10 Best Air Ratchets of 2020 – Top Picks & Reviews
An air ratchet needs to be powerful, with enough torque to perform the task at hand. It needs to be comfortable for regular and prolonged use. It also needs to be hardwearing and durable, otherwise, you will need to replace it frequently.
Drive head, air ratchet speed, and even the noise of the device will all play an important part in deciding on the best air ratchet for the job at hand. And, of course, it needs to meet your budgetary requirements.
With models from well-known manufacturers like Ingersoll Rand, DeWalt, Neiko, and a host of others, the choice can seem bewildering. To help you get the right air ratchet for your home or workshop, we have compiled reviews of 10 of the best, including those that are suitable for a variety of different tasks.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
|Best Overall||Ingersoll Rand 170G Edge Series Drive Air Ratchet||
|Best Value||Dynamic Power Professional Air Ratchet||
|Premium Choice||Ingersoll Rand 109XPA Air Ratchet||
|DEWALT DWMT70776L Air Ratchet||
|AIRCAT 800 Air Ratchet||
The 10 Best Air Ratchets – Reviews 2020
1. Ingersoll Rand Edge Series Drive Air Ratchet – Best Overall
The Ingersoll Rand 170G Edge Series Drive Air Ratchet is a reasonably priced air ratchet with a ⅜-inch drive head that makes it suitable for general and all-round use. It has a maximum torque of 55 ft-lbs with a speed of 170 RPM. You will need something more powerful for larger bolts, but the 170G should have ample power to deal with bolts under ½-inch.
It is also quite a compact model, which makes it convenient for home use and means that it can be used in difficult to reach areas. The ergonomic handle ensures that you can use this for long periods without it causing too much pain or damage to your hand. However, while it is a compact model, thanks to its durability. The head has been heat-treated which means that it will last longer without becoming damaged, so the ongoing costs are minimized.
Everything about this model makes it suitable for home use. It is cheap, compact, durable, and will deal with light to moderate tasks well, but you will need something more powerful to deal with the bigger tasks.
2. Dynamic Power Professional Air Ratchet – Best Value
The Dynamic Power Professional Air Ratchet is one of the best air ratchets for the money. It has slightly less power than the 170G above, but it is also a fraction of the price. It is meant for occasional use, doing away with ergonomic handles and comfortable design.
Maximum power is 50 ft-lbs and it, too, has a ⅜-inch head size. The combination of moderate power and head size means that this isn’t suited to heavy-duty tasks, so you will have to look elsewhere if you are looking for a ratchet to remove lug nuts.
Your air supply will need to deliver 90 PSI pressure to get decent performance from the ratchet, bit if you’re looking for an affordable medium weight air ratchet, and you’re comfortable with a non-premium brand, then this is a very affordable alternative to more expensive options.
3. Ingersoll Rand Air Ratchet – Premium Choice
Another option from Ingersoll Rand, the 109XPA Air Ratchet is more powerful than most others on this list. It has a ⅜-inch drive size and with 70 ft-lbs of torque at speeds of up to 300 RPM, it is capable of taking on almost any bolt fastening jobs.
The twin pawl plus head has been treated to offer increased durability, while a great feature of this air ratchet that should be found on more devices is the 360-degree adjustable exhaust. This enables you to direct the exhaust air away from you, no matter your preferred position and it means that you can work in a comfortable location, rather than having to adjust according to the air outlet.
While the Ingersoll Rand 109XPA Air Ratchet is more expensive than most, you do get what you pay for. In this case, that’s a powerful, comfortable, and convenient air ratchet with some excellent features that are sadly missing on other models.
4. DEWALT DWMT70776L Air Ratchet
The DeWalt DWMT70776L air ratchet is a powerful ratchet offering a maximum torque of 65 ft-lbs. Its speed of 160 RPM could be higher but is more than enough to deal with most light to medium tasks with ease.
The aluminum construction has helped keep the weight down a little, but the DWMT70776L is far from being a lightweight option, weighing nearly 4 pounds. The ergonomically designed handle, with soft rubber grip, is comfortable to use even for long periods. The touch trigger allows you to control how much pressure is applied to the job at hand. DeWalt is a well-respected brand, too, and they are especially known for producing durable tools that will last a lifetime.
This is a decent air ratchet at a competitive price, although it has very few additional features.
5. AIRCAT 800 Air Ratchet
The AirCat 800 Air Ratchet concentrates on speed over power, providing 320 RPM from 45 ft-lbs of power, which means that it will deal with relatively simple tasks quickly. However, for tight fastenings and additional power, you should consider a different model. It has a ¼-inch drive head.
The AirCat 800 has been designed for regular, power users. It has an ergonomic handle that is coated in rubber so will keep vibrations to a minimum and protect your hand while you’re using it. It is also considerably quieter than most other models, measuring just 82 decibels. The limited power has helped keep the price of this model down, as it is cheaper than most on our list.
