- The Best Socket Sets
- 1. DEWALT 3/8-Inch Drive Socket Set
- 2. AmazonBasics Mechanic Socket Tool Kit Set
- 3. TACKLIFE Drive Impact Socket Set
- 4. EPAUTO 45 Pieces Drive Socket Set
- 5. Stanley 40-Piece Socket Set
- 6. Neiko Hex Bit Socket Set
- 7. Great Neck Saw Drive Socket Set
- 8. TEKTON 3/8-Inch Drive Socket Set
- 9. Stanley Black Chrome and Laser Etched 69-Piece Socket Set
- 10. Neiko 44 Piece Drive Impact Socket Set
A decent, long-lasting socket set is essential if you want to become anything more than the most basic and amateur kind of DIY-er imaginable. It is firstly important to ensure you have a strong, supple ratchet and ratchet wheel in your collection. This is the main way that all of your precious sockets are going to do their work. You need to check the number of teeth that the ratchet wheel has. The more teeth the less the turning radius, and so your ability to use your sockets in narrow, confined spaces goes exponentially up. More teeth also means a smooth handle swing, which can save time when you're having to do a lot of loosening and tightening. The best socket sets will have ratchet wheels which have around 72-84 geared teeth, whereas budget versions maybe 32 teeth.
Another thing you'll want to look at is the grip; a comfortable, contour-friendly handle grip is a must. You can actually end up hurting yourself quite badly if your hand suddenly slips off. You'll also want to ensure that you have a large range of drive sizes, drive adaptors, socket types and ratchet handles in your armoury. If you know you're targeting car maintenance or some other specific task, then you'll want to choose accordingly. An easy to read socket identification system is also a great advantage because you will then quickly be able to tell your sockets apart, in terms of sizes, heads, and standards. If you accidentally spilled all your sockets on the floor, you'd be hard-pressed to get them all in the right order again, without this. Sockets that have firmly roll-stamped or laser etched industrial markings are going to save you a lot of headaches in the long-run.
The best sockets in terms of durability will have a diameter (across the body and head) that is non-uniform. This is so it can withstand the immense forces brought to bear upon it when it's being moved under heavy and extreme conditions. Cheaper varieties with uniform diameters have no way of soaking up sustained torque, and so the chances of things like ratchet slipping or socket cracking occurring over time will go up. Modern sockets will tend to have been stamped with 'CR-V', which means that the basic steel material has been strengthened with vanadium (V) and chromium (CR). These chemical properties greatly strengthen and bolster the core properties of the sockets, and make them less likely to corrode.
The Best Socket Sets
Socket set, 34pc
5 pounds (2.27 Kilograms)
Direct Torque Technology
Polished chrome vanadium finish
Knurled Control ring
Hard stamped markings
DEWALT 3/8-Inch Drive Socket Set is a very useful socket set which is ideal for being transported from one job to another. It contains an interior tray which can be removed – it will also fit into regular height drawers, which is useful. The DEWALT brand actually has a whole range of stackable sets that are able to interlock, so you can mix and match between sets. The overall weight of this set is 5 pounds (2.27 kg), and its finish is a highly durable polished chrome vanadium. It has permanently stamped markings, for long-term convenience, while its knurled control ring provides excellent grip and torque, for those more heavy-duty jobs.
The print on the drivers is clear
Not a magnetic screwdriver
The handle is too short
Combines most popular sockets hex keys
Chrome-vanadium steel forged body
Quick-release switch and reversible mechanism
Case provides convenient tool storage and portability
AmazonBasics limited 1-year warranty
This sturdy and serious AmazonBasics Mechanic Socket Tool Kit Set is perfect for home or auto repairs. It has a wide range of popularly used sockets, hex keys, and screwdriver bits, with sizes in both SAE and Metric, for your convenience. Its storage case has a useful carrying handle, allowing you to take it on the road and use it for a range of tasks when home. The chrome-vanadium steel forged body of each tool provides maximum strength and torque, while it is resistant to corrosion due to its polished-chrome. Its two-piece 1/4-inch and 3/8-inch pear-head ratchet means it is handy in narrow corners; it has a quick-release switch for maximum focus and control, and the ability to work both ways, ie. in reverse. The one year warranty gives you extra peace of mind.
Corrosion-resistant polished-chrome finish
Quick-release switch and reversible mechanism for easy operation
The tools do not lock tightly in the provided case.
