LAST UPDATED: January 25, 2021

The Best Ratcheting Wrench Sets (Review and Buying Guide) in 2021

Best Choice The Best Ratcheting Wrench Sets (Review and Buying Guide) in 2021 Gearwrench 20-Piece Ratcheting Wrench Set
Best Value The Best Ratcheting Wrench Sets (Review and Buying Guide) in 2021 Apollo Tools DT1212 SAE Ratcheting Wrench Set
Premium Pick The Best Ratcheting Wrench Sets (Review and Buying Guide) in 2021 Mountain 5-Piece Metric Double Box Universal Spline Reversible Ratcheting Wrench Set

The space where you work can influence the difficulty of a project. A simple task can take several hours if you’re confined to a tight spot where basic hand tools can’t correctly maneuver. That’s not to say that persistence and persuasion won’t do the trick. But a tool that influences your entire working dynamic for the better is worth adding to your collection. Ratcheting wrenches can greatly transform your working experience. They rely on a simple concept that makes a big difference in any setting. When you start looking to add a set to your collection, you’ll notice that the market is overflowing with options. While it may be hard to go wrong, it still helps to research what’s available, and that’s what we’re here to help you with.

The Best Ratcheting Wrench Sets

It’s probably not a surprise to see a Gearwrench product take the top spot on our list as this brand is known for building respectable tools at a competitive price point and backing them up with a great warranty. That said, you’ll get plenty of use out of this set of ratcheting wrenches. This 20-piece set includes SAE and metric sizes. The 10 SAE sizes range from 1/4 inch to 3/4 inch, and the 10 metric range from 6mm to 18mm. Each wrench utilizes a 72-tooth ratcheting mechanism with a five-degree swing arc. That makes this set shine in tight spaces, and the spanner end allows you to use it exactly as you would most combination wrenches.

One drawback of this selection is the poor design of the packaging. It’s clumsy, frustrating, and disposable. As for the wrenches, there are a few issues concerning quality control, according to some users.

Key Features
  • 20-Piece set
  • SAE and Metric sizes
  • 72-Tooth ratcheting mechanism
Specification
  • Brand Gearwrench
  • Model 35720
  • Weight 5.79 LBS
PROS

Good range of sizes

Short swing arc

Great warranty

CONS

Poor packaging design

Concerning quality control issues

If you’re looking for an inexpensive set of wrenches for your tool box, this is a great option. This set contains five ratcheting wrenches. Each one has two box ends with different sizes for a total of 10 different sizes. We should also mention that the wrenches feature a reversible ratcheting mechanism. These are SAE wrenches, which are ideal for older domestic vehicles and odd jobs. Sizes range from 1/4 inch to 7/8 inch, making the set useful despite the low piece count. The package is relatively simple, but it can double as a storage solution. It’s not everyone’s favorite, but it helps to keep a drawer organized, and the carry handle is great for transporting it to small jobs.

Because it’s so affordable, you can expect some issues. Even though the wrenches are tested to meet industry standards, they won’t hold up to regular abuse.

Key Features
  • 5-Piece SAE set
  • Features two sizes on each wrench
  • Reversible mechanism
Specification
  • Brand Apollo Tools
  • Model DT1212
  • Weight 6.2 Ounces
PROS

Ten useful sizes

Great price point

Useful packaging

CONS

Not best for professional use

There are several factors that make a tool like this a versatile option. Starting with the basics, this five-piece set features metric ratcheting wrenches. Each wrench has two box ends of different sizes. Each end is also reversible, so you can change direction whenever necessary. Not only that, but the box ends also feature raised collars. The collars enable you to use these ratcheting wrenches to deal with recessed fasteners. The collars might add to the wrenches’ profiles, but they make a big difference. As if that’s not enough, these are also swivel wrenches. All of these features combined make these wrenches perfect for a wide range of jobs. One more thing to love is the 90-tooth count in the ratcheting mechanism that makes for a super short swing arc.

Altogether these tools are great and have the quality you’d expect from big-name tools. They even have a lifetime warranty. However, the warranty process is a hassle, and it can be a significant pain to replace the tools if they break.

Key Features
  • 5-Piece Metric set
  • Each wrench features two sizes
  • Raised collar
  • Swiveling head
Specification
  • Brand Mountain
  • Model MTNRM6
  • Weight 3.8 LBS
PROS

Superior versatility

High-quality construction

Lifetime warranty

CONS

Difficult warranty process

You can’t talk about tools without Craftsman coming up in the conversation. After all, it’s the brand your daddy and his daddy likely relied on for many years. It’s another brand that offers quality tools at a reasonable price in combination with an excellent warranty. This 20-piece ratcheting wrench set fits the mold of all Craftsman tools. It features a great variety of metric and SAE sizes, all of which are of the quality we could expect from a tool bearing the name. SAE sizes range from 1/4-inch to 3/4-inch, and metrics span from 6mm to 18mm. A nice touch to these wrenches is the slim profile that aids with working in tight spaces.

