Top 8 Socket Sets
By | Last updated: August 14, 2020

Yeah, we’ve covered mechanic’s sets in the past. However, before you go rushing to the comment section with a link to that post, know that we are trying to focus on decided socket sets this time around. That means no sets with piece-count padders like Allen keys or that one tool which only serves to remove the Färhfvingenator on your clapped out Volkswagen.

Disagree with our picks? Have a favorite you’d like to add? Good, because we’re always open to new input. Sound off below if we’ve missed a set from your preferred manufacturer. Just don’t tell us we’ve covered this topic before.

1. Editor's Choice: DEWALT Socket Set, 3/8-Inch Drive, SAE/Metric: 34 Pieces

There’s a reason your author started both this and the other totally different list with a DeWalt product: they simply work exceptionally well. We’ve all had experiences with ratchets that have worse teeth than your average Brit in the ’70s, refusing to permit even a quarter turn when trying to work in tight spaces.

All the sockets included in this set are shallower than your average TikTok socialite, so you’ll need to look elsewhere if you want deep sockets. However, these are six-point units that include both metric and standard measures (don’t lose that 10mm!). A single 3/8-inch drive ratchet is included.

Pros/Top-notch ratings, excellent quality
Cons/No deep sockets
Bottom Line/A solid set of shallow sockets

2. Neiko 3/8-Inch Drive Impact Socket Set: 44 Pieces

Nei-who? Neiko, apparently. This never-heard-of-em brand of sockets is all over Amazon, garnering mostly positive reviews (and, yes, we read them before recommending something here on TTAC). This is so-called Master Set has 44 pieces and includes both deep and shallow sockets.

Made of heat-treated material and robust enough to warrant approval for use with an impact gun, these six-point sockets are made of heavy-duty drop-forged premium chrome vanadium steel to resist corrosion and absorb extreme levels of torque changes. Big markers mean even you can see what size they are, old-timer.

Pros/Wide variety of sockets, AARP lettering
Cons/Reports of a cheap case
Bottom Line/Organize these sockets in your own toolbox

3. Milwaukee 1/4-Inch Ratcheting Socket Set: 50 Piece

The city of Milwaukee is famous for a couple of things – beer and tools not being the least of them. While some of their products are made overseas, the company has recently invested nearly $50 million into American production facilities.

This set is aimed squarely at the lighter duty jobs, or at least ones that require a modicum of finesse. All the sockets here are 1/4-inch drive, a size which comes in handy depending on the job. Like many others on this list, metric and standard measures are included but deep sockets pop up here as well.

Pros/Includes a couple of extensions and a ratchet
Cons/Frightening lack of reviews on this particular item
Bottom Line/Read the other Milwaukee reviews

4. WORKPRO Socket Set: 39 Pieces

If all you’re looking for is a basic set to see you through a couple of light repairs, one could do worse than this particular off-brand set. Absent of piece-padding Allen keys or screwdriver bits, this just-the-facts socket set is a decent selection for beginners.

They’re all shallow sockets, ranging in size from 5/32″ and 4mm to 1/2″ and 13mm. While the included screwdriver-type handle looks cheaper than chips, the ratchet handle is said to be of good quality. It also comes with a very basic blow-molded case.

Pros/That price
Cons/Not many socket sizes
Bottom Line/Your First SetTM

5. Bosch 3/8-Inch Deep Well Socket Set: 8 Pieces

Bosch seems to lend its name to nearly every product on the planet. Witness its brand popping up on items as varied as underhood car components and your author’s set of stainless steel kitchen appliances. I made a tasty baked pasta dish in a Bosch-branded oven just last night.

They’re in the socket same too, apparently, with this 8 piece set of stout deep well sockets that are fit for consumption by impact guns. Fitting a 1/2-inch drive, not included, these standard-sized sockets range from 7/16″ to 15/16″. The nearly 100 product ratings from real-world customers are overwhelmingly positive.

