Twist Lock: Best Ratchet Screwdrivers
In their way, ratchet screwdrivers occupy a high plateau of tool design: a helpful mechanical adaptation of a manual tool. In the case of ratchet screwdrivers, the optimization almost always makes the user experience better.
The best ratchet screwdrivers combine mechanical advantage with the versatility to help any user get the job done right. Ratchet screwdrivers let users adjust fasteners more efficiently and ergonomically. And their interchangeability, with their ¼-inch hex drive heads, is a big asset.
Enough said; let’s get to screwin’! Here’s our guide to the best ratchet screwdrivers.
- Best Bang for Your Buck: Neiko 101-Piece Security Bit Set with Ratchet Screwdriver
- Best 90-Degree Ratchet Screwdriver Set: JAKEMY Home Rotatable Ratchet Screwdriver Set
- Most Reliable Ratchet Screwdriver: Klein Tools 6-in-1 32558 Ratchet Screwdriver
- Best T Handle Ratchet Screwdriver Kit: Hanpure Universal Socket Tool Set Ratchet Screwdriver
- Best Overall Ratchet Screwdriver Kit: Makita 47-Piece B-50289 Ratchet Screwdriver
- Best Standalone Ratchet Screwdriver: Lutz 15-in-1 Ratchet Screwdriver
The Best Ratchet Screwdriver Review
Neiko’s incredibly extensive 101-piece ratcheting screwdriver set was mostly a pleasant surprise during testing. Obviously, I knew I would get my money’s worth out of it. Buying 100 universal ¼-inch bits at the Neiko set’s price point is a no-loss proposition. But digging into the kit, I was impressed at how complete the selection is.
Neiko’s kit includes hex and torx security bits. Next time you’re in a public restroom, look at the fasteners on the stalls; that’s a security fastener. The post in the middle of the drive keeps anyone from loosening it with a regular bit. But with Neiko’s kit, you can “uninstall” various fixtures in retail stores or government buildings at will. I considered doing this at one of my local Amazon distribution centers, in conjunction with Prime Day. Why not show up with the security bits and grab a few handy extras, maximizing my savings bonanza experience?
However, I declined to do so and tested the Neiko kit around the house instead. Despite the screwdriver’s somewhat basic or primitive fit and finish, the handle was comfortable. And the ratchet selector ring was solid. The ratchet itself was a little loose; the action was a bit muddy, and I could feel a burr or two. And the head mounts slightly loose on the handle.
Either way, testing went smoothly. Despite the unit’s wobbly head, I did twist it as hard as I could without breaking it. And then there’s the massive utility; even though I chose against carrying out my anti-capitalist fantasies at AMZN HQ, I’ll definitely find uses for the 10 included #2 Phillips bits. I was also happy with the included extension and various adapters. The magnetic action, while not super strong, was serviceable. I am concerned with the case’s closure and hinge. The plastic is so thin it’s translucent; I could rip either one off by hand.
Overall, though, you can do a lot worse than the Neiko security bit set. Considering its utility and various positives, I’m not offended by the pricing. Read the in-depth review here.
100 bits and adapters included
Hard plastic organizer case
Security bits included
- Weight1 lb., 13 oz.
- Length5 ¾”
- Included Bits100
Includes 10 #2 Phillips bits
Thin plastic for case hinge and clip
Slight head wobble; some concern about ratchet quality
JAKEMY’s ratchet screwdriver set packs in a lot of capability. Two screwdriver handles, one with a 90-degree rotating head, anchor the kit. It also includes a flexible extension, bits in all the typical shapes, and extended variants of each one. Finally, the kit comes with a metric socket set at 5 to 13 millimeters.
The 90-degree ratchet looks, in some ways, suspect. Right angle ratchet screwdrivers are extremely useful for some tight situations. In some scenarios, they’re the only thing that will work; sometimes you need to get around an engine part or under a cabinet, and without a 9-degree attachment, you’re “screwed.” But they have a lot of moving parts, and a 90-degree ratchet screwdriver has even more. Solid construction is critical, and JAKEMY rides the line between could-be-cheap and could-be-good in terms of price point and quality. For instance: most reviews are highly positive, but the two ratchet settings on the handle are “SCREW OFF” and “SCREW TIGHT.”
Yes please. So, is there a problem? Interestingly, most disgruntled online reviewers report easily stripped bits. Soft metal could be the culprit; it looks like the bits are quite high in chromium, which limits corrosion but not wear.
But the set does have seemingly solid options for 90-degree driving and flexibility. If you only get a few uses out of the bits, so be it; more and better can be gotten.
90-degree ratchet screwdriver handle
Flexible extension included
55 bits including sockets
- Weight13 Oz.
- Length7.9” (90-degree handle), 5.9” (fixed head handle)
- Included Bits55
Bang for your buck
Potentially soft bits
If you want the most assurance that you’re getting the best tool you can buy, choose experts. Klein has been making tools, especially electrician’s tools, since well before any of us were born. Its 6-in-1 ratcheting screwdriver, with SKU designation 32558, has a rock-solid reputation.
