Best Ratcheting Wrench Sets 2017 – Ultimate Buying Guide

What’s A Ratcheting Wrench?

Ratcheting wrenches are often referred to as socket wrenches. A socket set includes various wrench heads for differently sized bolts. Most commonly, a socket wrench is a handle that has a 90-degree ratchet, with a set of cylindrical ‘sockets’ of varying sizes.

A ratchet is a gear mechanism which holds when going one direction and releases when going the opposite direction. You can set your ratchet to loosen or tighten, then keep the socket correctly in place on the nut as you turn the handle. Yes, it’s that simple. The designs of ratchet wrenches allow them to serve a broad range of functions. Some ratchets, however, are designed with specific tasks in mind.

ratcheting wrench


When choosing a socket wrench, you should bear in mind that some styles provide useful tools for multiple different purposes while others have limited applications. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a professional mechanic or just the occasional warrior. Ratcheting wrench sets are among the most useful tools available today. You’d benefit greatly from selecting the ratchet wrench set which best suits the tasks they often perform.

We’ve put together a helpful guide to enable you to choose a best ratchet wrench set which contains and features what you’re seeking. This guide will answer frequent questions often asked about features, types, materials, and prices of socket sets. Additionally, we have considered reviews from previous buyers to ensure we have a feel of what users look for when buying a ratcheting wrench.

How Do Ratchet Wrenches Operate?

The design of socket wrenches is commendably ingenious. The primary advantage is the speed at which they allow you to turn a bolt or nut. The ratchet’s body is constructed out of elongated formed steel. A grip is fashioned on one end while the head’s designed on the other end. The ratchet gears will click past a stop that can be set for loosening or tightening. The stop is controlled by a switch mechanism on the ratchet head’s outside.

Are There Any Pitfalls?

The same pitfalls for any other kind of wrench apply to the socket one. It’s essential that you use the right size. Remember, a ratchet can be quite powerful. By design, it holds in place comparatively better than most other wrenches. You can make use of a ratchet wrench to twist the head off of bolts. In case the bolt or nut is tight, you can lube it up with some silicone spray or liquid wrench.

Are all Ratchet Wrenches Similar or Different?

There might be sockets from different brands making up an entire set. They could also be the same brand but from different styles or series. That might be acceptable to you, depending on the set’s price. You should read the product descriptions carefully to determine if that’s the case or not.

New Versus Used

When is a ratchet set new? How’d you tell whether it’s new or used? The one best way to determine if a particular socket is new is to look at the drive end. That’s the square end where the extensions or ratchet is inserted into. The drive end will show wear before any other part does. As well, look for any lines inside the drive end where an extension or ratchet has been inserted. Look for roughness or wear in the corners. It’d be a telltale sign of extended use.

Size of Ratchet Wrenches

Ratchet wrenches come in varying size drives, depending on the kind of ratchet. There are five different sizes. Three of those are most common. We’ll discuss the sizes in the following section.

1/4-Inch:
Specially designed for use in tight spaces where little amounts of torque are needed.

3/8-Inch:
It’s the most common size. It’s used for multiple applications where moderate to substantial amounts of torque are required.

1/2-Inch:
This size is designed for heavy-duty applications. Often, it’s combined with a breaker bar to help loosen large nuts or bolts.

3/4-Inch and 1-inch:
Although this size isn’t very common, it’s designed primarily for heavy-duty tasks and from past reviews, it meets the demands of heavy-duty tasks.

The Length of the Handle

The ratchet length determines the amount of torque which the fastener would withstand. Longer handles will allow you to apply greater amounts of torque to the fastener.

Ratchet Direction Switch

Some ratchets have a switch which you can turn to reverse their operation. This switch is often found on the ratchet’s head. Lever switches will be beneficial when operating in tight spaces where there’s room for just one hand.

ratcheting wrench

6 Features You Should Look For

A Good Alloy

Alloy steel comprises steel and other materials which are heat-forged to create durable products. Often, the best wrench sets make use of low-alloy. It’s important that you take the materials a socket is made from into account. It’d be wise to determine whether the socket set you intend to purchase will stand up to tough tasks.

Inch and Metric Units

It’s also vital that you have the right sizes of ratchets. Some ratchet wrench sets come in Inch measurements while others are in Metric. There are some sets which have both measurements. You should consider which automakers you’ll be mostly dealing with.