Pros/4.9 out of 5-star rating, der Bosch name
Cons/Costly for eight sockets
Bottom Line/It seems that one gets what they pay for

6. Spurtar Impact Extractor Socket Tool Set: 5 Pieces

Can’t get your nuts off? Us, either. Immature jokes aside, we’ve all tried to remove damaged bolts and fasteners at some point in our gearhead lives. Wailing on them with a torque wrench, called The Persuader around these parts, rarely helps. And melting the things off with fire is satisfying but can leave long term scars on both yourself and your car.

Enter these products which purport to grip and bite into damaged fasteners like an angry dog on the postman’s leg. This set is built for big nuts, as the Spurtar twist sockets set includes 17mm to 22mm units plus a drift punch nut removal bar. All of these things are designed for general automotive applications.

Pros/The satisfaction of removing a stubborn bolt
Cons/Only four sockets here
Bottom Line/Your sanity is worth 20 bucks

7. TACKLIFE Drive Impact Socket Set: 18 Pieces

In a confession that will totally give away my rural Canadian upbringing, Tacks were always a good set of skates from CCM. Add the suffix ‘Life’, however, and you’ll find a set of hearty sockets ready to take the abuse of an impact wrench. They’re deep-welled, too.

Offered in either standard or metric – but you’ll have to choose unless you want to buy both – these sockets are a six-point design that enlarges surface contact and prevents the rounding off of bolt heads (for which you’ll need the set listed above). The standard set comes with one extra socket because ‘Merica.

Pros/Stellar reviews, markings etched with freakin' lasers
Cons/You gotta choose between inches and millimeters
Bottom Line/Stop whining and get both

8. Sealey Impact Socket Set: 16 Pieces

Here’s a metric-only socket set (ducks the swooping bald eagle) that comes highly recommended by real-world customers who plunked down a not-insignificant amount of money for sixteen sockets, all of which accept a 1/2-inch drive.

Though it is not readily apparent in the ad, one respondent was good enough to list the socket sizes that are included in this kit. Apparently, they go all the way from the always-lost 10mm up to a staggering 32mm. The latter is reserved for brutish farm equipment or that infernal anode rod in the camper’s hot water tank.

Pros/Great variety of sizes
Cons/No ratchet included
Bottom Line/Lots of kudos from customers

From time to time, TTAC will highlight automotive products we think may be of interest to our community. Plus, posts like this help to keep the lights on around here. Learn more about how this works.

(Editor’s note: This post is meant to both help you be an informed shopper for automotive products but also to pay for our ‘90s sedan shopping habits operating expenses. Some of you don’t find these posts fun, but they help pay for Junkyard Finds, Rare Rides, Rental Reviews, and whatever else. Thanks for reading.)

[Main Photo Credit: Ensuper/Shutterstock.com. Product images provided by the manufacturer.]

21 Comments on “Sock It To Ya – Best Socket Sets...”


  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “Wailing on them with a torque wrench, called The Persuader around these parts, rarely helps.”

    I hope you meant “breaker bar” instead of “torque wrench”, because a torque wrench is a calibrated device not meant for wailing on anything.

    • 0 avatar
      notapreppie

      All the other issues with this post and you’re picking nits about torque wrench vs breaker bar? They’re mixing up sizes (1/4, 3/8, 1/2), depth, purpose (impact/non-impact), set contents… all in a ranked format. It’s really insulting.

      If they really want to generate revenue with paid content while maintaining some semblance of honesty to the “The Truth About XYZ” branding, they’d actually review in some systematic fashion what they are being paid to promote. These advertisements-dressed-up-as-reviews don’t even attempt to appear to be legitimate.

      This may actually be worse than their Stanley Black & Decker drill ad based solely on how low-effort it is. This is really a “zero farks given” scenario.

