The 10 Best Nut and Bolt Extractors
This wiki has been updated 22 times since it was first published in December of 2016. Nothing brings a project to a grinding halt like a stuck nut or bolt. If you have an overtightened, rusted-out, rounded-off, painted-over, or otherwise disagreeable fastener preventing you from moving forward, a good extractor can help you get that stubborn hardware unstuck and out of the way with ease. Here are a variety of removers that work on studs and hex nuts of all sizes. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. If you'd like to contribute your own research to the Wiki, please get started by reviewing this introductory video.
February 26, 2021:
There's one company that is extremely well known for its fastener and driver products. The Irwin Bolt-Grip Performance Series is almost without a doubt the most well-manufactured set around, made with the premium, hardened alloy necessary to overcome seriously damaged fasteners. If you don't need industrial-grade strength, the Irwin Deep Well is just about as effective, and is probably the best choice for home use. The Irwin Hanson Bolt-Grip uses hardened steel like our top choice does, but it's not quite as versatile as either it or the other top Irwin option, because it does use deep well sockets. The Irwin Hanson Lug Nut, on the other hand, is notable because it's one of the few sets able to remove bound 24-millimeter lug nuts.
There are some other, relatively novel choices that are worth looking at. We've mentioned it before, but the VamPliers Pro Lineman's is an ideal choice for anyone who deals with corroded nuts on a regular basis, but doesn't need the same massive amount of torque required to remove a rusted lug nut. The Go2 Socket 2.0 takes a different approach, by allowing you to fasten the head itself onto the offending nut, then attach your ratchet once the head is tightened, a process that lets it fit into tighter spaces than most others.
On the flip side of things, if you need to remove stripped screws or studs, there is also a wide selection of screw extractor kits to choose from.
April 21, 2019:
Stuck bolts are one of the most frustrating parts of working on machinery, and are responsible for countless bloody knuckles in auto shops and home garages worldwide. The basic Irwin set and the Maximum Impact may be all that the average shade-tree mechanic or home hobbyist need. The Maximum Impact is quite a bit more affordable than the Irwin, though. If you'll be using it a lot, however, or if you need deep well or extra-large sizes, the Irwin Performance Series is about as nice of a traditional reverse-fluted extractor that you'll find. It comes in a case for drawer storage as well as on a classic rail that's perfect for tossing into your toolbox. Irwin also makes a specialized kit made for removing lug nuts, and it works well in taking care of locking lug nuts that inevitably get smoothed out when they're tightened with an impact hammer. They also sell a kit with hex shafts that's lighter weight and a bit more suited to smaller applications, though it isn't for heavy-duty use.
There are several worthwhile alternatives to the classic reverse-threaded design, as well. The Vampliers can help you get stuck fasteners out with relative quickness, as they're essentially just a high-quality pair of extremely sharp pliers. The Ares is effective at removing multiple different sizes of bolt as well as headless lugs, though its range isn't extremely wide. The Go2 Socket is a redesigned adapter that appears to work much better than its predecessor, though it requires a bit more room than most others. Irwin's screw extractor set can be very useful for cap screws, though for lugs and bolts it will require the use of a drill or tap kit. And the K-Tool Nut Splitter does just what its name implies, and is one of the most reliable such mid-duty tools available.