For experienced DIYers, socket sets are not confusing. If you are one, you can probably skim through the buyer’s guide at the bottom and study the product reviews.
For beginners and those wanting to buy a socket set as a gift, the buyer’s guide will help you understand the terminology related to socket sets and help you decide what you want included in the socket set you buy.
Socket sets are essential tools if you are going to do any home or car repairs. Having a set of sockets that can be attached to one racheting socket wrench is much more convenient than having a bunch of separate socket wrenches. So, read the buyer’s guide, then study the ten best socket set reviews and choose the set that best suits your needs.
Best Socket Set of 2018
|Chrome Vanadium Steel||123|
|TEKTON 1/2||Chrome Vanadium Steel||58|
|GearWrench 80550||Nickel chrome plated alloy steel||57|
|Neiko 10288A||Chrome Vanadium Steel||32|
|Stanley 92-804||Forged from high-quality steel and finished in high-polish nickel chrome||30|
|Stanley 97-126||Chrome vanadium steel||11|
|Sunex 2569||CR-MO Alloy Steel||43|
|GearWrench 80300||Alloy steel and nickel chrome||51|
|Neiko 10075A||S2 alloy steel||13|
|Sunex 3342||(Cr-Mo) alloy steel||42|
Stanley STMT71652 Socket Set – Best for Mechanic
This Stanley 123-Piece Socket Set features Stanley’s Max-Drive design that provides 15 percent more torque, simplifies the turning of rounded corners, and reduces fastener wear with a unique radius corner design.
It includes both SAE and metric-sized sockets. The ratchet has 72 teeth. The handles are ergonomically designed. It has a quick release button and thumb-operated reverse switch mechanism.
The set includes:
- a 1/4″ drive ratcheting socket wrench and a 3/8″ drive ratcheting socket wrench.
- 1/4″ drive 6 point standard sockets from 5/32″ to 9/16″ and from 4 to 14 millimeter.
- 1/4″ drive 6 point deep sockets from 5/32″ to 1/2″ and from 4 to 13 millimeters
- 3/8″ drive 6 point standard sockets from 1/4″ to 7/8″ and from 6 to 19 millimeters
- 3/8″ drive 6 point deep sockets from 5/16″ to 9/16″ and from 9 to 13 mm.
- plus accessories include a 1/4″ drive 3″ extension bar, 1/4″ drive spinner handle, 1/4″ drive bit holder, 3/8″ drive 6 point 5/8″ spark plug socket, 3/8″ drive 3″ extension bar, screwdriver bits including ten allen screwdriver bits and hex keys.
- 11.2″ x 15.9″ x 3″ case
TEKTON 1/2-Inch 58-Piece Set – Best for Home Use
This TEKTON 1/2″ drive 58-piece socket set includes a 1/2″ square drive, 72-tooth ratcheting socket wrench and 1/2″ drive 6 point shallow and deep sockets from 3/8″ to 1″ and from 10 to 24 millimeter plus a universal joint, 3-inch and 10-inch extension bars, an 18-inch breaker bar, and a case.
The set is made with chrome vanadium steel and has and chrome plated finish. The case is 11.4″ x 18.7″ x 2.8″.
GearWrench 80550 57 Piece – Set Under $100
This GearWrench Socket Set has both SAE and metric sockets and is made with alloy steel plated with full polish, nickel chrome. One of the ratcheting socket wrenches in this set is longer for better leverage with a low profile head for tight spaces.
The ratcheting gear has 84 teeth. The second wrench is shorter for tight spaces. The socket sizes are printed in large numbers on both sides of the socket. The interior of the sockets are serrated for better grip.
The set includes:
- 3/8-Inch Drive 6 Point standard sockets ranging from 1/4″ to 1″ and 6 to 19 millimeters.
- 3/8-Inch Drive 6 Point deep sockets ranging from 1/4″ to 7/8″ and 6 to 19 millimeters.
- 3-inch and 6-inch extensions, universal joints.
- 11.4″ x 18.7″ x 2.8″ case
Neiko 10288A – Best Socket Set for Car Maintenance
It has both SAE and metric machine-precision sockets with chamfered ends to protect the sockets and the fasteners. The sizes are marked on the case and the sockets.
