7 Best Inch Pound Torque Wrenches 2020 – Top Picks & Reviews
Torque wrenches are vital for tightening your bolts to a predetermined tightness, which allows for maximum hold without damaging the part. There are many sensitive bolts in engine work, but all bolts have a specific torque you should tighten to, and this tool helps you accomplish that.
It can be challenging to sort through the many brands of torque wrenches available, so we’ve chosen seven of the most popular ones to review for you so you can learn about the pros and cons of each one without leaving your home. We’ve also included a short buyer’s guide where we take a close look at how these tools work and what you should look for while you shop.
Join us while we look at dual-range scales, durability, ease of use, foot-pounds, and more to help you make an informed purchase.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
|Best Overall||TEKTON 24320 Drive Click Torque Wrench||
|Best Value||NEIKO 03714A Click Torque Wrench||
|Premium Choice||Capri Tools 31200 Industrial Torque Wrench||
|NEIKO 03727A Beam Style Torque Wrench||
|LEXIVON Inch Pound Torque Wrench||
The 7 Best Inch Pound Torque Wrenches – Reviews 2020
1. TEKTON 24320 Drive Click Torque Wrench – Best Overall
The TEKTON 24320 Drive Click Torque Wrench is our pick for the best overall inch-pound torque wrench. It’s lightweight at only 1.3 pounds and features a 0.25-inch drive. It’s pre-calibrated to measure inch-pounds (in-lbs) from 10 to 150 to within 4% accuracy and features a high contrast dual-range scale with Newton-meters also represented. It’s also reversible, features all-steel construction, and includes a convenient storage case to protect your tool when you’re not using it.
The only downside to the TEKTON 24320 we experienced was that sometimes it was hard to hear or feel the click when we reached the desired torque.
2. NEIKO 03714A Click Torque Wrench – Best Value
The NEIKO 03714A Click Torque Wrench is our pick for the best inch pound torque wrench for the money. It features heat-treated steel construction for the best durability and features a ball detent drive head holds your sockets secure. It has a 0.25-inch drive that can tighten bolts in either direction, and its 10.75-inch body length provides you with enough leverage to reach maximum torque. It’s pre-calibrated to within 4% accuracy, and its range is 20 to 200 in-lbs. It’s lightweight at only 1.54 pounds and includes an ABS custom-fitted storage case.
The only trouble we had with the NEIKO 03714A was that it could be hard to read the scale in certain light conditions.
3. Capri Tools Industrial Torque Wrench – Premium Choice
The Capri Tools 31200 Industrial Torque Wrench is our premium choice inch pound torque wrench. It features a dual-range scale that you can use to measure torque in inch-pounds or Newton-meters. Its range is 30 to 150 foot-pounds and is certified to be accurate to within 4% and includes a testing certificate. It has a durable all-steel body with a non-slip knurled handle, so you can use this tool even in wet or oily conditions. It is reversible should you use it to remove bolts, and it’s lightweight at only 1.3 pounds. It also comes with a convenient custom-fitted case.
The torque values on the Capri Tools 31200 are quite small and hard to read in certain lighting conditions, and its 8.3-inch long shaft is a little short to get good leverage for torque in the 115-inch pound range.
4. NEIKO 03727A Beam Style Torque Wrench
NEIKO 03727A Beam Style Torque Wrench is a different type than the others on our list, and you can use it to measure very low torque, as its range is 0 to 80 in-lbs. It’s pre-calibrated to be accurate to within 4%, and it can measure torque in clockwise and counterclockwise directions. It’s lightweight at only 8.8 ounces and features a large, easy to read dual-range scale and easy-grip handle.
Unfortunately, the NEIKO 03727A is not as accurate as other types of torque wrenches on this list, and we found it occasionally drifted by as much as 10% despite its certification. It also does not come with a protective case, which exposes the tool to possible environmental damage.
5. LEXIVON Inch Pound Torque Wrench
The LEXIVON Inch Pound Torque Wrench is a very attractive tool that features black paint with bright yellow lettering that makes the dual-range scale easy to read. It features durable all-steel construction, and the ratchet head is reversible. It has a 20 to 200 in-lbs range and features a certificate of calibration stating that it’s accurate to within 4% as well as its test results. It weighs slightly less than 2 pounds and features a long 24.5-inch drive bar that you can use to get plenty of leverage.