Klein has manufactured tools since before the civil war. If you value the influence of experience on quality, the brand looks great. In this case, the screwdriver looks good too. The handle has deep grooves for grip and it’s big enough around to facilitate a lot of torque. At 8” overall, it’s got the length to access hard-to-reach areas. And its nearly half-pound weight promises heavy-duty reliability.
We also like the economy of space delivered by the two double-sided bits and one double-sided extension. The design also gives it the capacity of three different nut driver sizes, including the all-important 10mm.
It’s unlikely you’ll go wrong with the Klein Tools 6-in-1 ratcheting screwdriver. A broad pool of online reviews is overwhelmingly positive (just 1% of all reviewers give one star), with isolated QC issues apparently leading the way. If something does go wrong, you can feel good about contacting Klein to resolve the issue. The company delivers thorough warranty information with explicit transparency.
And for more top-quality tools for your collection, check out our guide to the best electric precision screwdrivers.
6 tools in one including 3 nut drivers
Double-sided bits for space and weight economy
Big, grooved handle for torque
- Weight7.7 Oz.
- Included Bits6 (total tools)
Solid brand reputation
Economical but effective build
For home users interested in the added torque advantage of a T handle ratchet screwdriver, the highly popular Hanpure kit should get the job done. Users get the added bonus of trying out the “universal socket.” The brand sets it up as the centerpiece of the kit; but to us, it’s more of a science experiment — an interesting inclusion that might work and might not.
Torque is the obvious advantage of a T handle screwdriver setup. For that reason, it’s not a bad idea to have a T handle around the house — especially if you don’t have an impact driver. If you can’t do it with a regular screwdriver, you may be able to use a T handle to pop any stubborn fasteners free.
Hanpure’s kit looks unremarkable and straightforward — except for the intriguing universal socket. The idea is cool; metal rods inside the socket reconfigure to accept a variety of shapes and sizes. Combing through comments, most pros seem unsatisfied with the ease of use.
It looks like Hanpure’s assessment that it “automatically” readjusts is a little inflated. Instead, adjusting the tool seems to require some finagling by the user. But if you’re using it occasionally, or for one-off odd jobs (say you’re removing an irregularly shaped item like a hanging hook), it might come in handy.
Overall, Hanpure’s T handle ratchet screwdriver kit is utilitarian. Many home users seem satisfied with it. And the universal socket promises an element a tool rarely does — adventure.
Take a look at our ultimate selection of the top torque wrenches, as well.
Ratcheting T handle
17 bits and adapters included
- ModelUniversal Socket-001
- Weight1.43 lbs
- Bits Included17
T handle adds leverage for everyday tasks
Universal socket might help with irregular fasteners
Universal socket can be more trouble than it’s worth in some applications
Makita delivers a well-balanced, traditional ratchet screwdriver kit, with a highly textured handle and a self-contained box. Makita’s known for its prominent power tools, notably its li-ion cordless drills. The brand has a well-established reputation for quality and durability.
The screwdriver is robust at nearly 8 inches long. Its textured handle should provide a sure grip under any circumstances. A cluster of concerning QC issues did occur around early 2020. Without warning, the handles would simply break. As of this writing, it looks like an isolated incident, perhaps affecting a specific production run.
The kit really delivers in terms of versatility at the price point. Forty-seven drivers and extensions, including a variety of SAE nut drivers, are included. The assortment is heavy on the standard Phillips sizes, featuring 6 #2’s.
As a final note, it may seem like a little thing, but I’ve always liked Makita’s boxes. I’ve only got experience with their drill boxes, but they always feel substantial. The plastic doesn’t sag or crack easily, and the hinges and hardware are solid in my experience.
For a well-rounded kit from a well-known brand, the Makita 47-piece B-50289 looks like a good option.
8” screwdriver with textured handle
46 bits, one extension
Self-contained hard case
- Weight1.62 lbs
- Length8” (screwdriver)
- Included Bits47
The cluster of QC issues reported in 2020; the problem appears to have been resolved
Lutz makes good hand tools. Operating in Cincinnati, OH, the company has manufactured tools since 1904. True, Gorilla Glue bought it early on in the 21st century — but Lutz has stayed in its lane, continuing to offer a small stable of hand tools. Its 15-in-1 ratchet screwdriver is an example of ongoing tradition.
There’s not much to observe about the tool; what you see is what you get. Seven double-sided bits slot into the handle. The 15th function appears to be the empty shaft end, which would be a ¼-inch hex driver. To remove and replace bits, the user rotates the handle cylinder-style.
We like two things: 1) the tool’s shape. A long shaft and a stubby handle often make a screwdriver handle deftly. It facilitates reaching into tight spaces and wastes no material. 2) The bit selector system. It’s a cool concept, and it’s well-executed with spring loading for easy operation.
There’s nothing fancy about the Lutz 15-in-1 ratcheting screwdriver. For some of us, that’s just the way we like it.
Store your tools in some of the top-quality tool boxes from our list.
On-handle bit storage
- Weight5.6 Oz.
- Length7 ¼”
- Included Bits7 (double-sided)
No extensions or adapters included
Why Trust Us
We spend our money as outdoor adventurers, thrill-seekers, and general social deviants. Point? That our team of testers doesn’t have the money to pay others to do DIY tasks.
