3/8 vs 1/2 Impact Wrench – The Wise Pick

Last Updated on January 11, 2023 by TechChecking

The right type of impact wrench can make your work easier, smooth, and comfortable. Choosing the wrong tool can make it even harder and unimaginably tougher. If you are truly having a hard time working with impact wrenches, you need to find out the reason. Knowing about 3/8 vs 1/2 impact wrench can solve the problem you have now. If you know what size air impact wrench for lug nuts is perfect, you can find out the problem. This is why you must have to acquire adequate knowledge on a 3/8 vs 1/2 impact wrench. A great and perfect comparison between a 3/8 and 1/2 inch impact wrench would be nice.

In the two most popular choices 3/8 and 1/2 inch impact wrench, picking the best one needs requirements, nature of works, size of nuts or bolts, and the type of jobs such as DIY project or industrial works. Whimsically choosing the medium or biggest one will not be fruitful if you are not farsighted enough.

What Is an Impact Wrench?

An impact wrench is a kind of heavy-duty socket wrench power tool that can generate high torque in order to transfer its storing energy into the output shaft or anvil connected to a socket. This type of wrench is able to provide strong power that can get the work of any tough job easily and effortlessly.

Impact wrenches come in different types. They are corded, cordless, pneumatic, and hydraulic systems. They are all very powerful.

3/8 vs 1/2 Inch Impact Wrench – Core Differences

Before purchasing a 3/8 inch impact wrench or 1/2 inch impact wrench, it is very necessary to know about their core differences. If you know well about them, you will be able to decide precisely which one – either a 3/8 or 1/2 inch impact wrench is needed. So, let’s see the core differences between 1/2 inch vs 3/8 impact wrench. It would be great.

Feature3/8 Inch Impact Wrench1/2 Inch Impact Wrench
PowerMedium powerful motor for medium-duty jobsMore powerful motor for heavy-duty jobs
SizeMedium (Not very small like 1/4 inch)Bigger
FunctionalityCan fit even in tighter spacesWorks well in open spaces
PrecisionHigh precisionLess precision
Durability and SturdinessGreatAwesome
3/8 vs 1/2 Inch Impact Wrench Comparison Table

1/2 Inch vs 3/8 Inch Impact Wrench: In-Depth Comparison

The bigger wrench such as a 1/2 inch wrench is a very useful tool for repairing cars or such like vehicles. Most of the nuts or bolts are comparatively bigger than small vehicles. However, a 3/8-inch impact wrench is also useful too. Let’s now discuss its (1/2 Inch vs 3/8 Inch Impact Wrench) in-depth comparison.

The 1/2-inch impact wrench size is commonly found everywhere. If you go to a garage shop or to a professional, a 1/2” impact wrench can be found. You can use it in a wide range of tasks. Tightening or loosening nuts or bolts would be ideal to do with this size of wrench. In addition, the 1/2 inch wrench is good at removing the wheel covers from cars. In spite of its bulkiness and heaviness, this is a great useful hand tool for various purposes.

The 3/8 inch impact wrench is also so popular due to easily portability option. A 3/8-inch impact wrench comes with a wider range of impact socket sizes that help you choose the right tool in a second. Like the ½ inch impact wrench, the 3/8 inch impact wrench is used for a lot of projects. Accessing tight spots is one of the main features of this hand tool. If you want to remove any parts especially the entire clutch assembly from a car is possible by using a 3/8 inch impact wrench.


The 1/2 impact wrench is bigger in size. The common theory is – the bigger the handle is, the more torque and power the tool provides. A 1/2 impact wrench is larger than that of a 3/8 impact wrench. Truly, if you want to handle any big or heavy project, a 1/2 inch impact wrench would be your best tool to complete the job. In addition, you may know that a 1/2 wrench can yield 20 pound-foot to 150 pound-foot. However, a ½” impact wrench is enough for removing, drilling, and doing all kinds of heavy-duty work you need to be done.

The 3/8 impact wrench, on the contrary, is able to provide less power than the 1/2 inch impact wrench. In this way, it is obvious that they are good for medium-level works and not heavy-duty works. The output range of a 3/8” impact wrench is from 10 to 90 pound-foot. You can understand the differences in the power output of a 1/2 inch impact wrench and a 3/8 inch impact wrench. Obviously, the 3/8 inch impact wrench provides less power than the other one.

So, in terms of power, the 1/2 inch impact wrench wins over the 3/8 inch impact wrench in the battle.


The impact wrench drive sizes are 1/4-inch, 3/8-inch, 1/2-inch, 3/4-inch, and 1-inch. The sizes are different. In five of them, the biggest one is the 1-inch impact wrench. The smallest one is 1/4 inch. However, nevertheless, the 3/8-inch and 1/2-inch wrench have huge differences in size.

However, you can tell that the 3/8 impact wrench is the smaller version between them while the 1/2 inch wrench size variant is bigger in the bigger versions of them. Due to size, among 1/2 inch vs 3/8 inch impact wrench, the 3/8” wrench is handy to handle with ease.


