I came across this GEARWRENCH 120XP mechanics tool set a couple of months ago, and I have been itching to buy one.
The set features 94 pieces, with 1/4″, 3/8″, and 1/2″ drive tools, accessories, a selection of 6pt and 12pt SAE and metric sockets, and also a customized foam tray. It’s available at Home Depot for $229.
Before I give you my opinion and ask for yours, Gearwrench is a new ToolGuyd sponsor, and so I’d be “playing with the house’s money” if I purchase a set. That doesn’t really make it easier, as money is money, and if I’m buying a tool you can be sure it’s one I actually want to use.
A couple of readers asked questions about EVA foam tray tool sets, and this set perfectly fits my needs, but I’ve been on the fence.
My take on this set is a loaded one. Before I get into it:
@Dylan – I’m sorry it has been taking me so long to get back to your question about good EVA foam tool sets. The fact of the matter is that there are generally two options – many pieces for a lot of money, or few pieces for a ton of money. This Gearwrench set is the first and only option that speaks to me. Its tool selection isn’t comprehensive, but it’s also not at all sparse. This to offer the best “package deal” in my opinion.
If you need something this set doesn’t offer, most additional purchases will complement what you get here. If you buy a consumer-focused set and you want say better ratchets, there’s overlap on top of your recent investment. That’s why I love the idea of this set, although for my own needs I’m reluctant because I upgraded just weeks before learning about it.
With this set, you get better ratchets and what looks to be a full set of extensions out the door. Further purchases – if even ever needed – won’t diminish the value of your initial investment.
Also, none of your investment goes into hex keys, insert bits, nut drivers, or similar. Quality over quantity.
Now, for my personal thoughts on this set. What first appealed to me is that it’s positioned between value-oriented sets and “dear goodness how much do they cost?!” tool truck and industrial brand options.
One brand – and it’s not even a mainstream name – that specializes in modular tool assortments is currently offering a 156pc 1/4″, 3/8″, and 1/2″ set for a whopping $950. This Gearwrench set by comparison, model 83071-07, is a 94pc 1/4″, 3/8″, and 1/2″ set priced at $229.
That’s a lot of money for a starter set, but this isn’t exactly a starter set, it’s more of a solution to specific tool needs.
I don’t do a lot of automotive work, but I do some repair and maintenance tasks on occasion. I maintain and repair my equipment. I assembly my own gear. I build custom fabrications. My tool needs are very varied, and I benefit from using better tools.
I bought new socket sets last winter, in 1/4″ and 3/8″ sizes. I didn’t replace my existing tools, I bought those sets to equip a “satellite box,” a tool box remote from where I normally keep my full range of tools. The need existed for a while, but I made do carrying different components and smaller sets back forth. I came across some very hard-to-pass-up deals and splurged.
Those new tools have worked out VERY WELL so far. But… now I’m wishing I had the same with 1/2″. So, I still head to my main box. It’s not a big deal, but “oops, I need one more socket/adapter/extension.”
I also still have portable 1/4″ and 3/8″ kits that I love using since they’re compact and usually have *exactly* what I need for certain tasks. “Certain tasks” is the keyword. I’ve learned to match certain small kits to specific needs.
This Gearwrench set checks off a lot of boxes for me, when it comes to both general purpose and specific tool needs, and I really wish I learned about it even two months earlier than I did.
With this set, you get Gearwrench’s premium 120XP ratchets, and so that’s already a plus.
There’s no filler, and that’s a big deal.
A lot of DIYers are drawn to big numbers – 150 pieces, 200 pieces, 300 pieces. This is a 94pc set, but it has a lot of what I want, and nothing I don’t.
At the center of everything is the drawer-friendly tray. I love foam-fitted tool sets and wish I had more of them.
The “uncut EVA foam tray” measures 25.8″ x 15.6″, which is actually perfect for the box I’d put it into. The product images suggest you can trim one side of it just a little bit if you need to fit a slightly shallower drawer, but I can’t tell for sure.
This set offers a mix of 6pt and 12pt sockets, it has a shallow and deep assortment, and nice selection of 1/4″, 3/8″, and 1/2″ extensions.
When you have a tool tray like this, it creates a shadow board type of effect. If a tool is removed from this Gearwrench tool tray and not replaced, you’ll know it, as you’ll see an orange hole glaring at you.
Put your tools back when you’re done with them!!
It’s in our nature to fill holes. How many of you have purchased a couple of individual sockets, not because you needed them, but because they filled gaps in your socket tray or organizer?
