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Help me choose a new impact wrench

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Hey guys, newbie to the forums here, I'm seeking advice. For the past 8 years or so, I've had a handful of Dewalt 18v tools for home use. I recently started a job that required me to supply my own tools, so I brought the impact driver and wrench to work. For the most part, the driver with a socket adapter has been enough for my needs and a much more convenient size. The problem is, I'm getting shipped off to the the pit (I'm servicing mining equipment in an open pit mine) rather than the shop, and the conditions are very dusty. From my understanding, brushless tools should be able to stand up to these conditions, which is why I need to change. Is this correct?

 

The guy that is training me uses a mastercraft 1/2" sold at canadian tire which is rated at 160ft lbs and quite compact. I considered the same one, but I don't want to buy something that will let me down.

 

It's mostly come down to a compact milwaukee (2755b) or mid torque dewalt (dcf894) My experiences with both manufacturers have been positive, and I like the other tools available by both. The 330 ft. Lbs on the dewalt is more torque than I should be needing, but I like that it can be used for bigger jobs if it comes down to it. I also like that dewalt seems to have more budget friendly options for some of the things I use at home. The main downside with either option is the rather hefty pricetag. Any thoughts between those 2?

 

I was also eyeing up the ridgid one that home depot sells. I swear by ridgid for pipefitting tools, and am quite curious about their power tools. The price is amazing, which tells me the tool probably isn't great. Anybody have any experience with these? 

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Not sure about Canada but all tools are pretty good dust wise but brushless should theoretically hold up better. Mining is tough on everything. But consider this. Mid torque (150-250 ft-lbs) is about what you can realistically do by hand. As in throwing your full weight on an 18" wrench at say 150 lbs. gets you to 225 ft-lbs. You will find practically you can still do things with hand wrenches the impact won't touch without using techniques like double wrenching or a 24" breaker bar but you're pushing limits here. At 200+ ft-lbs you will tend to shear off bolts and nuts that are under 3/8". This is where it's nice to have a smaller impact driver (eliminates carrying a drill too) or impact only. I carry one with my 3/8 and 1/4 sockets separate from 1/2". This is for run of the mill fasteners.

Then when you step up to 3/4" sockets when you're at typically 1-1/4" or larger nut you need to up the torque. Also it's mining...there are plenty of situations where corrosion is a serious problem. At that point you can go old school with breaker bars, cheaters (pipe), slugging wrenches, large size long handle ratchets, or the modern approach is to step up to high torque at 400+ ft-lbs. This is where you should think about step up options. At 1400 ft-lbs of breaking torque and a price of around $250 Milwaukee is hands down the wrench of choice. Nobody else has anything close right now. And it saves you $100 if you can buy the bare tool and not invest in another set of batteries and charger. And it's still 1/2" so you can use it with your 1/2" sockets until you have to step up to 3/4 or 1" just due to availability.

So I'd look at the options on the battery platform. This eliminates the Ridgid outright. Might make sense to keep the Dewalt investment until it dies but if you're going to all new, Milwaukee makes the most sense. In terms of grinders and other tools you will quickly accumulate Dewalt and Milwaukee serve you well but again Richie is just too limited.

So when picking a battery platform look at the overall picture, not just the tool you need now but others you will need as well. This kind of usually cuts it down to Makita (especially for linemen), Dewalt, or Milwaukee for mechanics, plumbers, and electricians. Carpenters have a lot more options.

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If I use the brushed 18v tools I currently have, would they hold up to dust? The reason I'm wanting to switch to brushless is for changing dust collecter filters, which means literally getting filled with dust, and I was recommended to replace them (by a questionable source). If it's not necessary I'll stick with the 18v.

 

As far as torque,  the guy training me has a mastercraft (canadian tire) 165 foot pound compact. It's available for half the price of the name brands, but the quality is iffy. I wanted something smaller in a dewalt, but the mid torque is the most compact brushless they have. I'm currently only doing oil/filter changes so I don't need high torque, which is why I half considered ridgid. Is ridgid a reliable cordless tool? It will be 4+ years (if ever) that I'm offered a mechanical apprenticeship,  so the impact is basically all I need for work and I already have a selection of 18v dewalt at home. 

 

Also nobody, mechanics included, uses anything bigger than a half inch cordless as the company supplies the bigger tools. 

 

Anyways, I really appreciate the reply. As far as overall picture, dewalt 20v is at the top of my list as they seem to have more budget options than milwaukee for home use, which will make up the bulk of my tools when I eventually phase out 18v. I don't see myself ever needing the massive torque of the milwaukee 3/4" unless I go back to pipefitting (at this point not something I want to do), so I only am entertaining buying red as I loved the quality.

