Best Socket Sets To Buy – Guide and Reviews

Looking for the best socket set? Sometimes when you need to tighten a bolt, simple hand-power doesn't deliver the strength and security that machined tightening can provide. This is simply a limitation of our muscles, but fortunately, the power of the lever has granted us a stronger ability to tighten things like bolts to a higher degree than we could with strength alone. This levered enhancement is where the modern socket wrench really shines.

Introduction To The Best Socket Set

The modern socket wrench may seem like a newer style of tool that you can find in many toolboxes around the world; but in truth, the socket wrench has been used by craftsmen for more than 150 years. The modern design of the socket wrench debuted in 1863 and was invented by American inventor J.J. Richardson. Since these early days, this levered and geared tool has been used on millions of jobs, from tightening hitches to changing sparkplugs on a car.

The modern socket wrench is one of the most versatile tools that you can find. It has attachments that let you reach into deep crevasses, a plethora of different sizes, and tightening a product to a secure fit only takes a minimum of elbow grease. There are some considerations that you should take into account when looking to purchase a the best socket set, so this guide is here to help.

Top 10 Best Socket Sets Comparison Table

Top 5 Socket Set Reviews

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Overview and Construction

The Stanley 92-839 black chrome and laser etched socket set is a very unique-looking set that has black chrome tools rather than the standard metallic chrome sockets and wrenches.

This makes for a perfect set for workers who tend to have dirty hands as a result of working on cars and in greased machinery. With a black finish, these smudges aren't as visible, though you will have to clean these tools from time to time still.

When it comes to durability, these tools are made of high alloy steel that will last for decades. If you need a socket set that you'll be using for hours, I recommend this one because it is one of the most ergonomic of all of the products that we've reviewed in this guide.

Sockets

Any great socket set needs to have a wide variety of sockets so that you're never unprepared when it's time to tighten or loosen a bolt. The Stanley 92-839 has a great amount of sockets in both the 3/8 inch and quarter inch varieties so that you have a good level of coverage. In total, you'll have over 70 different-sized sockets to choose from, which will give you plenty of options for your ratcheting needs.

Type of Drives

It's always nice when a socket set has several drives to select from. This particular set has sockets wrenches with 3/8 inch and quarter inch drives as well as extenders for each. For the 3/8 inch drive, there is a six-inch extender which is perfect for reaching sparkplugs. For the quarter drive, there is a two-inch extender that extends the reach of your ratchet.

What's in the Box?

In addition to the sockets and the wrench, the set comes with a socket driver so that you can use your hand strength to tighten and loosen bolts. This driver has a quarter inch attachment on it, and it's very handy for more refined jobs. This driver also has screw attachments as well. Additionally, the set comes with a plethora of c ombination wrenches.

What Makes this a Good Set

This particular set shines because each socket's size is perfectly visible. There are sets on the market today where you have to look closely to figure out which type of socket you're using. The numbers on this product are laser etched and set on gold paint that makes it really easy to see what size each socket is.

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Overview and Construction

Our first set is the SK 94547. This set is one of two 3/8 inch-only socket sets that we'll be featuring in this guide. SK Hand Tools crafted this set out of their patented SuperKrome material.

This is actually a very durable and corrosion-resistant material that is perfect for those who sometimes have to work outside or in moisture-rich environments. The handle of the sole socket wrench is textured so that this particular product is very easy to grip, even under damp or oily conditions.

Sockets

SK Hand Tools provided a decent assortment of sockets for this set that provides both shallow and deep well sockets for everyday use. This set has a full 44 sockets that are strong and grip tightly to what you're ratcheting. The breakdown between shallow and deep well in this set is:

  • 22 shallow sockets
  • 19 deep well sockets

Type of Drive

This is a 3/8 inch only product with a socket wrench that is about 7 ½ inches in length, and while many people need 1/2 inch or even a quarter inch drive, this set pretty much satisfies all of your needs if you're looking for a relatively standard drive experience when you need to ratchet.

What's in the Box?

This set, in addition to the socket wrench and socket combinations that we've already covered, also includes a couple of extenders for those situations when you need a bit more reach.

What Makes this a Good Set

Our first product has a great "middle-of-the-road" feel to it. It doesn't have a huge amount of extra built-in features, but if you need to adjust a bolt or a nut, then this is a great set for just about any job of that type.

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Overview and Construction

The BOSTITCH BTMT72287 has a great vanadium steel construction that provides a lightweight use that is sturdy and dependable.

This solid build quality is just part why we recommend this set to anyone who needs quality and reliability.

Additionally, this is one of the most ergonomic products that we reviewed. It has a rubber handle that provides exceptional grip, even when your hands are greasy or just sweaty.

This product also has a "pass-through" system that allows for deeper access because the bolt passes through the middle of the wrench head.

Sockets

The pass-through connectors in this set are fairly plentiful; the set has over 60 different-sized connectors for both SAE and metric systems of measurement. Each is comprised of the aforementioned vanadium steel and are clearly stamped using so that the sizing of each is clear to the user. These are very light sockets that lock in tightly to the center of the wrench.

