Impact Socket Vs Regular Socket – Engineering Aspect!

Sockets are really useful for nut and bolts operations. We can use hand tools and machines for tightening or losing these. We can use regular sockets or impact sockets for these tasks. There is a huge difference in impact sockets Vs regular sockets. So let’s see what are the difference and their usage.

PropertiesRegular SocketImpact Socket
UsageUse in Hand toolsUse in impact wrenches
Manufactured materialChrome VanadiumChrome molybdenum
HardnessRockwell C 41-55Rockwell B 90-96
Tensile Strength190-300 MPa590–760 MPa
SafetyLess safetyLocking pin for safety
Impact Socket Vs Regular Socket

According to this table, you can see there is a huge difference between regular sockets and impact sockets. So let’s check all in detail about these sockets.

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What are the Two Types of Sockets?

Lug nuts are used in machine and structure fastening. It can withstand many forces. Normally a nut is always subjected to compression. Hence lug nut is subjected to compression when it is tight. We can use a hand tool or machine to tighten or lose the nuts. Both these generate torque to the nut or bolt for the rotation.

If you have more torque, you can achieve tightness easily. If you have less torque, you are not able to tighten the nut and bolt. That is a normal situation.

In these two tasks, the load is applied in different ways. According to that, the socket has been designed as two types.

Regular Socket

Rachet uses regular socket

The regular sockets are used for hand-operated tools such as rachets. Hand-operated tools apply the torque at a low rate. Hence regular sockets are specially designed with special material and structure.

The regular sockets are made with chrome vanadium steel. It consists with steel alloys incorporating carbon (0.50%), manganese (0.70-0.90%), silicon (0.30%), chromium (0.80-1.10%), and vanadium (0.18%). These chrome sockets are very brittle. When the load is applied with a high amount of rate, it can be break easily. Hence regular sockets are not used in impact wrenches.

Regular sockets are not expensive due to their less strength.

Impact Socket

Impact socket use in imact wrench

When an impact wrench is used for the lug nut operations impact socket should be used. An impact wrench is with high torque and a high impact rate. Hence nut and socket are subjected to vibration with a heavy load. If both are notwithstanding this, it will break. In general, the socket can be break easily than the nut or bolt.

In order to reduce the damage to the socket, it has manufacutred with chrome-molybdenum steel. Carbon (0.526%), manganese (0.57%), silicon (0.15-0.30%), chromium (0.80-1.10%), and Molybdenum (0.36%).

As well as impact socket is with high tensile strength and brittle. These material properties help to stand against the high torque and impact rate.

How Impact Wrench Mechanism Affect to Socket?

The impact mechanism is the mechanically produced torque as a result of anvil and hammer. The impact power is increased by the gear system. It is called an epicyclic gear system. Normally we can apply 30kg force from our single hand. But using both hands and our body, it is more than that.

Hand-operated tools are less efficient and less powerful. As a result of this impact wrenches have been introduced. Impact driver and impact wrench are consists of impact mechanism. Impact drivers are used to screw driving process, and it has less torque. But impact wrenches are for the lug nuts. It’s with high torque.

In general, we need 500 Nm-600 Nm for our regular lug nuts work. But we may need more than that. When you buy an impact wrench, you must know about the torque of your lug nuts; according to that, you can select the impact wrench.

Normally breakaway torque is higher than the fastening torque. The socket is used to transfer the torque to the bolt or nut head. There is a well-designed shape. It has been designed as total force is divided into all parts of the nut head. Hence it will reduce the deformation while it is rotating.

When we use a rachet, we can apply the torque carefully according to the tightening that we feel. But if we use an impact wrench, we are not able to apply the force with controlling. It is mechanical and can’t control like hand. Due to this high torque and impact rate socket can be tension and vibrate. If the material is brittle and not able to withstand torque, it can be break easily.

Chrome molebdiym sockets are really withstanding against this. Hence impact sockets are really helpful to impact wrench mechanisms.

Read More About – How Much Torque Does an Impact Wrench Have?

How Can I Identify the Impact Socket and Regular Socket?