These wrenches do what they say they will. They’re reliable enough for use at the home shop, they feature a good operation and fit into tight spaces. The only thing to be leery of is durability in harsh settings or during extreme use.

Key Features
  • 20-Piece SAE and Metric set
  • Slim profile
  • Lifetime warranty
Specification
  • Brand Craftsman
  • Model 46820
  • Weight 7.63 lbs
PROS

A useful range of sizes

Great warranty

CONS

May not stand up in professional settings

Gearwrench wrenches have also made our list as our Premium Pick option. This 16-piece set includes a range of Metric sizes spanning from 8mm to 25mm. Each features a ratcheting end along with a spanner wrench on the opposing side. They also feature a high tooth count, which makes for smooth operation and a short swing arc. They have fixed directions, but the directional indicator helps you quickly identify if you turn faster clockwise or counterclockwise. What’s important to note is that these wrenches also feature swiveling heads that help you reach into tight spots. The package is also worthy of attention as it doubles as a storage solution. And if you don’t need the Metric sizes, an SAE variant is readily available.

That swiveling heads offer a significant advantage when working on hard-to-reach fasteners on your vehicle. But they’re not perfect. A considerable portion of users report them as being too loose or becoming too loose rather quickly.

Key Features
  • 16-Piece Metric set
  • Swiveling head
  • High tooth count
Specification
  • Brand Gearwrench
  • Model 9902D
  • Weight 8.54 LBS
PROS

Wide range of sizes

Swiveling head

Useful packaging

CONS

The swiveling head may wear quickly

Here we have an option for someone looking for a little more than just a set of tools. For starters, this set comes with a total of 22 ratcheting wrenches in SAE and metric sizes. Metric sizes include 6mm to 18mm, and SAE sizes from 1/4-inch to 3/4-inch. Each wrench has a 72-tooth ratcheting mechanism that makes for a tight swing arc, complimenting their use in tight spaces. One thing to love about this kit is that it comes with a tool roll for organizations eliminating the need for an additional purchase. A nice touch of this tool roll is that each pocket is labeled to call out what size goes where, making for effortless organization.

The quality isn’t bad, but it’s not the best. Obviously, at a lower price, you might expect this, but it’s still worth noting. However, customer service seems to be excellent when it comes to helping customers replace tools they are having issues with.

Key Features
  • 22-Piece Metric and SAE set
  • 72-Tooth mechanism
  • Includes tool roll
Specification
  • Brand Geardrive
  • Model RATCHETING WRENCHES
  • Weight 5.71 lbs
PROS

Useful size range

Short swing arc

Tool roll serves as an excellent storage solution

CONS

Quality may be an issue

In today’s day and age, most folks are going to work with metric size. Therefore, they don’t need a kit that mixes in SAE sizes. If you’d prefer a more extensive set of metric sizes only, this is the set for you. This set includes a total of 18 wrenches and includes sizes ranging from 6mm to 24mm. The wrenches in this set al feature a 72-tooth mechanism that makes a significant difference in tight spaces. These do only operate in one direction, but the stamped directional indicator on the head of each makes it easy to identify the orientation you’re working with. As a bonus, this set includes a great to roll with labeled pouches for organization.

It’s unfortunate to see the high amount of reviews stating the ratcheting mechanisms come apart quickly. While customer service is quick to come to the aid of those who experience this, it can still be a significant setback.

Key Features
  • 18-Piece Metric set
  • 72-Tooth mechanism
  • Includes tool roll
Specification
  • Brand Jaeger Tools
  • Model 18PCRWMM
  • Weight 8.08 lbs
PROS

A useful range of sizes

Short swing arc

The tool roll is an excellent storage solution

CONS

Mechanisms come apart easily

No matter how fancy your wrench is, if it can’t reach the fastener then it’s useless. This set of wrenches features extra-long bars to reach into virtually any space you need to. Each wrench also features a swiveling head to ensure you can get it onto those spaces that make you hate engineers. With that said, this six-piece set offers a total of 12 different metric sizes. The sizes range from 6mm to 19mm. The package the set comes in is something to appreciate as well. Even though it’s pretty simple, it is still intended to aid in storing the wrenches in an organized manner.

The flaw of these wrenches is the integrity of the joint on the wrench head. It’s not as rigid as it should be. When faced with the extra torque of the extra-long bars, they tend to fail.

