As mentioned in my Kobalt Xtreme Access preview, I am very heavily biased against the universal-styled sockets in these sets. I just don’t trust their fit as much as I do traditional 6pt hex socket designs. But, I’m open-minded and spent some more time with the 27-piece Kobalt Extreme Access socket set on a couple of projects.
The 27-piece set is currently priced at $25, and seems to be selling quite well since they’re sold out at all the local Lowes stores around me. (They’re still available for sale online.) There are a number of other socket set configurations available, as described in the Extreme Access buying guide.
- pass-thru design eliminates need for deep sockets
- ratchet, sockets, and adapters appear to be well made
- thin-wall design
- sturdy case with sturdier-than-it-looks latch
- complete range of adapters included – this makes it easy to integrate the set with other ratchets and sockets
- 1/4″ sockets require use of an (included) adapter – this increases the working height of the ratchet
- universal-style inch-metric sockets
- no additional ratchet styles available (yet?)
- future expansion of the Xtreme Access line is uncertain
Xtreme Access = Extreme Innovation?
I keep flip-flopping, but in the end I just don’t like the 27pc Xtreme Access set as much I do other pass-through socket designs. The new system is not as revolutionary or game-changing as Lowes and Kobalt might try to convince you, but it is an evolution of a tried and true concept.
Buy This If:
- You have no ratchets or sockets and don’t want to be caught tool-less should an unanticipated need arise in the future
- You want a compact all-in-one kit for less than $30
- You don’t have any deep sockets
Avoid These Tools If:
- You don’t like universal all-in-one sockets or primarily work with precision fasteners
- You need a more mature system that can be easily expanded with compatible tools and accessories
- You already have so many sockets that you even have duplicates of sizes you never use
- You have no idea why they’re special
Ignoring for a moment the fact that I am inherently opposed to universal all-in-one combination inch-metric sockets, I found the tools and accessories in the 27pc set to be quite well made. Everything is thoughtfully designed, and I can’t find any flaws with the chrome finish. Kobalt really did a nice job with their Xtreme Access lineup.
The only major complaint is that the tools do not provide extreme access when pairing the 1/4″ sockets to the 3/8″ tool.
Buy Now – Kobalt 27pc Set (via Lowes)
Update: It appears that the 27pc set is no longer available.
Thank you to Kobalt and Lowes for providing the review sample unconditionally. Review samples are typically given away, donated, or in some cases retained for benchmark and comparison purposes.