Regular socket and Impact socket

Impact socket and regular socket can be identified by its visibility. There is a clear visible difference in these sockets. Normally it can be identified by its colour, shape, hardness, weight and even its price. So let’s see each one by one.


Impact sockets are black coloured, and regular sockets are silver in colour. Impact sockets are not much glossy, but regular sockets are really glossy. Both sockets are applied chromium. The chromium will bring resistance to corrosion and oxidation, high-temperature strength and abrasion resistance.


When you have both sockets, you can observe regular sockets are short and impact sockets are tall. When the force is delivered to the socket, it should withstand the vibration and torque. Due to this impact, sockets have designed their collet end with more material and more area. This kind of design can’t be seen in the regular sockets.

And also, you can see the collet end is a little bit fat with an engraved doughnut shape with a small hole. This is really important in safety. A ball bearing anvil can fit well to this socket, and it is safer than the regular socket.


When you have both sockets on your hand, you can feel the impact socket is harder. Because its structure is also designed with thicker walls. Theoretically, regular sockets are with Rockwell C hardness of 41 – 55, and impact socket is with Rockwell B 90-96. If the hardness is high, it can be brittle. In order to reduce these sockets are heat treated.


Impact socket is more weight than same size regular socket. More weight can withstand the force and vibration.


You can see impact socket is with a thicker wall and regular sockets are with thin walls. As well, the collet end is thicker in the impact socket. As I described above, it had an engraved doughnut shape with a hole that is really important for safety. But more than that, there is a special structure design in the impact socket. It is called flank drive design.

What is Flank Drive Design?

Flank drive design is a structure in the impact socket as it can deliver up to 20% more turning power without slipping or rounding the nut corners.

Regular sockets have flat to flat surface contact areas. But in the impact socket, you can see the socket contact area is perpendicular to the nut round. This will not slip or round the nuts.

Flank drive design image source

Can I Use Regular Socket in Impact Wrench?

This is a really common problem. So let’s see is there any possibility to use sockets by interchanging. As you are well aware, impact sockets are more strong than regular sockets. But if you try to use a regular socket in the impact wrench, you can observe, the socket will crack from the stepped collar or drive socket.

The reason is material and structure is not sufficient to resist the torque and vibration. Hence socket can be easily damaged. Do not use it. It can damage your eyes, face, hand etc.

But you can use the impact socket in the hand tools such as rachet. But the only problem is impact sockets are more expensive than the regular socket. Normally you will cost 75% more than the regular socket price.

Read More About – Can I use Regular Socket in the Impact Wrench? – Solution!

Do not use regular socket in impact wrench

Safety and Usage

The most important thing is safety. When you use a regular socket in the impact wrench, do not recommend that due to socket damages. It will break when a 1-2 impact rates.

I will explain to you, what are the safety factors that you can follow easily.

  • If you have carefully checked the drive socket (socket hole connect to collet), there is a hole. This hole is used for safety. Normally there are two types of collets. Pin detent and standard are them. Pindetend is with the ball bearing. When the socket is mount to the collet, and the ball is fit to the hole socket will not move away while it is rotating. That is an amazing technique.
  • But that is not in standard collets. That is not safe. If the tool is loosened while rotating, it can damage anything.
  • If you use the regular socket, you can use calibrated torque rachet. These rachets are available in digital and analogue. So you can apply the exact torque to the lug nut even you use the regular socket. So it will be a real safety for tools, users, and around.

Impact socket Vs Regular socket has both pros and cons. Hence you should use with considering the mechanism, cost, safety and efficiency.

Read More About – My Electric Impact Wrench is not Working – How I Fixed It?

Tom Mackency

Tom Mackency

Hi, I am Tom Mackency. It has been 10 years that I have been working as a professional woodworker since 2013. I am really enjoying my carrier by creating many kinds of projects in my workshop. But mostly I like for home improvement projects. Home improvement and DIY projects are the most interesting things for me. More than that, the coolest things are power tools. Those are very precious and efficient than a decade ago. So I try to introduce so many things about power tools, woodworking, DIY projects, home improvement and many more interesting topics here.