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Way back in 2006 we posted our first hands-on with GearWrench’s XL Pass-Thru ratchets. The verdict? Awesome. We love ’em. And they’re pretty reasonably-priced, too, with sets starting around $50. But as Harbor Freight proves again, if someone can make it, they can make a knock off cheaper. Witness above the “21-Piece SAE/Metric Go-Thru Socket Set,” offered for less than half the price of GearWrench’s original.

The Pittsburgh-branded HF model rings up at $20 and includes eight SAE sockets (5/15″, 3/8″, 7/16″, 1/2″, 9/16″, 11/16″, and 3/4″ plus ten metric (10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, and 19mm). The ratchet itself looks like many of the new HF offerings featuring a slight bend in the middle and polished chrome-vanadium steel construction with what appears to be a small rubber grip. Compare this to, say, the GearWrench 27-piece set available at Sears, which offers ten SAE sockets (5/32″, 3/16″, 7/32″, 1/4″, 9/32″, 5/16″, 3/8″, 7/16″, 1/2″, and 9/16″) and thirteen metric (3.5, 4, 4.5, 5, 5.5, and 6-13mm) — as well as a flexible ratchet. We’re HUGE fans of the flexible ratchet, by the way, which kicks far more ass than standard floppy hinged ratchets, in that it allows you to lock the ratchet into fixed angles.

The kicker, though, is that you can waltz into your local Sears and pick up the set described above for $47. Yeah, that’s a good bit more than the HF stuff, but in this case I think I’d spring for the real deal. Of course, if HF dropped the knock off price down to $15, it’d be a more difficult choice — especially if I was really strapped for cash. Either way, you’ll get the advantage of pass-thru sockets.

But besides the standard “I hate things not made in America,” what do you think? How cheap would a GearWrench knock off have to be to tempt you?

21-Piece SAE/Metric Go-Thru Socket Set [Harbor Freight]
GearWrench XL Pass-Thru Sets [Google]


31 Responses to HF Knocks Off The Gearwrench XL Pass-Thru

  1. Barks says:

    At least some GearWrench is made in China.

  2. boyand1 says:

    I have had one of the HF versions of these pass-thru ratchets for over a year now. I did get mine on sale for $17 so it was worth the money. You have got to love the pass-thru technology either way you decide to go. If you haven’t tried one it is worth your time.

  3. Cameron says:

    I have this and am happy with it.

    The big plus is that the handle is basically a ratcheting wrench with a standard 12pt size (can’t remember the size off the top of my head), meaning if you lose it, you can use another ratcheting (or even non-ratcheting) wrench.

    The only negative I have is that the little ball thingie on the sockets is held in with a circular strip of metal that I suppose could get knocked off. This hasn’t happened to me, but the first set I bought had one missing on one socket (HF happily swapped it for a new one.)

    For occasional use, I’m satisfied.

  4. ShopMonger says:

    I gave my father one of these about a year and a half ago……he has really put them through the ringer. and they have not only held up, but the chrome is perfect. There is great pride when he shows these to his other tool geeks… they are tirelessly putting together an original 69 Dodge RT Charger…..


  5. Yadda says:

    With the 20% off coupon in addition to the sale price the regular price is dropped down to $15.99. Not a bad deal for the knock off set.

  6. Paul of the Rockies says:

    I just happened to buy this set two weeks ago. I’m absolutely sold on “Pittsburgh Pro” quality. HF has at least 3 different quality lines this one is the highest. I have many Snap-On and Craftmans tools. If you buy you wont be dissapointed.

    I had to use this set in very close quarters. The ratchet hasover 50 teeth and can turn in a smal radius. This is now my set just for the truck.

  7. Mitch says:

    The HF hand tools seem to be of much higher quality recently. At least the parts you can see, the chrome and finish seem to on par with anyone else.

  8. Mitch says:

    oh and yeah, I might go pick up this new set.

  9. ambush says:

    I use my tools for a living, I have bought cheap tools and expensive tools. I have some gearwrench tools and they are professional quality tools. Even if the gearwrench set was $100 I would still prefer it over HF.

  10. sean says:

    Pittsburgh has a couple years to go on getting past the tinfoil and bubble gum alloy stage. It can look purty, but when the plating peels and the ratchet fails, you know that you would still be using your Craftsman tools. Been there, thrown the cheap stuff in the scrap metal recycle bin and ended up buying the real thing anyway.

    • Timothy says:

      Crapsman’s are not the real thing. They are just a midgrade tool. One step above HF now and days.

  11. SCWetherbee says:

    This comparison between the HF set and the Craftsman set is apples and oranges. The range of sizes in each set are not comparable at all. The Craftsman set has pretty much uselessly small sizes while the HF set has a nice array. It’s good to see an 18mm size in that set, most assortments of sockets and wrenches don’t include that size, which is a crucial size for automotive work. Isn’t that what these are all about? Another thing I hate is combination sae/metric sets that skip over the 18 and include a 19 and also give you a 3/4, which is within 0.003″-close enough to be a double, and a waste.

  12. Jerry says:

    I’ll have to buy that HF set just so I can have a 5/15″ socket. “….eight SAE sockets (5/15″, 3/8″, 7/16″,…

  13. Bill says:

    Those who are bashing the HF Pittsburgh Pro tools have not used the HF Pittsburgh Pro tools. You have no idea what you’re talking about. Comparing them to Craftsman is laughable, Craftsman is 4 times as expensive and half as well made.

  14. Mike L says:

    Allot of the better Pittsburg stuff is made in Tiawan vs China which makes them allot better qaulity. Read the country of origin and you will see many of the Pittsburg brand are no longer made in China. GearWrench tools are also made in Tiawan.

