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Tools

Best Socket Set

A good set of sockets is one of the essential items you need to build a worthwhile shop. It's not as simple as grabbing the first set you see on the shelf at your local home improvement depository. Socket sets vary so much that you could buy the most expensive one in the shop with more than 200 pieces and still wind up missing the one socket you really need. Whether you are looking for a set of deep impact sockets to do some heavy-duty auto work or a budget set for the most common household tasks, we have the information you need to make the right decision.

Be sure to also check out of list of the best socket wrenches.

Stanley 92-804 30 Piece Socket Set

You are going to love the low profile ratchet included in this set when trying to work in confined spaces. The 1/4 inch drive is light by my standards but the weight of the tool in your hands lets you know it’s not a toy; its durable construction will serve you well for years to come. The sockets are built heavy as well and the price is stellar for what you get. It's rare to find a budget socket set like this offering so much for so little.

Powerbuilt 640087 1/4-Inch Drive SAE 14 Piece Socket Set

If you are looking for high versatility but already own a ratchet and don't want to shell out for another, the Powerbuilt 640087 is the way to go. This 14-socket set includes the seven most commonly used sizes in both SAE and metric, meaning the average craftsman won’t need anything more than this. Drop forged metal is tough and hard so the edges and corners of these sockets are going to stay sharp and maintain grip for a long time.

Alltrade offers the same lifetime warranty on this budget socket set as they do on all of their tools so if you ever have a problem, they’ll replace it with a new item. This set covers all of my bases for versatility, quality, warranty and function balanced against price.

TEKTON 1201 1/4-Inch 9 Piece Drive Socket Set

Trying to replace some lost sockets in the most commonly needed sizes without a lot of chaff cluttering up your bench? The TEKTON 1202 ratchet set should have you covered. The well-designed sockets are high quality and feature a 6-point cup with corner reliefs ensuring a tight and accurate fit while avoiding stripped bolt heads and bloodied knuckles. TEKTON offers a lifetime replacement guarantee you can confidently rely on, but ultimately shouldn’t need.

One nice feature of this set is the reusable packaging, basically just a plastic frame. It’s not going to win the sash for Miss America, but it’s functional, can take a little punishment, and lies flat in a toolbox drawer. The only complaint here is the packaging says “10-piece set” and has nine sockets; they count the storage rack as a piece of the set.

Stanley 89-199 16 Piece 1/4-Inch Drive 6-Point Socket Set

Bare bones and to the point, this set includes everything you should need for your most common, light duty jobs. With the ratchet being only 1/4 inch drive, you'll want to reach for something heavier if you need to loosen a completely frozen bolt. However, these sockets are durable enough to stand up to a fair beating and keep moving. I'm a fan of deep sockets as they allow me a bit of extra reach and help maintain control when setting longer bolts. If you need to get into very tight spots though, it might not be the ideal choice.

Craftsman 58 Piece Mechanics Tool Set with Storage Case 20058

This is a Craftsman-quality set suggested for throwing in your auto trunk because it takes up very little space and has many of the tools you might need in case of some emergency engine work. The included carrying case is durable and will stand up to bouncing around in the trunk. A combination of 1/4 inch and 3/8 inch drive means you'll be covered for both light and medium-heavy duty work while still keeping the cost low. Both metric and SEA are represented here to cover even more jobs.

Ingersoll Rand SK4H13 1/2-Inch Drive 13-Piece SAE Standard Impact Socket Set

It may seem a bit pricey for a somewhat small set of impact sockets but it's worth the little extra cash to obtain a great set of tools. The quality of the materials is immediately obvious and will assure years of reliable use without failure. The etching is clear making it very easy to see the socket you need amid the typical shop tool clutter. The socket carrying case s nice and fairly durable but the joints seem like they might weaken over time if you're opening and closing them multiple times a day.

Stanley 97-125 11 Piece 1/2-Inch Drive SAE Deep Impact Socket Set

These impact sockets are heavy duty for years of reliable use and will stay by your side for a long time. The set is a bit more basic than others but the price is agreeable for the quality you’re getting. If I'm forced to choose between the two options I'll always take deep sockets over shallow because of improved versatility. The powder coating holds up well thanks to a protective finish however the size markings could be clearer.

