What are your thoughts on ratchets with quick release mechanisms? These ratchets typically have a lockable ball detent that requires a press on the back of the ratchet head to release a socket.
An accidental push of the release button can result in unpleasant consequences if a socket then falls into a busy workspace, such as an engine bay.
(The ratchet shown above is a new Wera 1/2″ drive ratchet, provided to me by KC Tool. Don’t forget about our KC Tool coupon!)
But in other applications, the biggest risk is dropping the socket a short distance to your feet or the floor.
Personally, I like quick release ratchets, especially when changing socket sizes often during a complex project that involves multiple fastener sizes. It also comes in handy when swapping through different accessories, such as extensions or adapters.
A project that doesn’t call for multiple socket sizes might still involve an extension, wobble adapter, universal, or size adapters.
Ratchets without quick release mechanisms still have ball detent retention mechanisms, but require more pulling to remove a ratchet. Those with quick release mechanisms might have stronger retention, until you press that release button even just a little bit.
What do you think – are they more of a convenience, or a liability?
Do you have a favorite?
Idk why they just bother me. The only ones I like are the HF plastic jobs.
Other than that all without.
Also I can easily swap sockets even with my hands covered in grease and oil.
I own and use both types. They each have their place. I also have teardrop and roundhead ratchet types. All of them have their advantages and disadvantages. I just pick the right ratchet for whatever job I am doing.
There have also been some ratchets that get a very bad reputation online (typically some versions of Craftsman). I find that if you maintain them correctly, those ratchets don’t have problems any more than other brands do. I used a Craftsman round head tri-wing style ratchet 1990’s (generally considered a horrible ratchet) this week and experienced no problems. I had re-lubed it last year after it started skipping. Now it ratchets perfectly and I fixed a chainsaw and an A/C unit with it. Was it the best ratchet for the job? I don’t think it mattered much in those particular applications. It definitely wasn’t the best ratchet I own. But the point is, it got the job done.
Do you have a preferred lube for your ratchets? For a Craftsman ratchet, do you follow the same steps as this video: How To Grease A Craftsman Ratchet
depends on how it’s made – like any tool or feature. I wish I could remember the name but I can’t – borrowed one from a guy for a 3/8 drive and it’s retention was such that it wouldn’t let go unless you meant to press the release. pear head ratchet, whch I also liked – and it held whatever was on it. so your extension or your socket was stuck there.
Press button and easy peasy trade out. And this let you use a normal extension with a socket lock so as to lock your socket in place. Which I also liked when replacing spark plugs on a ford F150 triton engine. I keep looking for a new one myself I love the SK ratchets for their smoothness and grip – but they are round head only. So I might end up with a proto or williams
In my experience I tend to find that the ones with the quick release don’t get as “loose” as the ones without. Eventually they either have a bad runout or get loose enough that they just stick to the nut an disengage from the wrench. I find the same thing being the case with electric power tools as they tend to not be quick release either.
I’ve got 3 Sidchrome (Stanley B&D since 2010) ratchets in Australia all 30 to 40 years old (pre-Stanley B&D) that still work like a charm. Rarely have a problem with a socket dropping off.
In Thailand I have 2 generic….Chinese socket sets both with Quick release and they work great!
I guess sometimes you get lucky!
For most automotive work, I prefer a Quick Release ratchet that won’t give up the socket without being pressed, low back drag, low profile, and 72 or 80 clicks.
I do use big old round-heads SK in 3/8 or 1/2 w/o quick release, for work most would consider only appropriate for a wrench or breaker bar. They’re pretty much indestructible. I’ve had them since the 90’s and have never serviced any of them.
I still use the family’s old Craftsman pearheads for bicycles and other lots-clearance work, where, well, most anything will do.
I prefer to have things I want to stay together to frickin’ stay together. So yes, I prefer quick release sockets just like I prefer Power Bits over insert bits. Though I’m still trying to get used to the quick release extensions.
It’s bad enough to have to chase loose parts and tools that roll under something, and I really don’t want tools to come apart.
(Though I did just buy a Klein 6-in-1, but I rarely have had troubles with the 5-in-1 it’s replacing…)
I dont really care either way. My favorite ratchet is the m12 3/8″ milwaukee lol. I hate turning things by hand anymore, takes too much time.
I had a Skil ratchet years ago that had a Lithium enclosed (non removable) battery and eventually the Switch acted sporadically and then gave out. I was fortunate to find another for cheap when HD was clearing them out, got the display model and then eventually the same thing happened with the switch! I tried the craftsman 19.2v Lithium and it was heavy duty but extremely bulky in comparison. Finally bought the Milwaukee M12 last fall and I am happy again! Hope it lasts?
Definitely prefer quick release ratchets.
Everything I have is quick release except for some cheapo round head ratchets and an Allen gearless. I was going to get a set of those Craftsman Premiums to use when necessary but they had seizing issues so I passed.
I haven’t had any issues with sockets falling off or the quick release getting bumped, which really is only an issue with larger head sockets where the quick release sticks out – like the Craftsman pear head raised panel ratchets. The Craftsman thin-profile ratchets have that flush-mounted quick release so that makes it hard to accidentally push against and pop a socket off.
