Using regular chrome sockets on an impact is never a good idea. You will find people who swear they've done it for years without issue, but you will also find people who will tell you how their socket virtually exploded, sending shrapnel through the air, and leaving their garage looking like Omaha beach on D-Day. Ok, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, but they can break apart and create a potential for injury.
I'm not a professional mechanic (far from it), but I've been breaking and fixing things long enough to know the importance of using the right tool for the right job. I have a slew of impacts I've accumulated over the years, some high dollar professional brands and some cheaper brands, but in all honesty I've found little difference between them. Whether that's because I don't use them enough to notice the difference or there actually is no difference I can't say, but when I found myself in need of a set of shallow impacts I couldn't justify spending big bucks on a set. Sympathetic to my dilemma, the folks over at TEKTON sent me a set to try out.
Right out of the box I was instantly impressed with the nice blow molded case. I wasn't expecting that as most budget friendly sets come with inferior holders or nothing at all.
Cracking open the case there were two things that caught my eye. The first was the range of sizes. The 14 piece SAE set (model #4816) ranges from 3?8″-1-1/14″ while metric set (model #4817) includes the most common sizes from 11-32mm which is certainly all I'll ever need. The other thing I noticed were the large, easy to read, sizes printed on the sockets. While I was a little skeptical as to how well the printing would hold up under use, it was a nice feature as sizes are usually very hard to read on black industrial finish sockets.
The first step in my testing process was the performance of the sockets. TEKTON uses a “Flank Drive” system, which is essentially a design feature that allows for off corner engagement by way of added clearance in the corners of the socket. To see how well it works I torqued my 3?4″, Grade 5, test bolt, on and off 25 times with a 500 ft./lb. impact wrench. My primary purpose for this test was to determine the damage done to the fastener. After 10 minutes or so of giving this bolt the roughest ride I could (and convincing my neighbor I'd lost my mind), the fastener was in remarkably good condition.
My next test was to determine how durable the printed sizes were. I tend to use shallow impacts in more open areas rather than for recessed fasteners like deepwells, so to test the lettering I put a wire wheel on my drill press and went to town. I spent 5 minutes holding the socket against the wire wheel with consistent pressure. When it was all said and done the lettering was clearly distressed, but still very much readable.
Though it may be hard to see from the pic, there were very tiny spots where bare metal popped out through the finish. This leads me to believe that the lettering is as tough as the finish which is impressive.
An impact socket isn't something you're going to wear out over the course of a field test. As for the longevity of the socket I can say only that I have no reason whatsoever to suspect these sockets won't provide a good service life. They're well built. They're made from Chrome Vanadium steel and measure up to my pro grade impacts in terms of sidewall thickness
The bottom line is that these are great sockets for the price. For my needs, I can't imagine any scenario in which these sockets won't make the grade. Impacts don't last forever. They're made of a more malleable steel than regular chrome sockets which allows them to flex rather than break or shatter under high torque, impact, use. Consequently, they will distort over time if used enough. This is true of all impacts regardless of what brand they are. No worries with these though, they're backed by TEKTON's lifetime replacement guarantee so theres no reason these won't be the last impacts you'll ever have to buy.