U.S. cars often have inch-based sizes. Foreign ones tend to make use of metric bolts and nuts. Alternatively, you can design your mix-and-match system with the inch- and metric-based socket heads. However, that can prove costly and difficult to keep track of.

Deep Sockets

Among the biggest benefits of a socket wrench set is that the actual bolt head will fit sideways onto your ratchet tool. It’ll help you get into those tight spaces in various parts of vehicles. However, shallow ratchet head might not be suitable for getting into certain areas. How long do your ratchet heads need to be? Think about that and choose a socket set accordingly.

Easy Snap-On Parts

Here’s yet another reliable measure of a ratchet wrench set: how well the different parts attach to each other. The heads ought to fit nicely onto the ratchet arm. Once they’re assembled, there shouldn’t be any looseness or wiggling. Also, the ratchet part ought to be easily reversible.

Some ratchet pieces feature a small toggle piece which you’d set to block the wrench, either clockwise or counter-clockwise. A seamless operation is a significant deal for a ratchet wrench set. Clunky ones will get old fast.

Air Tool Sockets

There are some sets which have got the ability to hook onto a compressor, hence allowing for tighter bolts. Such are ideal for nearly all kinds of car work, under the hood or around chrome, where standard bolt tensions are preferably recommended. Consider the impact an air-driven socket set will make on your project(s). Decide whether it’s worth investing in a costlier set of wrenches.

Warranties

You can easily recognize a good socket set. The best models offer warranties on the parts. That includes warranties on moving parts such as ratchet tools. Warranty is a notable mark of superior products. Finally, consider reviews by past users and independent website reviews.

Best Ratchet Wrench Set Reviews 2017

What makes a ratchet wrench set good? The ratchet itself needs to have a proper weight, a high number of teeth on the gears, and a decently long handle. Also, it ought to be of top-quality. The sockets should be as durable as the included ratchet. One piece of the set shouldn’t disappoint while others perform excellently. Our budget top picks below promise to treat you nicely for a long term for the money.

1. GearWrench 9416 16-Piece Master Ratcheting Wrench Set, Metric

GearWrench 9416

This cheap option comprises 16 different-sized ratchet wrenches, measuring from 8mm to 24mm. An innovative SurfaceDrive design helps prevent fastener rounding. The wrenches require just five degrees of movement to turn the bolts. They boast a small box-end design that allows for access in tight spots.

2. Crescent CTK170CMP2, 170-Piece (Combination Wrenches Set)

Crescent CTK170CMP2

This set includes ratchets which are designed through a new manufacturing system that creates much sturdier pieces. A sturdy case will help keep your garage as clean as possible. It has essentials which will turn your basement into a real garage.

3. GearWrench 85988 12-Piece Metric XL GearBox

GearWrench 85988

As opposed to 30 degrees, the wrenches included in this seat require just five degrees to move the fasteners. The standard box-end design is combined with a long pattern length to give the pieces excellent torque capabilities. These wrenches are considerably durable. A blow molded case will help keep your tools organized.

4. Craftsman #36220, Newest Version, 220-Piece

Craftsman Mechanics 36220

It contains 128 sockets in both standard and metric sizes. You won’t have a problem working on Japanese or European import cars. You’ll find numerous small pieces which you can combine in different ways to have varying types of tools. This set comes along with a lifetime warranty package on the craftsmanship.

5. GearWrench 9602 16-Piece Reversible Combination, Metric

GearWrench 9602

This model contains professional-grade box-end ratchets. The SurfaceDrive design will help eliminate fastener rounding. This set comes included with a storage caddy that has a handle. The 15-degree offset will enable you to operate safely above the work surface for knuckle clearance. Another thing that stands out in this gearwrench are the numerous positive reviews from past customers.

We Wrap It Up

Ratcheting wrenches make removing and tightening bolts incredibly easy. You’re definite to enjoy using a ratchet. The weight, the clicking, and the action of a well-designed ratchet are all like meditating to the extent of getting sad when it’s over. But, a poorly-designed ratchet will bring nothing but frustration and wrist pain. You can save yourself some money and start off with a top-performing ratchet wrench set instead of purchasing each piece individually. Also, don’t forget to consider reviews from past customers. From the reviews, you will learn a lot about the unit and most probably assess if it will meet your demands. We’re hopeful that this buyer guide will prove helpful to you. Thanks for reading! Good luck!

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