If you spend much time on auto repair or DIY projects that involve repetitive tightening or loosening of nuts and bolts, you likely know how rough those movements can be on your hands and wrists. The solution? An impact wrench, which is a handheld tool designed to make quick work of the task, sparing you a great deal of strain.
Impact wrenches deliver tremendous torque—turning power—along with bursts of extra hammer-like impact. That means that even rusted, oversize, or difficult-to-turn nuts and bolts don’t stand a chance against these powerful tools. They are especially useful for tightening or loosening lug nuts; a 1/2-inch impact wrench is a mainstay in the tool collection of anyone who does a lot of work on cars.
As with many power tools, there are corded and cordless models of impact wrenches, as well as tools powered by air. Most DIYers, hobbyist mechanics, and homeowners prefer the cordless versions, but you’ll get more power with a corded tool, and the maximum power from a pneumatic impact wrench, although those are generally used in auto shops, not in homes.
Milwaukee Tool is known for its powerful line of cordless impact wrenches. In this review, we’ll give you a roundup of the best Milwaukee impact wrench to help you decide which model will suit your needs best.
The brand continued to expand its line by improving their line of hand tools and accessories. They also dabbled in the lighting category by creating the most extensive assortment of high-output lighting.
Why milwaukee impact wrench
As the first to discover the technology that allowed lithium-ion to be used in power tools, Milwaukee Tool continues to find new solutions to address the toughest applications. This achievement became a huge step for the entire industry as the newest line of battery-powered tools began to enter the market.
Milwaukee Tool understood the market and where it was going. So, they began to develop cordless tools with the decision to make and design their own battery packs and motors. They also came up with the M12™ and M18™ Cordless Systems to deliver optimal performance for users.
Next, they also worked on producing the next generation of lithium-ion battery-powered tools which included the REDLITHIUM batteries and the M18FUEL™. Milwaukee Tool prides itself for delivering the most advanced technologies in electronic, battery, and brushless motor.
How We Tested These Impact Wrenches
Every impact driver on this list has been thoroughly vetted and evaluated by our test editors. We research the market, survey user reviews, speak with product managers and engineers, and use our own experience operating these tools to determine the best options. We chose practical tasks that most people might need to accomplish with these impact wrenches.
The first was removing and replacing lug nuts torqued to the recommended spec at 165 foot-pounds on a Ford F-250 Super Duty pickup truck. The second task was to remove, or break free, rusted nuts and bolts on an old piece of farm equipment. We evaluated them on performance, price, comfort, value, and versatility, to determine the best impact drivers that will meet the needs of a wide range of people.
What’s Good about Milwaukee M18 Fuel Half-Inch Impact Wrench
Although the power is addictive and makes you feel like a Marvel character, it’s the adaptability offered through the Milwaukee’s settings that hooked me. I love a multi-tool because of its ability to do so many jobs, and that’s what the Milwaukee offers.
Having the ability to switch from automotive, household, concrete, and other projects is extremely nice, especially given the Milwaukee’s price of about $250. For that type of money, I want a tool that’s not a one-hit wonder. I want something that can do a bunch of projects without fail. The Milwaukee does that, and I can’t wait to test its concrete and deck-building skills in the near future, so stay tuned for a possible update.
For those working on your cars, there’s an available setting within Custom Drive Control that allows you to use the full 1,400 pound-feet of torque to remove or break those rusted-on bolts that are no longer needed. Blowtorches, begone!
Milwaukee offers a five-year limited warranty: “Subject to certain exceptions, Milwaukee will repair or replace any part on an electric power tool which, after examination, is determined by Milwaukee to be defective in material or workmanship for a period of five years after the date of purchase unless otherwise noted.” That doesn’t include normal wear items, however.
What’s Not Great about Milwaukee M18 Fuel Half-Inch Impact Wrench
Although I could harp on the price or lack of included battery or the cost of the battery and battery charger, it’s all to be expected for the performance and customization offered. Yes, it’s expensive, but if you’re buying a tool such as this Milwaukee, it’s comparable to a DeWalt or Makita.
One drawback may be that this isn’t a light power tool. With the battery attached, it weighs a whopping 7.5 pounds. That’s a shoulder killer or, at the end of the day, might make you resemble Steve Rogers after an injection of Dr. Erskine’s Super Soldier Serum. I know my arm was sore after holding up this beast while bolting the swing bracing to the rest of the play set.
Our Top Picks: Best milwaukee impact wrench in 2021
If you want a cordless impact wrench that offers reliability, a reasonable price and high torque, it’s hard to beat the Milwaukee 2767-20 M18 Fuel High Torque 1/2-Inch model. Made by one of the most respected manufacturers in the power tool field, the 2767-20 may very well be the only impact wrench you ever need.
The 2767-20 weighs under six pounds, but it doesn’t sacrifice power for size — its brushless motor delivers 1,000 pound-feet of fastening torque and 1,400 pound-feet of breakaway torque for removing stubborn fasteners like a lug nut. The 1/2-inch socket size is one of the most common, meaning that it can handle many of the nuts and bolts you’ll encounter.
