The 10 Best Socket Sets to Buy 2020

The 10 Best Socket Sets to Buy 2020

A high-quality socket set is the foundation of a good tool kit. Whether you’re tinkering on an old vehicle or building your very own PC, owning a socket set means you’ll be able to get the job done better, faster, and more safely.

Fortunately, thanks to their easy-to-use functionality and attachment versatility, socket sets are a staple presence in both professional and amateur tool cabinets. As the superior older brother to the humble spanner, socket sets also offer a user-friendly solution to stubborn, rounded, or rusted fasteners. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll be breaking down the 10 best socket sets on the market in 2020.

Factors to Consider in a Good Socket Set

Before we dive into the top 10 best currently available socket sets, it’s important to remind ourselves what makes a good socket set. To help you make a more informed purchase, we’ve listed the six key features you need to remember when shopping for socket sets in 2020. We might use some unfamiliar jargon here, and may be fairly new to this tool, If so, we explain these terms in detail in our main guide below, as well as discussing at length the different types and sizes available.

Ratchet Quality

Arguably the most important inclusion in a socket set, a ratchet, also known as a socket wrench, has two main components: the ratchet handle and ratchet wheel. When attached to a bolt and socket, the teeth on the ratchet wheel engage with a toggle to lock the direction of torque, thereby reducing the size of the turning arc required to engage the ratchet handle around the socket drive point.

If you’re looking for a top-quality ratchet, be sure to note the number of teeth in the ratchet wheel. As the teeth count on a ratchet wheel increases, the ratchet handle turning radius will decrease. This is particularly useful if you anticipate using your ratchet in a confined space or on a hard-to-reach drive point. Another benefit of a high teeth count ratchet is smoother handle swing, especially when rotating the ratchet handle in the opposite direction to the drive point. This can save you a lot of time when tightening or loosening a large number of fastenings.

For premium socket sets, ratchet wheels typically have 72-84 geared teeth. Alternatively, if you’re looking for a budget-friendly socket set, you can expect your ratchet to have approximately 32 teeth in its ratchet wheel.

Ratchet Handle Ergonomic Grip

A slippery grip is the last thing you want when working with a ratchet and socket. Think about it, fastening or loosening a stubborn bolt typically involves a significant amount of force. If your grip on the ratchet slips at the wrong time, you can seriously injure your fingers, hands, or wrists. To reduce the chances of injuring yourself, look for ratchets that have a comfortable, ergonomic handle grip.

Socket Type Variety

While specific configurations will vary, most socket sets include a mixture of hex and bi-hex sockets. If you have a particular DIY requirement in mind, you may wish to purchase a socket set with a specific selection of drive sizes and measurement standards. Alternatively, if you’re looking to expand your toolkit, you’ll probably be better served by a socket set which features a wide range of socket types, drive sizes, drive adaptors, and ratchet handles.

Precise Socket Identification

An easily understandable socket identification system is a valuable feature in any socket set, helping you quickly and easily distinguish between different socket standards, heads, and sizes. A precise socket identification system is especially important if you plan on unpacking and/or storing your socket set in a cluttered tool chest or atop a crowded workbench. For clear and long-lasting socket identification, look for deep laser etching or roll stamped industrial markings.

Socket Design

A socket’s mold cast can tell you a lot about the durability of its design. If you want to purchase a high-quality socket set, make sure you carefully consider the diameter of individual sockets in the set. Remember, high-quality sockets will have a non-uniform diameter along the head and body. This design feature means that a socket can compensate and distribute force when under heavy load. Comparatively, sockets with uniform diameters have no way of absorbing sustained torque, increasing the likelihood of dangerous outcomes like socket cracking or ratchet slipping.

Socket Coating

In recent years, socket manufacturers have begun stamping select sockets with the letters “CR-V”. This marking indicates that the socket’s base materials have been augmented with a coating of chromium (CR) and vanadium (V). A coating of chromium not only toughens steel casts, it also provides your socket with robust anti-corrosion protection. Similar to chromium, vanadium both reinforces corrosion resistance and significantly increases socket strength and hardness.

