase.

Noise Level

Although manufacturers go to great lengths to make the impact wrenches as quiet, they can still produce a lot of noise. Premium options often have tuned exhaust systems that limit the noise output to as little as 86 dBA.

best air impact wrench for lug nuts

Build Quality and Design

An air impact wrench is a heavy duty tool that must be able to withstand the garage environment. Most of the best options will use a reinforced composite body with bumpers to avoid any impact or chemical damage. A good way to judge to quality of the tool is by the length of the warranty.

Certain design features to look out for include an ergonomic/padded handle, easy forward or reverse lever and much more.


Using an air impact wrench is the much better option than struggling with a torque wrench. They are available in a range of drive sizes, torque ratings and sizes to suit your requirements. Spending extra for a wrench with additional torque and different speed settings is highly recommended.

All of the recommendations above are suited to a range of budgets and include the best brands with long warranties. Whether you are tackling hub or lug nuts, struts or any other tough tasks, using an air impact wrench is the best option.

procarreviews author

Written By Dan

About the Author

Dan is an automotive journalist and owner of over 10 cars ranging from supercars, tuned cars, classics and your good old beater cars. He always likes to get his hands dirty with nut and bolt restorations or detailing sessions using the best products on the market.

More About Our Team →


Copyright © 2024. All rights reserved.