The set includes:
- 1/4” square drive 6 point sockets ranging from 5/64” to 1/4”
- 3/8” square drive 6 point sockets ranging from 9/32” to 1/2”
- 1/2” square drive 6 point sockets ranging from 9/16″ to 3/4”
- 1/4” square drive 6 point sockets ranging from 2 millimeters to 6 millimeters
- 3/8” square drive 6 point sockets ranging from 7 millimeters to 12 millimeters
- 1/2” square drive 6 point sockets ranging from 14 millimeters to 19 millimeters
- 12.6″ x 6″ x 1.8″ case
Stanley 92-804 – Cheap Socket Set
The racheting socket wrench has a small head to fit into tight spaces, a quick release button, a thumb-operated reverse switch, and, for more comfortable grip, it has a bi-material rubber handle. The ratcheting gear has 72 teeth for a smaller return in tight spaces.
The set includes:
- 1/4″ square drive 6 point sockets ranging from 3/16″ to 9/16″ and from 6 to 12 millimeters
- 1/4” square drive 12 point sockets ranging from 3/8″ to 1/2″ and from 6 to 12 millimeters
- 1/4″ Universal Joint 1
- 3″ Extension bar
- 14.1″ x 9.5″ x 1.2″ Case
Stanley 97-126 11 Piece Impact Socket Set – Good for Power Tools
This Stanley 11 Piece 1/2″ drive 6 point metric deep impact sockets only set is made from chrome vanadium steel with a black powder coat industrial finish. The impact sockets range from 10 to 24 millimeters. The case is 5.9″ x 2.4″ x 1″.
Sunex 2569 – Best Impact Socket Set
To avoid rounding corners on fasteners, it has radius corners on the sockets and square drive.
This set includes:
- 1/2″ square drive 6 point standard sockets ranging from 9 to 27 millimeters
- 1/2″ square drive 6 point deep sockets ranging from 9 to 27 millimeters
- 3″, 5″, 10″, and 15″ extensions and a universal joint
- 16.9″ x 22.3″ x 2.8″ case
GearWrench 80300 – Best 6 Point Socket Set
This GearWrench 1/4″ drive 6 point socket set has an 84 tooth ratcheting socket wrench for a smaller arc return and an additional 1/4″ drive thumb wheel ratchet. The ratchet is available in flex-head and offset.
The ratcheting socket wrench has a low profile head for tight spaces, and a longer ergonomically designed handle for more torque. The handle is available in chrome, cushion grip, and stubby.
It is made of alloy steel for strength that exceeds ANSI specifications, and has an easy-to-clean nickel chrome finish to prevent corrosion. With deep serration, the sockets will have a good grip on fasteners. The markings on the sockets are large and easily readable.
This set includes:
- 1/4″ drive 6 point standard and deep sockets ranging from 3/16″ to 9/16″ and a 5 millimeter socket in standard and deep.
- 2-inch and 6-inch extensions and a universal joints.
- 13″ x 7.5″ x 2.4″ case
Neiko 10075A Socket Set – Hex Sockets for Your Car
The sockets are precisely machined and chamfered to grasp fasteners securely without damaging fasteners or sockets.
This set includes:
- 1/4” square drive 6 point sockets ranging from 5/64” to 1/4”.
- 3/8” square drive 6 point sockets ranging from 9/32” two 1/2”.
- 1/2” square drive 6 point 9/16″ socket
- 7.2″ x 1.2″ x 3.9″ case
Sunex 3342 – Best medium 3/8″ drive 6 point impact sockets set
The sockets have radius corners to provide more torque and protect fasteners from being damaged. The sizes are marked on the sockets.
This set includes:
- 3/8″ square drive 6 point standard impact sockets ranging from 5/16″ to 3/4″ and from 10 to 19 millimeters
- 3/8″ square drive 6 point deep impact sockets ranging from 5/16″ to 3/4″ and from 10 to 29 millimeters
- 3″ extension and 3/8″ u-joint
- 9.6″ x 13.6″ x 2″ case
Best Socket Set for the Money – Buyer’s Guide
How Are Socket Sets Sized?
Socket wrench sets are available in either metric measurements, inches, or a combination of both. Sets using inches are referred to as SAE sets (Society of American Engineers). In the United States, most ratcheting socket wrenches are made to fit both metric and SAE socket sets.