The case latches are cheap and will eventually break
6-point socket design
Corrosion-resistant black phosphate finish
Long-lasting laser-etched size marks in each socket
Customized Storage Case
TACKLIFE’s friendly customer service
This robust TACKLIFE Drive Impact Socket Set is suitable for impact drivers and allows you to access cramped spaces without having to go through the convoluted steps of disassembly. Its ten-inch extension bar is superior to regular plain extensions, while its laser-inscribed size markings make it easy to tell each one apart; locket each one in fading light. It comes with three pieces of extensions – three, five, and ten-inch. Its black coating is usefully painted on with an immaculate finish; the wear to the inner wall is negligible. It also boasts an original six-point design; this actively grabs onto the fastener’s flat sides. Meanwhile, the contact surface between the fastener and the socket is extended. The case in which it comes has sturdy locking clips and a solid hinged design.
High-strength chrome vanadium steel
Corrosion-resistant black phosphate finish
Not stamped. Only etched
The sockets get worn fast
Hardened treated Chrome Vanadium steel alloy (Cr-V)
72-Tooth Pear Head Ratchet (Metric and SAE)
Made in Taiwan
This smart and attractive EPAUTO 45 Pieces Drive Socket Set has had each and every tool rigorously tested by professional experts in Taiwan; it is therefore absolutely suitable and safe for use on your bicycle, motorcycle, truck, or car. Its 3/8″ Drive 72-Tooth Ratchet is composed of high-grade steel that has a mirror-polished finish. It has both Metric and SAE and Metric for convenience – all 45 pieces can do exactly what you require of them. Happily, the material is resistant to corrosion, being made from Hardened treated Chrome Vanadium steel alloy (Cr-V). It even has a solid plastic storage case, so is able to be taken with you in your vehicle.
Comes with extensions – perfect for working on a car’s hard to reach areas
Nice and tidy in the box
The wrench which came with it has a pretty short handle so its hard to apply a lot of force
The locking clip on the box feels loose
40-Piece socket set
Stanley – Black & Decker
Ratchet handles – thumb-operated reverse-switch mechanism
Durable carry case
Quick release – one hand
Chrome vanadium forged body
Exceeds ANSI specifications
High Quality New!!!!!!!
15% more torque
Constructed of high-alloy steel
Heat-treated for performance
This meticulously well-organized Stanley 40-Piece Socket Set presents you with an impressive array of metric and SAE drive tools and sockets; it has 85 pieces and is fit for a professional mechanic. The robust carrying case makes it perfect to take with you from job to job if needed. The ratchet handles are wonderfully designed, allowing you to use it in either direction (reverse-switch) just at the flick of the thumb. Not only that, but you can easily take off sockets or extensions with just one hand, thanks to its quick-release system. Its material is anti-corrosive, thanks to being polished chrome. It is composed of high-alloy steel which has been rigorously tested, thus giving you 15% more torque and exceeding ANSI standards.
Great for a vehicle
Pretty much a full assortment of 1/4 and 3/8 sockets
Does not come with 7/16 wrench
Deep sockets are not full depth
13-Piece Metric hex bit socket set
Premium S2 alloy steel
Sturdy plastic organizing case
This attractive Neiko Hex Bit Socket Set is replete with precisely machined bits that incorporate chamfered ends that beautifully attach onto fasteners, preserving the bits and the fastener of damaged or compromised edges. These tools are reassuringly resistant to corrosion due to their chrome finish; they also come in a fetching blow-molded case which is aesthetically pleasing. This case is slim enough to slot into your kit bag, allowing you to go from job to job with peace of mind. The material they are composed of is high-quality S2 alloy steel; this gives you extra hardness and should last well in the hurly-burly of the garage or workplace. It also grants you better torque for more potent turning power.
Smaller wrenches included, eg. 1/4 inch ratchet
Appropriate sized Hex matches to the drive, eg. 9/16 hex to a 1/2 drive, etc
Warranty with this company is non-existent
The 8mm bit has a tendency to snap
40-piece socket set
3/8-inch reversible ratchet
Triple chrome plated
Includes 1/4-inch and 3/8-inch drive sockets
Molded plastic case
This very robust Great Neck Hardware Machinery 40-piece Socket Set is perfect for furniture assembly, computer parts, automotive or appliance repairs, cabinet drawers or doors, all of which have some form of bolts and nuts that keep them in one piece. This set includes the most popular metric and standard-sized sockets, and the 1/4-inch and 3/8-inch drive sockets come with a 3/8-inch reversible ratchet wrench plus accessories. For corrosion resistance the sockets and wrench are chrome plated; triple chrome, in fact, meaning that they should last for a very long time. The ratchet is reversible, something that is potentially very useful. Meanwhile, there is a lifetime warranty so you can have that extra peace of mind.
