Review: Gearwrench 84 Tooth Ratchets

gw_81211f_side
Gearwrench 3/8″ Ratchet [81211F] (image courtesy of gearwrench.com)

Gearwrench, popular for their licensed ratcheting wrenches has a full and very extensive line of hand tools which is equally as comprehensive as many of the more popular professional tool lines.

I’ve heard many good things about Gearwrench hand tools over the last year-or-so from a variety of sources so I thought I’d try out one of their 3/8″ ratchets and share the review of my experience. While I’ll go into more detail below, I’ll start by summarizing that I was very impressed with the quality of the tools received. Also, to be clear, I bought all of these tools without discount or compensation to keep this review un-biased.

I received the 3/8″ standard-length ratchet (81211F) and the immediate impression was that it looked like a professional-grade ratchet – the fit & finish, handle design, stamping all indicated that the company cared about the end users experience. I paid about $32 for the single 3/8″ ratchet.

I’ve been using this ratchet now for about 4 months, and I try to use it exclusively to ensure it gets as much use as possible to give an effective review.

Pros:

  • The low-profile thin head. The ratchet head is thinner than usual allowing it to fit into tighter spaces which is a great feature. The company claims it to be 20% thinner than the industry average which can make a huge impact in tight corridors such as engine compartments.
  • Flush mounted lever. In collaboration with the low-profile head design noted above, the forward-reverse lever is both low-profile and recessed into the head so the overall head depth remains as compact as possible.
  • 84 tooth. All the major tool companies are constantly adding more teeth to their ratchets to decrease the swing arc required to ratchet the wrench. In this case the swing arc is (advertised as) 4.2 degrees, making its use it tight corridors easy. Though you can get 120+ teeth in other ratchets (including those from Gearwrench) the 84 tooth setup works well in almost all situations and is a drastic improvement over the older style 40 tooth models.
  • Replaceable components. Almost every company has replaceable internal components available for warranty replacements but with Gearwrench they’re available for purchase for about $5. While they would be free under warranty I always like to keep one replacement internals kit in the toolbox incase a ratchet breaks outside business hours or in a remote location
    gw_81227f_main_5
    Replaceable Internals Kit (image courtesy of gearwrench.com)

     

Personal Preference:

  • No ‘quick-release’ button. Quick-release buttons solve the balancing act of a ratchet having a keeper pin so stiff its hard to remove sockets and a pin so weak sockets fall off inadvertently. The flip-side to losing the button Gearwrench can offer an even lower profile head which is great for tight places to its really a personal preference.
  • Snap-ring retainer plate. The jury is out on this one; some prefer a retainer plate with 2 screws holding everything in place as they say it’s stronger, some prefer the snap-ring as it’s not prone to screws loosening and getting lost over time. I’ve never personally had any issues with snap-rings, and while i’d prefer snap-rings to screws, it’s a personal preference. 

Cons:

  • ‘Keeper/retainer pin’ provides little resistance resulting in sockets sometimes slipping off when wedged onto a bolt. This is common on ratchets without a quick-release button and somewhat a matter of personal preference.

The verdict:

Dollar for dollar, it’s going to be hard to beat this ratchet on quality. Over the past 4 months I’ve put this ratchet through some hard conditions including engine and hydraulic work and it’s as good as new without any breaks or scuffs. I wouldn’t hesitate to buy a full set of these ratchets and with so many variations (stubbies, flex heads, bent heads, softgrip handles etc.) there’s one for every application.

(V)

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