Best Ratcheting Wrench Sets: Take Your Working Experience to The Next Level

The right tool will make all the difference in the world.

Best Overall

GearWrench 20-Piece SAE/Metric Ratcheting Wrench Set

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Best Value

Pittsburgh 6-Piece Color Metric Ratcheting Combination Wrench Set

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Honorable Mention

Gearwrench 12-Piece XL Locking Flex Head Ratcheting Wrench Set

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Few things in life are as sweet as ratcheting wrenches. I know. It’s a cheesy opener, but I really do mean it. The low-profile package gets you into those tight spaces other ratcheting wrenches couldn’t, and the swinging action outpaces regular box wrenches by eliminating the need to reset after every 45 degrees or whatever the project allows for. 

I don’t need to sit here and keep hyping up ratcheting wrenches, though. They just work, and anyone can immediately pick up on the benefits of the design with just a quick look. What you might be struggling with is deciding which set is actually worth the money. And that is something I will gladly take the time to help you hone in on with a quick buying guide.  

Summary List:

Our Methodology

Ratcheting wrenches are simple, widely popular tools that I’ve got a lot of experience with. I’ve been using them regularly in my garage to work on everything that’s rolled through. It’s also one of those tools I’m simply fascinated with and research regularly. Still, I checked myself when putting this list together by doing the homework to see what others recommend and what features folks are regularly searching for.

Best Overall

GearWrench 20-Piece SAE/Metric Ratcheting Wrench Set

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I’m putting this GearWrench 20-piece set on the top of my list because it’s the closest to what I own and have gotten a ton of use out of over the years. This set covers a solid range of SAE and metric sizes, making it ideal for most garages. It’s also competitively priced and comes from a brand renowned for breaching the gap between DIY and professional tools. The set is also backed by a lifetime warranty, which goes a long way in either setting.

My biggest gripe with these wrenches is the fact that the open end will flex and slip off of fasteners under high load. They’re great for most jobs, you just want to grab something else for stubborn fasteners. Also, the lack of a directional switch on the drive can be an issue in tight spaces.

Best Value

Pittsburgh 6-Piece Color Metric Ratcheting Combination Wrench Set

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Harbor Freight’s Pittsburgh ratcheting wrenches are a clear pick for Best Value. As you expect, the price is low enough for anyone to justify the expense. Still, they are backed by a solid lifetime warranty. On top of that, they are color-coded to help you pick the right tool quickly so you can keep on working, as opposed to squinting at the numbers. You can also buy a matching SAE set if you want to build your collection.


The main drawback to this set is the low durability. It’s good that they’re backed by a lifetime warranty because reviews indicate that these wrenches will break pretty easily. Also, the lack of a reversible drive will push many to consider a different option.

Honorable Mention

GearWrench 12-Piece XL Locking Flex Head Ratcheting Wrench Set

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This next set from GearWrench is pretty much loaded with all the features you could want. Seriously. It’s the equivalent of checking all of the boxes at the dealer. The swivel head makes it ideal for getting at hard-to-reach fasteners. That’s greatly complimented by the longer beams, which can also offer greater torque. The reversible drive also goes a long way in tight spaces. And if all of that isn’t enough, the lifetime warranty is there to protect your investment.


The biggest complaint from reviewers is by far the poor locking mechanism on the head. It seems to wear down quickly which is a major annoyance considering the high price tag. Yes. That cost is for only the metric sizes and you will need to double down for the matching SAE set.

Best Stubby Set

GearWrench 14-Piece Stubby Ratcheting SAE/Metric Wrench Set

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Bigger isn’t always better, and the last set from GearWrench we’re visiting is proof of that. This is a set of stubby ratcheting wrenches. They’re the best choice for when space around a fastener doesn’t allow for the use of a standard or even long-reach wrench. The pricing is very competitive, considering it includes common SAE and metric wrenches and is backed by a lifetime warranty.


Unfortunately, quality control issues do seem to be fairly common for this stubby set, with some wrenches falling apart under light use. It’s also only fair to point out the lack of a reversible drive, which goes against the functional purpose of the stubby design.

Best Long Reach Set

ICON Extra Long Double Box Flex Ratcheting Wrench Set

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This long-reach ratcheting wrench set from Harbor Freight has been the center of a lot of attention lately. That’s because it is a professional, tool-truck tool coming from a retailer that’s proud to sell it at a much more affordable cost. On top of that, the double box end design makes it a very space-efficient set, with reversible drives and an extended reach to make it a dream for hard-to-reach fasteners or when extra torque is needed.


It is backed by a lifetime warranty, which is good; it’s just an awkward process. If one wrench breaks, you have to swap out the entire set. Also, it is still an expensive option, even if it is much cheaper than the top-shelf option.

Our Verdict

It’s hard to put anything other than the GearWrench 20-Piece SAE/Metric Ratcheting Wrench Set at the top of my list. It just checks all the boxes for folks starting their collection. However, the Pittsburgh 6-Piece Color Metric Ratcheting Combination Wrench Set is a stellar alternative if you want to cut out unnecessary tools and save cash. 

What to Consider When Shopping for Ratcheting Wrenches 

Key Features

Size Range 

The most important detail to look at when shopping for ratcheting wrenches is what fastener range any given set is meant to work with. What you need depends on your project and what you’ve already got in your collection. It’s safe to say beginners will want something like our Best Overall pick that covers common SAE and metric sizes. However, if you want to save money and invest in just SAE or metric wrenches to start, you will be safe to look for a metric wrench set that covers sizes from 8mm to 19mm or an SAE set that runs from 5/16-inch to 3/4-inch.  

Handle Length 

Handle length is a massively definitive factor in how a wrench works. A longer handle is excellent for applying extra torque and getting at fasteners that are hidden in long and narrow passages. A short, or stubby, handle is great for when the space around the fastener head doesn’t allow for a normal wrench. However, either of these options should be treated as the next addition once you’ve already added a set of standard-length ratcheting wrenches to your collection. 

Specialty Designs 

Just like traditional combination wrenches, there are a ton of variations of ratcheting wrenches on the market. Some with double-box ends, others with swiveling heads, and there are even s-handle and flare-nut styles popping up. Whether or not these features are necessary ultimately depends on the projects you’re involved in. Though, the swiveling head design is almost always a great upgrade to consider in any shop. 

Pricing 

Ratcheting wrenches exist in a rather broad price range, with some options being as cheap as $40 and others running for $300 or better. How much you pay is heavily dependent on the brand, the style of wrench, and what’s included in the set. Though, it’s safe to say that you can expect to spend around $50-$100 on a reliable set to start out with.

FAQs

You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers.

Q: How do ratcheting wrenches work? 

A: Just like any ratcheting wrench, they feature gear and pawl setup in the closed end of the wrench. The mechanism is setup so the drive can spin freely in one direction, where positive engagement of the gear teeth prevent it from traveling in the other.

Q: Do ratcheting wrenches only tighten? 

A: No, they loosen too. Some don’t feature a reversible drive, and you physically need to flip the wrench around to change the direction you are turning the fastener.

Q: Are specialty ratcheting wrenches worth it?

A: Yes. But they shouldn’t be your first purchase. They’re special designs are great for specific situations, but they’re generally more expensive and less versatile than a standard setup.

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Hank O'Hop

Associate Editor, Commerce

Hank is an Associate Editor at The Drive. He may be here to recommend tools and parts, but he’s always happy to dive deep into tech discussions, especially when it gives him the opportunity to display his old Dodge.