What are impact sockets made of – The Ultimate Guide

Curious on What are impact sockets made of? Can’t decide which type of socket will go well with torque varying tools? Thinking about whether you should invest in impact socket or just go with the regular one? Then this article may help...

Your work may deal with sudden torque change also known as impact. Then this is high time you consider using an impact socket to support your working tools.

Types of sockets:

There are different types of sockets available in the market:-

  • 1
    Hex sockets
  • 2
    Impact sockets
  • 3
    Spark plug sockets
  • 4
    Socket bit
  • 5
    Pass through sockets
  • 6
    Universal joint

What is an impact socket?

Impact sockets are mainly used to empower the work efficiency of impact wrenches and drivers. Impact wrenches are used to add or remove nuts or bolts in vehicles by applying a great amount of torque. As this type of torque can vary on a large scale, so normal sockets cannot tolerate the impact very well. This is where these sockets come handy.

Impact sockets can handle the sudden impact of changing torque. They can provide flexibility at the same time. This, of course, depends on what are impact sockets made of.

These sockets are made of more soft yet flexible, more malleable metal which will prevent the socket from breaking into pieces. It is not that impact sockets won’t break but they won’t split into pieces like the regular sockets will do.

Impact sockets are usually grey or black in color. This is because the surface is carbonized to make it harder which will let the socket handle the impact. This type of surface coating makes impact sockets easier to identify.

The combination of an impact wrench and an impact socket can deliver a great amount of torque.

Difference between impact socket and regular socket:

Impact sockets can handle more torque than the regular socket. So they can be used for impact or power drove tools as well as the manual ones. These sockets will provide more safety as they have fewer chances to shatter into pieces.

Regular sockets are not designed for absorbing the sudden vibration of the impact tools. So they are prone to wear and shatter into pieces.

Properties defining a good socket:

There are some basic quality which can ensure if the socket will stand up to the mark. What are impact sockets made of can significantly influences these properties.

1. Strength:

Strength of a metal defines how much load or force it can withstand without breaking. Different materials have different strength level. So sockets that are made of metal with high strength will handle more force than the other.

It will also prevent the socket from shattering during the process.

2. Hardness:

Hardness of a metal defines up to which level it can resist deflection when the torque is applied.

Sockets those are made of hard materials can tolerate the force well. They are also able to work properly for particular nut or bolt.

3. Ductility:

Ductility means how well a metal can change its shape gradually regarding the increased torque without breaking.

As impact sockets are made of ductile steel, they don’t shatter under sudden impact. This is important for the safety issue.

What are sockets made of:

There are some specific metals or alloys which can be used to make the impact sockets. These metals are selected due to their strength, hardness and ductility. Because the work efficiency depends on what are impact sockets made of.

1. Chrome vanadium:

Chrome vanadium is a steel alloy which is consists of 0.8% chromium and 0.2% vanadium. This specific metal alloy is tough and hard enough to endure impact. Another reason for using chrome vanadium is that it is a good wear resistance. As wear will make the socket not able to work properly.

But chrome vanadium is slightly harder than some other metals. This will not distribute the torque evenly through the socket. This can result in further breakage.

2. Chrome molybdenum:

Chrome molybdenum is a steel alloy which has chrome and molybdenum in it. There are 20 different grades of Chrome molybdenum to meet the required quality.

Chrome molybdenum is more ductile which makes it more impact resistant. It also provides more flexibility.

It is easier to produce. As it provides high absorptivity against the impact it is ideal for these type of sockets.

But it is slightly costly than the other variant mentioned above. So it is only used for expensive tools.

3. Chrome vanadium molybdenum:

Chrome vanadium molybdenum is similar to the chrome vanadium. But it has more ductility because of the molybdenum in it. So it can withstand a good amount of impact. Chrome vanadium molybdenum is specially used in the production of screwdriver bits.