Top 10 Best Socket Sets 2020

1. Best Overall Socket Set: DEWALT 108-Piece Mechanics Tools Kit and Socket Set

DEWALT 108-Piece Mechanics Tools Kit and Socket Set

Why we like it: Packed to the brim with a comprehensive range of sockets and accessories, the DEWALT 108-Piece Mechanics Tools Kit offers outstanding value without skimping on material or component quality.

Editor’s Rating:

Set Size

This socket set comes with a whopping 108 distinct components. In addition to several ratchets and a wide range of low-slippage impact sockets, this set also comes with quite a few bonus accessories, including universal joints, driver adaptors, and even a power tools case.

Socket and Ratchet Variety

As the set is comprised of 6-point Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) impact sockets, almost every commonly used drive size can be found in this socket set. This set includes two ratchets, a 3/8-inch and a 1/4-inch drive ratchet. Both of these ratchets use 72 teeth ratchet wheels, ensuring high torque and a minimal turning arc.

Craftsmanship Quality

DEWALT has an impressive reputation for craftsmanship, a reputation that is plainly on display in this socket set. Each socket is clearly stamped with its SAE and drive size designation. This can save you a lot of time if you often misplace or misidentify your tools on the workbench. After being machined, each socket is layered with a wear-resistant CR-V coating. This coating not only prevents corrosion, it also helps your sockets preserve that fresh-out-of-the-box polished look.

Pros

  • Small turning radius 72 tooth ratchet with quick release button.
  • Ergonomic anti-slip ratchet grip.
  • Enormous selection of drive sizes.
  • Durable snap-back socket case.

Cons

  • No room in case to store additional DEWALT tools.

2. Best Premium Socket Set: SK Professional Tools 49-Piece 3/8-Inch 6-Point Socket Set

SK Professional Tools 49-Piece 3/8-Inch 6-Point Socket Set

Why we like it: Made in the good old USA, the SK Professional Tools 49-Piece 3/8-Inch 6-Point Socket Set exudes premium-grade, high-quality manufacturing standards.

Editor’s Rating:

Set Size

While smaller than the DEWALT 108-Piece Mechanics Tools Kit, this kit still delivers an impressive amount of socket versatility and ratchet utility. In addition to its extensive socket range, this set also includes a 3-inch extension bar, a 6-inch extension bar, and a universal joint.

Socket and Ratchet Variety

With 49 high-quality 3/8-inch sockets, this premium-grade set has enough socket variety to handle almost any DIY project. The functionality of the set is further improved by the inclusion of 9 deep 6-point sockets. With these longer sockets, you’ll be able to loosen or tighten any irksome recessed fasteners.

To combat fastener rounding, SK has also incorporated a SureGrip hex drive design into the ratchet head and handle.

Craftsmanship Quality

Every socket in this set has been manufactured to an exacting standard. Cast with American steel, each component in the set has been layered with SK’s SuperKrome plating, an anti-corrosion, high-polish coating that helps your sockets and ratchets maintain a gleaming silver finish. To improve grip movement, each ratchet handle and socket body has been precisely machined with an ergonomic knurling pattern.

Pros

  • Rugged, heavy duty steel construction.
  • Ergonomic SK SureGrip technology.
  • Rest easy with SK’s limited lifetime warranty.
  • Enjoy a showroom finish with SuperKrome Socket Plating.

Cons

  • A little on the pricey side.
  • Case could be sturdier.

3. Best High Performance Socket Set: GearWrench 57-Piece 3/8-Inch Drive 6-Point Socket Set

GearWrench 57-Piece 3/8-Inch Drive 6-Point Socket Set

Why we like it: With 84 geared teeth on its ratchet wheel, the GearWrench 57-Piece 3/8-Inch Drive 6-Point Socket Set offers superlative turning arc performance.

Editor’s Rating:

Set Size

The GearWrench 3/8-inch 6-Point Socket Set provides a modest selection of 57 socket varieties. Taking advantage of the low profile of these sockets, this set’s hard case has been designed around slimness and portability. Unfortunately, these aren’t the only qualities of the GearWrench case, it’s also fragile and packed with loosely stuck down rubber inserts.

Socket and Ratchet Variety

This set includes almost every major SAE socket size, with 1/4-inch to 1-inch standard sockets and 1/4-inch to 7/8-inch deep sockets. If you’re looking for metric sockets, you’ll also find a mixture of standard and deep sockets between 6mm and 19mm. Interestingly, instead of using a conventional 6-point connection, GearWrench sockets use a patented hexagonal shape with serrated fastener holdings.

