The Best Cordless Ratchets of 2022

Save your hands and wrists from the wear and tear of repeated motions with a cordless ratchet that does the work for you.

By Timothy Dale and Tom Scalisi | Updated Sep 9, 2022 11:43 AM

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The Best Cordless Ratchets Options

Photo: Tom Scalisi

Cordless ratchets allow users to work on their vehicles or homes without putting in the effort to operate a manual ratchet and without the risk of tripping on an air hose. These tools use a battery to power the motor, which in turn rotates the head of the ratchet. More than just a time-saving tool, a cordless ratchet allows a DIYer to work in tight spaces without having to worry about a ratchet handle’s swing clearance.

The best cordless ratchet for a home tool kit will depend on its power output, size, weight, battery, and grip. Many offer safety features that can extend the life of the tool while keeping the user safe. To help shoppers pick out the best cordless ratchet, we performed hands-on testing with the following models. Keep reading to learn more about what we found.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Makita 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Cordless Ratchet
  2. RUNNER-UP: Milwaukee M12 12V Cordless ⅜-Inch Ratchet Kit
  3. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: S-Long Cordless Electric Ratchet Wrench Set
  4. BEST FOR AUTOMOTIVE WORK: ACDelco ARW1201 Li-ion 12V Cordless Ratchet Wrench Kit
  5. BEST KIT: Kimo 12V Cordless Electric Ratchet Wrench
  6. MOST FLEXIBLE: Ryobi One+ Brushless Cordless Extended Reach Ratchet
  7. BEST POWER: Ridgid 18V Brushless Cordless ⅜-Inch Ratchet
  8. BEST GRIP: DeWalt Atomic 20V Max Brushless ⅜-Inch Ratchet
  9. BEST REACH: Milwaukee 2560-20 M12 Fuel ⅜-Inch Extended Reach Ratchet
The Best Cordless Ratchets Options

Photo: Tom Scalisi

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Cordless Ratchet

Before buying a new cordless ratchet, there are important features to consider. These characteristics include size, weight, power output, and battery life, among other factors.

Size and Weight

Most cordless ratchets are light enough for one-hand use. However, even a difference of 1 or 2 pounds can increase the likelihood and severity of common hand fatigue symptoms like hand cramps. A lightweight cordless ratchet can help avoid this common problem.

The ratchet should have a narrow head and a slim body so that a user can comfortably maneuver the tool around and through obstacles and enable work in tight areas. Keep in mind that the size and weight of a cordless ratchet typically correlate to power output, with smaller models having less power. Cordless ratchets range in weight from just under 1 pound to 3 pounds, and while most can fit inside a variety of tool boxes, they can be too heavy for tool belts.

Power

The power of a cordless ratchet motor is measured by its torque output and speed. Torque refers to the rotational force produced by a cordless ratchet and is measured in foot-pounds (ft-lbs). The average torque of a cordless ratchet ranges from 25 to 50 ft-lbs, and the more powerful models work best for automotive tasks.

The speed of a cordless ratchet is measured in revolutions per minute (rpm), with an average ratchet producing between 250 and 400 rpm. A faster speed allows users to loosen or tighten bolts and fasteners quickly, but it can also lead to overtightening if users aren’t careful.

Brushed vs. Brushless Motor

Whether a cordless ratchet has a brushed or brushless motor can affect the price and efficiency of the tool.

  • Brushed motors use brushes inside the motor to deliver electrical current to the motor windings. This physical contact causes their efficiency to fall to about 75 to 80 percent when compared to the 85 to 90 percent efficiency of a brushless motor. However, tools with these motors are more affordably priced, making them a good option for casual use.
  • Brushless motors use a type of encoder device to achieve the same result without the wear and tear caused by physical brushes. This extends the life of the motor, increases its overall efficiency, and makes it quieter. Tools with brushless motors typically cost more.

