Jeff wrote in, asking about Hex Pro’s pivoting hex keys, and whether they’re any good.
Hex Pro hex keys look like your standard Allen wrenches, but instead of a fixed right angle bend that separates the short arm and long arm, there’s a pivoting hinge joint.
I saw these recently at a tool shop and I had not seen similar ones before. They felt good in the hands and seemed to be good quality (although I am a Bondhus allen wrench fanboy). I did a quick search and did not see a review on your site, or maybe I missed it. Have you run across these before? They seem really nice and I wish I could figure out how to justify buying a set…
I have seen these before, and actually own two sets – a metric set in a Hex Pro pouch, and an inch set without the pouch. I don’t recall if the inch set came with a tray or not. My metric ones have a black oxide finish, the inch ones have a chrome or bare metal finish. My loose inch flex-head hex keys are MIA at the moment, and so I have really grown to appreciate the pouch that came with my metric set.
It’s weird to see the current Hex Pro page under Bondhus’ domain. Apparently Bondhus acquired the Hex Pro line of products back in 2013. So did they buy the line of products or the entire company? I guess it doesn’t matter.
Previously, these Hex Pro drivers were sold under Hex Pro branding, and then Gearwrench branding. I see that there are similar tools under Motion Pro branding, but Amazon reviews complain about the sourcing and quality suggesting they’re not the same tools.Regardless of branding, the tools all seem to be made the same.
Anyway… so how well do they work? That’s a tricky question to answer, as I don’t really like using these in place of regular hex keys except in certain situations. But in those situations, they work remarkably well. Hex Pro flex-head wrenches work best when you need to loosen or tighten fasteners with a fair amount of travel. They can reach into spots too awkward or tight for ratchets and hex bit sockets.
Definitely NOT garbage. These are good tools at the least, great even when they shave a lot of time off a project.
Sometimes they’re time-savers, sometimes they’re problem-solvers, sometimes they sit in my tool drawer collecting dust. Well, not the inch hex keys – as mentioned I haven’t a clue as to where they are right now.
Also, Hex Pro only makes their flex-head hex keys in limited sizes. There are a couple of metric sizes, inch sizes, and Torx sizes, but there are only a couple of sizes per each tip style. So even if I wanted to use these in place of regular hex keys, I couldn’t. Bondhus says that Hex Pro hex keys are available in 24 different sizes, with a full list available in this PDF.
This Bondhus product video shows how these hex keys are best used:
The video shows how the long arm of a Hex Pro hex key can be swung around the hinge point. This allows users to keep the hex key engaged with the fastener while turning a fastener for more than a couple of rotations.
And if there’s an application where you really need a particular angle, you could always tighten up the pivots to prevent too much flopping around about that hinge point.
I paid maybe $30-35 for each of my sets. If I recall correctly, the Torx set might have been priced a little more – maybe $45.
You can buy Hex Pro sets at a number of distributors, with Bondhus’ site specifically drawing attention to Fastenal. Prices range from too much to way too much, compared to what I remember paying a couple of years ago.
I thought that these were made in the USA, but cannot find a current reference to confirm this.
At the $30-35 price point, I do recommend Hex Pro hex key sets. They’re gotten me out of a couple of binds, and are well made overall. But they’re not must-haves. In my opinion, don’t even consider these until you have a good set of inch and metric ball end hex keys in your kit.
But at higher prices? Eh. They’re useful, but I can think of better ways to spend the money. $65 for a 5 or 6-piece set? No thanks.
If anyone finds these at a great price anywhere, please let me know so that I can add in a purchase link!
P.S. Has anyone tried Astro Pneumatic’s double swivel head hex keys (via Amazon). I’m intrigued by their potential to reach around obstacles.
If you have used these before, what do you think about them?