Air Compressor Reviews

How Does an Impact Gun Work? Complete Guide to Impact Guns 




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If you’ve ever asked yourself “how does an impact gun work?” you’ve come to the right place. We know how tough having a hard-to-turn bolt is, but are confident that an impact wrench at your side should be your go-to solution. With a handle and a trigger, this tool is the gun of the work and DIY projects world.

What is an Impact Gun?

In addition to a handle and trigger, the impact gun, or wrench, comes equipped with a rotating mass and an air or electric motor. All of these elements work together to create a reliably powerful tool that can be used for years. The electric and air motor result in a powerful force delivered to your target with the simple press of the trigger.

Because of this, there are very few physical requirements while using an impact wrench. Delivering force onto an object will create substantial torque, which only helps screw nuts and bolts in easier. Additionally, the torque for both motors can be adjusted respectively. In the case of the air impact wrench, this means adjusting the air pressure of the compressor.

How Does an Impact Gun Work


How Does an Impact Gun Work?

Now that you’ve decided you need an impact wrench, it’s time to understand the difference between an air and electric wrench. The power source is the determining factor for impact wrenches, and can either be powered by compressed air or electricity.

Notably, pneumatic impact wrenches are connected to air compressors and usually more powerful. On the other hand, if you’re looking for an electric impact wrench, it will either need to be connected to a power source or used with a battery.

Air Impact Wrench

If there’s one thing you need to know about air impact wrenches, it’s that they work via applying rotational energy to your object then firing it in short bursts. For this process to work, the impact wrench needs a steady supply of air, causing the rotor to spin. From here, rotational energy is built that can be used to apply a high degree of force to a nut or bolt.

Advantages of The Air Impact Wrench

  • They are fairly inexpensive when compared with other models
  • Incoming air helps cool the machine so they never overheat
  • You can expect fantastic life expectancy

Electric Impact Wrench

Electric impact wrenches work very similarly to the air impact guns except they are powered by a motor. Essential to their design is a feature called impact function, which delivers a number of powerful rotational bursts within the tool.

Impact function is created using a hammer and anvil mechanism that activates when the tool comes into contact with resistance. Energy is then transferred into a short burst that allows you to apply torque to your nut or bolt.

Advantages of The Electric Impact Wrench

  • There are numerous speed options
  • They are very compact and can be used in the smallest of spaces
  • You won’t need to store any compressed air in order to use it

Which is The Most Powerful?

Although commonly debated, the air impact wrench is significantly more powerful than the electric wrench. Additionally, air impact wrenches tend to be lighter and easier to use by the general public. We’re confident you’ll absolutely love the torque of an air wrench and will find it perfect no matter the nuts or bolts you’re working with.

Cordless Impact Guns

Should you require a cordless impact wrench, there are a number of considerations you need to make before purchasing. You may find this option to be much more convenient than a corded impact gun, but there are some trade-offs we think you should know about. Overall, this is a fantastic impact tool we know you’ll love for years to come.

Brushed vs Brushless Motors

Without getting too much in the weeds of power tools and their engines, at the surface level you have brushed and brushless motors – both of which are attached to any cordless impact wrench. You should know that brushless motors don’t have as many moving parts as brushed motors, which actually means they’re more efficient.

Further, a cordless impact wrench with a brushless motor has numerous advantages over the other. In general, the brushless motor attached to the cordless wrench will require less maintenance, improve engine speeds, have a better power-to-weight ratio, and a longer life span.

Although this leads to maximum torque, this impact wrench comparison is slightly uneven due to cost. The brushless motor’s advantages means that it usually comes at a much higher price than the brushed motor.


It’s important to note that cordless impact wrenches require a rechargeable battery to function. Additionally, the battery’s power will have a lot to say with respect to its overall power level. Most common are 18-volt batteries, but if you’re looking for extra torque you will require a 20-volt or higher battery.

If you’re just buying a cordless impact wrench for the first time, consider the battery’s voltage and how much torque you’re going to need on the job.

Vibration and Sound

There’s no doubt that the cordless impact wrench is powerful, but there is a major trade-off in the form of vibration and sound level. Just like using any kind of power drill, such a high torque level has the potential to cause ear and hand fatigue.

Thankfully, technology is headed in the right direction and more and more cordless impact guns are equipped with ergonomic handles that reduce the vibrations going into your hand. You can also create adjustments to your desired torque level so that there’s less power output and, therefore, less noise and vibrations.


Before you make a purchase, it’s important to consider the style of grip you’d like for your cordless impact wrench. Most models are either fashioned with pistol grips or in-line grips. The pistol grip resembles that of a pistol and is most common among impact drivers and power drills. In general, these grips are easy to hold and will stand the test of time.

In-line handles are long and slim and most resemble a screwdriver. In this fashion, the trigger and handle are actually integrated onto the backside of the impact wrench. This style of grip is commonly used to work in tight spaces.

Final Thoughts

How does an impact gun work? Answering this question can be challenging, but we hope we’ve given you the right information to help you make an educated future purchase. Nuts and bolts require a lot more torque than you may think, so it’s best to have a reliably powerful impact gun at your disposal, no matter the job.

Whether you’re looking for an air impact wrench, electric impact wrench, corded impact wrench or cordless impact wrench, we’re confident you have the resources to find an option suited to your needs. If you’re looking for more, head on over to our product reviews page!

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