A socket wrench, called a "ratchet," can be a more efficient tool than a regular wrench, because it uses interchangeable sockets to best match the size of the nuts and bolts you're tightening or loosening. Socket sets are often associated with automotive repair, but their uses go beyond that. Yan Margulis, general contractor and CEO of Capable Group, says, “Socket sets have many uses; I use them to change the tires on my car, for projects around the house, and to repair things I've damaged. They're also great for assembling outdoor furniture and other items. There are socket sets with a variety of different included tools, so it’s easy to find one that includes just the right tools for whatever need you might have.”
We researched dozens of socket sets, considering their strength, versatility, durability, and sturdiness.
Here are the best socket sets.
Sunex Tools 3342 3/8-Inch Drive Master Impact Socket Set
Laser-etched for identification
Can be used with an impact wrench
Heavy-duty storage case
Few complaints about storage case
Only contains 3/8-inch drive sockets
This excellent collection of 42 sockets, each crafted from chromium-molybdenum alloy steel, marries a wide range of metric, deep metric, SAE, and deep-SAE sockets with affordability and top quality performance that you can trust. It is built for use on an impact wrench—a power tool that delivers far more torque than you could achieve with just muscle power alone. You can also use these with your regular ratchet, making this set even more versatile.
This set is perfect for the DIY auto mechanic who is looking for an upgrade, or the professional automotive technician who is seeking out an addition to their beloved but likely well-worn tools. With metric and deep metric sockets ranging from 10 millimeters to 19 millimeters each, and with SAE and deep SAE sockets ranging from 5/16 inch to 3/4 inch, Sunex is confident that you’ll have the right tools for the job with their impact sockets—especially when you attach their complimentary 3-inch extension for those awkward, hard-to-reach jobs.
Sunex’s versatile impact sockets, which boast radius corner design for enhanced torque and come in their own heavy-duty case for stylish, safe, and convenient storage.
Price at time of publish: $74
Material: Chromoly steel | Set Size: 42 pieces | Deep Sockets Included: Yes | Impact Sockets: Yes | Drive Size: 3/8 inch
WORKPRO 39-Piece Socket Set
Includes common 1/4-inch socket sizes
No deep sockets for spark plugs
Socket sets can be expensive, especially sets that include ratchets and adapters. However, if you only need a basic set of sockets to keep in your car for emergency repairs, want a set for occasional household use, or need sockets for simple maintenance on your car, motorcycle, or RV, then there's no reason to break your budget. The WORKPRO 39-Piece Socket Set is not extensive but provides good-quality tools at a very reasonable price.
You get a 3/8-inch ratchet with a 1/4-inch adapter for use on smaller sockets, as well as a 1/4-inch spinner handle. There are 15 SAE sockets with a 1/4-inch drive, 13 metric sockets with a 1/4-inch drive, and three SAE and metric sockets with 3/8-inch drives. There's also a 1/4-inch extension bar. All components are chrome vanadium steel with rust- and heat-resistant finishes. The entire set fits nicely in a plastic storage box, and each socket's space is clearly marked with its size. All in all, this is a great set for the price.
Price at time of publish: $23
Material: Chrome vanadium | Set Size: 39 pieces | Deep Sockets Included: No | Impact Sockets: No | Drive Size: 1/4 inch, 3/8 inch
Best for Home Mechanics
Stanley STMT71652 123-Piece Socket Set
Very comprehensive set
Size markings are very small
Some complaints about case
For the amateur mechanic or car enthusiast who wants it all without spending a bundle, there’s only one set out there that combines the variety and quality of a higher-end collection with the affordability of a mid-range set: the Stanley STMT71652 123-Piece Socket Set. This crowd-pleaser comes loaded with 123 of the most useful tools, including over 70 sockets, more than 20 screwdriver bits, two ratchets, and a spinner handle.
This set is a great investment for beginners who are looking for an entry-level socket set or semi-pros who are seeking a backup toolbox of bits. It pulls no punches in providing buyers with all the right tools for their next minor automotive or household repair project, and it will come in handy for a multitude of tasks both in the garage and around the house.
Price at time of publish: $58
Material: Chrome vanadium | Set Size: 123 pieces | Deep Sockets Included: Yes | Impact Sockets: No | Drive Size: 1/4 inch, 3/8 inch
Best for Motorcycles
MulWark Premium Master 34-Piece Socket Set
Very reasonable price
Most common sizes included
No ratchet or other accessories
If you ride a motorcycle and like to take care of basic maintenance yourself, chances are you don’t need a high-end socket set—you just need a good set that's comprehensive enough to meet most of your needs. This nicely complete set of sockets from MulWark does the trick, with all the basic sockets you are likely to want for repairs on your car, motorcycle, bicycle, ATV, or machinery.
