Knowing that I’m a tool-person – a new son-in-law asked for a recommendation of what socket wrench set to purchase. He wanted a starter set for auto and home use (I guess most common metric and inch sizes) with room to expand later if needed. He wanted high quality that would last – but perhaps not superb quality. I was kind of struck by the thought that I had little currently relevant information. My own old sockets were US-Made - mix-and-match from Craftsman, Proto and Williams. I think that he’d like USA-Made – but they seem to be getting “as scarce as hen’s teeth” I did some searching on Amazon and see mostly made-in-China or Taiwan brands like Gearwrench , Neiko, Powerbuilt , Sunex ,Tekton, Titan and VIM. Other than Gearwrench and Sunex, I don’t think that I’ve heard much about the other brands. Then there are the house brands like Craftsman (Sears), Kobalt (Lowes) , Husky (Home Depot) , and Pittsburgh (Harbor Freight) that I assume are made in China or Taiwan. I also looked at some Japanese sockets – from Ko-Ken (I’m sure there must be other Japanese brands) but they seem hard to find in the USA. Some of the European brands (Beta, Elora, Facom, Hazet, Stahlwilleand Wiha) looked nice but also seemed to be of limited supply in the USA. Wera socket sets looked nice – but seemed to use a lot of plastic. In looking for USA-made brands – it’s a bit hard to tell what’s made here anymore.
I’m not looking at tool-truck brands (SnapOn, Mac, Matco) – and suspect that Williams (a SnapON sub) may have moved production offshore. What about folks like Armstrong, Blackhawk, Martin, Proto, S-K, and Wright?
I may gift something to him to get him started and I’m down to a short list (Gearwrench, Proto and Wera Asian, USA and European respectively – but are there better choices? In my budget range (under $200) it woul look like I get more (pieces anyway) with Gearwrench.
Tekton, @ToolGuyd has had some glowing reviews about them, I personally have never used them but did get all touchy feely at the store with their products. I’m leaning towards them for future purchase. And while most of their skus are of china origin they do have many US made products AND are a Michigan based company (My home state). Which reminds me Midwest snips(made 40 mins away ) are on sale this week at Menards, gotta go sang some up <----- thats a note to self.
It certainly looks like you get more pieces for your money with the Tekton sets. I just looked on Amazon and it looks like I can buy a pretty big starter set for about $72 - but it does seem to get some mixed reviews about the ratchets - and the case is said to be really poor.
Well I personally have all US made sockets, old craftsman, snap-on, and willams (williams is still made here too) but I would look on here http://www.levelchrome.com/. The Japanese quality is outstanding. There are also some sales on there right now. Otherwise I love my williams and snap-on tools. The last thing I would suggest is pawn shops, flea markets, garage sales, and craigslist. You’ll find plenty of older US made quality products with thoughts and usually you can get some great deals.
I had bought some from levelchrome in the past and found them to be a good vendor - and think I provided a link to them in an earlier post when you asked about Japanese tools. When I looked again just now - I see some sockets on offer - but I don’t see any sets. As far as Williams - the last item (#32028) I bought of theirs in 2014 - was made in Taiwan - so they may now be doing some manufacturing in the USA and some elsewhere. If I were buying for myself - your thoughts about sources for an older US-made set would probably be where I’d be looking. Maybe I’ll take a look in Germany - will be travelling in June.
I’ve got a few sets of GearWrench (timing belt kit, torx and E- sockets, and ratcheting box ends), but most of my stuff consists of Craftsman. I find it to be a good mix between durability/warranty/price. They’re durable enough for most work (I do all my own automotive work, and more than I should around the house), they’re not very expensive, and warranty replacement has been dead simple.
The Williams sockets are made in Taiwan and USA. Look at the part number. If it has alpha characters, it’s USA, numeric is Taiwan I believe. In the link below they spell out COO so there is no confusion.
I have a one of those $99 on sale sets from Sears I keep in the car, and the case has held up to a lot of abuse and set has decent coverage. If you want less fluff(bits, Allen keys, micro small sockets), get some 3/8 Tekton sets (metric/sae/deep/shallow) and the premium HF ratchet and he will probably cover most of what he needs for a long time. Or sub a high end ratchet if you want to splurge
My thought is that the ratchet might be the deal breaker on the set. If I’m going to spend between $100 and $200 on a set - I would like the ratchet to be good. Like you say - I also don’t want t pay for a batch of add-ons that might be there to fill out the “piece count”
Have you considered gifting him an older U.S. Made set of your own and replacing it with a new one? im sure it will mean a lot more to him and he will have a good quality set. Only problem would be the fact that it would be harder to find matching tools to grow the set in the future.