Tool review: Beta driver tools -- a sampling of the Italian brand
OK, so what’s so neat about yet another set of hand drivers and a ratchet? That’s what I wondered when I started to examine a small selection of hand tools from Beta Tools. I was pleasantly surprised.
While Beta offers an extremely extensive line of tools and equipment, my first look at this brand began by playing with three part numbers, including a set of T-handle hex bit drivers, a set of T-handle socket wrench drivers and a 1/2-inch-drive ratchet.
Male hex drivers
The metric kit I received (P/N 951) included sizes 2 mm, 2.5 mm, 3 mm, 3.5 mm, 4 mm, 4.5 mm, 5 mm and 6 mm. Inch-format sets are also available under P/N 951AS that range from 3.32 to 3/8-inch.
The design features a T-handle format, with the T-handle end featuring a matching size hex bit at each end. Including the hex bit at the long end, that’s a total of three bits on a single tool. The cool feature is the sliding T-handle end, which allows you to adjust the length of the reach that best suits the work space. A nice aspect of the sliding “T” section are notched detents in the sliding bar that lock the short slider bar to the main bar.
A detent notch is machined near the end of each side of the slider. This allows you to set the bar for a shorter or longer reach when needed, without the bar sliding further during hex engagement.
Other versions of this T-handle tool are also available that feature Torx bits, as well as versions for either hex or Torx that feature a ball swivel at the long end.
Hex socket drivers
This set of “high torque” T-handled socket wrench drivers included sizes 7 mm, 8 mm, 9 mm, 10 mm, 11 mm, 12 mm and 13 mm (P/N 941). Each features a bright orange high-impact plastic handle (clearly marked for size).
What’s really cool is that each size tool features two sockets — one at the long end and one extending out from the T-handle, so you have a choice of two sockets that are 90 degrees from each other, one short and one long. Very handy for both accessible and hard-to-reach areas.
The hex socket at the long end also features a deep reach cavity, handy for dealing with nuts on studs where the stud extends out from the nut. NOTE: The socket wrench at the long end is a six-point, while the socket at the T-handle short end features a 12-point, allowing you to cover either style with the same tool. To my knowledge, this set is only available in metric format.
One-half inch ratchet
Like many shops, I own a collection of 1/2-inch ratchets in various lengths, including just about every brand out there. This one measures 10 inches in length. The grip fills the hand comfortably with strategically placed non-slip chemical-resistant rubber sections.
The feature I really like is the forward/reverse selector, which is a positive-feeling low-profile sliding switch, so there’s no projection to hang up in tight spaces and no chance of accidentally switching into the opposite direction during use. Durability-wise, I gave it a more than healthy workout in both forward and reverse, and she never gave me a problem (which is what I’d expect). Just for the heck of it, I dropped it onto the shop floor probably about a dozen times and she just kept working smoothly. Again, that’s what I’d expect from any well-built wrench. The grip and direction-selector are the two features that made me smile.
What’s my opinion? After playing with this sampling of hand tools for about a month in my shop, the cleverness and intelligence of design, attention to detail and overall quality was impressive. In a word: superb. If this small selection of tools that I received is indicative of Beta’s entire line, color me impressed.
NOTE: In case you’re unfamiliar with this brand, Beta Tools is an Italian tool manufacturer producing quality tools for European technicians since 1939 and has been heavily involved in supplying tools for Formula One and other race car applications, as well as for marine and motorcycle teams. Check out the website listed below. The authorized importer for the U.S. and Canada is Peerless Hardware. The array of tools and equipment is very extensive. ●
210 Chestnut St.
Columbia, PA 17512