Did you know that Nitrocat and Aircat impact wrenches are used by National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Top Fuel race teams? Automotive shops across the country use these wrenches every day. Even home users who are serious about maintaining vehicles themselves have been praising these tools. Let’s review both of them and see which one is what you need for the job you want to do.
NitroCat 1200-K 1/2-Inch Kevlar Composite Air Impact Wrench With Twin Clutch Mechanism
The Nitrocat 1200-K is so powerful it’s only recommended for use on heavy duty frame work on medium to heavy duty trucks. It’s not recommended for tire shops because the torque can twist off studs, over-tighten nuts, or cause brake rotors to warp if all lug nuts aren’t equally tightened.
How powerful is it? Maximum torque is 1295 foot-pounds (ft-lbs) and working torque is 200-900 pounds. That’s quite a bit more than the recommended 80 to 100 lbs. on an average car’s tires. The Nitrocat 1200-K is rated for 950 blows-per-minute, which is slower than the Aircat 1150. But the Nitrocat has a twin clutch instead of a twin hammer design.
With all this power the Nitrocat is still very quiet for an impact wrench, running at 86-89 decibels. This stays under the OSHA maximum limit of 90 dB for an 8-hour workday. Part of the noise reduction comes from the design which sends exhaust out through the handle and not into the user’s face.
The Nitrocat is made with a Kevlar housing for durability. It weighs 4.5 pounds and measures 8.25 inches long. It uses a 3/8” hose and runs on 90-120 psi. It consumes 4 cubic feet per minute of air when it’s being used.
One last excellent feature of the Nitrocat is that the user can fix it with plain old non-detergent 5W30 motor oil if the tool leaks. Otherwise it’s just regular air tool oil through the air inlet at the end of the work day. No need for expensive greases or special oils.
More features of the Nitrocat 1200-K
- Large flip-lever right on the back to go from forward to reverse (tighten or loosen)
- Ergonomic handle
- 2-year parts and labor limited warranty
AIRCAT 1150 Killer Torque 1/2-Inch Impact Wrench, Black
Aircat recommends the Aircat 1150 for all-around automotive work. Its twin-hammer design puts out 1400 hits per minute which makes it faster than the Nitrocat. The Aircat’s maximum torque is 1295 foot-pounds for loosening tough bolts. Regular working torque ranges between 200 to 950 ft-lbs. That’s a lot for lug nuts on regular car tires, so take care.
Choose to loosen or tighten by flipping the big lever on the back—it’s easy to use even with gloves. There are three settings for tightening just the right amount. The body of the air wrench is composite aluminum and it weighs 4.5 pounds. The handle is ergonomically designed and easy to grip. Like the Nitrocat, the exhaust from the Aircat is routed through the handle, away from the user’s face.
The Aircat 1150 is quiet like the Nitrocat. It’s rated at 86-89 decibels, also within OSHA recommendations for a safe working environment. It uses a ¼” NPT connector and runs on 90-120psi. While in operation it consumes 4.3 CFM, a little more than the Nitrocat.
Finally, the Aircat needs to be lubricated by lithium or bearing grease every few weeks. It’s possible to tune it up yourself with a kit sold by Aircat.
More features of the Aircat 1150
- The Aircat 1150 is assembled in the USA
- Aircat offers a 2-year parts and labor limited warranty
In summary, both impact wrenches have excellent reputations even against big name competitors like Ingersoll and Snap-On.
If you’ve got heavy-duty work to do, consider getting the Nitrocat 1200-K. It’s used by pro racing teams and it’s great for framework on medium to heavy-duty trucks and other automotive jobs. It’s not recommended for tire shops because of its high torque. The Nitrocat 1200-K is inexpensive to maintain because it only needs 5W30 motor oil if it leaks.It’s a little slower than the Aircat but it’s a powerhouse. If you’ve got a stuck, rusted bolt the Nitrocat will get it out.
If you’ve got all-around automotive work, consider getting the Aircat 1150. Aircat says the 1150 is the most powerful twin hammer impact wrench in the market. It’s faster than the Nitrocat, hitting up to 1400 blows-per-minute with up to 1295 ft-lbs of torque.