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Best Bit Driver Handle

author
Bob Roberts
• Saturday, 31 October, 2020
• 10 min read

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Contents

Quality service and professional assistance is provided when you shop with AliExpress, so don’t wait to take advantage of our prices on these and other items! Those bits store in its handle, a comfortable rubberized grip with a unique feature: a free-spinning rear cap, which lets you turn the tool with one hand while using the other to press it into a screw (without the friction burning a fiery hole into your palm).

We tested the Regard 13-in-1 alongside the Channel lock 13-in-1 Multi- Bit Ratcheting Screwdriver, and they perform identically. In almost always, it’s identical to our pick; the same handle, the same nice ratchet, and the same style of storage system.

It stood out among the lower-priced screwdrivers for its bit storage, lifetime warranty, and easy availability at Home Depot. It can store only six bits at a time, which is a little limiting, and the handle isn’t as comfortable to hold as the Regard’s.

I spent more than a decade as a carpenter, foreman, and job site supervisor building high-end custom homes in the Boston area. In addition, I take a very hands-on approach with my own 245-year-old farmhouse, and I fully gutted and rebuilt the last house I lived in.

Just looking at the raw hours since I first picked up a tool professionally, I’ve probably spent at least a year of my life with a screwdriver in my hand. Unlike my own carpentry and construction background, Deutsche has a physics and engineering one, so it’s not surprising that as a tool writer he’s particularly sensitive to how exactly things work.

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It's required for everything from changing the battery on a kid's toy to installing a smoke alarm to adjusting the loose handrail at the stairs. Good multi- bit drivers, like the kind we’re recommending, tend to run in the $20 to $30 range.

Most also have a third position that locks the stem into place, making the tool behave like a traditional screwdriver. For the same reasons, they’re better in tight, awkward spaces, especially those where you can’t really see the screw head, like at the back of a cabinet or on the underside of a table while tightening a leg.

It’s true that an experienced user like a long-time electrician can work a regular screwdriver almost like a ratcheting one by putting pressure on the butt-end of the tool with the ball of their index finger and quickly working their fingers around the handle to move the driver. Typical tasks such as minor home repairs and furniture assembly can require a wide array of bit shapes and sizes.

Keeping a supply of individual screwdrivers for all of these uses gobbles up valuable space and leads to you owning tools that rarely get used. As an example, adjusting door hardware can require three different tips: a Phillips for the hinges, a Torn for the knob set screw, and a slotted for the strike plate.

We think there are at least 10 bit types you need in order to feel confident that you could tackle any task around the house. The ubiquitous Phillips bit alone has four common sizes, from the teeny P0 on electronics to the chunky P3 found on large door hinges.

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Having to spend time searching for bits, either digging through the kitchen drawer or rummaging around the tool bag, is unnecessary. We’ve seen a wide array of storage styles, and the best allow you to quickly identify and access the bit you’re looking for.

Deutsche told us that the ones to look for have “better materials and smoother, better fitting gearing.” He continued, “You can usually tell immediately how well a ratcheting screwdriver is made by holding the handle in one hand and turning the drive end with the other.” Better ratchets tend to have finer gears, which gives more control over the tool, especially in an area where space is limited, and you may not be able to fully twist your hand. Deutsche also recommended “staying away from the ratcheting screwdrivers that are prominently displayed in stores around Christmas and Father’s Day, unless you can test one first.

If it fits your hand comfortably, has an easy-to-use direction switch, and the gearing sounds okay, then it might be a good buy. We used the screwdrivers to hang towel bars, tighten hinges, install toilet paper holders, make adjustments to radiator valves, tinker with pocket door hardware, and do some light electrical work.

We assembled toys, adjusted cabinet doors, fixed a sagging gate, and hung some light fixtures. We put together a prefab bookshelf, repaired a busted forklift, and installed three screen doors.

It never gained purchase but caught it enough so that the working edges of the bit got a severe thrashing. While doing all of this testing, we kept a close eye on each screwdriver’s handle comfort, the ease of its ratchet toggle, the convenience of the bit storage, and all the other subtle features and details that separate the good from the bad.

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It combines all the right features like no other screwdriver, helping you work faster and more comfortably than with any other tool. Other screwdrivers had similar systems, but none matched the 13-in-1’s stability or the ease with which it slides in and out of the handle or pops back into place.

We like that the carousel mechanism locks in nice and tight, yet can be easily opened with one hand using the thumb and forefinger. Plus, the round cap spins separate from the handle, making it easy to press down and rotate the tool.

Photo: Doug MahoneyAnother excellent, unique aspect of the rear cap is that it can spin independently of the rest of the body. Because the cap spins, the pressure from your palm won’t be fighting against the twist of the handle.

Even with the roomy storage capacity for the six bits (which really are 12 different driver tips), the comfort of the grip far exceeded that of the other screwdrivers, even those that cost more than twice as much. It has a teardrop shape that tapers at the neck, providing a nice groove for the thumb and forefinger.

The ratcheting mechanism of the Regard 13-in-1 has 28 teeth, which is about in the middle range of the screwdrivers we tested. Photo: Doug Marinate bit selection of the Regard 13-in-1 is comprehensive and should be able to handle just about every standard screw driving task in a home.

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This can be used for hex-headed screws like the kind you might find holding the rear panel of your washing machine or on a pipe band clamp. It doesn’t cover misuse or wear and tear, so if you run over it with the lawn mower, you’re out of luck.

Ethan Pagan, writing at BobVila.com, says, “The smooth-action ratcheting mechanism excels, and the tool’s innovative bit storage is a refreshing change from the jumble found on many competitors’ products.” Photo: Doug Mahoney final benefit of the Regard 13-in-1 is that it’s available in two versions and colors, which could make shopping more clear-cut if one or the other is a lower price or easier to find.

