The Best Socket Sets (Tool Review & Buying Guide) for 2020
A great socket set is pretty much a necessity for anyone who wants to be able to fix or work on anything that has a nut or bolt. And lets face it, that’s practically everything today.
Yes, you can use a wrench just as easily as a socket set, but socket sets make any job a whole lot easier and faster. And they can also save your knuckles as anyone who has used wrenches in tight spaces can attest to. And even the very best socket sets are affordable today. You don’t need to buy a super expensive set meant to withstand shop uses like impact wrenches, a solidly built low cost set is usually good enough for 99% of all home owners and DIY enthusiasts.
And if for some reason you do strip a bots and you can’t use a socket or wrench to get it off, you can always use a screw extractor. We have a buying guide for the best screw extractors here.
There are basically two kinds of sets you can buy as far as the sizes that are included in the set. These are the “Standard” sizes like a half inch, or quarter inch sizes that are mainly used in the USA. The rest of the world however uses the metric system, so you’d need sizes like 8mm, 10mm. Since most of the products that use nuts and bolts today are manufactured all over the world, it’s best to know what size sockets you’ll need before ordering your new tools.
As a general rule of thumb, if you’re going to be working on cars and you have a foreign model, the chances are very good you’ll need a metric set. But if you’re working on a refrigerator that was made in the States, then you’ll probably need a Standard set.
Each set will come with a specified number of sockets, and a reversible ratchet mechanism (the Ratchet). This is the second measurement that needs to be considered. The socket goes onto the ratchet, but the size of the ratchets vary as well. Half inch is pretty standard, and fine for most jobs not requiring high torque.
To be honest it is quite annoying that there are still these two standards. Personally I think it’s time for everyone to just embrace the metric system. It makes more sense, is very accurate, and you’d only need to buy one set of sockets. But, that’s not the reality yet. So living in the USA, I personally own two complete sets, a Standard and Metric. There was just no way around it.
Ive outlined below what I feel are the best sets in different price ranges below in both measurements. If you really think you’re going to be doing a lot of work around the house, then just buy one of each to be covered. These tools, if taken care of, will last a life time. So sooner or later you’ll get your money’s worth.
So lets get to the list of the best socket sets…
#1 – Ingersoll Rand SK4C3F 1/2-Inch Drive 3-Piece Lugnut Service Flip Impact Socket Set
Are you looking for a socket set that is ideal for automotive work? Ingersoll Rand SK4C3F 1/2-Inch Drive 3-Piece Lugnut Service Flip Impact Socket Set features tough and versatile ¾ inch by 13/16 inch socket, one 19 mm by 21 mm socket and one 3 inch extension socket. This socket set comes with a heavy-duty plastic storage case that is very convenient to carry and very easy to transport from one place to another. These sockets from Ingersoll are tough and sturdy which is perfect for high-torque applications. The sockets are forged from chrome-molybdenum steel which provides high-strength durability.
#2 – Neiko Pro-Grade 13-Piece Hex Wrench Bit Socket Set
Neiko Pro-Grade 13-Piece Hex Wrench Bit Socket Set is a good addition to your tool kit if you are a casual user. Having this socket set is a great addition to your tool kit. These sockets are made of high-grade Chrome-vanadium alloy steel which is mirror polished and chrome plated. It also features a secure-fit latched ABS carry and a nice storage case. Neiko Pro-Grade 13-Piece Hex Wrench Bit Socket Set is a great set to have if you like working on cars and motorcycles. A very good set for light work.
#3 – Ingersoll Rand SK4M14 1/2-Inch Drive 14-Piece Metric Standard Impact Socket Set
If you are a mechanic or just a do-it-yourself hobbyist, you will surely love this socket set. Ingersoll Rand SK4M14 1/2-Inch Drive 14-Piece Metric Standard Impact Socket Set provides a well-rounded assemblage of various sockets for work with variety of fasteners. This kit comes with a durable blow-molded plastic storage and a carrying case. This kit features tough and reliable ½ inch 14-piece metric impact socket set which is made of chrome-molybdenum steel that can provide strength and durability. It also has laser-etched size labeling for easy identification. You can forget fumbling for the right size and finish the job faster. Excellent socket set with great quality.
