Best Cordless Ratchet

Best Cordless Ratchet

For a lot of people, a 3/8-inch cordless ratchet is a must-have tool. The least expensive brand we’ll be testing is only 60 dollars, compared to Makita. So, the question is: Is that Makita really worth an extra 100 against 29 dollars. We’ll see which ratchet offers the highest rpm. We’ll test the ratchets for maximum torque. We’ll see which ratchet can handle a constant load for 30 seconds. 

Pro Stormer

Pro Stormer claims to be a very light tool at only 1.85 pounds. Two thousand milliamp-hour battery. All the ratchets we’ll be testing are powered by 12 volts. The Pro Stormer comes with a second battery, battery charger. Delivers up to 30-foot-pounds of torque. The superior fastening speed with 230 rpm. LED indicator provides you with a real-time battery level at all times. The Pro Stormer even comes with several sockets. Made in China.

The Pro Stormer is really light at only one pound 13.7 ounces/ 843 grams. The balance of a tool is always a factor to consider. The very front of this tool has 472 grams, the back of it 372. The Pro Stormer is actually a fairly balanced tool with 56 % of the weight on the ratchet end of the tool and 44 % on the handle end. I’m going to place the sound meter 24 inches from the ratchet to compare the noise levels. The Pro -Stormer is very close to 81 decibels. The Pro Stormer definitely has a compact head at only 36.91 millimeters front to back and 30.37 from side to side. 

Earthquake XT 

The second least expensive brand we’ll be testing is the Earthquake XT, which is sold at “Harbor Freight.” Sixty-foot pounds of torque delivers the power of the air. Two-amp-hour high-capacity battery. It comes with a 12-Volt charger — variable speed paddle with an electronic brake for control and versatility.

Compact head design for use in tight spaces. Variable speed 0 to 170 rpm, we’re going to test that. The Pro Stormer came with two batteries. The Earthquake only comes with one battery charger. Compared to the Pro-Stormer, there’s quite a difference in size; the Earthquake is made in China. The Earthquake uses a variable speed paddle. Neither the Pro Stormer nor the Earthquake has a way to lock the tool out to keep it from accidentally activating inside of a toolbox if something comes in contact with the paddle or the trigger. The Earthquake is 1,352 grams/ 2 pounds and 15.7 ounces. So just under three pounds for the Earthquake.

839 grams and 511. So, the earthquake isn’t quite as balanced as a Pro Stormer, with 62% of the tool weight on the ratchet head side and 38 % on the handle side. 86 decibels for the Earthquake, so it’s quite a bit louder than the Pro Stormer. The Earthquake claims to have a compact head that’s actually quite a bit larger than all the other brands, measuring 43.28 millimeters front to back and 40.3 side to side.

Milwaukee 

35-foot pounds of torque. 0 to 250 rpm. It only weighs 1.5 pounds. It’s only 10 and 3 4 inches in length. The Milwaukee is made in China. M12 charger, two of 4-amp-hour batteries, made in Korea or Malaysia with additional processing in China. The Milwaukee weighs 2 pounds 6.2 ounces/ 1,083 grams. The Milwaukee does have a lockout feature, which keeps the tool from powering up accidentally. 

511 grams 570. So, Milwaukee is the best-balanced tool yet. With 47 % of the weight on the head side of the tool. At very close to 81 decibels, the Milwaukee and the Pro Stormer put out about the same amount of noise. 31.12 that’s the best yet.  Only 29.66, the Milwaukee has the most compact head design.

Makita 

The most expensive brand we’ll be testing is made by Makita. The tool is made in China. Battery cell made in Japan. Further processing in China. The charger is made in China and so is the tool bag. One 2-amp-hour battery, battery charger. The Makita can be used as both a 3.8-inch drive as well as a quarter inch. The Makita also has a trigger lock. 0 to 800 rpm, we’re going to test that. 

35-foot pounds. Overall length 13 and 7 16. The Makita can be used without the battery and uses a regular ratchet. The Pro Stormer and the Earthquake don’t have lights, but the Milwaukee and the Makita do have them. The Makita’s light definitely seems brighter and has a better broadcast. The Makita weighs 1,066 grams/ 2 pounds 5.6 ounces. The Makita is definitely the most balanced tool, with a 50%-weight-balanced on each end of the tool. At only 80 decibels, the Makita is the quietest of all four brands. The Makita is 39.35, the Milwaukee and Pro Stormer have a smaller head size than the Makita. 

