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Impact Sockets vs. Chrome Sockets: What’s the Difference?

October 5th, 2021 by Gabi Crespo

What kind of socket are you working with today? Is it a chrome socket or an impact socket? Both socket types have their own set of advantages and specific use cases that will help you to get the job done right. What distinguishes impact sockets vs. chrome sockets and how do you choose the right socket for the job?


Material

Our professional set of impact sockets are forged from industrial-grade Chromium Molybdenum (Cr-Mo) steel for strength and shatter-resistance, making the tool capable of handling great torque as well as extreme shocks and vibrations delivered by impact guns. Cr-Mo is actually more malleable than Cr-V (chrome) sockets which helps contribute to their shatter-resistance. Because of this malleability, impact sockets typically aren’t chrome plated as the plating would likely flake off over time; additionally, the characteristic matte black oxide look of impact sockets helps distinguish them from their Cr-V cousins so you don’t accidentally use the wrong socket on an impact wrench. Impact sockets have the advantage of withstanding higher torque, with the tradeoff of being a bit thicker so they can withstand a lifetime of heavy use.

Our chrome sockets are forged from Chromium Vanadium (Cr-V) steel and the heat treatment process is calibrated to give them very high hardness. The hardened material allows chrome sockets to be designed with very thin walls, which makes them perfect to use in narrow spaces when applying hand torque, making your job easier. The high hardness plus the chrome plating result in very durable and rust-resistant sockets that, with proper care, will stay looking in great condition for generations.

Use Cases

Olsa Tools Chrome Sockets

Our Chrome sockets are engineered to work with ratcheting socket wrenches (simply known as “ratchets”) and other hand tools. Though they can’t be used with impact tools, they make a great complement to your impact socket set given that they are made with thinner walls and can get into tighter spaces more easily.

The impact socket design is different from regular chrome sockets because they are specially built for use on impact wrenches. All of our 6-point chrome and impact sockets feature an off-corner loading design that puts the force on the flats of the fasteners rather than the corners, reducing the chances of rounding fastener heads with your impact tool. Our sockets come in both short and deep in Metric and SAE sizes.

Where to Start

Olsa Tools Impact Sockets

Since impact sockets can be used on both impact tools and hand tools, our impact sockets make for a great set for a mechanic that’s just starting out.

Once you have a set of impact sockets, most mechanics will start out with 3/8"-drive chrome sockets due to their wide range of sizes and given that 3/8" ratchets offer a good balance of being smaller than 1/2" ratchets while still withstanding a decent amount of torque. The next purchase is often a 1/4"-drive socket set to help with the small stuff like tightening hose clamps in hard-to-reach areas. Finally, 1/2" drive sockets are great when working on larger vehicles and machinery when space isn’t tight, but larger bolt sizes are present and higher torque is required.

Unlike the DIY-level brands that sell a big kit of cheap cast steel sockets with low-quality ratchets and accessories that you might not even use, Olsa Tools sells professional-grade forged steel sockets in individual sets so you can buy exactly what you need, getting the same tools as the pros, at a price that won’t break the bank.

Investment

Though both impact and chrome sockets are useful tools for working on nuts and bolts, their different abilities mean that most mechanics will own both types of sockets so they will always have the right tool for the job. 

Though impact sockets tend to be slightly more pricey, they are worth the investment because they are built to deal with heavier-duty jobs requiring an impact wrench and can withstand high torque scenarios. Chrome sockets are the perfect tools when only hand torque is required. With a dozen different sets to choose from, you can start out with the sets you need, and expand over time.

Summary

Professional mechanics use both impact and chrome sockets since each type has different advantages and drawbacks. Having both types of sockets will ensure you have the perfect tool for different situations. Our sockets, like all Olsa Tools products, come with 30-day risk-free returns and are covered under our 100% Satisfaction Guarantee & Limited Lifetime Warranty to give you peace of mind that these tools are built to last a lifetime.

Shop Our Professional Socket Sets

Professional Set Of Chrome Sockets

Professional Set of Impact Sockets