The best combination wrench set will include a large selection of both SAE and metric sizes. It will be well-crafted and balanced for comfortable use. Different types of sets are best suited for specific applications, such as a ratcheting wrench being used to access tight places where the wide angle of rotation used by other wrenches is not possible. For purposes such as an emergency tool kit, the better combination wrench sets will also come with a convenient storage system that can be easily organized and yet safely stored under a seat or in the corner of your vehicle trunk. Here we review two options from GearWrench and one from Tekton.
The top pick for combination wrench set is actually a set of two products from the GearWrench company. Model 81916 is a 22 piece metric set, and model 81917 is an 18 piece set of SAE tools. Both sets use GearWrench’s patented Surface Drive technology to grip fasteners more securely and reduce the inconvenience of rounding on hard-to-turn nuts or bolts. They have a traditional chrome finish and have the wrench size stamped stamped on both side of the wrench as well as the head, allowing for easy identification. The chrome alloy these sets are made from is designed for heavy duty usage without being heavy or cumbersome to handle with one hand.
The metric set, 81916, contains all metric sizes from 6mm to 24mm, along with some commonly used larger sizes, 27mm, 30mm, and 32mm. GearWrench 81917 contains all of the commonly used SAE sizes, ranging from ¼ inch to 1-¼ inches. Both sets have shaft sizes designed to give a high amount of torque in relation to the head size of the fastener, with the offset end being offset to reduce “knuckle-banging” each time the wrench is reset to a new location on the fastener.
Because both sets use a 12-point configuration for the closed end, you may still notice a tendency for rounding of rusted or over-torqued fasteners. This is probably not a problem during the first couple of years, but a high number of points means that the potential for rounding on the wrench increases with wear and usage. The foldable storage pouch is good for easy storage, but it not made with the same quality standards as the wrenches themselves, and needs to be handled carefully to avoid damage. The biggest advantage of this set is that it provides a complete range of wrenches without skipping over any critical sizes. Many mechanics will tell you that once you’ve tried GearWrench, you’ll never want anything else.
If you only need a small assortment of tools, the GearWrench ratcheting wrench set may be the best combination wrench set for your money. It features 10 of both metric and SAE sizes, ranging from ¼-inch to ¾-inch for the SAE, and between 6mm and 18mm for the metric sizes. The ratcheting end mimics a fine tooth drive socket, allowing for smooth usage in a very narrow band of rotation. The tray that this set comes packaged in is not really suitable as a permanent storage container, so you will need to plan on purchasing a small tool box or other method for keeping your wrench set organized and available. The absence of the 7mm, 9mm and 11mm sizes will be an inconvenience for some people, but the fact is that they are close enough to the SAE sizes of ¼, ? and 7/16 respectively to make do for all but the most precise fastener heads. As a starter set, this kit will handle most common jobs.
Tekton’s 24-piece set is great value in combination wrench sets, because it features the most commonly used sizes of both SAE and metric wrenches. Forged of the same vanadium chrome alloy as the top-rated wrench set, the Tekton kit is engineered to meet or exceed ANSI specifications and heat-treated for extra strength. The 12 SAE wrenches range from ¼-inch to 1-inch, and thre 12 metric tools range from 8 to 24mm. The included storage pouch keeps tools neatly organized, and rolls up for storage in out-of-the-way places, but is not designed for extended use. The single biggest drawback for this set is the absence of the 16mm wrench, a commonly used size which has no direct SAE substitute. For an emergency tool kit or someone’s starter set, the Tekton 24-piece would make an excellent choice.