Noise level and Weight Distribution

So, the Makita is the quietest at 80 decibels, Pro Stormer and Milwaukee 81; and Earthquake 86. The Makita is also the most balanced tool with the 50:50 weight distribution. But Milwaukee is nearly as good at 47 and 53. Since the Pro Stormer Is light, it feels about the same as the Milwaukee with its 56:44 weight distribution. The length of the Earthquake and the weight distribution definitely make a very noticeable difference when comparing them to the other three brands. 

No Load rpm Test 

In the next test, let’s measure the no-load rpm for each ratchet. The Pro Stormer battery is fully charged. The Pro Stormer claims to make 230 rpm but actually did better than advertised at 319. The Earthquake’s battery is fully charged. The Earthquake is advertised as being capable of 170 rpm but actually did better than that at 256. Earthquake does a terrific job at slower speeds, too, reaching as low as 30 rpm. 

The battery in Milwaukee is fully charged. The Milwaukee provides the best low rpm control yet at only 15. It also produces the highest rpm at 490. The Makita is advertised as capable of 800 no-load rpm, but unfortunately, mine only produced 361, which isn’t nearly as fast as Milwaukee. The minimum rpm was 39. So, Milwaukee came in on top for producing the most rpm, followed by Makita, then the Pro Stormer, and finally the Earthquake.

Trigger Delay 

The trigger or paddle is squeezed until the time the tool goes to work, called trigger delay. So, let’s make a side-by-side comparison with the Earthquake on the left and the Pro Stormer on the right. They’re actually pretty close. Let’s slow things down a little, and the Pro Stormer is slightly faster off the line, but the Earthquake has a much better break. 

Let’s compare the Pro Stormer to the Milwaukee. The Pro Stormer is barely faster than Milwaukee, but Milwaukee is definitely faster than Earthquake. Neither Milwaukee nor the Pro Stormer comes to a stop quickly, like the Earthquake. The Pro Stormer is actually a fraction of a second faster than Makita. But it’s very close. Makita does have an electronic brake, which allows it to stop quickly. So, the Pro Stormer has the best trigger speed, but Milwaukee and Makita make more rpm. 

Lug Nuts Test

So, let’s see which can spin the 28 lug nuts on the fastest in the next test, beginning with the Pro Stormer. A minute and 52 seconds for the Pro Stormer, which is right at four seconds per lug nut. 

The Earthquake is noticeably slower than a Pro Stormer and also seems to make a lot more vibration as well. Two minutes and nine seconds for the Earthquake, which is a little over a half a second per lug nut slower than the Pro Stormer. 

The Milwaukee’s battery is fully charged, and Milwaukee is noticeably faster than a Pro Stormer and the Earthquake: a minute and 22 seconds for the Milwaukee, which is nearly a minute faster than the Earthquake. 

The Makita’s battery is fully charged. Like Milwaukee, the Makita is speedy, a minute and 27 seconds from Makita, five seconds slower than Milwaukee.

Side by Side Comparison

Let’s make a quick side-by-side comparison to see the speed difference — Pro Stormer on the left and Earthquake on the right. The Pro Stormer won the first match. After that, Pro Stormer wins again, and it’s three in a row for the Pro Stormer. 

Pro Stormer on the left and Makita on the right, and it’s Makita for the win on the first lug nut. Makita wins again, and it’s three in a row for Makita. 

Makita on the left and Milwaukee on the right. Milwaukee won the first match, Milwaukee won again, but it’s close. Three wins in a row from Milwaukee. 

Maximum Torque 

I put together this next test rig to measure the maximum torque of each brand.  The nuts are welded in position, but the bolt still rotates freely. I’ll use an electronic torque adapter, which will measure the maximum torque. 18.6 foot-pounds for the Pro Stormer, not bad for a budget tool.

Testing the Earthquake next. 32.8-foot-pounds for the Earthquake. Testing the Milwaukee: 29.9-foot-pounds for Milwaukee, not bad considering it’s geared for a much higher rpm and a very compact tool. The Earthquake is in the lead at 32.8-foot-pounds. 

Let’s see if Makita can move into the lead: 32.8-foot-pounds for Makita. So, the Earthquake and Makita are tied for the lead. So, if torque is a huge factor for you, the Makita and the Earthquake tied for first at 32.8, but Milwaukee wasn’t too far behind at 29.9, and the Pro Stormer finished in a distant fourth at 18.6.