The AirCat 800 has its limitations. It won’t be able to deal with stubborn fastenings and its ¼-inch drive head limits its application, but it is quiet, comfortable, and inexpensive.
6. Neiko 30119B Drive Mini Air Ratchet
The Neiko 30119B Drive Mini Air Ratchet is small and lightweight. In fact, it weighs just over 1 pound and only measures 13.5 cm in length. Its tiny size means that it is less powerful than most other models, but it still packs a reasonable punch for one so small. The maximum torque is 30 ft-lbs.
Where the Neiko 30119B doesn’t lose out to the competition is in the speed it operates, which is an impressive 350 RPM and one of the fastest operating ratchets on our list. This is also a ¼-inch head ratchet, so it is limited in its functionality, but its light weight, diminutive size, and its comfortable, ergonomic handle, make this an excellent choice for regular and continuous operation. Its size also means that it is useful when working in confined or constricted spaces.
7. Tooluxe 31456L Reversible Air Ratchet
The Tooluxe 31456L Reversible Air Ratchet is an affordable ½-inch head air ratchet that is designed for use in workshops and by mechanics.
It is a little heavier than some other models, weighing around 2.5 pounds but it has some beneficial features. It has a touch-sensitive trigger, and it operates at speeds of up to 150 RPM in clockwise and anticlockwise directions. Despite being quite heavy, it is surprisingly small so it can be used in difficult to reach positions and it features a front exhaust.
Whereas a standard exhaust fires air and dirt into the user’s face, a front exhaust fires it away. It is more convenient, as well as being safer, and potentially negates the need to change your working position.
8. Ingersoll Rand Air Ratchet
The Ingersoll Rand 1207MAXD3 Air Ratchet has everything going for it, on the surface at least. It’s powerful, offering torque of 65 ft-lbs; fast, operating at speeds of 200 RPM; and has a ⅜-inch head, which makes it suitable for a wide range of tasks. It’s also quiet, has an adjustable exhaust so that you can keep the hot air out of your face, and it is not only durable and hardwearing but comfortable and ergonomically designed for long-term use.
Unfortunately, these features do come at a hefty price, and the Ingersoll Rand 1207MAXD3 Air Ratchet is too expensive for the average home user.
What’s more, although it is a powerful and quick machine, it doesn’t outperform other models, which it should when you consider its price point. Overall, there are better models, including other models from the same brand, that outperform the 1207MAXD3 but at a much lower price.
9. Astro Pneumatic Tool Drive Mini Wobble Air Ratchet
The Astro Pneumatic Tool 1119A Drive Mini Wobble Air Ratchet is a lightweight, compact air ratchet that has been designed to reach difficult and awkward spots that larger models would struggle with. This is further enhanced by the wobble movement of the head anvil which allows for even more access.
The rear exhaust includes a silencer to keep noise levels down, although it still racks up 91dB noise level, and the grip has been ergonomically designed to minimize the shock of vibrations. Unfortunately, the Astro is greatly underpowered compared to other models on this list, with just 16 ft-lbs of torque, although it does have a speed of 240 RPM, which is surprisingly quick and will help breeze through most jobs.
10. CAMPBELL HAUSFELD TL050101AV Air Ratchet
The Campbell Hausfeld TL050101AV Air Ratchet is a ⅜-inch drive ratchet. It is heavier than most, weighing 2.8 pounds, but it does have a rubberized grip that is designed to reduce vibrations. Components are made from heat-treated metal, so it is designed to last. It has a maximum torque of 50 ft-lbs, although it feels underpowered when in use. Its speed is rated at 140 RPM, so it is slower than a lot of the other models.
Although not the cheapest on our list, the Campbell Hausfeld TL050101AV Air Ratchet is an inexpensive model, but you do suffer as a result of paying less. It is reasonably comfortable to use, despite being quite heavy, loud, and underpowered.
An air ratchet uses compressed air and converts this into rotational force. This rotational force drives a ratchet head that can be used to tighten or loosen bolts. They are commonly used in workshops, garages, and also for jobs at home. They do not tend to offer the same amount of explosive power as an air impact wrench, but they can make short work of regular ratchet work. They can also come in lightweight and compact bodies, which makes them ideal for working in tight spaces that are difficult to reach.
Air Impact Wrench vs Air Ratchet
The air impact wrench and air ratchet perform a similar job, but there are some differences.
Air Ratchet Features
When buying an air ratchet, there are several factors to look for and compare, to ensure that you get the best model.
