by Christopher Clark
Last Updated January 23, 2019
As you’re preparing to purchase a socket set, there are a number of factors to consider when choosing the ‘best socket set’.
What’s best will be different for each person, but overall, the best sets have a combination of the following features: intended use, set diversity, storage and quality.
Also check our review about the best mechanics tool sets on the market.
The best socket sets are not hard to find, but finding the best one for the specific job that you have is not always easy. Doing some preliminary research will help you select the tools that meet your needs and have the proper quality your job demands. Putting all of this together will ensure that you have the best socket set for the money.
Sunex has created a high quality, multi-purpose socket set with this model. The set comes with 80 pieces – the second highest variety here – and has 3/8″ socket sizes that range from E5 – E16 as well as T20 – T55 and are both shallow and deep.
The tools are made with grade chrome molybdenum steel and are contained in a nice hard stand-up case. As a whole, the case weighs 18 lbs., making this the heaviest set on the list.
One of the best features of this set is that the sockets are impact sockets. For the non-technicians looking to purchase a socket set, this means they are sturdy enough to be used with power tools. This is not a common feature, which is why this set sits at the top of the list. Additionally, the set comes with a lifetime warranty.
A few things to keep in mind when considering this socket set is that the case falls short compared to the high quality and wide range of the sockets. It is really the only negative of this set.
However, the sizes on each socket are only in metric numbers, rather than both metric and standard. Overall though, this set provides the best quality impact sockets and is worth the investment.
Vying closely for first place, this socket set by EPAuto ranks second only because it is not an impact socket set. There are two different socket sets available with either 45 pieces or 69 pieces.
All of the sockets are made with a chrome vanadium steel alloy and are corrosion resistant. As a whole, this is a good set that weighs just 10lbs and includes a sturdy black stand up case (which includes a handle) that holds all of the sockets.
As a bonus, this socket set offers sockets in two standard sizes, 1/4″ and 3/8″. Additionally, it comes with corresponding ratchets and extensions.
The measurement system is both English/Standard AND metric which makes it more universal. This socket set is also one of the cheaper options here, which makes this an excellent buy for the quality you get.
The few negatives of this set are rather minor compared to how well the pieces are built. However, they are worth mentioning: One consideration is that this set comes with a 30 day warranty.
While it’s great it has warranty coverage, this is not such a great feature if you take into consideration some socket sets have a lifetime warranty. Also, the case doesn’t hold much in place, which makes transporting the set rather frustrating since the sockets shift.
Lastly, the sockets are not magnetized, nor are they rubber lined. As a whole, though, this is still a fantastic socket set when you look at the cost compared to its overall excellent performance.
This Dewalt socket set is built for professionals. This one in particular is a 23 piece, 1/2″ socket set that comes with a polished chrome vanadium finish.
It comes in a quality tool box that measures 13 ½” x 8″ x 2″ and it includes a removable inner tray. It weighs just over 8lbs which makes it one of the best sockets sets for transport.
The tools themselves are consistently reviewed as sturdy and professional. The set includes a 72 tooth, quick release ratchet and an additional 5″ extension.
The tool box that this set comes in is without a doubt the best – it does not sit upright, allowing all of the sockets to say in place at all times.
Another notable feature of this set in particular is that the sizes are hand stamped onto all of the sockets to prevent losing the markings due to erosion.
The fact that this set only has 23 pieces is one of the few things that keep this set from being at the top of the list. However, the tools that are included in this set are truly top notch.
There were a few comments that cautioned the sockets are not as deep as other sets and that for a 1/2″ set the ratchet handle could have been longer.
Overall, though, this is a good set that works for a range of jobs both at home and on the job. As a bonus it is the least expensive set on this list, making it quite a good deal.
If you are looking for variety, this Tekton drive set delivers. This 3/8″ socket set has 45 different pieces and the sizes range from 5/16″ to 3/4″ and includes both shallow and deep sockets ranging from 8-19mm.
The sockets are made with quality chrome vanadium steel and have a nice mirror chrome plated finish. There is a lot going on in this set and all of the tools are stored in a lockable red carrying case. Additionally, this set weighs just 5lbs.
Do not let the 5lb weight fool you. This is a good set made for professionals and home tinkerers alike. The tools are good quality and there are some added fine points like the extra 6″ extension for the universal joint.
