Updated: November 2017

Socket Wrench Reviews:

Best Socket Wrench Sets - Tools are really the best evidence of man's evolution and advancement. That and our ability to operate them. From the first rudimentary stone tools to today's complex designs and capabilities, man (and woman) has a natural instinct to create new, more effective tools to make their lives easier. Of course other species have been known to use tools - but we're pretty sure they don't use socket wrenches. A socket set is one of the most essential of tools and a must in anyone's tool set - whether you are a professional mechanic or builder or you want to do your own repairs. If you're among the latter group, you may be overwhelmed at the selection of socket wrenches on the market. Are they all the same? What makes one socket wrench better than the other? Which ones do you need for your particular purposes? Instead of going into the store, picking up the first - or cheapest - socket set you see, take a bit of time to determine what you really need. You'll save time and probably a great deal of money. But it is definite that you will save yourself a lot of aggravation when you're working on a project. So let's delve into the fascinating world of socket wrenches. Well, if not fascinating, then certainly utilitarian.
socket wrenches

Socket Wrench Basics - Socket wrenches should be a part of your standard tool box, as we mentioned. But why? What do they do? Wrenches in general have one job: to hold nuts, bolts, caps, screws, and other threaded pieces in place and turn them. There are various kinds, including pipe, adjustable, combination, and box wrenches. Socket wrenches have a drive piece (like a handle) that has a spring-loaded bearing on the end. To this, you can lock your sockets, which typically have 6 or 12 points. Sockets come in different sizes to accommodate different jobs. The advantage of using a socket wrench is that they can be used at any angle, so you can fit into some pretty odd spaces that other wrenches can't. They are also better for tightening or loosening nuts faster and easier and provide a secure fit so you don't slip. Socket wrenches are widely used in the automotive field, as well as any field which involves machinery. They can really be used anywhere there are nuts and bolts - which is everywhere! A handy tool to say the least. Choosing the Best Socket Set - Fortunately, there is a wide variety of socket wrenches to complete a range of jobs. Unfortunately for tool novices, however, that means there is a flood of products with different attributes and features. There is no one single perfect socket set for every job. But fortunately again, there are great socket sets that include ratchets (the socket wrench handle thingie in layman's terms) and a wide selection of sockets for them. We deduce that if you're reading this guide, you most likely want a standard set for general uses. Here are some suggestions before you buy:

*Sockets come with either 6 or 12 points. Twelve points are designed to grab the points of a nut or bolt. It seems that the 12 point would be better, right? More is better. Not really in this case though. The sockets with 6 points make better contact with the bolt or nut so you have a much firmer grasp. This makes it less likely that you will strip a bolt and also makes it possible to grab stripped bolts.
*Look for a 3/8-inch set. This is the most appropriate for your everyday needs.
*Don't go super cheap. We know that price is important, but so is quality. If you buy a cheap socket set, the quality of the metal is lower. This means that the tools won't be effective. And that you have to go back to the store and get a more expensvie set.
*Either get two sets - one with metric sockets and one with standard - or get a set that has both. Different bolts have different measurements, and metric and standard tools are not interchangeable. A good example of why you'd need both: the same car will require both metric and standard sockets. Browse the best selling sockets sets online here.

Snap-On: High-End Socket Wrench Sets:

Snap-On is the tool manufacturer of choice for professionals. If you want a top quality socket set, Snap-On is definitely for you. If you need a socket set for general use, a good one to go with is the 6-Point General Service Set. This has 10 pieces: the 3/8-inch ratchet with sealed head; 2 extensions, and shallow sockets in 3/8-inch, 7/16-inch, 11/16-inch, 9/16-inch, 5/8-inch,1/2-inch, and 3/4-inch. Shallow sockets have a low profile and can fit into smaller spaces. This is a standard set; you will also need a metric set. Snap-On has a 22-piece set with a 3-, 4-inch and 8-inch extension, a breaker bar, a 2 1/16-inch universal joint, a 3/8-inch ratchet, and various 6 point shallow and deep sockets (the sockets are measured in metric while the length of the extensions and ratchet are given in standard). Now here's the sad part, at least for some of us. The first set costs about $215 and the second $550 (both are available through Snap-On dealers nationwide). But the metric set does come with a nice case, if that helps at all. The quality is definitely worth it for professionals. For weekend tinkerers and do-it-yourselfers, it may be more appropriate to get a less expensive set that is still of good quality.

Better for the Budget: Craftsman Socket Sets:

If you've been researching tools, you may have come across some negative reviews of Craftsman. To be fair, these reviews are typically geared towards their power tools. Hand tools are a very different story; you can see this on the review site ViewPoints. A professional in the trade says that Craftsman hand tools are reliable, rugged, and the best for the money. Other users say they are handy, a terrific value, and the only tools they buy. That's good enough for us, and these tools are definitely good enough. For your general purposes, you will find the Craftsman 9-34319 53 Piece 3/8-Inch Drive SAE/MET Socket Set ideal. See that SAE/MET? That means it has both standard and metric sockets - there's a money saver right there! The set includes: 10 12-point SAE Sockets in various sizes, 17 6-point MM Sockets, 11 6-point MM Deep, 2 Spark Plug Sockets, a 3/8-Inch Quick Release Ratchet, a 3-Inch Extension Bar, a 6-Inch Extension Bar, and a 10-Inch Extension Bar. While we generally prefer 6 points, this set offers a great mix and will be more than adequate for your needs, especially with the low price. The set is just over $150. Stanley is another good brand for those who don't have a Snap-On budget. They make a wide variety of socket sets at very reasonable prices (see all the Stanley socket sets online here). You probably don't want to go cheaper than Stanley, though, so you maintain quality and safety. Socket sets are extremely useful and a practical addition to any tool set.