- 1 Top 5 Best Socket Sets
- 2 Best Socket Set Buyer’s Guide
To help you find the best socket set for your vehicle and home repair needs, we looked into over 30 products that offer an adequate number and variety of sockets, ratchet handles, and other accessories. Then, we considered the following factors: reliability of materials, casing, and torque tools. We also made sure our selections only came from leading names in the industry known for their quality and durable tools.
Our top pick and the best socket set is the 123-piece Stanley set. Out of the more than 30 best socket sets on Amazon, it stood out because of its wide range of sockets—more than 70 in all and strengthened for torque through its unique MaxDriveTM design—and various add-ons. Keep reading to learn more about our top pick and four other highly recommended products for those looking for entry-level to professional socket sets.
Top 5 Best Socket Sets
#1 Stanley STMT71652 123-Piece Socket Set
Award: Top Pick
WHY WE LIKE IT: Stanley’s 1/4″ and 3/8″ drive socket set features 79 sockets bearing the MaxDriveTM design that increases their torque strength by 15%. Along with its multiple ratchets and other hand tools housed in a sturdy carry case, this American National Standards Institute (ANSI)-certified product is truly a complete socket set.
Chrome vanadium forged with anti-corrosion chrome was used for the tools in this kit, giving them strong protection against grease, caustic solvents, and weather changes. The SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) and metric-sized sockets come in a variety of types, including 49 drive sockets, 29 deep sockets, and a 3/8″ six-point spark plug socket. The sockets feature a rounded corner design dubbed by Stanley as MaxDrive as it allows the sockets to tighten more easily, reducing the wear and tear that comes from turning.
The set also features a 1/4″ and a 3/8″ drive pear head ratchet, a 1/4″ and a 3/8″ extension bar, a 1/4″ drive spinner handle, and 16 hex keys. The ratchets in the set have a quick-release switch and a reverse direction switch for fast and easy operations. The sockets and add-ons from Stanley, which has a proven track record of over 175 years in the tool-making business, are neatly organized in a blow-molded plastic casing. One note: Don’t ever use sockets with the best corded drill, since it is not made for that purpose and will likely ruin your work.
#2 Crescent CTK170CMP2 170-Piece General Purpose Socket Set
Award: Honorable Mention
WHY WE LIKE IT: This kit is generously packed with its highly acclaimed 72-tooth quick-release ratchets, plus pliers, screwdrivers, and other hand tools, making it the best socket set for electricians in this list. The components are made to last, having been manufactured from Crescent’s Crestoloy steel blend and coated with corrosion-resistant chrome.
Put together by another well-trusted name in the hand tool industry, this socket set ranks the highest in our list in terms of content and diversity. It has 71 sockets—including 12 deep sockets—SAE and metric hex keys, three quick-release ratchet tools, four extension bars, four screwdrivers, two pliers, and 13 wrenches.
Like its equally popular predecessor, the CTK170CMP, all tools in this kit are heat-treated for strength. They comply with the standards of ANSI and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). This Crescent socket set is also backed with a lifetime warranty. We look for this in all the tools we review, like the best disc sander for instance.
#3 TEKTON 1/2 Inch Drive, 6-Point Ratchet and Socket Set
Award: Best Quality
WHY WE LIKE IT: TEKTON sockets combine functionality and strength, featuring highly visible size marks, clear coated interior finishes, and ANSI standard for torque. Their performance is supported by a first-rate ratchet, breaker bar, and other accessories securely encased in a high-density polyethylene carrier.
This TEKTON kit has 52 1/2-inch shallow and deep drive sockets from 3/8” to 1” and 10mm to 24mm (22 SAE and 30 metric-sized, with clear size numbers engraved). The sockets have radiused corners that prevent fasteners from rounding off or losing their defined edges.
The 58-piece set features a universal joint and 10-inch extension bar that are not found in most socket sets. Also included is an 18-inch breaker bar with a pivoting head, which is ideal for loosening rusted bolts and stuck lug nuts. The TEKTON set also has a 72-tooth ratchet that can tighten or loosen bolts and nuts in tight spaces. That means there’s no need for the best hacksaw to come out as the only alternative.
#4 EPAuto 1/4″ and 3/8″ Drive Socket Set
Award: Best Budget
WHY WE LIKE IT: The variety of sockets and accessories that come with this socket set are great for to addressing emergency and quick fixes.
This kit contains 18 SAE-sized sockets and 16 metric-sized sockets that come in handy for basic home and vehicle repairs. It also features a 3/8″ reversible ratchet that not many sets have. It might take a bit of an effort though to make some sockets fit the ratchet.
Although the lowest-priced in our list, EPAuto didn’t scrimp on quality as all sockets and tools are made from chrome vanadium steel alloy with a mirror-polished finish. This makes them withstand drops as well as oil spillage and greases. This 40-piece set is also the most compact one on our list. Compared to item #3, which measures 20” L x 12.5” W, this set has smaller dimensions of 10” L by 5.8” W. This makes it easy to carry around, especially in case of emergencies or travels. We always like that, which is why we carry the best wire strippers everywhere. Be sure to check out the METAKOO 3/8-Inch Drive Metric Shallow Impact Socket Set as well on Amazon.com. This 3/8-inch drive metric sockets set includes laser-etched socket sizes for convenient reading, but additionally, you may need a socket wrench, since this set does not include one. Consider investing in screwdriver bits as well, like the Cheetah “Quick Release” Impact Screwdriver Bits which are designed for rapid and secure loading.