Additionally, the 72 tooth ratchet has a 5 degree working swing arc which works great in tight, small spaces. Another great feature is the 6 point deign that is a built-in anti strip feature.
There are a few things to keep in mind when considering this set. While the set as a whole weighs just 5 lbs., the case does not come with a handle. This does make transporting it slightly inconvenient.
Additionally, the variety of socket sizes leaves the owner with a number of sizes that no one really uses. It would have been better to extend the size range to provide more sizes that are common rather than providing random ones just to ‘fill’ space.
The biggest flaw, however, is that the included ratchet doesn’t lock well when going between forward and reverse which can be highly frustrating. It was recommended to swap out the ratchet for optimal use.
This Stanley socket set has the most sizes of all the sets listed. It comes with a total of 99 pieces with sizes ranging from 3/8″ – 5/8″. All of the pieces are made with black chrome which gives a sleek, dark finish. The set comes in a grey upright case with a handle and altogether it weighs approximately 15.5lbs.
One of the best features to note regarding this set is that the product design meets and exceeds the ANSI (American National Standard Institute) standards for sockets and ratchets.
This speaks to the overall design and durability of this set, making it an ideal choice for professionals. Additionally, this set comes with a lifetime warranty and includes wrenches – the only set here to include these.
There are several things to consider with this set. While it has both English/standard and metric numbers, they are painted on and are one of the first things to fade with regular use.
Additionally, while this is a good socket set with a lot of pieces, it doesn’t have socket joints, nor are they impact sockets. On an aesthetic note, the black chrome finish rubs off when the tools are first used and will create a black, filmy mess for first-time users unless they are wiped down.
Lastly, when the case is first opened, the tools are under a plastic film that must be unscrewed before use. While not a bad feature per se, it is reviewed as being highly annoying and unnecessarily time-consuming to remove. Overall, though, this set is high value for a low cost.
This Capri Tools socket set is another option vying for the position of #5. This socket set is also built for professionals, meeting the set ANSI standards for sockets.
This set has 48, 3/8″ socket pieces in both standard and deep styles. Made with premium chrome molybdenum steel, this is built like the best, but not as well known.
Not only does this set come with 40 different sockets, it also includes impact extension bars and impact adapters. The pieces come in a stand-alone blue plastic case that is one of the first on the list to keep pieces from shifting around during transport.
As a whole, the set weighs 11lbs. Additionally, the sizing is laser etched on the pieces for longevity.
This set is not well reviewed, which is in itself something to take into consideration. Among the few things noted, though, is the lack of a ratchet. Also, for all of the pieces, this set lacks swivel sockets and doesn’t have as many sizes on the smaller side.
Taking this into consideration, this is still a good set that has a great value and is a competitor for the best socket set.
GearWrench has manufactured an ideal socket set for buyers on a budget. While this may not be the least expensive set on the list, it provides a wide range of tools for non-professionals to use.
This 3/8″ drive set has 57 pieces made with nickel chrome plated steel and includes standard sockets and deep sockets.
One of the best features of this set is the sleek black case. While it doesn’t have a handle, it sits nicely and is one of the few cases on this list that keeps everything from moving around.
Additionally, this set comes with two ratchets and includes 3″ and 6″ extensions. Lastly, it comes with a lifetime manufacturer’s warranty and has the sizing stamped in large font for easy socket ID.
While this is one of the best socket sets for the price, there are a number of reviews that do caution against the ratchets. They are consistently reviewed for being cheaply made and almost brittle – often breaking much sooner than the rest of the set.
Additionally, there are cautions that the ‘deep’ sockets are not that much deeper than the standard cut. Overall, though, the sockets are well made and this set remains one of the best options for users on a budget.
Frequently asked questions
Each of the three drive sizes have a purpose, making it difficult to stick completely to one size. For most jobs, however, the 3/8 inch drive works perfectly fine. For higher torque applications such as lug nut removal or using a breaker bar, you’ll want the thicker 1/2 inch drive. Meanwhile, the 1/4 inch drive’s smaller size gives it an edge when up against tight spaces or recessed nuts.
Yes and no. Regular and impact sockets use the same drive sizes, making them cross-compatible on a technical level. Practically speaking, impact sockets are designed to handle much higher torque. Using a regular socket on an impact wrench increases the chance of cracking or shattering the socket and is thus not recommended.