  • avatar
    Yankee

    A subject near and dear to my heart. I got rid of my Craftsman and started investing in Snap-On when I was in my 20s and the chrome plating peeled off a deep well socket I was using under a dashboard and sliced my fingers open before I realized what was going on. Bought my first two rails (SAE and Metric) that day off the Snap-On man. Fast forward 30+ years and I still have those two rails, now surrounded by a drawer full of others. My advice for those starting out is to buy the basics and acquire other items as they are needed. If you’re working on cars, 8mm through 19mm (1/4″ and 3/8″ drives) will allow you to do a lot. (Only 6-point – never use 12 point!) Buy a longer-handled 3/8 drive ratchet than those pictured with the sets above so you get some leverage (a flex-head works great for slight angles). Get yourself deep-well 1/2″ drive impact sockets in 17mm, 19mm, 21mm, and 22mm and you’ll have what you need to get the wheels off 95% of all cars out there. Despite my penchant for Snap-On, I have a set of Irwin Bolt-Grip sockets I bought at the auto parts store for rounded-out nuts and bolts that have amazed me with what they can do! Cheap and they work! Finally, pull, never push on a wrench the 90% of times that it is possible (push with an open hand when you have to) and always think where your hand is going to go if the socket slips or fastener breaks loose suddenly.

    • 0 avatar
      northeaster

      You’re a lot stronger than I am.

      I still have my 12 point 3/8″ Craftsman metric set from 42 years back, complemented by the ratcheting flex head. More rounded bolt heads than with a 6 point, but tolerable nonetheless.

      I’m actually amazed the flex head never disintegrated even with the occasional cheater.

      I’m not a pro, so SK has become my go to.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      As a tooler&wrencher of many decades, I still have my original Craftsman tools I began buying in 1965, when I left home and struck out on my own. That’s when Craftsman tools still had their unlimited warranty. No more. It’s junk now, worse than other brands.

      But over the many decades, I acquired high-quality tools from Snap-On, Crowmwell, and other brands based on needs I had at that time for a given project. I picked up many high-quality tools and metric-sockets while stationed in Germany 1972-1980, and they have held up really well, especially the ones marked Solingen Stahl.

      I found the key to tool-longevity to be to clean your tools after you used them.

      I don’t do much tooling and wrenching these days, and neither do any of my kids or grandkids. But my tools have served me well and saved me a lot of money over the past 55 years. Especially the specialty tools like the AC -compressor sockets, or temp-sensor sockets, hollowTorq-X set, BMW service-reset tool, and other OEM-specific tools.

      Tools are an investment. Treat them with respect, keep them clean, and you could make a lot of money when you decide to sell them.

  • avatar
    KOKing

    The Milwaukee listing completely missed two unique features with these sets (which also obviously come in 1/2 and 3/8). That is, the sockets are partly square on the outside so they should roll away a lot less. And the part of the case that holds the pieces is a separate insert, so you can keep em in a tool cabinet without the outer case.

    I’m personally partial to 3/8 sets that span a big range (say 6-24mm like my Wera) instead of having to deal with 1/4, 3/8 and 1/2 drive handles, extensions, etc. especially since other stuff that gets used on cars often (hex, torx, etc.) also come 3/8 drive.

  • avatar
    CKNSLS Sierra SLT

    I like the socket sets from the store that’s named after the place where you would dock a ship.

    Because they are cheap!

    • 0 avatar
      Yankee

      Their impact sockets are actually ok. But I’ve seen their basic 12-point chrome sockets crack in half, which is a great way to rack up a medical bill more than what you would have paid for a better set. I have no experience with their new Icon brand that is supposed to be a premium offering. They look nice, but I don’t know how well they work. Their base wrenches and sockets are made of pure Chinesium, however, which will end up costing you a lot more in the long run when you take your car to a mechanic to get out the bolts you rounded off, driving with one hand while your other one is in a sling.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        I’m just a hack but I never push hard on the handle or wrench with a closed fist.

        It’s asking for trouble, and plain dumb, but not the Emergency Department variety anyway. Always push with the palm, even with Snap Ons.

        There’s absolutely no need for buying off the Snap On truck unless it’s for something highly specialized.

        Hasn’t anyone gone to a garage/yard sale, flea market, etc? I buy them by the bucket and form an “A Team”, with as much USA Made as possible, and as they break, get loaned out, or lost (left on the side of the road, under the hood, etc), it’s back to the buckets.

        I’ll grab a handful, if it’s 100% Chinese, I’ll walk.

        I assume all the sets listed above are Chinese, even with a USA address, until I see the USA on the tools themselves.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      ” the store that’s named after the place where you would dock a ship.”

