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Hagerty Employee

Testing torque: Harbor Freight vs Snap-On | Hagerty Media

The old saying about buying tools is "buy right or buy twice". But does it hold up in modern times? Real Tool Reviews put that saying to the test with a video comparing the renowned Snap-On brand with a recently released ICON tool line from Harbor Freight, which is best known for budget-friendly tools, rather than high quality.

Our Snap-On guy was taking about his daughter going to Embry-Riddle, and I looked across the floor to my buddy who sold his pickup to get a bunch of tools he “needed”.

This test really is like a lot of new car tests. Most things are great out of the box so the real test is use and age.

With a wrench like this how long it holds a setting and how long it does not break are key.

Much like a pair of pliers that are cheaper. I have some harbor versions for odd applications. They work but I have to keep them oiled to keep them usable. Just high humidity will rust them.

This old harbor torque wrench argument is an old one and seldom is addressed in the correct way.

Not everyone needs a snap on but if you use one often generally you often find you get what you pay for in durability over the run.

A new Yugo would get you to work just as a new Lexus but in 5 years things will be a bit different.

This has always been a failing in new car reviews. Durability and cost to keep some cars on the road like a BMW can at times be more than the cars value.

But go past a high school parking lot it is full of Chevy Cruze that are cheap to buy easy to fix and reliable. Not fancy but it is everything else.

It is a game of give and take.

Here's one person's Canadian take:

Older Craftsman branded tools were a great value. Not so sure in the post-Sears where are they made now era but probably at least on the Home Depot "Husky" level which is usable at least.

Stanley stuff was a standard hobbyist quality in the past, "Fat Max" stuff seems worth the price premium vs. what now is baseline Stanley quality.

Canadian Tire (nicknamed Crappy Tire by many) has long sold the "Mastercraft" line of tools. These are pretty cheap and go on sale often. If you know you want a particular item and can wait, almost everything in the tool section is heavily discounted at least once a year. Most of the tools have a lifetime warranty so being lesser quality isn't an issue. I know a mechanic that uses Mastercraft for the "on the road" stuff they don't care if they drop in the mud and lose.

Princess Auto maybe equates to Harbor Freight... I have family members that keep going back and this stuff doesn't last. But situationally maybe it's a great buy. I avoid the place.

Mac Tools and Snap-on are expensive and worth it if you are serious daily user of the tool. Or if you are rich and want the bling garage...

A quality old Canadian brand is Gray Tools. The quality (and price) is up there in the Mac-Snap-on range.

If one is willing to buy old tools, it's like hunting for an older bench vise where the good old ones are far better than anything the box stores sell you today. I'd much rather have someone's 50 year old Craftsman socket set than one of those discount kits with 197 pieces half of which I have no use for.

I'm a sucker for just about any old tool stamped "Made in USA" or "Made in Canada" even if I already have 4 sets of that shear.

I inherited some good old tools from a retired diesel mechanic.   

there were some custom ones he fabricated.   Couldn’t ask what they were for, but I kept them.  Just in case.