If you want to call yourself a handyman, you need to make sure you have a set of reliable tools. One for every occasion, really. Before calling in the pros and letting them handle the issue you’ve encountered, it’s natural to want to do your utmost and take matters into your own hands.
Now imagine: you’ve identified a mechanical problem and decided to sort it out. What’s the first tool you’re going to reach for?
Of course – it’s your ratchet. For those who aren’t aware, a ratchet is a tool that’s quite similar to a socket wrench. It lets you take care of bolts that are otherwise hard to reach. For example, when the area you need to work in is restricted. Say, under your car’s hood – or underneath the ride itself.
We put all our trust in our tools – they’ve got our backs. That’s why we decided to let you know about the best eight ratchets for hobbyists, DIYers, and mechanics of any kind. We’ve personally examined every single one of them and can vouch for their effectiveness.
We have included battery and air-powered ratchets as well as old-school manual tools from well-known manufacturers. Deciding which is the absolute best is nearly impossible. That’s why you should treat the following list as a set of recommendations and not a tiered ranking.
1. TEKTON ½” Composite Quick-Release Ratchet 1458
The first place goes out to our favorite ratchet of the bunch, the TEKTON’s own 1458 ratchet. It is a manual tool with a quick release. The TEKTON 1458 has a 72-tooth gear and a minimal working swing arc of 5 degrees.
This makes it our go-to ratchet if we need to fasten something where the workspace is extra limited.
The best feature of this tool is its reliability. It’s got a one-piece chrome vanadium steel head and handles. On top of that, it’s got a durable polymer outer shell. That means you can use the ratchet even in low temperatures without experiencing any discomfort.
The polymer outer layer also protects whatever you’re working on from contact damage. Made to industrial specifications in Taiwan, this model is the ideal tool for any DIY fanatic.
- 5-degree arc of movement
- Built to last, tough high-impact poly shell
- Quick-release for easy socket removal
- Unusual switch location can be confusing at first
- Polymer shell may collect stains and grime
2. JUEMEL 3/8″ 16.8V Cordless Electric Ratchet Wrench Set
JUEMEL’s 3.8″ set is designed for most situations where you might need some torque in your spin. The set includes a battery-powered 400 RPM variable speed ratchet. The batteries are included in the box, along with the charger. That means you won’t need to worry about buying anything else – the kit should be more than enough to meet most of your needs at work.
The Juemel is lightweight, relatively compact at 13″ long, and has built-in LED lighting for use in dimly lit spaces. Our favorite thing about the set is how quickly the battery is charged. Forty minutes is enough to make sure the battery is full, and the set includes two of them.
In addition to that, the tool itself has a specifically designed slot at the socket adapter. Because of that, you never have to worry about the socket falling out and can focus on your work without worry.
- Set includes everything you may need to start working
- Fast-charge batteries included
- Low price
- Some jobs may require more torque than the unit can offer
- Suitable for hobbyists, not professionals
3. MILWAUKEE’S 2457-20 Sub-Compact Ratchet with Variable Speed Trigger
The Milwaukee 2457-20 has a recessed forward-backward switch which prevents accidental discharges in the middle of an important task. It’s got a sleek design and is as compact as battery-powered ratchets go. That means it’s perfect for work in cramped spaces.
There’s an LED lamp set up at the front of the unit, so you don’t need to worry about a separate source of light – Milwaukee’s got you covered.
The Milwaukee 2457-20 has got a variable trigger for the jobs that require sensitivity. It sports a fuel gauge, letting you know when it’s time to charge the battery. Additionally, the unit has a smart chip that communicates with the battery directly. That is to make sure the power consumption remains stable. This can save your ratchet from overheating and needlessly being damaged!
- Compact – only 9.47″ long
- Light – weighing only 1.81lbs
- Fit for a wide variety of jobs
- Combination wrench included
- Batteries not included
- Suitable for light use, not recommended for long work sessions
4. Ingersoll Rand 170G Edge Series Drive Air Ratchet
INGERSOLL’s Rand 170G is next on our list. It’s an impressive pneumatic ratchet carefully and diligently built to industry standards. The care and effort Ingersoll put into creating the 170G inspire confidence. The unit comes in 3/8″ or 1/2″ configurations.