That all the time you can have the opportunity in an open space is wrong. If it happens, all wrenches such as 1/2-inch, 3/4-inch, and 1-inch would be quite difficult to get the job done. But yes, you can access easily the narrow space with a 1/4-inch and 3/8-inch impact wrench. As we are discussing 1/2 inch vs 3/8 inch impact wrench, between this two, to work in tight spaces, the 3/8” impact wrench would be great to get the job done.

In another word, bolts with a diameter of 10 mm would be easier to work with a 3/8 wrench. In this case, this size of the wrench is really useful. So, to have the precision and accuracy, the 3/8 inch impact wrench is really second to none.

The ½ inch, on the other hand, is really a fantastic hand tool for heavy-duty works. The force and power it requires for the job are provided by the ½ inch. In addition, it also is able to maintain accuracy in order to do tough jobs.


Well, the precision depends not only on the size of an impact wrench, it also follows some other criteria such as open space, the user’s strength, the strength of the wall, and so on. So, we cannot determine the precision depending on only the size of a tool.

Aside from other criteria, if you think of the best option in terms of precision, the 3/8 impact wrench would be the first choice. Due to its light maneuverability, you can easily control the tool. Comfortable to work with.

However, if you are working in an industry or a factory, a delicate wrench would fail. In such a place, you need something good that you can trust with. The 1/2 inch impact torque wrench would be your savior in that case.


It is no surprise that the two sizes (3/8 inch and 1/2 inch) are common and similar in shape and structure. They are designed in such a way that users can use them comfortably. The push-button system is also convenient to start and stop the device without any problem. So, the design for both of the sizes is the same while the shape and structure are different.

A good design includes soft grip rubber handles, compact and ergonomic designs, variable speed trigger, and so many options make these two sizes of impact wrenches great because they both have all the features.

Other Features

In this ⅜ vs ½ impact wrench discussion, we will now mention some other outstanding features that make them special. Well, the LED light, display system, ergonomic design, everything makes these devices great to use.

Moreover, in this aspect between 3/8 vs 1/ 2 hand impact, they have the same features. You can work in dark places in case of emergency turning on the LED light which is great. In terms of a cordless wrench, you can see the battery life on the display that can make you aware approximately how much time you can work with this.

You know, due to the smaller size and power of the 3/8 inch impact wrench, they can provide less time while the 1/2 inch impact wrench is bigger in size, and thus they can make more power and linger the time.

Besides, speaking of sturdiness and durability, they actually depend most of the time on how rough you use it, brand, battery, and other mechanisms inside of the machine. But generally, they are really great and good for any challenging work.

3/8 vs 1/2 Impact Wrench: Which one to pick?

So, now, which impact wrench should I pick – 3/8 or 1/2-inch impact wrench? Well, if you have already read the whole paras above, you might have decided something by now. Well, if you are thinking that you have already decided but you want to hear from me which one I am going to suggest. It’s ok then.

So, 1/2 inch or 3/8 inch impact wrench – which one is good to wise pick?

Projects involved with heavy-duty jobs such as industrial and machinery works require sturdiness and powers enough to drill or remove things, or any kind of job-related to impact wrench would be preferable a 1/2-inch impact wrench for that kind of job. In this kind of project, fragile or small wrenches are of no use. That’s why and considering those factors, a ½ inch impact wrench would be great.

In addition, working on the brakes, steering, and suspension systems of a car need a 1/2 impact wrench to get the job done. If you are not constrained by physical space and neither size nor weight is matter to you, you undoubtedly choose the 1/2- inch impact wrench for your job.

But, for jobs to get completed in such a narrow place where bigger wrenches are quite out of option, a 3/8-inch impact wrench is absolutely preferable. This size is the second smaller according to the wrench sizes and it is easy to handle and comfortable to work with. So, delicate jobs are suitable for these kinds of wrenches. Considering this way, you can pick the 3/8 wrench.

So, a small or medium-lightweight tool such as the 3/8-inch impact wrench can easily fit in tight spaces providing a fair amount of torque.

A question still remains – what if I work in an industrial space and need to work in a narrow place, what should I do and which one should I pick?

Well, if you truly fall into such problems, we suggest you need to buy both sizes. This would be great for doing those jobs using both sizes of wrenches.

What Is the Best 1/2 Impact Wrench Overall?

1/2 Impact Wrench

This is a complicated question to answer. Actually, there are many brands out there in the market. Every brand tries to make the best of its own. Users also find useful tools too. There are some best impact wrenches such as DEWALT 20V MAX XR Brushless High Torque 1/2″ Impact Wrench, Milwaukee 2962-20 M18 18V Fuel 1/2″ Mid-torque Impact Wrench, Ridgid R86011B OCTANE 18V Lithium-Ion Cordless 1/2 Inch Impact Wrench, AOBEN 21V Cordless Impact Wrench 1/2 inch, PORTER-CABLE 1/2-Inch Impact Wrench, Ingersoll Rand 231C 1/2” Drive Air Impact Wrench, Kobalt XTR 24-Volt Max 1/2-in Drive Cordless Impact Wrench, and many more awesome brands.

