I heard rumors that Lowes was coming out with new Kobalt screwdrivers that were made in the USA, and just had to check out the story.
It turns out… the rumors are true!
Kobalt has come out with a new line of mechanics screwdrivers that are made in the USA by Great Neck Tools. They’re made in the USA with domestic and foreign components. Despite the added fine print, made in the USA is a nice change to see from Lowes and Kobalt.
The new screwdrivers don’t seem to be exceptionally good, but I didn’t see any glaring issues with them either. If there’s enough demand I might give them a try, but they didn’t really scream out “TRY ME!” when I was at the store.
These drivers have cellulose acetate hard plastic handles, hexagonal bolsters for extra leverage, and metal striking caps. The tips have a black phosphate finish for extra grip.
The new screwdrivers have much different handles than the older ones with rubberized handle grips. It doesn’t look like Lowes is replacing the older drivers with the new ones.
What it seems to me is that the new screwdrivers are meant to be higher-tier heavy duty screwdrivers, and that the rubber-gripped ones are more intended for general usage and everyday applications.
The older (regular duty?) screwdrivers are made in China, also by Great Neck Tools.
There is of course a price difference. Looking at the Phillips #2 screwdrivers, for example, the newer version is $9.49, and the older version is $6.98.
Lowes is offering these new drivers in a couple of individual sizes, and there’s also a new 5-piece set that comes with two Phillips, two slotted, and one mini offset screwdrivers.
Note: Some readers have said that while the individual screwdrivers are labeled made in USA, the set is labeled made in China. The model numbers for the individual drivers look to be the same, so I’m not quite sure what this means.
Although I don’t think these drivers look exceptional, they didn’t look bad either. I wasn’t compelled enough to buy one to test out, but that stance might change later on. I am unlikely to pay close to $10 each for these drivers, but $20 for the 5-piece set is much more reasonable.
Last winter, Lowes and Kobalt came out with their Magnum Grip locking pliers and Triple Cut Multi-Cutters, two tools that fell short of my expectations and really soured my feelings towards the brand. Deceptive pricing and a lack of instructions (read more about that here) added to the sentiment.
Despite my complete disinterest in buying them, these screwdrivers brighten my feelings towards Kobalt. These new drivers appear to be well designed and well made. There are no gimmicks, just practical heavy-duty features, reasonable pricing, and Made in USA labeling.
Last month I wrote about the new Kobalt hex and Torx keys that had come out. A few more new tools like those hex keys and these new screwdrivers, and maybe my faith in Kobalt quality will eventually be restored.