What are impact sockets?

In short: Impact sockets were designed with safety in mind. In fact when using a heavy contact air tool such as an impact wrench, impact sockets are pretty essential if you want to avoid injury! The reason being is that a normal socket would disintegrate under the Impact of using such a tool. As a result, sharp flying debris can injure you or someone else.

What’s the difference between an impact socket and a regular socket?

Quality Impact sockets are made from a much higher grade steel and then hardened. This allows them to withstand the impact from a hammer action from air tools such as the air wrench.

Regular sockets are perfectly fine for a standard hand tool, but we recommend always using the impact equivalent with air tools. After all, keeping yourself, your colleagues and your tools safe is a top priority.


Regular sockets vs impact sockets - a visual representation of the differences including size and thickness.

Are impact sockets sets stronger than standard sockets?

Yes indeed! A standard socket is made of vanadium steel whereas the impact alternative is made from chrome molybdenum. As indicated above, the walls of the impact version are 50% thicker. Basically, in terms of strength the Impact socket is like the Hulk in the world of sockets!

Can I use impact sockets as regular sockets?

Yes, in fact we recommend it. There is pretty much an impact equivalent to all regular sockets. To be honest, it will always be a safer option to use an impact socket set on any jobs you have.

Can I weld an impact socket?

Nooooooo! If it’s broken it was either a cheap low quality socket or misused. Perhaps the tool was running at too high a pressure. Buy a new set, attempting a repair is dangerous

What is an impact socket typically used for?

They are required when a lot of force is needed for a job and typically used with air impact wrenches or air ratchets.

> Read Our Complete Guide to Air Powered Tools

A garage would be the most obvious place to find them because they are brilliant for removing seized nuts and bolts from vehicles.

Sticking with the vehicle theme, let’s talk about alloy wheels…

Alloy Wheel Impact Socket sets

With alloy wheels now pretty much being standard on all modern cars, it’s no wonder there are impact sets specifically for them. These sets contain 3 different sizes of alloy impact sockets and even colour code them so you know which ones are which! The sizes within them are 17mm, 19mm and 21mm and they work with all ½” air impact wrenches. Of course, you don’t have to buy a full set if you know what size you need – you can buy them individually too.


What is a ‘Torque Limiting’ Alloy wheel socket set?

Torque limiting prevents wheel nuts and fasteners being tightened beyond a torque of 100 Nm. This eradicates the potential for spraining or damaging the wheel nuts during tyre changing. Over tightening could leave you unable to remove a punctured wheel or tyre at the roadside with the vehicle’s kit. That’s definitely a situation you’ll want to avoid!

There is also a protective plastic sleeve which prevents scratches on your fancy alloy wheels! It’s important to note that you will need a torque wrench to tighten the wheel nuts to the recommended specification.

What’s the difference between a standard drive impact socket and a deep drive impact socket?

The main difference is in the size. Standard impact sockets are suited to undoing nuts that are easy to access. Deep sockets are longer for better access to recessed nuts. Therefore unless you are working in really tight spaces, we would recommend using the deep drive sockets as they will work for both easy access and recessed nuts.

To be honest it’s a good idea to have both standard impact sockets and deep impact sockets in your toolbox. Metro sales are impact socket suppliers both online and in our Surrey air compressor centre in the UK. We recommend buying the standard drive 18 piece impact socket set – especially as it’s currently on sale!

Take a look at the best deep impact socket sets available:

£142.60 (inc.vat £171.12)

Also available to buy: individual deep impact sockets

Can I buy an impact wrench with socket set?

We have a 3/8” impact wrench set with sockets which is fantastic for occasional use and a ½” impact wrench with sockets set which is for heavy duty use.

As always, if you are unsure about anything please get in touch. We are happy to guide you through any questions related to compressed air and the tools and fittings required.

Meanwhile, if you would like to see a video by our partners PCL on the difference between impact sockets and regular hand tool sockets, please click below.

 Video screenshot of an impact socket vs regular socket - paying from PCL's YouTube channel.