A 3/8 ratchet is often used when you lack the room to turn a conventional wrench in a full circle. It can easily become your most valued tool and it doesn’t have to break the bank. If you constantly find yourself working in tight spots, then it's time to check out our picks for the best ⅜ ratchet for the money.
Top Rated ⅜ Ratchet For The Money
- TEKTON 3/8 Inch Ratchet (Our Pick)
- Stanley 91-929 3/8-Inch Ratchet (Budget Pick)
- GearWrench 81211F 3/8-Inch Ratchet with 84T (Premium Pick)
- Craftsman 3/8-Inch Ratchet
- TEKTON 3/8 Inch Quick-Release Ratchet
Our Top Picks for Best ⅜ Ratchet For The Money
Our top pick for the best ⅜ ratchet for the money is the TEKTON 3/8 Inch Drive x 9 Inch Swivel Head Quick-Release Ratchet. The TEKTON ⅜ Ratchet comes with a swivel head that can rotate 270 degrees for connecting to fasteners at virtually any angle. With 72 teeth and a 5 degree arc swing, this ratchet means more efficient ratcheting. Paired with a quick release drive tang for less dropped sockets and handle features like the non-slip grip molding, we feel this is the best choice for the consumer’s money.
Best ⅜ Ratchet For The Money Reviews
1. Our pick: TEKTON 3/8 Inch Drive x 9 Inch Swivel Head Quick-Release Ratchet
Features and Benefits:
- This TEKTON model comes with a swivel head that rotates 270 degrees with no preset positions allowing users to avoid obstructions in the way of handle swing.
- A benefit of the swivel head is that it retains enough tension to not feel excessively loose and keep the angle before attaching to the source.
- The 5 degree swing arc means that this ratchet is effective even in the most limited spaces.
- With a two-material, molded no-slip grip covering the handle, you can easily keep a tight grip even with greasy or sweaty hands.
- The rubber grip also provides a safe cushion so that if the handle were to fall, it wouldn’t ding up any surface it may hit.
- A unique benefit is the quick-release drive tang that locks on sockets to prevent dropping and losing them.
- The quality, tough, chrome plated finish on this ⅜ ratchet protects it various forms of rust and corrosion.
- TEKTON offers live phone support and guaranteed support not dependent on how old the tool is.
- Swivel head for difficult angles
- Quick-release drive tang feature
- Rubber grip
- Live phone support
- Head and handle only connected by two small metal points
- Heavier option
2. Budget pick: Stanley Hardware 91-929 Ratchet P3 3/8"Drive
Features & Benefits:
- The pear head design promotes durability and its slim profile allows it to perform better in tight spaces.
- The quick release feature allows users to easily changeover while working.
- Ergonomic handles display easy-to-use thumb operated reverse-switch mechanism for more efficient and faster switching.
- With 72 teeth that allow for a 5 degree arc swing, limited space is not a problem.
- Sockets are never dropped or lost as they remain locked on the drive until released with the easy-to-reach quick release button
- Stanley offers a Full Lifetime Warranty which guarantees a replacement if parts were to break with no proof of purchase required.
- Thumb operated reverse-switch
- Lifetime Warranty
- Direction selector easy to hit in tight spaces
3. Premium pick: GearWrench 81211F 3/8-Inch Drive
Features & Benefits:
- On the head of the ratchet, users can find a flush-mounted level for an On/Off switch.
- The low-profile teardrop head maximizes access when workspace is small providing up to 21% more access than competition.
- The full polished handle is available in chrome and cushioned grips.
- An underrated benefit of the chrome handle is that it is much more resistant to dirt than its rubber counterparts.
- The bright chrome finish provides high-visibility benefits.
- The handle is available in flex-head, offset, long-handle and stubby options, giving consumers a variety of styles to pick from.
- The head is available in fixed and flex-head styles.
- Slim head
- Easy to clean
- Lowest swing arc
- socket release button on the back can get accidentally pushed when using the wrench and drop the socket.
4. Craftsman 3/8 inch Drive Flex Head Quick Release Teardrop Ratchet
Features & Benefits:
- The flex head provides versatility of flexing end with the stability of an extended handle.
- The teardrop shape of the ratchet head provides consumers with ability to access difficult tight spots
- With the one-handed reverse lever, work can be completed faster and more efficiently.
- The flex feature allows for torque at multiple angles.
- With the thumb-activated quick-release, socket switching is quick and easy.
