LAST UPDATED: January 28, 2020
Best Ratcheting Screwdrivers: Power and Torque When You Need It
Increase power and lessen fatigue with a high-quality ratcheting screwdriver
The Review Team
How We Decided
The Drive and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. Read more.
PUBLISHED ON January 28, 2020
Compared to a standard screwdriver, a ratcheting screwdriver makes a quantum leap. It saves you effort and time because you don’t need to remove your hand from the screwdriver or change your grip every time you torque down on the fastener. This may seem like a small thing, but when you’re repetitively tightening or removing fasteners on a job, constantly changing your grip can increase fatigue and discomfort. With a ratcheting screwdriver, you can reduce this considerably. Our choices for ratcheting screwdrivers offer many advantages in addition to the ratcheting capability itself. Check out these three best ratcheting screwdrivers for overall comfort, design, value, and convenience.
Pullout tip holder for secure storage and to easily locate and change tips. “Palm-saver” cap is comfortable yet gives you the power you need. The handle is made of a strong, durable resin and nylon combination.
Steel alloy shaft. Pullout tip storage. Dual composition handle. Comfortable cap.
May not be the best for heavier work. The head is not magnetic so bits sometimes fall out.
The screwdriver may be too long for working in some areas. The bits may wear out prematurely.
Soft, ergonomic grip handle. Quick-load mechanism. Auto-lock feature.
May have trouble storing the bits in the handle. Screwdriver is not magnetic.
Why Trust Us
All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, or practical experience with most products we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Benefits of Ratcheting Screwdrivers
- Comfort. A huge benefit of a ratcheting screwdriver is the comfort it produces as you use it. You don’t have to continually grip and regrip the screwdriver handle as you turn fasteners. Also, a ratcheting screwdriver allows you to keep the screwdriver head on the fastener, so you’re not continually re-inserting the screwdriver onto the head of the fastener.
- Control. Because you’re not always repositioning the screwdriver or your hand, you have more control as you work. This produces better results.
- Power. A ratcheting screwdriver gives you more power because you’re not wasting energy continually repositioning your hand or the screwdriver itself. More power equals less fatigue.
Types of Ratcheting Screwdrivers
Bits in the Handle
With this type of ratcheting screwdriver, you store the various bits inside the handle. This allows you to take the bits with you on the job without having to have a separate storage case.
Bits on the Handle
You store the different bits on the handle rather than inside it with this ratcheting screwdriver. The screwdriver has a special bracket to hold the bits so they are in plain sight and at your fingertips when you need them.
This configuration gives you storage in a pouch or carrying case that holds the screwdriver handle(s), the bits, and any extensions. This allows you to store more bits and keeps all the components in one place. The carrying case or pouch is convenient and compact for professionals and homeowners.
As a young man, Hermann Fruhm often helped his father work on DIY projects around the house. One day, screwdriver bits flew as the end cap came off of the multi-bit screwdriver he was using. In the late 1980s, inspiration hit and he developed a ratcheting screwdriver that stored bits securely. Soon after developing a prototype and attracting investors, he was making his ratcheting screwdrivers in the basement of his home, located in Vancouver, British Columbia. The company incorporated in 1994 in Vancouver and now sells products worldwide. Some of its products include the 13-In-1 Ratcheting Automotive Driver and the 151TP 15-In-1 Tamperproof Screwdriver.
Founder George B. DeArment was a blacksmith who developed tools that he sold out of a wagon starting in 1886. In 1904, the company was up and running and moved to a facility in Meadville, Pennsylvania. George’s sons took over the company in 1911 and in 1923, the company expanded operations to a larger factory and offices. The company remains in Pennsylvania today and is still operated by members of the DeArment family. Check out its 6-In-1 Ratcheting Screwdriver and 18-In-1 Ratcheting Screwdriver.
WORKPRO is headquartered in North Carolina. The company is committed to manufacturing quality tools that are innovative and ergonomic. Its products include the 10-in-1 Multi-Bit Ratcheting Screwdriver and the Precision Screwdriver Kit.
Ratcheting Screwdriver Pricing
- $10-$15. Here you will find basic ratcheting screwdrivers that feature a solid handle with up to six bits and basic kits, too, that feature multiple bits. Brand names in this economical category include AmazonBasic, Makita, and Stanley.
- $16-$25. This price range includes single screwdrivers and kits. Kits feature either a plastic case or a pouch. Multiple bits are included with the single screwdrivers as well as the kits. Look for brand names like Craftsman, Irwin, and WORKPRO.
- $26-$50. This high-end category has both single screwdrivers and kits, each with multiple bits. Quality here is top-notch. You’ll find brand names like the German manufacturer Wera Kraft, Canadian maker Rolgear, and others like Milwaukee, Blue Point, Gearwrench, and Channellock.
You want a ratcheting screwdriver where the gearing and ratcheting mechanism is solid and shows no sign of slip or play. This means the mechanism is made with quality materials and the engineering behind it is well-thought-out. A ratcheting screwdriver with solid gearing lasts longer and gives you more reliable service than a poorly constructed one.
