Every now and then I am asked about which precision screwdrivers I would recommend. It can be hard to offer just one recommendation since there are so many great quality brands and styles out there, so instead I will describe what I like about the various precision screwdrivers I have in my personal toolbox.
This 6pc Kronus screwdriver set cost me less than $10 at Radio Shack. Five years ago, when it was brand new, it was a huge step up from the cheap thin-metal-handled “jewel screwdrivers” I kept breaking.
While these drivers are not terribly ergonomic, they’re not uncomfortable to use. The compact case makes this my on-the-go precision screwdriver set when tool bag space is in short supply.
Radio Shack isn’t selling these anymore, but they’re still available on ebay and through liquidators.
I have a couple of these General Tools-made Craftsman screwdrivers floating around my toolbox. The two yellow-capped color-coded screwdrivers are tiny ball-head hex drivers that I still use regularly despite having upgraded to Bondhus and Wiha drivers.
These seem to offer the best bang for the buck. Too bad the sets I’ve seen don’t come with handy storage or carry cases.
10pc Set(~$19 via Amazon)
Wiha is the de-facto precision screwdriver brand among technicians, makers, hobbyists, researchers, and industrial users, and for good reason. Basic Wiha precision screwdrivers like this one might not look like much, but they’re comfortable to use. The tips are precision-formed, the handles comfortable to twist, and the end-cap spins freely and easily.
Browse Wiha Precision Screwdrivers(via Amazon)
Wiha makes precision drivers with Phillips, slotted, Torx, and hex bit styles, which sell for about $3-4 each on average. A great place to start is this 8-piece slotted and Phillips set, which is currently discounted to $22 via Amazon.
Wiha also offers a premium soft-touch PicoFinish line of precision screwdrivers, but they’re not nearly as popular as their standard drivers. The rubbery handles really do feel great, but I wouldn’t consider this a must-have feature.
PicoFinish Selection(via Amazon)
Wera Kraftform Micro
Like Wera’s larger Kraftform screwdrivers, many people either love or hate the handles on these Micro drivers. Personally I find these drivers to be a touch better than Wiha’s designs, but the finger grip can be awkward to reach at times.
Wera’s Micro screwdriver size and style selection does not yet compare to Wiha’s, but it looks like the lineup has been expanded recently with nutdrivers, ball hex, and Torx models.
Buy Now(~$23 for 6pc set via Amazon)
I bought this 7pc Witte precision screwdriver set on a whim with a gift card, and while they’re not my favorites, I still reach for them every now and then. They’re not bad, just very pricey – undeservingly so. If I didn’t like them better than the other brands’ precision screwdrivers for higher torque micro-driving tasks I would have given them away a long time ago.
Buy Now(>$40 via Amazon)
PB Swiss makes some of the best screwdrivers I have ever used, and their precision drivers are no different. There are two downsides – they don’t have a wide size and style selection and USA distributors can be hard to find. If you must have a set, expect to pay a lot for it.
Available via ToolLady
Technician and Pocket Screwdrivers
While I would not call these multi-bit drivers precision screwdrivers, they are indispensable for on-the-go miniature fastener-driving needs. If I’m feeling lazy I’ll reach for one of these instead of a “real” precision screwdriver for quick tasks. But usually I do prefer precision drivers for their thinner handles and free-spinning palm-grip cap.
There are many other recommendable precision screwdrivers available, but I wanted to limit this to screwdrivers I have personal experience with. A couple of other brands I would trust are Felo and Moody.
I’m disappointed to not see Xcelite. I recently bought their M60 set, made in USA. Good stuff.
Best bang-for-your-buck is the Stanley 6 piece set, for less than $5. I have several, one for each workbench.
I bought an xcelite set about 8 years ago, and the metal was really soft. the only one I actually like is the p0, which I’ve used alongside my wiha p0 for torqier tasks, but far from a quality set. good bang for the buck, I suppose
No mention of Moody? They effectively invented the precision screwdriver. Most people are familiar with Moody clones (in blue and clear plastic cases) which have been around for decades. Moody drivers are of very high quality and will last a lifetime.
