Slim Head, 72-teeth
True Value stores are scattered all over the country, and when we walked into one to purchase a ratchet, we didn't give it much thought. Turns out, True Value knows tools, and their Master Mechanic Slimd Head performed admirably in all of our tests. Thanks to its compact head design, it passed both of the tight confine tests, which measured head thickness and overall diameter. It also fared well when our test panel looked at design and ergonomics.
Topping the price chart as nearly $60, the new Craftsman Professional was an initial frontrunner. Craftsman started with a clean sheet of paper with this design and threw the kitchen sink at it. We appreciated Craftsman actually making this ratchet in the USA, but all sentiment aside, we weren't blown away by the 84-tooth model. The handle is much more comfortable than previous Craftsman ratchets, but when we got it slipper with sweat and oil, it did become hard to grip securely. A compact head design and small degree ratcheting arc were big bonuses, but for the big price tag, there are better ratchets available.
7. Pittsburgh Pro
Heavy-Duty Composite, 72-teeth
Continuing to be the best bang for the buck, Pittsburgh Pro's composite ratchet proved to be well made, solid, and comfortable in all of the tester's hands. At just $8.99, the Pittsburgh features a 72-tooth gear mechanism, thumb reverse, and a push-button socket release. There were only two major drawbacks to the design, one of which was the large head profile (thickness) and the other being the handle base. Whereas it was comfortable to use, the large oblong shape was too big to slide a jack handle over and because of this, failed the torque torture test.
Pear head Full Polish, 72-teeth
When we spoke to GearWrench, they told us the full polish ratchet outsells the cushion by a considerable margin. Our only guesses as to the reason is the price and perhaps the buyer thinks the full polish is more traditional and will outlast the cushion grip. Based solely on performance, the polished and cushion grips were nearly identical, with the grip being 1-inch taller and providing more leverage. The compact and low-profile head fits into hard to reach areas, while the 72-tooth gear is quick and smooth.
Pear Head, 54-teeth
During our testing, the Stanley pear head ratchet didn't wow us, but it did prove that for just $12.88, you can buy a decent and reliable tool. nothing flashy here, just a pear head design with a 54-tooth mechanism that provided 15 degrees of ratcheting art. Available at Wal-Mart, the Stanley is a good value for $12.88 if you don't spend much time spinning your own wrenches.