The 8 Best Cordless Ratchets
If you have bolts or nuts to drive or loosen, a cordless ratchet helps you do it quickly and effortlessly. Here's a rundown of some of the best.
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Buying a Cordless Ratchet
After pumping the handle of your manual socket wrench for the hundredth time to drive the six-inch lag screws for your new deck foundation, you may be asking why they don’t make a power tool for this job.
Well, they do!
It’s a cordless ratchet. Not only will it drive those lag screws with ease, it performs multiple other chores, too. A cordless ratchet has become pretty much a must-have tool for builders and remodelers, as well as those in auto and appliance repair.
The best cordless ratchet for you isn’t necessarily the most expensive one. Like a lot of tools, it depends on what you’ll use it for. True, more expensive models tend to develop more torque, and their batteries last longer and charge more quickly. But other features are just as important.
If you’re looking to add a cordless ratchet to your tool collection, here are some features you should consider:
- Anvil size: The anvil holds the socket, and they come in 1/4-in. and 3/8-inch sizes. Choose a tool with the smaller anvil for small engine and appliance repair. Choose the larger anvil for automotive repair or construction. Some cordless ratchets have convertible anvils — a handy feature.
- Power: Cordless ratchets develop from 25 to almost 60 foot pounds of torque and spin at speeds from 250 to 400 revolutions per minute (rpm). The more powerful a cordless ratchet, the tougher the job it can handle. And the faster it spins, the faster you can work.
- Head size: A small ratchet head makes the tool more maneuverable.
- Weight distribution: The best cordless ratchet has balanced weight distribution and an ergonomic design, with the ratchet head and the handle weighing about the same. An unequal weight distribution makes the tool harder to hold and operate.
- Battery run time: Battery run time is important if you have a lot of lag screws or tire lugs to drive. It can vary from 30 minutes to almost 70 minutes. Battery capacity has a lot to do with that. Most cordless ratchets have a capacity of 2.0 amp-hours, but some offer batteries with twice that.
- Battery charging time: Varies from 60 to 90 minutes. Larger capacity batteries take longer to charge, but also have longer run times.
- Functionality features: A battery charge indicator prevents you from starting a job you can’t finish, and a trigger lock prevents the tool from starting accidentally. A forward-reverse switch and a brake that prevents the tool from over-tightening are standard.
- Handle length: At times you’ll need to develop extra torque by pulling on the handle. A longer handle gives you more leverage, but gets in the way in tight places.
- Cost: Prices range from under $50 to more than $200.
- Brushless motors: Models with brushless motors tend to be more powerful, compact and ergonomic.
Best Heavy Duty Cordless Ratchet
The AC Delco G12 Series 3/8-inch Cordless Ratchet develops 57 foot-pounds of torque, about as powerful as a cordless ratchet gets. You need the extra power for heavy construction or automobile engine work. The tool compensates for the extra power with a relatively slow rotation speed of only 160 rpm.
It’s a moderately heavy tool that weighs about three pounds. The battery has a limited capacity, but this tool comes with two, so you can recharge one while you’re working with the other.
Best Light Duty Cordless Ratchet
The Ryobi One+ 1/4-inch Cordless Ratchet weighs only 2.4 pounds, develops a respectable 30 foot-pounds of torque and spins at a maximum speed of 250 rpm.
Besides having a work light and variable speed control, this is one of the few cordless ratchets with a rotating head that works in four positions. That’s a big help when you’re working behind the dashboard or under the hood with limited clearance.
Best Interchangeable Cordless Ratchet
The Makita 12V Max CXT Cordless Ratchet comes with 3/8-inch and 1/4-inch anvils that are easily swapped. Weighing only 2.35 pounds with battery, it develops 35 foot-pounds of torque.
This tool can handle tough jobs as well as delicate ones thanks to a responsive variable speed trigger. Its incredible high rotational speed — up to 800 rpm —helps you work faster. The 2.0 amp-hour battery is standard, but this tool comes with a bonus 4.0 amp-hour battery so you’ll never run out of power.
Best Value Ratchet Set
The S-Long Cordless Ratchet Set includes a powerful ratchet that delivers 40 foot-pounds of torque and a maximum speed of 400 rpm.
The set includes a pair of 2.0 amp-hour batteries, a 3/8-in. to 1/4-in. socket adapter, socket extension, two screwdriver bits and eight of the most commonly used sockets. You also get a manual socket wrench to bail you out if you run out of battery power or lack space for the cordless ratchet.
Best General Purpose Ratchet Set
The Kimo 3/8-inch Extended Reach Ratchet Set features an ergonomic design that makes it easy to operate. At 1.7 pounds, it’s one of the lightest cordless ratchets on the market. It’s as easy to carry to jobsites as it is to use around the house. And with 40 ft-lbs of torque and a speed of 400 rpm, it’s powerful and fast.
You can purchase the tool only, or as a set that includes two batteries, a 3/8- to 1/4-inch adapter and seven commonly used sockets.
Best All-Around Cordless Ratchet
The Milwaukee M12 Cordless Ratchet is one of the priciest models, and at 4.6 pounds one of the heaviest. But it’s also one of the best reviewed, earning top marks across the internet.
Popular features include a super compact head that can fit in the tightest places; the responsiveness of its variable speed control; its bright LED light; and its M12 batteries that charge in just 30 minutes. It delivers 35 foot-pounds of torque with a maximum speed of 250 rpm.
Best Mechanic’s Cordless Ratchet
Another Milwaukee tool, the M12 Extended Reach Cordless Ratchet, has the same space-saving compact head and variable speed responsiveness as the regular model described earlier. But this one extends almost 12 inches from hand to anvil, allowing you to get deep into motors and machinery.
This model costs more than the regular one. But brushless technology gives it the enhanced power to loosen stuck bolts when you have limited visibility.