As the name suggests, the GearWrench 3/8-inch ratchet is the most innovative component in this set. With 84 geared teeth, this ratchet boasts an astonishing 4.3-degree minimum turning arc. This ratchet’s only real downside is the absence of a quick release button.

Craftsmanship Quality

A highly respected brand, most of the GearWrench socket and ratchet range is manufactured in Taiwan. Fortunately, the craftsmanship of these sockets is not reflective of shoddy mass manufacturing processes, with each socket featuring detailed hard size stamps and lustrous high-polish chrome plating.

Pros

  • With 84 ratchet teeth, this set boasts a very tight turning arc.
  • Clearly stamped socket markings.
  • Patented Surface Drive sockets.

Cons

  • Loosely packed plastic case.
  • No quick release ratchet button.

4. Best Budget Socket Set: Neiko 3/8-Inch 44-Piece Drive Impact Socket Set

Neiko 3/8-Inch 44-Piece Drive Impact Socket Set

Why we like it: Even though it’s a more budget-friendly option, the Neiko 3/8-Inch 44-Piece Drive Impact Socket Set still boasts a wide array of socket sizes, depths, and designs.

Editor’s Rating:

Set Size

With 44 different 3/8-inch impact components, this budget-friendly socket set offers excellent value for anyone looking to get started with impact guns or pneumatic wrenches. To further improve on its value proposition, this set also includes a 3-inch extension bar, a 6-inch extension bar, and a universal joint.

Socket and Ratchet Variety

As the name of the set suggests, all of the sockets in this kit are impact sockets. While this is somewhat limiting, there is still significant component variety within the 3/8-inch drive size. This variety includes 5/16-inch to 3/4-inch deep sockets in the SAE range and 8mm to 19mm sockets in the metric range.

Craftsmanship Quality

Manufactured for use with an impact gun, the sockets in this set are exceptionally well made, especially when you consider the low price for the set as a whole. To prevent a shatter event, each socket in this set is drop forged from chrome vanadium steel. Instead of using high-polish chrome plating, the sockets in this set employ a black phosphate coating. As long as it’s in place, this coating will act as an effective barrier between your socket and any residue oil or dirt in an impact gun.

Pros

  • Cost-effective impact socket starter set.
  • Ultra-tough CR-V construction.
  • Sturdy case with fitted socket molds.

Cons

  • Set does not come with a ratchet.
  • Laser etched markings fade more easily on a black phosphate finish.

5. Best All-In-One Socket Set: DEWALT 192-Piece Mechanics Tool Set

DEWALT 192-Piece Mechanics Tool Set

Why we like it: With a truly comprehensive selection of socket and ratchet fittings, the DEWALT 192-Piece Mechanics Tool Set is a one-stop solution for any DIY project.

Editor’s Rating:

Set Size

With a grand total of 192 pieces, the DEWALT Mechanics Tool Set has everything you could want in a socket set. In addition to not one but three different ratchets, you’ll also find enough socket heads to accommodate for almost any kind of fastener.

Socket and Ratchet Variety

This comprehensive socket set contains 6-point standard sockets, 6-point deep sockets, and a vast selection of socket accessories, including drive extensions, drive spark plug sockets and universal joints. For ratcheting, you can take advantage of a 1/4-inch, 3/8-inch and 1/2-inch ratchet. All three of these ratchets use a 72 tooth ratchet wheel system, guaranteeing high torque and minimal rotation arcs.

Craftsmanship Quality

Despite the size of this socket set, DEWALT has not compromised on precision manufacturing. To ensure easy identification, each and every socket is laser etched with its relevant SAE marking. After receiving feedback about socket grip control, DEWALT has also begun fitting sockets with knurled control rings.

Pros

  • Comprehensive range of sockets and ratchets.
  • With 72 ratchet teeth, this set boasts a tight turning arc.
  • Hard-wearing molded case for tool protection and compact storage.

Cons

  • With a large surface area and weighing in at 39.2 pounds, storing this socket set will require a lot of cleared space in your tool cabinet or on your worktop.

