Matco vs Snap-On (Which is Better?)

For the dedicated tradesman, few services are as valued as that which is provided by the local tool truck. Tool travel to places of employment, offering premium tools for sale to industry professionals.

These trucks also warranty tools for their customers on a weekly basis, preventing any need to return to a store-front location. However, The vast popularity of today’s tool trucks does present an issue of its own.

Many mechanics are left to compare individual tool truck brands, in hopes of getting the most bang for their buck. Unfortunately, this is not always an easy proposition. Tool manufacturers of this sort compete fiercely for sales, leading to a wealth of confusion among consumers. Of these brands, perhaps none fight more diligently for the attention of consumers than Snap-On and Matco.

To unravel some of this mystery, we have compiled the following guide. Below you will find a detailed account of each brand, provided in a no-nonsense fashion. This assists you, the consumer, in making the most out of your hard-earned cash, by providing nothing but the most pertinent of facts.

The following is a side-by-side comparison of Snap-On and Matco tools, based upon a wide range of valuable criteria.

History 

Although Matco and Snap-On have very different histories, they both have become a mainstay in the world of tools. From their earliest days, each of these manufacturers has strived to produce and offer nothing but the most premium of products.

The following is a brief summary of Matco and Snap-On’s rise to popularity.

About Matco Tools

Matco Tools logo

Matco Tools was founded in 1946 as the box manufacturing division of Mac Tools. In fact, “Matco” stands for Mac Allied Tools Company, which is a name once heralded by the Mac Tool Company. However, Matco has no longer been associated in any way with Mac Tools since the late 1970s, when Matco and Mac split from one another.

Even after its split with known “tool truck” company Mac, Matco still adopted the same business model, much like Mac Tools, bringing tools straight to industry professionals, at their place of job sites. Matco quickly found itself competing with the likes of Snap-On, Cornwell, and Mac Tools as its popularity grew.

During much of the 1980s and 90s, Matco continued to expand its product catalog, showcasing an enormous inventory of basic and specialty hand tools, as well as numerous power tools. With time, this lineup grew to include a range of portable, battery-operated power tools, including drills, impact guns, and grinders.

However, recently, Matco has undergone multiple ownership changes. During the latter era, Matco was owned by manufacturing powerhouse Danaher. However, Danaher relinquished control of Matco, along with several other subsidiaries to form Fortive. Then this was followed by another change of ownership in 2020, when Matco found itself under control of Vontier.

Today, Matco still serves as a powerhouse within the domestic tool industry, catering to both amatuer and professional consumers on an annual basis. As recently as 2021, it was estimated that Matco offered as many as 13,000 individual products in total.

Related: Matco Tools vs Mac Tools

About Snap-On Tools

Snap-On Tools logo

Snap-On’s history dates back approximately 100-years, to a time in which the American automotive market was expanding rapidly. With this expansion came a need for qualified mechanics that could repair the ever-growing number of automobiles on the road. Luckily, a budding engineer from Milwaukee, by the name of Joseph Johnson, was focused on inventing a multitude of new hand tools to assist mechanics the world over.

Joseph Johnson, along with his co-worker William Seidemann, spent many weekend hours crafting a handmade set of five ratchet handles and ten adaptors. This interchangeable socket wrench set, known for its effortless socket attachment, soon entered full-scale production, and in 1920 the Snap-On tool company was officially born.

In 1923, Joseph Johnson applied for a patent for the first ratcheting adaptor for use with an interchangeable socket wrench. This ground-breaking advancement, essentially pioneered the design of the modern ratchet, as we know it today. Later innovations included the introduction of one of the industry’s first torque wrenches, known as the “Torqometer”, and specialized “Flank-Drive” sockets. 

The 1920’s also saw great expansion in the company’s locations. By 1925, salesmen were selling products out of 17 branch offices. Snap-On eventually moved its center of operation from Milwaukee to Kenosha, Wisconsin, the company’s headquarters still today.

In 1927, the demand for products in Canada led to the establishment of its first Canadian branch in Montreal, becoming the first international subsidiary. 

Over the decades, Snap-on has expanded to open up a number of new development, production, and warehouse facilities across the United States.

The company’s product line has also expanded to include a virtually limitless number of hand and power tools, all of which have been immensely popular among industrial repair professionals. The manufacturer was also one of the world’s first to initiate aviation and railroad specific product lines, thereby widening its market presence.

See Also: Snap-On Tools vs Mac Tools

Manufacturing 

Many consumers place much emphasis on the origin of their purchases. The origin of where their purchase is manufactured has as much influence on their decision-making as does the product itself. 

The following is a breakdown of Matco and Snap-On’s current production practices.

Where Are Matco Tools Made?

Matco Tools factory

Although much of the company’s manufacturing efforts take place around the world, Matco Tools is headquartered in Stow, Ohio. The company operates a sizable plant in Jamestown, New York, where it manufactures a wide array of premium tool boxes. 