Battery

The battery life for a cordless ratchet is measured using milliamp hours (mAh) for small batteries or amp hours (Ah) for larger batteries, with 1,000mAh equaling 1Ah. A 1Ah battery can produce 1 amp of energy per 1 hour of time. Alternatively, a 1Ah battery can produce 10 amps of energy, but can only do so for 6 minutes.

The average Ah rating for cordless ratchet batteries is between 0.5Ah and 2.5Ah. Battery-life needs depend on the availability of electric power for recharging; the average length of use; and the power, torque, and speed requirements of the ratchet. Higher energy output will drain a battery faster.

Comfort and Grip

Just like many other power tools, the grip of the handle on a cordless ratchet is an important aspect to keep in mind. The grip absorbs the impact while the user works, which helps to protect their hands and reduce hand fatigue. A grip with a cushioned support is easier on the fingers and muscles, allowing DIYers to grip the cordless ratchet firmly without having to squeeze down on hard metal or plastic.

When looking for a new cordless ratchet, keep in mind that the tool will use a lot of torque to fasten and unfasten nuts and bolts. A handle with a nonslip surface helps users stay in control while working.

Flexibility

The flexibility of a cordless ratchet refers to its ability to be used in a range of difficult situations. A manual ratchet typically has a long, narrow head and handle, allowing it to fit into tight spaces, such as behind a furnace or in the cramped confines of a mechanical room. However, once the ratchet is in place, it still needs enough room to move the handle. If there isn’t enough space, the socket won’t turn. To address this issue, consider using a cordless ratchet that has a narrow head. It will be able to fit into similar spaces, and DIYers can use the trigger to power the ratchet head so they won’t have to turn the handle.

For tight locations, an easily accessible forward-reverse switch is necessary. This helps the user quickly change the direction that the ratchet will turn without having to remove or adjust the ratchet beforehand. Consider also that these types of spaces, such as the inside of a car engine, can be easier to work in when using a ratchet with a built-in light.

Drive Size

The drive size of a cordless ratchet refers to the size of the sockets compatible with the ratchet. The most commonly used drive size is ⅜ inch, although a ¼-inch socket is commonly used for working on smaller motors like those found in a lawn mower.

  • A ¼-inch drive is the smallest of the two common drive sizes, and it’s frequently used for motorcycles, mopeds, lawn mowers, and some HVAC applications. For those that have a ⅜-inch cordless ratchet, it may be beneficial to get a ⅜-inch-to-¼-inch adapter. For those looking for a new tool, cordless ratchets with a ¼-inch drive size are less expensive than their bigger counterparts.
  • The ⅜-inch drive is commonly used in major automotive repairs for engine work, including tightening spark plugs. These cordless ratchets are normally more powerful than those with a ¼-inch drive because they are intended to work with larger fasteners, but they can cost more than their ¼-inch counterparts.

Safety

Before using any power tool, it’s important to understand how it works, identify safety concerns, and learn how to operate any safety features. A cordless ratchet can include a variety of safety features such as a safety trigger lock, a battery indicator, a forward-reverse switch, and an electric brake.

  • Safety trigger locks prevent users from accidentally pressing the trigger and causing the cordless ratchet to rotate the attached socket.
  • A battery indicator doesn’t keep the user safe in the traditional sense, but it does show how much power remains before the battery needs to recharge. This allows the user to plan for projects properly instead of trying to figure out how to reattach a fastener when the ratchet has a dead battery.
  • The forward-reverse switch gives users the ability to tighten or loosen fasteners. A quick twist of the switch toggles between the two directions.
  • An electric brake automatically stops the tool from applying force as soon as the user releases the trigger. This saves battery life and ensures the fasteners don’t end up being tighter than desired.
The Best Cordless Ratchets Options

Photo: Tom Scalisi

Our Top Picks

Below are several top products chosen through research and hands-on testing for their quality, features, and price to help select the best cordless ratchet for a variety of projects.

Note: It’s important to understand that none of these ratchets will replace an impact wrench. If there is a stubborn nut or bolt in a difficult-to-reach space, chances are these tools will not help break them loose. However, once they are loose, these cordless ratchets can take over and make the job much easier.

