Facom – a European brand owned by Stanley Black & Decker – has come out with three new 1/2″ extendable ratchets. The new SXL ratchets were mainly designed for industrial maintenance and repair applications, and optimal versatility, ergonomics, user comfort, and safety in mind.
The new Facom ratchets can be extended when longer reach and higher torque is needed, or shortened for easier storage and quick fastening applications.
There are three extendable ratchet models, all with 1/2″ square drives:
- SXL.161 ratchet with sealed head and 72-tooth gearing
- SXL.171 flex-head ratchet with quick-release socket retention mechanism
- SXL.180 jointed handle breaker bar
The three ratchets – or rather the two ratchets and the one breaker bar – all have the same comfort-grip handles and shaft locking mechanism. To set the handle length, pull the locking collar backwards and the shaft forward. There are 8 ball detent locking positions. With the SXL.161 ratchet, this means length can be adjusted from about 10.6″ to 16″. The flex-head ratchet is a little longer (~12″ to 17.2″), and the breaker bar a little shorter (~9.7″ to ~15″).
There are also two socket sets available – SXL.DBOX1 with a fixed-head ratchet, and SXL.DBOX3 with a flex-head ratchet.
Aside from the high pricing ($98 for the fixed-head ratchet and $90 for the breaker bar via Ultimate Garage), I find the new ratchets to be appealing. Extendable ratchets can be awfully gimmicky, but it looks like Facom put a lot of thought and engineering into getting these just right.
To be frank, I find myself a little too optimistic about these ratchets, which is probably due to the Facom branding. I own a number of Facom tools and really like them, and that could be clouding my judgement.
Some of the extendable ratchets I’ve seen before include the Kobalt Double Drive ratchet, the Craftsman Mach ratchet, and Craftsman dual-head wobble ratchet. Unlike these models, the Facom SXL ratchets are aimed at industrial users, not consumers and holiday gift givers.
There are a number of other inexpensive extendable ratchets available by other brands, including a Stanley 3/8″ flex-head ratchet and socket set ($28 via Amazon). The fact that I find the Facom more appealing over the other brands’ offerings that I hadn’t paid much attention to before is what suggests I was lured in by the Facom branding.
My hesitation about these ratchets would center around the stout-looking handles and the high pricing. If the breaker bar were a little longer and less expensive, it would be a great addition to any toolbox. The fixed head and flex-head ratchets look like they would be much better suited for technician or field tool kits.
Right now, these SXL ratchets are only available in 1/2″ drive size, with no indication that Facom will release anything similar in 1/4″ or 3/8″ sizes.