Late last year, we wrote about the new Harbor Freight Icon mechanics tools, their new brand of “premium” hand tools and storage products aimed at “mechanics who demand top quality.”
Recently, Harbor Freight added several new Icon hand tools to their online catalog – breaker bars in 3/8″ and 1/2″ drive sizes in different lengths and hand styles.
In their marketing, Harbor Freight encourages customers to compare their new Icon breaker bars to Snap-on breaker bar SKUs. So, let’s take a look to see how they compare, price-wise, to breaker bars from some other hand tool brands.
1/2″ Drive 18″ Breaker Bar Price Comparison
I chose the 1/2″ drive 18″ long breaker bar for price comparison purposes. This is a plain-handled breaker bar, with no added cushion grip handle.
Harbor Freight Icon 63856 18″: $40 direct
Harbor Freight Pittsburgh Pro 18″: $10 Direct
Snap-on SN18B 18″: $124 direct, Made in USA
The Snap-on SN18B is the model Harbor Freight encourages their customers to compare the new Icon breaker bar to.
Tekton 15356 18″ Breaker Bar: $22 via Amazon
If I were shopping for a breaker bar on a limited budget, Tekton would likely be a top-3 choice. Their quality has gone up in recent years, and I’ve heard very good things about their customer service as well.
If you want USA-made, Proto’s is only a couple of dollars more. Frequent Zoro promotions means that you can buy the USA-made Proto for less than the price of the Icon. If you want the 24″, that’s already less expensive, at least at the time of this posting.
Blackhawk by Proto 17″ 49988B: $43.02 via Amazon, Made in USA with global materials
Gearwrench doesn’t have an 18″ 1/2″ drive breaker bar, at least not one I could find quickly. Still, if you look at the context, or the 24″ sizing, Harbor Freight’s Icon pricing is actually higher. The Icon 25″ breaker bar is $50, compared to the current street price of $44 for Gearwrench’s 24″ breaker bear.
Husky H12BB15 15″ Breaker Bar: $22 via Home Depot
Husky doesn’t offer an 18″ breaker bar.
Kobalt 85877 18″:$23 via Lowes
This is the model that Harbor Freight lists as the “compare to” for their $10 Pittsburgh Pro breaker bar.
SK Hand Tools
SK does not make an 18″ breaker bar.
Despite being far lower priced than Snap-on’s breaker bar of similar sizing, the Harbor Freight Icon breaker bars are pricier than other popular brands’ offerings. The comparison above look at the 18″ breaker bar specifically (and similar sizes for brands that don’t offer 18″ breaker bars), but the same pattern holds for the 24″ breaker bar and 3/8″ drive tools.
Most interesting, the pricing is closely aligned with Proto’s. While the Proto breaker bars have a rougher-looking knurled handle, sometimes suggestive of lower manufacturing and retail costs, it should be pointed out that the Proto breaker bars are made in the USA, while the Harbor Freight Icon breaker bars are very likely imported.
At this time, we don’t know how much Harbor Freight’s other upcoming Icon hand tools will cost. But, I have to wonder – if they won’t be significantly discounted compared to published breaker bar prices at the time of this posting, how well will they sell against other brands in the same space?
If the Gearwrench 24″ breaker bar is priced at $44, and Harbor Freight Icon 1/2″ 25″ breaker bar at $50, in which direction are most informed customers going to go? Or will they go in other directions? For customers shopping at Harbor Freight, how many more will go for the $10 Pittsburgh Pro that will surely be positioned nearby?
At face value, the new Harbor Freight Icon breaker bars look to be nicely shaped and well-finished. Harbor Freight says they are aiming their new Icon tools at professional users, and says their new breaker bars can stand up to the toughest shop use.
Harbor Freight has traditionally been the “cheap” option. However, their Icon prices don’t fit that mold, not at all. It will be interesting to see how the Icon brand progresses, and if and how well it can compete with other brands in the mid-price-point mechanics tool market.