6. Best Portable Socket Set: EPAuto 69-Piece Drive Socket Set

EPAuto 69-Piece Drive Socket Set

Why we like it: Another budget-friendly option, the EPAuto 69-Piece Drive Socket Set is portable and relatively lightweight, making it an excellent socket set option for local jobs or DIY home projects.

Editor’s Rating:

Set Size

This ultra-portable socket kit packs all the essentials into a tidy 69-piece set. You’ll also find a 6-inch extension bar, a 3-inch extension bar, and 2 drive spark plug sockets. With two ratchets and both metric and SAE 6-point sockets, this kit is perfect to keep stored in your car or garage in case you ever need emergency repairs.

Socket and Ratchet Variety

Expect to see the best of the basics in this kit. This means 1/4-inch and 3/8-inch 6-point sockets (in both metric and SAE measurements), and corresponding 1/4-inch and 3/8-inch pear head ratchets.

Craftsmanship Quality

All the sockets in the EPAuto Socket Set are made from a lightweight CR-V steel alloy. While this alloy will protect your sockets from rust and perforation, it’s lightweight material properties may slightly weaken the torque capacity of individual components under load.

Pros

  • Set contains the most common sockets for auto repairs.
  • CR-V coating adds corrosion resistance and durability.
  • Compact and lightweight case facilitates both portability and unobtrusive storage.

Cons

  • Socket pieces do not always lock back into the plastic carry case.
  • Sockets may not be suitable for sustained high torque.

7. Best Value Socket Set: AmazonBasics 145-Piece Mechanic Socket Tool Kit Set with Case

AmazonBasics 145-Piece Mechanic Socket Tool Kit Set with Case

Why we like it: Packing 145 chrome finished socket and ratchet pieces, the AmazonBasics Mechanic Socket Tool Kit is the most cost-effective socket set currently on the market.

Editor’s Rating:

Set Size

With 4 major drive sizes and 145 unique components, the AmazonBasics Mechanic Socket Tool Kit offers superb value for money. In addition to sockets and ratchets, this set also includes a 1/4-inch drive handle, a 1/4-inch drive adapter, several combination wrenches, and 2 long extension bars.

Socket and Ratchet Variety

One of the first things that stands out about this kit is the mixed selection of 1/4-inch standard sockets, 1/4-inch deep sockets, 3/8-inch standard sockets, and 3/8-inch deep sockets, To use and control this massive selection of sockets, this set has two included drive pear head ratchets: a 1/4-inch unit and 3/8-inch unit, both of which are outfitted with reversible ratchet wheels and quick socket release buttons.

Craftsmanship Quality

Considering its affordable price tag, the AmazonBasics socket set offers outstanding craftsmanship on its sockets and ratchets. Like many other high-quality socket sets, components in the AmazonBasics kit use a strong, corrosion-resistant steel and CR-V body.

To focus on a nitpick, the storage case is a little flimsier than we’d like, especially around the side clasps and ratchet inserts.

Pros

  • Great value for money
  • Excellent selection of multi-sized sockets, ratchets, and accessories.
  • Durable polished chrome finish.

Cons

  • Storage case can feel a little flimsy.

8. Best Impact Socket Set: Sunex 80-Piece Master Impact Socket Set

Sunex 80-Piece Master Impact Socket Set

Why we like it: Purpose-built for use with an impact gun, the Sunex 80-Piece Master Impact Socket Set is durable enough to withstand extremely high torque loads.

Editor’s Rating:

Set Size

The Sunex 80-piece impact socket set includes both metric and SAE sockets. Similar to the Neiko 3/8-Inch 44-Piece Socket Set, this set is intended for use by people who own a pneumatic wrench or impact gun.

Socket and Ratchet Variety

There are a reasonable variety of 3/8-inch socket types in this impact socket set. In addition to two sets of standard sockets (one set in metric measurements and the other in SAE), you’ll also find a set each of deep impact sockets and universal impact sockets.

Craftsmanship Quality

Sunex impact sockets utilize the radius corner socket design, improving torque, minimizing wear on fasteners, and preventing fastener rounding. What’s more, every socket in the Sunex impact socket set is rigorously tested against the ANSI standards for high-powered impact tools. To reinforce their steel case, each socket has also been recast with chromium molybdenum (Cr-Mo), a steel alloy which increases the base material’s hardness and resistance to corrosion.