NM. I now see reference to Moody. I’ll bet they would have sent you a small set to demo had you asked.
Moody screwdrivers are terrible. I purchased their largest set of classic metal screwdrivers and was completely underwhelmed by the quality. I found them to be barely better than the import knock-offs which are 20x less expensive. Moody tops my list for tool purchase regret and disappointment.
Starrett on the other hand, makes superb quality metal jewelers screwdrivers.
My experience too! I bought every set of Moody precision screwdrivers available after reading reviews on the internet and I am not impressed. Wera is so much better. Moody have broken on me and are not at all well made. Bad tempering, and bad finishing. They are very weak tools and not nice to handle.Two pieces were missing from two of the biggest sets and I contacted Moody a few times and they said they would send the missing parts. They never did.
Also AF and Bergeon do some nice sets (and some not so nice), although Bergeon are over priced in my opinion. Also Cousins uk – jewellery tool supplier do their own VERY decent drivers. MUCH better than Moody and others mentioned on this site. Wera are consistently good quality and good prices, for what you get, both their precision tools and bigger tools. Their stuff actually works well and lasts. There are others that are maybe ‘cheap knock-offs’ but are much better than Moody and others mentioned too – Nanch, iwork, Neo, although you need to pick a good set as some batches are pretty awful and some are very good. Tekton is another one that does half decent and cheap precision drivers. All mentioned above have been better than Moody and I had two sets sent back to Neo and iwork and got replacements. Just tested ‘ Hama’ micro set and it is great and cost about $10. Very disappointed about the $1000s I spent on Moody tools. I have a few of their drivers that are ‘OK’ but not as strong as other brands. Another decent brand that I use often is Facom -they have some very nice precision sets and I have every one they own. I often find myself using Facom, Wera, Cousins, and Nanch. I used to always use Bergeon and AF but not so much now. I often use ifixit / Wiha bits with the Nanch tools. I like Wiha bits but not their drivers.
Above precision screwdrivers were all purchased with out-of-pocket funds or credit card reward gift cards. Maybe the next roundup will feature Moody, Xcelite, Starrett, and other brands I’ve been meaning to try out.
I was about to ask about Moody. Mine have been fantastic.
I agree, the green handle Moody drivers are awesome
I was wandering – what is so good in PB Swiss screwdrivers? Their price is double that of great screwdriver manufacturers like Wera, Wiha and Felo.
So what is the difference between PB Swiss vs. Wera/Wiha etc.?
Their regular screwdrivers? The handles are super-comfortable and well shaped. The tips are precise, especially the slotted ones which fit a little better than traditional wedge-shaped slotted tips.
I use Wera, Wiha, and PB Swiss full-size screwdrivers on a regular basis. What it comes down is which fits my hand best and can be used with minimal discomfort to transmit the greatest torque.
I have Wiha drivers in my travelling work tool kit. I take this kit everywhere and use the screwdrivers every day. They are precisely made (i.e. the don’t strip screws), durable (have yet to wear one out) and ergonomic. I have various other brands (Xcelite, Generic, Kobalt) but Wiha are my hands down preference. Can’t go wrong with these!
BTW – if anyone comes accross the set that was “borrowed” from my kit a few years ago…. I’d like them back!
Honestly can’t stand the Craftsman/General tools drivers. Imho, the older design produced with a single-piece shank was a much better, much more durable tool. Maybe I expect more out of my screwdrivers than most folks, but the ones they currently build have this awful tendency of snapping when you apply too much pressure. No such issue with the older version of Craftsman Professional micro screwdrivers. I feel like they really dropped the ball on quality with these “newer” ones.
I have a bunch of newer Craftsman and they are crap. They break midway where the metal shank ends. I’m throwing them away as they break and buying Felo instead. If I trade them in, I’ll still have crap.