The drive head determines the amount of torque, or power, provided by the air ratchet. Smaller drive heads, usually measuring ¼-inch, are ideal in tight spaces because they are more compact. However, the ⅜-inch is the most commonly used because the extra size allows for the application of more torque, which means more power to tighten or loosen bolts. Drive heads also come in ½-inch but these are usually only used for industrial purposes and rarely for the home user.
Torque is arguably the most important factor when choosing the best air ratchet. The higher the torque, the greater the power it has, and the tighter the bolt it can loosen or fix. However, air wrenches are not impact wrenches, and they should not be used for high-torque bolts.
Expect torque ratings between 40 and 70 ft-lbs. Anything below this and the air ratchet will not be able to tighten or loosen the bolt enough, while anything with much more torque than this runs the risk of damaging bolts.
The other rating to consider is that of speed. This is the speed at which the ratchet head rotates. The quicker it rotates, the quicker the ratchet can tighten or loosen a bolt. Speed does not, strictly speaking, impact how tight the ratchet will turn the bolt.
Speed ratings can vary from 160 to 320 RPM. Anything too fast and the ratchet will be difficult to control, if it is too slow, you might as well do the job manually. Ratchet speed is especially important if you regularly have a lot of bolts to loosen or tighten because even a slightly faster ratchet could save you considerable time.
Not all ratchets give a noise rating, but they all give off noise. If you regularly work with an air ratchet, you must minimize the noise that you are subjected to. You should wear ear protectors, but you can also choose tools with lower noise output levels.
Air ratchets can produce 90 decibels of noise, or higher, although some models produce just 80 dB and are considered quiet. Noise may also be a factor if you work in a built-up area, or close to other people, and you will need a quieter machine then, too. Noise ratings aren’t always provided by manufacturers, but if this is an important aspect when choosing, look for those that do.
Another factor to consider when using any kind of power tool regularly is that of vibration. Constant vibration, typically from power tools, has been known to cause complaints like white finger syndrome, vibration white finger, or Raynaud’s. The use of ergonomic handles and rubber grips can help to prevent or dampen vibrations, while safety equipment like protective gloves should also be worn. You should also follow guidelines on the length of time that it is considered safe to work with this kind of equipment before taking a break.
It is difficult to measure vibrations but if you will be used an air ratchet regularly, ensure that it has these ergonomic and soft handle features to help minimize the impact on your hands and extremities.
The exhaust of an air ratchet is where the used compressed air escapes. The position of the exhaust is important. While most models have a rear exhaust, this can be an inconvenient place for warm air and debris to be fired, because it will come into contact with the user’s face and hair. It will require a lot of clean up afterward.
Some systems have front-facing exhausts. These are more convenient, but it means that the air system is more complex and usually takes up more room.
Some of the premium models have adjustable exhausts. With these, it is not only possible to choose between front- and rear-facing exhaust, but you can choose for any position and this allows you to aim the exhaust away from your face, while also preventing it from hitting others or from damaging work areas and other surfaces.
Finally, budget is an important part of any buying decision, whether you are buying for a professional workshop or home use. Expect to pay anywhere from $30 for low-cost models but expect these to be low power and low-speed options with minimal features and benefits. Expensive models can run to several hundred dollars but these are the premium models that include features like adjustable exhaust and muffled sound and vibrations. Regular users will benefit from these advanced features.
Air ratchets are an invaluable tool and are especially useful for the removal or tightening of a lot of low to medium torque bolts. They aren’t impact wrenches, and therefore are not designed to remove high torque bolts. Power and speed can vary dramatically from one model to the next, and while there are some reasonable budget models on the market, it is at the more expensive end of the price range where you will find advanced and beneficial features like adjustable exhaust systems and vibration dampening rubberized handles.
While compiling our reviews, we found the Ingersoll Rand 170G Edge Series Drive Air Ratchet to be the best model. It is a reasonable price but offers plenty of power at a decent speed while its heat-treated head ensures longevity and durability. If you’re on a tighter budget, then the Dynamic Power Professional Air Ratchet is cheap but offers surprisingly good power output, although the relatively unknown brand name may put some buyers off.
More buying guides like this:
- A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
- The 10 Best Air Ratchets – Reviews 2020
- 1. Ingersoll Rand Edge Series Drive Air Ratchet – Best Overall
- 2. Dynamic Power Professional Air Ratchet – Best Value
- 3. Ingersoll Rand Air Ratchet – Premium Choice
- 4. DEWALT DWMT70776L Air Ratchet
- 5. AIRCAT 800 Air Ratchet
- 6. Neiko 30119B Drive Mini Air Ratchet
- 7. Tooluxe 31456L Reversible Air Ratchet
- 8. Ingersoll Rand Air Ratchet
- 9. Astro Pneumatic Tool Drive Mini Wobble Air Ratchet
- 10. CAMPBELL HAUSFELD TL050101AV Air Ratchet
- Buyer’s Guide