So, we’re experienced — there’s nobody here who hasn’t used a ratchet screwdriver for something. Personally speaking, my construction background has given me very pointed opinions about tools. I really love good tools and really hate bad ones.
Who This is For
I consider a solid ratchet screwdriver a helpful addition to anyone’s tool kit. If you ever use any screwdrivers, you might as well get one with a ratchet. And if you’re only going to have one tool for adjusting fasteners, it should absolutely be a ratchet screwdriver set.
They’re cheap, ergonomic, and highly versatile with their interchangeable bits.
How We Picked
We reviewed both high-end and bargain entries to find good ratcheting screwdrivers at all points on the spectrum.
With tools, you’re often tasked with 2 things as a reviewer: 1) picking apart the most expensive units, and 2) finding out whether or not the cheap ones are trash.
We tried it all.
How We Tested
There’s only one way to test a screwdriver — you gotta screw. So that’s what I did. I screwed and unscrewed various items like my book cabinet, truck taillights, and bed frame.
Features to Look for in Ratchet Screwdrivers
Number of bits — How many do you want? Some multi-bit ratcheting screwdrivers come with a handful of bits (or drivers — same difference); others contain dozens or more.
Instead of acquiescing to the siren song of excess, consider this: just because we can doesn’t mean we should.
Bit storage — Most ratchet screwdriver kits store bits inside the handle, on the handle, or in a case.
Cheaper entries usually have a hollow handle, often with a cheap threaded plastic cap. I generally avoid these, as the plastic cap is almost always trash and the bits rattle around inside annoyingly.
Do you want a rattle? No, you’re a big boy, girl, or individual — you came here for a ratchet screwdriver. Therefore, get one with some kind of internal or external organization, or a case.
Grip — Soft or hard, smooth or ribbed (aka textured). The advantages of all choices are generally obvious.
I would advise avoiding soft handles if you work in dirty or wet conditions. Sometimes, the rubber gets smudged, sticky, degraded, or perma-dirty.
One’s tools are a reflection of oneself; don’t screw like a slob.
Size — Some ratchet screwdrivers fit easily into a pocket. That can be handy, especially for around-the-house work. But sometimes you need a little more length.
A longer shaft can help screwers access hard-to-reach areas.
Magnet — Ratchet screwdrivers without magnetic bit holders are trash and exist on a plane that’s firmly below the industry standard. You deserve magnetism; it’s organic.
Get a magnetic ratchet screwdriver or prepare to suffer needlessly.
Quality — Quality for ratchet screwdrivers is all over the board. Some are precise instruments; others are cheap items built for sporadic use and one-offs. Consider what you need and why. Sometimes you can find a great bargain, but professionals or frequent users should generally choose a proven entry.
Handle — Long or stubby, smooth, or textured, soft rubber or hard plastic, etc. Some store bits.
Versatility — The best ratchet screwdrivers maximize versatility. With a 1/4“ drive capable of accepting any standard driver or adapter, you turn virtually any screw or bolt with a ratchet screwdriver.
Durability — Every ratchet screwdriver has the same weak point: the ratchet itself. Ratchets are intuitive machines, but they are complex in their composition. It’s critical that the gears and pawls are machined soundly.
That being said, it’s a bit of a gamble to trust a cheaper ratchet screwdriver or one from an obscure brand.
Types of Ratchet Screwdrivers
Bits In the Handle — Screwdrivers that store bits inside a hollow handle, often closed by a threaded cap. Some handles have a compartment that simply holds loose bits; others have organization built into the cap.
Bits On the Handle — Some screwdrivers have slots in the handle to hold bits. Often, this makes for a bulky handle. But they do promise easy access.
Kits — For bigger ratchet screwdriver kits, a case holds the bits.
Ratchet Screwdriver FAQ
Q: What is a ratchet screwdriver?
A: It’s a screwdriver with a ratchet in it. Plain and simple! In a ratchet, a pawl (like a pin) catches the teeth of a gear to stop it from turning in whatever direction the user chooses. In the case of ratchet screwdrivers, this means that you can continue to twist a screw without pulling the driver out of the screwhead and readjusting.
Q: How do you use a ratchet screwdriver?
A: Set the collar to one of three directions (lefty loosey, righty tighty, or locked) and get to it, Bob the Builder!
Q: What are the differences between a ratcheting screwdriver and normal screwdrivers?
A: 1) Ratcheting action (see “What is a ratchet screwdriver?).
2) Usually additional versatility. Some normal screwdrivers have a ¼-inch hex drive for interchangeable use, but every ratcheting screwdriver has one. Often, the kit will come with multiple bits.
Q: How do you unscrew a ratchet screwdriver?
A: Readers, I’m not too sure what this one means. If the question refers to how to remove a fastener with a ratchet screwdriver, you have two choices: 1) Set the ratchet to turn counterclockwise, or 2) set it to locked and do it the old-fashioned way.
If you want to unscrew the screwdriver itself, you’re out of luck. I know of no screwdriver that can be taken apart with another screwdriver.
- Engineering Mechanisms: Ratchets - Creative Mechanisms