Key Features
  • 6-Piece Metric set
  • Offers 12 sizes
  • Extra-long design
  • Swiveling head
Specification
  • Brand Orion Motor Tech
  • Model OMT-RWH-0005
  • Weight 3.99 lbs
PROS

Range of useful sizes

Long reach

Great in tight spaces

CONS

Swiveling head breaks easily

The tight spot advantage of these ratcheting wrenches is something everyone needs to consider. As you might expect, ratcheting wrenches have a significant disadvantage on account of the extra size that needs to be added to the head. These cut off all the fat they could with the use of aerospace-grade vanadium and steel alloy. That, in combination with the 72-tooth mechanism, makes for superior performance in tight spaces. The set includes 24 of these wrenches in both SAE and metric sizes. SAE sizes range from 1/4-inch to 7/8-inch and Metric from 8mm to 19mm. A nice touch to this set is the storage system. The two separate cases help to keep the tools organizes neatly and easy to transport.

Unfortunately, there are a few too many reviews saying the mechanism comes apart easily to ignore. While customer service is great, it’s still something to be aware of when using it.

Key Features
  • 24-Piece SAE and Metric set
  • 72-Tooth mechanism
  • Slim design
Specification
  • Brand Jaeger Tools
  • Model 24PCRW
  • Weight 6.54 LBS
PROS

Superior performance in tight spaces

Useful packaging

CONS

Mechanism tends to come apart

We are closing out our list with an entry that has a lot to offer to the buyer. Right out of the gate, we should mention that the price is pretty great when you consider all that it has to offer. It is a 26-piece set that includes a range of metric and SAE sizes. SAE sizes range from 1/4-inch to 3/4-inch and Metric from 6mm to 18mm. The ratcheting mechanism in these wrenches feature 72 teeth, creating a 5-degree swing arc. The chrome vanadium construction of the wrenches helps make for a virtually unbreakable body and fantastic performance of the spanner end, and a slim profile. To top things off, this set comes complete with a tool roll for organized storage.

These are a solid set of tools that serve weekend warriors and novice mechanics well. Overall, they’re worth every penny for these folks. However, the ratcheting mechanism is the weak link and will wear out sooner than one might expect.

Key Features
  • 26-Piece Metric and SAE set
  • 72-Tooth mechanism
  • Slim profile
  • Includes tool roll
Specification
  • Brand Tool Guards
  • Model N/A
  • Weight 7.39 LBS
PROS

Great value

Range of useful sizes

Tool roll works as an excellent storage solution

CONS

The ratcheting mechanism is short-lived

Best Ratcheting Wrench Sets Buying Guide & FAQ

We think we’ve laid out some pretty good ratcheting wrench options and among our top picks is likely the set that you’re looking for. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t questions to ask or different features to be considerate of. Besides your budget, there are other factors you need to be aware of.

Ratcheting wrenches do rely on a simple concept, but that’s only for their primary function. The beauty of the design is that it essentially combines a combination wrench with a socket wrench. And much like a socket wrench, some design features arise to enhance the abilities of the tool. We’re here to talk about what options are available to you and why you need them.

Do You Need a Ratcheting Wrench Set?

Before we jump into the styles and so forth, let’s begin with the basics. A surprising amount of people skip out on adding a set of ratcheting wrenches to their collection of tools. And to be fair, you can get by just fine without them. They are especially considering that there were plenty of fumbles in the early days in regards to design in the early days. However, things are different now, and their function brings a lot of benefits to the table that you don’t want to walk away from.

Man is looking to the wrench set in front of him
Ratcheting wrenches are one of the things that can seemingly transform you’re working experience entirely

Combination wrenches offer you the ability to work on a fastener, no matter the position it’s in. A ratcheting wrench simply makes it much easier and faster for you to remove pins as you don’t need to reposition it in the same manner. The ratcheting mechanism offers two primary benefits. One, it’s a much smoother operation that cuts down on time. The swing arc of the ratcheting system also helps to simplify the process and speed things up.

Another benefit to consider is how the ratcheting wrench shapes your loadout. There are times where a socket is the only tool that will reach a fastener. (Check out our guide to socket sets.)  But, a lot of us only bring socket wrenches along with box wrenches because of the convenience. That said if you aren’t limited to the use of a socket, having a set of ratcheting box wrenches cuts down on the number of tools you need to bring with you.

  • Combines a ratcheting action with the slim profile of a box wrench.
  • The ratcheting mechanism offers greater speed and smoother action.
  • Can cut down on the number of tools you have to carry with you. 