This set includes 17 each of SAE and metric hex sockets in all of the common sizes. Note that it does not include a ratchet, however, nor does it have a variety of extenders, adapters, or other accessories that are often found in higher-priced socket sets. Should you require those, you will need to buy them separately. The set does include a sturdy plastic organizing case, though.
Still, this affordable set of sockets is a great addition to your motorcycle maintenance toolkit, with more than enough variety and durability to take on basic tasks. All in all, MulWark’s 34-piece socket set is a compact, complete, and competitively priced addition to any amateur mechanic's collection.
Price at time of publish: $42
Material: S2 steel | Set Size: 34 pieces | Deep Sockets Included: No | Impact Sockets: No | Drive Size: 1/4 inch, 3/8 inch, and 1/2 inch
DEWALT DWMT73803 168-Piece Mechanic Tool & Socket Set
Includes three ratchet sizes
Knurled rings for better grip
Can be a little difficult to get the pieces in and out of the case
If you want not only a very comprehensive set of 6-point sockets in both metric and SAE sizes but also a wide selection of hex keys, combination wrenches, nut drivers, adapters, and ratchets, then the DEWALT 168-Piece Mechanic Tool & Socket Set is just what you've been looking for. All pieces are heavy-duty, professional-quality tools with a polished chrome vanadium finish. All of the sockets and box-end wrenches incorporate DEWALT's DirectTorque Technology, which provides superior torque without damage to fasteners.
The set includes three 72-tooth, quick-release ratchets with 1/4-, 3/8-, and 1/2-inch drives. There are 35 1/4-inch sockets in both metric and SAE sizes, 36 3/8-inch sockets in both metric and SAE sizes, and 19 1/2-inch sockets in metric and SAE sizes. There are 28 hex keys, half SAE and half metric. You get 12 combination wrenches in all the common sizes, as well as a large assortment of adapters and extensions for working on spark plus and other specialized tasks, including 22 MaxFit bits for driving screws and other fasteners.
The entire set fits nicely in the included sturdy box. The total weight of the set is approximately 23 pounds, so it's reasonably lightweight for easy transport.
Price at time of publish: $150
Material: Chrome vanadium | Set Size: 168 pieces | Deep Sockets Included: Yes | Impact Sockets: No | Drive Size: 1/4 inch, 3/8 inch, 1/2 inch
Stalwart 75-HT4023B Ratchet, Metric Socket and Bit Set
Set includes screwdriver bits and a few sockets
Very reasonable price
Perfect for car or emergency kit
Few sockets included
Technology advances quickly, which makes it likely that something that worked yesterday will require repairs today. As any handyman can attest, tools that are both compact and portable are necessary for tackling unexpected day-to-day repair jobs. Stalwart’s 75-HT4023B Ratchet, Metric Socket and Bit Set just so happens to fit your everyday needs to a T.
This budget-friendly set boasts big value in a small case, packing a ratchet wrench alongside a collection of eight metric sockets (5 mm to 12 mm) and 12 screwdriver bits of various sizes (three Phillips, three flat, three Pozi, and three Torx). That means you’ll never be without the right gear for any minor household or automotive repair.
While this set is a little small, it’s great for jobs where limited space would otherwise impede larger tools. Its smaller size makes it a perfect fit for your glove compartment or kitchen drawer.
Price at time of publish: $13
Material: Not listed | Set Size: 26 pieces | Deep Sockets Included: No | Impact Sockets: No | Drive Size: 1/4 inch
Best for Spark Plugs
Sunex Spark Plug Socket Set 8845
Useful for auto enthusiasts
Strong and durable
Reach even deep spark plugs
Specialty, not general-purpose
No included ratchet or adapters
If you spend much time working on cars or other gas-powered engines, either as a hobby or professionally, then you know the value of a good set of socket wrenches specifically designed for accessing and turning spark plugs, whether they be inside your automobile, motorcycle, lawn mower, chainsaw, trimmer, or truck. And the Sunex 8845 3/8-Inch Spark Plug Socket Set definitely qualifies as a top-choice set for this task.
The Sunex set includes seven sockets, all made of CR-V alloy steel for maximum strength: three standard 2.5-inch-long sockets in common sizes 9/16, 5/8, and 13/16 inch; one 2.5-inch-long thin-wall 16 mm socket; and three 6-inch-long sockets in sizes 9/16, 5/8, and 13/16 inch. Among them all, you’ll be able to grab and turn any spark plug. The set also includes a heavy-duty plastic box to store the sockets when not in use.
