flex head vs swivel head ratchet

Flex Head Vs Swivel Head Ratchet: Which Tool to Pick?

Ratchet is quite a standard power tool you will come across. But among the countless varieties, which type might get your job done more perfectly? 

Worry not. Here, I have brought two prevalent types to dissect in front of you! 

So, what are the key differences between flex head vs swivel head ratchet?

The swivel head ratchet is cheaper compared to flex head in terms of pricing. A swivel or roto head allows almost a hundred tooth counting while flex head contains 36. The swing arc of the swivel head ratchet varies from 3.5 to 5 degrees. Meanwhile, the flex head has a 10 degrees swing arc.

Well, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Holding a firm decision will require an in-depth understanding between them. And that’s why I’m here!

So, let’s get to the business!

Pros & Cons

Here’s the quick look at all the pros and cons of each of these ratchets-

Swivel Head RatchetFlex Head Ratchet
PROSLightweight body for better ergonomics

Does not require extensions in most cases

Higher tooth count
Lower swing arc which makes it easy to handle.

Can apply more torque.

Better availability on the market
CONSA bit bulky

Unable to reach narrow spaces
Higher swing arc

Requires extensions

Now it’s time to look at the different attributes of these two ratchets.

Flex Head Vs Swivel Head Ratchet: A Quick Glimpse

Before going deeper between them, we feel you should get a bird’s eye view. Following this, we have prepared a table below full of comparing aspects. 

Compared FactorsFlex Head RatchetSwivel Head Ratchet
Head SizePear-shaped and LighterRound-shaped and Heavier
Swing Arc10 Degrees3.5-5 Degrees
Angle VarietiesAfter the HeadAt The Head
Tooth CountingAlmost 36Almost 100

Also, don’t think you’re the only one thinking about which one is more useful. Because there are many like you who don’t know which way to go-

Now. I’m moving to the detailed comparison for your better and in-depth understanding.

Flex Head Vs Swivel Head Ratchet: Detailed Comparison

Flex head and swivel head ratchet are so similar to each other. But this can not hide the dissimilarities that they share! 

Let’s compare things between them one aspect by one. 

Head Size: 

The flex head has a lighter head compared to swivel head ratchet. However, that’s just a basic comparison. First you need to know how the head sizes actually works.

You will find the swivel head ratchets coming in a round and circular shape. It is also quite overweight than most ratchet types available in the market. Haven’t you heard of “roto head” as its nickname? 

YIYEIE 6-Piece Flex-Head Ratchet Set

  • 6-Piece Ratchet Set: Includes 1/4″, 3/8″, 1/2″ drive flex-head ratchets and corresponding extension bars as extra bonus. This ratchet wrench set is especially useful for those hard to reach and odd places.
  • 180-Degree Flexible: Swivel ratchet head can bend 90 degrees in either direction, making it easier to get bolts tucked behind or under things. Crafted from high-strength CR-V & CR-MO Steel, fully polished. Exceeds ANSI & ASME standards.
  • 72-Tooth Reversible: Fine 72-tooth ratcheting mechanism is smooth and only takes 5 degrees of swing arc to operate while maintaining maximum torque. Reversible ratchet head allows for dual directions with ease in tight spaces.
  • Quick Release, Comfort Use: Quick-release button ensures a secure fit and rapid socket swapping. Ergonomic handle provides comfort and security grip, making working long hours effortlessly.

On the other hand, the flex head is a bit distorted from being round. Rather, you can say it is pear-shaped. 

Basically, this is declared by active users due to its bulky nature. In the meantime, this feature comes with a setback to be highlighted. 

Have you got the selection harshly restrained? Then, this ratchet is not ideal for your task. Also, it is quite lightweight compared to the swivel head. You will get its head much lighter than the whole tiny body.

Multi-function flex head ratchet
Source: Youtube

As a result, anytime you require reaching tighter spaces will suit this tool. But having ball detents along with swivel pins puts some risk. 

In the long run, these might wear out. Along with that, its head might tilt after some time. 

Also, you know ratchets have specific drive sizes like 1/4, 3/8, and 1/2 inches. Similar to choosing between 6/2, 6/3, 8/2 or 8/3 wiring for welders, you should be sure about which size ratchet to get.

Winner: Flex Head Ratchet is better suited because of its lighter body and shape.

Swing Arc:

Before buying the new ratchet, you’ve to be mindful of the swing arc. And, that’s where the swivel head ratchet usually wins over the flex head. 

But how? 

Well, swivel carries superior and higher tooth count which actually lets lower swing arc. In degrees, The swivel head is around 3.5-5 while the flex head comes with 10. 

Details of a swivel head ratchet
Source: Aliexpress

Along with that, the swivel can deliver 180 degrees of motion range. As a result, users find it quite easier to handle and handy. 

Do you think getting to know some swivel head ratchet will help you to understand? Then you’re in total luck because I’ve used tons of swivel ratchets till date. Titan 11313 1/4-Inch Drive Swivel Head Ratchet is my daily driver.

The best thing is that it even has a very affordable price! However, you can check out Powerbuilt Swivel Head Ratchet as well. This ratchet is also very easy to handle.

TEKTON 1/4, 3/8, 1/2 Inch Drive Swivel Head Ratchet Set

  • Includes 3-pc. swivel head ratchets: 1/4 in. drive x 5 in., 3/8 in. x 9 in., 1/2 in. drive x 12 in.
  • 270-degree swivel head lets you approach your work from any angle
  • 72-tooth gear produces a working swing arc of just 5 degrees
  • Quick-release drive tang locks securely on to sockets so they won’t accidentally fall off
  • Comfortable molded handle with soft, nonslip grip

But I think you’ll be future proof if you go for the TEKTON Multiple Drive Swivel Head Ratchet Set. You’ll be totally covered and won’t need any other ratchet at all.

