The 10 Best Ratchet Sets

Updated February 04, 2018 by Chase Brush

10 Best Ratchet Sets
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 39 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top picks for this wiki. Whether you are a home DIY-er or a seasoned mechanic, you can be sure you will always have the right socket for the job at hand with one of these ratchet sets. We've included budget-priced options perfect for keeping around the house for occasional repairs through to comprehensive and durable models that would not be out of place in any professional garage or workshop. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best ratchet set on Amazon.

10. Stalwart 75-HT3014

The Stalwart 75-HT3014 includes two different sized wrenches and a plethora of SAE and metric sockets. It's a must-have kit for any homeowner, DIYer or hobbyist thanks to its versatility, durability and budget-friendly price, but it isn't quite meant for professional use.
  • heavy-duty impact-resistant case
  • 52- or 40-piece versions available
  • included driver handle breaks easily
Brand Stalwart
Model 75-HT3014
Weight 5.8 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

9. Sunex 9726

The Sunex 9726 is a mini ratchet and bit set that includes the most common sizes used for automotive repair. It's easy to carry around from job to job, thanks to its heavy-duty aluminum case that keeps the tools organized and safe from any damage during transport.
  • comes with star insert bits
  • quick-release extension bar
  • only for specific applications
Brand Sunex
Model 9726
Weight 1 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

8. SK 91848

The sockets in this SK 91848 feature a signature hex design that secures to the side of the fastener, rather than the corner, to help avoid any edge breakage and let them perform reliably in almost any situation. Unfortunately, their chrome finish is a little thin.
  • includes thumbwheel ratchet
  • manufactured in the usa
  • fairly pricey for the quality
Brand SK Hand Tool
Model 91848
Weight 4.5 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

7. Bostitch BTMT72287

The Bostitch BTMT72287 fits the bill for power and versatility, featuring a pass-through design that allows access to fasteners that deep sockets cannot reach. Plus, all parts have stamped size markings on them for easy identification.
  • comfortable rubber handles
  • chrome vanadium steel construction
  • only offers short extension options
Model BTMT72287
Weight 11.3 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

6. Craftsman 009-38108

The Craftsman 009-38108 is a great six-point set made for mechanics on the go. The ratcheting is smooth, with a good number of teeth to handle tough jobs, plus the variety of sizes in such a compact case makes it extremely versatile and portable.
  • includes a 14-piece hex key set
  • screwdriver-style ratchet
  • poor quality directional lock switch
Brand Craftsman
Model pending
Weight 11.4 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

5. EPAuto 40-piece

Great for working on cars and trucks, the EPAuto 40-piece comes with large sockets and a reversible ratchet that makes assembling and dissembling complicated machinery quick and easy. It's extremely affordable, though the case is pretty flimsy.
  • includes metric and sae options
  • slim and compact size
  • not as durable as other sets
Brand EPAuto
Model 81230P
Weight 3 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

4. Tekton 13101

The Tekton 13101 is the only thing you'll need to get the job done, as it includes sizes from 5/16 to 3/4 inch and 8 to 19 mm in both shallow and deep lengths. Also, the smooth, finely geared 72-tooth ratchet needs only 5 degrees of swing to operate effectively.
  • designed to grip flat sides of bolts
  • includes a universal joint
  • easy to clean and maintain
Model 13101
Weight 8.1 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

3. Stanley 92-839

Representing a step up from more basic models, the Stanley 92-839 is the perfect choice for advanced handymen. Each piece features a black chrome finish that offers better corrosion resistance when compared to regular chrome sockets, but also just plain looks cooler, too.
  • max-drive design offers high torque
  • 2-piece case allows for lid removal
  • limited lifetime warranty
Model 92-839
Weight 12.7 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

2. Crescent CTK170CMP2

The Crescent CTK170CMP2 offers an ideal balance of quality, assortment, and value. It's suitable for most industrial, mechanical, and consumer applications, as it includes 1/4, 3/8 and 1/2 inch quick-release ratchets, plus a wide selection of standard and deep sockets.
  • 2 spark plug sockets
  • magnetic screw bit driver
  • a pair of pliers
Brand Apex Tool Group
Model CTK170CMP2
Weight 21.1 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

1. DeWalt DWMT73803

The DeWalt DWMT73803 has an impressive array of tools for tackling any job, whether big or small. It includes a 3/8 drive ratchet with 30 sockets and a 1/4 drive ratchet with 32 sockets. Both have 72 teeth and a quick-release function for optimal speed and efficiency.
  • anti-slip grip for comfort
  • heavy-duty and durable
  • 12 combo wrenches
Model DWMT73803
Weight 27.3 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

What Exactly Is A Ratchet Set?

