Best screwdriver sets: 2018 group test

Good screwdriver sets make tough jobs easier, but which one is the best? We test eight to find out…

While some tools may last decades, others need replacing more regularly, and screwdrivers are among those with a shorter working life.

Firstly, they are the most likely to be abused. Secondly, they may require updating because more car makers are adopting hex and Torx fasteners. So which is the set to keep your tool kit up to date and in good condition? We got to grips with 12 sets to find out.

How we tested them

Grip is key for a screwdriver, so we looked at which tools let us apply the most torque. Hex nuts cast into shafts won marks; they allow more torque to be applied witha wrench. In each set, short, stubby drivers and slotted versions with slim parallel shafts scored points. We also wanted decent cases and tools with magnetic tips. Prices from makers and online sources were the final factor.

Verdict

Kennedy’s KEN-572-6040K wins again, but newcomer Magnusson takes the second place on the podium. Its 6934V 6 Piece set is well made and priced. Third place goes to Kreator – a lot of kit for not much money. 

  1. 1. Kennedy Professional KEN-572-6040K
  2. 2. Magnusson 6934V 6 Piece Screwdriver Set
  3. 3. Kreator 19 Piece Screwdriver Set

Reviews

Kennedy Professional KEN-572-6040K

Price: Around £33Set: 9 x Plain slot, 4 x PhillipsRating: 5 stars 

Two years on from our last screwdrivers test (Issue 1,430), and Kennedy’s understated KEN-572-6040K retains its place at the top. Once again, it’s the sheer number of subtle design tweaks that makes this set the one to have for automotive tasks. No fewer than four of the flat blades, for instance, feature parallel rather than flared tips – making heavily recessed screws so much easier to tackle. Three of the flatties also have cast-in nuts, allowing extra torque to easily be applied. Not that the handles are in any way lacking. Their smoothed-off, triangular shape fits in the hand beautifully well.

Magnusson 6934V 6-Piece Screwdriver Set

Price: Around £8.50Set: 3 x Plain slot, 2 x Phillips, 1 x PoziRating: 4.5 stars

Magnusson? No doubt Screwfix would like you to imagine it is a premium Scandinavian manufacturer it has started importing, but in reality this is simply a new in-house brand. Don’t let that put you off, though. Both finish and quality are impressive, and this set gets the same details right as the winning Kennedy KEN-572-6040K. Well-machined magnetic tips? Yes. Parallel tips on the slotted screwdrivers? Yes, on all three. Decent handles? Very much so, thanks to a sticky-feeling rubber, moulded into a rounded-off square shape. The wall bracket is yet another bonus.

Kreator 19-Piece Screwdriver Set

Price: Around £14Set: 6 x Plain slot, 6 x Phillips, 6 x TorxRating: 4.5 stars 

Is getting 18 pieces for just £14 just too good to be true? Not when only seven of the tools are full size; the rest are precision screwdrivers. Wisely, Kreator has chosen larger precision sizes, which allows the set to cater seamlessly for almost all sizes of screws you’re likely to find on a car. In fact, it’s the well-thought-out list of contents that impresses us most here, whether it’s the three parallel rather than flared slotted drivers, the focus on Torx rather than Pozi, or the inclusion of two stubbies. The bench/wall bracket is a touch flimsy, but works well nevertheless.

Sealey AK4317

Price: Around £20Set: 4 x Plain slot, 2 x Phillips, 2 x PoziRating: 3.5 stars 

A Recommended set back in 2016’s test and still a pretty good all-rounder now. The trouble is that the newcomer to the market, Magnusson, has played the good-quality budget tools card that bit better. While the AK4317’s £19.92 price doesn’t sound bad for eight tools, Magnusson’s £8.49 for six is much more of a bargain, especially given that quality and finish are pretty much on par. Granted, we like the strongly magnetic tips and the large heavy-duty screwdriver in this set. But we prefer the parallel-tipped slotted drivers and sturdy wall bracket supplied with the Magnusson kit. 

Halfords 250548 30-Piece Screwdriver Set

Price: Around £25Set: 10 x Plain slot, 2 x Phillips, 6 x Pozi, 6 x Torx, 3 x HexRating: 3.5 stars 

Another set with a large piece count. But closer examination reveals just seven full-size tools plus a selection of precision screwdrivers, bits, a bit-driver, and a neat flexible bit driver extension. So while plenty of sizes and configurations are catered for, rather fewer are covered by standalone tools. It’s a situation made all the more annoying by Halfords’ choice to focus on slotted and Pozi profiles; slotted and Phillips tips would have been more versatile. Still, the tools are well made and their handles are the best.

Clarke Pro 122

Price: Around £30Set: 5 x Plain slot, 5 x PhillipsRating: 3 stars

One of the heaviest-duty sets here. First off, all the metal components are made from unbeatably durable S2 steel. And each tool contains more metal than most. Rather than finishing somewhere within the handles, the stems run all the way through to large nuts on the top – which can be pounded with a hammer or turned with a spanner or socket. Trouble is, for normal use, those protruding nuts – plus the stippled handle finish – make the tools uncomfortable and hard to grip tightly. 

Franklin 6999

Price: Around £30Set: 5 x Plain slot, 4 x PoziRating: 3 stars

In 2016, this set was almost £10 more than the very similar Clarke PRO 122. Now, the price difference is narrower, but the Clarke remains our choice. It offers one more tool for less money, plus two of those are stubbies. This aside, the sets are near identical. S2 steel and tip-to-top stems mean seriously heavy-duty tools, and they’re really versatile if the driver has to be tapped hard into a rusty screwhead or a spanner or socket is needed to apply extra torque. Again, though, handle comfort in normal use is poor.

Draper 27030

Price: Around £35Set: 4 x Plain slot, 3 x Phillips, 3 x PoziRating: 3 stars

We like the heavy-duty drivers; stubbies in plain slot, Phillips, and Pozi set-ups; and Draper has even made sure one of the mid-sized plain slots has a parallel tip rather than a flared one. Add to this tips that are strongly magnetic, and the fact that most of them feature cast-in nuts, and the points stack up. However, the handles really let the side down. Although well finished, they soon become uncomfortable if you grip them hard, and they’re extremely difficult to grasp strongly with oily hands. Draper has also pointed out the 27030 can now be found cheaper online than our stated price.

Most Popular

Energy firms want the right to switch off electric cars charging at home
Electric cars

Energy firms want the right to switch off electric cars charging at home

New powers being sought to allow energy providers to turn off high-drain devices to manage electricity network
18 Sep 2020
How green are electric cars? Polestar data shows ICE trailing EV
News

How green are electric cars? Polestar data shows ICE trailing EV

Electric car maker reveals whole-life CO2 emissions of the Polestar 2 are better than a petrol XC40 - but EV is only 14% cleaner with global energy mi…
17 Sep 2020
New 2020 Skoda Octavia engine line-up expands again
Skoda Octavia

New 2020 Skoda Octavia engine line-up expands again

New 1.0-litre mild-hybrid petrol engine to the lower end of the Skoda Octavia’s line-up, which has a starting price of £23,005
17 Sep 2020