  15. Shy Guy says:

    I have a few different trains of thought on this. 1st, I’ve never used any Gearwrench tools, seen them at Sears, but that’s it. Over 10 yrs ago, I’ve bought plenty from HF, mostly cheap angle grinders, welders, huge breaker bars. Tiawan might make tools better than China. But buying this knock-off–too me it’s like rewarding them for copying or stealing someon elses design. I don’t know if this logic applies to this tool since a few said that it’s held up well. but “Buy cheap, buy twice”. Presently China owns the USA debt. I didn’t become rich since back when I used to buy HF, but lately I have been trying to buy US made when possible.

  16. Shy Guy says:

    Example of a recent ‘Made in US’ purchase I made. Needed a small fanny pack fora certain use. Choices: my co-worker bought a $10 p.o.s. from China to keep all his keys, credit cards, IDs, cash, driver’s license, job IDs & another license that’s a very big problem if lost. Actually the loss of the job IDs may result in a few days off with-out pay. My-self, I’m not as brave as my co-worker. I can’t trust a $10 cheap pos to keep v important stuff in. At my job location, a belt brocken off from a fanny pack (gets caught on something, for example) and most likely the fanny pack won’t be retreivable. Although I’m not rich, I decided to buy a good quality, made in USA, life time guarantee, $60 Duluth Pack fanny pack.

  17. aaron says:

    I prefer the Gearwrench set because it has a flex-head ratchet whereas the HF ratchet head does not bend at all when you need to get into those awkward tight spaces.

  18. mike a. says:

    I bought these a few weeks ago for about $17 and prefer this much better over a Lowes/Kobalt version of the Gearwrench pass throughs for the following reasons: 1. The sockets are like 3/4″ nuts so you are not limited to using the included ratchet to turn these sockets unlike the Gearwrench/ Kobalt version which have propietary shapes. 2. I can put a 3/4″ universal joint and extension with the included ratchet adapter and get to tight spots and I can still add the hollow extension. I can’t do that with the GW. 3. The ratched handle is curved and reversible so I can flip it for clearance while my Kobalt ratchet has only a straight handle. 4. The sockets don’t seem to unintentionally slip off as much as the GW. 5. Lifetime warranty. I only buy tools that have lifetime replacements where I can walk in to the store and replace it. I hear different stories about trying to replace GW at a store. 6. The fit and finish of the HF set is just as good as any I’ve seen hanging on the shelves for sale. 7. Did I mention I only paid $17? That’s less than a dollar a socket and you get a free ratchet.

  19. Clint says:

    I’ve got a set of this Pittsburgh set from HF. I picked it up 6 months ago or so. I have one car repair where I need a pass through. If I used this a lot I probably would have bought the gearwrench, but the HF knockoffs have worked great the 3-4 times I’ve needed them. I’ve had to use some pretty good torque on them too and so far they’ve held up great.

  20. Dennis says:

    I grew up buying only Sears Craftsman tools. Quality was the best then, not now. Price is not competitive and what good is a Lifetime replacement warranty when Sears goes belly up. They are headed for bankruptcy. If you really believe in Sears and Craftsman, buy their stock. It’s just a matter of time that it will be worth zero $$$. I have been buying Harbor Freight tools for about 5 years now. I restore antique cars and am a hobbyist. If I have a problem with one of HFs tools, I take it back to the store and get a replacement. I live in in the largest city in Alabama and I think we now only have one Sears store still open.

  21. Kurt says:

    Buy harbor freight and keep you mouth shut when your job
    goes overseas.

  22. bruce says:

    we need to buy american made no matter what it is

  23. Corvair says:

    If it is made in Taiwan or China I will not even consider purchasing the item.

  24. Rich says:

    How much of your vehicle would be left if you got rid of the ‘foreign’parts?

  25. Varicose Veins Are Sexy says:

    Count me in as another happy Harbor Freight “captain”. While I would’t buy a large pry bar or sledgehammer as catastrophic failure of either is dangerous. I wouldn’t buy precision woodworking tools from them as precision and Harbor Freight are oxymorons. However, their Pittsburgh hand tools, particularly, their pro line, float my boat. I own an old 27 foot sailboat with an auxiliary diesel engine and they are perfect for adjusting rigging, tightening and installing cleats and other hardware, as well as minor adjustments on the engine. Unlike Snap on, no one asks to borrow them and no one steals them, and even if they did, they are cheap enough to replace if stolen or lost overboard. As for Bruce and Corvair, if they truly feel that way about buying only American, they wouldn’t be on the internet to begin with

  26. TonyTheToolGuy says:

    Harbor Freight knocked off the Go-Through wrenches that came out in the early 2000’s. GearWrench is following their lead as GearWrench definitely did not come up with the Pass Thru ratchet set. Harbor Freight sells what moves and when a tool gets a lot of exposure, Harbor can start moving them without any marketing.
    I conclude that by observing that Harbor is now on their second run of Pass Thru’s and as the first one petered out, that Pass Thru’s, at least in marketing terms, are a fad tool.

    You can see the Go-Through’s that Harbor sold in the past through their cached website at the Internet Archive WayBack Machine,

    2004 Go-Through Rachet Set




    And Harbor sold a quasi – go-through in 2002 as a Ratcheting Offset Box Wrench Set that had dual sided, two sized sockets that were inserted into the ratchet wrench for the same effect as the current models, but half the sockets required.


  27. 7-ELEVEn MIKE says:

    Well iv noticed that Harbor Freight likes to copy Snap On, but every one copys every one. HF ratchets made in Taiwan just like Craftsman, Gear Wrench, AM Pro, Titan, even Crescent Wrench ratchets made in Taiwan and is exact same as HF.so is AM Pro & Titan.

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