The ratchet is heat-treated, which means the tool doesn’t mind rough work conditions. It’s got a powerful motor that produces 55-foot pounds of torque. The ratchet supports up to 170 rpm and hence is perfect for engine repairs, or really, any home projects. It should be fine for light industrial work as well. You don’t need to worry about the tool breaking or giving up on you – Ingersoll built the 170G to last.
- Heat-treated metal ergonomic device
- Powerful air motor
- Suitable for most DIY or repair projects
- Considerably louder than other ratchets
- Handle trigger may need maintenance after long periods of use
5. ACDelco ARW1209P G12 Series 12V Li-ion Cordless Ratchet Wrench Tool Kit
The fifth-place goes out to a ratchet from ACDelco – the ARW1209. It’s a cordless battery-powered unit that comes with the necessities included, so you can start working right away! The set contains a 12V li-ion battery and a fast charger, and eight different sockets for most situations.
The ARW1209 boasts an ergonomic grip that allows the job to be worked on without interruption for a longer time. Like the other ratchets on our list, it includes a built-in LED light and has a no-load speed of 170 RPM. Forty-five foot-pounds of torque should be enough for most home applications. It’s relatively compact at 11.5″ in length and weighs 2.3 lbs.
- Ergonomic and compact design for comfort during long periods of work
- It comes with sockets included as well as a battery and a fast charger
- A reasonable amount of torque for most projects at home
- Low price
- A bit too big for work in smaller engine compartments
- No variable speed
- No case for accessories
6. CRAFTSMAN Ratchet Wrench CMMT81748
Moving on to manual ratchets, let’s start with this exceptional piece from Craftsman. They are a brand of tools that need no introduction – we’re sure each of us has used at least one Craftsman thing before!
The ratchet in question, the CMMT81738, is a sturdy socket wrench that’s made to last. It’s made to industry standards and meets or exceeds the ASME specifications. The tool boasts a fully polished chrome finish, which means it’s not going to collect rust.
We recommend this ratchet because of its 72-tooth design. That means its arc swing is minimal. In addition to that, Craftsman thinks about the little things, or in this case, the big ones: the markings are large so that you can easily identify this tool among the other tools!
Moreover, the handle is designed with ergonomics in mind. It can withstand a lot of pressure so that you can take care of your bolts without restraint.
- A quality piece from a well-known manufacturer
- Compact at only 9.37″ long
- Slightly lower build quality than the classical Craftsman tools
- More expensive than generic brand ratchets
7. GEARWRENCH 3/8″ 120XP Flex Head Teardrop Ratchet 81210P
Here’s a standout ratchet that you can show off to your DIYer friends. The Gearwrench 120XP is a magnificent tool built with the best materials for the most demanding of users. The ratchet has 120 teeth in two stacks of 60 each and a swing arc of only 3 degrees. It’s got an enclosed head, which makes the moving parts dirt and oil resistant. With an on/off switch that is easily identifiable, you’ll know when you can muscle those bolts right away!
The 120XP rounds off its specifications with a polymer handle. The manufacturer designed it to be lengthy, making it simple to reach into enclosures difficult to access. The ratchet is built to meet or exceed the ASME specs, so you can rely on the 120XP to serve you right, whatever the job.
- 3-degree swing arc
- Incredible strength coming from two sets of 60-tooth pawls
- Easy to wipe clean after a job, corrosion-resistant
- Lifetime warranty
- The head may appear a little too loose for some users
8. GEARWRENCH 1/2″ Drive 84 Tooth Long Handle Teardrop Ratchet 81360
The final ratchet on our list isn’t the worst by any means! We’ve included this one for the hobbyists and pros alike who need a reliable tool with an extra-long reach. The 81360 has got an incredible handle which is 15″ – just imagine the possibilities that no other ratchet allows! The tool has an 84-tooth operation with a 4.3-degree arc. With this tool, no bolt will be left unfastened, no matter how well-hidden.
Naturally, the tool is made to meet or exceed the ASME specs and is highly durable against dirt infiltration. The handle is fully polished, so wiping the ratchet clean will never be a problem. It’s made of reliable steel alloy.
