LAST UPDATED: February 13, 2020
Best Breaker Bars: A Great Tool For Getting Things Unstuck
Increase your leverage and stay free with these top breaker bars
The Review Team
How We Decided
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PUBLISHED ON February 13, 2020
The following scenario may sound familiar. No matter how hard you try, you just can’t get that nut or bolt to break free. It’s frustrating and sometimes leads to injury when that wrench or socket slips off the end. A better option? Breaker bars allow you to employ much more force to a fastener using leverage. They’re purpose-built tools with one function: helping things break loose. This buying guide walks you through our top breaker bar picks for getting things unstuck.
A 30-inch breaker bar with an external head for extra strength. Great choice for heavy-duty work. Body is chrome vanadium steel, while the head is chrome molybdenum for strength. It has a spring loaded ball.
The 30-inch bar length is rare for half-inch breaker bars. The external head provides extra strength over internal style. Head rotates 230 degrees.
The head may fall apart from vibration if left in a vehicle. Some users have snapped off the drive square.
An 18-inch length breaker bar in chrome vanadium steel for strength. The bar has a knurled grip and is heat-treated with a lifetime warranty. Good choice if you’re on a budget.
The knurling on the handle ensures a good grip. Standard length fits in most toolboxes and into tight spaces. Lifetime warranty is a plus.
May be undersized for some applications. The chrome vanadium steel breaker bar may break or bend under a heavy load.
The head only rotates 180 degrees, meaning it doesn’t have quite the range as its competitors to fit into tight spaces. Some users also report the head pin comes loose.
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Best Breaker Bar Reviews & Recommendations 2020
When it comes to the best overall combination of value, durability, and functionality, it’s hard to beat the Capri Tools 1/2 in. Drive 30 in. Extended Leverage Breaker Bar. This 30-inch breaker bar is constructed from super rugged and practically indestructible chrome vanadium steel and features an external head for extra strength, making it the perfect choice for heavy-duty jobs.
The extended 30-inch bar is 25 percent longer than standard breaker bars, which gives you additional leverage to efficiently and quickly remove some of the toughest frozen or stuck nuts and bolts. The external head is constructed from strong and long-lasting chrome molybdenum and features a spring-loaded ball that can rotate 230 degrees to provide ultimate in versatile function. Be sure to protect the head of this breaker bar when not in use by storing it in a safe, dry space in order to maintain the strength and integrity of the tool.
If you’re looking for a strong and reliable tool that won’t cost you a lot of money, consider the competitively priced GreatNeck BB18 1/2 Drive 18 Inch Breaker Bar. This is a super strong chrome vanadium steel bar that measures 18 inches in length, which is a great size for tough jobs and smaller working areas that can't accommodate extended breaker bars.
It’s heat treated for added strength and durability. This breaker bar features a rugged knurled grip that provides stable and sure use that won’t slip in the middle of a job. It’s equipped with a 1/2-inch flex drive and a ball retainer for smooth and easy use. This breaker bar may be undersized for some applications, but it fits perfectly in most standard sized tool boxes and is highly portable. It also comes with a lifetime warranty, making it an even better value.
If you have a tight space and a big job, the MAXPOWER 1/2-Inch Drive 15-Inch Breaker Bar Flex Handle is the ideal tool to take it on. With a shorter 15-inch handle, this breaker bar can go where others can’t and easily fits in any tool kit, making it a super portable addition to your tool collection.
Like many others on the market, this breaker bar is constructed from drop-forged, hardened chrome vanadium steel and features an ergonomic handle for a comfortable and secure grip. Equipped with a 1/2-inch flex drive head that rotates 180 degrees, this breaker bar lets you work at a variety of different angles. The spring-loaded ball bearing in the head keeps your sockets secure and stable while working. Because this is one of the shortest bars on our list, it has the least amount of available torque, so you may get a bit more of a workout using this tool than a long-handled one.
When it comes to an ultra-durable, super strong breaker bar that will last a long time, the Tekton 3/8 Inch Drive x 18 Inch Breaker Bar definitely fits the bill. This breaker bar is constructed from strong and durable chrome vanadium steel with a corrosion- and rust-resistant chrome finish that is easy to keep clean.
It also features a sleek and comfortable ergonomically designed handle that offers control and comfort in a wide range of single- or double-handed grip positions. The external head is made from AISI 4140 steel that is heat treated in a material matched process to make it stronger and more ductile than the handle, so you never have to worry about it breaking in the middle of a job. The head also pivots on a wide and impressive 230-degree angle to allow you versatile range and let you approach your job from almost any angle fluidly and with ease. A strong internal spring controls the tension and position of the head to securely hold sockets.
If you’re looking for a happy medium between an 18-inch shorter breaker bar and an extra-long 30-inch breaker bar, the NEIKO 00206A 1/2" Drive Premium Breaker Bar is a good option. This bar measures 24-inches, not too short and not too long, making it a versatile, go-anywhere breaker bar that’s highly effective for a wide range of jobs.
It’s constructed from durable drop-forged, heat-treated chrome vanadium steel and finished with strong rust- and corrosion-resistant mirror chrome polish for added toughness. It’s equipped with a 180-degree flexible chrome-molybdenum head that allows you to work at any angle and to reach around and into tight spaces for optimized leverage, but it's a little less versatile than some other models on the market. A strong, spring-loaded ball bearing holds sockets tightly and can efficiently loosen rusted, frozen, or stubborn nuts and bolts.
- You need to know what size breaker bar you need for your application. If your bar is too long, you may snap the hardware before it has a chance to come loose.
- Go slowly. Apply pressure gradually to the breaker bar to avoid doing more damage than good. If you just grab a hold of the bar and yank, you’re likely to snap the head off the bolt.
- Use safety glasses. Metal under extreme pressures can be unpredictable. Gloves are recommended in case the breaker bar slips or suddenly break loose. You’ll be better off playing it safe if something goes wrong.
- Make sure to use only impact-rated sockets with your breaker bar. These are built for use with impact wrenches and meets or exceeds the torque pressure applied to them. Standard sockets are not built for the forces breaker bars can produce.
- Use a penetrating oil or lubricant on stuck hardware first before you use the breaker bar. You also need to let it soak in. Spray the offending bolt and wait a few minutes before you try to break it free.
Q: Is there more than one size of breaker bar?
A: Yes, aside from length choice, breaker bars have a drive size of ¼”,⅜”,½”,and 3⁄4”. The most common drive sizes are ⅜” and ½”.
Q: Do I need multiple-sized breaker bars?
A: No, you can purchase socket adapters that reduce from a ½” drive size to a smaller drive size, but be careful not to overpower the strength of the socket or hardware.
Q: Can I use a breaker bar in place of a ratchet?
A: You can, but ratchets are far more convenient. Breaker bars are meant to loosen a nut or bolt, not remove it. Most people switch to a ratchet once the nut or bolt is loose. A torque wrench is designed for tightening your bolt to a specific torque setting. While you can use it as a breaker bar, it isn’t as effective. A breaker bar is typically made from chrome vanadium steel which is a stronger steel construction than a ratchet. This makes it a stronger bar to use when forcing a bolt free.
Our top recommended breaker bar is the Capri Tools 1/2 Drive 30 inch Extended Leverage Breaker Bar. It’ll provide all the leverage you need to break your bolt free thanks to the chrome vanadium steel construction, spring loaded ball, and ideal length bar for breaking bolts free in tight spaces.
If you’re looking to save money on your breaker bar, the GreatNeck BB18 1/2 Drive 18 Inch Breaker Bar won’t break the bank but meets or exceeds your breaker bar expectations.