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.