Personally, it’s one of the more impressive ratchets we have ever used. It has come through on occasions when no other ratchet could do the job because of how limited the space.
- Great reach
- 4.3 movement arc
- Corrosion-resistant, easy to clean
- Not for commercial use
Buying Guide – Choosing the Best Ratchet
Now that we’ve gone over the eight best ratchets for home users, you may be wondering what is important to consider when picking the one that’s best for you. No worries – that’s what we’re here for!
Number of Teeth
The position count of your selected ratchet will first and foremost influence the swing arc. That means that the more teeth your selected ratchet has, the lower the degree to which it operates. If whatever you are working on is in a limited enclosure, a ratchet that boasts a higher tooth count will serve you better than others.
As you can see from the ratchets we’ve reviewed, the tooth count can go from 60 to 120. There are exceptions, of course: there are tools with even higher – or lower – position counts, but we don’t need to concern ourselves with them.
However, you should keep in mind that lower swing arcs (bigger tooth numbers) could translate to less operational strength, and the tool may slip more often.
You want to be able to reliably and comfortably use your tools without any strain, right? That’s why it is essential to check the type of handle the selected ratchet has. If you’re someone who appreciates round designs over others, there is a ratchet for you. We’ve already looked over ratchets that have different grip styles – you need to pick the one that looks the most comfortable for you.
As we’ve already gone into the design of the ratchets, we should also mention that it’s important to consider the material on the handle of the tool. If your projects tend to get messy, we’d advise against picking up ratchets with rubber grips. They may get dirty, and cleaning them may be a hassle. Not only that but using specific cleaning agents could result in damage to the non-slip material.
Additionally, take a gander at the ratchet’s weight and dimensions before you buy. Finally, decide whether the tool will suit your work environment beforehand!
Consider investing more in a ratchet if you want a tool whose operation will be hassle-free. Cheaper ones may be good if your budget is limited and you don’t intend to use the tool much.
On the other hand, the reliability, durability, and longevity of ratchets, like pretty much anything else, come with a steeper price tag. We’re sure you won’t regret investing more into an item that will be a reliable companion in your endeavors.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. Should I Go For a Manual or a Powered Ratchet?
It depends on what kind of work you’re going to use the ratchet for. Battery and air-powered ratchets are better for situations where you need to turn many fasteners one after the other. On the other hand, if you’re only going to be tightening or loosening a couple of bolts at a time, an old-school manual ratchet should be more than enough.
2. Why Not Just Get a Wrench?
A wrench is indeed a good tool in a lot of situations. However, one wrench will never be able to offer the flexibility that a socket ratchet does. You’d need a set of wrenches as opposed to just one with interchangeable sockets.
The advantages a ratchet offers are obvious: you won’t need to carry a bunch of tools in the trunk of the car around if you’ve got your trusty ratchet with you.
3. What About a Warranty – Do Ratchets Come With One?
In most cases, yes. A majority of tool makers offer a lifetime warranty to most of their products. Then again, there may be specifics and clauses under which the guarantee wouldn’t apply. We suggest you check the product description of the ratchet you’re going to buy carefully to be sure what the warranty covers and what it doesn’t.
Battery-powered ratchets have more moving parts, naturally, so a lifetime warranty isn’t something to expect. Once again, check the description – it should guarantee at least a year of manufacturer support.
In the current era of free-market abundance, choosing the best tool may be difficult. There are so many options – the market can seem oversaturated. We’ve gone over some reliable manual pieces that will make short work of any bolts – loose or tight, caked-in or rusted shut.
There are also battery-powered sets that help in case you need to take care of many fasteners without exhausting your forearms and knuckles. Similarly, air-powered ratchets exist to fill the same niche – just don’t forget to turn your compressor up!
We’ll be sure to keep the list updated in case there are new, better options. Currently, you can’t go wrong with what we’ve listed above. Check the buyer’s guide for points to consider when picking out the tool that is right for you. If you only need to take care of a couple of bolts every once in a while, you may be better off saving your money and picking up your monkey wrench instead!
In any case, we hope this article has helped you decide which ratchet might be the best addition to your arsenal. We’re sure whatever your choice, the tool you pick will solidify your position as a force to be reckoned with – bolts, beware!