Tekton vs Craftsman vs Gearwrench: Some Impressions

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Alright, guys, let’s do this!

It’s time for another instalment in my Brands Every DIY Enthusiast Should Know About series.

This time it’s all about sockets and ratchets – tools you’ll always find a use for. I’ll be looking at the three leading brands in the mid-range.

That would be Tekton, Craftsman and Gearwrench.

I’ll write my own personal impressions, paired with the opinions of DIY people like you and me on community forums. Let me kick things off with a quick summary of my thoughts: 

  • Tekton
  • Best thing:
    Amazing sockets and great combo wrenches. Tools usually have higher torque/power.
  • Manufacture:
    Taiwan
  • Service/Warranty:
    ★★★★★
  • Price:
    $$
  • Gearwrench
  • Best thing:
    Best flex-head ratchets on the market. Outstanding tools for narrow space usage, record-low swing arc needed.
  • Manufacture:
    China/Taiwan (more Taiwan)
  • Service/Warranty:
    ★★★★½
  • Price:
    $$+
  • Craftsman
  • Best thing:
    Cheaper pick for DIY rookies. Has huge tool sets (140+ parts) for overall DIY work.
  • Manufacture:
    China/Taiwan (more China)
  • Service/Warranty:
    ★★★★
  • Price:
    $$-

Tool manufacture:
What gets manufactured where?

What usually interests me – and probably you too, is where the tools we use actually get manufactured.

Made in China isn’t the best possible branding if you’re looking for quality. At the same time, talking about mid-range product will involve China in some way.

Craftsman and Gearwrench actually have manufacturing ties to APEX group. That’s the same group that manufactures Crescent tools.

Both brands split their manufacture between China and Taiwan. However, Craftsman leans more towards the Made in China label – most of their tools are born there.

Gearwrench, on the other hand, has persistent presence in Taiwan. In other words, Gearwrench tools have a slightly better manufacture.

Tekton take the cake in terms of production quality. They’re exclusively manufactured in better Taiwanese facilities. Their tools are also made of higher quality vanadium steel, and they feel sturdier to me.

Actual performance:
What gets the job done the best?

Oh boy, there’s no simple answer to this.

For example, Tekton is the leader in terms of combo wrenches and sockets. Seriously, their chrome socket sets are way ahead of other mid-range brands. Here’s one good example.

At the same time, Gearwrench have been updating their line of ratchets with huge success.

In fact, their flex-head ratchets – like this full set, are the best deal you’ll find on the current market.

Why?

First, they have an unrivaled swing arc – as low as 4 degrees for optimal operation. Second, the added flexibility of the flex-head allows for even more outstanding work in narrow spaces.

As I mentioned in my comparison of 3/8” ratchets, Gearwrench also boosted the number of teeth from 60 to 84. Fine-tuning, here I come!

What about Craftsman?

Well, Craftsman is unbeatable in terms of price. For total rookies who want a good starting set on the cheap, the brand is a lifesaver.

Compared to both Tekton and Gearwrench sets, Craftsman also offers those ultra mega jumbo collections with just about everything under the sun.

I’m talking about monstrosities like this 230 piece tool set that can kickstart you into the vast fields of DIY projects.

Customer service & warranty

I admit I have limited experience here, but other DIYers tend to agree that Tekton is the most convenient option in terms of warranty. Some names might not slap a nice warranty on Gearwrench products.

Also, in case of replacement parts, I’ve found out Tekton are very punctual. Other people seem to echo my sentiments.

Both brands have pretty good customer service.

The delicate one here is Craftsman…because of Sears.

Last year, the Craftsman brand got acquired by none other than Stanley Black & Decker. However, Sears still maintains the rights to sell Craftsman via their existing supply channels for additional 15 years after the closure.

With Sears declining rapidly, the details around proper replacements and warranties are definitely riskier than what you’d get with the other two brands…

Final words

Well, hope that helped clear some of the things you were wondering about.

I’m kind of curious where what will become of Craftsman under the banner of Black & Decker. We might see some more innovative and challenging tools from the brand.

For now, however Tekton and Gearwrench are definitely a step ahead. As I mentioned, I’d get Tekton for any socket needs – and maybe longer ratchets like their 18” tool.

For any standard ratches, Gearwrench do an overall better job despite having a little less torque. They also seem to have been working on the warranty situation, so the companies covering them increase further.

Beginners on a budget, grab some Craftsman stuff. Or make sure to check what mechanic’s kits Kobalt have for sale. I’ve written about how Craftsman and Kobalt sets compare to each other.

For more intermediate DIY projects, I’d recommend the other two brands.

Of course, that’s only my opinion. You’re welcome to consult with others about your choice! 🙂

If you’re in the mood for other tool brand comparisons, check my Ryobi vs Ridgid post or me talking about Kobalt and Dewalt .

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Ex-digital nomad, DIY enthusiast and passionate sci-fi fan. Always ready to give lifestyle tips for men. Tea, not coffee is my fuel for writing.