Pros

  • Reasonable selection of impact sockets.
  • The radius corner socket design.
  • Sockets are imprinted with dual SAE and metric markings.
  • Socket body is reinforced with Cr-Mo.

Cons

  • Set does not come with a ratchet.
  • Set does not come with non-impact sockets.

9. Best Compact Socket Set: Neiko 32-Piece Hex Bit Socket Set

Neiko 32-Piece Hex Bit Socket Set

Why we like it: With its slim, compact case, the Neiko 32-Piece Hex Bit Socket Set is the perfect option for anyone looking to keep a socket set in a cramped garage or car.

Editor’s Rating:

Set Size

Featuring 32 components, this compact and budget-friendly hex socket kit includes both SAE and metric sized sockets. Because of the way the hex points are designed, Neiko sockets have cross compatibility with a wide range of ratchet handles and hand wrenches.

Socket and Ratchet Variety

Because of its smaller size, this socket set does not come with its own ratchet. So, what do you get in this socket kit? Well, the included sockets are divided between a set of 16 SAE sockets and 16 metric sockets. For each of these standards, you’ll receive several 6-point sockets with a 1/4-inch, 3/8-inch, and 1/2-inch drive size.

Craftsmanship Quality

Even though it’s a small kit, each socket in this set is cast with premium-grade S2 steel. To reduce fastener slippage and/or rounding, Neiko sockets typically use sharply beveled edges or chamfered ends. While the efficacy of this feature tends to degrade over time, it’s still a great way to reinforce your socket’s principal points of contact.

Pros

  • Cross-compatible with other wrenches and ratchets.
  • Neiko edge design stops your socket from rounding fasteners.
  • Slim blow molded case with socket identification markings embossed in the rubber inserts.

Cons

  • Set does not come with a ratchet.
  • Relatively limited socket selection.

10. Best Accessory Socket Set: DEWALT 15-Piece Accessory Socket Set

DEWALT 15-Piece Accessory Socket Set

Why we like it: Sturdy and portable, the DEWALT 15-Piece Accessory Socket Set benefits from a range of utility-boosting socket adaptors and ratchet extensions.

Editor’s Rating:

Set Size

Packed with multi-angle drive extensions, long drive adaptors, and universal joints, this 15-piece accessory set essentially functions as an expansion kit to an existing socket set.

Socket and Ratchet Variety

The DEWALT Accessory Socket Set is filled with specialty add-on components that increase the utility and lifespan of your main DEWALT socket set. As this is a socket accessory set, a ratchet is not included. However, given the number of adaptors in the kit, the included spark plug sockets should be compatible with most 1/4-inch and 3/8-inch ratchets.

Craftsmanship Quality

The DEWALT Accessory Socket Set upholds the US toolmaker’s reputation for high-quality craftsmanship. The kit’s extension bars, adaptors, and knurling are all precisely machined, with finishing typically including a thin layer of polished anti-corrosion chromium coating.

Pros

  • Accessory kit can mix-and-match with other DEWALT stackable tool sets.
  • DEWALT’s new knurled control ring can help you maintain a stable grip on a fastener, minimizing the chance of socket slippage and fastener rounding.
  • DEWALT socket set accessories make it much easier to reach fasteners at awkward angles or in recessed hard-to-reach areas.

Cons

  • Set does not come with a ratchet.
  • Set does not come with standard range of sockets.

Guide to Buying the Best Socket Set


Given the sheer amount of jargon being thrown around, it’s easy to see how ratchet workings and socket set terminology could become overwhelming, this is especially true for people who don’t have much experience working with hand tools. To help you become a more informed socket set shopper, we’ve broken down the technical socket set terms you’re most likely to come across.

Breaking Down Socket Set Terminology and Accessories

SAE and Metric Measurement: SAE, an acronym for the Society of Automotive Engineers, is a measurement convention for the size of a bolt-type fastener head. SAE units are expressed in inches and increase by 1/16-inch increments. Metric measurement standards use the same fastener measurement, but expressed in millimeters.