Best Overall

The Best Cordless Ratchet Option: Makita 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Cordless Ratchet Kit
Photo: amazon.com

Folks looking for flexibility, quality, and speed should check out Makita’s 18V cordless ratchet. This ratchet receives its power from the brand’s 18-volt (V) battery lineup and features 35 ft-lbs of torque and up to a fast 800 rpm. It also has a compact design with an ergonomic rubber grip for comfortable use.

This ratchet comes with two anvils (⅜ inch and ¼ inch) that pop in and out of the ratchet head, so DIYers can swap between the two sizes when needed. Along with the anvils, it comes with the ratchet, the charger, and a 2Ah battery. This ratchet also features an electric brake and an onboard LED light for illuminating engine bays and other dark spaces.

This Makita cordless ratchet proved to be our favorite tool during testing. It was more or less on par with the others in terms of power, but its speed really set it apart. We also appreciated that this ratchet had a much lower-profile head than the other large ratchets, so it could sneak into spots the others simply couldn’t. We thought the directional switch was a little wonky, however. It’s a tiny lever that could potentially catch on wires or hoses.

Product Specs

  • Drive size: ⅜ inch and ¼ inch
  • Voltage: 18V
  • Speed: 800 rpm
  • Torque: 35 ft-lbs

Pros

  • Interchangeable drive sizes
  • Maximum speed of 800 rpm
  • LED for illuminating dark spaces

Cons

  • Direction switch is a bit clumsy

Get the Makita cordless ratchet on Amazon or at The Home Depot.

Runner-Up

The Best Cordless Ratchets for Your Projects Option: Milwaukee M12 12-Volt Cordless 3/8 in. Ratchet Kit
Photo: homedepot.com

The Milwaukee M12 12V cordless ratchet has a cushioned grip that allows users to work comfortably with minimal hand fatigue. Its onboard battery gauge tells DIYers when they need to recharge the battery so they don’t jump into a project that they can’t finish. This set comes with a canvas carrying bag, a lithium-ion battery, a rapid charger, and the cordless ratchet. The rapid battery charger can power up the battery fully within 30 minutes, allowing users to get to work quickly.

The cordless ratchet has a reinforced metal housing and trigger to extend the life of the tool. It also has a maximum torque of 35 ft-lbs and a variable-speed trigger to decrease or increase the speed to a peak of 250 rpm. With the slim build of this ⅜-inch ratchet, it can be stored or travel in a tool box and, along with the built-in LED light, it can perform ratcheting tasks in tight, dimly lit spaces.

As far as the compact cordless ratchets go, Milwaukee’s M12 model was our favorite. It’s the most compact and has a very low-profile head, so we could maneuver it just about anywhere under the hood. The LED was spot-on (something these compact ratchets seem to get wrong over and over again), though the speed was a little underwhelming.

Product Specs

  • Drive size: ⅜ inch
  • Voltage: 12V
  • Speed: 250 rpm
  • Torque: 35 ft-lbs

Pros

  • Slim and easy to fit in a tool belt
  • Built-in LED light
  • Includes carrying case

Cons

  • Less speed than other options

Get the Milwaukee 12V cordless ratchet at The Home Depot or Ace Hardware (tool only).

Best Bang for the Buck

The Best Cordless Ratchet Option: S-LONG Cordless Electric Ratchet Wrench Set
Photo: amazon.com

The S-Long cordless ratchet has a high maximum speed of 400 rpm and a top torque output of 40 ft-lbs. Users can control the power and speed of the ⅜-inch ratchet with its variable-speed trigger, but if the battery runs low, they can use the included manual ratchet wrench. This set also comes with a built-in LED light, eight standard sockets, a ⅜-inch-to-¼-inch adapter, and an extension bar.