Price at time of publish: $48
Material: CR-V alloy steel | Set Size: 7 pieces | Deep Sockets Included: Yes | Impact Sockets: No | Drive Size: 3/8 inch
Best Professional Grade
Sunex Tools 3580 3/8-Inch Drive Master Impact Socket Set
Very comprehensive set
Can be used with impact wrench
Only contains 3/8-inch drive size
The old saying "You get what you pay for" isn't always true, but it is in this case. You'll pay quite a bit more than for other picks here, but you'll also get top quality. The Sunex 3580 3/8-Inch Drive Master Impact Socket Set is truly a behemoth of a socket set, sporting 80 pieces, including metric, deep, universal, and external star sockets, along with a variety of extensions.
Crafted from chromium-molybdenum alloy steel—a testament to their durability—these sockets are built to last for years, with deep sockets that are ideal for removing lug nuts, and a universal joint that pivots up to 22 degrees, so reaching tough-to-manage fasteners is a cinch.
This multifaceted selection of the most common sizes truly stands out among the competition. While it carries a price tag worthy of such a comprehensive selection, these sockets are likely to replace your favorite former go-to tools.
Price at time of publish: $220
Material: Chromoly steel | Set Size: 80 pieces | Deep Sockets Included: Yes | Impact Sockets: Yes | Drive Size: 3/8 inch
Best for Around the House
Craftsman CMMT99448 102-Piece Home Tool & Socket Set
Comprehensive set of sockets plus basic household tools
Comfortable grip handles
Reasonable price for such a large set
Some complaints about the case
Tape measure is only 12 foot
Typically, socket sets contain just those: lots of sockets and perhaps a ratchet or two. However, if you want not just a socket set but also a set of basic home tools, then you'll like the Craftsman 102-Piece Home Tool & Socket Set. This handy collection is perfect for anyone who's just starting to build a tool set, to keep as a backup or extra set of tools in an RV or vacation home, or for handypeople who like to have a comprehensive tool set in an easily carried case.
The set includes two 72-tooth ratchets: one 1/4 inch and one 3/8 inch. There are 10 1/4-inch SAE sockets, 10 1/4-inch metric sockets, 10 3/8-inch SAE sockets, and 10 3/8-inch metric sockets, plus a spinner bar with bit adapter and 30 specialty bits, an extension adapter, and metric and SAE hex key sets. For household tasks, you get a hammer, four screwdrivers, three types of pliers and a wrench, and even a utility knife. All are sturdily built from steel with comfortable handles that are easy to grip. The set includes a plastic case to hold everything, so you won't need a separate tool box for storage.
Price at time of publish: $109
Material: Polished steel | Set Size: 102 pieces | Deep Sockets Included: No | Impact Sockets: No | Drive Size: 1/4 inch, 3/8 inch
Best Small Set
Egofine 12-Piece ¼-Inch Socket Set
Very reasonable price
Includes extension adapter
Small size fits into tight spaces
1/4-inch drive only
Only for light tasks
Some people don't need a large set of sockets but just want a small set that fits easily into their tool box and can be brought out for occasional tightening or loosening of fasteners on cars, motorcycles, ATVs or other small vehicles, or even for a lawnmower or patio furniture. If you're such a person, then the Egofine 12-Piece Socket Set is what you're looking for. This small set of chrome vanadium steel sockets includes 10 metric sockets, one quick-release 1/4-inch ratchet, and one 4-inch extension adapter.
The components of the set all fit securely into the small plastic holder. While this socket set isn't suited for the amateur mechanic who needs larger ratchets and a wider selection of sockets, it's a great choice for the handyperson who simply wants to have common sizes of sockets on hand when needed. The price is very reasonable.
Price at time of publish: $15
Material: Chrome vanadium | Set Size: 12 pieces | Deep Sockets Included: No | Impact Sockets: No | Drive Size: 1/4 inch
Best Torx Bit
Neiko 10083A Master Torx Bit Socket and External Torx Socket Set
Comprehensive Torx set
Includes sockets and bits
Sturdy plastic case
Specialty sockets, not general-purpose
No included ratchet
Different types of fasteners require specific sockets, and Torx screws and nuts, which feature a six-point star pattern, are no exception to this rule. These fasteners are used in many electronics, including computers, as well as in bicycles, automobiles, motorcycles, and other vehicles. Torx screws requires a special screwdriver—the aptly named Torx screwdriver—or a socket called a Torx bit socket. For the mechanic who wants access to a comprehensive selection of Torx bit sockets, Neiko’s 10083A Master Torx Bit Socket and External Torx Socket Set is a mid-range set that provides near-professional-grade quality without all the bells and whistles that come with pricier, high-end assortments.