      When they opened up an outlet near me I did buy some stuff from them, like AC-generators, hydraulic jacks and other tools like 1/2″ drills, 3″ circular saw, etc, and yeah, you’re right…. they are cheap!

      I’ve got horror stories based on personal experience, especially about AC-generators used in day-to-day operations……. and drill-motors used to mix mortar in 5-gallon buckets.

  • avatar
    stuki

    Koken. Not sure how they do it, but their ratchets have almost no backdrag at all. Heck, everything is low friction, from changing sockets to getting the sockets themselves around nuts. Yet, everything fits tighter than almost anything. And the handles are almost strangely perfect for all hands. Not cheap, but not Snap-On either.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Mathew, enjoyed the Tacks reference. There was a period of about 20 consecutive years where every winner of the Art Ross (top points) in the NHL wore Tacks. Which is short for Tackaberry the surname of their inventor. For a considerable period they were also the most expensive skates. Just like Snap-On tools, you got what you paid for.

  • avatar
    aja8888

    Two top brands now that Craftsman is long dead and buried:

    Snap On
    Proto

    I managed to break in half a Craftsman 18″ breaker bar. That ended it for me.

  • avatar
    Imagefont

    Dewalt does not make hand tools, they brand them. The hollow ratchet handle is comfortable but come on, they make popular yellow crap and that’s their only claim to fame.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Some of my favorite socket-related tools available at Amazon (click on one of the “Shop Now” links first):

    This wobble (or non-wobble, see the third picture in the product description) extension set has been very useful, is well-made, reasonably-priced and comes with a nice foam storage tray:

    • “ARES 70330-9-Piece Wobble Extension Set”

    Stacking these (multiple wobbles) can get you into some surprisingly tight spaces. No they are not impact rated.

    • Check out the “Neiko” impact extensions (real CR-V).

    I have enjoyed this TEKTON impact socket set because it includes *every* metric size from 10mm to 24mm:

    • “TEKTON 1/2 Inch Drive Deep 6-Point Impact Socket Set, 15-Piece (10-24 mm) | 4883”

  • avatar
    3SpeedAutomatic

    Started collecting Craftsman tools in the mid 70’s when I got my first car. Was made in America at the time. Now, its imported from China and not worth you time and money.

    To add to the existing collection or find missing parts, I go to garage sales or flea markets and pick up on missing pieces or add items to the inventory. Once found an entire tool cabinet stocked with Craftsman tools and a Sears tool catalog from the 70’s. Makes your mouth water

  • avatar
    aja8888

    I have a 20 gallon, 4 hp Craftsman air compressor I bought in 1976 (yeah, 44 years old!). Still runs fine on 220V. I change the oil yearly and two intake filters when they get too much paint in them.

  • avatar
    Jarred Fitzgerald

    I’ll ask my wife if she could give one of these to me. It would be a great Christmas 2020 present.

  • avatar
    NeilM

    The expression is “whaling on” something. “Wailing” is what you do when the tool slips and skins your fingers.

    For top quality tools, look at Snap-on, Stahlwille, Facom.

    And yeah, these TTAC buyer’s guides are pretty much useless.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    I’d agree that this article is kinda laughable, especially since the selections seem pretty random, and not comparable to each other.

    I bought my first set, a Craftsman 3/8″ drive 12-point regular and deep Standard set, along with a Craftsman beam-type 1/2″ drive torque wrench. I’ve gradually collected other stuff (mostly all US-made Craftsman) since then. Lately I’ve bought a few Capri tools off of Amazon, like a couple of thin open end wrenches (14mm/15mm and 16mm/17mm), good for removing pin-slider type brake calipers (to keep the pin sliders from moving while turning the caliper bolts), and a long Torx bit set (I needed a T40 for removing the driver’s airbag in my daughter’s 2012 Kia Forte Koup, so I could replace a cruise control switch). Most of their tools are made in Taiwan, but they’re quality, and they have a lifetime warranty.

    There are lots of other good US-made tools on Amazon – I bought a Lang Tools 15-piece Metric thread restorer set last year, and it’s come in handy for several things, like chasing threads on wheel studs and other bolts.

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