The 12V cordless ratchet weighs just 1.8 pounds and it has a soft, rubber-coated grip designed to prevent it from slipping out of a user’s hands while working. The included battery charger will fully charge a battery in just 60 minutes, and users can keep track of the charge with the battery power indicator on the ratchet. This cordless ratchet has a forward-and-reverse switch to change the direction of the rotation and a lock switch to prevent accidentally pressing the trigger.

The S-Long ratchet was somewhat of a dark horse in this race of cordless ratchets. We didn’t want to like it at first, but it performed just as a cordless ratchet should. It felt as if it were delivering just as much power as the other models, and the speed was reasonable. It came with a set of sockets and a ratchet as well as two batteries, all for a good value. The head profile was slim, but it was the longest of the compact ratchets in the test, so it lost a few points there.

Product Specs

  • Drive size: ⅜ inch
  • Voltage: 12V
  • Speed: 400 rpm
  • Torque: 40 ft-lbs

Pros

  • Variable-speed trigger
  • Includes a manual ratchet wrench
  • Comes with sockets and a ¼-inch adapter
  • Includes carrying case

Cons

  • Larger than other compact models

Get the S-Long cordless ratchet on Amazon.

Best for Automotive Work

The Best Cordless Ratchet Option: ACDelco ARW1201 G12 Series 12V Cordless Ratchet Kit
Photo: amazon.com

Tackle common automotive jobs like spark-plug replacement with this ⅜-inch cordless ratchet. It comes equipped with a variable-speed trigger that has a forward-reverse setting as well as an electric brake that prevents overtightening by stopping the ratchet as soon as the DIYer releases the trigger. Weighing just 3 pounds, it has a maximum torque of 57 ft-lbs and can operate at up to 160 rpm.

The cordless ratchet comes with two 12V lithium-ion batteries, a durable plastic case, and a fast charger that can fully charge one battery in 30 minutes. The soft, ergonomic grip provides comfort for the hands while working—some most driveway mechanics can appreciate. This tool also features a trigger-lock switch and a slim body design to access hard-to-reach locations under the hood of a car.

The ACDelco has the top spot for automotive work for a couple of reasons. First, we liked the amount of power it has compared to the others, and it has solid metal construction so we didn’t feel uncomfortable cranking on it—a big plus for automotive work. We didn’t find the lower speed to be a deterrent, though this tool’s size can make it a bit challenging to maneuver despite being a 12V model. And, if we could, we’d add an LED light.

Product Specs

  • Drive size: ⅜ inch
  • Voltage: 12V
  • Speed: 160 rpm
  • Torque: 57 ft-lbs

Pros

  • Variable-speed trigger
  • Charges fully in 30 minutes
  • Slim build to reach tight spots
  • Comes with a carrying case

Cons

  • A bit long for a 12V model
  • No LED light

Get the ACDelco cordless ratchet on Amazon.

Best Kit

The Best Cordless Ratchet Option: KIMO Cordless Electric Ratchet Wrench
Photo: amazon.com

Folks who’d prefer to spend less to get more should check out the Kimo Cordless Electric Ratchet Wrench kit. This kit comes with the 12V ratchet, two batteries, a charger, and a set of sockets to allow the user to get to work right away, all stored in a handy plastic carrying case.

This ratchet isn’t just about the accessories, though. It features an above-average 400-rpm top speed, and it produces 40 ft-lbs of torque. It has a variable-speed trigger and a compact design, both allowing for optimal control while under the hood or performing other tasks.

We ended up being big fans of the Kimo cordless ratchet, and it’s for several reasons. First, we appreciated the fact that it came with two batteries, a set of sockets, and a hard carrying case. We also enjoyed the design—the compact size and low-profile head, namely. But one of our favorite features was the pronounced direction switch. It was easy to find and grasp at nearly any angle. Our main complaint? The LED’s direction is way off course.