Whether you’re working under the hood of a car or under your kitchen cabinet, it’s likely that you’ll have a ratchet set by your side. The term ratchet set is actually something of a misnomer, however, because this term usually refers to what you would more properly call a set of ratcheting socket wrenches.

In fact, the word ratchet by itself describes any device employing the system of teeth that allows for uni-directional motion. A ratchet can be added to several types of common tools, including screwdrivers and regular wrenches. There are also ratcheting models of tools the home repairperson or garage mechanic may not ever need, such as pipe cutters and wire crimpers. Despite there being plenty of ratcheting tools, the ratcheting socket wrench is probably the most widely used and familiar, so it’s come to be known simply as a ratchet.

So, how does a ratcheting socket wrench work? Essentially, this tool has two crucial pieces that work together: the handle, which contains the ratchet, and the socket. Once you place the socket over the fastener, you turn the handle clockwise to tighten it. Thanks to the ratcheting mechanism, swinging the handle back prepares it to tighten again, so you won’t need to pick up the wrench and reposition it, as would be necessary with a regular model. Loosening a fastener is possible, too, thanks to a switch on the handle that changes the direction.

If you consider that you don’t have to reposition this type of wrench constantly, you might see why ratchet sets are so handy. A ratchet is also excellent for jobs that require tightening or loosening a fastener that’s in a tight spot because they make the work go much more quickly and easily. And since the socket fits entirely over the fastener, it’s less likely to slip, as can happen with a regular wrench.

Variations Of Note

There’s no shortage of ratchet sets for you to choose from, since manufacturers from small to large produce an impressive variety of these tools. As you might imagine, the biggest difference you’ll find relates to dimensions, which includes the size of the ratchet handle and sockets, as well as the number of pieces in a set. All sockets won’t fit on all ratchet handles, since the latter come in different sizes, referred to as the drive size. The most common drive sizes are 1/4-inch, 3/8-inch, 1/2-inch, and 3/4-inch.

Sockets are measured in both metric and standard sizes, which correspond to the size of the fastener over which the socket will fit. You’ll find a wide range of these for each drive size. If you need a wrench often, a set with many sizes would probably be your best bet. You’ll also see that sockets have different interior shapes; the most common are six-point and the 12-point. A six-point interior requires that the fastener be the correct size for the socket, whereas a 12-point, since it’s more round inside, leaves a little wiggle room. It’s easier for less experienced users to choose the wrong 12-point and accidentally strip a fastener head, so many experts recommend starting with a 6-point set.

Sockets also vary in their length; they can be shallow or deep. The former, also called low-profile, fit in tighter spaces, but they aren’t useful in some instances. For example, if a nut is substantially lower than the top of the bolt, then a shallow socket won’t be able to reach it. For this reason, you may want to select a ratchet set that does have at least a few deep sockets.

Beyond size, there are a couple of features to look out for that make a higher-quality ratchet set. The first of these is the materials from which it’s made. Thanks to its toughness, chrome vanadium steel is a common choice. Next is the durability of the case. It’s not uncommon to accidentally drop a tool on the case or even drop the whole thing on the floor, so you’ll probably want a case that can withstand some abuse. Finally, look for sets that have the size stamped on each socket to make both selection and cleanup much faster.

A Brief History Of The Ratchet Set

The invention of the wrench is attributed to Solymon Merrick, who received a patent for this tool in 1835. It’s probable, however, that this type of tool existed long before Merrick applied for a patent, especially since the idea behind the wrench is remarkably simple. The next large development occurred in 1863, when J.J. Richardson received a patent for a ratcheting socket wrench that would make using these tools in tight spots more convenient. Then, in 1913, Robert Owen Jr. received a patent for "new and useful improvements” to ratchets.

The story of the ratchet truly becomes interesting, though, in 1964, when 18-year-old Peter Roberts invented the quick-release ratchet. Then an employee of Sears, Roberts sold the company the rights to the patent for $10,000. Sears had informed Roberts that their research wasn’t promising; it suggested that the invention would not be profitable or in demand. Unbeknownst to Roberts, however, the company was planning to manufacture a large quantity in expectation of successful sales. The company’s lawyer also belittled the originality and usefulness of the invention to Roberts.

When Roberts later learned that the wrench had sold over 500,000 units in the first nine months, and that Sears was marketing the device as a breakthrough, he was (probably rightfully) upset. Thus, in 1969, a long legal battle began that eventually worked its way all the way up to the Supreme Court. Despite many judges weighing in, many verdicts, and many appeals, no final decision could be reached. Finally, 20 years later, in 1989, just at the start of yet another new trial, Sears settled with Roberts for an amount rumored to exceed $8 million.

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Last updated on February 04, 2018 by Chase Brush

Chase is a freelance journalist with experience working in the areas of politics and public policy. Currently based in Brooklyn, NY, he is also a hopeless itinerant continually awaiting his next Great Escape.

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