An ergonomic handle that feels comfortable in your hand means you are 99 percent along in finding the best ratcheting screwdriver. A comfortable handle means more power and less fatigue as you work. You also want to note the material the handle is made from. Is it plastic, nylon, neoprene, or a composite? These all feel and look different and make a difference with regard to comfort and longevity.
Bit Storage and Changing
Where you can store bits in or on your ratcheting screwdriver is a choice. Some models have bit storage inside the handle, some have it alongside the handle, and some store bits in a pouch or case. Some ratcheting screwdrivers even allow single-handed bit changes, which is a feature you may want to consider.
- Kit or Single Screwdriver. This is a basic consideration for your purchase. Do you need an entire ratcheting screwdriver set with carrying case and 50 bits, or a single screwdriver with maybe six bits? The market features these options and virtually anything in between. Assess your needs and look at the various models and options before buying.
- Standard, Stubby, or Extra Long. You can buy the standard-length ratcheting screwdriver, while you also have the option of buying a stubby-type for narrow access work or an extra-long ratcheting screwdriver for heavier work. Your purchase should depend on your requirements.
- Price and Quality. There’s no need to spend $50 on an entire kit if a single screwdriver and bits will do the job for you. On the other hand, your work may require the versatility of a larger kit and all the bit and handle choices it offers. Assess your needs and do your research before you buy it. Check the product details, reviews, and ratings for information.
Best Ratcheting Screwdriver Reviews & Recommendations 2020
This ratcheting screwdriver is our top pick for several reasons. The pullout bit storage is a patented feature of this ratcheting screwdriver. This makes it simple to store, find, and change bits. The handle is made of a nylon and resin combination (bi-material) with a cap that is designed to be easy on your palm. The shaft is made from strong alloy steel.
This Canadian-made, quality screwdriver is compact enough to get into tight spaces and it has a variety of bits that you can use on many applications. You can even use the shaft opening as a ¼-inch hex driver.
While this is a versatile, well-made ratcheting screwdriver with a quality ratchet mechanism, some users report you may need a heavier one for bigger jobs. Also, note that the head is not magnetic, so the bits might fall out.
With a 28-tooth ratchet, this screwdriver gives you the high torque you need and more. The ratcheting action provides an easy, smooth, and fast two-way function. It has a grip that is made of comfortable composite material. It comes with 13 bits, so you can use it on various fastener sizes.
The storage compartment in the handle stores the bit set and makes the 13 bits easily accessible and difficult to lose. The screwdriver’s shaft is one-quarter inch.
Some buyers have reported that the bits may wear out too soon. Also, make sure you can work with the length of the shaft. It may be too long to get into some areas easily.
This screwdriver features a patented quick-load, auto-lock mechanism that allows one-handed bit loading. This ratcheting screwdriver also has a convenient switch for fast reverse and forward ratcheting.
Twelve different bits address many turning requirements. The shank is ¼-inch and the bits are double-ended. Bits store in the handle, which is ergonomically designed for comfort and control. The soft-grip handle also provides higher torque output than competitive screwdrivers.
Some buyers report the bits are difficult to store in the handle. Also, the screwdriver does not have magnetic bits, so fasteners do not attach and the bits may fall out.
- Choose a ratcheting screwdriver that is right for the jobs you want to perform. You’ll want a shorter screwdriver for tight spaces, and a sturdier one for heavy-duty turning.
- Do your research to find out about the various models and types available. Check the specifications, the product description, the reviews, and the answered questions.
- Aside from the ratcheting power and operation, look into the other features of ratcheting screwdrivers. These include how they store bits, what the handle is made from, and how many and what types of tips you get with your purchase.
Q: What’s the difference between a ratcheting screwdriver and a standard screwdriver?
A: A ratcheting screwdriver has a gear mechanism in the handle that a standard screwdriver does not have. This mechanism allows the handle to turn (to “ratchet”) so you only have to make a half-turn with your wrist to turn a fastener. This reduces movement and increases your comfort level.
Q: Are all ratcheting screwdrivers basically the same?
A: Yes, the way they operate is basically the same. But like all tools, manufacturers have different designs and manufacturing methods. They may be made of different materials, the handles may look and feel different, and there are various ways to store the bits (or tips).
Q: Can I use one ratcheting screwdriver for everything?
A: The answer is a qualified yes. The bits and the size of many ratcheting screwdrivers allow you to do a wide variety of tasks. However, if you have a special task, such as repairing watches or fixing large trucks, you’ll need to find a more specialized ratcheting screwdriver.
Our top pick is the Megapro Marketing USA Ratcheting Screwdriver. It is well-made, has pull-out storage, and is comfortable to use.
Our best value pick is the Channellock 13-1 Ratcheting Screwdriver. It has smooth ratcheting action and innovative storage for bits.