2014 was a good year for Mac Tools. With fairly recent upgrades to the hand, air, and cordless lineups, they generated plenty of buzz, and in my opinion, dramatically improved their line. Products like the MacGrip™ drivers, titanium impacts, redesigned wrenches, and the much improved cordless line, have really freshened the line-up over the last couple of years. They're the type of tools that if you don't like them, it's because you haven't used them.
As great as 2013 and 14 were for Mac Tools, it's a new year and we're all waiting to see what new goodies we can expect to see in 2015. To find out, we made the trek to Indianapolis for the 2015 Mac Tool Fair. The Tool Fair is an annual event where franchisees go to see the new releases from both Mac Tools and approved vendors.
This was my first Tool Fair and to be honest, I had no idea what to expect. Aside from eyeing the 2015 lineup, I figured out that Mac really knows how to do these events right. The 5 star JW Marriot was completely taken over by Mac Tools. From the flag flying out front, to the rugs on the floors, graphics on the walls, and even the escalators, every corner of the massive building was dressed for the occasion and if there was a single individual there for anything other than the Tool Fair, I didn't find them. With hospitality second to none, that even included a closing party in Lucas Oil Stadium, it was truly a first class event.
But enough about the event, let's take a look at the tools!
The first, and for me the most anticipated product, was the 90 tooth ratchets we've been hearing about for over a year. Now this is strictly my opinion, but ratchets have been Mac Tools weakest area over the last few years. The old rats are good quality and they're certainly a time tested design, but in a market where high tooth count rats are all the rage, the traditional 45 and 60 tooth designs fail to generate the interest of finer toothed competitors like Snap-On's Dual 80's and the Matco 88's. Rest assured those days are soon to be forgotten.
Distributors are now taking pre-orders for the 18″, 13″, and 9″ comfort flex, and 7″ polished chrome 3/8″ models to be on the trucks and in your hands by early Summer. Named the “AXIS Series”, the new ratchets are sure to become my go to ratchets. As good as they look in pictures they're even nicer in person. They're as smooth and comfortable as they are beautiful. Despite rumors that these ratchets might be OEM'd by a 3rd party, the AXIS Series is made in house at Mac Tools Dallas, TX production facility. I guess the moral of this story is if you've been thinking about picking up some new ratchets, save your money and check out the AXIS Series.
After their debut a couple of years ago, the MacGrip™ drivers were a quick success. An extremely durable and comfortable design, they quickly gobbled up the lion's share of duty in my shop. Those of you that color-coordinate your tools for various reasons will be delighted to know you'll soon be able to get the MacGrip™ drivers in both green and orange variations.
The KS2 line of wrenches is getting a little bigger….well, actually it's getting a little smaller. For 2015 we'll get extra short versions. Available in either an 11 piece SAE (1/4″ – 3/4″) or a 10 piece metric set (10-19mm) they'll continue to feature the Knuckle Saver open ends, as well as thicker chrome, a slightly wider beam, and a slightly redesigned box end that should make it a little more robust for the he-men among us that can bust fasteners loose with a 3″ wrench. In all seriousness, added strength is always a good thing.
The Precision Torque Series will see the addition of both ratcheting stubby and locking flex head wrenches in both SAE and Metric. Stubbies will be reversible models available in 10 piece SAE or 12 piece metric sets, while the flex's will be non-reversible and will be available in either an 8 piece SAE or 12 piece metric set.
Another wrench addition will be HexPro wrenches. They're like a traditional L shaped hex key with a forged joint in place of a fixed 90. Available in 5 piece SAE, metric, and Torx sizes, I'll have to have all 3 sets. I really like the fact Mac Tools went with a Torx screw at the joint instead of a pin, because they always seem to loosen a little over time.
Precision Torque fans will be happy to know that we'll soon see the design expanded to universal sockets in both 1/4″ and 3/8″. I didn't catch the set details, but it's a pretty safe bet we'll see them in both metric and SAE.
Expert users will also see several new additions to that line. I'll be the first to admit I'm not real up to speed on the Expert line, but all the new stuff looked pretty nice and the distributors seemed pretty happy with what they saw.
While there were a handful of additions, the star of the cordless display was the BWP138, a 20V 3/8″ impact with an impressive 325 ft-lbs. of breakaway torque. With a slender frame, every job torque, and 20V runtime, I'm pretty confident the 138 will be a hit, especially in the Z2 configuration that includes a 2.0 ah compact and full size 4.0 ah battery.
