I spotted two new Craftsman swivel-head ratchets over at Amazon. Long-time readers might know that I have a soft spot for swivel-head ratchets, finding them to be quite versatile in a wide range of applications.
The new Craftsman swivel-head ratchets feature 72T gearing and are available in 1/4″ and 3/8″ drive sizes. Both ratchets have full-polish finishes.
They’re currently out of stock but can still be ordered.
1/4″ ratchet: CMMT99421
3/8″ ratchet: CMMT99422
Price: $30 for 1/4″, $35 for 3/8″
Discussion & Alternate Options
Gearwrench was my first swivel-ratchet, and I’ve posted about them before, with the first mention being 10 years ago. I still use my Gearwrench swivel-head ratchets, although my Wera Zyklop locking swivel-head ratchets see quite a bit more use.
The Gearwrench 2-ratchet set is currently $40, which saves you a bit of money compared to buying both Craftsman ratchets separately. Or, if you just want one size, I think that Tekton’s are safe buys.
WHY buy a swivel-head ratchet? Well, you could use them as flex-head ratchets, or at least non-locking flex-head ratchets, although most do allow for friction adjustments. Swivel-head ratchets can be used at intermediate angles, allowing them to reach fasteners in tight spaces or over obstructions.
My favorite way to use swivel-head ratchets is with sockets and bit sockets as a spinner. I adjust the ratchets so they’re inline, space permitting, and use them in a screwdriver-like fashion to quickly drive or remove loose fasteners. The ratchets can swing to 90° mode, or a close-enough angle, and be used for final tightening or initial loosening. In this type of use, swivel-head ratchets can be faster than traditional ratchets, at least without having to reach for more tools or spin sockets and bit sockets by hand.
The Craftsman design looks reasonably good. I can’t comment further without trying it out firsthand, but there’s nothing that would stop me from buying one as my first swivel-head ratchet unless I wanted one with a cushion grip.
The price is cause for hesitation though. Why buy the two sizes of ratchets for a total of $65 when Gearwrench’s 2pc set is $40? Tektnon has a 3pc set (1/4″, 3/8″, 1/2″) for $65, or you can buy 1/4″ and 3/8″ sizes for a total of ~$49. It’s possible that Craftsman will come out with a money-saving 2pc set, or the prices on individual ratchets could be flexible and subject to change, perhaps with seasonal promos.
There’s also the possibility that the Craftsman ratchets are better tools, but Gearwrecnch is a good mid-priced brand, and Tekton has greatly improved their reputation in recent years.
These new Craftsman ratchets will serve the needs of customers wanting a swivel-head ratchet with full-polish finish and no comfort handle. But if that’s not a priority to you, you can get similar functionality at lower pricing from other well-known mechanics tool brands.