Husky V. Craftsman: Battle of the Affordable Torque Wrenches
Lowe’s or Home Depot? Place your bets.
$100 goes a long way in the world of torque wrenches, at least for the DIY crowd. But the mainstays are Home Depot's Husky and the acquired by Lowe's, Craftsman brands. But given their relatively similar prices and specs, which one do you choose?
On paper, either brand’s torque wrench is a seemingly solid choice. Since Lowe's acquired Craftsman, the line's faithful patrons have been happy with its new owner as little about what makes the brand great has changed. Meanwhile, Home Depot's had a firm grip on its signature Husky tool line since acquiring it decades ago. Husky tools regularly impress customers with the quality they offer for the money, making them a direct competitor to Craftsman.
Which is better for your money, though? It just so happens that I’ve been given the opportunity to test such torque wrenches from both brands: the Husky model H2DTWA ($94.97) and Craftsman model CMMT99434 ($98.17). And by pinning them against one another, I can give you a better idea of where to take your money when it comes time to set your DIY shop up with a torque wrench.
Here’s what I found.
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Perhaps the most important detail to clarify upfront is that though there are a few similarities in the wrenches’ designs, they aren’t built by the same manufacturer. Craftsman’s torque wrench is a product of Stanley Black and Decker, while the Husky comes from the Apex Tool Group.
I should also say that the Craftsman is no stranger to me, as I’ve had it for over a year now and it’s seen regular service.
Both torque wrenches offer comfort-grip handles, with the Craftsman's being slightly bulkier. They both use a locking collar on a twisting handle to make adjustments, too. Craftsman’s locking collar is hard plastic and has large legible incremental readings engraved into the side, making for quick adjustments. Husky’s metal edges may be more attractive, but the polished finish does make it a lot harder to see exactly what setting you’re on.
The Craftsman features a scale stamped into the bar and the collar that reads in 10 ft-lb increments, whereas the Husky goes by 20 ft-lb increments. I personally prefer Craftsman's layout here as I'm more accustomed to readouts moving in similar values. Another difference that stands out is the Craftsman being 3 inches longer than the Husky, with an overall length of 27 inches compared to 24 inches. That difference means you would need to work harder with the Husky.
These are minor differences, though and for the most part, don’t exactly act as the selling points for one or the other. Their warranties, however, will likely drive many to one. While Craftsman’s lost its Lifetime warranty for a limited one-year warranty, Husky's no-questions-asked lifetime warranty vastly outshines the competition.
The good news is that I just bought a garage and was able to break the two wrenches in with a number of jobs on my 1969 Dodge Charger project car. Most notably, an oil pump failure led me to remove all of the main and connecting rod caps to inspect the bearings. That also necessitated the removal of several steering components that prevented access to the oil pan. I also have an engine on the stand I could play around with, and any time I remove the wheels, which happens quite often, I do torque them to spec.
What was immediately noticeable was though the Husky is shorter, reaching the 130 ft-lb the pitman arm nut calls for wasn't all that hard. That shorter length also made it far less cumbersome in the limited room I had to work in beneath the car.
And while I feel that the locking collar style of adjustment can feel a bit tedious while working in tight spaces like this, each’s incremental adjustment is positively engaged by the mechanism when the collar is released. It’s good to know that you don’t have to worry about losing your spec because oil kept you from tightening down a locknut as you’d find on older designs. Husky’s polished appearance, however, is tough to read.
The slightly greater length of the Craftsman does have its advantages, though. It does make it a little easier to hit higher torque settings and is preferable where elbow room is abundant. It's the first torque wrench I turn to whenever I'm tightening lug nuts. Three inches may not seem like a lot, but that slight advantage makes a big difference when you’re tightening anywhere from five to 20 lug nuts at a time.
I used these wrenches to tighten head bolts on a 383 Chrysler block that’s been turned into something of a shop decoration for the time being. Eventually, it will get a full rebuild, but anything I did here was simply in the name of comparing these two wrenches. I found that the Craftsman was a far better choice in this situation, again, due to the length. If you’re tightening 17 head bolts at a time, a little more leverage makes life a lot easier. Had I been working on a head under the hood, I’d likely reach for the Husky.
What’s great about this test is that it really proved that in these DIY choices, you really can't go wrong with picking either. In terms of accuracy, quality, and overall value, these torque wrenches are nearly identical. The many similarities help them to feel like the same wrench with a slightly different livery.
But since I’m forced to pick one over the other, my money is going to the Craftsman. The biggest reason why is that I have spent more time with it and built more trust for that tool. I also dislike the 20 ft-lb increments of the Husky scale for setting torque specs. I know this is a superficial complaint and you should actively think about torque settings anyway, but finding a tool that fits into your workflow is important. Besides, these are such comparable wrenches that a minor detail like this can be the deciding factor with little consequence.
By no means am I saying the Husky is a bad tool. The Craftsman is just my personal preference. In all reality, that lifetime warranty just might make it the better choice for many DIY-level projects whereas Craftsman’s one-year warranty seems to miss the mark.