Craftsman’s mechanics tool sets provide the best bang for the buck for anyone looking to build up their tool collection. You can opt to spend very little, such as with their small 3/8″ socket sets, or a lot, such as on complete multi-hundred-piece sets that include just about every socket size and accessory Craftsman makes.
My first Craftsman socket sets were small 1/4″ and 3/8″ SAE assortments, and then I added a 94-piece set to the mix for about $60. I have since added 1/2″ and deep socket sets to my tool box, and in hindsight I wish I sprung for a more complete set at the very beginning.
What’s the difference between this 200pc set and the universal mechanics tool set I reviewed the other day? The universal set has spline-style sockets and wrenches, this set has 6pt and 12pt sockets and wrenches.
As with most of Craftsman’s mechanics tool sets, the 200pc set gives you long raised panel ratchets. These ratchets have coarse mechanisms and are rather plainly designed, but they are fairly strong and reliable.
If you ever break one of the ratchets, simply head on over to your nearest Sears store and exchange it for a new one as per Craftsman’s lifetime satisfaction guarantee.
Heavier users will eventually want to upgrade these ratchets to something better, perhaps Craftsman’s thin-profile or premium ratchets. There are plenty of other reputable brands as well, with Gearwrench and Proto to name just two.
The 200pc set comes with a very nice assortment of 6pt and 12pt sockets in 1/4″, 3/8″, and 1/2″ drive sizes. You can download a complete size list from Sears’ site as a PDF.
Generally, a 6pt socket provides a stronger hold on hex fasteners than 12pt sockets. With 12pt sockets there’s a slightly higher chance of rounding-off or damaging a fastener. Realistically that chance is small.
So why would I recommend a set that comes with 6pt and 12pt sockets if I have a strong preference for 6pt sockets? Well, there are times when a 12pt socket simply allows for easier fastener access, especially when working with a coarser ratchet or breaker bar.
If you have a preference for 6pt sockets over 12pt sockets or don’t know what you might need or want, this set probably isn’t for you. But if you think you might need 12pt sockets, this set has a nice balance between 6pt and 12pt.
It is worth noting that these sockets have engraved markings, and not the laser etchings found on newer “easy read” and dual-marked sockets. Their quality is reasonably good, and they’re accurately sized, but don’t expect for the insides to be pristinely plated. On the bright side, the texture helps with grip.
The 200pc set also comes with a spinner handle, a couple of combination wrenches, 20 each of metric and inch hex keys, and an assortment of nutdriver and screwdriver bits.
A lot of people consider these non-ratchet and non-socket add-ons to be fillers, but they most certainly do come in handy, especially for DIYers who don’t have much else in the way of mechanics tools.
As far as bang for the buck goes, this set is maybe 8/10 if you catch it on a good sale. Its list price of $200 isn’t bad for 128 sockets plus 62 additional tools. I do wish this set came with a drawer tool box instead of the blow molded case, but that’s a feature you have to step up to the 255pc set for. If you have a smaller budget, Craftsman’s 154pc set is more economical, with a sale price of $90-120.
Overall I feel that this set offers incredible value, but it’s up to DIYers and weekend warriors to determine if the selection of sockets and general purpose tools are a good fit for their needs. If you ask me, this seems like a great set, although I would personally swing up to the 255pc set, which comes down in price to below $200 when on sale.
So which set to buy if not this one? That’s a hard question to answer. Normally I recommend Craftsman’s sets to anyone looking to acquire their first socket and mechanics tools assortment, but with so many different SKUs and sets it can be hard to narrow down to a particular set.
My advice is to either pick the smallest set that fits your immediate needs, or track the 4-5 sets that go on sale every week and choose the largest set your budget can accommodate. Of course save an extra couple of bucks for extension and adapter sets that go on sale every now and then for 50%-off.
Buy Now(via Sears)
This set is currently made in the USA.
Thank you to Craftsman for providing the review sample unconditionally. Review samples are typically given away, donated, or retained for benchmark and comparison purposes.