Screwdriver handle preference: Hard or Soft?

I recently received an email about a new aluminum-handled screwdriver, and it got me thinking of a my preferences.

Hard handles can be easier to clean.

Soft-grip handles are often easier on the hands and grippier.

So, hard-handled or soft-handled screwdrivers, which do you prefer?

Personally i preffer the hard handle of a Mega-pro that i’ve stippled for extra grip! An aluminum screw driver with a G10 grip would be pretty cool to handle.

My personal favorite are the soft (or semi-soft)t grips from Wera, Wiha and Felo.

Over the years I’ve seen handle designs and materials change and preferences vacillate with a lot more choice available today. At one time wooden handles - some round - other oval seemed to be the norm. When they got beat up from pounding on them or from other misuse the wood would splinter. Makers (or vendors) like Bridgeport (then Crescent Bridgeport), Klein, Williams and Stanley started adopting plastic (usually tenite) handles with over-molded rubber-like grips. This style is still made today - and has plusses and minuses. Early ones seemed to get gummy - possibly from contact with solvents. While we knew that screwdrivers were sooner or later a disposable tool - we thought that was mostly a function of tip wear - not gummy handles. I think today’s materials are better and the soft grips seem to be more resistant to commonly encountered solvents like grease, oil and maybe even gasoline. That’s not to say we should try dipping them in MEK , DMSO, Acetone, Xylene and whatever else we have around to see how they fare.

Some wooden-handled screwdrivers still feel pretty good in the hand. The China-made ones from Lee Valley come to mind:,43411,43417

much better than feel IMO than some others:

I see that Narex is still making wooden handled drivers in the Czech Republic:

and Grace makes some in the USA:

My daily drivers… pun intended. they are basicly Stanley’s regular overmolded rubber grip, feels good to me.

The question about screwdriver handles got me thinking about how many screwdriver type that there are – and the likely hundreds of manufacturers of this ubiquitous tool. I put a list together of some of the types that I know of – and links to some examples:

Allen - Hex

Allen - Hex – Ball-End

Allen – Hex Insulated

Allen- Hex – Tamper Resistant:

Carb Jet:

Chainring Nut:

Ceramic Blade:

Screw Starter:

Compass Screwdriver:

Clutch Head

Conduit Screwdriver:

Dzus Screwdriver:

English Cabinet Style


Hand Plane Screwdrivers

JIS Cross Point








Phillips Security

Phillips with Bending Bar

Phillips Rapid Driver

Phillips T-Handle


Pozidriv Insulated

Reed & Prince – seem to be only available as bits – Proto 9661 through 9664 no longer made


Robertson Insulated

Robertson Security!2966!3!50916774477!!!g!71852431879!&s_kwcid=AL!2966!3!50916774477!!!g!71852431879!&ef_id=VyIN-wAAAXbldkgF:20160428131959:s

Round Nut

Screw Eye

Set Screw Driver

Spanner (Twin Point)


Terminal Block



Torx – Ball End

Torx – Starter

Torx – Insulated

Torx – Long

Torx – Security

Torx Plus

Triangular tip,or.&bvm=bv.120853415,d.cWw&biw=1920&bih=944&dpr=1&tch=1&ech=1&psi=mhMiV8L0Msvq-QGl_rvIBw.1461851076424.3&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiZqKu_u7HMAhXnsYMKHa8gC44QuSQIVw


Watch Bracelet

I like the newer soft handles but I have heard about the handles degrading and starting to stink so don’t know how long they will last. My Kleins are pretty old and are holding up great. My new set of Felo’s are very comfortable to use but I just don’t know how long the handles will hold up.

Wow fred, that’s some list.

I have many of those styles, others are completely new to me. Lift-the-dot? I’ve got some reading to do!

I’ve heard the same about certain hard-handle screwdriver handles.

Some plastics do outgas and stink, but I don’t think I’ve ever experienced this with screwdrivers. Tool boxes on the other hand, especially the sealed and waterproof ones (but not Pelican) usually need to be aired out.

Lift-The-Dot might be more familiar to you if you work on the canvas on your boat

The screw-in type uses the specialized screwdriver.

There are other specialized tools as well:

A few more drivers to add to the list

Bristol Spline

Plug Jack

In the old days , we as manufacturers had 2 choices Either by mold or by extruded. Both were hard. Nowadays, most expensive handles are soft. I still personally prefer the hard plastic handles. Because all of the hype and marketing put to these new handles, don’t make a better tool

I am biased because my dad, John Bondhus brought Felo screwdrivers to the USA to replace Wiha. Bondhus also manufacturers their own line of both soft and hard. But , the best of any high quality screw driver is a combination of both. Which of course, the most expensive. I personally don’t foucus on the handles as much as I do on the steel and the heat treating. Bondhus is one of a few that does “in house heat treating”. This is a very expensive science and art, maybe not profitable for Bondhus. But , he was always a kinda quality nut


I have a tool that has yet been developed. I suggested it many years ago to John Bondhus , who was my Dad. He died 13 years afoot. He was not convinced that it would sell, but I am still determined because he was not an active tool user at the time. Does anyone want to here about the. “ Spinner hoolder” ? An add on to Bondhus T wrenches… If you have ever used this Bondhus T wrench as a hammer, then that tells me how much more you know than My Dad.

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wow. not the thread I thought I was clicking on.

Meanwhile I like hard handles for the feel of the positive engagement. but now I don’t use a manual driver to run screws all day long. So I see the appeal. When I say hard handle I like it to also have a positive grip such as it won’t slip in my hand. IE right now my philps devices are Stahlwhile devices which have and egro grip but are hard textured plastic. I do like the dewalts and a few others.

One other feature that I look for especially with larger sizes - is a hex bolster for putting a wrench on. I don’t know I would use one for say a 1 philips or a 3mm hex but at a 2 and 3 philips or a 6mm hex - absolutely the come in handy.

Amazing. A lot of these were completely new to me.

But that ceramic blade driver? Based on my experience with ceramic knives, that stuff can’t take even a tiny bending force. I think that ceramic screwdriver would break into little pieces the first time you used it.

I think a better approach would be to use a steel tip and make the shaft out of something like fiberglass. Am I wrong?

I love that idea: PB Swiss has, or had, a similar concept built into their T-Handle drivers. It would make assembly much faster.

I’m sure others would appreciate it, as well. I’m in the trades, but I suspect bike techs would love it.

I’ve gone back & forth. I used to hate soft handles, as they grab dust & debris, and they tend to be bulkier.

I have had CAB handles start to gas off & stink. I shellacked them, & they’re beaters, but it happens.

PB Swiss’s Multicraft is my favorite handle.

I also have some hard handed Bondhus Felo, & older Snap-On‘s. They are excellent & tough. The Felo & Wera style of TPU inserts is quite good, as well.

But after a couple years in the trades, I’ve fallen back in love with Klein’s Cushion-Grip. The simple, round handle and the soft grip makes repetitive use easier, and really speeds up the initial installation of a fastener. The European ergonomic handles just aren’t as fast, and are more limited in how you can use them.

But when I’m working on clean equipment or in a. clean room, ( I do hospital repair & maintenance,) then I prefer a hard handle, to reduce the risk of contamination.