After I got done ogling the BWP138 my attention was drawn to the BWP150, a 20V 1/2″ compact impact. We had a 1/2″ compact 12V model, but not a 20V, so the 150 really helps fill out the 1/2″ line. Rated at 375 ft-lbs. of breakaway torque, it'll probably get the bigger BWP050 a little less time on the field.
The 12V line will see the addition of the BWP025, a 1/4″ impact available in both 2 battery and bare tool configurations. With a breakaway rating of 70 ft-lbs., it'll find its way into plenty of motorcycle/ATV and small engine shops.
Quiet Series Impacts
2015 will also see the addition of quiet impacts in three different versions, 1/2″, 1/2″ Compact, and 3/8″. They are made of a composite body and while they aren't as nicely balanced as the best selling titanium impacts, they are pretty well balanced. They spec out pretty well too. At 1,175 ft-lbs, 7 inches in length, 4.7 lbs., and 87 db(a), the 1/2″ gun (AWP612Q) is much more powerful, slightly shorter, 7 db(a) quieter, and only slightly heavier than the IR 2135QTiMAX.
Stepping down to the 1/2″ compact will net you a very workable 560 ft-lbs. in a 3 lb. package, while the 3/8″ still breaks a cool 500 ft-lbs.
1″ Drive Impacts
If you're the type of guy that needs 2,500 ft-lbs. of breakaway torque for battleships, locomotives, or any other ridiculously large equipment, Mac has six new 1″ impacts on the way. Available in standard square drive, 6″ long square drive, and spline drive, in both pistol grip and D Handles, they're they type of tools I wish I needed. They're also the one thing I apparently did not photograph, so this poster will have to do.
There is also a new line of die grinders kicking off this year. Consisting of seven models in straight, 90, and 45 degree configurations, the new line features nice rubber grips, rotatable exhaust, and nice wide paddle switches. I did not see any specs listed, but these aren't the type of tools we typically worry too much about specs with anyway.
Master Bearing Race Driver
One of the coolest tools we encountered was the FT131108 Master Bearing Race Driver. In my chest there is a box of individual seal & race drivers. They're handy when I need them, but I actually only use a couple of the sizes while the rest just sit there, look pretty, and take up space. The FT131108 solves that problem. It's a single adjustable unit that covers a range from as little as 18mm, up to 90mm with a quick turn of a dial. It features a screw to lock the driver into the desired position and a replaceable end cap to help ensure longevity. I can't say this will work for every application, but it will for most and it'll save you some room in a crowded box.
Honda & Acura Lower Control Arm Tool
Let me be up front about this, I've never touched the suspension on a Honda or Acura. I am not qualified to tell you either the merits or misses in this design. Most of what gets worked on in my shop falls into the tractor, implement, or ATV category. That being said, this tool is designed to replace large hydro-bushings on the front lower control arms on Honda and Acura vehicles. From what the folks at Mac Tools told me, this is an often crummy process and this tool should help simplify it.
The list of things I wouldn't do for a 67″ Macsimizer is pretty short. I love the boxes and personally feel they are among the nicest available. If I worked in a shop I'd have to have the MB7432. It's a nice rig and includes specialized drawers for both your cordless tools and your laptop. Speaking of the MB7432….
Due to popular demand, Mac Tools is finally adding the MB7498 hutch for the MB7432. With sturdy hinges and an optional stereo system, the distributors I spoke with feel the hutch will be a popular item based upon the many requests they've gotten for them. The wait is over, well, almost over.
Improved Macsimizer Slides
The timing on this was incredibly ironic. A day or two after I got home from the Tool Fair, a fellow over at Garage Journal posted about his Mac chest drawers hanging up occasionally around the half way point.
According to Mac, this is caused by the drawers hanging up on the sequencing tabs influenced by the drawer and cabinet widths.
A redesigned slide should clear up the issue.
2015 looks to be another good year for Mac Tools. I'm especially looking forward to the Axis Series rats. I know, I know, I've been talking about these things for close to a year now, but I really believe these will be a game changer for Mac. Ratchets are the cornerstone of any drive tool line, and the Axis rats will be a formidable competitor to any design on the market.
A lot of these items haven't hit the trucks yet, but when they do, you'll find them here.
As always, thanks for reading, and stay tuned to TIA for more from Mac Tools