10 Best Flex Head Ratchets 2023 – Reviews & Top Picks
As a handyman, there are times you have to really step up your game. For example, sometimes you need to take care of a pesky bolt and your standard socket wrench isn’t doing the trick. In that case, you need to grab yourself a good flex head ratchet.
The sheer versatility of this specialty ratchet will quickly make it a mainstay of your toolbox. But some flex head ratchets are better than others, and the quality of this tool makes all the difference when it comes to its performance.
How can you pick the very best flex head ratchets? We put together comprehensive reviews of the best flex head ratchets on the market. Between these reviews and our attached buyer’s guide, you can find the best ratchet for you and your different needs.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites in 2023
|Best Overall||Capri Tools CP12300FXFlex-Head Ratchet||
|Best Value||GEARWRENCH 9916D Flex Head Ratchet||
|Premium Choice||Williams B-52EHFB Flex Enclosed Head Ratchet||
|Steelman 96753 Extendable Flex-Head Ratchet||
|Crescent CRW14 Flex Head Teardrop Ratchet||
The 10 Best Flex Head Ratchets
1. Capri Tools CP12300FXFlex-Head Ratchet – Best Overall
It’s not always fun shopping for a new tool when you just want to get back to work. If you’re looking to save some time, let’s cut to the chase: the Capri Tools CP12300FXFlex-Head Ratchet is our pick for the best overall flex head ratchet.
It only needs 5 degrees of space whenever you turn it, making this ratchet very easy to use. And the dual direction ratcheting design adds to the overall versatility. Finally, we were impressed by the chrome plating that helped make it good-looking and long-lasting.
With that being said, there are some things you need to watch out for. At 14.4 ounces, this is one of the heavier wrenches on our list. And the forward/reverse switch sometimes moves while you are using the product. Overall, though, this is a great flex head ratchet.
2. GEARWRENCH 9916D Flex Head Ratchet – Best Value
Buying all the tools you need often puts a big dent in your wallet. If you’re looking to save money, then you’re looking for the best flex head ratchet for the money. And our “best value” pick is definitely the GEARWRENCH 9916D Flex Head Ratchet.
First of all, the price is definitely right on this versatile tool. And the design (open-ended on one side) helps make this ratchet more versatile and durable. The sheer simplicity of this design makes it ideal for beginner handymen and veterans alike.
So, what keeps this ratchet from being our “best overall” pick? At 10.5 inches, it’s a bit short for you to get much leverage. And you only get one size per wrench on the closed design, meaning you’ll need several of these wrenches on hand at any one time.
3. Williams B-52EHFB Flex Enclosed Head Ratchet – Premium Choice
The best tools are often worth their higher price. So, what if you have a bit of extra cash to go towards a flex head ratchet? In that case, we recommend the Williams B-52EHFB Flex Enclosed Head Ratchet as our best premium choice.
This wrench is built to such tight tolerances that unwanted slippage isn’t an issue. And the sealed design helps to protect the ratchet from dirt and debris that may hurt the tool or negatively affect the lubrication. At 9.6 ounces, it’s fairly lightweight, and the handle is very smooth.
What’s the downside? Honestly, the only issue is that this is a fairly expensive ratchet. You must decide whether you want to pay a bit extra to access the features that we mentioned.
4. Steelman 96753 Extendable Flex-Head Ratchet
The Steelman 96753 Extendable Flex-Head Ratchet is another more expensive choice. But does this ratchet set live up to the higher price? For the most part, yes!
You get three different ratchets with this set, and this allows you to cover various drive sizes. Like our “best overall” pick, you only need a 5-degree arc for easy operation. And these ratchets are very comfortable thanks to the extendable handles and rubber grips.
Honestly, this great set would likely have cracked our “top three” if not for one flaw. There is no lock for the head, meaning that the head may come loose and move when you least expect it!
5. Crescent CRW14 Flex Head Teardrop Ratchet
When it comes to tools like flex head ratchet wrench, you don’t always need something very fancy or very elaborate. Sometimes, you just want a reliable tool that will get the job done. And that’s a perfect description of the Crescent CRW14 Flex Head Teardrop Ratchet.
It has several of the features we liked, including a 72-tooth design that gives you a 5-degree arc while you work. The Vanadium alloy steel design helps make it durable, and thanks to its polish, this is one of the more comfortable ratchets you will ever handle. To top things off, you even get a lifetime warranty.
Why isn’t this great little ratchet higher on our list? It slips a little easier than we were expecting while you work. And it’s a little rougher than comparable tools (such as gear wrenches) that you might use.
