Stubborn screws and frozen nuts require serious torque to free up and remove. Mechanics who value their time need a reliable tool to make quick work of the screws, nuts, bolts, and other jobs in the garage. An air ratchet is the best tool for these jobs. We’re going to show you the best tools you could buy for your workshop.The best air ratchet is going to be strong enough to shift the most frozen bolts. Torque is the key factor. Other important considerations are head design and build quality. For these reasons, the best tool on our list is the Chicago Pneumatic CP7830HQ 1/2-Inch Drive Quiet Air Ratchet. It has the highest level of torque. The 90-foot lbs of power on tap should be enough to shift the stubbornest fastener. The body is formed from aircraft-grade aluminum. This makes it both lightweight and durable.
The head incorporates Chicago Pneumatic’s Tri-Spring head design. Tri-Spring heads give superior grip to avoid losing grip on the job. This is the only ½” ratchet on our list. Its head is a little larger than the heads of ⅜” air ratchets. However, the head of this great tool is covered in plastic to protect it and the project from any accidental damage.
On our list, the best balance between price and performance comes from the AirCat ACR802R 3/8-Inch Ratchet. It’s just about halfway between the Chicago Pneumatic air ratchet and the Ingersoll Rand 170G. However, it has a few great features you should consider.
Ingersoll Rand is an authority in the world of industrial tools. Their build quality is better than the other low-end products on the market. Even though this ratchet doesn’t have the same features as its more expensive cousins, the company’s quality ensures this is a useful tool for a low price. It delivers 55-foot lbs of torque at a free head speed of 170 rpm. The trigger is all metal and the body is designed for comfort.
First, this air ratchet is quieter than many others. No air ratchet is silent but the AirCat has a max volume of 82 dB. It’s quiet but not lacking in power. The working torque available is between 5 and 70 ft-lbs. This should be plenty to zip a few bolts in and out quickly. The tool’s size is smaller than some of the other models with a max length of just over ten inches.
Now we’re going to break down the top five tools on the market. Each product has its pros and cons. With the right information, you can make the best choice to buy the tool that suits your needs.
Top 5 Best Air Ratchet of 2020
OUR TOP PICK
First up is the Ingersoll Rand 170G Edge Series air ratchet. We’ve already mentioned this tool as our best budget buy. Now we want to show you a little more detail about this great addition to your toolbox.
- The price is very good. There is cheaper air ratchets on the market. However, those are compromised buys lacking in quality. The 170G is one of the cheapest ratchets you can buy that promises to work as hard as you do.
- Ingersoll Rand incorporated a heat-treated head into this ratchet. The extra durability imparted by this process should keep your tool working well for years to come.
- Handling and using the tool is a bit more comfortable due to the shape of the handle. Specifically, the narrower neck above the trigger ensures you get a strong grip on the tool.
- This is one of the loudest air ratchets on the market. Ear protection is a requirement for extended use.
- The amount of torque provided is low compared to slightly more expensive ratchets. Some bolts will have to be started by hand or with a breaker.
AirCat is a great step up from the lower-end models on our list. It’s a little more money but has much more torque on offer. AirCat makes great air-powered tools and this is no exception.
- The amount of torque is higher than other, cheaper tools. The max torque is 90 ft-lbs and the working torque is 70 ft-lbs. Tough bolts should come free without needing too many interventions from the impact wrench.
- Many users report this ratchet for being too quiet. You may still need ear protection, but this tool won’t punish your eardrums.
- The trigger is designed well. It is comfortable and easy to use. It is also built into the body in a clever way to reduce the chances of accidental triggering.
- The max RPM is a little low for heavy use. It’s definitely faster than using a hand wrench. However, some people may be disappointed with the slow speed.
- The plastic body is designed well but isn’t as durable as some full metal tools. It also heats up due to the friction inside. Extra lubrication is a requirement.
Ingersoll Rand’s 109XPA is a step up from their 170G tool. This offers more torque and is a little different build. Its closest competitor is the AirCat air ratchet. We think this one is a little less suitable for heavy work.
- There are 70 ft-lbs of torque available to pull bolts and nuts out of whatever you’re working on. The power seems to be sufficient for light and medium-duty users.
