Harbor Freight has been rapidly expanding their newly introduced line of Icon tools and accessories, which they say are aimed at professional users.
A new 8pc Professional Mechanics screwdriver set recently entered the Icon lineup, priced at $50 and aimed at competing against Matco tools and the like.
Harbor Freight Icon Screwdriver Features
- Oversized ergonomics grip for maximum torque application
- Precision machined magnetic tips
- Hex bolster on select sizes
- Polished S2 steel shank
- Chemical-resistant handles
- Drive size printed on the crown for easy identification
- Premium storage tray
Harbor Freight says that the new Icon screwdrivers have shanks that extend through the handle for “unmatched durability.”
They also say that:
Like all Icon hand tools, these screwdrivers are backed with a hassle free, lifetime warranty.
This part is important, as we’ve heard of other brands and stores’ “hassle-free” warranties being anything but.
The 8pc set (model SD-8, SKU 56508) comes with 4 slotted screwdrivers and 4 Phillips.
Slotted: 1/4″ x 1-1/2″, 3/16″ x 3″, 1/4″ x 4″, 5/16″x 6″
Phillips: #1 x 3″, #2 x 1-1/2″, #2 x 4″, #3 x 6″
It’s basically a traditional 6pc set plus 2 stubbies.
An 8pc screwdriver set for $50 is far different from Harbor Freight’s usual offerings.
Harbor Freight’s Quinn “premium” screwdrivers, for example, can be found in a 15pc set for $25. A 32pc Pittsburgh set is priced as low as $8. Their 70pc Pittsburgh screwdriver set is $35.
The next-closest set that we can find is a Doyle heavy duty screwdriver set that’s priced at $20 for 6 drivers.
$50 for an 8pc Icon screwdriver set? What is Harbor Freight thinking?!
Here’s the thing, though – Harbor Freight Icon tools are pretty decent. I bought a couple of Icon tools a few months ago, and they’re good, even competitive for the price.
I have not seen these Icon screwdrivers in person yet, but early user reviews on Harbor Freight’s website look promising.
Harbor Freight tools can be hard to dissect public opinion about. Like other brands, Harbor Freight has its own loyal enthusiasts. But, they also face fierce criticisms both by users who have been burned by cheap tools and those who have heard of their “Horrible Freight” reputation.
Brands can turn things around, just look at Tekton and the positive reputation they’ve built over the past few years. Harbor Freight is looking to do the same, and with the sheer number of tools they’ve launched recently, they’re looking to do it in a big way.
Now, I won’t buy into Harbor Freight’s “compare to” claims, where many of their tools are compared to market leaders and competitors, usually with respect to price.
But, from what I’ve been seeing so far, Harbor Freight Icon tools are reasonable matches for like-priced competitive options. That is, I’m inclined to believe that this new Icon screwdriver set, priced at $50 for the 8 drivers, should perform comparably to say competing products that are or would be priced at the $45 to $60 level or so.
It takes away focus from the screwdrivers to make a comment like this, but I wonder what would happen if Harbor Freight tapped existing USA suppliers to complement their Icon hand tool lineup. Can you imagine if Vaughan – which presumably lost business and OEM contracts when Sears sold the Craftsman brand to Stanley Black & Decker – were contracted to make a line of USA-made Icon hammers and mallets for Harbor Freight? With so very many Harbor Freight store locations, they have incredible negotiating power, and there quite a few former Sears Craftsman suppliers who might be eager for the business.
Back to the new Harbor Freight Icon screwdrivers, here are some of the snippets from user reviews:
They compare favorably to my snap on.
Amazing for the price.
These screwdrivers are some of the nicest I have used.
I’m a heavy duty diesel mechanic and I use these screwdrivers every day at work.
Tool truck quality
I think I’m going to have to pick up a set once things open up, maybe the next time Harbor Freight runs an Icon-eligible coupon, to see how good they are for the price, and if they truly offer unmatched durability as claimed.
I find myself resistant to the thought of buying a set like this for personal use though, if only because there are many other competitive choices at this price range and below. Although, I also think that’s where the hassle-free lifetime warranty might have impact.
It should be noted that the last time I was at Harbor Freight, where wasn’t open stock on Icon sockets or wrenches – such tools were only sold in sets. This is still reflected on the website, and this Icon 8pc set is their sole Icon screwdriver product so far. I don’t know how this will affect warranties down the line (do you have to return the whole set if one tip breaks?), but it also means that you can’t just try a single screwdriver yet, you have to make the plunge and buy an 8pc set or nothing.