Gearhead News

July 9, 2021
Crescent's X10 Ratchet Ranks as a Superior Choice for the Money: Review

Toolboxes are rarely exclusive to a single brand. Over the years, you learn which company is good for what, and we tend to stick to that name for that specific toolset. For example, Crescent Tools is known for its adjustable wrenches. If you need one for your home toolbox, that’s probably what you’ll look for.

We don’t often expect the names that specialize in certain capabilities to do more than one thing well. That doesn’t mean those brands can’t offer up something outside its known specialties that’s worth buying, though.

Crescent set before cutting into the packaging

Hank O’Hop
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As you may have guessed by the title of this article, today we’re looking at the Crescent 20-piece X10 3/8-inch ratchet and socket set. This definitely isn’t the brand’s bread and butter — that would be the humble adjustable wrench — so you might have a few questions on how it performs. 

Can you trust a noted brand to produce something outside of its wheelhouse? The Drive had to assess its capabilities. Here’s what we found. 

Hank O’Hop
While it’s somewhat a pain to have to cut away each of those plastic bars, I prefer this system to some of the crappy cases I’ve seen. 

Unboxing the Crescent X10 Tool Set 

If you’ve been following The Drive’s Guides & Gear tool reviews recently, you’ll know that the lords of this realm have tasked me with something of a crusade. I’ve spent the better part of a month testing out a total of 10 ratchet and socket sets, tearing them apart, and letting you folks know what I think about them.

Although I don’t consider myself a professional wrencher, I spend enough time underneath, inside, and all around cars to know that finding good tools that fit a modest budget is easier said than done. This is especially true when every manufacturer seems to be subcontracting production through the same manufacturer and offering the same tools with different names stamped on the side, regardless of the asking price. I’ve seen a lot of this lately.

Opening the Crescent tool set, however, was a refreshing experience. I’m no film aficionado, but I’m pretty sure the antagonists in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” met their ends because they opened the Ark of the Covenant only to find a blow-molded socket case with its contents scattered everywhere. Thankfully, the cheap case the Crescent tool set came in was a bit different.

This ratchet and socket set comes with one of those retail packaging trays that double as a carrying case. It’s convenient and keeps everything in place, although the plastic socket holders and retaining clamps around the ratchet and extension seem flimsy, as if they’d wear down quickly. 

The ratchets and sockets, however, made a good first impression with its black manganese-phosphate finish. While I don’t prefer fancy finishes, I couldn’t help but be caught up in the design’s aesthetic appeal. These sockets all feature knurling, large stamped sizing, and no laser etching. Crescent met fans of etching and stamping somewhere in the middle by filling in the stamping with black paint to make them easier to read. 

Showcasing Crescent socket stamping

Hank O’Hop
As you can see, the stamping is filled with black paint. That really does take a lot of strain off your eyes when you’re working with glare or little lighting. 

Crescent delivers a decent collection of six-point sockets in this set, and it comes with nine SAE sockets ranging from 5/16 to 13/16 inch and nine metric sockets ranging from 9 to 19 mm.

The ratchet itself is sleek and feels solid. The mechanism is crisp and smooth, and you know right away that the 84-tooth mechanism will match that low profile to make for a tool that’s pleasant to use in tight spaces. There’s also a familiar feeling compared to another ratchet I’ve handled in the past month, but we’ll come back to that later. First, we need to talk about the working experience.

Getting After It With the Crescent X10 

  • Good: No laser etching, descent design, high-tooth count, competitive pricing.
  • Bad: Poor seal, somewhat limited socket count, heavy ratchet.
  • Check Latest Price

It’s probably no surprise that my 1969 Dodge Charger project car is our test subject yet again. I’ve been spending plenty of time working on it for the past month. Each time I work on it, I find something else that needs fixing.

This time around, I decided to tackle some slow leaks on the transmission. Seems that, after more than 50 years, the gaskets aren’t what they used to be. I probably should have dropped the transmission out of the car, but I figured keeping it in place would allow me to see how the ratchet’s profile and relatively high tooth count performed against the floor pan. I’d also give that black finish a run for its money and see how it holds out in comparison to Stanley’s short-lived black chrome.

I thought these tools did a fantastic job. I was able to fit the ratchet on most fasteners. They performed fantastically and inspired only minor fatigue. Along the way, a good friend stopped by to talk to my ankles while I worked, and he pointed out the hefty weight of the ratchet. It’s no hammer, but it’s definitely heavier than average. That’s not something I immediately picked up on, but I certainly noticed it after working at awkward angles for some time.

He also asked if the tools were made in the United States. I didn’t know the answer until I checked the packaging, and like many other U.S. tool brands, Crescent outsources production to Taiwan.

After wrapping up the transmission work, an intake-manifold leak started to make itself known. I leaned on this tool set once again, and it failed to disappoint. While I didn’t use it for every fastener, I did use it whenever I could — not just for testing purposes but because I enjoyed using it that much.

Showing Crescent finish after working

Hank O’Hop
That one chip at the base of the ratchet’s head is about the worst of the damage from one job. I can’t say it’ll last forever, but the finish is far better than some others. 

