If you’ve ever had to get underneath a truck to change out some shocks or even replace brakes, having a nice set of ratcheting wrenches is a godsend. For mechanics who use wrenches, the new generation of ratcheting models is adding some convenience features that simply weren’t found in past generations of tools. The GearWrench 120XP Universal Spline XL ratcheting wrenches add resolution, better visibility, and a slightly more reliable spline drive.
GearWrench falls under the Apex Tool Group as one of their higher-end hand tool brands. While the GearWrench 120XP ratcheting line isn’t new, four new kits came to market which makes adding a set to your best tool box all that much easier. When GearWrench offered to send us a kit, we agreed to take a look and test them out on various shop projects. We’d already been impressed with the GearWrench 120XP 3-Degree Arc ratchet, so their spline ratcheting wrenches gave us high hopes.
The thing about wrenches, though, is that you’re dealing with a number of considerations—from design and build quality, to cost and method of sale. For the GearWrench 120XP line, these sets are available at a reasonable price and offer a design that the company has put all its “eggs” into. When it comes to ratcheting wrenches, GearWrench doesn’t mess around.
GearWrench 120XP Universal Spline XL Ratcheting Wrenches Features
Before we get too far, it’s good to point out what makes these ratcheting wrenches different. The GearWrench design is nonlaminated, meaning the ratchet mechanism is housed within a solid body and not sandwiched between layers. For anyone who’s used the old Craftsman offset ratchet wrenches—you’ll know what I’m referring to. GearWrench 120XP Universal Spline XL ratcheting wrenches work using a tight 3-degree arc. This is made possible through the use of a pair of stacked pawls that interact in an alternating fashion to effectively double the resolution of the ratcheting mechanism. They also have narrow ratchet-end width and thickness (truly noticeable on the larger sizes), allowing technicians to reach fasteners in tight clearance situations.
The GearWrench 120XP Universal Spline XL ratcheting wrenches feature a longer handle, so you get additional reach when you’re working in cramped spaces. Both the box end and open-end have rather narrow profiles as well, giving you all the leverage you need without the overhead.
GearWrench 120XP Spline XL Ratcheting Wrenches Build Quality
These wrenches have the GearWrench Dual Direction Surface Drive which is a non-flat profile that grips bolts and nuts more securely and helps reduce both slipping and rounding. In our testing, it did just that, and the grip was noticeably secure without making bolts and nuts tough to grab.
Even though these GearWrench wrenches use a universal spline drive, they’re also compatible with 12-point, 6-point, e-torx, square, and rounded 6-point nuts and bolts. Basically, they’ll work on anything—and they’ll hold really well. I love the bold blue recessed metric markings on these wrenches, too—you don’t spend any time trying to locate the right wrench for the job.
In terms of strength, the GearWrench 120XP Universal Spline XL ratcheting wrenches meet or exceed ASME performance requirements. ASME (the American Society of Mechanical Engineers) specs design and grip, material composition, legibility of markings, and hardness (minimum of 38 to 55 HRC for the housing of the ratchet, the ratchet mechanism, and wrench openings). They also spec desired torque (from 100 to 2,120 ft-lbs depending upon the wrench size), wrench opening design, finish/plating, mandrels, ratchet mechanism, and cycle testing.
You can also get the GearWrench 120XP Universal Spline XL sets in the following configurations:
- 86427: 16 piece Metric Set 8-24 mm
- 86428: 4 piece Metric Set 20, 21, 22, 24 mm
- 86451: 16 piece SAE Set 7/32-1 in.
- 86452: 7 piece SAE Set 13/16-1-1/4 in.
GearWrench 120XP Spline XL Ratcheting Wrenches Specs
- Pieces: 14
- Storage: Plastic rack holder
- Sizes included: 6-19 mm (metric)
- Movement: 3º ratcheting (120 positions)
- Drive type: Spline
- Handle: XL beam design (25% longer)
- Finish: Full polish chrome
- End A: Open End
- End B: Ratcheting spline box
- Highly visible recessed color markings
Using GearWrench 120XP Spline XL Ratcheting Wrenches
Storage for the wrenches is via an included plastic V-rack with angled tray slots. It fits neatly in a 2-inch drawer, and, while you can’t easily pick up the rack without capsizing your wrenches, it does work well for tool box storage and retrieval. Normally you toss the plastic lid, but we kept ours on in case we wanted to bring the wrenches with us from one location to another.
I used the GearWrench 120XP Universal Spline XL ratcheting wrenches to install a LUND nerf bar and also to crank down a bull bar to greater than 150 ft-lbs. In all my use of the tools, I noticed absolutely no flaking of the chrome. We were also unable to break the ratchets, despite some pretty heavy-duty use under the hood.
We’ve seen this particular 14-piece kit for less than $175 online, making it a great buy for both the professional or home mechanic wanting to beef up their capabilities. If you work on cars with any regularity, you want these ratcheting wrenches in your tool chest.