Types of Ratcheting Wrench Sets

So, as we know, there are different features that ratcheting wrenches might have based on the design. By talking about the different types, we will be able to highlight some of the key features you’ll want to be aware of. That said, there are plenty of examples where multiple features exist. As an example, you may find a swiveling head with a reversible drive, and so on.

Fixed Direction Drive

Ratcheting box wrenches with a fixed drive are the most widely available variants. The ratcheting head only rotates in one direction, which helps to create the most streamlined design possible. It’s easy to see this as a limitation to the design, but when you consider the fact that you’ll use these wrenches in tight spaces, it makes sense that you should consider wrenches with this design.  

There’s no risk of bumping the mechanism on the wrench changing the direction of the ratcheting mechanism eliminates a ton of frustration. And if you need to change the direction of the ratcheting mechanism, all you have to do is flip the wrench around.

Reversible Drive

Wrenches with a reversible drive have a significant advantage over those with a fixed drive in many circumstances. There are plenty of occasions where flipping a wrench around every time you go to use it becomes tedious. Being able to reverse the direction as needed just makes for a more streamlined procedure.

There are different shift mechanisms available. A traditional lever may be present, or a button on the side of the head. What works better ultimately comes down to personal preference. Keep in mind that the lever is less likely to bump into anything in tight spaces but may be harder to access depending on the position of the wrench.

Swivel Head

Ratcheting wrenches with a swiveling head are also available. Rather than connecting the head to a solid bar, the head connects to the head and relies on a ball bearing and detents for positioning. It’s the same as what you would find on a socket wrench with a feature and offers the same benefits.

A solid bar may offer better structural integrity, but it can still be challenging to use when space is limited. The swiveling head provides the flexibility necessary to work at an awkward angle. One should note that this feature generally influences the price quite a bit.

Stubby

While there a no stubby ratcheting wrenches among our top picks, there are plenty available on the market. The advantage of the design is that they also provide better maneuverability in tight spaces. The short bar is far less likely to bump into other parts of a vehicle and whatnot and may be even easier to handle.

There are two things to consider about the stubby design, though. One, they have a disadvantage with reach, and that can render them utterly useless. There are also discrepancies with torque because they are shorter. That is why many folks will only consider these as an option when they have a full-sized set already.

What to Consider When Buying Ratcheting Wrench Set

The advantages of ratcheting wrenches are easy to see. Once you figure out what features you’ll favor, you just need to make sure you grab the best set you can afford. One thing to be considerate of is the fact that the heads on ratcheting wrenches are often thicker and wider than box wrenches. That means that they may prove challenging to use when there’s not enough room around the head of the faster you are working on.

That said, if you are putting together an entire tool collection, you might want to start elsewhere. We have a buying guide to Mechanic Tool Sets for those that need it. You might also consider checking out our buying guides to Air Ratchets and Torque Wrenches as well.

wrench is used for a fixing
The ratcheting mechanism offers greater speed and smoother action

Best Ratcheting Wrench Sets FAQs:

It’s time to move onto the FAQs. This section always serves to help us clear up any remaining uncertainties you might have. At most, we’ll shed some light on things you might not know about ratcheting wrenches and put your mind at ease due to something you’ve heard. At the very least, it serves as a short review of things you already know.

Q: Are ratcheting wrenches any good?

Yes. But like any tool, there are poor quality options. As long as you purchase a well-made set, you shouldn’t have any issues. 

Q: What is a reversible ratcheting wrench?

These wrenches feature a mechanism that allows you to change the direction of the ratcheting operation. It’s the same thing that you’ll find on a ratcheting socket wrench. 

Q: What is a combination wrench?

A combination wrench features a wrench head on either end. Most feature a box wrench and spanner wrench on either end of the same size. There are also many with the same type of wrench on either end of different sizes.  Ratcheting wrenches are almost always a variant of combination wrenches. 

Our Top Pick

The Gearwrench 20-Piece Ratcheting Wrench Set takes our top pick for a few reasons. It’s affordable, reliable, and offers owners a decent selection of sizes to work on most vehicles. The high tooth-count of the ratcheting mechanism also helps to deliver short but smooth swing arcs that are perfect for working in incredibly tight spaces. It is a fixed direction rotation, but that has its benefits over those with a reversible drive. And we can’t leave out the limited lifetime warranty that Gearwrench backs these tools with. 

Final Thoughts

Again, the Gearwrench 20-Piece Ratcheting Wrench Set is our favorite, but the Apollo Tools DT1212 SAE Ratcheting Wrench Set is hard to pass on if you’re on a budget.

You don’t need to limit your selection to what we favor, though! We want your input. Let us know about what set you think everyone needs in their tool box.

Sources:

  1. Socket Wrench – Wikipedia