A pressure impulse model is presented for wave impact on vertical circular cylinders. Pressure impulse is the time integral of the pressure during an impact of short time scale. The model is derived for a simplistic geometry and has relative impact height, crest length and cylinder radius as effective variables. The last parameter, the maximum angle of impact, is free and can be calibrated to yield the right force impulse. A progression of simpler pressure impulse models are derived in terms of a three-dimensional box generalization of the two-dimensional wall model and an axisymmetric model for vertical cylinders. The dependence on the model parameters is investigated in the simpler models and linked to the behaviour of the three-dimensional cylinder model. The model is next validated against numerical results for a wave impact for a phase- and direction-focused wave group. The maximum impact angle is determined by calibration against the force impulse. A good match of the pressure impulse fields is found. Further comparison to the force impulse of two common models in marine engineering reveals improved consistency for the present model. The model is found to provide a promising representation of the pressure impulse field, based on a limited number of input parameters. Its further validation and potential as a robust tool in force and response prediction is discussed.