4. High carbon steel:

High carbon steel also found its way into socket manufacturing. But this type of alloy, a high percentage of carbon is present. This will make the alloy more brittle.

5. 8650 steel:

It is a similar type alloy to chrome vanadium with less chromium in it. It is also a well-known material for making sockets.

6. S2 steel:

This type of steels don’t have much use rather than making screwdriver bits. This alloy is harder than chrome vanadium or 8650 steel. They are also less ductile in nature. So they are prone to breakage so easily.

Manufacturer specific steel:

Sometimes manufacturer decides to make steel alloy according to their own need. They include the combination of different metals as their preference. This will be introduced as a new grade of that steel combination.

This allows them to ensure the quality of the steel as per their requirement. As different manufacturer focuses on different types of sockets. So the requirement of percentage of the component depends upon that.

Configuring their own steel will let them catch more market. These can be proved more effective than the other ones available in the market.

The manufacturer can also adjust the cost of the quality regarding their choice. Some example of manufacturer specific steel is HPQ steel, CRM-72, Protanium.


Protanium is most ductile of all other types of steels. It is ideal for sockets. It is also wear resistant.


This also a recommended metal for making sockets. As it is enough ductile it is widely used for making screwdriver bits in industries

HPQ steel:

It is referred as high-performance quality steel. As the name suggests it is great for making sockets.

Driver socket sets:

Driver sockets sit at the end of the large sockets. It supports the locking pin and retaining ring. There are different types of driver socket sets on the market. These are made of high quality SAW 4140 chrome molybdenum. This allows 20% extra torque tolerance. These sockets have increased length which ensures maximum accessibility. These also reduce work time.

This type of sockets come in various size and configurations. Such as 3/8’’ size, 1/2’’ size, 3/4’’ and 1’’ variations. Each size has different set with a different number of tools in it.

Driver truck tire socket set is specially designed to work on truck wheel fasteners.

They all come in blow mold case with lid.

Locking pin:

Locking pin sits between the side hole of the sockets and drives square of the wrench. It engages this two tools.

This prevents the socket from coming off the wrench due to torque and vibration. Retaining ring is used to support the locking pin.

Mag wheel sockets:

This is a special type made of chrome molybdenum. These are designed to work on high-end aluminum and chrome plated wheel. There are plastic sleeves and inner cap to prevent any type of scratching.

Socket extensions:

There are some other tools used to empower the sockets and make it easier to work with them.

1. Torque limiting extensions:

They are steel flexes made of chrome molybdenum.

  • 1
    Enable accurate application of specific torque.
  • 2
    Prevent over or uneven tightening.

2. Blow mold case:

This case is used to keep all the socket organized and dust free. This also let the owner carry the tools more easily.

3. Extra thin wall flip sockets:

This extension allows access to all recessed lug-nuts. But this item does not come with any lifetime warranty.

4. Socket adapter:

This also facilitates the use of the sockets. But this also doesn’t have any lifetime warranty.

5. Pin free impact locking U–joint:

  • 1
    Eliminate connecting pin incorrectly and broken connecting pins as well. This ensures safety as well.
  • 2
    Helps to distribute the force evenly which results in greater torque prevention.
  • 3
    Make the anvil to stay in straight position when flex function is not required.

This can be removed when not needed.

6. Pin free impact locking U–joint adopter:

Ensure safety by eliminating broken pin connections.

Final thoughts:

Since impact sockets are made to withstand the high torque, the choice of material is very important. What are impact sockets made of can make a huge difference in the performance. It is clear that chrome molybdenum is the best option. Thought the other types can be used depending on the purpose.

Manufacturer specified one are also recommended as they will last you for ages. These also come with lifetime warranty and guarantees.

Just take note of your purpose and the safety issue. Then you can decide to buy any of the sockets mentioned above. And don’t forget to buy the extensions as well. These will elongate the lifespan of your actual tool.

Take good care of these tools and they will last you a lifetime.

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John Bryan

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