Rusted Bolt Removal Test 

The purpose of this next test is to demonstrate the ability of these ratchets to remove a nut from a bolt with slightly rusted or damaged threads. We’ll keep an eye on the green rope to count the total rotations in this 30-second test. I went ahead and removed the spark plug, but I left the engine break-in a position that is providing right at 4.3-foot-pounds of resistance.

The Pro- Stormer is spinning the engine over just fine, but the load has really slowed it down. So, the Pro Stormer spun the engine 38 times in 30 seconds. The Earthquake is off to a great start and is definitely spinning the engine over quite a bit faster than the Pro Stormer. Unfortunately, the Earthquake gave up at 23 seconds and couldn’t get going again. 57 rotations for the Earthquake.

The Milwaukee seems unfazed by the 4.3-foot-pounds of resistance and is spinning the engine over quickly. 101 rotations in 30 seconds, very impressive. The Makita definitely started faster than Milwaukee, but it slowed down a little around 17 seconds into the test. It barely finished ahead of Milwaukee at 104 rotations.

Manual Usage Damage Test 

We’ll find out if using ratchets manually to loosen really tight fasteners will cause damage in the next test. I’ll first tighten all the lug nuts to 90-foot-pounds, and then let’s use the torque adapter to figure out our breakaway torque. It took 77.6-foot-pounds of torque to break loose the first lug nut. 77.4 for the second, which is quite a bit for a 3 8-inch ratchet. 

The Pro Stormer did just fine on the first lug nut, it also did just fine in the second, and there’s no apparent damage. With the longer handle, the Earthquake offered quite a bit more leverage and didn’t have a problem removing both of the lug nuts. With a much-shorter handle and a lot less leverage, it definitely took more effort, but the Milwaukee held up just fine, removing both lug nuts. The Makita’s longer handle definitely provided more leverage, and it did easy work of both of the lug nuts. 

Charging Time

I went ahead and fully drained all the batteries. So, let’s see how long it takes to charge them. All the brands use a 2-amp-hour battery, except for Milwaukee, which uses a 4-amp-hour battery. So, it’s definitely not a fair test since Milwaukee has twice the storage capacity. But it’ll provide us with some great information.

The Makita is the first one fully charged at 61 minutes and 29 seconds. Not bad for a fully drained battery, and the Pro Stormer took quite a bit longer at 74 minutes, which is very close to 13 minutes longer than the Makita. The Milwaukee took 79 minutes and 30 seconds to charge a 4-amp-hour battery. That’s actually pretty impressive. The Earthquake took by far the longest at 91 minutes and 35 seconds.

Running Time

All right, the batteries are fully charged. So, let’s see how long the tools are run without a load. In addition to being able to lock the trigger on the Makita to keep it from accidentally powering up, it also powers itself off after one minute of continuous usage. I’ll have to hold the Makita and power it up once every minute.

Unfortunately, the Earthquake, which has the longest charge time at over an hour and a half, also has the shortest run time at just under 28 minutes. It also has the slowest rpm, and we’ll see how that impacts things in just a minute. After 28 minutes of runtime, all the tools are pretty hot, but not to the point of causing damage.

The Makita, which runs at a much higher rpm than the Earthquake, is finished at just over 30 minutes. The Pro Stormer did a pretty impressive job at 49 minutes and 40 seconds, which is very close to 19 more minutes of run time than the Makita. The Milwaukee, as expected, with its 4-amp-hour battery, totally crushed the competition at 71 minutes and 20 seconds.

Number of Works per Full-Charging 

Rpm and battery life have a huge impact on how much work you can get done on a full charge. So, going back to our test setup with 28 lug nuts, the Milwaukee ratchet installs a lug nut every 2.93 seconds. Makita needed 3.11 seconds, Pro Stormer 4 seconds, and Earthquake 4.61. Assuming the threads are well lubricated, the Milwaukee could install around 1,457 lug nuts in a single charge under perfect conditions. The Pro Stormer could install 745, the Makita 585, and the Earthquake 364. 

While we don’t know the number of charges and discharge cycles for each battery, the Earthquake’s battery will have to be charged a lot more often than the other brands and is likely to wear out a lot sooner. Milwaukee definitely seems to have done the best in this showdown, but I also really like the Makita quite a bit. If you need a light-duty tool for occasional use, the Pro Stormer actually did a fairly good job. The Earthquake seems like a decent tool, but unfortunately, the battery seems like the weak point in the tool. 

Mike Walker

Repair and Construction Expert. WoodiesDIY.tv Owner