Impact Vs. Regular Socket – The Differences to Note

As a mechanic, you understand the need for flexibility regarding your tools. A set of sockets is the utter embodiment of flexibility, allowing you to work with various fastening tools, like wrenches and ratchets. There are different types of sockets, which leads us to our primary subject: impact vs. regular sockets.

What is the difference between impact and regular sockets? What are impact sockets made of? These are common questions regarding these socket types, which this article will answer to. Stick on to learn more.

Impact Socket Explained

impact socket set

As their name implies, impact sockets work with impact tools. This socket type sports a heavy-duty construction, allowing it to withstand the turning power of impact tools. 

What are impact sockets made of that makes them resilient? This tool’s primary material is chrome molybdenum, an alloy of chromium, molybdenum, carbon, and iron. The material is ductile and will bend under immense turning force instead of breaking. Additionally, impact sockets are thick, with a high degree of elasticity.

A definitive characteristic of this socket is its dark coloration, making it easy to differentiate it from the shiny regular sockets. The heavy-duty construction of impact sockets makes them ideal for heavy tasks, especially those requiring impact tools. The robustness of impact sockets translates to versatility, as you can use them with many types of wrenches and ratchets.

Impact sockets have a cross hole. A retaining pin or locking pin anvil goes into the cross hole to firmly secure the socket during operation. 

The two main types of impact sockets are standard and deep impact sockets. Standard or shallow sockets work with nuts on short shaft bolts and are perfect for working in tight spaces. Deep impact sockets are ideal for longer shafts to prevent slipping when turning. You may opt for extension bars when using standard sockets on long rods. 

Always go for the best impact sockets from notable brands for the best service. Can impact sockets be used as regular sockets? Yes, you can use impact sockets as regular ones as long as it fits perfectly. Nevertheless, impact sockets may feel bulkier on hand tools.

Pros Of Impact Socket

Impact sockets sport a solid construction, translating to longevity and suitability for heavy tasks. They are the best fit for impact tools, as they can withstand their power. 

Impact sockets are versatile, owing to their robustness, as you can use them for heavy and light tasks. You secure impact sockets with a retaining pin to prevent the socket from slipping during operation. This is a security feature.


The main downside of impact sockets is their costliness. Nonetheless, you get your money’s worth when buying these sockets, courtesy of their reliability. Also, impact sockets feel quite heavy when used with hand wrenches and ratchets.

Regular Socket explained

Regular Socket set

Regular sockets work with typical handheld tools, such as standard or metric wrenches. This socket type has thin walls and a shiny chrome finish, with chrome vanadium being its primary material.

Regular sockets have thin walls and are suitable for light duties. You should not use them on impact tools as they may shatter. 

Pros Of Regular Sockets

Regular sockets are affordable, a reason why many people opt for them. Their lightness makes them perfect for hand tools, as turning is effortless. 


As with most cheap tools, regular sockets are prone to shattering, though some brands stock high-quality sockets that can withstand heavy turning pressure. Additionally, standard sockets cannot work with impact tools or heavy tasks, as they might crack.

Impact Socket Vs. Regular Socket Differences

The central part of this article looks at impact socket vs. regular differences. The most noticeable variation between the two socket types is the physical characteristics. Impact sockets are dark and heavy with thick walls, while standard sockets are shiny, light, and thin-walled.

Chrome vanadium is the primary material in standard sockets. It is an alloy composed of carbon, vanadium, chromium, manganese, and silicon. The chromium part of the alloy makes the tool resistant to abrasion and oxidation. 

On the other hand, impact sockets have chrome molybdenum as their primary material, which is ductile and elastic. The material’s elasticity comes from chrome and carbon, which makes the socket resilient against cracking and shattering.

According to impact socket vs. regular socket Reddit discussions, the former has softer but thicker metal, which can withstand immense turning pressure. Chrome vanadium is strong but can crack under tremendous pressure, such as that from impact tools.

The other difference between the socket types lies in their application. Standard sockets work with handheld tools, specifically for lightweight tasks. The contrast is true for impact sockets, which are compatible with power tools and handy for heavy-duty work, but you can use them for light tasks.

Furthermore, an impact socket set costs more than a regular set.


Are Impact Sockets Better Than Regular Sockets?

Impact sockets are more robust than regular ones; thus, they are more versatile and highly functional. They are durable, thanks to the thick material used to make them, and work with power or pneumatic turning tools. Regular sockets outdo impact in affordability and suitability with handheld tools, as they are lighter and less bulky.

What Happens If You Use Non-Impact Sockets?

You can use non-impact or regular sockets for light tasks using handheld fastening tools like ratchets and wrenches. However, you should not use non-impact sockets with impact tools, as the power from the tools can shatter them. They have thin walls, which cannot handle the turning force.

Do I Need Regular Sockets If I Have Impact?

Impact sockets are versatile, as you can use them for light tasks, a specialty area for standard sockets. Despite their versatility, it would help to have regular sockets for light jobs with handheld tools. Regular sockets are lighter than its impact counterpart, translating to convenience when using them.

What Sockets Should Never Be Used on Impact Guns?

Impact guns go with impact sockets, which can withstand their torque without breaking. You should never use regular sockets on impact guns as they have a lighter build, making them prone to cracking due to the force from the power tools.

Why Are Impact Sockets Black?

One of the main characteristics of impact sockets is their dark color. They get this color from their carbon content, which is essential for their strength.

Can You Use Impact Sockets on A Regular Drill?

Impact sockets are highly adaptable and can be used on regular or impact drills. However, the downside is their bulkiness. The sockets are heavy, and turning them may not be easy but manageable.

Why Do Impact Sockets Have a Hole?

A noticeable feature in impact sockets is a cross hole. It is significant for the socket’s functionality, as you put in a pin to hold it in place during operation, reducing the chances of it falling off from the impact tool’s vibrations.

Do Impact Sockets Make a Difference?

Impact sockets vary from regular sockets in many ways, giving them a working advantage. Their design is suitable for heavy-duty use, especially with impact tools: they can withstand the pressure from the power utilities without breaking. The quality of impact sockets explains their costliness.

What Can Occur If a Conventional Socket Is Used on An Impact Wrench?

An impact wrench is only compatible with an impact socket. A conventional socket has a thin build, which may shatter due to the impact of the power tool.

Which Socket Is Best?

Impact vs. regular socket: which is the best? From this article, we learn that each has appealing attributes. Regular sockets are affordable and suitable for simple bolting and screwing tasks. On the other hand, impact sockets are durable and ideal for heavy tasks that require power on pneumatic tools.

Many people will agree that impact sockets are better, as you can use them for heavy and light work, and they last long. Nonetheless, it is better to have a set of regular sockets besides a set of impact sockets because they are better at handling light jobs. 


Hi there, I am R. Hasan Tito, a mechanic, and owner of this website. My friend and I created this website to share our knowledge, expertise, and experience with our fellow mechanics' community and car users. I am a specialist and certified automotive mechanic (Both Heavy Commercial and Private Cars). I worked as a Mechanic and Mechanic Supervisor for over fifteen years at Global Rebound Automotive companies - Toyota, TATA, BMW, Nissan, TVs, and Others. Now, I enjoy my new role of leading a team of automotive experts (in their respective fields) and publish new content on a regular basis on my website and social media.

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