While many of Matco’s hand tools are still produced in the United States, the bulk of the company’s power tools and scan tools are manufactured overseas, predominantly in China.

Where Are Snap-On Tools Made?

Snap-On Tools headquarters

Today, the vast majority of Snap-On tools are still manufactured in the United States, including those of both pneumatic and battery-operated nature. Likewise, Snap-On’s popular line of tool boxes are still produced in America. 

The following are several of Snap-On’s American hubs of production.

  • Kenosha, Wisconsin (Diagnostic Tools/Scanners)
  • Algona, Iowa (Tool Boxes)
  • Conway, Arkansas (Tire Changers/Balancers)
  • Milwaukee, Wisconsin (Hand Tools)
  • Murphy, North Carolina (Power Tools)

However, the company does operate a number of facilities in foreign countries, most of which produce specialty products.

  • Ireland (Gas Torches)
  • China (Welding Helmets)

See Also: Snap-On vs Milwaukee (Power Tool Comparison)

Product Line

Matco and Snap-On have both worked hard to fulfill the needs of consumers, thereby offering comprehensive lines of premium power tools and accessories. Both of these manufacturers have plenty to offer the average consumer.

The following is a general overview of Matco and Snap-On’s product portfolios.

Matco

Matco Tools product line

Much like the company’s fellow “tool truck” brands, Matco offers a sizable inventory of both hand and power tools. Although of these tools, few are as popular as those found within Matco’s Infinium line. This diverse line of power tools includes four different battery configurations, as well as a wealth of individual tools, meeting the needs of most any consumer.

Matco’s Infinium power tools are offered in four individual voltage/battery configurations, including 12V, 16V, 18V, and 20V. This allows consumers the versatility to  expertly match their tool to the job at hand.

Many consumers opt for the use of the company’s 12V and 16V tools when working within more confined spaces, while Matco’s 20V power tools are extremely powerful and can conquer the most difficult of tasks. 

Matco’s Infinium line also includes a wide array of premium tools, specifically engineered to provide ample power wherever necessary. Additionally, tools within the Infinium line are known to exhibit long-lasting battery life.

Some of the most popular tools offered within the Infinium series include drills, polishers, sanders, grease guns, impact guns, impact drivers, grinders, rivet guns, and portable lights.

Matco has various types of power tools categorized as Air tools, Corded/electrical, Cordless and Accessories. Not only does the company offer a significant lineup of power tools, Matco also offers one of the most comprehensive inventories of hand tools to be found. They have Hammers, Chisels, Files, socket/Bits, Ratchets, Wrenches, Pliers, Screwdrivers, and Nutdrivers. These tools are built to last and are backed by a lifetime warranty.

Along with basic hand tools, Matco sells an endless number of automotive-specific service tools, shop tools, and apparel.

Snap-On

Snap-On Tools product line

Snap-On’s extensive product line is virtually limitless in size, both of power tools, and hand tools. The company does offer two individual lines of industrial-grade power tools. The first is Snap-On’s 14.4V-series of power tools, followed by the manufacturer’s robust 18V power tool line.

The company’s 14.4V power tool line includes many everyday tools such as drills, electric ratchets, die grinders, cordless screwdrivers, and polishers.

Meanwhile, Snap-On’s 18V line includes larger robust tools such as impact guns, rivet guns, sanders, reciprocating saws, cut-off tools, grease guns, and industrial-strength drills intended for professional use. 

Not to be outdone is Snap-On’s lineup of specialty cordless power tools and accessories to complement any shop. Some of the most noteworthy of these products include shop lights, fans, inflators, speakers, vacuums, and batteries. They also have accessories such as specialized Drill bits, Air/Cordless Tool Boots, battery boots, and others.  Snap-On continues to expand its power tool inventory yearly, thereby diversifying its product catalog. They offer Plug Taps and Dies, Reamers, measuring tools, lighting, cylinders, covers/mats, Presses, paint spray, brake, and others.

Although Snap-On’s power tools are in great demand, they also carry a diverse line of premium hand tools. The company offers hand tools of every perceivable type, including wrenches, ratchets, sockets, screwdrivers, pliers, and pry bars.

Snap-On also is one of the rare companies that offer specialty tool lines for the aviation and railroad industries.

Technology 

Matco and Snap-On are both innovators in their given craft. Throughout their history, each company has strived to stay on the cutting edge of power tool design and development. 

The following are several of Matco and Snap-On’s greatest innovations.

Matco

Matco battery

20V LI-ION 4.0AH Batteries

Matco’s new 20V LI-ION 4.0 AH batteries have exceeded the highest mark. Not only are these batteries quite robust, but they are also engineered with interchangeability in mind.

Matco designed these batteries to pull double-duty for use in both the company’s 18V and 20V Infinium power tools. This versatility gives consumers more bang for their buck. 

