Best Allen Keys

Jason Loomis
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Let’s be honest, there’s nothing as frustrating as having to buy an Allen key as you’re always in a hurry and end up getting them mixed up.

It’s even worse when you find the difficulty of using them because they are either too long to get a good grip, or because they slip out of your hand.

When searching for the best Allen keys to buy I discovered some of the biggest and best brands get it wrong time and time again.

We talked to tradespeople, weekenders and bike enthusiasts to find out what they thought are the best Allen keys in 2019 and here’s what they said!

Below you’ll discover the best Allen keys you can buy as well as which ones to avoid.

NameCategoryProduct
TEKTON Long Arm Ball End Hex Key Wrench SetBest OverallTEKTON Long Arm Ball End Hex Key Wrench Set
TEKTON Long Arm Ball End Hex Key Wrench SetBudget PickTEKTON Long Arm Ball End Hex Key Wrench Set
Neiko 10288A Master Hex Bit Socket SetUpgrade PickNeiko 10288A Master Hex Bit Socket Set

1. TEKTON Long Arm Ball End Hex Key Wrench Set

Our rating: 9 / 10

TEKTON Long Arm Ball End Hex Key Wrench Set

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Pros:

  • Great product for the price.
  • The magnetic tip is helpful to retrieve the bits that dropped in hard to reach locations.
  • The bits are strong and precise, allowing you to get in hard to reach places.
  • The tools are high quality for the price.
  • The size of the ball end bits is fairly large, which makes them easy to handle.
  • Good large selection

Cons:

  • If you are looking for something a bit more professional, this might not be the tool for you.
  • The storage case might be a bit cumbersome to travel with.
  • The kit doesn’t seem to be able to be used with a ratchet.
  • Not heavy duty enough for difficult jobs.
  • The quality of the case is a little lacking and can be easily broken.

The TEKTON Long Arm Ball End Hex Key Wrench Set is a great option for someone who is looking for a replacement Wrench set. Since these are so reasonably priced, it is also a good starter set for a DIYer.

2. Neiko 10288A Master Hex Bit Socket Set

Our rating: 9 / 10

Neiko 10288A Master Hex Bit Socket Set

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Pros:

  • Well-built and sturdy
  • Solid construction
  • Great at holding the sockets reliably
  • A lifetime warranty

Although they won’t be as good as a Milwaukee or Ridgid Tool, Neiko has a winner with its master hex bit container. It’s constructed of high-grade steel and the sockets are stamped with the size in a larger font than the 31 and 32 size, making it easier to find.

Also featured in the set are hex-shank bits. The bits are durable and tight despite the fact that they’re double ended. This is great because you won’t need to struggle with finding a chuck to fit the bits into. It also comes with a plastic holder for holding the bits, but I found that they fall right out of it.

The best features that I liked about this set: the large size of the sockets, the laser imprinted numbering, the high quality packaging and the easy-to-find sockets.

3. Bondhus 20399 Ball End L-Wrench DoublePK w/BriteGuard & GoldGuard Finish

Our rating: 9 / 10

Bondhus 20399 Ball End L-Wrench DoublePK w/BriteGuard & GoldGuard Finish

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Pros:

  • Bondhus’ unique approach to wrench technology sets it apart
  • The ball end on all wrenches makes both turning and gripping very easy
  • Perfect for hard to reach bolts
  • The textured handle comes with a lifetime limited warranty

Bondhus (Body-Hand-Span) is a tool company based in Portland, OR, that specializes in manufacturing hex key sets.

The reason I love this company is for its unique proprietary approach to wrench technology. The company introduced the ball end to wrenches in 1952. This innovative feature improves the gripping and turning capabilities of wrenches, and is what sets Bondhus apart.

At 150mm long, this Bondhus Allen Key set is very compact and is designed for use in tight spaces. The wrenches are made from Bondhus’ tapered Xtreme Steel, which makes them extremely strong.

