If you’ve ever strained your wrist, scraped your knuckles or lost hours of your time trying to loosen a stubborn nut, you’ll appreciate the value of an impact gun. Also known as an impact wrench, this tool applies a large amount of force through a series of short, fast, hammering bursts. Its power makes seemingly impossible tasks possible.
When to Use an Impact Wrench
An impact wrench looks like a drill or driver, but it has a 3/8-inch or 1/2-inch square drive that accepts sockets. In other words, it’s really a power socket wrench.
Auto mechanics have used air-powered impact wrenches for years to tighten and loosen lug nuts. But today’s compact corded and cordless impact wrenches are easy to use for a range of building and home improvement jobs. They come in handy when you need extra torque to drive large lag bolts and screws into wood or set concrete screw anchors.
Features to Look for
Many of the major tool brands make impact wrenches. Here are the top things to consider when you select one:
• Torque rating. Tools are listed in foot-pounds of torque they can deliver. Some have many levels of torque that you control with a switch. One setting can be used to fasten, while another higher setting can remove corroded nuts. For most basic jobs, you’ll want a torque over 200 foot-pounds.
• Variable speed selection. Impact wrenches work at a range of speeds, measured in RPMs. Look for a model that has at least 3,000 RPMs and allows you to easily change speeds with the trigger.
• Power. Electric impact wrenches have tons of power, but for jobs done outdoors or away from a power source, a cordless option is your best bet. Try a battery-powered impact gun.
• Complete sets. You can buy the tool by itself, but impact wrench kits provide extra value. They may include the tool, extra batteries, a case and a set of impact sockets.
It may not be the tool you use most often. But when you have a job that calls for loosening that impossible nut or bolt, an impact gun could become the most important tool you own.