In the meantime, the flex head brings out very few teeth compared to the swivel. Its 36 tooth promotes the changeable ratcheting mechanism. 

Relevantly, working on a narrow space might find this mechanism a bit problematic. 

Winner: Swivel Head Ratchet wins as it provides lower swing arc and efficient handling.

Tooth Count: 

Many users often ignore the tooth count. But in real life, depending on this counting, you can measure how convenient the ratchet is! 

If you look at the flex head, it contains only 36 teeth moving 10 degrees. While having less thick and robust teeth, you can always apply more torque indeed. Also, keep in mind that using a ratchet is not the same as using a torque wrench.

Meanwhile, the swivel head ratchet brings up to 100 teeth requiring 3.5 degrees swing arc only. 

Along with that, you can have 180 degrees of motion variety via this tool. Having quick-release regulators keeps it effortless to switch out sockets.

Winner: Swivel Head Ratchet wins because of its higher tooth count.

Angle Differences:

This is another key trait showing differences between these types. Adjusting the angle is possible for the swivel head ratchets. 

However, you can only change the angle after the head on the flex head. As a result, utilizing extensions might be required in some cases too. 

In the meantime, the roto or swivel head does not really need extensions. However, utilizing a breaker bar might be the solution for clearance issues in some cases. 

Winner: Swivel Head Ratchet comes on the top again because of its flexible angle adjustment.

ARES 42040-4-Piece 72-Tooth Flex Head Ratchet Set 

  • Material: Chrome Vanadium steel
  • Finish: Corrosion resistant Mirror Polish Chrome finish
  • Drive Sizes: 1/4-inch, 3/8-inch, and 1/2-inch
  • Lengths:
    • 1/4-inch ratchet: 7 inches
    • 3/8-inch ratchet: 11 3/8 inches
    • 1/2-inch ratchet: 12 1/4 inches
    • 3/8-inch stubby ratchet: Less than 6 inches
  • Ratcheting Mechanism: 72-tooth reversible design
  • Swing Arc: 5 degrees
  • Drive Direction: Easily changeable with a thumb switch on the back of the flexible ratchet head
  • Quick Release: Features a quick-release button for easy socket changes
  • Range of Motion: Full 180-degree range of motion for working in tight spaces
  • Compliance: Meets and exceeds ASME torque performance standards
  • Warranty: Backed by a Performance Assurance Limited Lifetime Warranty


Both ratchets come with an attractive price range reasonable for the users. However, the swivel head is a bit cheaper. 

You can have a swivel head ratchet at $15 to $25. Meanwhile, the flex head might ask for between $18 to $30. 

Both Capri Tools 3/8-Inch Flex-Head Ratchet and Crescent Quick Release Flex Head Teardrop Ratchet will cost you in that range. 

However, something like a GEARWRENCH 4 Piece Flex Head Teardrop Ratchet Set will cost you more than $100.

Relevantly, you can’t judge if Dewalt hand tools good enough or not without a good ratchet. So, make sure to get a solid one!

Winner: Swivel Head Ratchet gets a slight edge because of its affordability.

Olsa Tools Swivel Head Ratchet Set 3pc 1/2″, 1/4″, 3/8″ Drive

  • The swivel ratchet head rotates a total of 270 degrees, allowing for a wider range of angles than standard ratchets.
  • The ratchet requires only a 4-degree swing arc, thanks to its precision machined 90-tooth gear-to-gear mechanism.
  • Torque Capacity:
    • 1/4-inch drive ratchet can handle 56 ft-lb of torque
    • 3/8-inch drive ratchet can handle 225 ft-lb of torque
    • 1/2-inch drive ratchet can handle 563 ft-lb of torque
  • The ratchet features a fork split design that allows for slight flexing in high-torque applications, enhancing its durability.
  • Made from industrial-grade Chrome Vanadium (Cr-V) steel, known for its strength and corrosion resistance.

Which Ratchet Will Be the Best for You?

If you look at the tooth count, swivel head ratchets allow easier operation. And, hands down to the swivel head ratchet for its lower swing arc.

Ratchet comparison chart

Along with that, it permits narrow movements. You will get the ratchet angle adjustment at the head. Simply, no restrictions here! And, this ratchet is a bit cheaper too. 

Meanwhile, the flex head has a suitable head size despite carrying swivel pins and ball dents. 

But only head sizing can not win the game. So, from our perspective, only the roto head comes to our mind! 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What Is The Most Typical Ratchet Size?

1/4 inches, 3/8, or even 1/2 inches drives are the most common ratchet sizes. You might find a 1-inch drive quite a popular ratchet in some cases. Most ratchets operated with sockets possess a gear mechanism. Basically, these are developed to permit the rotation facility for single directions only.

What Are Swivel Head Ratchets Basically Utilized For?

Swivel head ratchets are highly utilized for executions in tight areas. Different jobs might suit this ratchet for allowing several angles. These can rotate a total of 270 degrees. Relevantly, users will find it accommodating a broader range of angles far higher than standard ratchets. 

How Much Torque Can A 1/4 Inches Drive Handle?

A 1/4 inches drive carries 30 ft-lb torque. This measurement is possible while considering a good quality tool steel that can endure 100K PSI. Though standard can bump this up, a wobble extension might trim this drive to half. Meanwhile, 3/8 and 3/4 inches can carry 100 and 800 ft-lb respectively.

Final Words

Now you know which ratchet to choose between flex head vs swivel head ratchet! Hopefully, you’ve made up your mind about which one you are going to buy! 

And, have you got anything in your mind? Let me know through a comment!

That’s all for today! Have a great day.

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