Neiko’s Torx bit socket set includes 17 Torx star bit sockets ranging from T6 to T70, 17 tamper-proof Torx bit sockets ranging from TT6 to TT70, 12 Torx Plus bit sockets ranging from TP8 to TP60, and 14 external Torx sockets ranging from E4 to E24. Whether you’re a computer technician, or you dabble in bicycle repair, you’re bound to run into a Torx screw. And while this collection isn’t meant to replace your traditional socket set, it’s an important addition to your toolbox if you expect to ever encounter a Torx fastener.
Price at time of publish: $62
Material: Chrome vanadium | Set Size: 60 pieces | Deep Sockets Included: No | Impact Sockets: No | Drive Size: 1/4 inch, 3/8 inch, 1/2 inch
Whether you’re an amateur or a professional auto mechanic, you’ll appreciate the quality and the completeness of the Sunex Tools Socket Set. It has everything you need for auto repairs both big and small. If budget is a concern, the WORKPRO Socket Set might be less complete and robust, but it’s still a dependable and versatile choice for simple DIY auto repairs.
What to Look for in a Socket Set
There are two basic measurement systems used for the socket head, which is the part of the socket that fits over the fastener: SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers), which measures in fractions of inches, and metric, which measures in millimeters. While metric is far more common today, even for American cars, it’s worth your while to have SAE sockets as well, if you do much work on older American cars, motorcycles, or other types of motors.
Many socket sets simplify the issue by including sockets in both measurement systems. The best color-code the sockets so you can find what you need at a glance.
The drive of a socket is the hole—typically square—that fits onto the ratchet to hold the socket in place. Confusingly, whether the socket head is metric or SAE, the drive size is always measured in fractions of an inch. There are three common drive sizes:
- 3/8 inch, which is the most versatile
- 1/4 inch, which is useful if you do a lot of work on small motors or other items with small nuts and bolts
- 1/2 inch, which is useful for large motors or other large fasteners
Many socket sets contain sockets in all three sizes. Others provide an adapter that lets you fit different-sized sockets onto the same ratchet.
Look into the socket head, and you’ll typically see that the opening is somewhat star-shaped with either six or 12 points. There are also sockets with 8 points, but those are less common. As a general rule, 6-point sockets are stronger and tolerate more torque without slipping, while 12-point sockets are easier to line up with the fastener you’re trying to place or remove. Once again, many socket sets provide both types of socket.
There are two common lengths of sockets: shallow and deep. While there is no industry standard, as a rough guideline, shallow—which are the most common—are around 1/2-inch long, while deep sockets are around 1 inch, allowing you to reach fasteners that are further into the motor. Many socket sets include a few deep sockets along with a larger selection of shallow sockets. Spark plug socket sets contain mostly deep sockets, however.
What's the difference between impact sockets and regular sockets?
Regular sockets are designed for use with a ratchet, which is a handheld tool powered only by your own exertions. Impact sockets, however, are designed for use on an impact wrench, which is a handheld power tool that accomplishes the same thing as a ratchet, only with much more torque.
While you generally can use an impact socket on a regular ratchet, you cannot use a regular socket on an impact wrench. Impact sockets are specifically designed to tolerate the stress of rapid and high impact without cracking or shattering. Your regular socket is unlikely to survive the stresses of an impact wrench, and you could potentially be injured, should the socket break apart during use.
Why do socket sets skip some sizes?
It’s fairly common to find that your socket set isn’t entirely complete—it skips one or more sizes. There are two main reasons for this. One is that the missing sockets aren’t commonly used sizes, so by omitting them, the manufacturer can keep the price down a bit while still offering a fairly complete set of tools. The other reason for this common practice is more of a marketing ploy; there’s a good chance you’ll buy the missing sockets individually to complete the set, thus greatly increasing the profits for the manufacturer.
Why are some socket sets black, and some chrome?
As a general rule, regular sockets are chrome, and impact sockets are black. Chrome sockets are actually made from harder steel than impact sockets; the slightly softer steel of an impact socket absorbs the forceful impacts of the tool without shattering like harder chrome sockets would if misused on an impact wrench.
How do you clean a socket set?
Even the best socket sets will need to be cleaned from time to time. To clean rusty or dirty sockets, fill up a bucket with white vinegar, and let them soak for at least a full day. The acidic vinegar will eat through the rust and make it easier to rub off with an abrasive pad. You can also use degreaser and a rag or toothbrush to wipe off debris. Before putting the sockets away, make sure they are completely dry.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was edited and updated by Michelle Ullman, the tool expert for The Spruce. She has extensive experience not only in writing about all things related to the home, but also in carrying out various DIY projects, including landscaping, painting, flooring, wallpapering, furniture makeovers, and simple repairs.
For this roundup, Ullman considered dozens of socket sets, evaluating each for basic features, extras, and customer feedback. She also received input from Yan Margulis, general contractor and CEO of Capable Group.