- One of the problems for pneumatic tool users is air exhaust. The 109XPA tries to solve this by offering a fully adjustable 360° air exhaust vent.
- A metal body and heavier materials make this tool more durable than the competition. The shape of the handle also offers a comfortable grip for extended use.
- The construction, while solid, is also heavy and bulky. This tool is several inches longer than the AirCat ratchet. It may be less suitable for working in tight spots.
- The advertised amount of torque and the actual amount of torque have differed for some users. Good air supply may remedy this problem
Dewalt makes many great tools. Their air ratchet is a good addition to their lineup. It’s not quite as good as some of the other products on our list but deserves to be in the top five air ratchets of 2020. Its features and performance are far better than the super cheap stuff at the very low end of the market.
- The plastic body of this tool is surprisingly durable. It’s comfortable to use and seems to be built to last.
- The power available to the user is higher than the cheap models. There are 75 ft-lbs of torque at your disposal to make short work of getting bolts off your projects.
- The trigger is really obvious and intuitive. It sticks out from the body a bit but you will know where to find it. The sensitivity level makes it easy to achieve a precise level of torque during operation.
- One final point: this tool comes with a three-year warranty. That’s one of the best on the market.
- The first problem with this air ratchet is its size. At 13 ½” inches from the tip to the end of the hose connector, this is one of the longest air ratchets you can buy.
- Another issue is the low speed of this air ratchet. With a top speed of 180 rpm, you might want more spin speed sometimes.
Our top choice for you is the Chicago Pneumatic CP7830HQ ½” Quiet Air Ratchet. Right away, the name provides the clue for the biggest difference between this and its competitors: it’s bigger. The slightly bigger head handles more power and provides better durability. Tough nuts and bolts will give way before this brute of an air ratchet.
- The torque available on this air wrench is 90 ft-lbs. That’s more than any other tool on our list. This should be enough to ensure every job gets done quickly and easily.
- The body of this tool is made from lightweight aircraft-grade aluminum. It’s lighter than some tools but more robust than any of the others. This tool can take the abuse of a big shop environment.
- Chicago Pneumatic’s quiet air system works well. The noise level from this tool is about 82 dB, which is less than most others.
- It’s long! While the weight is lower than it could be, the ratchet’s length is not compact. At 13 ½” long, it’s at the top end of the league for length.
- The price is higher for this model. The extra durability and lower noise probably make this tool worth the money, but there is going to be more money changing hands.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are air ratchets used for?
Air ratchets are used to remove and install nuts and bolts. They are a replacement for a hand wrench because they are faster and can be more powerful in confined spaces.
How does an air ratchet wrench work?
All these wrenches are connected to an air compressor through an air hose. The compressed air spins the mechanism inside the ratchet. This mechanism spins the head of the ratchet in order to remove or tighten the workpiece.
What is torque? How important is it?
Torque is a measure of rotational force. We use it to describe how much force is needed to make something spin on its axis. It is measured in foot-pounds (ft-lbs) or Newton-meters (Nm). Torque is the most important feature in an air ratchet since this is what provides the necessary power to turn bolts and nuts.
What types of air ratchets are there?
There are standard air ratchets, such as the five on our list. Other types include impact ratchets and reactionless ratchets. Impact ratchets provide more torque for freeing stuck bolts by striking the head of the bolt rapidly. Reactionless ratchets reduce or eliminate the jerking of air ratchets. These can be safer to use.
Do air ratchets need impact sockets?
Yes, air ratchets need impact sockets. Specifically, they need socket heads designed to survive the stress produced by the mechanical forces. Sockets designed for hand use may strip out when used on an air ratchet.
Conclusion and best pick
An air ratchet is an essential tool for speeding up your workflow. You can reduce the time you spend removing nuts and bolts. Consider a simple job with ten bolts to remove. If you can take each bolt off by hand in ten seconds but save 8 seconds using an air ratchet, then you can see how the time saved adds up. They are also much easier on your body since they produce the force for you.
The best choice is the Chicago Pneumatic Quiet Air Ratchet. While it’s not the cheapest on the list, it is certainly the best. It produces plenty of power, is built to last, and the special Tri-Grip head should keep your socket on the job.