- The tool itself exhibits a dependable alloyed steel build.
- Chrome nickel coating on the exterior is rust resistant and stops oxidation making clean up as easy as a wipe down.
- Craftsman provides a full lifetime warranty for this tool.
- Flex head
- Quick-release lever
- Lifetime Warranty
- Plastic direction selecter
- Low count teeth
- High swing arc
5. TEKTON 3/8 in. Drive Composite Ratchet
Features & Benefits:
- The offset handle feature gives extra clearance for fingers helping to prevent scraped knuckles.
- Sporting a soft and contoured grip, the handle is also engineered for non-slip grip.
- The quick-release drive locks on sockets to keep them from falling off and getting lost and can even be performed with one hand
- The most unique feature is the composite construction, a layer of high-impact poly shell on the head and handle, for comfortable use in frigid temperatures.
- The 72 teeth and 5 degree arc swing feature allow this model to be greatly useful in tight spaces.
- TEKTON has some of the most responsive customer service support available to customers.
- TEKTON offers live phone support and guaranteed support not dependent on how old the tool is
- The mere .43 pounds makes this one of the lighter options for comfortability and it’s also the shortest of the our top picks.
- Poly shell coating
- Offset handle
- Excellent customer service
- Rubber handle easily picks up grease and dirt
- Difficult to judge torque when using on bolts
The ⅜ ratchet fits with a wide array of sockets, it’s, relatively compact, and it can handle the torque of a variety of nuts and bolts. In this article, we are going to talk about manual ratchets but for those interested in buying an electric ratchet, take a look at this article.
This is a versatile tool that is just as handy to have around for home projects as it is for automotive work. No matter what the task is, you’re bound to run into tight spots at some point so having one on hand is a no brainer. However, you want to make sure you get the right amount of bang for your buck. So how do you know when and where to invest?
Who needs the best 3/8 ratchet?
Any scenario that leaves you stuck with a nut or bolt in a complicated or tight area calls for a common ⅜ ratchet.
If you’re left at home trying to tighten the bolts on your toilet, you’re likely going to reach for an average wrench to get the job done quickly, but the lack of space might call for something that doesn’t need all the travel room to rotate.
This is when your ⅜ ratchet wil come in and luckily, it’s made to be just as efficient as you want to be.
Even when working on more daunting projects like maneuvering around the tight spaces in your car engine, this ratchet will be your go-to every time.
Unless you’re doing something heavy-duty like repairing equipment, for which you would need something more powerful like an impact wrench, a ⅜ ratchet should be a staple in most toolboxes used for everything from the average DIY home improvement project to intermediate automotive maintenance.
What makes up a good ⅜ ratchet?
The ⅜ ratchet’s technology that allows it to simply swing back and forth to tighten and loosen without being repositioned is all thanks to how the tool is configured.
Not all ratchets are made equal, but each one has the same key components that make it unbeatable for working in small spaces.
Available in sizes in addition to ⅜ like ½ and ¼, the ratchet’s drive size determines how many options are available for sockets and which fasteners it will be compatible with.
The reason the ratchet doesn’t need to be repositioned with each turn is due to the geared drive’s teeth, the indentions on the drive that cause resistance when turning one direction and are untouched when turning the other causing the “free spin.”
Many ratchets come with a lock button that secures the socket to the fastener so it doesn’t fall off. Generally, a quick-release button unlocks the bond.
Coming in many lengths, shapes and materials, the type of handle on your ⅜ ratchet can make a big difference when you have greasy hands or a limited amount of space.
What to look for when purchasing the best ratchets for the money
Because the goal with ⅜ ratchets is more versatility, the head is an important thing to consider.
If you regularly work with bolts secured at difficult angles, a head with a flex options can give you more flexibility, but a head with a swivel option may give you even more.
Even the head shape varies across different styles leaving many options for getting the most effective ⅜ ratchet for your lifestyle.
Simply put, the more gear teeth your ⅜ ratchet has, the finer your ratcheting motion.
The less teeth, the more coarse the motion. Finer motions means it will take less movement of the ratchet to tighten or loosen, which makes it a very important factor when dealing with complicated space.
With less teeth, for every move in a limited spin situation, you can get more headway.
Whether you’re a mechanic or just a DIY hobbyist, the material used on your ⅜ ratchet’s handle is something to consider.
When it comes to comfortable grip for greasy hands, a handle that is molded with non-slip may be most beneficial.
