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10 Best Socket Sets [Buying Guide]

Complete Your Car, Motorcycle, And Other Home Projects With The Help Of These Socket Sets

Best Overall Choice

TEKTON 3/8" Drive 6-Point Socket And Ratchet Set

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Best Premium Choice

DEWALT Mechanics Tool Set

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Best Budget Choice

Egofine 1/4" Ratchet And Socket Set

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A socket set, complete with a ratchet and various sizes of detachable sockets, is always useful to have on hand. Whether you’re working on your car, motorcycle, or other projects, you will likely soon find yourself in need of one. We’ve put together a list of the ten best socket sets and outlined what to look for. After all, if you don’t own a socket set, you probably should.

What To Look For In Socket Sets

The most common drive sizes for sockets are 1/4-inch and 3/8-inch, referring to the size of the driver that attaches to the sockets. The tradeoff between the two are size and torque. A 1/4-inch drive size will fit into smaller places, but you can get more torque out of a 3/8-inch ratchet. Some of the larger socket sets also include a few 1/2-inch drive sizes for even more torque.

Another thing many socket sets will note is how many teeth the ratchet has. This determines how much of an arc swing the ratchet needs to function. This also indicates how much space you need to use your tool. Many on this list are 72-tooth ratchets, which is what most people will want. For the average at-home mechanic, it’s not worth paying extra to shave off tenths of degrees from the arc swing.

Another thing to be aware of is if you will need primarily metric or SAE sized sockets. Most socket sets contain both, but some of the smaller sets will favor one or the other.

Cases And Other Tools

The case that the sockets come in is also surprisingly important. Since many socket sets contain over 100 similar-looking pieces, you don’t want them to get jumbled up. Some cheaper sets come with a poorly-fitted case, so the sockets may fall out when you open the case. It’s definitely worth reading reviews to see how trusty the container is.

Many sets contain extension bars for extra power and to get into hard-to-reach places. Most also contain deep sockets for better reach and long bolts. Some sets contain a joint to attach to your ratchet to get a better angle at certain hard to reach bolts in tight spaces. You will also likely get extra tools in the larger sets, such as a bit driver with several attachable bits, or hex keys. Read up on what you’re purchasing to know if it’s worth spending extra money on these added tools.

Best Overall Choice

1. TEKTON 3/8" Drive 6-Point Socket And Ratchet Set

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This 47-piece set has a 3/8-inch drive, which is the ideal size for most of your around-the-house or basic automotive projects. It comes in both standard and deep lengths for SAE and metric sockets and includes the complete series from  5/16 to 3/4 inches and 8 to 19 millimeters. It has two extension bars for tricky areas and a universal joint in case a bolt is at a weird angle.

The 90-tooth ratchet is more precise than many others on this list, so it does not need to be swung far to work. This makes it useful for cramped areas. Even with all these features, this is a compact set that doesn’t have extra pieces you may never use. If you want a basic set that covers everyday vehicle repairs and projects, this is a good set to have on hand.

Best Premium Choice

2. DEWALT Mechanics Tool Set

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This 205-piece set contains 62 sockets in both SAE and metric sizing. It comes with 1/4-inch, 3/8-inch, and 1/2-inch drive, in case you need that extra torque that most socket sets don’t give you. The 1/4-inch and 3/8-inch drive sizes also include deep sockets for reaching tight places and extension bars for even trickier spots. There is also a 1/2-inch drive extension bar, for added reach without sacrificing torque.

The set also includes a bit driver with 33 bits, so if you don’t have a screwdriver set on hand, you can still continue with your project. And with 28 hex keys, you’re pretty much covered for anything you run into when working on your car or elsewhere. If you’re looking to be prepared for anything, this set can get you started.

Best Budget Choice

3. Egofine 1/4" Ratchet And Socket Set

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This 1/4-inch drive socket set includes ten metric sockets and an extension bar for hard-to-reach places. The sockets measure from 4 millimeters to 13 millimeters. To keep the sockets together and organized, they snap securely into the plastic holder.

The ratchet has 24 teeth, meaning it needs to swing about 15 degrees to be used, so in a super tight space, it may get tricky. This is by no means an extensive toolset, but if you’re just looking for a couple of basic uses for your socket set, this one is inexpensive, contains basic sizes, and fits in well in a toolbox.

4. DEWALT Mechanics Tool Kit And Socket Set

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With 108 pieces, this socket set will cover most of your garage project needs. In addition to a wide array of 3/8 and 1/4-inch drive sized sockets, it also includes a 22-piece bit set and two sets of 14 hex keys, both standard and metric. Although it may not cover every project under the sun, it has enough tools for most of the things you’ll run into when working on your car.

Most reviews highlight how firmly the pieces fit in the case. You don’t have to worry about anything falling out when you open the container, which saves time and makes it easy for you to find the right tool. Plus, this set is covered by a full lifetime warranty by the manufacturer.

5. Stanley 40-Piece Socket Set

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This is one of the smaller socket sets on this list, so if you’re wanting to do a variety of extensive projects, this may not be what you’re looking for. However, a smaller set also means that you’re not lugging around (or paying for!) tools that will lay untouched for years. And 40 pieces still gets you a lot of variety, including 15 1/4-inch drive sockets, 14 3/8-inch drive sockets, a 1/4-inch drive socket driver handle with several bits, and more.