Ratchets without a quick release have their place, I’d guess if you did a lot of work in tight recesses all the time, you’d want one, or maybe people just don’t like a quick release or their first ratchets were that type so that’s what they like now.
Mostly I avoid non-quick release ratchets since they almost all use bolted-together mechanisms, and I prefer the snap-ring floating style. I’d also say that a ratchet anvil and gear without a quick release gets a lot more wear and tear on it from having sockets pulled off hard every time compared to a ratchet where the sockets can be easily released. Then again, the quick release can wear out or get sloppy, then you have a quick release ratchet that works the same as one without.
Sometimes I think I’d want to try a ratchet with a hog ring anvil like an impact wrench – wonder why they don’t make those? That and some with a rubber o-ring on the end or a magnetic anvil seem like they’d make decent retention mechanisms – wonder why they don’t make those too? I’d guess the ball detent is just so common there hasn’t been much interest in doing something else, for hand ratchets at least.
Every quick release ratchet I have or have ever owned felt like an inferior quality to the standard ones.
For example- a few years ago, Lowe’s was dumping a ton of Kobalt lawn mower tune up kits which had a long flex head ratchet (normally $30) a 6″ ext and two spark plug sockets for $12.
I bought 3 of them just for the ratchets. The action feels and sounds like a lesser quality than my Napa/SK/Armstrong and the one Snap-On I own, but it gets the job done and saved me a ton of money.
So while I love being able to effortlessly change sockets, the higher end stuff feels better and has never broken like others. Standard ratchet are much easier to service as well (IMO).
so side comment – as much as I love my Sk ratchet – and I will buy another. I would love a 3/8 and 1/4 quality american made QR ratchet. That runs as smooth as an SK – and is as well made as an SK. I’m guessing williams, but I’d like to ideas.
I only have quick release, but did you know……? it was a 1/2″ or 3/4″ drive socket and ratchet without quick release that contributed to the “Damascus Incident”? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1980_Damascus,_Arkansas_incident.
According to the documentary I saw recently, the AF Technician was using the type of ratchet that holds the socket on with a pin rather than a ball. He didn’t have a way to depress the pin/couldn’t get the socket on the ratchet fully and because of that when they went to take the wrench off of the doohickey they were checking, the socket fell off and down 80′, ricocheted to hit the fuel tank, rupturing it. About 12 hours later, the missile or maybe the escaping fumes exploded.
How many times have I mumbled under my breath about having to find something to depress the pin to get the socket on or off?
Quick release all day every day.
As an Aircraft Mechanic I can say that there have been times at work where I wished I had them, particularly when working on components in the tail of the aircraft or on the engines. Having said that I don’t own any locking extensions or ratchets. Sometimes when assigned with another coworker on a job it’s faster to just borrow tools. I have found it annoying in these instances when changing sockets unaware that the ratchet is locking. Just my two cents 🙂
I have a few of both. SK round heads and Craftsman quick releases… Honestly, I tend to grab a quick release more often these days. The feature is just quick and handy when doing engine/hot rod projects that tend to have more grease & grime. My fingers aren’t quite as strong going to pull off slippery sockets as they were in my younger years when the old SK’s tackled most of the work. My go to 1/4 inch ratchet is still a small SK round head but I tend to use that on projects that don’t involve much grease. They both have their advantages I suppose…
I have both types and either is fine, but I rarely use them since I bought the Milwaukee M12 ratchet.
Snap on and family legacy us Craftsman here. Steady hand, light shimmy before disengaging per generational education and I’ve never had a problem. Had an apprentice drop a 9/16 of my f80 down a 9 story coal silo on an explosion protection rebuild once, but I chalk that up to user error. That being said, I’ve got a blue point passthrough with a robust lock, and have have borrowed the occasional pear head qr and admired the mechanism. I’ve not no grievance with either, but I guess I’m skeptical of a lot of complaints about non QR. Buy a good wrench if you’re going to be in a situation that can lead to frustrations in security mechanisms in your work.
EMILIO E GONZALEZ
I own two quick release ratchets, a vintage USA made Craftsman V series 3/8 dr. and a 1/2 dr. Wera. Both are excellent. Never had a problem. Takes a good amount of pressure to release the sockets. So I suppose it depends on the quality of the ratchet.
I also have many other non QR ratchets and they all have their place and use. But even with QR ratchets, I sometimes use locking extensions that secure sockets well.
Can’t stand them.
When you forget and tug on the socket and it won’t come off it is just irritating, and it just adds another twist of the wrist without really removing any action. I still need to use the other hand to catch the ratchet.
Unless you are going to find magical locking extensions, I am not sure where these are useful except on a space walk.
Interesting, as Stuart has reviewed many locking extensions and they have been around for decades
I was in maintenance in an automotive parts plant for 34 years, until I retired. All of my many ratchets have the quick release button, even the two that I made flex head from craftsman ratchets, for work. I can not believe that that many people on this survey do not like the quick release feature. I do not like ratchets without it.
Quick release has it’s purposes, where less torque is required and for those tough tight areas where you need the socket or whatever your using to stay on the ratchet. But for higher torque jobs a non quick release ratchet is obviously better, STRONGER. As I said, that’s obvious.