If you’re constantly reversing direction or quickly locking and unlocking for a complicated bolt sequence, a handle that is ergonomically designed with easy-to-reach and conveniently located switches would be extremely helpful.
Depending on your specific project, you may be in the market for a specific type of metal.
If you’re working in high temperatures, a heat treated chrome molybdenum steel could be a good choice.
If you’re working in low temperatures, it may be more comfortable to use a ratchet with a poly shell for temperature control.
However, if your main concern is rust, you may want to pay more attention to whether or not the finish is corrosion-resistant.
Arguably the most important factor, the degree of arc swing is how much your ratchet will need to turn before it begins to tighten or loosen the fastener. That being said, the lower degree of arc swing your ⅜ ratchet has, the more efficient it will be when used in limited space.
Safety when using the best ratchet tool
While it may be difficult to see how a simple ratchet could cause much damage, like all tools, it’s still of utmost important to practice safe operating.
- If you’re working on a piece of electric equipment, make sure to disconnect the power before you begin work. Never depend on a tool to protect you from electricity even if it is advertised to do so.
- Be cautious to not overtorque as it can damage the ratchet causing the gears to strip and eventually break.
- Remember to properly store your ⅜ ratchet each time after you’re finished using it to prevent unnecessary injuries and damage to the tool.
Care & maintenance for the strongest ratchet
For 3/8 ratchets to be as effective as they can be, it’s imperative that they are well taken care of and not exposed to anything that could change their unique structure.
- Never expose a wrench to excessive heat that could change the metal structure and hardness, ruining the tool as a result.
- Do not try and use your ⅜ ratchet with a socket size that does not fit as it could lead to damage.
- Clean your ratchet regularly with dish soap and water to remove grease and preserve the tool’s life and durability.
Tips for making the most out of the product
While generally simple to use, there are a few things that can help you get the most out of using your ⅜ ratchet.
- When working with a ⅜ ratchet, you’re likely to come into contact with stuck or “frozen” nuts or bolts, applying a little penetrating oil can help to free it.
- For further questions, check the manufacturer’s website as many of them have hotlines and instructional content.
Q: Can you ratchet with a torque wrench?
A: Torque wrenches are used to tighten a bolt to a specific setting because its unique torque reading gauge can let the user know how much torque is being applied. They do not have a ratcheting setting, so generally, a ratchet would be used to tighten the bolt first and then the torque wrench is used to apply the final torque setting.
Q: 3/8 ratchet vs ½?
A: A ratchet with a ½ inch drive size is not as compact as a ⅜. It is better suited to and has closer to the right amount of torque for large fasteners like axel nuts.
Q: 3/8 ratchet vs ¼?
A: A ratchet with a ¼ inch drive size is better suited to small fasteners. With quite a few options for sockets, it is a fairly versatile ratchet and useful for tight corners, much like the ⅜ ratchet.
What is the best 3/8 Ratchet For The Money: Our Pick
We feel the TEKTON 3/8 Inch Drive x 9 Inch Swivel Head Quick-Release Ratchet is the best choice for the consumer. The stable swivel head allows for optimal precision of angle and a 5 degree swing arc. It also provides a no-slip grip handle to prevent falling sockets as well as a quick-release drive tang to ensure sockets stay attached only when they should be. To drive it home the TEKTON Swivel Head comes with manufacturer support no matter how old the tool is.
However, if budget is your main concern the Stanley 91-929 3/8-Inch Drive Pear Head Quick Release Ratchet offers nearly all of the same benefits. Plus, it comes with a unique thumb operated reverse-switch mechanism on the handle and a manufacturer lifetime warranty.
If you’d like to settle in the middle, the GearWrench 3/8" Drive 84 Tooth Teardrop Ratchet is a lightweight ratchet with an impressive 4.3 degree swing arc. It has the option to turn on and off and its chrome finish allows for easy clean up.
Resources & Further Reading
- A refresher course on wrench use and safety, reliableplant.com
- How to choose and maintain your next ratchet, shopgraytools.com
- Socket and Ratchet Guide: Types of Sockets, Uses and Features, Lowes.com
- 3/8 Inch Drive x 9 Inch Swivel Head Quick-Release Ratchet, tekton.com
- 3/8 in Drive Pear Head Quick Release™ Ratchet, stanleytools.com
- 3/8" Drive 84 Tooth Teardrop Ratchet 8-1/4", gearwrench.com
- 3/8 Inch Drive x 7 Inch Composite Quick-Release Ratchet, tekton.com