Chicago Pneumatic SS3113 3/8" Drive 13 Piece Metric Impact Socket Set

This set of impact sockets is a perfect example of Chicago Pneumatics reputation for providing affordable, high quality tools. You won't find any skipped sizes in this set, often the case with less reputable companies selling impact socket sets supposedly covering a wider range of sizes but leave you with significant sizing gaps. This set is comprised of sockets made from quality metal, designed with thick walls to stand up beautifully to even extreme tasks and come in a durable and practical carrying case. What more could you ask for?

Matco SBP426V 3/8" Drive 42 Piece SAE & Metric 6 Point Deep Impact Socket Set

Matco SBP426V 3/8" Drive 42 Piece SAE & Metric 6 Point Deep Impact Socket Set

If you're looking for a set of impact sockets which will cover any job in a professional work setting, then this is one of your best bets. Combining both SAE and metric sockets as well as an impressive range of sizes, you're very unlikely to get caught without the right tool for the job. The quality of the socket metal is quite good and the design is rock solid. I like the highly visible etching which makes picking out the right socket easy, even through a dusty face shield. The price for this set is pretty steep but not unmanageable for a serious DIY enthusiast.

Snap-On 6-Point Impact Socket Set (12 pcs.) (5/16" to 1")

Snap-On 6-Point Impact Socket Set (12 pcs.) (5/16" to 1")

If you have a professional shop or a good budget for your DIY endeavors you might want to consider this set of impact sockets from Snap-On. It's small but covers all of the sizes you’re likely to use most often. The quality is on another level but you’re looking at a very high price. What I appreciate is the no-nonsense replacement of broken sockets policy offered by Snap-On. Then again, I've never broken a socket from this company and you'll likely never have to take them up on their offer either.

SK 4147-6 47 Piece 1/2-Inch Drive 6 Point Standard and Metric Socket Super Set

SK Hand Tools is a brand you can rely on. Their hand tools stand in a class above the usual store brand sets in all aspects. The quality steel and the high strength chrome coating make for a tool which can stand up to a serious beating over many years. The wrench has a beautifully smooth action and feels amazingly solid in the hand while the sockets are heavy and offer a very solid grip on the fasteners. This is a combination set including both SAE and metric sockets to encompass a wide range of jobs from the kitchen to the garage. For the high price tag you’re definitely getting a high quality set of tools.

Stanley 92-824 Black Chrome Socket Set

Stanley does well in this category with their no nonsense 92-824 Black Chrome socket set. The price is low for a 69-piece set and they’re clear about what you’re getting. You get 65 sockets, two ratchets and two extension bars which is an honest 69-piece set with no extra parts you don’t need. The sockets themselves are built well and backed by the usual Stanley lifetime warranty but the black coating on the individual pieces will come off on your hands. However, polish your new tools down before use and it solves the problem.

ATD 47 Pc. 3/8" Drive 6-Point SAE and Metric Pro Socket Set

Covering many of the more common sizes in both SAE and metric, this set is versatile enough for all of your average household jobs yet strong enough for serious garage work. The 3/8" drive is tough as nails with a comfortable weight in your hand. It's lighter than the 1/2" drive option on this list but feels just as solid. The price on this set is a steal for the level of quality delivered. It may seem trivial to some but I like the carrying case has one large hinge rather than multiple smaller ones because its far more durable and less likely to break.

Stanley 92-804 30 Piece Socket Set

You are going to love the low profile ratchet included in this set when trying to work in confined spaces. The 1/4 inch drive is light by my standards but the weight of the tool in your hands lets you know it’s not a toy; its durable construction will serve you well for years to come. The sockets are built heavy as well and the price is stellar for what you get. It's rare to find a budget socket set like this offering so much for so little.

Snap On General Service 6-Point Socket Set

Snap On General Service 6-Point Socket Set

The price of Snap-On tools plants them squarely beyond the reach of almost everyone but professional mechanics and this socket set is no different. While the price point is staggering, the quality might just take your breath away. The action of the included ratchet is absolutely smooth thanks to a high tooth count on the gears allowing the ratchet to perform with minimal movement. The sockets themselves are heavy and tough and the entire kit is backed by a substantial warranty. This particular set is available in both metric and SAE.

Paul Joseph Morin
I grew up breathing sawdust and dirt. Now I'm back in the shop after an overly long break. This time I remembered my respirator. I have my father to thank for setting me on the path of the DIY guru and he didn't waste a day that could be spent with a trowel or hammer in hand. Now I use these skills to grow my own vegetables and fruit, craft wooden toys and tools, and keep my home running smoothly.
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