Allen wrenches, also commonly called hex wrenches or hex keys, are one of those tools that you will use almost everywhere throughout your car. Screws designed for allen wrenches are found everywhere ranging from trim pieces (such as door panels) to your engine bay to interior upholstery. For this reason, it is extremely important to have a complete set of allen wrenches in your tool chest.
Allen wrenches typically come in a few forms, so you’ll have to decide what configuration makes the most sense for you. First, there is shape. Allen wrenches can typically be found in L-shape or T-handle configuration. L-shape tend to be cheaper and are simply a hexagonal piece of steel bent 90 degrees to form the shape of the letter “L”. T-handle tend to cost a bit more than L-shape hex keys, and have a handle that is shaped like the letter “T”. L-shape are a little more compact and allow you to apply a little bit more torque for shallow bolts, especially at the larger sizes. T-handle can be better for bolts buried deep and can be more ergonomic as the handles tend to have some grip or padding on them.
The other option you must consider is whether you want a square end or a ball end. The advantage of the square end hex keys is that they seat firmly into the head of the screw and are less likely to round the corners of the screw because they have more contact area. The disadvantage is that you must position your wrench so that you attack the bolt straight on. Conversely, the ball end allen wrenches allow you to attack bolts from many different angles and give you some flexibility in terms of hand position relative to the bolt. The disadvantage here is that there is less contact area between the wrench and the bolt so more care must be taken to avoid rounding heads. If you aren’t sure which to get, we typically recommend getting a set of square end L-shape wrenches and a set of ball end T-handle wrenches.
The Best Allen Wrench Sets
When choosing the best allen wrench sets, you’ll want to make sure that you get the configuration that best suits your needs as well as a set that contains a variety of metric and SAE sizes.
Tekton 30 Piece L-Shape Hex Key Wrench Set
When it comes to L-shape hex keys, there aren’t a whole lot of differentiating factors between the cheap ones and the expensive ones. With the more expensive ones, you may get steel that is a little nicer or you may not and just be paying extra for a brand name. The reality is that they are pretty simply tools and tool damage isn’t a common occurrence at the low torques hex keys are used at.
The greater enemy to allen wrenches is loss. They are small and easy to misplace or drop into the depths of your engine bay never to be seen again. As such, we recommend sticking with our current favorite cheap tool brand since they make a very thorough and complete set that doesn’t set you back a whole lot of coin. Since they are cheap, they are also easily replaceable should one go missing.
Tekton’s 30 piece hex key set comes with 15 SAE sizes ranging from .028″ to 3/8″ and 15 metric sizes ranging from 0.7mm to 10mm. The SAE wrenches are long arm (simply meaning that the wrenches are longer) and the metric wrenches are short arm (also known as stubby meaning the wrenches are shorter). The steel is heat treated with a black oxide finish that is relatively resistant to flaking and scratching. Each end of the wrench is chamfered for easy access into the target bolt head. The case is well marked and made from durable injection molded red plastic so it is nice and compact to store in your tool box.
Overall, we think Tekton’s wrenches represent the best allen wrench set value for L-shaped wrenches and we give them a strong recommendation. It is also worth noting that Tekton makes other forms of hex keys including ball end, combination, and star. They also make folding sets which are great for taking along in a backpack (think mountain biking or in your motorcycle saddle bag) and jumbo hex keys for uncharacteristically large bolts. You can check out all of Tekton’s hex key options by clicking here.
Bondhus 10 Piece T-handle Hex and Balldriver Set (Metric or SAE)
Bondhus makes our favorite set of T-handle allen wrenches, hands down. Compared to other more expensive brands that try to get fancy by combining L-shape and T-handle as well as trying to make overly elaborate grip configurations, Bondhus keeps it simple from both a features and a cost standpoint.
Bondhus T-handle hex keys are made in the USA, which is increasingly rare for reasonably priced tools these days. They feature a lifetime warranty which is a strong display of Bondhus’ confidence in their proprietary steel and finish. Each set features a molded plastic stand that sits nicely atop a workbench so you can easily see and grab your wrenches.
The handles themselves are coated with rubberized grips that are color coded yellow for SAE wrenches and red for metric wrenches. The grips also feature size markings on them that are easy to read and aren’t prone to wearing off over time. Overall they are solid ergonomically and give your hand enough cushion so that it doesn’t create hot spots that can lead to blisters. They are also sized such that they are comfortable to use when wearing gloves. The smaller sizes in each set feature square ends as ball ends at these sizes are really prone to stripping bolt heads. The larger sizes feature ball end wrenches where stripping bolts is much less likely, so this wrench set offers the best of all worlds.
We should also note that Bondhus also makes star T-handle wrenches (color coded green) so you have a lot of options. In addition they also make L-shape and folding sets as well. You can check out their entire selection by clicking here. Overall, Bondhus makes the best allen wrench set around when it comes to T-handle configurations, and we are confident that you will be happy with them.
Whether it’s flare nut wrenches or torque wrenches or oil filter wrenches, we know you have a lot of wrenches in your tool kit. That said, you can never underestimate the importance of allen wrenches! While we have reviewed the best allen wrench sets based on our experience, there are tons of options and manufacturers out there so if these don’t quite suit your needs have a look at some of the other options available by clicking here. Happy wrenching!