Hex bolts and screws can make your life a nightmare if you don’t have the right tool. You can’t fake your way through them with a Philips head or flathead screwdriver, so it’s important that you get the right tools for the job.
In this case, that’s Allen wrenches. These tools feature a short side and a longer side, which allow you to maximize reach or leverage, which makes them surprisingly versatile despite their simplicity. By now, you probably know that not all tools are made to the same great standards. Some sets are awesome, and others stink, and it can be hard to tell which is which when shopping online.
We want you to be able to buy with confidence. Our reviews are designed to show you the best and worst attributes of every set so that you can find the one which best meets your needs. We also included a buyer’s guide, so if you want to learn more about Allen wrenches before you buy, make sure you check it out.
|TEKTON Hex Key Wrench Set 30-Piece|
|AmazonBasics Allen Wrench Set 26-Piece||2 lbs||4.65/5|
|Klein Tools Folding Hex Key Set 9-Piece|
(Best for the Money)
|Eklind 53168 Standard Set 8-Piece||1 lb||4.4/5|
|Tarvol Allen Wrench Key Set 10-Piece||1 lb||4.1/5|
There’s a lot to like about the TEKTON Hex Key Wrench Set 30-Piece. Perhaps the best thing about this set is its wide range of Allen wrenches. Included are 15 Customary and 15 Metric Allen wrenches, so you’ll be able to open just about any hex key bolt you come across. These wrenches also come with chamfered ends, so you will have an easier time getting them into the slot and will also do less damage to the bolt and to your tool while it’s in use. This set also comes with a hinged storage case, which helps you keep your wrenches safe and organized when they’re not in use.
These Allen wrenches also come with long arms. Note that the arms on the Customary wrenches are longer than the Metrics, but overall, they’re long relative to other sets. Our only gripe is that this product isn’t always correctly secured prior to shipping, and that can mean you receive a kit with bent or damaged wrenches, which is a pain to deal with. You can always replace them, but it’s still a pain. Overall, this is the best set for most people and will leave you happy with your purchase.
The AmazonBasics Allen Wrench Set 26-Piece is another set that will leave most users satisfied with their purchase. These Allen wrenches might be the best-designed ones on our list. They come with long arms in both the Customary and Metric versions, and they have chamfered ends to more readily get into bolts and screws on one end. On the other end, they have a ball-end which is a unique piece of engineering which allows you to use the Allen wrench at up to a 25-degree angle from the perpendicular. If you’ve ever had to work with an obstructed bolt, you know how useful this feature can be.
This set also comes with a pair of storage racks for the Metric and Customary Allen wrenches, and while they’re not all-encompassing, they’ll keep your wrenches organized when they’re not in use. The one downside is that these wrenches aren’t durable enough for heavy-duty use. Use them too hard, and they’ll start to wear down, though this isn’t a problem most people will experience. Overall, we like these wrenches a lot, and if they were a bit stronger, we’d have no problem bumping them up to first place.
The Klein Tools Folding Hex Key Set 9-Piece is the tool you’ll want to grab if you want to keep your Allen wrenches in your pocket all day. They work like a swiss army knife, as all nine hex keys fold out of the main body of the wrench, and you can retract them back into the handle when you’re done. These keys are square-cut instead of chamfered like the previous models. That means they’re a bit harder to get into screws and bolts, but they have a more solid fit and transfer more power into turning. They’re also extremely durable, and most users report that they have no problems.
You can also get this set for about half of what you’d pay for the top two models on our list. It’s not as many hex keys, but they’re put in a far more convenient package, which earns this set the title of “best value for the money” on our list. Unfortunately, you can’t get a mixed set with this tool, and you’ll either have to opt for an all-Metric or all-Customary model. If Klein came up with a mixed set, we might bump this model up a few spots.
The Eklind 53168 Standard Set 8-Piece could be just what you’re looking for if you’re frequently working with hard-to-remove bolts or screws and need extra length. This model comes with a T-handle, which allows you to apply more force with these tools than you can with most Allen wrenches. These also come with very long shafts, so you’ll be able to get at sunken or recessed bolts without any kind of issue. Plus, they come with a cushioned grip, so you can apply as much force as you’d like to without hurting your hand.
However, this isn’t a perfect set. It lacks anything smaller than 3/32-inches, which means there are some common hex sizes this kit won’t cover, which is a shame. The smaller wrenches in this set also feature handles that warp some while in use. Breaks are rare, and most people report that the deformation merely scares them, but it would be nice if the product could have a more solid feel. This is a decent overall set, but it’s not going to have the key sizes that most people need. However, if your needs are heavy-duty, then these might be just what you’re looking for.
The Tarvol Allen Wrench Key Set 10-Piece has some good ideas about securing Allen wrenches easily for transportation but doesn’t effectively bring those ideas into practice. The nicest thing about this set is probably its low price. You’re getting ten Allen wrenches for a low price, which makes this set a good deal for the money on that front alone. They also come with a black oxide finish, which helps them resist corrosion in the long run. They also come mounted on a key ring, and in theory, you should be able to take them off when you need them for easy use.
In practice, they’re held to the key ring with little springs, and the smaller keys are especially prone to falling out of those springs. That negates a lot of the value of the key ring. Many people end up storing this set in a plastic bag to keep track of them. They also sometimes arrive greasy, which is a fixable problem, but something of a pain with which to deal. Overall, this is an okay set to buy if you just want Allen wrenches and don’t need the key ring, but otherwise, you’re going to be disappointed.