The square nub on the ratchet is usually 1/2″, and the set would be called a 1/2″ square drive set. Large ratchets can have 3/4″ nubs and smaller ratchets can have a 1/4″ nub. A 1/4″ adapter is available with most 1/2″ drive socket sets. When the sockets are created to fit over the common hexagonal fastener heads, they are referred to as 6 point socket sets.
A 6 point socket set is probably the one you will use the most. However, you might also want a 12 point socket set. A 6 point socket will have thicker walls than a 12 point socket, will not slip off the fastener, and applies the pressure to the flat side of the fastener, which prevents rounding the corners on the fastener, but using a 12 point socket can make it faster to connect to a fastener in a tight space.
What Is Included in Socket Sets?
Socket sets include the sockets and the ratcheting socket wrench. In addition some sets include the adapter mentioned above and extenders for hard-to-reach areas. Extenders range from 1/2″ to 20″ and can sometimes be connected to add more length.
The depth of most sockets is shallow, and that is usually fine. However, sometimes a fastener is tightened a little farther up the bolt. This is when you need a deeper socket. So you might consider getting a socket set with both shallow and deep sockets or adding a few deep sockets to your set.
Another useful piece in a socket set is the spark plug socket. It is a long cylindrical socket that fits over a spark plug and has rubber inside to fit over the top of the spark plug. You will most likely need a 5/8″ or 13/16″ but check your car manual.
If you are going to use the sockets with a power tool, then you need impact sockets. They are made to withstand the higher torque of a power tool. Depending on how often you use sockets with power towels, you might want to buy impact sockets as you need them rather than buying a whole set. Impact sockets are always black. Nonimpact sockets are chrome. Do not use regular sockets in power tools.
What Is the Importance of the Tooth Count of the Gear in the Ratcheting Mechanism?
Ratcheting socket wrenches with high tooth counts have more and smaller teeth that permit a shorter ratchet return in tight spaces. The tooth count can range from 36 to 72 teeth requiring a 10-degree to 5-degree turning motion respectively.
Smaller teeth are not weaker than larger teeth. Standards set by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) require a minimum standard torque, no matter how many teeth a ratcheting socket wrench has.
Additional Features to Consider
The quick release feature locks the socket in place and releases it with the push of a button.
Reverse Mechanism: lever vs dial
In tight spaces, it is easier to use a lever than a dial to change the ratchet from loosening to tightening.
Easy to Read Markings
Most of the time, you will probably not know exactly what socket you need. So, the markings may not be important when you are selecting a socket. However, when you are ready to put the sockets away, it is much easier if the markings are easy to read.
If the ratcheting socket wrench has a smooth finish and rounded edges, then it can easily be wiped off and put away when you are done. Textured wrenches with sharp edges trap grease and dirt in spots and are harder to clean.
Most cases are plastic, but you can buy metal cases. The big difference in plastic cases is the hinges and latches. Some cases have flexible plastic hinges and snap latches. The better cases have draw-bolt latches and hinges with pins.
Another difference in cases is the space provided. Some fit the sockets together very tightly, making it hard to get out sockets. Others provide a little more room.
Things to Remember About Socket Sets
Be sure to use the right size socket to get the right leverage, and do not force a fastener because it might break. Use lubricant on fasteners that will not budge, and then try to loosen them again after a little while.
What Alloy Was Used to Make the Socket Set?
Many socket sets use chrome vanadium steel, which is strong and durable.
To recap, socket sets are categorized by the size of the square nub where the sockets attach to the ratcheting socket wrench. Most sets used for home or car repairs are 1/4″, 3/8″, or 1/2″ square drive sets. Socket sets are further categorized by the number of sides on the inside of the socket. The most useful is six sided or 6 point, followed by 12 point. Another important measurement is the size of the opening that allows the socket to fit over the fastener. This measurement can be in either inches (SAE) or metric.
Socket sets can just include the sockets, but usually they also include at least one racheting socket wrench. In addition they can have drive adapters so that the ratcheting socket wrench can be used with different drive sockets. Sets can also include extenders that help reach hard to reach fasteners and universal joints. Sockets can be standard or deeper for nuts that are farther down on bolts. There are also impact sockets to use with power equipment.
In addition ratcheting socket wrenches with high tooth counts allow work in tighter spaces. Quick release buttons make changing sockets faster, and easy to read markings on the sockets makes it easier to sort sockets.
The reviews provide an assortment of socket sets from small socket sets to large sets that include a large variety of parts. So, browse the products and decide which set is what you need.