6. Craftsman 9-44815 Flex Head Quick Release Teardrop Ratchet
Most of the flex head ratchets on this list have particularly strengths and weaknesses. But when it comes to Craftsman 9-44815 Flex Head Quick Release Teardrop Ratchet, you are looking at a perfectly average tool.
There are some reasons to recommend this tool, including the steel-alloy blend that makes it nice and sturdy. And the lifetime guarantee means a lot, especially from a company such as Craftsman.
However, one thing that is very disappointing is that this ratchet has a 10-degree arc instead of the now-familiar 5-degree arc. And the truth is that this ratchet simply doesn’t hold sockets very well. And that fact alone may make this ratchet more trouble than it’s worth!
7. ARES 42027 Flex Head Ratchet
The ARES 42027 Flex Head Ratchet is another “perfectly average” choice. It has a few features that you’re sure to like and a few more that are guaranteed to make you shake your head.
The good qualities of this ratchet include the 72-tooth ratcheting system, allowing you the kind of five-degree arcs that make short work of the tasks in front of you. And because they are a part of the ASPCA Business Ambassador Program, you know that your purchase helps to support the cause of animals in need.
However, there are many bad qualities. This includes the fact that it’s a bit too short (7 inches) to get proper leverage, and the lack of a quick-release handle is annoying to many users.
8. OEMTOOLS 22912 11 Flex Head Ratchet
Going by price alone, the OEMTOOLS 22912 11 Flex Head Ratchet looks like an attractive tool. Unfortunately, there are several drawbacks that will make you reconsider.
First, what we liked: the price for this ratchet is good, and the rebuildable head can be a money-saver in the long run. And that same head is fully sealed, helping the tool to last even longer. While these qualities are good, there are many drawbacks to this ratchet.
At 15.2 ounces, it’s a bit heavier than we’d like. And when using it, the movement isn’t very smooth. Finally, the lack of a release button is very disappointing.
9. DEWALT DWMT81155 Flex Head Ratchet
For handymen, DEWALT is a very trusted name. Unfortunately, the DEWALT DWMT81155 Flex Head Ratchet is a disappointment to the DEWALT name.
What did we like about this ratchet? While not that uncommon, the 5-degree arc is nice, and the ergonomic handle is quite comfortable in your hands. But there are other aspects of this ratchet that outweigh these positive qualities.
The lack of detents will be a real “dealbreaker” for many handymen, and the friction-only head loosens way too easily. To top it off, some of the manufacturer information is incorrect: the ratchet is more like 11 inches instead of the advertised 13.
10. Performance Tool W9116 Flex Head Stubby Ratchet
We’re rounding out our list of reviews with the Performance Tool W9116 Flex Head Stubby Ratchet. And while there are a few reasons to recommend this particular tool, there are many more reasons you should reconsider making this purchase.
What are the good aspects of this ratchet? First of all, the 72-tooth gearing is impressive and reliable. And the dual drive (featuring a ¼-inch drive and ⅜-inch drive) make it pretty versatile.
However, the bad aspects outweigh the good ones. For example, the handle is so short and stubby (6.2 inches) that you can’t get much leverage. And the head is too bulky to use in many situations. Finally, while the handle has a rubber grip, it’s not as comfortable as advertised.
Buyer’s Guide – Purchasing the Best Flex Head Ratchet
Hopefully, our in-depth reviews have given you additional insight into the world of flex head ratchets. But you may not be ready to make a purchase yet because you still have questions. That’s why we put together the definitive flex head ratchet buyer’s guide!
This guide gives you a solid overview into what you want (and what you don’t want) when it comes to these ratchets. And once we answer your remaining questions, you’ll know everything you need to know to find and buy the ratchet you’ve been waiting for!
Do I Really Need a Ratchet?
Figuring out the kind of ratchet you need is often a matter of figuring out what your needs really are. But first, you need to answer a very fundamental question: do you really need a ratchet?
On the most basic level, wrenches and ratchets are designed to accomplish the same tasks. Chances are that you have plenty of wrenches kicking around your garage. Therefore, whether you need a ratchet or not mostly comes down to whether you want or need the special features that ratchets have to offer.
The main feature is simply that ratchets will save you a lot of time and effort. With such a tool, you fasten it into place and then can tighten or loosen to your satisfaction without having to frequently remove and replace the tool. If you’re going to be working with a lot of sockets, then a good ratchet is a real game-changer.
Long story short? Any ratchet will be an upgrade over a basic wrench. But certain ratchet features are going to affect the performance, and we’ve got a breakdown of those features in our guide.
Our reviews often touched on the weight of the ratchets in question. And if you’ve never worked with flex head ratchets before, you may not realize how important the weight really is.