#4 – TEKTON 1363 3/8-Inch Drive Extra Long Hex Bit Socket Set
If you love metric motorcycles, you may need a long hex socket set in order to customize or repair your bike. If you have problem with tightening a lot of allen bolts, then you might need this TEKTON Hex Bit Socket Set. This kit comes with hardened s-2 steel bits with corrosion-resistant black oxide finish that is made of chrome vanadium steel sockets. The TEKTON 1363 also comes with a molded plastic storage case for easy transport.
#5 – SK 91813 13 Piece 1/4-Inch Drive 6 Point 5-Millimeter to 15-Millimeter Palm Control Socket Set
SK 91813 13 Piece 1/4-Inch Drive 6 Point 5-Millimeter to 15-Millimeter Palm Control Socket Setis a tool kit that you will really want to have. It features SK chrome sockets that are available in different sizes and styles. This will help you to ensure that you always have the correct tools for every application. It features SuperKrome plating process and finish that is almost jewelry quality. The mirror polished finish is highly corrosion-resistant to ensure long life and durability. This socket set also comes with a ratchet that perfectly fits in hand. High quality socket set that is worth the price and perfect for any plumber’s toolbox.
#6 – Performance Tool W38301 19 Piece 3/8″ Drive SAE and Metric 6 Point Socket Set with Ratchet
It is frustrating if your tools mix up in the box. It is difficult to identify your tools if they get mix up altogether. The Performance Tool W38301 19 Piece 3/8″ Drive SAE and Metric 6 Point Socket Set with Ratchetis a wonderful kit to have. This socket set holds each socket in place so that they do not fall out. This tool kit comes with a ratchet that features a quick release button that makes changing socket easy. The sockets are made of heavy duty vanadium steel which are fully polished for high durability.
#7 – Stanley Proto J52124 13 Piece 12 Point 3/8″ Drive Socket Set
The Stanley Proto J52124 13 Piece 12 Point 3/8″ Drive Socket Set includes different variations of point sockets that incorporate the TorquePlus wrenching system. Quick and easy socket engagement is made possible to the fastener flats, not the corners with the help of TorquePlus design. The TorquePlus configuration employs a radius-corner design, which shifts contact area and stresses over a large area of the socket to minimize slippage. Stanley Proto J52124 13 Piece 12 Point 3/8″ Drive Socket Set also includes a socket bar and socket clips forged of alloy steel and nickel chrome finish.
#8 – Pro Grade 1/2″ Dr. Thin Wall Torque Socket Set with Magnetic and Protective Sleeves
Pro Grade 1/2″ Dr. Thin Wall Torque Socket Set with Magnetic and Protective Sleeves is a high quality metric socket set that features heavy duty chrome molybdenum steel construction. This pro quality torque sockets are made of chrome molybdenum alloy for strength and durability. Each of the sockets comes with a magnetic protective sleeve in order to avoid leaving scratches on the rims. The sizes of the socket are 17, 19, 21, 22, 23, 24, 27 mm. The Pro Grade 1/2″ Dr. Thin Wall Torque Socket Set with Magnetic and Protective Sleeves also comes with a heavy duty storage case for easy transport.
#9 – Hitachi 728515 12-Piece 3/8-Inch Deep Impact Socket Set
Hitachi 728515 12-Piece 3/8-Inch Deep Impact Socket Set are top quality and durable. This impact socket set includes 3/8 drive sockets. 13 piece set of 3/8 deep drive sockets that are made of high quality alloy steel. The sockets features thin wall design and the Hitachi 728515 12-Piece 3/8-Inch Deep Impact Socket Set has a clip rail in a solid metal case. It also features an innovative 13th piece. One of the great SAE kit that can be found in the market.
#10 – Wiha 60191 Six Point Socket Set, Inch, 17 Piece
This six point socket set includes 1/4 drive inch sockets with various sizes and accessories. The sockets are hardened thoroughly for exceptional strength and durability. Exact fit precision formed and each of the socket is knurled in finger turning ring. Wiha 60191 Six Point Socket Set, Inch, 17 Piece is top quality and is made from Germany. This set includes varicat tooth, reversing ratchet, sliding T-handle, extension bar, universal joint and spinner handle. The set is packed in a steel box for easy storage and transport.
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Socket Set Buying Guide & Tips
If you are interested in buying a socket set, there are different factors that you have to consider to make sure that the one you buy is the right set for your needs. There are a lot of socket sets to choose from which is why it is important to be careful in choosing the set that you will get. Socket sets are versatile tools that are used for home and auto repair. Before buying a socket set, it is best to understand what it is and in what tasks it is most often used.