#5 EPAuto ST-004-1 69-Piece 1/4″ and 3/8″ Drive Socket Set
Award: Best Socket Set for Mechanics
WHY WE LIKE IT: This expanded kit offers a wider selection of corrosion-resistant standard and deep sockets plus spark plugs and ratchets that make it a must-have for regular to high-impact automotive work.
Like its previous iteration, sockets and tools in the EPAuto ST-004-1 kit carry SAE and metric sizes and are made of hard-wearing chrome vanadium steel alloy. It’s a highly recommended kit for do-it-yourself automotive repairs, with its pair of spark plug sockets and turning tools. With this kit, your best socket wrench will always be ready to use.
These include two pear head ratchets, which have a higher tooth count and are easier to turn than round head ratchets, and two extension bars. Meanwhile, the socket wrenches don’t feel cheap but offer crisp ratcheting. Weighing just a little under 10 pounds, it’s perfect for stuffing at the trunk of your vehicle. Sockets as well as the best drill bits are among the most used tools in the shed.
How We Decided
All five products were selected from leading industry suppliers who, regardless of their company’s lifespans, are known for their high attention to craftsmanship. The sockets and accompanying hand tools in the five kits are all made of rust-resistant chrome vanadium steel. If you’re looking to add further to your tool collection, take a look at the best torque wrench too.
Although DIYers and mechanics may be satisfied with 20 to 30-piece sets, we picked kits with at least 40 or more parts that will provide you the most flexibility in different repair scenarios. They include innovative turning mechanisms that will help you get the most out of your sockets.
We focused on standard sockets because you can use them with your hand tools anytime, whether you’re at home or on the road, unlike carbonized impact sockets that require electricity-driven tools.
Best Socket Set Buyer’s Guide
The Most Important Factors to Consider
- Fastener Type
Fasteners refer to the screws and bolts that are turned and tightened by a socket and turning tool such as a ratchet wrench. Do you mostly deal with cars and torx screws? Then you may want to focus on getting a torx socket set. If you’ll mainly work with several types of fasteners, then it would be good to narrow down your search to sets containing the matching sockets.
- Number of Sockets
The number of sockets in a set is among the primary product information given to buyers. Check your current tools so you won’t end up buying a set with items you already own.
- Measuring System
Check whether the size of your fasteners is expressed in imperial (inches) or metric (millimeters, centimeters) measurements. However, most socket sets use both measuring systems, and US-made ratcheting socket wrenches are created to work with either SAE or metric sets. It’s also more economical to buy a set featuring both types.
The best sockets are made of durable chrome vanadium that can withstand frequent torque. They’re also cost-effective as they don’t rust easily.
- Impact or non-impact sockets
Non-impact sockets require only hand tools. They’re commonly used by those who do motorcycle/automotive repairs and home jobs. Meanwhile, impact sockets need air or power tools for them to be removed or tightened. Non-impact sockets are chrome-plated, while impact sockets are always made of black oxide.
- Deep or shallow sockets
Having a combination of both shallow and deep sockets can help you work with fasteners of whatever length. DIYers should look for sets with spark plug sockets that can reach deep into the bottom of the spark plug. These sockets are lined with rubber inside, protecting the top of your spark plug from possible damage. You may need deep sockets or extension bars for hard-to-reach nuts and bolts and engine spark plugs.
- Quality of Ratcheting Tool
- High tooth count – A ratcheting tool (wrench) with more and smaller teeth lets you rotate a fastener fewer times or with a narrower swinging motion, something useful when you have a small space to move the handle. Better quality tools normally have a higher tooth count.
- Quick-release button – Some sets have ratcheting mechanisms with this feature, which makes it easier for locking a socket in place and then releasing it after.
- Reversing mechanism
Look for a set with ratchets that have a lever-activated reversing mechanism. This works better in tight spaces compared to a regular wrench with an adjustable dial.
There are plastic cases with flexible hinges and snap latches, and there are more heavy-duty metal cases with hinges with pins and draw-bolt latches. Moreover, choose a socket set that’s easy to carry or take with you on your vehicle, if necessary.
Socket Set FAQs
To prevent bolt heads from rounding out or losing their edges:
- Use the correct-sized tools for tightening or loosening bolts. Make sure they're not worn and they fit snugly up to the head of the bolt.
- Use a pick or small screwdriver to thoroughly rid the interior of the hex head hole of any debris.
- Don't over-tighten bolts.
- Use proper Allen or hex keys.
How can I remove a bolt that has rounded out?
Sometimes the edges of a bolt or lug nut have rounded out that there are no longer any edges a wrench can grip onto for it to be turned and loosened. Sometimes, this is caused by using the wrong wrench, often an adjustable one, to tighten or loosen it. One way to make a rounded bolt easier to remove is to first lubricate it using penetrating liquid or heat. Let the lubricant sit for 5 to 10 minutes, or melt some wax into it to help make removal easier. You might also want to try using a metal file and use short, quick strokes in one direction to somehow restore the defined edges of the bolt. Get hold of the head of the bolt with a chisel (or flat blade or flat side of a screwdriver) and hammer its head counter-clockwise. If it still won't budge after all these steps, you may have to make several relief cuts, cut the whole head off, or run a drill through it.
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