The Milwaukee M18 Fuel 2767-20 is currently the second-best selling power impact wrench on Amazon, with an astonishing 4.9 stars out of five. That rating is based on over 4,400 reviews, meaning that the cordless wrench has a lot of satisfied customers. Not only is this Milwaukee impact wrench sold by itself, but it’s also available in one- and two-battery kits.
Stubby impact wrenches are smaller than normal pistol-grip impact wrenches, making them lighter and giving them greater maneuverability. Typically, this means there’s a bit of a tradeoff in terms of power, but the price is usually lower, as well.
Our pick for the best stubby cordless impact wrench tool is Milwaukee’s M12 Fuel 2555-22 model. At a weight of two pounds and a height of just over eight inches, it’s easy to hold for long periods of time and maneuver into tight spaces.
Like the other models on this list, it comes highly recommended by Amazon customers. It has 4.8 stars out of five on the site, with over 500 ratings. If you’re specifically looking for a stubby model, this kit is the way is the way to go that includes a battery, charger and carrying case.
Using Milwaukee’s latest generation of M18 Fuel mid-torque impact wrenches, we’re getting the performance that helps us avoid turning to high-torque models thanks to fastening torque up to 550 ft-lbs and nut-busting up to 650 ft-lbs. When you’re working on passenger vehicles, this one impact wrench can replace the need for a heavier high-torque 95% or more of the time. Even for heavy equipment and diesel mechanics, they handle a ton of the work aside from lug nuts.
At the same time, these impacts are incredibly compact for their power level, just 6 inches in length and weighing right at 5 pounds with a 5.0Ah battery. All that makes this generation of M18 Fuel models the best cordless impact wrench for automotive in our book.
Milwaukee’s next-gen M18 Fuel impact wrenches have a 3/8-inch option and that model is our top choice as the best cordless 3/8-inch impact wrench. Aside from the performance and size we discussed above, there are a couple of big feature upgrades.
The 3-LED light ring does a much better job of eliminating shadows than foot-mounted lights. There’s also a 4-mode Drive Control that includes an assist mode. Using it, you can set nuts or bolts quickly before the tool automatically stops at 35 ft-lbs max. From there, use your torque wrench to finish it off and ensure you don’t damage the workpiece by over-tightening.
There aren’t a ton of options available if you’re looking for the best cordless 1-inch impact wrench, but Milwaukee has three to choose from. The best is the M18 Fuel 2868 and 2869. These D-handle models fasten up to 1900 ft-lbs and are capable of breaking 2000 ft-lbs.
The standard anvil (2868) is your go-to option for industrial fastening applications while the extended anvil (2869) is where you want to turn for diesel and heavy equipment operations. Milwaukee also included a lug nut mode on the extended anvil (enabled through One-Key) that helps prevent over-tightening.
5 things to know before using a cordless impact wrench
HOW MUCH DOES AN IMPACT WRENCH USUALLY COST?
Impact wrenches typically sell at around $200-$400. Some have much higher prices and others much lower. It all depends on the performance, quality, and operation type. If you’re looking at cordless or pneumatic models, you should also consider what it’ll cost to set up an air compressor or how much you’ll spend on batteries as well.
WHAT’S BETTER: ELECTRIC OR AIR IMPACT WRENCHES?
A reason that we’ve allowed cordless tools to dominate this list is their convenience. There’s no need for a compressor, which is a big deal for those working in a home garage. Modern cordless impacts also offer some ridiculously good performance. Still, that doesn’t mean that they’re better than pneumatics, which still have the upper hand in durability and are generally better for intensive use in professional settings.
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.
What size air compressor do I need with an impact wrench?
If you have a pneumatic, or air-powered impact wrench, you’ll need an air compressor to use it. Pneumatic impact wrenches are especially popular for work on automobiles, as they have a lot of power, are light in weight, and typically cost less than battery-powered or electric impact wrenches.
The size air compressor you’ll need depends somewhat on the size of impact wrench you are using. These tools are often named by the size of their drive—the part of the impact wrench that holds the socket. The most common size for the average DIYer or automotive enthusiast is the ½-inch impact wrench, which has enough power to turn the lug nuts of a typical car.
As a rough guideline, to power your ½-inch impact wrench, you’ll need an air compressor with a 6-gallon tank and an airflow of 3.5 to 5 cubic-feet-per-minute (cfm) at 90 pounds-per-square-inch (psi).
For a smaller impact wrench with a ¼-inch drive, an air compressor with 1 to 2 cfm airflow at 90 psi is sufficient, while a tool with a ⅜-inch drive does best with an air compressor that has 3 to 3.5 cfm airflow at 90 psi.
Our Verdict on the Milwaukee Impact Wrench
Most heavy jobs can be accomplished with the Milwaukee M18 Fuel Half-Inch impact wrench. I wouldn’t suggest using it to bolt together your engine. That requires a torque wrench and more precision than any impact wrench offers. Milwaukee gets extremely close to replacing that tool, along with a host of others with this impact, though. The customizable modes, the varying rpm and torque settings, the sheer power — it’s damn near perfect.
If you’re in the market for a new impact, one that could restart the Earth’s core, if necessary, as well as do just about everything else, it’s a solid option in a sea of middling to average wrenches. It will cost you a pretty penny, however.