What is a Socket Set?
A socket set is a tool that is used to fasten or loosen nuts and bolts of appliances and vehicles. It comes in different sizes and it can be attached to a toque wrench to be used as a tightening tool for other tasks. Because of its versatility, it is considered as a tool which every home and car owner should have and is essential in the best home tool kits.
The combination of socket and toque wrench allows easy access to fasteners that need to be tightened completely. This will assure the safety of that particular part of appliance or vehicle. This combination of tools is most often used in various car parts such as gearboxes, wheels, engines and clutches. In homes, it is essential in fixing cupboards, dryers, dishwashers and washers.
How Often Will You Use It?
If you will be using your socket set often, you should buy one that is made of chrome vanadium steel. It is more durable which makes it ideal for frequent use. Chrome vanadium steel is known for its good strength and durability. You may also want to consider getting socket sets that are plated with nickel chrome which is resistant to corrosion. It also provides the set with a high quality appearance.
A socket set should have its size marked on it as well as the manufacturer’s name. The design of the socket’s business end is also important as it is the part that fits over the nut. This makes it crucial to the effectiveness of the socket. Most often, simple sockets have a bi-hex, 12-point design. Although this design is considered to be effective, it can lead to rounding-off reducing its ability to fasten bolts. It can also make removal difficult because the fastener no longer has its original shape.
You should get socket sets in metric sizes unless you will be using it to work on older models of vehicles that were manufactured in the US. Most of the foreign cars, as well as modern US ones, will probably feature parts in metric sizes. However, the SAE (inches) sizes would be needed particularly if you will be using it in your home. It would be a more cost efficient though to get a socket set in metric sizes even without the SAE sizes if it will be used often for automotive work.
Did you know that socket sets usually range from 4 to 100 sockets? As mentioned, the sizes of the sets are measured in inches (SAE) or metric. You will have to refer to the appliance or car manual to determine the measuring units that you would need. The torque wrench has a ratchet mouth that has 4 different sizes – ¼ inch, 3/8 inch, ½ inch and ¼ inch. The number of the gear teeth usually are 24, 30, 45 and 60.
A socket set includes a variety of handles. It would usually contain a T-bar and ratchet or spinner handle to turn the sockets. It would be best to get a set that has extension bars. The specifications of each socket set should be indicated in the set. It would also be a great advantage to have in your set pieces like common screwdrivers, torx head and hex heads.
Getting a Good Quality Set
It is the driver that is perhaps the most important part of the set. You can easily buy new sockets for your set but replacing your driver is not simple. Low quality drives tend to get bent or twisted. This is not a good thing particularly if you have to use it under pressure. Aside from that, the drive’s ratcheting portion can also become damaged.
While it might seem cheaper to buy a set with low-quality drive, it will be more cost efficient to get a high quality drive as you will be able to use it for quite some time.
There are other factors that would make a socket set of good quality. It is best to get chrome plates socket sets as it is resistant to corrosion. There are many experts who recommend getting a reversible ratchet mechanism as well as drive sockets with various widths. It also should have optimum drive size for strength. You may want to get a color coded socket set as this makes it easier to determine its sizes. You should also take a look at the storage case. It should snugly contain every socket.
Tools Included in the Socket Set
It is best to get a set that has 6-point hexagonal sockets. You will be able to use these should the tips of the fasteners become damaged due to excess loosening or tightening. Consider buying impact wrenches particularly when working with heavy-duty impact sockets. You should wear eye protection when using it. The handle of the torque wrench should have a fine rubber handle for better grip. Consumers should make sure that their sockets and ratchet are clean so as to keep it working smoothly. It is best to use a mild solvent to clean the tools.
Warranties are important when buying socket sets. Good quality socket sets and accessories usually come with warranties which range from 10 years to a lifetime. However, you should keep your receipt or proof of purchase in order to claim the warranty. This will be useful particularly if you have problems with your socket set.
While warranties are helpful, this does not mean that you should not be careful when using it. In fact, companies might reject your warranty claim if they find out that the damage was because of excessive force. It is recommended to use a bigger drive size (3/4 inch) with an impact socket and T or breaker bar, power wrench or L handle for tough tasks – be it on your car or in your home.
Have we helped you choose the best socket set? Let us know which one YOU choose in the comments below. Or share your own experiences with the set you own and let everyone know what to buy, and what to avoid.