I expected the black to show some serious wear but was surprised to find only a few dings and scratches. I do feel like it won’t stick around for too much longer, but I think it’s better than what we’d expect from most non-impact black tools.

I didn’t end our assessment of this set with just a few short jobs, however. I took a closer look at what you have to work with in order to satiate our own curiosity and help you make an assessment of the inner workings.

Showcasing Crescent's internals

Hank O’Hop
As you can see, there’s not a whole lot of room for play inside this ratchet. Something that really makes it stand out to me among other single-pawl systems. 

This is a very familiar design. Aside from the black paint job and some tweaks to the handle design, it’s virtually identical to the GearWrench ratchet we took for a ride. That’s not much of a surprise since both come from the Apex Tool Group, a company that offers its manufacturing capabilities to everyone.

Hank O’Hop
Here you can see that Crescent X10 and Gearwrench’s 90-tooth ratchets are nearly identical. The only difference I can tell is that Crescent work’s with 84 teeth on the drive gear and has a better seal on account of the o-ring it features. 

Either ratchet here works with a better design than Stanley Black and Decker’s single-pawl mechanism. It’s also far beyond the twin-pawl design the most affordable ratchets often come with, but it’s still not the most robust system. Having checked out the internals, however, I have more confidence in it than others in this price range.

What’s Good About Crescent’s Socket Set 

This is a really good little set for the price range. Although it has fewer sockets than others, you get a good selection to begin with. I did not need to lean on other socket sets, and the 3-inch extension it comes with was exactly what I needed. I can’t speak for metric-based applications, but for my project, it was perfect.

I’m also a big fan of the 4.3-degree swing arc. It’s not the tightest out there, but I don’t have a need for something tighter than this. Your experiences might differ, especially if you’re working with a modern application with much less room to work with.

I also find the internals of the ratchet favorable. I know one or two jobs aren’t really enough to tell us how it will hold up in the long run, but I think it to be one of the superior systems you can find in this price range. That paired with the wrench’s relatively low profile makes for a set I know I’ll be adding to my personal collection.

What’s Not Great About Crescent’s Tool Set 

There are as many bad things about this set as there are good, and it’s only fair that you know the faults of it before you buy. The snap ring that holds the cover in place fits very loosely. A little play is alright, but what’s here just feels flimsy. That allows for an imperfect seal and, despite adequate use of O rings throughout, some debris is likely to make its way inside. I think you’ll be cleaning and oiling this model quite a bit because of that.

A look at Crescent's snap ring

Hank O’Hop
Because the guts aren’t just spilling out, I have to say the snap ring works. Still, I’d like to see a tighter fit as I fear the loose fit will let gunk in. 

I like the guts of the ratchet, but they aren’t perfect. The pin driving the pawl is fairly flimsy, and I think it will fail relatively soon under everyday use. I’ve read that strength is an issue under high torque, and I’d say the issues I’ve read about are in reference to the pins used on both the pawl and the selector switch. I hope I’m wrong, but I want to provide an honest take.

The weight of the ratchet can also be a bit of an issue. It’s a fair compromise considering the tool is decent, but I did experience some fatigue due to the weight of the set while working at awkward angles.

The X10 selection is limited to this 3/8-inch drive ratchet, so it’s not something you can build much of a collection around. 

Our Verdict on Crescent’s X10 Set

This Crescent ratchet and socket set is a horse the DIY crowd can bet on. It’s built well, I like the socket design, and it’s a set I enjoyed using. Sure, it’s heavy, but your arms will get stronger. I’ve even decided to put my money where my mouth is and purchase my own set (Ed. Note: The Drive owns this one) to add to my roadside tool bag. 

Is it right for everyone? Definitely not. It’s good for the type of work I do, and I’m willing to put up with the potential pitfalls, but I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone. It’s not a set for professionals or for someone who regularly deals with high-torque fasteners will want to bet their knuckles on. It’s a well-rounded kit that might be the solution many hobbyists are seeking these days.

WARNING: EDITS TO THIS CARD WILL UPDATE AMAZON OSP
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TL;DR Review
Crescent 20-piece X10
Product Headline (OSP Only)

A quality socket set for the DIYer that lives up to its renowned brand name.

FAQs About the Crescent 20-piece X10 3/8-inch Ratchet and Socket Set

You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers.

Q. Are Crescent brand tools any good?

A. For the most part, Crescent tools are pretty decent. While the company makes some questionable tools, it’s a solid brand overall. This set is a cut above many others I’ve used, and it has the reputation of as a go-to manufacturer in many cases.

Q. Do Crescent tools come with a lifetime warranty?

A. Yes, Crescent Tools does offer a lifetime warranty. However, you do need to send your tools in and wait for the warranty to process. There’s the chance that the warranty may be void on account of improper use, so that makes the warranty a little less desirable than others.

Q. Are Crescent tools made in the U.S.?

A. No. Some adjustable wrenches are made in the U.S., but most, including this ratchet set, are manufactured overseas. While that’s what we expect of tools in this price range, it’s a detail you should not overlook.

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