Drive Size: The drive size refers to the dimensions of the square socket head connector on the ratchet. The three most common drive sizes are 1/4-inch, 3/8-inch, and 1/2-inch. You can also find 3/4-inch and 1-inch sockets; however, these drive sizes are rarely required for non-industrial applications.

Deep Sockets: A deep socket is simply a socket with a longer body. Deep sockets are designed to reach recessed fasteners. Deep sockets are available in all drive sizes in both SAE and metric measurement standards.

Extension Bar: An extension bar is a handy tool that allows you to loosen fasteners in difficult-to-reach areas (or areas where you can’t easily swing a ratchet handle). Extension bars are available in standard ratchet lengths and are compatible with both SAE and metric measurement sockets.

Drive Adaptor: If you don’t have a compatible ratchet and socket, or you wish to use a different sized socket to your ratchet, a drive adaptor can be used to connect the two otherwise mismatched components. Remember, when you use a socket with an incompatible ratchet handle, it will lead to a greater chance of the bolt rounding or breaking.

Breaker Bar: A breaker bar is a long handle that can be fitted with a socket on the end. You can find breaker bars for any retail drive size and they are often available in several handle lengths. A breaker bar is the perfect tool if you wish to apply a level of torque to a fastener that is beyond the capabilities of your ratchet.

Swivel Joint: A swivel joint is placed between a socket and ratchet. If there is enough room, this joint allows you to alter the drive angle of your ratchet. Swivel joints are often used when trying to unfasten or fasten bolts at an awkward angle or in a hard-to-reach place.

Types of Socket Sets

The type of socket set you purchase will ultimately depend on your budget and the requirements of your project. To ensure that your socket set is compatible with the job you have in mind, make sure you understand the differences between each of the following socket set types.

Impact Sockets

An impact socket set uses the same basic design as a standard socket set. However, impact sockets are compatible with electric power tools, such as pneumatic air wrenches or impact guns. A key characteristic of an impact socket is its construction — in addition to using a slightly thicker case alloy, impact sockets are carbonized and black in color. This manufacturing technique prevents impact sockets from shattering when they’re used with power tools.

Non-Impact Sockets

Non-impact socket sets are made up of sockets that are not designed for use with impact electric tools.

Hex (6-Point) Sockets

Hex socket sets are the most common socket set on the market. This is because the majority of fasteners have a standard 6-point (hexagonal) shape. For this reason, a hex socket set is a reliable set for everyday use. In a high-end set, hex sockets may also have a convex internal socket face. This allows additional torque to be applied without increasing the risk of rounding a fastener.

Bi-Hex (12-Point) Sockets

A bi-hex socket has a 12-point internal shape. With 6 additional points of contact, a bi-hex socket set can be fitted to square-head fasteners as well as hexagonal fasteners. However, due to the increased linear contact of the socket on the fastener, applying too much torque to a bi-hex socket ratchet is more likely to round the edges of the fastener.

Imperial Sockets

An Imperial socket set is a socket set that is intended for use on fasteners measured in SAE. While SAE is standard throughout the US, many other countries now use the metric system. If you think you’ll encounter fasteners in both SAE and metric units, you may want to invest in a socket set that accommodates for both measurement systems.

Socket Set Sizes

Broadly speaking, if you’re in the market for a socket set, there are three main set size categories you can choose from.

Small Socket Set: A small socket set generally includes 1/4-inch or 3/8-inch drive sockets and 3mm to 22mm head sockets. A small socket set is ideal if you’re trying to tighten/loosen small fasteners or if you’re working in a restrictive space.

Half-Inch Socket Set: A half-inch socket set includes the 1/2-inch drive socket and head sockets between 8mm and 32mm.

Large Socket Set: In a large socket set, you can expect to see 3/4-inch and 1-inch drive sockets. With 19mm to 50mm head sockets, large socket sets are perfect for heftier fasteners that require a significant increase in torque to loosen or tighten.

If you already own one or more socket sets, there’s a good chance that you’ll eventually run into a non-standard fastener. If you don’t want to splurge on an additional socket kit, an accessory socket set is a great option. In addition to extensions, adaptors, and other commonly used socket accessories, accessory socket sets usually include a small range of non-standard drive sockets (drive head sizes will vary between manufacturers).

