Kobalt has come out with a new line of one-size-fits-all universal sockets and wrenches, called Xtreme Access. What’s so special about the Xtreme Access tools? To start, each wrench and socket size has a dual-functional spline profile that fits both SAE inch and metric fasteners. Add on the sockets’ low-profile and go-through design, and you’ve got extreme access capabilities.
There are two 7-piece Xtreme Access wrench sets – metric and SAE. Both wrench sets feature universal combination box ends and differ in that the metric set has metric-sized open-ends and the SAE has inch-sized open-ends.
Each socket and wrench box size fits the following fastener types:
- 6pt (mm)
- 6pt (inch)
- 12pt (mm)
- 12pt (inch)
- most rounded (damaged)
Plus, the sockets’ pass-through design gives them the reach of shallow and deep sockets. The range includes 1/4″, 3/8″, and 1/2″ sizes.
I plan to test one of the pass-through Xtreme Access socket sets in a week or two, and will report back with the results. It will be especially interesting to see how it fares compared to Craftsman’s Max Axess pass-thru socket set.
Buy Now(via Lowes)
Personal Bias and First Impressions
I typically stay away from “universal” type sockets and wrenches. During the winter 2011 holiday season I picked up a Craftsman universal wrench set and a Kobalt Multifit wrench set. The prices were great and I thought that reviews of both sets, and possibly a comparison, would be interesting. However, I never reach for any of these wrenches, and so the reviews have been back-burnered.
What about universal inch-metric combination tools? I absolutely loathe them. Tools like the Kobalt Multi-Drive Wrench – which is currently marketed as the Kobalt 15-piece Wrench Multi-Tool – really soured me towards such designs.
First – how many DIYers and homeowners commonly come across 12pt fasteners? Spline? External Torx? Square?
Second – I still cannot see how a combination wrench or socket size can fit any inch or metric fastener all that well. True, paired sizes are not too dissimilar in dimensions, but separate inch and metric tools will always fit fasteners better.
That all said, the new tools do appear to be reasonably well built. Peeking into the 27pc Xtreme Access socket set that our friends at Lowes just sent over, I feel that the tools and accessories are very well designed. The geometries seem well thought out, and unlike other universal tools I’ve seen in the past few years (*cough* Husky Rotary Wrench *cough*), I don’t think that Lowes rushed to bring these tools to market.
I inherently believe that separate tools are best – 6pt sockets and 12pt wrenches in separate inch and metric flavors to be precise – but am surprisingly not as dismissive of the Xtreme Access tools as I expected to be. While I’m not a fan of the universal one-size-fits-all socket design, I’ll still give the set a fair review. I might even pick up or borrow one of the new wrench sets as well.
Update: Quick video review of the 27pc Xtreme Access socket set