Gearwrench flex-head ratchets are on sale right now, but there’s a slight problem – which one do I focus on or recommend?
First up, we have the 81230T set, shown above, a set of 4 flex-head ratchets. Gearwrench includes a 1/4″ ratchet, stubby 3/8″ ratchet, 3/8″ ratchet, and 1/2″ ratchet, all featuring 90-tooth gearing.
Street Price: ~$130-135 on Amazon
Sale Price: $114.81
Buy Now via Amazon
Compare via Acme Tools
These Gearwrench 90T ratchets have a 4° swing arc, 6-position flex-head, and low profile teardrop head with “flush mounted” on/off direction switch.
The average retailer price seems to be ~$132 to $145, with a ~$130 price on Amazon via a 3rd party seller. So with this Amazon sale price of $nearly $115, you save $15-$20 or so in this 4-piece ratchet set.
The 4pc set, above, is appealing, because you get a ratchet in all 1/4″, 3/8″, and 1/2″ drive sizes, but also a stubby flex-head ratchet. I’ve been yo-yoing over getting a stubby 3/8″ myself, for use in tighter spaces. But do I really need a 1/2″ ratchet?
More than a decade ago, I decided to buy a 2pc set of Gearwrench flex head ratchets. A 2-piece set with 1/4″ and 3/8″ ratchets is enough to add versatility to my tool box, but not enough to be huge financial risk. What if I didn’t use flex-head ratchets all that often? Well, a 1/4″ and 3/8″ set isn’t as much of an investment into paperweights or dust collectors as a 4pc set.
I use my Gearwrench flex head ratchets occasionally, and would absolutely buy them again.
I don’t recall what gearing my ratchets have, but I know for certain that these Gearwrench ratchets on sale have finer teeth and a smaller swing arc.
One thing I really like about my Gearwrench ratchets, and what makes them useful beyond tasks where I need to access fasteners at an angle is that they’re longer than my other ratchets. This gives them a somewhat 2-in-1 purpose in my tool box.
If you’re on the fence, consider this 2pc set, it’s easier on the wallet but still an impactful addition to your tool kit.
The discount on this set isn’t as good as on the 4pc set, but it’s better than nothing. You could also wait to see if there will be a better discount via Acme Tools, with a percent-off coupon sure to be coming up soon.
Street Price: ~$65-70 on Amazon
Sale Price: $62.28
Buy Now via Amazon
Compare via Acme Tools
To be frank, knowing how useful these ratchets have been for me over the years, if I had to make a purchase right now, it would be for the 4pc set. If I consider that the 1/4″ and 3/8″ set is $62, and the stubby 3/8″ is on sale for $35 at Amazon right now, that’s nearly $100, where another $15 would get me the 1/2″ ratchet as well.
The Geawrench 84T 2-ratchet set is also on sale, for $48.
Gearwrench’s 4pc 120XP, 120 position is priced at $118.49 right now, but that doesn’t seem to be a sale price.
You get an even smaller swing arc, but I’d likely stick with the 90T ratchets, above. If I checked tech specs, I would expect to see the 90T ratchet to have slightly smaller tear drop head dimensions.
Yup – the 90T 3/8″ flex ratchet is 11.4″ long and with a 1.25″ head length and 0.47″ head thickness, while the 120XP 3/8″ flex ratchet is 11.5″ long with a 1.30″ head length and 0.55″ thickness. Hmm, that’s actually not a very big difference at all.
See More Gearwrench Deals Here
There’s a larger Gearwrench sale going on right now. Do you see anything else that’s noteworthy?
I’ve got the 1/2″ flexhead 120XP ratchet. It’s quite nice. I was surprised by the size the head though – I bought it online so I didn’t appreciate how much larger it would be compared to my long-handled Proto premium pear-head 1/2″ ratchet.
There’s a big price difference between the two though and the Proto doesn’t have the super fine tooth gearing of the Gearwrench – so I’m not knocking the 120XP. It definitely has its uses.
I also thought I would be more impressed with the 120 position gearing, but with a ratchet handle that long it still takes a longer swing arc than I expected to click to the next tooth (that’s just math, not something wrong with the 120XP). I bring that up because a 90-tooth single pawl ratchet in the same length is going to have an even larger swing arc – might be a reason to get the 120 instead – especially if the set will compliment ratchets you already own.
On the otherhand, I prefer my Proto ratchet to the 120XP in most cases even though it’s only like 45T (but I don’t regret having the 120XP in my arsenal). So if this were my only, or primary, set of ratchets I’d probably lean towards the 90T versions.
In 3/8″ and especially 1/2″ drive, I much prefer long-handle ratchets like these. Too often I’ve got to strain pretty hard to loosen bolts of that size if I use a regular length ratchet and I find it easier to feel when the bolt is at the right torque.
“ But do I really need a 1/2″ ratchet?”
I gravitate to my 1/2” ratchet all the time. When working on cars I like the heft and solid feeling of the larger ratchet as long as I have room for it. I prefer 1/2” to 3/8” most of the time. If I worked on trucks I’d probably gravitate to 3/4” drive.
Oh, 1/2″ ratchets are fabulous, don’t get me wrong.
But if someone asks “but do I need a 1/2″ ratchet,” my recommendation would be to get a standard ratchet and go from there. I could probably benefit from more 1/2″ ratchets, as most of my specialty styles are 1/4″ and 3/8″, but 1/2″ is a bit too much for my most-used socket sizes.
My intent wasn’t to discourage against 1/2″ ratchets, but to be mindful that users on a limited budget might not necessarily need to buy a 4pc set when I went with a 2pc set myself without really feeling pressure to upgrade over the years.
But, I also don’t work on cars much, and if I need more torque my flex-heads often come out due to their longer length. If that’s not enough, I go to 1/2″ or bring out a breaker bar. And if that’s not enough, out comes a dead blow mallet.
I’ve had that 4 piece set for a year and as a weekend warrior I really like it. I’m really surprised by how much I use that little stubby one. It’s a great all around set.
Is this payback of some kind for all the deal posts? =P I’ve been itching to buy a good stubby flex-head, and Lance has me convinced I might like using a 1/2″ flex.
Could I use an upgrade of second set of flex-heads?…
I almost never use a 1/2 drive ratchet. I only bust them out when I’m doing brakes on a car. I haven’t had to do brakes since I got this one though. If it’s as good as the 1/4″ and 3/8″ drive though I’m sure it’ll be great.
Other than working on a fleet of business pickups and a couple of personal cars, I work on earthmoving and agricultural equipment and 1/2” drive is about all I use.
3/8” drive under the hood of the licensed vehicles. Otherwise they collect dust.
1/4” drive? Maybe for tightening a hose clamp once in a while. Otherwise they’re pretty much worthless for me. I use my 3/4” and 1” drive stuff far more than my 1/4” drive stuff.
I would venture to guess that followers of this page have very diverse needs.
As a DIY homeowner, 95% of my needs are covered with 3/8″ and 1/2″ drive. On occasion I will pick up my 1/4″ drive for situations where access is tight or limited.
Only the 90 tooth ratchets have the yellow stripe on the handle. Why?
Maybe it’s to indicate the toothing? If there’s a third toothing with a different color that could be it.