Type of Drives

The included drives for this socket set are of 3/8 inch and 1/3 inch varieties. The sockets for the 3/8 inch drive sizes are: SAE 1/4 through 13/16 inches and the metric selection is 6mm-22mm. For the 1/2 inch drive, there is a range of 3/8 through 1 1/16 inch drives and a metric socket range of ten millimeters through 27 millimeters.

What's in the Box?

This set doesn't have a lot outside of the two socket wrenches and the various sockets, but Bostich has included a couple of range extender attachments that can help you reach deep-seated sparkplugs and bolts.

What Makes this a Good Set

We recommend this set because of its great composition. Vanadium steel is a great material for tools, and typically, tools made of this strong, lightweight material tend to last a lifetime. The rubber grip also makes these tools a pleasure to use when you need them.

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Overview and Construction

While many of the products in this guide are designed for multiple drive sizes, this product and our first are designed with the relatively standard 3/8 inch size firmly in mind.

This socket set also has a wide variety of shallow and deep well sockets that will allow you to have a little more versatility.

Each tool is made of a steel alloy that is very durable.

While each tool isn't textured for grip, the chrome finish on each is attractive and the handles are very ergonomic so that you won't experience too much in the way of hand fatigue.

Sockets

As a smaller set, this drive socket kit has a relatively limited amount of included sockets. The kit does do a great job hitting all the sizes that you might need on a typical job, especially considering that the set also has deep well and shallow sockets. Overall, the set includes both SAE and metric sizes, with a wider range of 5/16 to 3/4 inch sockets and 8 to 19-millimeter connectors available. There are 16 SAE and 24 metric sockets in total.

Type of Drives

As we mentioned, this set only has a 3/8 inch drive, so if you need a ½ inch or a quarter inch, you'll have to purchase an additional set.

What's in the Box?

This is pretty much exclusively a socket set, so this means that you don't get the combination wrenches or even socket driver/screwdriver combinations that you might find in other sets. With this said, Tekton has done a great job covering your socket needs; the product even comes with two extenders and a universal joint that'll give you more angle options.

What Makes this a Good Set

Having a dedicated set can be a good thing and this Tekton set does a great job at providing exactly what you need. We also recommend it to anyone who wants a smaller set that's easy to carry from job to job. The case itself only measures 12 x 7.8 x 2.8 inches, which makes it easy to tote around.

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Overview and Construction

This Craftsman tool set has many of the features that those who want to do ratcheting needs.

Firstly, these socket wrenches and attachments are made of strong alloy steel.

Each of these tools is textured so that they'll be easy to grip, even if your hands are greasy from working under a car.

The strong alloy steel is very durable, and if you end up damaging a tool somehow, Craftsman offers a lifetime replacement warranty.

Sockets

This set is packed with sockets. In its entirety, there are 128 sockets to pick from. For the most part, the majority of these are designed for a 3/8 inch driver, so if you plan on using a different size, you may have to purchase additional sockets. With that said, there's a lot of coverage because Craftsman has provided so many sockets.

Type of Drives

This socket set comes with three different socket wrenches; each wrenches with different drives. The largest of the wrenches has a ½ inch drive, the mid-sized wrench utilizes a 3/8 inch drive, and the smallest of the three has a quarter inch drive attachment. If you find that you often need different drives for your work, then this socket wrench set may be for you.

What's in the Box?

In addition to the drives and sockets, this set also has several Allen keys, three different sized ratchet extension bars for reaching hard-to-reach bolts or spark plugs, a multi-headed screwdriver with a magnetic tip, and six combination wrenches.

What Makes this a Good Set

We feel that this set does a great job at covering all of the bases. You'll be able to do most ratchet jobs with the various drives and connectors that you'll find in this box. Also, the two sides of the toolbox are separated by a door that secures over the top section. This keeps the tools from flying everywhere in a situation that they are shaken free.

Things to Consider Before Buying the Right Best Socket Set

A. Don't Be Afraid to Use Lube

Sometimes, bolts can be difficult to move due to too much force being used to tighten them. In this situation, rather than over-applying force on the head that can cause damage, consider using some liquid wrench or silicone spray. These solutions will lube up the bolt and make it much easier to turn. This way, you avoid inadvertently twisting the head right off of your bolt.

B. Pick the Right Type

There are several types of socket wrench on the market, so picking the one that is best for you in of utmost importance. Are you using one primarily to remove sparkplugs? Do you need a more straight-on turn? All of these are important considerations, so let's take a look at the type:

  • NonRatcheting –This type is also called a socket driver; and as a matter of fact, it vaguely does resemble a screwdriver.This type of socket wrench set doesn't have a ratcheting mechanism, so you'll have to turn the socket/bolt combination like you would a standard screwdriver. This can actually be useful if you're tightening a bolt that's wedged into a narrow area or you are in need of removing a sparkplug.
  •  Sparkplug Sockets and Socket Wrenches – Speaking of spark plugs, many ratcheting socket wrenches come with an extender that'll let you ratchet sparkplugs free; even if the sparkplug is recessed. Most socket sets also come with a specific sparkplug-shaped socket so that you can easily remove these sparkplugs when the need arises.
  • Flex Head Socket Wrenches – If your socket wrench set comes with a flex head wrench, then this set is designed with maximum flexibility in mind. The chief limitation of standard socket wrenches is their inability to be used in certain tight situations, the flex head models, on the other hand, are designed to be usable even at odd angles.

