Northern Tool 2522041 7-piece set
Ordering the 7-piece set from northerntool.com, we had our drivers in a few days and were impressed with the intuitive stainless tool holder included. The go-through steel shank was also a helpful feature, as was the magnetic tip, and the lifetime warranty. The Northern screwdrivers handled the stripped Phillips screw with ease, while each of us thought $17.99 was a great value for seven pieces. In the end, we didn’t find the handles as comfortable as several of the top contenders and the tips didn’t feel quite as strong.
GearWrench 80050 6-piece set
$40.51 (at www.amazon.com) www.gearwrench.com
Taking aim at the professional end user, the GearWrench screwdrivers were the only set to include a much-appreciated blow-molded case for easy storage in a toolbox. The drivers featured hex-bolstered shanks for added torque, black-oxide non-slip and magnetic tips, and a comfortable grip. With the drivers in the case, the sizes are easily identifiable on the shank, but we did wish the size was also on the end of the handle. Spinning low torque fasteners quickly and easily, the “Speed Zone” at the base of the grip did come in handy. Our only issues with the GearWrench drivers was the $40.51 price point, no chisel feature, and the fact they’re made in Taiwan.
Kobalt 314631 8-piece set
Available at Lowes, the Kobalt 8-piece Pro screwdriver set features cushion-grip handles, magnetic tips, chrome-plated shanks, and a hassle-free lifetime warranty. Clearly marked at the end of the handle, it was easy to grab the right tool for the job, and one of our favorite things about this set is its diverse size lineup. Small precision drivers were also included in addition to the standard sizes. Our complaints with this lineup were the handle feel, no chisel, and again, that they are made in China.
Husky 74503 6-piece set
Made in the USA, Husky’s 6-piece cushion grip screwdriver set featured a lifetime warranty, comfortable grips, and were clearly marked at the end of the handle. We enjoyed using this set, but were disappointed with a sub-par performance during the Phillips torque test, lack of magnetic tips, and no chisel. For under $20, the Husky set does an adequate job of loosening and tightening fasteners, but there are better sets out there.
Craftsman Professional 49020 6-piece set
Finishing in 10th Place, the Craftsman Professional 6-piece set didn’t stand out in a crowd of over-achievers and proved that the competition is quickly surpassing the heralded brand. Despite the blades being made from high-strength alloy steel and the tips precision cut for tighter tolerances, the handles weren’t the best or the most comfortable. The handles slipped in our hand on several occasions, and we missed the magnetic tips. Clear markings at the end of the handles and hex bolstering on the larger drivers were appreciated but for a $30 price point, we couldn’t find a better home than 10th Place for the Craftsman Professional set.
DeWalt DWHT62513L 10-piece set
$19.97 (at www.homedepot.com) www.dewalt.com
DeWalt’s latest venture into the handtool world provides a comfortable grip, sandblasted magnetic tips for better fastener fit, and color-coded handles for quick tool selection. With those benefits, we still wished the set would’ve included a longer driver than the 4-inch ¼-inch tip driver that topped the spec list. We also prefer a true tool identifier rather than the color-coded setup, and there wasn’t any additional features that made the DeWalt set stand out.
Craftsman 31794 17-piece set
The largest set in the group came from Craftsman, and we appreciated the large Made in the USA sticker on the packaging, and lifetime warranty. Even with the impressive size lineup, the plastic handles weren’t the most comfortable, the bits didn’t fit the best in both the Phillips and slotted fasteners, and the #2 Phillips driver didn’t score well in the high-torque test. A lack of magnetic tips and additional features couldn’t overcome the large-scale value.
Pittsburgh 68868 12-piece set
For less than $8, Pittsburgh’s 12-piece set was the low-price leader in this test. It featured cushioned grips, a wide variety of sizes, including stubby and precision drivers, and hex bolsters on the larger drivers. Unfortunately, the grips were not as comfortable as we’d hoped for and the Phillips and slotted drivers struggled with the high-torque test—primarily due to the grips. With no size information anywhere on the driver, and the weakest magnetic tips in the group, this 12-piece set was outclassed.