Impact Wrench Reviews – Sudden Impact

Rechargeable versus corded. Which one's right for your toolbox?

So you’ve all bruised and bloodied enough knuckles with wrenches and breaker bars trying to free a stubborn bolt or nut from its place of residence. It’s right about that time that you wondered why you hadn’t invested in an impact wrench to make life a little easier. Of course, impact wrenches aren’t always practical for every situation since space is often a limiting factor in working on our rides, but they definitely find more uses than just pit crews using them to remove wheels at races.

Of course that also brings up an interesting question in itself, do you want a rechargeable version or a corded version? They all have their benefits and disadvantages, but we thought these were the two categories that made the most sense to our readers since pneumatic wrenches are less common for the average DIYer. We picked out one from each category from two manufacturers known for their top-shelf power tools — Milwaukee and Kobalt. Here we’ll give you some basic info and apples-to-apples specs on each so you can decide which works best for your purposes.

First we’ll start with the obvious. Portable, rechargeable units can be brought with you if you’re road trip suddenly incurs unexpected roadside repairs where tools like this could come in handy. Try finding a power source when you’ve broken down. Plus they can reach places that, even at home, you might not have enough cord length to get to. They do, however, eventually run out of juice. The corded versions have a consistent supply of torque, but again, aren’t always the best choice if you’re on the go or trying to get into a tight spot. If you’re looking to cover your arse in either situation, buy one of each. We put them toe to toe in each category so you know what to ask for when your birthday gets close.

Make/Model

Kobalt 20-Volt Max* 1/2-in. /Cordless Impact Wrench

Category

Rechargeable

Price

$259

Overview

With 350 lb-ft of torque, we were only moderately impressed with its power, but liked the fact that it came with two lithium-ion batteries and a charging station. The manufacturer claims that the batteries can be charged within an hour and it has a built-in LED so you can see what you’re doing in the dark. It comes in a handy carrying case and can be yours to the tune of about $260.

Make/Model

Milwaukee M18 FUEL 1/2-in. /High Torque Impact Wrench with Friction Ring (Bare Tool)

Category

Rechargeable

Available Sizes

$219

Overview

This thing has two modes, the second of which provides a staggering 700 lb-ft of torque (double the Kobalt) and 1,100 lb-ft of “nut busting” torque. It also has an LED light, but guess what, no battery packs, charger, or carrying case. You have to buy those separately. You could pick this puppy up for about $220, but you’ll need to fork over about another $200 for the kit that comes complete with extra batteries, charger, and case.

Make/Model

Kobalt 8-Amp 1/2-in. / Corded Impact Wrench

Category

Corded

Price

$154

Overview

Here you’re going to get another 350 lb-ft of torque with an 8-foot cord. The tool weighs about 8 pounds and even comes with seven deep-well sockets in 11?16-inch, 3/4-inch, 13?17-inch, 7?8-inch, 17mm, 19mm, and 21mm sizes. You’ll drop about $150 for this version, which seems pretty reasonable.

Make/Model

Milwaukee 1/2-in./ Impact Wrench with Rocker Switch and Detent Pin Socket Retention

Category

Corded

Price

$169

Overview

While it weighs a couple pounds less than the Kobalt, it also has less torque at only 300 lb-ft. The cord length is the same. The Milwaukee doesn’t come in a case and provides no accessory sockets, but you’ll end up paying about $170 for this one.