RCN Tool Reviews: TEKTON 1/2-Inch Drive Torque Wrench

Posted December 02, 2020

By Dean Larson

When it comes to stocking your toolbox and shop shelves, there are generally two schools of thought, each with their own merits. Some guys turn up their noses at the idea of anything less than Snap-on, Matco, Cornwell and the like, and there’s definitely something to be said about buying quality pieces made here in the U.S.A. Others might shop on price or perceived value alone, frequenting Amazon or Harbor Freight for the cheapest thing they can find that gets the job done. Risking my shred of automotive credibility, I’ll admit that I’m somewhere in the middle. Nearly all of my power tools are from Milwaukee Tools, and all my screwdrivers, sockets, ratchets and so on are from Craftsman or better, but I’ll admit that I occasionally go the cheap route to get a job done, or when I feel like I can’t afford to go big.

Having recently stocked a new shop space with tools, I have plenty of new pieces to choose from and about a year worth of testing them out. For a judging metric, I decided to go with something we can all understand — the check, check-plus, check-minus system. Basically, check-minus means that you should look elsewhere, check-plus means we’d recommend it and check is somewhere in the middle. Take our experiences for what they're worth, but rest assured, this column doesn't have any tool sponsors!

Tekton 12 Tw1

TEKTON 1/2-Inch Torque Wrench

A torque wrench is probably another tool that you don’t want cheap out on, seeing as torqueing a bolt to the wrong specification can be a whole lot more expensive than the cost of the tool, but the TEKTON 1/2-inch torque wrench is in my toolbox regardless. The circumstances that led to me purchasing a $38 torque wrench on Amazon mainly include a faulty Craftsman unit, and a load of inconvenience surrounding a few broken bolts and studs. Since the Snap-on truck doesn’t come to my house offering a payment plan, I grabbed this tool in a pinch, and have been using it ever since.

For this price point, you know you’re not getting a trick flex-head unit with an LCD digital display, but from my experience, I’d say this little wrench fights outside its weight class in terms of features for the price. The wench is made of all steel parts, with familiar twist adjustment and lock down features. The version I purchased features a 1/2-inch ratchet drive and torques from 10 to 150 ft.-lbs., or 13.6 to 203.5 Nm. Accuracy is reported to be ±4 percent on TEKTON’s website, which is fairly standard, even for more expensive units. From the research I did prior to buying it, the tool’s accuracy is within its reported values. As an added bonus, it comes with a nice molded case for storage.

I’ve had this 1/2-inch drive wrench for almost a year now, and it’s been awesome for the money. The whole tool is steel, and it has a satisfying amount of heft when you're using it. The adjustment process basic and as simple as they come, but sometimes you have fiddle with the lockdown a couple times when adjusting the torque setting. Like some other torque wrenches, it’s of critical importance to store the TEKTON wrench locked into its lowest torque setting (10 ft.-lbs. in my case), as opposed to backing the torque completely off. This can make a huge difference in how well this wrench works in the near future, allegedly even more so than other torque wrenches.

I only have one gripe against this wrench that’s preventing me from giving it a full check-plus. How many times have you seen someone loosen a bolt with a torque wrench and cringed? That’s right, torque wrenches generally have a reverse setting, not for loosening bolts, but for torqueing counterclockwise in addition to clockwise. But this wrench actually only torques in the clockwise direction, so no left-hand-thread torqueing for me.

So I guess I have to give the TEKTON 1/2-Inch torque wrench a check, because you won’t find a nicer torque wrench for the money. Maybe they’ll make a MkII with counterclockwise functionality, and for $40, I think I could afford the upgrade.

Score: ✓

Check out the TEKTON 1/2-Inch torque wrench here on Amazon.

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