For example, you might not think there is much of a difference between a 9-ounce ratchet and a 16-ounce ratchet. But after you work with this tool in your hand all day, the tool that is nearly twice as heavy is going to cause worse fatigue than the lighter tool.
Why do so many handymen go for heavier ratchets? There is a myth that a ratchet must be heavy to be durable. But durability is largely a matter of the construction quality and the materials used rather than weight. In other words, it’s entirely possible for you to find a “sweet spot” between weight and durability, giving you the best of both worlds.
Several of the ratchets we reviewed featured 72 teeth and 5-degree arcs. But what is this all about, and why is the number of ratchets very important for you when using this tool?
Throughout the years, most traditional socket wrenches featured 36 teeth. This meant that when you used the tool, you had a 10-degree ratcheting arc. While that is not bad, that arc may be a bit too big when you are working in really tight spaces.
Many of the ratchets we reviewed have 72 teeth instead of 36. And this means that the ratcheting arc has been cut in half to 5 degrees. This is better in tight spaces and just easier to use in general.
Honestly, even if you don’t have immediate plans to work within tight spaces, we recommend a flex head ratchet with 72-teeth. It gives you additional versatility and additional options for all of your future projects.
We often talk about “durability” when we review tools. But “durability” can mean many things. One question you should always have about a new tool: how easily will it break?
To figure out the answer, you must determine the “weak point” of the tool in question. With flex head ratchets, the answer is simple: the weak spot is usually the flexible head. That head is what makes the tool so versatile, but it also makes the tool a bit vulnerable.
How do you avoid this issue and purchase a strong ratchet? We recommend finding ratchets where there isn’t much “play” in the head right out of the box. And don’t be afraid to check customer reviews and testimonials to get a better idea about the effective lifetime of your new purchase.
At first glance, you might think all flex head ratchets feature a similar design. But there is often variation when it comes to the size and shape of the head. This affects the overall profile of the ratchet and may determine what you can and cannot do with your new purchase.
For example, the ratcheting arc isn’t the only thing you need to worry about when you’re working in tight spaces. You also need to consider the profile of the wrench. If the head of the ratchet is too big, you might not be able to squeeze the tool into tight spaces at all.
How can you fix this issue? If you’re going to be working in tight spaces quite a bit, we recommend choosing a ratchet with a low-profile head. Such ratchets have been designed to create a lower profile and make it easier for you to work, especially in tight, cramped spaces.
Dual Drive or Not
There is a word we love around here when it comes to tools, and that word is “versatility.” For the most part, we prefer tools that give you more options to tools that give you fewer options. But every now and then, that versatility can be a double-edged sword.
A perfect example of this is dual-drive ratchets. “Dual drive” simply means that there is a different size drive on either side of the ratchet. If you’re going to be working with multiple sockets and socket sizes, this kind of dual drive design may actually save you a lot of time.
What’s the downside, then? Simple: any ratchet with dual drive is going to have a larger wrench head. That may be a non-issue when it comes to your projects. But if you need a smaller profile (perhaps for those tight spaces that we mentioned before), you may want to skip out on the dual drive design.
Speaking of drives, it’s important that you understand the complexities of drive sizes. Otherwise, you may end up buying the wrong tool for the job.
Generally speaking, there are three drive sizes you need to worry about: ¼ inch, ⅜ inch, and ½ inch. There are larger drives for really major projects, but these three sizes are usually sufficient for any work around the house.
For the most part, smaller drive sizes are meant for smaller projects and larger sizes are meant for larger projects. If you’re not sure what size you need, there is nothing wrong with “splitting the difference” and getting the ⅜-inch driver.
As we mentioned, a dual-drive design can increase the versatility of your new tool. But for maximum versatility, we recommend having ratchets of different drive sizes around so that you’ve always got the right tool for the job.
Now that you’ve read our reviews and our buyer’s guide, you should have an easier time picking out a flex head ratchet. To help finalize your choice, we need to answer one more question: who were the biggest winners when it came to our ratchet reviews?
For the best overall tool, we recommend the Capri Tools CP12300FXFlex-Head Ratchet. It offers a solid intersection of price and features, and you’re sure to get many years of use out of this tool.
If you’re shopping for ratchets on a budget, then, we recommend the GEARWRENCH 9916D Flex Head Ratchet. While the price is great, you also get a surprising amount of versatile use from this ratchet.
While these were our favorite picks among these ratchets, our opinion only goes so far. You are the only one who can determine which flex head ratchets are best suited for your own toolbox. And once you’ve made your decision, you can put down our guide and get back to work!
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