Pistol Grip vs Inline Impact Wrench: What's the Difference?

The impact wrench is known for its ability to provide high torque when you need it the most. From the home work bench to the mechanic’s garage, and even within factories and heavy duty industrial manufacturing plants, impact wrenches provide a useful function. There are several versions on the market, such as the corded and cordless, as well as different types of grips, like the inline, pistol and angel drive. It is necessary to know the difference between the two most common types as they serve very different purposes.

What Is an Impact Wrench?

As the name implies, an impact wrench uses the idea of applying an “impact” into the area called the drive shaft of the tool. Herein, as the “impact” is delivered by a mechanism called the “hammer,” the force is exaggerated and a motor is released, allowing it to spin freely.  This force will then be released to an output shaft, ultimately generating the necessary amount of torque with the minimal of effort.

Impact wrenches can be found in various standard socket wrench drive sizes starting from ¼ inches for light work, to 3½ inches for construction and even 8 inches for heavy-duty work. You can also find impact wrenches in various sizes for the convenience of the user, with the introduction of cordless impact wrenches to allow the user more space in the garage or at home.

The most common means of impact is manufactured using compressed air as a power source. However, you can also find electrical ones as well as hydraulic ones especially for the cordless types. Other accessories you will find with impact wrenches would include the air compressor with a tank, whereby the tank needs to have at least 10 gallons and should be able to generate at least 3hp.

An Inline Impact Wrench

Usually, an inline impact wrench is for the smaller drives (1/4 inches to 3/8 inches) to allow the user to control the increase torque “feedback” and the weight. An inline impact wrench looks more like a fat screwdriver and is held in such a manner as well. The power output is at the end of the impact wrench, away from tip of the drive. As the impact wrenches increase in size, with their respective drives, you can find alternate versions of the inline impact wrench, usually with a “D handle” inline, like the 1-inch drive tools, or the “T handle” form. Due to the larger mass and size, it is gripped on the ends, or the handles so that the high level of torque and the direction can be withstood and controlled by the user.

A Pistol Grip Impact Wrench

Unlike the inline, the pistol grip is found to be within the lower medium range of drives (1/2 inches to 1 inches). This is to allow the user more control over the higher level of torque but does not quite require extensive handles like the “T handle” for this purpose. For the pistol grip impact wrenches, the user holds a handle that is perpendicular to the output. Usually cordless impact wrenches can be found in this form.