best air ratchet

Air Ratchet vs Impact Wrench – The One to Choose

You must have heard the names of both air ratchet and impact wrench. These two tools are mainly used to tighten and loosen the bolts. Their works are quite the same, but there are some major dissimilarities as well. The comparison of air ratchet vs impact wrench will help to identify their similarities, dissimilarities, and field of work.

Usage of them mainly depends on your necessity and the tasks you want to perform. Both these tools are valuable assets for any toolbox. These two tools will make the bolt loosening and tightening work look more effortless and complete the job in a jiffy.

Difference between a Ratchet and a Wrench

It might amaze you that a ratchet and wrench are two similar things though, comparing both might be quite challenging because they deal with two different areas.

A ratchet is a tool that allows its movement to move in one direction. A wrench however allows the tool to move in two turning directions. Therefore, an operator attaches a ratchet with a torque while the wrench controls it so as to allow the operator to set two turning directions. How is this possible?

The operator fixes the ratchet in two different places, one where the wrench head is fixed and one where it spins freely.

What is an Impact Wrench?

The impact wrench is a high torque power wrench that gets all the power supply through mass rotation. Its primary purpose is to tighten and loosen the bolts. It is a heavy-power generating machine that generates torque up to 1,800 ft-lbs.

Key Features:

  • Air-powered energy source
  • High torque
  • Straight orientation
  • Variable torque settings


READ our reviews on Impact Wrenches

What is an Air Ratchet?

An air ratchet is a hand-held wrench that gets the power supply from the air compression. This tool is also known as the pneumatic ratchet wrench. Comparatively, less torque generates from it, which remains between 35 to 80 ft-lbs.

Key Features:

  • Less torque
  • Good accuracy
  • Relatively quiet
  • Compressed-air powered.

air ratchet

READ MORE: 5 Best Air Ratchet Under $100

Comparison Chart – impact wrench vs air ratchet

Take a glance at the comparison chart of air ratchet vs impact wrench before going into the in-depth discussion.

Feature Air Ratchet Impact Wrench
Power Source Compressed-air power Rotation of the mass
Torque & Noise Less torque and relatively quiet Higher torque and generates much noise
Usage Mainly used in garage and automobiles industries to detach small bolts For removing stubborn fasteners, lug nuts, and breaking frozen nuts
Precision & Orientation Controlled precision with right-angled orientation Less-controlled precision with straight orientation

Impact wrench vs Air Ratchet – In-detail Discussion

Power Source

The impact wrench is convertible to an impact driver with a small adapter at the front. It gets power from the mass rotation and generates heavy energy while tightening or loosening bolts.

As you compare impact driver vs air ratchet, the air ratchet power source is compressed air. This generates relatively less power than the impact wrench or impact driver.

Torque and Noise

When you compare air impact wrench vs air ratchet, and torque is the base, then the impact wrench clearly wins. Because of mass rotation, it generates torque up to 1,800 ft-lbs. As the mass rotates rapidly, it also generates heavy noise.

On the other hand, the air ratchet torque remains within 35 to 80 ft-lbs because of compressed air. As a result, the noise remains relatively quiet.


The impact wrench is for heavy-duty tasks like removing stubborn fasteners and lug nuts. Sometimes, for breaking loose the frozen nuts, the impact wrench is used.

Air ratchet is mainly for detaching bolts, and you must manage the complete air ratchet set for that. Its main working field is in the automobile industry and garages to deal with comparatively small bolts. You will even find the mini air ratchet if necessary.

Precision & Orientation

Because of the lower torque, the central pneumatic air ratchet comes with controlled precision. This tool also has a right-angled orientation that keeps the head perpendicular to the body while driving.

On the other side, the impact wrench comes with a straight orientation. Because of the quick mass rotation and high torque, the precision of the impact wrench is less controlled.

Impact wrench vs Air Ratchet; Which one is better in which section?

You can’t just make a clear winner between an impact wrench and air ratchet. Both of these tools contain the highest capability in their respective field of work.

Advantages of Impact Wrench:

  • Generates higher torque
  • Capable of dealing with the most rigid joints and bolts
  • Plenty of power supply
  • Versatility

Advantages of Air Ratchet:

  • Controlled precision with less noise
  • More applicable for household and vehicle-related tasks
  • Convenient
  • Different size options

Impact wrench vs Air Ratchet; Which tool to choose?

You won’t need both of them at the same time if you are a common user. An electric air ratchet and cordless air ratchet should do your tasks effortlessly. The impact wrenches are for heavy-duty jobs.

When to choose an Impact Wrench:

  • To deal with stubborn joints, lug nuts-bolts, and loosen frozen bolts
  • When high power and versatility is necessary

When to choose an Air Ratchet:

  • For small household and vehicle nuts and bolts
  • Perfect for residential areas where less noise is desired
  • Controlled precision will help to complete the task perfectly and effortlessly
  • When you need a smaller and lightweight tool to work

If you are looking for a professional and high torque air ratchet, you should go for a central pneumatic 3/8” air ratchet.

The air ratchet vs impact wrench article above will assist you in finalizing your desired tool.