The downside to the LEXIVON is that it scratches very easily, which quickly makes the numbers hard to read. Another problem we had was that it was very difficult to hear the click notification when we reached the desired torque, and there was very little tactile feedback.
6. eTORK C2250 Click-Style Torque Wrench
The eTORK C2250 Click-Style Torque Wrench is extremely lightweight at only 1.57 lbs and it meets the requirements of the American National Standard. Its certification of accuracy to within 3% makes it one of the most accurate tools on this list, and it’s capable of measuring torque in both directions. It has a 50 to 250 in-lbs range, and the ergonomic handle is easy to grip and set the values.
The downside to the eTORK C2250 is that it’s quite bulky and difficult to fit into tight spaces. There is no taper towards the ratchet head like many other models, and a large metal lever to switch ratchet directions sticks out, taking up even more space. The dual range scale sits under a glass compartment, and the mechanism seems flimsy. It didn’t inspire confidence that it would work long-term, but we didn’t have any problems while reviewing it.
7. Vortex CTW2 Optics Torque Wrench
The Vortex CTW2 Optics Torque Wrench is the final model of torque wrench on our list and while it’s not as good as many of the others, it still has some interesting features that may interest you. It is a smaller sized torque wrench well suited to projects like adding gun scopes. You can adjust torque in 1 in-lb increments. It’s guaranteed to be accurate within 4% and includes a certificate of accuracy.
The downside to the Vortex CTW2 is that it has a short range of only 10 to 50 inch-lbs, which is the shortest of all tools on this list. It is also extremely difficult to remove the bits from the tool, and we needed to resort to pliers to get them out, which can be a hassle if you’re trying to work quickly.
Here are some things to consider when shopping for an inch-pound torque wrench.
How Does a Torque Wrench Work?
Torque wrenches apply a specific torque or tightness to a bolt. It has an internal mechanism, usually a spring and ball bearing, that allows you to preset the value and then notifies you with a sound when you reach it. There are several types of torque wrenches, and each one uses a slightly different mechanism to determine torque.
All the torque wrenches on our list are the click type, except for one beam-style. But there are several you should be aware of in case you need one.
Beam-style torque wrenches are the most basic and use two parallel beams to determine the force applied to a bolt. One beam bends while the other remains straight, and as they pull apart, you can measure the torque. This design is fairly accurate and inexpensive.
The deflecting beam torque wrench is like a standard beam, except it uses the deflector beam to measure torque instead of a coiled spring to help extend the tool’s life and maintain accuracy.
Slipper torque wrenches are similar to a common ratchet with a mechanism built-in to the head that uses a ball-bearing to slip when you reach a predetermined torque. This tool prevents over-tightening of a bolt because it will no longer tighten once it begins to slip.
The clicks-style torque wrench is by far the most popular and is what you all will find on our list of reviews. These tools use a complex calibrated clutch mechanism to determine the torque and present the user with a loud click sound when you reach the preset value. A ball-bearing in the mechanism also slips and provides the user with tactile feedback because you can feel it slip out of place as you hear the click, so you know when to stop tightening.
No hub torque wrenches are T wrenches with a built-in torque mechanism. Plumbers use these types of torque wrenches for hubless soil pipe couplings.
Most types of torque wrenches are available in an electronic version. The electronic torque wrench presents the user with an easy to read display for setting the value. It also uses electronic sounds and flashing LEDs to alert the user when they reach the preset value. Electronic torque wrenches can also store multiple values in the memory to make switching bolts quicker. Electronic tools are easier to use in many cases, but they require batteries and other considerations not present in standard tools.
Programmable torque wrenches are electronic tools that measure the torque along with the angle of the threshold. Angle measurements allow the tool to recognize already tightened bolts to help save time on big jobs.
Mechatronic torque wrenches are click-style wrenches with a digital readout. This tool will also typically enhance the clicking sound with an electronic alarm. It may also use flashing LEDs to provide visual feedback as well.
Hydraulic wrenches help turn very large bolts to a specific tightness. These tools are for industrial applications where they have very large bolts, and you won’t see them much in the home workshop.
The pneumatic torque wrench is often confused with an impact wrench, but it has a much more complex internal mechanism for determining torque. It’s easy to use, accurate, and very fast, but they are often expensive, and you will need an air compressor to use it.