Compact Technology

Matco has gained a reputation for producing some of the most compact battery-operated power tools in the industry over the last decade. The bulk of these tools fall within Matco’s 12V and 16V series, and are able to be used in much tighter confines than many portable power tools currently offered by the majority of manufacturers. 

20V Battery Adapters

When Matco introduced its new line of 20V batteries, they also engineered a creative solution to satisfy the needs of their customers who owned their older series of 20V batteries.

Rather than making the brand’s previous 20V batteries obsolete, Matco simply engineered a specialty adaptor to allow each type of battery to be used interchangeably. The adaptors of this type are reasonably priced, and allowed consumers to continue to use their previously owned devices.

Snap-On

18V Technology

Snap-On’s line of 18V power tools is engineered to take on the toughest jobs with enough power to tackle whatever comes before it while retaining its battery charge for much longer than anticipated. The specialty lithium-ion batteries used by Snap-On’s 18V power tools are constructed with durability and productivity in mind.

Aluminum Electronic Torque Wrench

This aluminum torque wrench weighs in at only one pound but its rugged construction can stand up to any work environment. Its innovative torque wrench design will change the way that professionals view a simple tool.

The target torque is displayed on an easy to read LED screen while also emitting a beeping sound and vibration in the handle when the proper torque is applied. 

Variable Trigger Technology

Most Snap-On impact drivers and drills come equipped with variable triggers, which allow users to precisely control the speed at which the tool in question actuates. When working in tight confines, or with delicate fasteners, this can be quite valuable. 

Warranty and Service

When purchasing power tools, there are few more valuable considerations than those related to the depth of a manufacturer’s customer service. A tool is only as good as the warranty and company that stands behind it. 

For the sake of comparison, Matco and Snap-On’s warranty policies are described below.

Matco

Matco has a long-standing reputation for providing superior customer service. This is due in part to the company’s comprehensive warranty policy, which applies in one regard or another to both Matco’s power and hand tools. Consumers appreciate the ability to purchase with the peace of mind that the company will stand behind them. 

Matco’s hand tool warranty is among the best in the tool industry, covering all tools for life. This warranty coverage protects against all defects in material and workmanship.

However, this policy does not cover against normal wear or misuse. If you were to experience a failure with any of the company’s hand tools, you just simply notify your local Matco representative for a free replacement.

Matco’s power tool warranty is also equal with that of any other “tool truck” brand in the industry. Although some of the terms differ from one tool or another, the majority of Matco’s power tools are covered with a one year warranty. The company’s battery packs also are back by a similar warranty. 

As with other “tool truck” companies, simply return the defective tool to an authorized Matco tool supplier and Matco Tools will swap out defective or damaged tools onsite, thereby preventing you from having to ship your tools off as a matter of warranty.

In most cases, a compromised tool can be warrantied within one week’s time, getting you back to work without excess hassle.

Snap-On

Snap-On has always been known for its unparalleled customer service stemming from its operating principle that a consumer’s time is worth too much to waste tool shopping. This philosophy gave rise to the company’s mobile routes sales structure.

Most Snap-On tools are purchased from one of the company’s numerous mobile sales trucks, however they do also offer an online ordering service

Customers may also warranty their damaged tools on any Snap-On tool truck in the country. Requiring no return trips to the retail store, this is especially convenient for those that use their tools for work.

Simply turn in your damaged tool for a replacement on the spot, though in some cases a replacement tool must be ordered from one of the company’s numerous warehouses.

Snap-On hand tools generally carry a lifetime warranty, but they are purchased through an approved point of sales.

This means that a Snap-On hand tool must be purchased from a mobile tool truck or from the company’s online sales front to come backed with such a warranty. This coverage protects consumers against material or workmanship-related defects.

Snap-On power tool warranties vary,  although most base warranties are extended for a period of 12-months following purchase. Also, most Snap-On lithium-ion battery packs are covered for a period of 12-months in total.

This warranty covers defects in workmanship and manufacturing materials, though abuse of any type is not warranted.

And The Winner Is…

Snap-On Tools logo

There is little chance of being disappointed in the purchase of one or more tools from Snap-On or Matco. After all, both brands tout an undeniably legacy of greatness, among general consumers and veteran tradesmen alike.

However, for the sake of argument, we must select only a single brand as our favorite of these two prestigious companies.

It is our belief that Snap-On carries a slight advantage over Matco in a couple of key areas, the first of which is availability. Snap-On’s dealer network is significantly larger than that of Matco. This provides additional peace of mind, knowing that there will likely always be a Snap-On dealer close by to handle any and all concerns.

Another point of superiority for Snap-On has much to do with the company’s enormous inventory. Today, this inventory is unparalleled by any other premium tool company, thereby providing consumers with a never-ending stream of goods. Simply put, if you could possibly need it, Snap-On likely has it.

Leave a Comment