There are a few tools that every household should have — most of which are handy when it comes to quick DIY repairs, hanging and mounting art and shelves, and even building furniture (like that dresser you got from IKEA). They include things like hammers, tape measures, pliers, wrenches, etc. But the king of them all (and the type you’ll probably turn to most) is the screwdriver.
A simple (both in concept and function) hand-operated device made to attach or mount fasteners into or onto various surfaces, a screwdriver is about as essential and useful as construction and repair tools get. They’re so universal, in fact, that it’s practically a given that, if you have any tools at all, a screwdriver is probably one of them. However, they’re quite varied in purpose, style, size, format and more. And that can make picking out the right one (or ones, in this case) a bit more complicated than one might think at first glance.
While the screwdriver set you need will depend largely on the kind of work you intend to do, we’ve tried to do our best to round up a collection that represents the best options available to purchase right now. From bare-bones traditional sets to ones with swappable bits to high-tech, mechanized, ratcheting drivers, there’s a screwdriver set here for just about every class of DIYer and skill level.
Types of Screwdrivers
For literal centuries, there were only hand-cranked screwdrivers — usually a handle attached to a shaft with a tip that fits into a screw and little else. However, as time has progressed, intrepid inventors have figured out some clever engineering that has expanded the available types of drivers at our disposal. While all drivers can theoretically complete the same jobs, some make quicker and easier work of them than others. Knowing these different formats will help you decide what formats of drivers suit your purposes, preferences and/or style best.
Traditional/Hand-Cranked: The most basic and long-lived of all the different types of screwdrivers, these are the aforementioned ones that boast little more than a handle, shaft, and tip. They tend to be the most inexpensive and available, but they’re the least versatile and often the hardest to use (because they require the most effort on the part of the user)
Multi-Bit: The chief difference between a traditional driver and a multi-bit is that the tip of the driver can be removed and replaced. Otherwise, the driver should function almost identically. Multi-bit drivers are a lot more versatile, as you can use a single handle and shaft with a myriad of different tips/bits/heads, saving on space and sometimes time. Multi-bit tech can also be combined with ratcheting tech and mechanization/electrification for even more ease of use and versatility.
Ratcheting: Because humans don’t have joints that can freely spin 360 degrees, traditional drivers require the user to either adjust their grip or reset the tip of the driver in the screw with each turn. Ratcheting drivers, however, remove this step by allowing the user to twist the driver in the backward direction — marked by a clicking or rattling sound — without losing any forward progress. If you had a bicycle as a kit where the pedals push forward but freely spin backward
Mechanized/Electric: These types of drivers are the natural technological evolution of ratcheting drivers and are the easiest to use. They also typically are the most expensive. Usually, they have an internal motor that will rotate the bit and shaft while the handle remains static — keeping users from having to adjust their grip or really do anything other than just simply hold it in place as it does its job
A Note on Ergonomics
Frequent manual twisting can wreak havoc on your bones, joints and muscles over time. But getting a driver set with a comfortable handle can help stave off fatigue and potential injury. A similar thing can be said for the type of driver set you choose — a traditional driver, for instance, requires a lot more cranking and pressure than a mechanized one. If you’re worried about hurting your hands or succumbing to fatigue, we’d suggest paying special attention to ergonomics and ease of use.
Types of Tips/Bits/Heads
The tip, bit or head (all synonyms) is the part of the driver that you press into the screw, bolt or otherwise, interlocking with it in order to allow you to twist and fasten or loosen said screw, bolt or otherwise. While the size of tip/bit/head you’ll need will likely be measured in either metric or imperial sizing, the style is arguably even more important to know. This is because certain formats of screws can only be turned with a compatible bit. We’ve outlined some of the most common below (but this is just a fraction of all that are available, especially if you include proprietary formats) — you should know these before you ever consider buying.
Flathead: As you might imagine from its name, flathead driver tips are called such for their wide, flat shape. This is the oldest and probably most common type of screwdriver tip, followed closely by Phillips, and they’re designed to function with slothead screws (which have a single, straight slot set into them across their diameter and are often erroneously referred to as flathead screws). Here’s a fun trick: if you have a Philips head screw but only flathead drivers, you can sometimes get away with using a flathead to tighten or loosen a Phillips — just be careful not to strip the head (AKA wearing out and/or breaking its slots). We’d recommend avoiding this if possible, but it’s a handy bit of knowledge in a pinch.