Perfect for occasional light-duty tasks
Perfect for random around the house projects
The ratchet is not smooth operating – it can jam and stick
Case doesn’t hold sockets in place
Every size from 5/16 to 3/4 inch and 8 to 19 mm
Universal joint and extra-long 6-inch extension
Finely geared 72-tooth ratchet – only 5º swing arc needed
High-torque, 6-point sockets
Chrome vanadium steel – mirror chrome plated finish
This represents a comprehensive and full range of 3/8 inch Drive Sockets, with 45 pieces – everything from 5/16 to 3/4 inch and 8 to 19 mm, in terms of shallow and deep lengths. TEKTON 3/8-Inch Drive Socket Set boasts a six-inch extension, something not often found in similar sets, and a universal joint. A brilliant six-point design grabs the fasteners’ flat sides instead of corners, so there is no round-off. Being a 72-tooth ratchet you only need five degrees of movement within which to operate it, and so narrower corners are no problem. A mirror chrome plated finish and high-end chrome vanadium steel mean that it should last for many years to come, not being subject to rust or corrosion. The case is very robust and keeps the tools firmly clipped into place, easily identifiable when needed.
Finish on the parts is excellent
The direction lever has no detent and the ratchet will spin freely in an intermediate position
The sizes on the individual sockets are extremely small and can be quite difficult to read
The selector switch operates in a different direction as a normal ratchet
Black chrome finish – anti-corrosion
Laser-etched markings for size visibility
Reversible mechanism for easy operation
Knurled handle finish for slip resistance
Due to a special radius corner design, you get 15% more torque with this Stanley Black Chrome and Laser Etched 69-Piece Socket Set and it is easier to strengthen and fasten, rounded corners presenting them with no difficulty. As result, you get less slippage when it comes to rusted or frozen fasteners. They are also made with premium alloy steel, heat-treated so as to be ultra-strong. It contains 69 pieces, each of which meets or exceeds ANSI (American National Standards Institute) specifications. The sockets are laser printed so as to be able to identify them easily, black chrome being less prone to corrode than normal chrome sockets. The two-piece case has lids which can be removed, and even used as a handy tray if desired. There is a Quick Release mechanism that enables you to use the ratchet with just one hand; extensions and sockets stay put on the drive until liberated by a quick-release button. The modest 7-degree arc-swing is also really useful in terms of reaching into narrow, awkward fasteners.
Good quality and variety of ratchets
The black color with gold letters make the size so easy to recognize
The sockets are not stamped only “etched” and about 20% of them cannot be read
The sockets are good but the ratchets are terrible
6-point hex socket design – ultra protective
Drop-forged premium chrome vanadium steel – resists corrosion
Laser-etched markings – easily identifiable
Sturdy and strong blow-molded case – socket size labels
Neiko 44 Piece Drive Impact Socket Set is composed of impact grade chrome vanadium steel, enabling you to loosen the toughest of fasteners. In the set, you get both deep and shallow sockets and extra things such as a u-joint adapter for awkward placed fasteners and extension bars. The robust blow mold case keeps all your sockets perfectly poised for action, while the cutting-edge ‘six point’ hex drive grips fasteners and eliminates rounding corners. The sockets are coated in black phosphate to guard against grease, oil, and dirt; this is superior to regular black oxide which is commonly used. Laser-etched markings are another advantage; these help you to instantly identify which socket is which.
Case is sturdy, sockets have held up, and it was very inexpensive
The sockets are well polished and the markings are easy to read
They are stamped chrome vanadium on the sockets and you can clearly see they’re not
They’re not suited for impacting
Features To Consider With Socket Sets
Number Of Sockets
If you're only using your socket set for general DIY then you only really need a 3/8″ and 1/2″ socket set with only a minimum number of hex wrenches. This should cost you in the region of $100 or less. You can then add pieces over the years, as and when you need them. If your livelihood depends upon using sockets, then you will definitely need a 1/4″, 3/8″, or 1/2″ drive anvil on your ratchet. You will also need ratchets that have flex heads and stubby handles to access areas that standard ratchets can't reach, as well as long handles You will require extensions for all of your drive shaft sizes. You will need two sets of socket sets, SAE and Metric because there isn't just one universal standard. Lastly, longer bolts will mean you'll need deep well sockets. Overall, it's not just about the number but about the varying needs of you as a DIY enthusiast or a serious professional. If you add in impact-rated wrenches for your impact wrench then you're talking about hundreds of different pieces of kit.