Love my Wihas!!,I have all sorts of Wiha screwdrivers,from slotted and philips,and Torx,and a full range of the precision drivers. Hard to beat the quality versus cost. Anytime I need a new type of driver its generally Wiha branded.
I agree, Wiha is where I go whenever I have an excuse to get more. (Though for full size, I’ve got a weak spot for Klein stuff too.)
For precision screwdrivers I think anyone who has used the Wiha Pico Finish will attest that they are the best you can buy based on the abundance of features. Other drivers have some of the same features but the Wiha Pico Finish has everything I like. Rotating Cap, Clearly labeled size and style on the cap, very nice designed handle with small section for fast rotation and super high quality Tip that lasts and lasts.
I just got a set of Wiha drivers, not all that impressed. Let’s hope they put the money in the tips, sure isn’t in the handles.
They have about 15 different styles. Which ones did you get?
has anyone else noticed that the harbor freight precision drivers (http://www.harborfreight.com/6-piece-precision-screwdriver-set-47823.html)
are just rebranded Kronus drivers
I have used the Pittsburgh drivers and I find they are awesome for the price.
Just got a set of the picofinish wiha precision drivers.
Like another person said, I hope the tips are super durable because the handles aren’t that great. The red spinning caps are very loose and wobbly. In addition, some are just fine, while others aren’t; there is no consistency. Does it matter? Probably not, but I’m anal, and for those looking for Lexus-like build quality, look elsewhere. With that said, the tips do look like they’d last a long time.
I have to say, those PB Swiss handles look really similar in shape and style to Wiha. I found out that Wiha also makes the plastic handled Starrett drivers, so it makes me wonder.
Thanks for this review. I think it’s the only one of it’s kind on the web…at least that I have found. I have been using the Craftsman made by General (though not very often,) and have been pleased with them. I recently needed a tiny torx driver in a hurry and ended up with a changeable bit Husky from Home Depot. It did the job but leaves a little to be disired (the end cap doesn’t spin smoothly and I wonder about the quality of the steel used in the tips.)
Some folks on Garagejournal seemed to like Wera (among others, Wiha, Witte, included.) What I don’t like about the Weras is they have farmed out to Czech Republic. At least the Wihas are made in Germany.
Another interesting option is Irazola from Spain. It seems Snap-on has an interest of some sort in this company, as the Snap-on micro drivers are made by them. I love Snap-On tools (at least the ones made by them.)
If you need a large driver with changeable bits, I love their ratcheting driver with storage for bits in the handle. Pricey from Snap-on, but always available on Ebay pretty cheap. These are not to be confused with every other crappy ratcheting driver I’ve ever seen. These are bullet-proof. But I digress.
I’m still up in the air. I am partly leaning toward Witte/Wittron (I really like the 7-piece set in black with a black case available at KC Tool….very slick looking, but $56.) I will likely end up with Wiha. They seem to be the best value.
realy enjoyed your “Best Precision Screwdrivers” artice!
Two questions, if I may:
1. has there been an “update” to the article? and
2. your reccomendation for a *powered*, precision screwdriver?
Not really. I have bought more Wiha screwdrivers, but have not tried additional precision screwdriver styles since.
All of the recommendations still stand.
I haven’t really tried powered precision screwdrivers yet. Maybe a cheap one once or twice.
Powered drivers are better for repetitive tasks. Maybe I’ll give them a serious try later in the year.
Recently shopping in a tool merchants in Asia I bought some “Hero” “picofinish” esd safe precision screwdrivers. Pretty sure these arr made in Japan and they turned out to be some of the best i’ve ever used.
Searching the web afterwards I found these to be identical to drivers sold by Wiha but I can’t find the brand as I can only search the internet in English (theres a whole other world out there if you can use other languages and search engines).
There are very many superb quality tools made in Japan. Has anyone else heard of “Hero” screwdrivers ? They are excellent for laptop screws so probably use the JIS standard rather than Philips.
Do you know of any good precision screwdrivers with a shorter overall length? The Wera feel much too long for me, and it looks like the Wiha are about the same size. It doesn’t make sense to me for a precision screwdriver to be so long. It’s more comfortable to place the rotating cap in the palm of your hand when they’re shorter.