Phillips: If you fused two flathead bits into a cross shape, you’d essentially end up with a Phillips. Similar in their application, Phillips head screws offer a bit more security when fastening compared to flattheads and don’t slip as much. By and large, they’re considered superior to flatheads.
Hex: Also known as Allen, hex bits are called such because of their hexagonal shape. This style of bit shape is most common in plumbing, automotive, electric and some furniture applications — especially build-your-own like IKEA.
Star: The generic name for Torx, which is a trademark, star-shaped bits are not entirely unlike Phillips heads, however, they have six points instead of four. This style of bit is most often used in computer and technological applications but does have some carry-over into everyday carry and some other realms.
Other: As mentioned, there are numerous other styles of bits but their usage and applications are much fewer and further between. The bigger point in mentioning this is to say that you’ll likely not need drivers that fit these bit styles/shapes unless for a very specific job. For typical DIY, repairs, construction, etc, the above four will almost certainly meet your needs and, even then, you could probably get away with only the top two or three.
Metric vs. Imperial Sizing
While likely not the most significant of metrics to consider, it’s still a good idea to know that different screwdrivers come in different size formats, usually Metric and Imperial — just as different distance measurements are used by different countries, brands, etc. If you want to get a set that’s truly comprehensive, there are ones that cover a wide breadth of sizing at the cost of increased storage and price. However, most modern sets are pared down to include the most common range of screw sizes. Odd jobs may require odd sizing, but this is the exception and not the rule. Unless your job necessitates it — a mechanic or a carpenter, for instance — you probably don’t need a set that covers so many potential sizes.
The materials of your driver set can determine its longevity, durability, cost and even ease of use (to a degree). The bulk of drivers, however, are crafted from steel and plastic. Sometimes, handles will have rubber on them for better grip and the tips/bits might be plated with nickel or chromium for additional durability. There are alternatives, however, if you’re willing to pay a premium for upgrades — like titanium shafts or hardwood handles. Overall, the functionality probably won’t change regardless of the upgraded material, although they might be slightly tougher and more durable over time. In all honesty, typical steel and plastic drivers — the industry standard — are more than enough for most.
As screwdriver sets are tools and probably not something you’d want to put on display, it’s a good idea to keep storage in mind when picking out yours. Some of them come with their own storage case or bag but others might not — requiring you to figure it out on your own (tool boxes are ideal for this potentiality). Furthermore, traditional sets — where each size and tip is a different complete driver — can take up a lot more room than, say, a multi-bit driver that has its own integrated bit storage. All told, this metric probably won’t sway your decision but it’s an important thing to keep in mind.
Remember: You Can Supplement Any Set
While you’ll probably want a set that can handle a number of different projects, it’s important to remember that really any set you get won’t be truly comprehensive. However, if you find yourself needing additional drivers, bits, etcetera, you can always pick up individual ones or additional sets to fill in the gaps. It’s best to think of any set you pick up as a starting point — not the be-all, end-all of your toolbox.
How We Tested
Our testers got their hands dirty with these driver sets, putting them to work across a number of different applications, including hanging photographs in drywall, putting together furniture, automotive repair, computer repair, quick EDC repairs, etc. They took into account versatility, comfort, convenience and more when making their judgments.
The 8 Best Screwdriver Sets of 2022
Now that we’ve got all that squared away, it’s time to get to the main event. Just remember: it’s literally impossible to pick out the all-around perfect driver set. It’s far too dependent upon a huge variety of factors and there are more potentialities than you can shake your fist at. However, we believe the following offers at least a semi-comprehensive peek at some of the best options, especially in regards to the brands you should know, below — and the types of folks that might find the sets most useful.
Craftsman Bi-Material Screwdriver Set
- No. of Drivers/Bits: 8
- Bit Types: Phillips, flathead
- Handle: Polypropylene
Most of the time, especially when it comes to smaller DIY jobs, a sturdy, reliable, basic screwdriver kit is really all you’re going to need. And that’s exactly what you’ll get out of the Craftsman Bi-Material Screwdriver Set. Of course, the low price and traditional format of this kit don’t mean that it’s without technological upgrades; it actually boasts grippy polypropylene ergonomic handles (complete with three different “zones” — one for speed, one for torque and one for precision) and black oxide-coated tips for better fitment and reduced stripping. If you just need a trusty set of drivers for typical around-the-house tasks, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better value than this set.