Hopefully, our reviews have already helped you understand what you should be looking for when shopping for Allen wrenches. If you still want to learn more about what separates great sets from the average and below-average ones, make sure you check out this buyer’s guide. We’ve packed it full of great general information about Allen wrenches so that you can learn to evaluate them like an expert would before you buy, even if you never used them before. We’ve also included some tips on getting great value for your money, so if you’re looking to get a great deal, make sure you check out this guide.
One of the biggest differences you’ll notice when shopping for Allen wrenches is that some sets are chamfered, and others aren’t. Chamfered Allen wrenches have slightly rounded ends, which means they’re a bit easier to get into a slot if you don’t have perfect access to it. They’re also easier on the bolt or screw you’re working with. Since screws and bolts are sometimes made from softer metals, making them more prone to stripping, tools with chamfered ends are a good choice, then since they’re less likely to damage soft metals when inserting and removing them.
One step beyond chamfered ends is ball-end Allen wrenches. These sets come with nearly-round ball-ends, which are much easier to get into bolts and screws and can even work at up to a 20-degree angle away from perpendicular. That makes them a good choice for slightly-obstructed projects, though they have the downside of being more of a rough fit, which can sometimes be damaging to weaker bolts or screws.
Non-chamfered Allen wrenches are the most likely to damage weak bolts or screws, but they’re the variety you’ll want to turn to when you’re working with stuck bolts. They have square ends, which means they deliver more rotational power than chamfered models. They’re a bit harder to get into the slot, but once they’re in, they’re the best at tightening and loosening bolts.
As with all levers, more length means more power. Longer Allen wrenches are going to be more useful in general. They’ll allow you to reach places which shorter models won’t get to, or, if you’re able to reach the bolt with the shorter side, you’ll be able to produce more force with the same amount of work, or the same amount with less.
In essence, there’s almost no reason to not go with longer Allen wrenches, especially given that improvements in length rarely have a big impact on price.
There are a few caveats here, of course. Sometimes you’ll find hex keys which are perfectly straight, instead of having an L-style bend in them. You don’t get any advantages to force when using these models. However, they are typically longer than your average curved Allen wrench. Sometimes, these models come with T-handles, which allows you go get some of the leverage gains back, though the power transfer typically isn’t as good as what you’d get with a regular Allen wrench.
It’s hard to definitively say how many Allen wrenches any given person will need, just as it’s hard to say how many flathead or Philips screwdrivers they’ll need. Screws and bolts come in all sizes, and that means that the Allen wrench you need to use will vary from project to project.
If you’re mostly working with toys or electronics, then you’ll probably need a set with a lot of smaller hex keys. If you’re working with lawn equipment or cars, you’d be better off with a set that comes with larger keys.
The question of how many you need really comes down to how many different things you’re going to be doing. If you anticipate doing a lot of different tasks, then you’ll want to get a wide range of Allen wrenches, and if you think you’ll be doing just a few, it’s okay to get a set which more closely aligns with your needs.
You should also keep in mind that imported products may be made with Metric Allen bolts and screws instead of Customary ones, which means that you’ll need a separate set for working with those products. Sometimes, you can buy a set which comes with both kinds, and these sets typically save you money vs buying one Customary and one Metric set.
Unfortunately, you typically don’t see Allen wrenches made from high-quality steels or even from titanium. The reason for this is simple: the demands most people make on their Allen wrenches don’t require harder, stronger materials, and the increase in price that would be due when using higher-quality materials would cause most people to buy a different set.
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t get a great-quality set, only that many of the quality-related keywords which you would look for when shopping for other kinds of tools won’t apply here. It’s important to look through customer reviews of the product you’re about to buy and look for complaints about the Allen wrenches snapping.
In particular, look for complaints about the smallest ones in a set failing, as these are the ones which are most likely to fail. If you don’t see any complaints, you should be good to go. Otherwise, you should probably stay away.
The other thing you should keep an eye out for is models with a rust-resistant coating. Since they’re not typically made from expensive materials which naturally resist corrosion, Allen wrenches are particularly vulnerable to rust. Corrosion-resistant coatings are an inexpensive way manufacturers solve this problem, and it’s worth most people’s money to invest in a set with such a coating since it will far outlast the competition.
The truth is that no one set is going to be the right thing for all people since people have different needs. That’s why buying the most or least expensive set you can find is a bad idea. Those sets are unlikely to meet your needs or will only meet your needs at an unreasonable price.
Instead, the best path to finding good value starts with evaluating your needs. If you know what kinds of things you’re going to be opening or tightening, you can narrow down the selection of Allen wrenches which you need. Then figure out if you’re better off with L-bend or straight wrenches, and make a list of all sets which meet those needs.
Then, choose the cheapest set. It has the features you need to have a great experience, but delivers them at the lowest possible price, making it the best possible choice for the money.
The TEKTON Hex Key Wrench Set 30-Piece is our favorite set due to its chamfered ends, hinged storage case, and long arms for easy access to bolts. The AmazonBasics Allen Wrench Set 26-Piece is another great set which comes with long arms, chamfered ends, and a great call-end design, though it’s not great for heavy-duty use. In third is the Klein Tools Folding Hex Key Set 9-Piece which works like a swiss army knife, is very durable, and comes at a great price, making it the best value for the money on our list. The Eklind 53168 Standard Set 8-Piece features T-handle hex keys with very long shafts and cushion grips, though its lack of smaller keys and handle deformation drop it to fourth place. The Tarvol Allen Wrench Key Set 10-Piece features an innovative design which doesn’t quite work right, though its low price may still make it worth it for those who just need Allen wrenches.
We hope that our reviews and buyer’s guide have helped you better understand what you can find when looking for Allen wrenches, and have helped you find the set which is right for you.