I have an old Wiha set with very minimal use with a stripped T6 and a T9 bit that is starting to strip out.
I contacted them asking how I could get these bits replaced and was told I needed to ship them in for ‘assessment’. I assume this means I need to spend the money to ship them the tool to later be turned down for warranty replacement. A reputable tool company would simply send out the replacement bit.
I did some looking around and noticed Wiha is owned by Apex Tool Group now so I doubt the quality and warranty are up to the same standard.
Its sad what is happening to the tool world with globalization taking a foothold and cheapening our beloved tools.
I’ll be buying another brand that stands behind their tools with a solid warranty (if one exists anymore)
Who told you that Wiha is owned by Apex Tool Group?
That does not seem to be true. Could you please verify this?
It was Xcelite I was looking into as a replacement for my Wiha precision screwdrivers, and Xcelite is owned by Apex Tool Group.
Xcelite is owned by Apex Tool Group, but I believe they’re still positioned as an industrial brand. But that said, I don’t own many Xcelite tools, so I can’t talk about the quality.
Apex Tool Group owns a number of commercial and industrial tool brands, the first 2 that come to mind being Cleco and Weller.
I’m not sure the affect being owned by Apex Tool Group has but it does make me question todays quality vs my past experience with these brands.
I know from experience two previous companies I worked for changed ownership resulting in major changes in direction and the final products changed for the worse.
I own a Weller solder station (about 15 years old) that has been bomb proof and have used Xcelite screw drivers (unknown purchase date) from a previous company I worked for that were excellent.
I don’t want to leave the impression simply being owned by any major company results in a poor product. I just bought 1/4 and 3/8 GearWrench socket sets with the 120 tooth (double 60 tooth) ratchets that seem fairly nice for the price I paid. If I’m not mistaken GearWrench is owned by Apex Tool Group. Its no Snap-on but I am impressed for the price.
I wish Wiha had a better warranty policy. I would stick with them if they did.
When its all said and done I need tools that are quality with a no nonsense warranty if something happens.
Vessel precision set No. TD-56. $12.86 to the door for a 6-piece set. Vessel makes as good or better a screwdriver as any company out there IMHO. Although the WIHA precisions have been my go to for years now and perform admirably…plus the way they are shaped allows them to slip into my work shirt pocket with ease.
Wiha is my go to for two reasons – first they are well made and do the job. Second, they have a huge range of profiles and sizes. I do a lot of work on old mac laptops and other electronics and having a single roll of about 30 wihas lets me do virtually everything I need to do.
I have to put in a vote for Wiha – I’ve had a set of Wiha screws that are so old (>20 years, bought at Fry’s Electronics) that they say “Made in W Germany”.
I still use them all the time for work and play – obviously my favorites.
BTW, why are Wiha Tools USA and Bondhus Tools in the same small town of Monticello, MN?
Getting a full set of desktop drivers and a stand has been on my list for several years now. I have various drivers from all the players, but I can’t justify the cost when they are all the same color and no clear markings.
It’s hard enough to keep the workbench clean as it is. 50 wiha drivers that all look the same is waste of my time.
Anyone have a solution or recommendation?
PB Swiss color codes the allen keys, why hasn’t anyone done this for precision drivers?
I have this Paxcoo Precision Screwdriver Set of 8 – Magnetic Professional Repair Tool Kit – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07DHJ6Y6K/ $13.99 and it is great. Precision tips and metal handles with rubber grips in a nice zipper pouch. Reviewed on Cool Tools – https://kk.org/cooltools/paxcoo-precision-screwdrivers/ .
About a year ago I picked up the “Pro” toolkit from iFixit and I’m impressed. If you’re not in the electronics world you probably haven’t heard of them but it’s a solid set and the build quality is excellent.
The main downside is that you can’t always reach the deeply-set screws but selection of bits is second to none, and it’s got a great magnet tip.