Product Specs

  • Drive size: ⅜ inch
  • Voltage: 12V
  • Speed: 400 rpm
  • Torque: 40 ft-lbs

Pros

  • Full kit including 2 batteries and sockets
  • Above-average speed and torque
  • Variable-speed trigger and compact design
  • Excellent direction-switch design

Cons

  • Strange LED alignment

Get the Kimo cordless ratchet on Amazon.

Most Flexible

The Best Cordless Ratchet Option: Ryobi One+ Brushless Cordless Extended Reach Ratchet
Photo: homedepot.com

Sometimes that nut or bolt is just slightly out of reach and swinging a large breaker bar might not be feasible. For those situations, consider the Ryobi One+ Brushless Cordless Extended Reach Ratchet. This ratchet features an extended neck that can reach into awkward or distant spaces, and the neck rotates 360 degrees, snapping into one of four positions along the way.

This kit comes with a 2Ah battery and a charger, but it’s compatible with all of the Ryobi One+ batteries. Ryobi rates this cordless ratchet at 55 ft-lbs of torque and 230 rpm, putting it on par with other large ratchets.

The Ryobi certainly has its pros and cons. We felt like it was slightly underpowered, despite the 55 ft-lbs of torque. It’s also a bit long for work under the hood. However, for our lifted 4×4, it made reaching some distant bolts a bit easier than other models. Coupled with the fact that the head rotates, this somewhat cumbersome ratchet is surprisingly helpful—in some situations, of course.

Product Specs

  • Drive size: ⅜ inch
  • Voltage: 18V
  • Speed: 230 rpm
  • Torque: 55 ft-lbs

Pros

  • Reaches some challenging spots
  • Built-in LED light
  • Includes sockets and ¼-inch drive adapter

Cons

  • May be too long for some under-the-hood applications

Get the Ryobi cordless ratchet at The Home Depot or on Amazon (tool only).

Best Power

The Best Cordless Ratchet Option: Ridgid 18V Brushless Cordless ⅜-Inch Ratchet
Photo: homedepot.com

Breaking loose tough nuts and bolts in truly awkward positions can be a chore, but Ridgid’s 18V Brushless Cordless ⅜-Inch Ratchet can get the job done. This ratchet relies on the brand’s 18V Max Output battery lineup to power the brushless motor to a top speed of 250 rpm. However, this particular ratchet kit doesn’t come with a battery.

This burly ratchet produces up to 55 ft-lbs of torque, which is more than most of the competition. This gives it the torque to break larger and more stubborn fasteners loose without switching to another tool. It features an onboard LED light, a direction switch that’s easy to operate with gloved hands, and a variable-speed two-finger trigger.

The Ridgid proved to be a worthy heavy-duty option during our test. It’s a bit long, but it felt powerful, and its durable construction allowed us to apply quite a bit of torque by hand without worrying if the ratchet could handle the strain. The head design is a bit large, but as a heavier-duty option, it’s probably necessary for all the torque it can handle.

Product Specs

  • Drive size: ⅜ inch
  • Voltage: 18V
  • Speed: 250 rpm
  • Torque: 55 ft-lbs

Pros

  • Powerful brushless motor
  • Onboard LED light
  • Variable-speed 2-finger trigger

Cons

  • Head design is a bit large for tight spots

Get the Ridgid cordless ratchet at The Home Depot.

Best Grip

The Best Cordless Ratchet Option: DeWalt Atomic 20V Max Brushless ⅜-Inch Ratchet
Photo: amazon.com

Even though the cordless ratchet does most of the work, there can still be some wear and tear on the user’s hands. DeWalt’s Atomic 20V Max cordless ratchet aims to solve that issue. It has a soft rubber grip that promotes grip and keeps the user’s hand comfortable throughout the whole project. It also has a rubber pad on the back side of the battery slot to maintain comfortable contact with the user’s forearm.

This kit comes with the DeWalt ratchet, a 2Ah battery, the charger, and the carrying bag. It produces up to 70 foot pounds of torque from the brushless motor, and the variable speed trigger makes controlling that output very easy. The on-board LED lights the way in dark spaces as well.