The five main sizes of 'drive socket' mostly found out there are: 1/4″, 3/8″, 1/2″, 3/4″, and 1″. The 'head' will tend to be smaller the smaller the drive is; a small socket (typically for 1/4" or 3/8" drive sockets) will thus be used, something particularly useful in a tighter, less accessible place. You won't need as much torque in this instance, so your drive won't need to be as sturdy and bulky. A bigger drive square (for 3/4" or 1” drive sockets) necessitates a longer lever/handle because you'll need more torque to be applied through the socket. Consequently, a large drive square will be needed, otherwise, it could break. Half inch socket sets are somewhere in between ‘small’ or ‘large’ sockets and are ideal for socket heads in the range of 8mm to 32mm.
Superficially, sockets tend to look fairly similar. However, it's what going on within the cylindrical ring that counts. A 6-point socket set, for example, will have 6 points of contact with the bolt or nut in question and is commonly used and fit for a number of jobs. Its inner shaping means it goes over a 6 sided hexagonal shaped bolt head or nut. It offers a good grip and enables an impressive amount of torque. 12-point socket sets will have 12 points of contact with a fastener, allowing you to fasten square-head bolts and nut and meaning you don't need as much of an arc in order to engage it. Deep sockets will be longer shaped, so as to affix themselves onto various car components; they are generally found in garages and are used by the pros. Imperial socket sets and impact socket sets will look fairly similar in shape, and the main difference is the material from which they're made and coating with which they're coated, rather than the shape per se. Impact socket sets will be made from softer, thicker alloys, eg. chrome-molybdenum steel. It is then usually coated in an anti-corrosion solution due to the greater impact it will have to endure.
The main two finishes that socket tend to have are black oxide and chrome. This is mainly to protect it from corrosion, with the black oxide protection being more relevant for impact sockets which experience considerably more wear and tear, while chrome plating is sufficient for the rest. The black oxide, unlike regular chrome, is far less likely to get damaged and less the particular corrosion protection it happened to have. Corrosion, leading to rust, is very much your enemy because it will eventually affect the accuracy of your socket set, which are measured down to the millimeter. The worst-case scenario is that it loses all its grip and is no longer able to fasten tightly around a nut or bolt. Chrome plating can either be matt chrome or standard chrome. Standard chrome is the more common of the two and has a pristine, shiny appearance. Matt chrome, aka 'satin finish' won't shine glare into your eyes, won't leave unsightly fingerprints or scratches, at least not as visibly as regular chrome can.
The humble socket can be used in a reversible ratchet, with three settings that can be employed. The first setting will allow the ratchet to turn either way, clockwise or anti-clockwise; the second only clockwise, the third only anti-clockwise. This is particularly useful if you don't want to be stuck repeatedly disengaging and re-engaging the ratchet, but just want to be able to pump away at tightening or loosening, as you need.
Some socket sets are more portable than others. If you need to house everything from an LED flashlight to various ratcheting wrenches, socket spinners, and 6 in 1 screwdrivers, then you'd be best served by investing in a 1/4″ socket set with built-in storage. You need something as compact as possible, that can easily be carried around, if you're constantly on the move, perhaps as part of your job.
Certain manufacturers offer a lifetime guarantee, which is very nice if you can get it. Over the years, the quick release mechanism can get stuck on the ratchet. Sockets can get rounded edges, which means they won't cling on to the contours of the bolt but will slip off of it. Having a molded case is also an advantage so that every socket stays in place, and there is no jostling or scratching possible when all your kit is stowed away.
Socket Set FAQ
Q: Is there a difference between 6 and 12 point sockets? And which is better?
12 point sockets are usually fine for most household tasks; the number alludes to the number of angles that are cut into the socket. With 12 point sockets, you get to have twice the number of starting positions from which to engage the ratcheting process, compared with 6 point sockets, so when it comes to narrow or awkward spaces it can be more convenient. You might, for example, be trying to fasten bolts within an appliance and therefore have less leverage to engage the ratchet; 12 engagement point is, therefore, a great idea. However, for heavier duty, vehicle-based work a 6 point socket set is a better option. This is mainly due to it clasping onto the flat edges of the nut/hex bolt rather than rounding off-shoulder corners. Their walls are thicker and so more force can be applied without a detrimental effect.
Q: Can I use regular sockets with an impact wrench?
It is not at all advisable to use a regular socket with an impact wrench. It is not designed to withstand the extreme power involved and will tend to break or fracture because of this. This is mainly due to the material from which it is made, which is more fragile. The main difference between impact sockets and regular sockets is the material and hardening process used on that material. Regular sockets' steel will be softer and less able to bear extreme torque and sudden changes of direction.