PB Swiss Tools are top quality tools, and I am especially fond of their ball-end hex keys. I ordered a set of their new rainbow-colored inch hex keys last year, and they are everything I expected them to be.
I bought a lot of PB Swiss Tools a couple of years ago, during the great Amazon PB Swiss fire sales of 2010 and 2011, where the retailer heavily discounted the brand’s tools and then cleared them off their shelves for good once PB Swiss severed their business relationship.
At the time I couldn’t really budget for a metric set, rainbow-colored or otherwise, but I was able to piece together a small set with individually sized stubby-tip hex keys.
I had plenty of random hex keys and sets, such as from Bondhus and Wiha (here’s my review of their MagicRing ball hex sets), and so I couldn’t really justify a set of new PB Swiss hex keys, even at a great discount.
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But stubby-tip hex keys? That’s something I didn’t have, and not many brands offer. I bought one size in 2009, 5mm, and ordered additional individual sizes over the course of about half a year. I spent between $2 and $5 for each size.
I’ve been using these hex keys for a couple of years now, and have found them to be spectacular. This is partly why I invested in the pricey rainbow-colored inch hex key set. Once you taste PB Swiss quality, it’s hard to go back to anything else.
The ball ends are super-precise and offer great fastener fitment. But with these hex keys, the magic is in the short end, which is short, straight, and set at a 100° angle.
I’m not going to tell you that these hex keys saved my bacon, but there were plenty of times where the unique size and shape of the short end saved me a bit of time or from a frustrating hassle.
They’re problem solvers that come in handy when working in tight spaces. These PB Swiss stubby hex keys can fit into spaces inaccessible to any other hex tools I own.
Other brands offer stubby hex keys as well, but I don’t think I’ve seen any with angled short ends like on these. In my usage, that slight angle has come in handy about as many times as the stubby end’s shorter length has.
I heartily recommend these PB Swiss low profile stubby hex keys, but they’re quite expensive. A set of shorter keys will set you back about $60, a set of longer keys will set you back about $75, and a set of rainbow-colored long keys is priced at $80.
If I lost all of my PB Swiss stubby hex keys, I’d wince at the price, but would replace them in a heartbeat, with a set of PB Swiss’s rainbow color-coded ones. My only disappointment is that PB Swiss Tools doesn’t make anything similar in inch sizes.
If you want something similar but a lot less expensive, Bondhus offers a couple of stubby ball end hex key options. Their inch and metric stubby ball end hex key set is just $27 via Amazon. They also offer stubby hex keys in different finishes, but the black oxide set offers the best bang for the buck.
I would absolutely buy my PB Swiss stubby hex keys all over again, and they do offer a better engagement angle than Bondhus’ right angle stubby drivers. But 10 years ago, when I had a tighter tool budget, I probably would have went with Bondhus’s stubby hex keys in BriteGuard or GoldGuard finish.