So, according to the question, if I want to answer, in my point of view, I would suggest the best 1/2” impact wrench overall is the DEWALT 20V MAX XR Brushless High Torque 1/2″ Impact Wrench. There are many reasons to choose this impact wrench.

This DEWALT 20V MAX XR Brushless High Torque 1/2″ Impact Wrench has up to 700 ft.-lbs. of max torque and 1200 ft.-lbs. of max breakaway torque. Besides, it is a compact design that is 8-13/16-inch in length. In addition, this cordless impact wrench has a multi-speed control empowered with a battery that can perform a variety of applications (0-400/ 1,200/ 1,900 RPM). Moreover, there is a 1/2-inch Anvil with a detent pin. And above all, this Brushless High Torque 1/2″ Impact Wrench features a LED with a 20-second delay for increased visibility.

What is The Best 3/8 Impact Wrench Overall?

3/8 Impact Wrench

Like ½” impact wrench, there are many awesome brands with amazing features of 3/8-inch impact wrenches too. Before jumping to the conclusion why don’t we see some nice brands of 3/8 impact wrenches? the best 3/8 inch impact wrenches brands are M12 Fuel Stubby 3/8″ Impact Wrench, KIMO 20V Cordless Impact Wrench Set, Ingersoll Rand 15QMAX 3/8” Drive Air Impact Wrench, Milwaukee 2554-22 M12 FUEL Stubby 3/8 in. Impact Wrench Kit, DEWALT 20V MAX XR Cordless 3/8-Inch Impact Wrench, and so many more like these. These 3/8″ Impact Wrenches are really durable and handy to use.

However, according to my point of view, the best 3/8” impact wrench overall is the M12 Fuel Stubby 3/8″ Impact Wrench. There are many reasons to choose it as best. Let’s see the features of it.

The M12 Fuel Stubby 3/8″ Impact Wrench is greatly popular for its greatest access in tight spaces at 4.8″ In length. Besides, it features 250 ft.-lbs. breakaway torque is great too. Additionally, M12 Fuel has 4-Mode drive control that is handy and comfortable as well. Moreover, the auto-shut-off mode reduces over fastening and increases productivity. This is a tool that you can rely on.

How powerful is a 3/8 Inch Impact Wrench?

We already know a 3/8 inch impact wrench is the second smallest size wrench according to its size. We also know that the smaller the machine is, the less torque and power it will have. So, this size is good for small to medium types of jobs but of course not heavy-duty jobs.

For example – the DEWALT 20V MAX XR Cordless Impact Wrench is a 3/8-inch impact wrench that is very usable 150 foot-pounds of torque. This level of torque may be the top end of power available on 3/8 inch cordless tools. So, this tool would be able to do small to medium range jobs for your projects.

How powerful is a 1/2 Inch Impact Wrench?

The 1/2 inch impact wrench is the second-largest wrench based on their sizes. This size can have a torque range from around 150 ft.-lbs. to something like 700 ft.-lbs. at the top end.

Well, if you don’t need such a massive power like the DeWalt, you can choose something like a Ridgid R86011B OCTANE 18V Lithium-Ion Cordless 1/2 Inch Impact Wrench. It has a max rating of 450 foot-pounds.

So, when it comes to comparing a 1/2-Inch vs 3/8-Inch impact wrench, you need to consider many factors that we have already discussed.

Will a 3/8 Inch Impact Wrench Remove Lug Nuts?

Removing a lug nut usually requires a power tool to get it off. Well, the answer is not a complete no because it is worth a try.

If you do have not an efficient tool right now to your hand except a 3/8 inch impact wrench, you can try it. Make sure that you have used proper sockets. If the impact wrench is able to provide enough power, of course, there is a chance to remove the lug nuts by using a 3/8 inch impact wrench. But remember, a 1/2 inch would make a better job of it with a higher level of torque.

Can I Use Extensions with My 1/2 inch or 3/8 inch Wrench?

The answer is yes, you can use extensions with 1/2 inch or 3/8 inch wrench. But, you may not get the expected amount of torque from them. Though you can get at those hard-to-reach bolts, truly you won’t get the torque you would have got without the extension. How much you may lose the power or torque would depend on the length of the extension and if they are impact-rated.

Anyways, you are highly discouraged to use non-rated accessories such as chrome sockets because they may be shattered if and under the immense load placed on them. This mistake can potentially invalidate your product warranty as well so take note.

However, remember, the impact extension with 6 point sockets if they are properly rated may lose less power. They can also be used in high torque settings.

Final Words

Are we able to make you understand even a little bit? The title 3/8 vs 1/2 impact wrench is important to learn about it. Knowing 3/8 vs 1/2 impact wrench would make you a knowledgeable person that can help you do the work done properly. So, what size impact wrench do I need to remove lug nuts, or what size air impact wrench for lug nuts would be used? We hope you have already known the answer. If you need to know anything about it, you can reach out to us.

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