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I'm sure it could be heavily debated as to which is more durable brushed or brushless.  We first started using brushless in 2014 and my personal experience has been that the brushless tools have more high tech electronics that can be more susceptible to failure in extreme conditions.  Yes brushed tools have brushes that might wear at a faster rate in harsh conditions but they are also relatively cheap to replace versus electronic components of the brushless.  Either way you go you might just find that the dust is hard on both tools so if you don't want to spend extra money and have the tool and batteries I would just run that setup.  On the other hand if you have the money I don't think you would be disappointed upgrading to a new tool with lithium ion batteries.  Milwaukee has a complete and very strong line up of impact wrenches and we've switched to them because impact wrenches are kind of our goto tools.  Dewalt does make a compact brushless 3/8" impact wrench dcf890 but they refuse to release a 1/2" compact brushless, which for the life of me I can't figure out why.   

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The new m12 stubby from Milwaukee has 250 ft lbs of breakaway torque on paper if you go with the 1/2 in or 3/8 in models. It is only $179 bare tool which isn't a terrible price. Also for mechanics, the Milwaukee line seems to have the most options. You got m12 ratchets, m12 stubbys, m18 compact, m18 mid torque, m18 high torque. M12 extension ratchets, m18 high torque with extended anvil, and m12 torque wrenches are being added to the lineup soon. Another company to look at for mechanics is Ingersoll Rand. I'm not too familiar with their lineup but I know they have a few different mechanic focused impacts.

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If I use the brushed 18v tools I currently have, would they hold up to dust? The reason I'm wanting to switch to brushless is for changing dust collecter filters, which means literally getting filled with dust, and I was recommended to replace them (by a questionable source). If it's not necessary I'll stick with the 18v.


I haven’t seen much difference. Brushes don’t like dirt but brushless electronics have problems too.

You make it sound like you’ll be working on shovels in Fort Mac. Those are all Torits which isn’t that bad. But basically with most dust collectors you use an impact to remove a bunch of sheet metal screws then take a knife and cut and pull all the bags out. Once those are gone it’s actually a fairly clean job putting new ones back in. So the impact doesn’t see much.

As far as torque,  the guy training me has a mastercraft (canadian tire) 165 foot pound compact. It's available for half the price of the name brands, but the quality is iffy. I wanted something smaller in a dewalt, but the mid torque is the most compact brushless they have. I'm currently only doing oil/filter changes so I don't need high torque, which is why I half considered ridgid. Is ridgid a reliable cordless tool? It will be 4+ years (if ever) that I'm offered a mechanical apprenticeship,  so the impact is basically all I need for work and I already have a selection of 18v dewalt at home.


That’s odd. At least in the States in pretty much any mine you can usually get in the door as a laborer in a contract crew doing say cleaning crews. But once you learn your way around, opportunities to move up come up all the time. Even heavily unionized places like West Virginia are very easy to move up in if you show the desire and capability.

All I’m suggesting is look at the platform. At $100+ for most lithium ion batteries the tools often go for less than that as bare tools. So all of your investment is in batteries. So what you don’t want to have is a few brand A, a few brand B, etc. Look at the platform first then get the tool within that platform. M12 is kind of designed as light duty secondary tools for professional use so you can’t get the heavy duty tools compared to the M18 platform. Weight isn’t really an issue. Think of for instance the 2 Ah Dewalt batteries that are no heavier than the M12s.

Haven’t seen problems with Ridgid except you get more vibration off the tools. They’re just rougher ergonomics wise. And the platform is very, very small. But the price is very good.

Also nobody, mechanics included, uses anything bigger than a half inch cordless as the company supplies the bigger tools.


I have to supply everything up to 2” sockets. You can get up to 2” impacts in a 1/2” drive. We have some 3/4” in the crew but we just use the 1/2” to 3/4” bushing style adapters.

Anyways, I really appreciate the reply. As far as overall picture, dewalt 20v is at the top of my list as they seem to have more budget options than milwaukee for home use, which will make up the bulk of my tools when I eventually phase out 18v. I don't see myself ever needing the massive torque of the milwaukee 3/4" unless I go back to pipefitting (at this point not something I want to do), so I only am entertaining buying red as I loved the quality.


Milwaukee has the 1400 ft-lb impact in both 1/2 and 3/4 versions, both hog ring and pin detent. We haven’t had problems breaking 1/2” sockets. We routinely work on 250-10,000 HP motors and the base bolts often need that kind of torque.

We have Dewalt 20V, Porter Cable, and Milwaukee M12 and M18 in our crew. I upgraded to M18 when I started on this crew moving away from my old Hitachi stuff. There are a couple old M28s in the tool crib but we don’t have batteries anymore. Two of the guys used a tool trade in deal to switch to M18.

The great specs and weight on the torque wrenches are a great selling point but the biggest one for me is M18 also runs a vacuum, drill, grinder, sawzall, band saw, stand and clip lights, saber saw, and cold saw. Dewalt 20V is close to that same long list of tools. Dewalt 12 V is kind of a joke (maybe Atomic revives it?). M12 has a lot of depth too but for instance they only have the mini sawzall and a bandsaw that realistically can’t get over about 1”. No grinder or cold saw and the vacuum is a ridiculous dust buster kind of thing. But on the other hand some of the lights are actually nicer and there are some unique items like the boroscope. So when evaluating the platform if all I did was electrician work or maybe say automotive mechanic, M12 might not do all that bad. But since we also do mechanical work and a lot of really big electrical work, M12 just doesn’t cover that.


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