According to a few reviews, the sizes of the sockets can be hard to read. However, if you keep things snapped into place in the case, knowing what’s what shouldn’t be too big of a problem. In addition to these features, the Stanley brand offers a full lifetime warranty, so you can rest assured that this socket set will have you covered for years to come.

6. GEARWRENCH 3/8" Drive Mechanics Tool Set

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This 57-piece socket set includes both SAE and metric sizes, allowing you to work on a variety of projects. In addition to a normal-sized ratchet, it also includes a 3/8-inch drive stubby ratchet — which has a short handle — so that you are able to use the set in tighter areas.

With both a three-inch and a six-inch extension, you have even more versatility to reach tricky places. It also has an attachable joint, which gives you more flexibility to your reach. One potential downside to this set is that the case does not include a handle. If you’re not using the case or don’t carry it around often, this may not be an issue. If you’re going to be working with your socket set at strange angles, this could be the set you’re looking for.

7. AmazonBasics Mechanic Socket Tool Kit

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This AmazonBasics set includes many hex keys in both SAE and metric sizes, which are always useful to have on hand. It also includes several combination wrenches in both SAE and metric and a 1/4-inch drive handle with several screwdriver bits. You are getting more than just a socket set with this tool kit!

On the socket side of things, you get many popular socket sizes in both metric and SAE, as well as 1/4-inch and 3/8-inch deep sockets. A couple of reviews mention that the case does not hold the pieces that well, so be aware of that. But if you are looking to collect a wide range of tools at an affordable price, this toolset could be a good first purchase.

8. EPAuto 1/4" and 3/8" Drive Socket Set

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This set contains a variety of sockets in both 1/4-inch drive and 3/8-inch drive. It also includes a 3/8-inch drive extension bar for reaching tight areas. There is only a 3/8-inch ratchet, but the set includes an adapter so that you can use the 1/4-inch sockets. It also includes a 1/4-inch drive spinner handle to give you a different angle on a tricky bolt.

This set is small compared to many others on this list, but that just means you’re not paying for tools you will never use. If you’re looking for an affordable socket set for basic maintenance, this set could be what you want.

9. CRAFTSMAN Mechanics Tool Set

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This 135-piece Craftsman set includes 41 3/8-inch socket tools, 33 1/4-inch socket tools, and 19 1/2-inch socket tools. This versatile set gives you the ability to balance size and power, depending on your needs. In addition, the set includes a bit driver and several bits.

If you have a Craftsman metal case, this case is designed to fit well in it for easy organization. And with its sturdy case and solid tools, this set is meant to last. Plus, Craftsman offers a full lifetime warranty on this socket set so you don’t need to worry about being unable to replace tools if something happens.

10. EPAuto 1/4” and 3/8” Drive Socket Set

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This 69-piece set includes both 1/4-inch and 3/8-inch drive sockets and ratchets and sockets in both SAE and metric. It also has extension bars, deep and semi-deep sockets, and even two spark plug sockets, so you can work on a variety of automotive projects.

This is a very affordable set, especially considering the number of pieces included. It may not be the highest quality toolset, but if you are not going to be using your socket set often, then this is an inexpensive purchase that can get the job done.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a ratchet and a socket wrench?

A socket wrench is any type of wrench that attaches a socket to tighten or loosen a nut or bolt. A ratchet is a type of socket wrench that has a ratcheting mechanism. With a ratchet, you swing the wrench back and forth to turn a nut or bolt one way, rather than lifting up the wrench and repositioning it each time.

With a ratchet, the socket fits over the whole bolt head. When you turn it, it has six points of contact, rather than the two of normal wrenches. This makes it easier to use and less likely to round off the bolt.

What tools comes in a socket set?

A socket set usually includes at least one ratcheting socket wrench and several attachable sockets. You can purchase sockets in different sizes and torques, and in SAE and metric measurements. Depending on your project, you may need different-sized sockets. If you’re buying for one specific thing, make sure you know what size bolts you will be using. If you just want to have a versatile socket set on hand, it is best to buy a larger set with a range of sizes.

Can I use regular sockets with an impact wrench?

Regular sockets, like the ones featured in this list, cannot be used with an impact wrench. An impact wrench is a power tool that requires sockets that are thicker and made of stronger materials. Impact sockets are typically black and are easily distinguishable from the chrome-colored, regular sockets.

Should I buy metric or SAE sockets?

Imported automobile brands, like Hyundai, Toyota, and Subaru use metric-sized bolts, while American-made automobiles, like Ford, generally use SAE-sized bolts. This gets more complicated when certain parts of a car are manufactured in the United States while others are imported.

Although this makes it tricky to know which sized sockets to buy, it’s more likely that you’ll need metric-sized sockets. While it’s always safest to get a set with both (and it’s hard to find a set that doesn’t include both), more and more cars come with metric sockets these days.

Is a torque wrench the same as a socket wrench?

No — a torque wrench is a type of socket wrench that allows you to set the amount of torque you want to use when tightening a bolt so that you don’t overtighten it. You will want to use a torque wrench on any nuts or bolts that have a set torque specification.

About Justice Sahaydak

Justice is an avid outdoors-lover who has dabbled in mountain biking, camping, hiking, cross country skiing, hammocking, and more. She is currently pursuing her B.A. in English at the University of Minnesota, and she’s always up for talking about either bikes or books.

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