What to know when buying the best impact socket set under $200

My Harbor Freight deep well metric impact sockets, which are rarely used.

There are different kinds of sockets — i.e., normal vs impact sockets.

The best impact sockets are meant to bear high torques while performing heavy duty jobs, such as removing rusted bolts under a car.

Since these are more durable and made from strong materials, they don’t crack or shatter like the other variety under high torque.

While big names such as Snap-on, Matco, and MAC Tools, make great products, we’ll look at what you need to know when purchasing new or used ones.

Read customer reviews to find the best impact socket brand on the market on Amazon.

Tips for buying new deep well impact sockets

Common material used for impact sockets is chromium molybdenum — ChroMoly — which lasts a long time. Some sockets have an electroplated corrosion resistant finish in black.

When making your purchase, you may want to consider a full set that comes with a plastic hard case or get a set that has a wide range of sizes.

A nice set of common SAE sizes such as 7/16, 1/2, 9/16, 5/8, 11/16, 3/4, 13/16, 7/8, 15/16 and 1 inch are a really good starting point. It’s also important to have metric sizes in your toolbox, too. A good range is from 10 millimeter to 19 mm.

Each socket should be noticeably marked, which will allow you to easily read its size.

A set that conforms to ANSI specifications is essential.

Also, choose a manufacturer that offers a replacement guarantee for the lifetime of the product if it fails to come to your expectations.

Although most sockets come with a 1/2-inch drive end, you may be able to get a 1/2-inch to 3/8-inch adapter, allowing you to utilize a 3/8” socket with your 1/2 inch drive gun.

If the sockets have fairly thin walls, you’ll be able to reach tight places easy. On the flip side, if the walls are thicker, you’ll need another socket.

It’s also important to make sure the broaching is high quality, which drives on a fastener’s face and not its edge.

Quality broaching helps preventing rounded fasteners.

Now, let’s look at common tell-tale signs of well-used impact sockets.

Nature of the drive end

The easiest way of asserting whether a socket set is new or not is by examining the drive end.

The drive end refers to the square end that the extension or ratchet gets inserted. The end drive surface shows some extent of wear in slightly used sets.

Also, lines inside the drive end and toughness around the corners indicate signs of wearing.

The use of impact wrench is typically hard to the sockets drive end, hence causing this wearing out. In extreme cases, the drive end gets worn such that the square drive slips or the sockets don’t lock with the tool.

A good set of sockets has minimal wearing or lacks wearing all in all.

Surface rust

Another quick way of determining whether a set is not new is by looking for traces of rust.

Chrome sockets usually rust starting from the outside surface, but impact sockets commonly rust on the interior surface.

Fortunately, rust is a normal phenomenon and can get controlled using oil or anti-rust lubricants for protecting the surface.

However, if the extent of rusting is extensive, the set of sockets is deemed as old and not fit for use.

Presence of cracks

Cracking, caused by excessive or prolonged torque, is very common in sockets. Also, using of chrome sockets with an impact wrench makes them vulnerable to cracking because their use is not designed for that.

Cracked sockets are ineffective and ought to be disposed of off since they can lead to the breakage or damage of other tools that are in good condition.

Condition of the 12 point or six point end

Good 12 point sockets or six point sockets have sharp edges. Sockets that have been in use possess opened up ends that prove hard to loosen up bolts.

The use of such plugs leads to the damage of bolts since they tend to round the corners of the bolt. Therefore, when purchasing a set of sockets, it is important to ensure that the sockets have sharp edges.

Nature of the engravings

New sockets have their surfaces engraved with the size or basic details. Other engravings apart from these, such as names of people, driver’s license numbers or initials show that the sockets have been in use.

Also, marked second-hand tools get unmarked before the sale. Therefore, tools whose markings have not been grind off are not fit to purchase.

Unmarked tools are effective since once bought they can get engraved with the initials or details of the new owner.

Composition of the package

A package of standard sockets should consist of tools of the same size and brand. A mixed set of plugs is difficult to use since all the necessary tools will be missing.

Therefore, if the package comprises of different sockets, it is not a complete set. One should ensure that all the sockets are standard to avoid the inconvenience.

All in all, purchasing an impressive set of sockets depends on the keen interest and know-how of the buyer. Armed with these technics of differentiating a genuine package of sockets, a customer is guaranteed to select the right package for his or her toolbox.

Find the best impact socket in 2017 on Amazon.