This past winter I had the fun of changing the starter motor twice in 15 degree weather in my Landcruiser. It was a bear getting to the starter bolts with my full size Ingersoll Rand 1/2 Thunder Gun. It’s an awesome impact wrench and I had trashed a few cheap Harbor Freight ones before taking the advice of my friends and buying it. To make a long story short, with a long extension and a universal joint, I was able to get the two bolts out.
While working on the truck, it struck me that I really needed a compact impact wrench to get into tight spaces. I did some digging and found the Astro 1828 Onyx for 3/8″ impact sockets. I figured I wanted small and probably would not need 1/2″ most of the time.
These next photos show how much more compact the Onyx is compared to the big Thunder Gun:
The little Onyx gets great reviews – currently 4.6 out of 5 stars on Amazon with 148 reviews. I bought it and a Hot Max 28083 Swivel adapter at the same time. It arrived in a nice little cardboard box from Amazon and I promptly put good Teflon tape on the swivel’s fittings, installed it and then a Milton M-style plug.
So far, both are holding up great in my home garage use (I’m not a pro mechanic – more like a shade tree one with ADD and sleep deprivation).
What I find interesting is that it is a torquy little beast. They claim 450 ft/lbs. I have not bothered checking using a calibrated torque wrench but I can tell you it’s done a great job so far. For big stuff / tight stuff, I still go to the Thundergun with its 625 ft/lbs of torque. The Onyx is more of a special purpose tool for me. By the way, if you notice it is shiny above, I had just used it to remove the drain plug off a 2002 Camry’s transmission. They are about 18mm and use a 10mm Allen bit to come off. My 10mm Allen bit is for a 3/8″ drive so I just stuck it on the Onyx and it whipped it right off. Reinstalling, I set torque at 1 out of 3 and then checked it with a 3/8″ drive ratchet wrench after — it was in there solid.
In short, I am happy with the little Nano and Hot Max swivel combination. I definitely still use my Thunder Gun for wheel lugs and big fasteners but the Nano is now my go to for tight spaces.
October 2018 Update: I had a problem with the hog ring clip at the end of the nose. It bent and would no longer hold sockets properly. It took a while for the maker to get me the clips but they did take care of me and gave me a few spare. Click here for the whole story.
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