4. TEKTON Long Arm Ball End Hex Key Wrench Set

Our rating: 8 / 10

TEKTON Long Arm Ball End Hex Key Wrench Set

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Pros:

  • High Quality
  • Durable
  • Investment worthy
  • Lifetime lifetime guarantee
  • Dedicated for accuracy
  • Available in different capacities
  • Sleeved for protection

Cons:

  • The set is HUGE
  • A bit on the expensive side

Taking a quick look at the TEKTON 25262 long arm ball end hex key wrench set, you realize that it is an investment. The set comes in a beautiful carrying case and comprises all the bits a handyman would need. From penny-sized ends to six-inch long ones, covering all the options from 0.032 inches to 0.295 inches.

TEKTON 25262 is a solid steel set that is absolutely worth the investment. The ends are all crafted from a single piece, making them much more durable than their lightweight counterparts. Each sleeve is designed to fit multiple sized tips, and the ends recess into the sleeves to protect them from the unfortunate scratch or hit.

5. TEKTON Hex Key Wrench Set

Our rating: 7 / 10

TEKTON Hex Key Wrench Set

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Pros:

  • This set includes high-quality bits that are very comfortable in your hand
  • The price is unbeatable
  • The compact design means you don’t need a lot of space
  • Easy to use and convenient

Cons:

  • Fumbling around with the case could be a problem
  • The tips of some of the bits are easy to deform
  • The Allen keys are slightly less sturdy than we would have liked

The Tekton manual is an excellent set thanks to its durability and usability. The bright orange color will help you find it while the different size portions help you sort out whatever you need.

The set covers all the basics from T10 to M8 and with a price like this you really can’t go wrong. The tips of some of the bits are easy to deform when using too much force, but most will find this problem is easy to avoid when using them with their car or bike.

The compact design means you don’t need a lot of space and the set is great for taking along with you.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What are the best Allen keys?

Allen wrenches are frequently used to tighten and loosen bolts in the manufacturing process. Today, Allen wrenches have become somewhat of a misnomer because the size of each tool isn’t based on size of the bolt itself as much as it’s based on the wrench size needed to turn that bolt. Each tool is labeled with a size based on the wrench needed to use it, like this:

  • 1/16-inch wrench
  • Size number = wrench size

These days, many people just call their electrical or Allen wrenches “allen keys.” These wrenches (or keys) are small, light-weight, reusable tools that usually come in a set of Allen wrenches with varying sizes. A set of these with metric sizes will be very useful to keep in your toolbox.

Are ball end hex keys better?

Ball end hex keys are traditionally rougher and less nice to use. This makes them more difficult to work with and also increases the chance of error during installation, which is never a good thing. When I’m installing bolts, the last thing I want to deal with is an irritatingly rough tool so I can’t even imagine what the feeling is like for a machine you’re just trying to fix. Keep that in mind and just use a nice, smooth ball end hex key from the get-go. It will go a long way.

Are Allen keys the same as hex keys?

Yes, allen keys and hex keys mean the same thing and refer to a family of tools used with hexagonal screw heads.

You may also see the term “hex” used in relation to nuts and bolts in place of allen key. You can use an allen key or hex key interchangeably on either at their correct size.

Who makes the best hex wrenches?

The best hex wrenches on the market are made by Craftsman. Generally speaking, all hex head wrenches of the same size will work for any application as rotational torque is hardly a factor when working with hex bolts. But, Craftsman is the standard,

Conclusion

As we’ve stated, quality tools really are the most important aspect of any wood working project. We hope this article has helped you find the tool that’s ideal for the projects you’re working on. If it’s quality you’re looking for, then our upgrade pick will be right for you. If you’re shopping on a budget, then our budget pick will do the job at a fraction of the cost.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
TEKTON Long Arm Ball End Hex Key Wrench SetBest OverallTEKTON Long Arm Ball End Hex Key Wrench Set
TEKTON Long Arm Ball End Hex Key Wrench SetBudget PickTEKTON Long Arm Ball End Hex Key Wrench Set
Neiko 10288A Master Hex Bit Socket SetUpgrade PickNeiko 10288A Master Hex Bit Socket Set