I’ve been using the same Regard 13-in-1 for the past eight and a half years, four of which were spent in a construction site setting. After years of constant use, the tool still works great, and aside from a couple of paint splatters and a scratch here and there, the Regard is exactly as it was when it came out of the packaging.

Our torture test didn’t cause any wear or tear on the bits at all, and neither has routine work. I’ve found that the success of the storage system makes it very difficult to lose a bit.

This isn’t ideal because they’re more easily lost this way, for example, if you have to set a bit down somewhere to use the empty end of the tool as a nut driver. Many of the screwdrivers we tested are compatible with standard 1-inch driver bits that magnetically sit in the end of the stem.

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These bits are widely available at hardware stores and home centers, and if one gets damaged, it can be replaced with minimal difficulty. The Regard 13-in-1 uses double-sided bits with a spring-loaded ball bearing at the middle of the shaft to lock them into the stem, which are proprietary and distinct to the tool.

The tip of the screwdriver is also magnetic, so they won’t fall out during use, and the stem is just a little longer, but in all other ways it’s identical to our main pick. Photo: Doug Mahoney good as this screwdriver sounds, there are two reasons our preference is with the 13-in-1.

First, this automotive version is designed for the mechanic, so the initial bit selection isn’t as well-rounded as our pick. It’s missing the smaller square drive and the #0 Phillips, replacing them with a wider selection of Torn sizes, which are less likely to be used in a home setting.

Compared with the Regard, the handle isn’t as comfortable, the storage not as successful, and the ratchet is not as smooth. Photo: Doug Mahogany limitation of the Husky is that it only has room in the storage area for six bits.

Of the other screwdrivers we tested, the majority were all dismissed based on either overall quality or how the bit storage was managed. We found getting the cartridge on and off to be tedious and difficult and prefer having the Regard’s 12 bits at our disposal at all times.

(Source: realwarphotos.com)

It has a fantastic ratchet mechanism that just oozes quality, but the bits are stored loose in the handle. We also tested the Soldier 15-in-1 Multi- Bit Silent Ratcheting Screwdriver, which is currently unavailable, but appears to also be sold under the Tools name.

The Klein Ratcheting Screwdriver doesn’t have a particularly comfortable handle and is designed for an electrician who will use the various not driving features. Photo: Doug Mahoney looked at two popular “stubby” screwdriver models in our 2018 tests.

It’s the more expensive of the two, typically selling for around $15, and it has a very solid pro-level build quality and the ratchet has a nice feel to it. The Stanley 66-358 Stubby Ratcheting Screwdriver usually costs less than half of the Milwaukee and feels plastic in comparison.

The Stanley’s storage is difficult to use, with loose bits stored in an open chamber with a screw cap, which isn’t our preference. The Craftsman 9-41796 Ready Bit Screwdriver was a previous runner-up and is similar to the Regard models (to the point that we suspect a co-branding agreement).

The bits are stored in the hollow handle and are made accessible by unscrewing the rear cap. The Stanley Fat Max Hi-Speed Ratcheting Screwdriver has some sort of differential gearing (thanks to Deutsche for the explanation).

If you turn the handle while holding the front-most collar, the stem spins at a very quick rate (four times the normal, according to Stanley). The cap is small and is hard to grip, making the whole process far more difficult than what it takes to open the Regard.

Getting the bits out was difficult, and on more than one occasion I had to hit the tool repeatedly against my palm in order to get one free. The threads on the cap are poorly done and became mangled very quickly, and we didn’t like how we had to plug five holes while dumping a bit out of the sixth.

The ratcheting action is loud on this tool, and the whole thing feels heavy and clumsy. You need to simultaneously press buttons on both sides of the handle to release a spring-loaded cartridge from the back of the tool.

The storage system on the Dealt Ratcheting Screwdriver is similar to the Regard’s, but it doesn’t work well at all. Pulling the carousel out of the handle takes two hands, and there is barely any place for fingers to make a purchase.

Last, the little holding clips don’t do their job, so when we did manage to get the handle open, loose bits came tumbling out of the back of the tool. The Were 27 RA Ratcheting Screwdriver was definitely the coolest looking of the tools and the one with the unique storage system.

A button on the butt-end causes about three-fourths of the handle to shift back, revealing a bit carousel in the center of the tool. The shape of the handle is bizarre with three concentric concave areas for the hand to grab, but it’s very comfortable to use and all the ridges seem to be in just the right places.

It’s a very nice screwdriver, but it only holds six bits and typically costs around $40, so we feel the Regard is a better all-in-one option. The rear cap doesn’t close with the same nice “pop,” the handle isn’t as comfortable, and the bit storage is a little more difficult to open.

Another class of ratcheting screwdrivers that exists is the two-speed style, like the Link SAB710 and the SeaTools Overdrive. These tools are well-received and do offer speed, but when compared with the Regard, they come up short in other areas like bit storage and general ergonomics.

Of these models, the majority of them come with specialty bits designed with a specific trade or task in mind such as elevator maintenance, HVAC, and RV repair, just to name a few. They do offer a 15-in-1 model, which adds two additional square drive bits and has no ratcheting action.

So basically the additional bits that you’re never going to use aren’t worth the loss of the ratcheting action or the comfortable handle. Of Regard’s tools, only the 13-in-1 combines a useful selection of bits with the ergonomic handle and a ratcheting function.

Doug Mahoney is a senior staff writer at Wire cutter covering home improvement. He lives in a very demanding 250-year-old farmhouse and spent four years gutting and rebuilding his previous home.

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