During our test, it was tough not to love the DeWalt. It had plenty of power, sure, but it felt better balanced (obviously, this depends on the battery size), and the grip was very comfortable. The head is midsize, falling somewhere between the larger models and the smaller ones. If there’s a complaint, it’s that we don’t know for sure how fast this ratchet spins, but it’s definitely on par with the other 18V/20V models.

Product Specs

  • Drive size: ⅜ inch
  • Voltage: 20V
  • Speed: Unknown
  • Torque: 70 ft-lbs

Pros

  • Comfortable rubber grip
  • Plenty of power
  • Variable speed trigger for control

Cons

  • No idea how fast it spins

Get the DeWalt cordless ratchet at Amazon, Ace Hardware (tool only), or The Home Depot (tool only).

Best Reach

The Best Cordless Ratchet Option: Milwaukee 2560-20 M12 Fuel ⅜-Inch Extended Ratchet
Photo: amazon.com

When it comes to getting to those hard-to-reach nuts and bolts, Milwaukee’s M12 cordless ratchet might be the tool for the job. This cordless ratchet features an extended neck for longer reach and a recessed head. The head design gives this heavy-duty tool a lower profile to get into tighter spaces.

As for specs, this ⅜-inch ratchet produces up to 55 ft-lbs and a maximum of 200 rpm. However, the brushless motor appears to be on par with other models in terms of speed. This ratchet does not come with batteries included, but it does work with Milwaukee’s M12 12V battery lineup.

During our test, we noticed that this cordless ratchet felt heavier than the others, which we were initially concerned about. However, the extended reach and the smart recessed-head design made it easy to position under the hood (though its length did get tricky). Overall, we found it to be a heavy-duty model that could reach some tricky spots—something automotive enthusiasts might enjoy.

Product Specs

  • Drive size: ⅜ inch
  • Voltage: 12V
  • Speed: 200 rpm
  • Torque: 55 ft-lbs

Pros

  • Works with M12 battery lineup
  • Extended reach for getting into tough spots
  • Smart recessed-head design maintains a lower profile

Cons

  • Tool-only in most cases

Get the Milwaukee 2560-20 cordless ratchet on Amazon or Acme Tools.

Our Verdict

Those looking for an all-around top-notch cordless ratchet will appreciate the Makita cordless ratchet‘s interchangeable drives, power, and speed. For those who’d prefer a full kit to get them off to the races, the Kimo cordless ratchet might be the best option.

How We Tested the Best Cordless Ratchets

Putting together a list of the best cordless ratchets wasn’t a walk in the park. We had to draw upon all of our experience with automotive repairs, power tools, and mechanical work to pick out the features we’d need in a cordless ratchet. Then, we ordered a bunch from top tool brands that we thought would meet our standards so we could perform hands-on testing.

Our test consisted of putting each ratchet through the wringer. We took to our project 4×4’s engine bay and tested the tools’ reach, illumination (for those that had built-in LED lights), and ease of use. Then, we removed a few bolts and tightened them back down. We compared speed and torque to ensure that we understood each model’s capabilities. Finally, we awarded each model a title based on its strengths, and this list was the result.

FAQs

Continue reading below to find the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about cordless ratchets.

Q. How does a cordless ratchet work?

A cordless ratchet uses a battery to drive a motor, which in turn rotates the ratchet head. This automatic function is used with a socket to remove nuts and bolts without having to apply any manual force beyond pushing the power trigger.

Q. How do you use a cordless ratchet?

A cordless ratchet is used by attaching a compatible socket to the ratchet head and lining it up with the nut or bolt you want to tighten or loosen. Once the socket is sitting securely over the nut or bolt head, press the power trigger to begin applying pressure to the socket, forcing the nut or bolt to turn. Typically, a cordless socket wrench will have a variable-speed trigger that allows you to control the speed without designated power levels.

Q. How long does a cordless ratchet last?

On average, a cordless ratchet will last 5 to 10 years with regular use and proper care.