Finding the right tool for the job isn’t always an easy task. If you’re lost in a sea of impact wrenches and drivers, hopefully this will help clear up any confusion about the different capabilities of each impact, and how their torque and primary applications compare.  

We tested four different M18 impact wrenches on our Skidmore machine to see which one delivers the most torque.  If you aren’t familiar, a Skidmore machine is a hydraulic tension calibrator that measures fastener performance. This will give us a good gauge on how each Milwaukee Impact will actually perform on the job. We used an M18 6.0Ah High Output Battery for each tool for consistency across the varied tool sizes.

Mechanic using a Milwaukee Stubby Impact Wrench to fasten bolts under a car

The Test

First up is the Milwaukee M18 1/2″ Compact Impact Wrench with Friction Ring (2855-20), which is the smallest impact that we tested. If you are unfamiliar, a friction ring is a rubber ring that helps keep the socket seated securely on a square base. This is great for situations where you need to quickly take a socket on and off, or in horizontal applications such as taking off lugs or tightening something from the side. Despite its smaller size, this impact was able to reach 20,000 pounds of bolt tension on the Skidmore machine, which is impressive for such a compact tool. Given this information, this impact would be great for standard everyday jobs or when you need to reach into tight spaces that require a smaller tool.

Using a Milwaukee M18 1/2" Compact Impact Wrench with Friction Ring (2855-20) to fasten bolts on a truck tire

Next up is the M18 1/2″ Mid-Torque Impact with Pin Detent (2962P-20). The Pin Detent featured on this impact is a locking pin that attaches to a small indentation to keep the socket secured firmly on the driver. This is great for when you are working overhead or in hard-to-reach areas because it prevents the socket from pulling off. When hooked up to our Skidmore machine, this impact gave a reading of 28,000 lbs., which is about a 40% increase in fastening power compared to the Compact version. Both of these are comparable in size, so if you’re looking for a small impact wrench but need a little more power, the Mid-Torque M18 is the way to go.

Using a Milwaukee M18 1/2" Extended Anvil Controlled Torque Impact with ONE-KEY (2769-20) to fasten bolts on a truck tire

Moving on to a slightly larger model, the M18 1/2″ Extended Anvil Controlled Torque Impact with ONE-KEY (2769-20) allows users to switch between 4 drive control modes for multiple fastening in torque outputs. These are great for tire technicians because they eliminate the need for pneumatic hoses, compressors, and torque sticks. The ONE-KEY feature can customize, track, and manage your tool in the ONE-KEY app for advanced control and protection. This model reached 34,000 lbs. of tension on the Skidmore machine, which is roughly a 20% increase from the Mid-Torque impact, and a 70% jump compared to the Compact impact that we tested first. Just as the name suggests, this tool produces a LOT of power.

Lastly, we tested M18 1” D-Handle High-Torque Impact Wrench with ONE-KEY (2868-20). This is a newer release from Milwaukee that was just introduced in 2020. This impact is much larger than the others we tested, but is designed to be extremely powerful. It got a reading of 65,000 lbs. on the Skidmore, which is substantially higher than the other impacts we tested–a 91% increase compared to the ½” High-Torque, 132% higher than the Mid-Torque, and 225% above the Compact impact, to be exact. If you are in the market for an impact wrench that and can handle the most demanding applications, the 1” D-Handle Impact will not disappoint.

Worker using a Milwaukee M18 1” D-Handle High-Torque Impact Wrench with ONE-KEY (2868-20)

Key Takeaways

We were happy to see that these impacts performed as advertised during our tests, but this got us thinking about all of the different battery pack options from Milwaukee and how much they can affect the fastening power on each tool as well. Milwaukee has a ton of M12 and M18 battery options including XC (extended capacity), HD (high demand), and HO (high output)–all of which affect the performance of your tool. We will be testing these different battery types on our Milwaukee impacts to see which ones deliver the best results, so keep your eye out for that post coming up soon!

If you have any questions about which Milwaukee impact is right for you, the OPT team is here to help! Give us a call at 800-242-4424, email us at, or leave a comment below for assistance. To be the first to know about new products and deals, subscribe to our e-newsletter and follow us on social media!