Quality DIY: Best 3/8 Ratchet Choices & Who Makes Them
Recently, I’ve been thinking about ratchets. It feels like a logical continuation of my previous DIY flirts with PEX clamps and wrenches, I guess.
Now, let’s be honest. Ratchets are not rocket science, but they’re one of the most convenient tools you can have around.
Choosing one is not that complicated either. Only several established brands like Tekton, Gearwrench etc. are worth your attention.
Instead of boring you with dozens of choices, I’m giving you 3 trusted picks for the best 3/8 ratchet out there.
In my opinion, the 3/8 Gearwrench is your best bet for a well-constructed, strong ratchet.
Why? Let’s compare it to my second recommendation – a longer Tekton.
Gearwrench has 84 teeth against Tekton’s 72. More teeth means more fine-tuning, and a smaller turn arc to handle the tool properly.
Hence the record-breaking 4.3° ratchet ark you’ll see with the Gearwrench.
However, the Tekton is 3″ longer if you need a tool with a better reach. It also has higher torque (due to it having slightly less teeth.)
Aside from these two, I can recommend you this Craftsman ratchet if you’re looking for a budget pick.
Here’s a quick comparison table before I get to the full reviews. I’ll also elaborate on the different kinds of ratchets and why this might matter for you. Stay tuned and read on! 🙂
- Gearwrench (Tear)
- # of teeth:
Steel with chrome finish.
- Tekton 18"
- # of teeth:
Vanadium steel, corrosion-resistant.
- Craftsman (Tear)
- # of teeth:
My Best 3/8 Ratches for the Money
1. Best Performing 3/8 Ratchet:
As I mentioned, this nifty tool wins the first place for me. Hands down, it’s the best value you can get for your bucks.
Gearwrench used to have a series of ratchets with 60 teeth. Not bad, but you’ve got to stay in line with the times – and ahead of the competition.
Which is exactly why they boosted the old version and added 24 additional teeth. Tight, strong grip on whatever you’re working on is what you’re getting here.
I don’t like to be too much of a hyping man, but there’s no other ratchet in the current industry that can deliver optimal operation in confined spaces.
Add to this a 4.3° arc required for using it to its full potential, and there goes your winner. Outstanding convenience! Yes, even somewhere inside your car where you can barely breathe due to it being too narrow.
Thin head for less weight and easier work, and a classy chrome finish. Length? 15″, fellow DIY enthusiast. It’s plenty!
Shining bright, this 3/8 fella is also easy to clean so you don’t work with sloppy-looking tools.
Also, you can get it in various versions depending on your specific needs. There’s also a stubby one which might be handy for some of you.
2. Best Long-handle 3/8 Ratchet:
Tekton 18 Inch
Let’s be honest – the ratchet market wouldn’t be the same if it weren’t for Tekton. If we’re talking about 3/8 ratches that offer more mobility and better reach – this brand is your friend.
As I pointed out, the Tekton is 18″ which makes it more convenient for those of you who need longer tools.
You also get higher torque for extra strength. A 72-tooth oval-shaped head will ensure you get a more than a decent grip.
The swing arc here is 5°. Let’s be honest, it’s virtually the same with the Gearwrench ratchet. However, it outshines others – including the Craftsman, who have double the ratchet arc.
The construction is amazing. Vanadium steel that’s resistant to corrosion and simple to clean up, with some stylish chrome finish on top.
I’d say the manufacture here might be slightly better than the Gearwrench. You can read more on that in my Tekton vs Gearwrench vs Craftsman comparison post.
Not sure if it’ll be useful to all, but the tool also has a quick-release drive tang. It’ll help you in those cases where the sockets decide to drop out of a sudden.
Great overall value.
3. Best budget 3/8 tool:
If you’re in a really frugal mood, this Craftsman will fit the bill. It’s remarkably cheaper than the other two 3/8 ratches. It also does an OKAY-ish job.
Why just OK?
You get what you pay for.
First of all, you have a 10° swinging arc. So if you’re concerned with being in extra narrow spaces, it won’t be as effective as the previous two choices.
The construction is decent. However, this is alloyed steel – not vanadium, so it can feel a bit cheaper/heavier than higher end ratchets.
It’s also shorter at around 8″ – you should keep that in mind depending on your project.
To be honest, it being on the small side might come with its benefits if you’re working on a more delicate DIY project. Not every environment allows for a 18″ tool to be swung around, right?
A good feature is the quick release which you can enable only by using your thumb. Makes working convenient and faster.
Last but not least, let’s not skip over the teeth details. Craftsman, being a more mundane ratchet, only has 32 teeth.
For higher end projects requiring more torque and power though, you’re better off with other choices.
Types of Ratchets:
How Are These Tools Different?
Previously, I said that ratchets are not rocket science, right?
That’s true, but there still are some important differentiations.
Obviously, the first factor ratchets differ in is the size. I’ve been exclusively talking about 3/8 inch ratchets here.
However, there are two other varieties that operate the most common size sockets: 1/4″ and 1/2″.
Additionally, there are several design variations.
Teardrop shaped and stubby heads differ a bit depending on your needs. For general confined spaces, I prefer the teardrop version.
People in the need of additional reach definitely have to check whether the brand they prefer has extended ratchets. As you saw, Tekton has a 18″ product that is unrivaled and spans twice more than the Craftsman tool.
There are also flex-head ratchets. Unlike the jointed (static) standard models, they let you adjust the handle’s angle. If you need extra flexibility and will work in extra narrow spaces, a flex-headed tool will be a better decision.
How do ratchets actually work?
Once again, I’ll stick to a much needed motto in many situations:
A picture says more than a thousand words.
In this case, a video says more than tens of thousands of words. If you’re curious on how these simple, but efficient tools actually operate, check this video: