Best socket set for your workshop 2019

These tools are essential for car DIY, and we pick the top buys

A socket set is at the heart of any DIY mechanic’s tool kit because, unlike tools which can be used around the home, it is pretty much car-specific. While a set is a workshop essential, what’s in it is far from universal, with makers having different ideas of the ideal combination, including mixes of wrenches, rachets, sockets, extensions and other accessories such as allen key attachments.

How we tested them

AA engineer Rory Stockbridge tested three key sockets for size and strength, taking them to above the British Standard requirement. We also assessed the ratchet wrenches and checked the sockets and accessories, while balancing each set against price from online sources.

The number and type of sockets each set provided was factored in, as were the accessories and extras included, plus the quality of the ratchets. We wanted them to be comfortable, ideally with a socket release button and a fine, free-moving ratchet. 

Verdict 

Sealey’s comprehensive AK7960 is a great-quality socket set at a competitive price. The Franklin XF3038 is dearer, but with more features for the tool connoisseur. Screwfix’s 2555C is commended as our budget choice.

  1. 1. Sealey AK7960
  2. 2. Franklin XF3038
  3. 3. Screwfix 2555C

Reviews

Sealey AK7960

 

Price: Around £56Sizes: 6-24mm (excluding 20, 23mm), 10-19mm deepRating: ★★★★★

It’s the really neat touches that take the eye with this 27-piece socket set from Sealy, rather than the vivid green case, which is a change from the company’s usual red livery.

Take the 1/2-inch to 3/8-inch drive adaptor: it can be threaded over an extension and used as a breaker or T-bar. The fine-toothed ratchet features a telescopic handle so that you can apply extra force. The ratchet mechanism also runs smoothly.

Add in sockets which easily passed our tests, along with a good selection of deep and shallow versions and extension bars for a sub-£60 price, and you have a winner.

Buy the Sealey AK7960 Socket Set from Amazon here

Franklin XF3038

Price: Around £90 Sizes: 6-24mm, 8-19mm deepRating: ★★★★☆

This is a top-quality set from Franklin, with a superb, ultra-fine 72-tooth mechanism rachet that moved freely in the no-load direction. As with the Sealey, the drive adapter could be used as a T-bar with one of the extensions, and there was a good range of shallow and deep sockets, including two for replacing spark plugs. We also like the way the foam inset in the case could be removed to bring tools under the bonnet or the car. It’s not the cheapest set, but the Franklin is well thought out.

Buy the Franklin XF3038 Socket Set from eBay here

Screwfix 2555C

Price: Around £30 Sizes: 6-21mmRating: ★★★★☆

There’s something for all budgets among our socket set choices. This Forge Steel set will do the job for those with less cash to spend. You get a good range of sockets covering 6-21mm with no gaps, although they are all shallow versions. There’s a 72-tooth ratchet which has a decent satin finish and a comfortable handle. You’ll also be able to deal with hex, slot, Torx and Phillips fasteners because the set has 22 bits, covering various sizes.

Buy the Screwfix 2555C Socket Set from Screwfix here 

Siegen SO912

Price: Around £40Sizes: 8-22mm (ex. 20mm), 10-19mm deepRating: ★★★☆☆

The best selection of standard and deep sockets for below £40, and they flew through all of our tests. But the set trails on quality, as everything is finished in bright chrome, which scratches sooner than satin. Plus, while the free-moving ratchet has a 72-position mechanism and coped with our tests, its all-metal construction doesn’t compare well with the padded handles of most rivals. 

Buy the Siegen 60912 Socket Set from FFX here

Halfords 269842

Price: Around £45 Sizes: 8-24mm (ex. 23mm), 10-19mm deep (ex. 16, 18mm)Rating: ★★★☆☆

Flimsy tray gives this a no-frills feel. There are no extra driver bits, and the accessories are left-field. A medium extension would have been better than the super-long one, plus the wobble drive is only on the long extension. And why include a 3/8-inch to 1/4-inch adapter when there are no smaller bits?

Buy the Halfords 269842 Socket Set from Halfords here

Draper 16449

Price: Around £55 Sizes: 6-22mm (ex. 20, 21mm), 8-22mm deep (ex. 9, 20, 21mm)Rating: ★★★☆☆

Draper knows what makes a good socket set. With its logical layout, clear marking and satin finish, this looks great. All extension bars feature handy wobble drives. But the often used 13mm socket was fractionally outside its size tolerances, plus the ratchet was a bit stiff in the free direction.

Buy the Draper 16449 Socket Set from eBay here

Kreator KRT500113

Price: Around £25 Sizes: 10-24mm (ex. 16, 18, 20, 21, 23mm)Rating: ★★★☆☆

Socket sets don’t get any simpler or more compact than this. Yet it’s solid and ideal for the car. Despite its size, it covers 10 popular sizes, there’s a free-moving, 72-position ratchet and medium extension. All parts are up to the job, with a satin finish. Yet for an extra £5, the Screwfix offers much more.

Buy the Kreator KRT500113 Socket Set from Amazon here

Kennedy KEN-582-8810K

Price: Around £170 Sizes: 6-21mm, 10-22mm deep (ex. 16, 18, 20, 21mm)Rating: ★★★☆☆

Stunning Kennedy Professional set’s sockets have KenGrip drive – a knurled variation of six-sided hex, which grips the centre of fasteners’ flanks and tackles rounded nuts and non-metric sizes. Yet the Franklin offers this for less. A nice all-rounder, but stiff ratchet and lack of deep sizes are hard to take at this price.

Buy the Kennedy KEN5828810K from Cromwell here

Best socket sets 2019

  1. 1. Sealey AK7960
  2. 2. Franklin XF3038
  3. 3. Screwfix 2555C
  4. 4. Siegen SO912
  5. 5. Halfords 269842
  6. 6. Draper 16449
  7. 7. Kreator KRT500113
  8. 8. Kennedy KEN-582-8810K

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