Size matters: This stubby impact wrench can get to places your full-size can’t

The Aircat 1056-XL is a small pneumatic impact wrench that packs a serious punch.

Impact wrenches are a must if you’re working on cars. Sure, most of the time you can skirt the issue with a breaker bar, a cheater pipe and a little bit of luck, but you’re hoping that your extended breaker bar doesn’t succumb to the extra stress. Battery-operated impacts are handy, too, but they can be pricey. That leaves us with the tried-and-true pneumatic impact wrench. In the past, impact wrenches, better known as simply “impacts” or “guns,” were heavy, unwieldy monsters that hurt your wrists and limited access. Thanks to composites and other pneumatic magic, that’s changing.

Meet the Aircat 1056-XL. OK, maybe you’ve already met a half-inch stubby impact, or even this model: This isn’t the latest and greatest from the folks at Aircat. The 1056-XL is a slightly older model, and in this case, that’s not a bad thing: It saves you money. And, despite its diminutive size (slightly longer than the three-quarter-inch deep impact socket stuck on the anvil), it hits strong.

Aircat rates the 1056-XL at 550 lb-ft of torque, which might be hard to believe when you unbox the gun. It weighs less than 3 pounds, which means that you’re not going to stress your wrists holding a mammoth gun. After screwing in some high-flow air fittings and connecting it to a 3/8ths hose, it doesn’t feel like Aircat is inflating its capability. This thing has no problems zipping off lug nuts. If you don’t need all of that oomph, you can crank the power down with the dial mounted on the trigger. For many, this impact could become your daily (or weekend) gun. 

For only $103 before tax, the Aircat 1056-XL is a bargain. Of course, if you don’t have air in your garage, you’ll have to bankroll a compressor too, but this is an impressive gun at any price — fortunately, it just happens to be affordable.

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