Staring at a hole in a tool tray would better motivate me to put my tools away when I’m done with them. This is already a goal, but apparently I haven’t been properly motivated yet, because there are occasional lapses with frustrating outcomes.
I looked at some other tool tray options. I’ve been considering this set for a couple of months, and I’ve also been researching readers’ question.
One consumer-centric option is a 300pc set from another brand, priced at $249. That’s a big difference compared to this set, but the two brands are in different quality tiers. That higher piece set is not an upgrade, it just gives you more. Maybe you can use some of those extra tools, but for a lot of them there’s only benefit if you’re starting with no tools and are on a budget.
I don’t need more wrenches, hex keys, or screwdriver bits, I need a modestly sized socket set that covers 1/4″, 3/8″, and 1/2″ drive sizes. For all those other tool needs – I’m already covered.
I filled this need already, with the holiday promo sets I ordered, but not with 1/2″ tools. If I had a do-over, I might have just purchased this Gearwrench set.
I think this set could work for me. There’s too much overlap in my tool drawer, and so those 1/4″ and 3/8″ sets will have to go somewhere – maybe they’ll go back in their cases to be portable tool kits.
In theory, I prefer 6pt sockets over 12pt. But in practice, I’ve worked with a lot of 12pt sockets in tool sets and assortments, and nothing bad happened yet. Actually, 12pt sockets even come in handy at times, such as with breaker bars if I can’t get very good positioning with a 6pt socket.
Gearwrench has a neat drawer liner for organizing hand tools, but it’s not quite the same.
The Trap Mat drawer liners are great for organizing and protecting your loose tools. If a cut foam tray is available, I’d take it.
Tool sets like this one usually provide a more modular approach to equipping a box with new tools.
If you have an existing tool set, you can cut your own tool foam, pick and pluck foam, or layered foam, but it’s not going to be as nice and tidy as this.
I have never had a tool set like this one before – I have always went with a piecemeal approach, with 1/4″ and 3/8″ modules, a 1/4″ and 3/8″ assortment, and then with 1/2″ I bought drive tools and separate socket rails.
When trying to judge the price for the Gearwrench tool tray set, I compared it to their 120XP 3/8″ 56pc mechanics tool set, which is priced at $95 via Home Depot.
There’s also the Gearwrench 120XP 3/8″ 57pc mechanics tool set, priced at $104 via Amazon. It looks to be the same set but with an added flex-head cushion grip ratchet.
Gearwrench’s 120XP 51pc 1/4″ set is $85 via Acme Tools, their 120XP 49pc 1/2″ set is $220 via Acme Tools, and their 3pc 120XP ratchet set is $110 via Acme Tools. Update: CPO has the 3pc ratchet set for $77 – that seems like a great buy.
As an aside, this is how you tell the more serious and pro brands apart from the more consumer-targeting ones. If this was aimed at consumers, it’d have double the price count with hex keys and insert bits. Those fillers do come in handy, but a lot of users don’t want an inflated part count. Remember, when you see all those fillers in a set, you’re paying for that.
If I want or need a 3/8″ set, these smaller set options would be golden. But I need more – I have a portable 3/8″ set, and now I need a convenient assortment for a general purpose tool box..
That brings me to this post. This set seems to be a solution to several of my frustrations. Not to sound preachy, but it marries Gearwrench quality (I’m a fan of the 120XP ratchets especially) with a very convenient foam tray.
I want to know your thoughts. I’m working to move a whole lot of Gearwrench-related requests and related topics off my “someday” list and onto my to-do list.
Are you guys interested in this set? Not to sound too eager, I’ll buy it in a heartbeat. If I learned about it 2 months sooner, I’d already own it. If I bought it now, I’ll have to pack up what I bought last winter, and I’ll save them for my kids or use them elsewhere.
And if you’re not very interested, I’ll probably still buy it once there’s some more distance between my winter purchase, because it is an upgrade, albeit one with some overlap.
If you’re as interested in an exploration of this as I am, what do you want to know? If not, what would you want me to buy for review or exploration purposes instead?
I figure that if I am interested in exploring a particular product, many of you will be similarly interested, but I feel like I need to ask.
If I’m being honest, this is also one of those sets I’d be forever curious about. It looks to fit my needs, it’s reasonably priced, and I already know I’m fond of Gearwrench tools and their quality. But new territory always makes me second-guess myself until I finally push myself to make a decision.
Asking you guys to push me one way or another – and to ask your own questions I might not have considered – is the easy way to get out of my own head.
Thoughts? Questions? Requests?
Price: $229 via Home Depot