It’s not going to do you much good to turn a bolt to a specific tightness if the tool is wildly inaccurate. The accuracy of a torque wrench should be within a certain percentage. We tried to find models for our list of reviews that were all accurate to within 4%, but you can find tools that are even more accurate if you’re willing to pay a higher cost.
The torque wrench with an accuracy rating of 4% means that if you set it for 100 in-lbs, the actual torque placed on the bolt will be between 96 and 104 pounds. This tolerance is usually accepted as safe and shouldn’t damage your nuts or bolts.
The torque wrench with a wider range will be more versatile, though a shorter-range tool tends to be more accurate. If you always use your torque wrench for the same job, you can get one with a smaller range to cut costs and increase accuracy, but if you find yourself using the wrench regularly, you may want to look for an extended range.
Wrenches that measure in foot-pounds will be larger than those that count inch-pounds, so it’s important to consider the types of bolts you will use your torque wrench on before you make a purchase. The tools on this list all use inch-pounds, and we tried to list the range of each.
One of the most confusing things about torque wrenches concerns their directional abilities. Since most of these tools are ratchet style, many brands allow you to reverse the head to remove tightened bolts. If you’ve over-tightened the bolt, you may want to loosen it so you can reapply the torque, so a reversible head is quite convenient. However, many people mix up the reversible head with a torque wrench that can measure torque in a counterclockwise direction, which most tools cannot do.
The vast majority of torque wrenches only measure torque in a clockwise direction, which is fine for most people because almost all bolts tighten that way. However, many bicycles and other objects use bolts that tighten in the reverse direction, and you may find yourself needing a torque wrench that measures torque in a counterclockwise direction. If so, you will need to be very careful when you read the reviews and product descriptions that you’re not mistaking a reversible ratchet head with a tool that measures torque in a counter-clockwise direction. We tried to make clear which tools in our reviews have this rare feature.
Feedback is how the tool tells you have reached the preset torque. Most of the tools in our reviews use a loud click to alert you that it’s time to stop tightening, but other tools may use different methods, including electronic alarms. Some tools will disable the ratchet, preventing it from tightening the bolts too much, but most will not, and you’ll need to listen for the click to know when to stop tightening. Besides accuracy and range, your ability to hear the click is one of the most important things to look for when choosing a torque wrench.
We tried to point out any tools that were hard to hear in our reviews, but you should try to test the tool yourself before you make a purchase.
With click type torque wrenches, a longer tool will provide you with more leverage to turn a bolt more evenly. If all other things are equal, go for the longer tool to be easier to use.
Most of the tools on our list use a 0.25-inch socket drive, which is the most popular, but you can find them in 0.33-inch and any other size to fit your needs and tools. Many brands will offer the same model of different sizes as well.
Durability is a big thing with these tools because they’re very sensitive. It needs to maintain accuracy over time so you don’t damage your bolts. Many budget models have internal mechanisms that quickly break down, and if you don’t keep it in a case, moisture in the air can get in and corrode the internal components. Most of the tools on our list are pretty durable, but we tried to point out any that were on the flimsy side.
When choosing a torque wrench, we recommend something with a wider range, so it’s more versatile, giving you more bang for the buck. It should be accurate to within 4% and should come with a storage case to keep the tool safe when you’re not using it. The TEKTON 24320 Drive Click Torque Wrench is a perfect example of this and is our pick for best overall. Besides the wide range and carrying case, this tool features an easy to read dual range scale that displays torque in inch-pounds and Newton-meters. Another smart choice is the NEIKO 03714A Click Torque Wrench, which features an even higher maximum torque than our top model and comes in a very durable case at a budget price. Both Brands are accurate and can service hundreds of bolts without needing repair or replacement.
We hope you have enjoyed reading over these reviews and found them helpful for locating your next tool. If you have found our buyer’s guide informative, please share these best seven inch-pound torque wrenches on Facebook and Twitter.
Featured Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons
- A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
- The 7 Best Inch Pound Torque Wrenches – Reviews 2020
- 1. TEKTON 24320 Drive Click Torque Wrench – Best Overall
- 2. NEIKO 03714A Click Torque Wrench – Best Value
- 3. Capri Tools Industrial Torque Wrench – Premium Choice
- 4. NEIKO 03727A Beam Style Torque Wrench
- 5. LEXIVON Inch Pound Torque Wrench
- 6. eTORK C2250 Click-Style Torque Wrench
- 7. Vortex CTW2 Optics Torque Wrench
- Buyer’s Guide