GEARWRENCH has recently come out with new T-handle ball end hex drivers that the brand says are suited for the most demanding needs that professional users have.
The high-torque straight hex tips on the short end features chamfered edges, to make them easier to insert into fasteners, and the ball end is shaped to allow for fastener access from up to 25° off-axis.
Gearwrench – a ToolGuyd sponsor – sent over a 7pc set of metric T-handle ball hex drivers for review consideration, and I’ve been putting them through some use.
To start off, I was surprised at their shorter size. Most of my T-handle hex drivers are a bit longer, at least when talking about the larger sizes, but all of the sizes in this set have approximately the same overall length. In other words, the larger sizes have shorter shafts than I am accustomed to.
Although surprised by this, I’m quite pleased. Sometimes a longer T-handle hex driver works well for most tasks, but there are times when they can be a hassle, such as when working in tight spaces.
You can’t cut down longer t-handles or you lose the ball hex end, and so I tend to improvise, usually with hex bit sockets or 1/4″ hex bits.
Longer T-handles can also be difficult to pack up into a small tool bag or pouch for remote use.
Gearwrench also launched other T-handle hex sets with standard-length drivers, and so you can go that route if you want a more traditional general purpose set.
The handles are comfortable, and the steel shafts seem strong and resilient. Here’s what Gearwrench says about them:
Flimsy hex keys bend and get banged up easily with heavy use in everyday applications, but the alloy steel composition of GEARWENCH Hex Keys provides increased strength and resists rotational distortion.
I used several of the sizes so far, pushing some a little further than I would naturally, and I don’t have any concerns so far. Ball end hex tips, especially smaller sizes, should not be used in high torque applications, as there’s always the risk of breakage regardless of the brand. Still, I like knowing that ball hex drivers can meet my typical needs, and these seem to be doing alright so far.
There’s a test I like to do sometimes when trying to assess new tools. I ask myself: is this a tool I will keep and use? This question usually follows my inability to answer the question “is this something I would buy for myself?”
Did I see myself buying this particular set of T-handle hex drivers? Yes, but that’s unfair to say because I saw a retail listing and my first thought was “ooh, I’ve got to pick up a set to review.” It just happens that the sample arrived from Gearwrench before I was able to order a set.
But, I also didn’t realize the larger sizes were a little shorter in this particular set.
So, that’s where the thought exercise comes into play. Will I keep and use this set? Yes. I absolutely see myself using these T-handle ball hex drivers.
Will I use them exclusively? No – I have a wide range of hex tools with preestablished preferences. However, there are two things I really like about this particular set – the shorter lengths for the larger sizes are absolutely a complementary benefit for me, and I’m sure I will also benefit from the drivers’ P/L-style T-handle design.
My primary-use T-handle hex drivers don’t have short straight hex tips, they’re true T-handle drivers. That these “P-handle” T-handle drivers are essentially large L-shaped hex keys with soft T-grip handles means they serve double-duty for when you need off-axis accessibility and higher torque capabilities from the same tool.
Hex tools are a tough category for me to talk about, as I have quite a few different tools of various styles, and I cannot (and will not) give any of them up. I believe that these new Gearwrench offerings will absolutely add to my kit.
As for my specific plans for this sample set, it’s destined for my garage workshop to replace all of the loose hex keys, drivers, and T-handles that are needed to adjust, maintain, and operate various pieces of equipment. I’m confident they’ll see a fair share of regular use as well.
Lastly, the pricing also surprised me in a good way – the 7pc SAE and 7pc metric sets are priced at $14-15 each. The 8pc metric and 10pc SAE sets are priced a bit higher and come with s-shaped stands.
The tough question for me isn’t whether I like these new Gearwrench T-handle ball hex drivers or not, because I do, but whether I need the SAE and Torx sets as well.
Other Purchasing Options
- *14pc Straight Hex SAE/Metric Set: via Amazon | Acme Tools
- 7pc Torx Key T-Handle Set: via Amazon | Acme Tools
- 8pc Metric Set with Stand: via Amazon | Acme Tools
- 10pc SAE Set with Stand: via Amazon | Acme Tools
* The T-handle drivers in the 14pc set have straight hex tips on both short and long ends.
Thank you to our sponsor Gearwrench for providing the review samples.