Benefits of a Top-Quality Socket Set

Long-Lasting Equipment

Investing in a high-quality socket set will not only save you a fortune in spanner replacement purchases, it will also provide you with a versatile, sturdy set of tools that can stand the test of time. Coated with anti-corrosive chromium, socket sets are resistant to rust and everyday oxidation. You can further increase the longevity of your socket set by storing it in its hard case. This has the added bonus of keeping your socket set clean and organized.

All-In-One Solution to a Wide Variety of Fasteners

Having a spanner for every type of fastener is not only impractical, it’s also expensive. As an all-in-one solution, a socket set can be used alongside the vast majority of retail fasteners. This is particularly true for bi-hex sockets, which can be used on both hexagonal fasteners and square-head fasteners.

Limit Damage to Fasteners

In comparison to a traditional spanner, a socket and ratchet are far less likely to crack or round a bolt-type fastener. This is because hex fasteners have six points of contact (with a bolt), while spanners only have 2 points of contact. When there are more points of contact, torque pressure is more evenly distributed across the socket and ratchet, thereby minimizing potential damage to the fastener.

Easily Access Recessed or Hard-to-Reach Fasteners

Even the best socket set might not be up to the task of loosening or tightening a deeply recessed fastener. Luckily, with the addition of one or more accessory components, almost all socket sets can be adapted to accommodate for recessed or hard-to-reach fastenings. If you’re working in a narrow space and a fastener is difficult to reach, simply attach an extension bar or swivel joint to your ratchet handle.

Best Socket Sets 2020: Top 5 Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is a 6-Point or 12-Point Socket More Useful?

A 6-point socket is widely regarded as the most practical socket available. However, the usefulness of a socket ultimately depends on the type of fastener you need to loosen or tighten. While a 6-point socket may be more useful for everyday generic jobs, the 12-point socket can be used on a larger number of fasteners, including square-head nuts and bolts.

2. How Do I Maintain My Socket Set?

In order to get the most out of your socket set, it’s important to take the time to maintain and clean your sockets after each use. After removing a socket from your ratchet, take an old toothbrush and brush away any dirt or debris that has accumulated in the socket head or on the socket body. Ensure that each socket is completely dry before you put it away; this will help prevent oxidation and corrosion.

Keeping your socket set in its protective hard case not only helps keep them free from moisture and grime, it also helps minimize any chance of misplacing a socket or ratchet.

3. What Are the Most Common Uses of a Socket Set?

There are countless ways to use a socket set, whether it’s a simple home repair job or a comprehensive bicycle tune-up. In particular, auto shops always have a use for socket sets, from removing lug nuts on a car tire to replacing cylinder head bolts in an engine. In short, if you have a fastener you need to loosen or tighten, you can use a socket set.

4. Can a Socket Prevent or Remove Rounded off Bolts?

A rounded fastener head is an all too common (and particularly frustrating) problem. Luckily, a premium socket set will go a long way in preventing rounded off fasteners. This is because high-quality sockets feature an internal radius corner design. This design ensures maximum grip between a socket and the flat edge of a fastener, preventing any gradual rounding off. Hex sockets and bi-hex sockets also offer maximum contact between the socket and edge of the fastener, equally distributing torque and minimizing the chance of socket slippage (one of the main triggers for rounded fasteners).

If you’re attempting to loosen a rounded bolt, we recommend using a socket that’s slightly smaller than the size of the rounded fastener. This may afford you enough extra grip to leverage the bolt free.

5. Can I Use Any Socket Type With an Impact Gun?

No, you cannot use any type of socket with an impact gun. Using non-impact sockets with an impact gun can cause your socket to warp, split, or even shatter. This can be extremely dangerous, especially if you’re using an impact gun without the appropriate safety gear. If you need to use an impact gun, you must purchase a set of compatible impact sockets.

Final Thoughts on Socket Sets

Whether you’re a professional mechanic or a humble home DIYer, a socket set is a versatile yet cost-effective addition to your tool kit. When shopping for a socket set, it’s important that you take the time to consider what type of socket set will be best for you and the work you’re planning on doing. While a basic socket set may be sufficient for everyday odd jobs and DIY projects, you might find that you’ll need to invest in a high-quality socket set for professional work.