Ryobi Precision Screwdriver Set
- No. of Drivers/Bits: 6
- Bit Types: Phillips, flathead
- Handle: Comfort grip
Electronics, for most of us, have become a ubiquitous part of life. And if you’re the type of person that’s into tinkering or perhaps you want to dip your toes into some computer customization, that’s a much simpler and more approachable prospect nowadays. However, electronics are also known for having tiny, hard-to-turn screws. That’s where Ryobi’s Precision Screwdriver Set comes into play with its tiny heads (to match those of your electronics), slender handles and — the biggest, most useful feature — rotating tail caps that turn the driver shafts, making them perfect for small spaces (like your computer’s internals).
CRKT Pocket Driver Stash Tool
- No. of Drivers/Bits: 4
- Bit Types: Phillips, flathead, Torx
- Handle: Machined aluminum
Most driver sets aren’t what we’d call pocket- or travel-friendly. Sure, some come with cases and most multi-bit drivers save a ton on space, but we still wouldn’t want to carry them around with the rest of our everyday carry. By contrast, the CRKT Pocket Driver Stash Tool is perfectly designed for EDC usage, paring a multi-bit driver and four bits (with onboard storage) into a package that takes up about the same amount of space as a pocket flashlight. It also has an integrated clip and keychain (which are both removable) for even more versatility in how it can be carried and/or stored. All told, our tester found it to be incredibly convenient and useful for such a space-saving, small-scale tool.
Lenox Multi-Bit Screwdriver Set
- No. of Drivers/Bits: 9
- Bit Types: Phillips, flathead, hexsquare
- Handle: Rubber
Especially when compared to classic screwdriver sets, multi-bit drivers are incredibly space-saving and can be very convenient for on-the-go work. But you don’t actually need to spend an arm and a leg to get a good one, as our tester found out with the budget-friendly Lenox multi-bit driver you see here. They found that it is a breeze to use when tightening and loosening screws, swapping heads and even applying a hefty amount of torque. Pair that with its integrated bit storage in the driver shaft, its comfy rubberized grip and all-in-one profile and this is the kind of tool you’ll find yourself turning to again and again and again.
Craftsman 4V 20PC Screwdriver Set
- No. of Drivers/Bits: 18
- Bit Types: Phillips, flathead, square, Torx, hex
- Handle: Polyurethane
This driver is not dissimilar to the multi-bit option above, but for one pretty significant upgrade: this one has a built-in motor that turns the shaft using electricity, rather than traditional hand-cranked torque. What that means for you, the user, is that all you have to do is hold it in place, let it spin, and it’ll do the hard work of driving the screws in for you (or unscrewing, it has both forward and reverse settings). Better still, it can be recharged via USB for added convenience (all you’d need is a block to plug it into the wall), stores extra bits in the handle and comes from one of the most trusted brands in the tool industry.
Black+Decker 3.6V Rechargeable Screwdriver Set
- No. of Drivers/Bits: 42
- Bit Types: Phillips, flathead, square, Torx, hex
- Handle: Plastic, rubber
If you’re an apartment dweller, you probably aren’t going to need a significant set of tools. In fact, you might not even want one, since you likely have a landlord to handle any significant maintenance and you’re limited on storage space. That’s where this Black+Decker rechargeable multi-bit screwdriver comes in handy. It’s small, comes with 42 bits of varying size and format and the handle can be set in three different positions for easier usage even in tight spaces.
DeWalt Ratcheting T-Handle Set
- No. of Drivers/Bits: 30
- Bit Types: Phillips, flathead, hex
- Handle: Rubber
The t-shaped handles of this set mean you can get much more torque out of these drivers without the same fatigue you’d expect from more traditionally-shaped handles. And the ratcheting mechanism allows for quicker work — you don’t have to reposition after every crank — which also helps reduce fatigue even further. The one downside: because of the shape of the handles, this set isn’t as functional in tight spaces, like in corners or between beams. Otherwise, this is one of the best non-traditional sets around.
Husky Master Screwdriver Set
- No. of Drivers/Bits: 37
- Bit Types: Phillips, flathead, square, Torx, “specialty”
- Handle: Acetate
Volume is the name of the game when it comes to the Husky Master Screwdriver Set. With a maximum count of 37 included tools, this is the kit for anyone who wants to really hit that comprehensive angle but isn’t interested in a multi-bit driver. Including Phillips, flathead, Torx, square and more bit shapes, there are not many jobs this set can’t handle. And each driver comes with an impact- and chemical-resistant acetate handle. Of course, you’ll pay for that comprehension in actual cash (the set will run you over $100) and storage space. If you like this set, but don’t quite need such a comprehensive one, we also recommend this somewhat more pared-down Husky set.