Selecting the proper ratchet set can be a daunting, overwhelming task. Because there are so many brands and specifications out there, it can be difficult to make the right decision on a ratchet set. While this comes with the territory when it comes to using tools such as these, it is still possible to determine what ratchet sets are the most effective for the jobs you need to do.
We will look at the following ratchet sets from a mechanic’s point of view. The range of sizes in the set, durability, and effectiveness of the clamping materials in the set will be analyzed in detail to determine which one is best for which mechanics.
Things to consider when buying a ratchet or ratchet set
The very first thing to consider is what you need the ratchet for. Most of the time, ratchets are used for mechanical work on automobiles, but sometimes they have other functions. The most common use for a ratchet would be to remove or tighten bolts and other kinds of fasteners. Determine what fastener you are particularly working with, then see what kind of ratchet or ratchet set you will need.
Another thing to consider is versatility and flexibility. The question that should be asked here is whether you need the ratchet for exactly one size of fastener or fasteners of different sizes. You could inconvenience yourself if you get only one size of ratchet but then realize you need a different size for different fasteners.
Another consideration is the length of the ratchet. Generally, the longer the ratchet, the faster it you will be able to work when it comes to removing or tightening things. If the ratchet is very long, there will be more leverage scaled against what you want to tighten or remove. However, if a ratchet is too long and there is a lot of torque involved in the fastener, the ratchet could bend or break.
The final thing to consider is swing arc. The swing arc of a ratchet is measured in degrees, and measures how long you can turn the ratchet before needing to wind it back. If you are using the ratchet to tighten or remove something in a tight spot, you will want a larger swing arc. This will save a lot of time when doing a job.
Editor’s Recommendation: Top 5 Best Ratchet Sets
Top 5 Best Ratchet Sets Reviews
1. GearWrench 81230F 4 Piece Full Polish Flex Handle Ratchet Set
While it only comes in a set of four, GearWrench’s ratchet set still has a lot to offer. First, each piece has a socket release as well as a size selector, which allows users to adjust their sizes with each piece. Each piece also has six flexible head positions which allow for a lot more access than any other given ratchet or wrench.
It clamps using an 84 tooth gear system which makes these ratchets quite strong. At 15’’ long, GearWrench’s ratchets are a bit longer than most other ratchets, which gives the user much needed leverage when it comes to using it. But because of the 84 tooth system, the head of the ratchet keeps a low profile, which at the same time will provide easier access in areas that are tightly confined.
The GearWrench ratchet is strong and can do quite a bit when it comes to clamping, perhaps too strong. If you are too rough on bolts or any other kind of piece that needs to be tightened, it might break if tightened too much. Because they are longer than most other ratchets, it also means they are a bit heavier as well. While this is likely negligible, it can get some getting used to. The socket release button is also in a precarious position on this particular ratchet, and can accidentally get pushed.
2. DEWALT DWMT72165 204 Piece Mechanics Tool Set
DeWalt is one of the most popular brands when it comes to tools, ratchets and wrenches being no exception. This particular set has literally every ratchet and wrench in existence, numbering a whopping 204 pieces. While adjustable ratchets have their place, some people do not care for them, and would rather have different sizes on hand. DeWalt’s ratchet set accomplishes this, and does so decisively.
Each piece has a 72 tooth gear system which is slightly stronger than the industry standard of the 60 tooth gear system. DeWalt’s ratchet set also comes with a case where each and every part is fitted individually. This is very useful for organization, which is beyond necessary, seeing as 204 pieces are in this set.
While it is very nice to have access to so many sizes and types of ratchets and wrenches in this set, keep in mind that none of these are adjustable. Prepare to have this case of ratchets, sockets, and wrenches by your side whenever you want to work on something. It will get tedious. And the case itself is extremely heavy – at least 40 lbs. Carrying the DeWalt set will be a chore if you indeed decide to carry it around.
Finally, the DeWalt set is missing one crucial thing – 12 point sockets. These are absolutely necessary if you are working on certain cars, and it is very unfortunate that this particular set does not contain them.
3. TEKTON 15010 3/8-Inch Drive x 18-Inch Extra Long Ratchet with 72-Tooth Oval Head
The concept of the “one size fits all” ratchet is attempted with the Tekton ratchet. Measuring in at an astounding 18 inches, it is easily one of the longest ratchets on the market, this makes leveraging it very easy and also makes it extremely versatile. It uses a 72 tooth system for clamping, which combines with its length to make it even more versatile as it is long as well as powerful.
The Tekton ratchet will make working on cars very easy because of this very nice combination. It would be expected that for a ratchet this long, the handle would not be able to withstand the torque. But the majority of the Tekton ratchet’s users have said the opposite.
18 inches is very long for a ratchet, and the some users have complained that it is too long to fit into any common toolbox. The length of the Tekton ratchet also leaves its durability in question, especially if it is used frequently. It is a shame that this particular ratchet is limited in its adjustability, as the Tekton ratchet does not have any flex adjustability. It can only wrench in certain things and cannot be used for multiple purposes.
4. Titan Tools 12045 3/8-Inch Extra Long Quick-Release Offset Ratchet
A common issue with ratchets is how they hold sockets. There exist quite a few ratchets that do not know how to hold and drop sockets properly. It has been an issue for a very long time, and Titan Tools has developed a ratchet that addresses this problem the best it can. The Titan Tools ratchet contains a quick release feature, which makes handling sockets much easier.
It simply holds in sockets when you want them to be clamped and lets them go. With most other ratchets, this is done manually, but the quick release feature allows this to be done with the push of a button. Most handles on ratchets are made of the same material as the ratchet itself, making it somewhat physically taxing to use. The Titan Tools ratchet has a rubber handle which makes things a little less physically taxing.
Most ratchets use a 60 tooth gear drive. This is an industry standard of sorts and allows most ratchets to withstand copious amounts of torque. The Titan Tools ratchet does not have this feature. It has a 36 tooth gear drive, which is not very reliable in terms of strength or durability. It also has no flex adjustability, meaning different sizes will need to be bought for different situations.
5. Craftsman 3/8-Inch Drive Quick Release Teardrop Ratchet, 9-44808
When it comes to ratchets, swing arc is a fairly common topic of discussion. Swing arc pertains to the area that the ratchet can move while tightening or removing bolts. The common swing arc for any given ratchet is roughly 6 degrees. The Craftsman ratchet has a swing arc of nearly double this.
This makes working in tight areas much more convenient. Another very useful component of the Craftsman ratchet is that it has a thumb activated quick release. This makes working with sockets much easier and faster.
The Craftsman ratchet is not versatile at all. ⅜’’ is the only available size that this particular wrench can work with, and it does not contain any form of flex adjustment. The handle is made of the same iron material as any other ratchet, which can make long work periods with it somewhat physically taxing. Although it yields an impressive swing arc, at 10 inches, the Craftsman ratchet is not long enough to establish any reliable leverage. There do exist similar ratchets that are much longer and that have similar qualities.
Ratchets give off the appearance that they are simple tools. And in many aspects they are; after all, they are a variation of a wrench. But if you can detect what kind of ratchet you want for what kinds of jobs that you need to do, you can save a lot of time and money when it comes to these tools. Taking a generalized approach to the ratchet set that you want, while it does simplify things, can cost you. If you need a ratchet set, take time to explore your options. There is plenty to choose from.