We’ve received a number of questions about the new Kobalt Xtreme Access wrenches and sockets that we previewed earlier this month. Hopefully the following helps clears things up.
Check out the complete product selection via Lowes.
Kobalt Xtreme Access Sockets-Only Sets
There are two sockets-only sets currently available – an 11-piece 1/4″-drive set and a 10-piece 3/8″-drive set. Both sets of sockets have universal spline-type designs, and fit both metric and inch sizes.
Although the sockets have a pass-through design, they can NOT be used in such a manner with regular ratchets. Furthermore, they cannot be used with regular ratchets at all without an adapter.
As far as we can tell, the only point in buying these sockets is if you want to expand the capabilities of the 27-piece socket set.
Kobalt Xtreme Access Socket Sets
There are currently five sets available – a 14pc complete 3/8″ set, 16pc complete 1/4″ set, a compact and low-priced 27-piece 1/4″ and 3/8″ set, a 38pc 1/4″ and 3/8″ set with an added ratchet and wrenches, and a 1/4″, 3/8″, and 1/2″ 49-piece set. At the moment all sets are available online and in stores.
14-Piece Socket Set
Think of this as an Xtreme Access starter set. The 3/8″ socket set comes with a single cushion-gripped ratchet, two adapters, an extension and range of 3/8″ sockets. It’s currently on sale for $15.
If you’re not sure whether or not you even need a pass-thru socket set, this is the set to buy. The low price and compact size also makes the lot suitable for an inexpensive portable tool kits.
14pc set via Lowes, regularly priced at $40
16-Piece Socket Set
The 16pc set is a complete 1/4″ socket set, complete with cushion-grip ratchet, extension, several adapters, and a full complement of sockets. It’s priced at $11 for the holidays, making it a great pairing with the 14pc 3/8″ set.
16pc set via Lowes, regularly priced at $30
27-Piece Socket Set
The 27-piece set includes a 3/8″ ratchet, a number of 1/4″ and 3/8″ socket sizes, several useful adapters and accessories, and 8 screwdriver bits. A storage case and affordable price ($25 on sale) makes this is a good set for casual use or a portable tool kit. The adapters allow for easy integration with standard ratchet and socket designs.
27pc set via Lowes, regularly priced at $50
38-Piece Socket and Wrench Set
This 1/4″ and 3/8″ set comes with a complete 22pc socket assortment, several extensions and adapters, 1/4″ and 3/8″ cushion-grip ratchets, and 7 non-ratcheting wrenches. It’s currently on sale for $75.
38pc set via Lowes, regularly priced at $100
49-Piece Socket Set
This is Kobalt’s complete socket set, featuring 1/4″, 3/8″, and 1/2″ ratchets with cushion-grip handles, a complete range of socket sizes, extensions, adapters, and a couple of screwdriver bits. It’s priced at $100, which does seem a little steep, and many of the components are exclusive to the set and cannot be purchased separately.
49pc set via Lowes, regularly priced at $100
What this means is that long bolts and threaded rod can pass straight through the center of compatible sockets and ratchets. That way you can more easily reach fasteners without the need for deep sockets or other specialty tools. The idea is that the go-through design provides extreme access.
If you don’t know whether you need pass-thru sockets or not, don’t worry about it.
This simply means that one socket fits most fastener shapes. Normally, 6pt (hex) sockets only fit one type of fasteners. These universal spline sockets fit hex, square, spline, and external-Torx fasteners.
If you don’t know whether you need spline, E-Torx, or square-fastener compatibility, chances are that it’s not something you will need anytime soon.
Inch + Metric?
As you may know, inch and metric sizes are usually pretty dimensionally close to each other. These sockets are designed such that one size can fit both inch and metric fasteners sizes. The trade-off is that they don’t fit either fastener sizes perfectly.
What to Buy?
The 27-piece set offers the most bang for the buck, and the 49-piece set may become more attractively priced if Lowes features it as part of a Father’s Day sales.
Buy Now(via Lowes)
If you prefer separate inch and metric sizes, Craftsman offers a similar universal pass-thru set. If, like us, you don’t care for universal-type socket designs, then Craftsman’s standard Max Axess set is a better choice, with 6pt sockets and a slew of adapters. The Craftsman sets are both priced between Kobalt’s 27 and 49-piece sets. There are also a number of Gearwrench Pass-Thru sets available.
It is important to note that the Xtreme Access sets are NOT compatible with Gearwrench, Craftsman, or older Kobalt pass-thru ratchets, sockets, adapters, or other such attachments and accessories.