C. Select the Right Drive Size

As with any tool, selecting the right size is important. While we already touched on selecting the right socket size, selecting the right drive size is important as well. For the most part, the majority of best socket wrench sets out there come in ¼-inch, 3/8-inch, and ½-inch drive sizes. The drive of the wrench is the square connector that connects to the socket, so selecting the most compatible drive size is important for the work you'll be doing. As a general rule, pick the 3/8 inch size, it's the most versatile, and for the most part, you know that if you are buying additional sockets, most will fit this particular drive size easily. Here you find impact socket set.

D. SAE Versus Metric

As with anything that requires measurement, there's the old argument of which is better, metric or standard? SAE for a socket wrench, which is also called standard sized socket, typically measures in inches. You'll find these bolts on older domestic cars. Metric, on the other hand, has become much more popular and is used in many modern vehicles and is measured in meters and millimeters. Many tool owners find it best to have both types on hand. That way, you're never caught with the wrong type of tool.

E. Other Buying Considerations

  • Never over the ratchet. Over ratcheting can cause damage to the device that you're bolting and can spin the bolt head off of it as well. You buy too bag for keep socket set safely.
  • ​While torque wrenches can ratchet, they are not socket wrenches. When you're looking for a socket wrench, make sure you're not accidentally purchasing a torque wrench set. Torque wrenches look similar but they are designed to tighten objects to a specific, measured torque level.
  • ​Grab a socket wrench with a reverse button. These will let you decide which way you'll need to ratchet when you're tightening and releasing.
  • ​• Look for wrenches with quick release button. These make it quick to drop off a socket and replace with another.

For more info on socketing, Napa tools have a great socket wrench guide as well.

Top 5 Best Socket Set Brands

There are a plethora of great tool companies out there for you to select from, but when you're looking for a best socket sets, these are the top five brands currently available:


1. SK - Sherman-Klove hand tools were founded at the beginning of the 20th century and they have been producing quality tools for toolboxes for more than 100 years. As a matter of fact, SK was a major player in producing munitions and mortar shell casings for the American war effort in the first two World Wars. Interestingly enough, in 1934, SK was the first company to be granted a patent for the first round-headed ratcheting mechanism; a mechanism that's used in many socket wrenches that are on the market today.

2. Craftsman – The Sears Craftsman line is another iconic producer of great hand tools that include a popular socket wrench. Craftsman was one of the first global tool companies to use vanadium steel in its tools, which is a lightweight yet strong steel. Since that time in the 1930s, Craftsman tools have been used by aircraft technicians in World War II and car and aircraft shops worldwide. Their socket sets are made of the same great steel construction and are consistently found in the toolboxes of professionals.

3. Bostitch – Bostich is a company that also specializes in stapling – in both the industrial and office realms. The company itself has an origin that goes all the way back to 1896. Since these early days, Bostitch has created a series of products that are at home on the worksite, such as one of the first nail coilers, the industry's first framing nailer, and the world's first strip staples in 1924. As a matter of fact, Bostitch, like Craftsman and SK, served as one of the tool manufacturers that helped contribute to the worldwide war effort.

4. Stanley – There are few tool brands as common on the worksite as Stanley. If you met a foreman or work boss without a Stanley tape measure, it would be truly surprising. The brand has earned a legendary name for itself since its 1843 origins. Over the years, the company has had many milestones that include the production of the first steel tape rule, the introduction of the modern utility knife, and even having products being used for the moon landing.

5. Tekton – Tekton is another of the top producers of socket wrenches that are known for crafting quality products. As a subsidiary of Michigan Industrial Tools, Tekton has a history of great workmanship in one of the country's most industrial areas. The company isn't as old as some of the others that we've mentioned, but in its history, Tekton has become synonymous with producing tools that exceed the expectations of the tool user.

Final Verdict

Each of the socket wrench sets that we've featured in this guide will provide you with years of dependable use. All of the sets are made of excellent materials that will resist weather and corrosion and also provide a comfortable experience. When it comes to the standard 3/8 inch experience, each of these best socket sets provides a reliable socket performance that won't overly fatigue your arm due to the presence of quality gearing systems. You can keep your socket in the socket organizer nicely.

If you find that you need a more varied experience when you are ratcheting a bolt or a nut, then there are several products in this guide that have additional products like different drive sizes and even socket drivers. Remember, you don't want a substandard experience as tightening bolts to a secure level is important, even life saving. If you find that you need a reliable product that can ensure a great ratchet, then any of the products on our list will serve you well. I think you will find your best socket sets.

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Updated: November 18, 2017 — 3:04 pm
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