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Product group tests

Best cordless ratchets 2024

Help your DIY to take a turn for the better with a cordless ratchet wrench

A powered ratchet is a great aid to the DIY mechanic, especially when there’s lots to do. Until recently, these tools were pneumatic, requiring a clumsy airline and a noisy, bulky compressor. But now cordless electric ratchets have arrived and they’re revolutionising car maintenance

Ideally, you want a tool that’s slim and lightweight for easy manoeuvrability. However, less weight means a smaller battery and lower capacity, so it’s a balancing act. But which is the best one to help speed up your car maintenance? We charged eight to find out.

How we tested them

We looked at 3/8-inch-drive versions, checking torque/twisting power (Nm), speed (rpm) and battery capacity (Ah), before assessing any included sockets, trigger lock, case and adjustable heads. 

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To test the tools’ performance, we used them under the bonnet of a car. Then, to assess their turning power, we drove 10 M10x80 lag screws into timber, stopping part-way to make the job harder. The final consideration was price.

Reviews:

Durofix RW1221-3 G12 Cordless 3/8in Brushless High Speed Extended Ratchet Wrench

  • Price: Around £150
  • Website: durofix.co.uk
  • Volts: 12
  • Rating: 5 stars

The Durofix comes as a kit with a 2Ah battery, charger and seven sockets in a tough textile carry bag with plenty of room for extras. It’s well designed and comfortable, with a long, plastic sculpted trigger. Its 150mm (when extended) neck adds to the ratchet’s weight (1.5kg), and the price, but makes it simple to get to more awkward fasteners. 

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We like the smooth brushless motor, which has a claimed maximum speed of 450rpm and a torque figure of 75Nm. This proved to be believable during our testing, when it performed faultlessly, despite using just 12V. 

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Ryobi 3/8in Cordless Ratchet Wrench R18RW3-0 

As ever from a Ryobi tool, this is high in quality, feeling seriously solid, albeit a bit heavy, at 1.45kg (with a 2Ah battery). We really like the ability to turn the head through 360 degrees, selecting a suitable 90- degree interval simply by lifting a locking collar. This makes it possible to reach many fasteners that would otherwise be more difficult, especially given the position of the battery in the base of the tool. 

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The 18V motor made short work of all our torque tests. As usual from Ryobi, the wrench is sold as a bare unit, so the prices of a battery and charger also have to be factored in if you don’t have them already.

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Sealey 3/8”Sq Drive Cordless Ratchet Wrench CP108VCRW

  • Price: Around £68
  • Website: sealey.co.uk
  • Volts: 10.8
  • Rating: 4 stars

You can’t ignore the price of this Sealey model – it’s the cheapest here, yet still comes complete with a 1.5Ah battery and charger. Despite having the joint lowest torque figure, it did well in our tests, baulking just a couple of times. 

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At just 280mm long and the joint lightest (at around 800g), it’s an easy tool to manoeuvre, which is good when you’re working under the bonnet. At this price, it looks really good value – and it’s even better if you already have a suitable battery, because it’s also available as a bare tool. 

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AC Delco ARW1209-P2 G12 12V Cordless 3/8in Ratchet Wrench Kit

Similar in basic design to the Sealey twins and about the same length, this AC Delco tool is about 50 per cent heavier, at 1.25kg. Like our Durofix winner, it comes with seven chrome sockets, along with the charger and two batteries, making it ideal for longer jobs, as well as good value. With a quoted maximum torque of 61Nm, it performed well but stalled a couple of times during the test, due to its lower rpm figure. 

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We quibble with having no on/off switch, which means the motor can be used accidentally. Plus the speed control doesn’t offer much variance, because it’s very much on or off.

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Milwaukee M12 IR-201B Sub Compact Impact Ratchet

The Milwaukee is very well constructed and we like the tough, padded case with built-in straps to keep the device, charger, 3/8-1/4-inch adaptor and 2Ah battery secure. 

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The trigger system enabled us to be very accurate with the speed, which is key when using the adaptor, to prevent chewing up smaller fasteners. The four side-located LEDs show battery state. Despite being rated at just 47Nm, it performed very well, snagging just a little in extremis. Its price holds it back overall, though. 

Sealey 3/8in Sq Drive Cordless Ratchet Wrench CP1202KIT

  • Price: Around £106
  • Website: sealey.co.uk
  • Volts: 12
  • Rating: 3.5 stars 

Weighing around 900g and 290mm in length, this Sealey is physically similar to three others here. We like the tough body with plenty of grippy rubber inserts. Though with the same torque as the 10.8V model, it spins 50 rpm slower, at 250 rpm, which may explain why it didn’t do quite as well in our torque test. 

Also available as a bare unit, the kit comes with two 1.5Ah batteries, which make it a practical option and well priced. The nose-mounted LED shines in the right place and we like the three battery-state LEDs. 

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Makita DWR180

  • Price: Around £124
  • Website: makitauk.com
  • Volts: 18
  • Rating: 3 stars

Like the Ryobis, you’ll need (or may have) a charger and battery. Quality is predictably good, as are the design and overall balance. We like the front-mounted ‘afterglow’ LED, which stays lit for a while, and the neat little lever to change direction.

The brushless motor spins quietly and smoothly, but we are a little disappointed in the torque performance, especially given that the motor is 18V. It could get most of the screws in most of the way, but snagged too much for the spec and the price. 

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Ryobi ONE+ Cordless Brushless 3/8in Ratchet Wrench RRW1838X-0

With the joint best torque figure of 75 Nm, this 18V device blitzed our torque tests. As on the other Ryobi, the head can be turned through 360 degrees, while a socket extension slots neatly into its base. But its extended reach and impressive motor raise the price, hurting its overall rating.

Verdict

For the best balance of performance, extended reach and extras, the brushless Durofix takes top spot. If you don’t need all that, the Ryobi R18RW3-0 is a cracking unit, and the Sealey CP108VCRW makes a lot of sense for the budget conscious. 

  1. Durofix RW1221 G12 Cordless 3/8in Brushless High Speed Extended Ratchet Wrench
  2. Ryobi 3/8in Cordless Ratchet Wrench R18RW3-0 
  3. Sealey 3/8”Sq Drive Cordless Ratchet Wrench CP108VCRW

Click here to discover the best rotary multitools for your workshop...

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