The Difference Between Impact Sockets and Regular Sockets: sockets laying on toolbox outside

The Difference Between Impact and Regular Sockets

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Throughout your life, you’ll likely acquire dozens if not over a hundred different-sized sockets. Many folks think sockets are only for working on cars but the opposite is true. They can be used on almost anything from small engines to carpentry projects and much more.

There are two main types of sockets you could purchase: impact and regular (or sometimes referred to as hand sockets). Besides differences in appearance, there’s also a difference in their intended use. Knowing this will allow the user to work more safely and productively. It can also save someone from buying an item they don’t need. So, here’s some basic information…

For impact sockets, the metal has a lower hardness which allows it to better absorb the rapid torque changes from an impact tool. Impact sockets have a different shape, too. A simple observation will usually reveal a thicker sidewall. This is for increased longevity and durability.

The Difference Between Impact and Regular Sockets: black impact socket on wood table

For those thinking about buying an impact socket, keep in mind they’re generally for more heavy duty work. They’re great for applying higher levels of tightness as well as removing stubborn fasteners. 

With regular sockets, the hardness level is not the same as that of an impact socket. This is because they have a higher hardness which gives them better wear resistance. This hardness, though, can subject regular sockets or yourself to damage if used with an impact tool which is why they aren’t meant to be used with one.

The Difference Between Impact and Regular Sockets: silver sockets on wood table

The neat thing about regular sockets is they have thinner sidewalls. This allows for better clearance in areas with less room around the fastener.  

The finish of impact and regular sockets can differ, too. Generally, impact sockets are black and regular sockets are chrome. However, don’t be deceived by looks alone. There are some black colored sockets designed for industrial applications that aren’t rated for use with an impact tool. This is why it’s always important to pay attention to any warnings and safety instructions for the products we use. 

Hopefully, this helps.

If you’re looking for some sockets to add to your collection, feel free to check out some options below. We fund this site through affiliated marketing so any support is greatly appreciated.

SK Hand Tools 3/8 Inch Drive 6 Point Fractional And Metric Set:

SK Hand Tool 15 Piece 1/2 Inch Drive 6 Point 10 mm to 24 mm Socket Set:

SK Hand Tool 1/2 Inch Drive 6 Point 11-Piece Fractional Deep Impact Socket Set:

SK Hand Tool Metric And Fractional 47 Piece Set, 6 Point, 3/8 Inch Drive (20 Piece 1/4-In to 7/8-In and 24 Piece 6-Millimeter to 19-Millimeter Assortments):

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