Heh, nobody has ever heard of Wiha. They've been here for a little while, and are even getting some limited exposure at Sears' (small selection on the Sears website, and some of the bigger Sears stores carry and even smaller selection). Oddly enough, Wiha's headway stopped there, but you can get their full selection of stuff on wihatools.com (though I should note, only the driver stuff is Wiha, the rest is Heyco which is not very good). But trust me, Wiha microfinish screwdrivers are the best for people who are messy when they work on cars (i.e. get oil all over their hands).
Beta has only been to going to end users in the US for a few years, and are just now starting their dealer network (before it was just you got them from Beta and even then it was only to industrial users, apparently they have a few distributors now, and will sometime soon start operating a Snap-on style truck and have some store fronts). I had never heard of Beta before myself, it was my brother who knew about them. They've been around for a long long time, just not in the US.
Hazet wrenches are good IMHO (plus I got a set of all sizes from 6mm through 32mm for little less than $300 as opposed to something like $900 for a comparable Snap on set), and their MB specific tools looks pretty good too, but the rest of their stuff I don't think has progressed in 50 years. Their wrenches are the same dimensionally as Snap on, and appear to have similar stiffness, and they don't round corners. I guess, yes there is a reason that they're cheaper: they are only shiny chrome on the heads, but I for one perfer the grip afforded by the bead blasted metal gripping area...and the spare $600.
The Beta stuff looks to be about 20% cheaper than snap on (plus, like I said, if I ever buy a chest they'll give me 20% off). Yes, again, there is a reason: Snap on IIRC is forged, whereas Beta cold forges it and then laser cuts it to get it down to its final shape...so it's cheaper than Snap on for a reason; however, they are still dimensionally just as small (i.e. will get into tight places just as well) the question is how tough are they? I guess I'll find out, since after talking to the guy there I decided to buy a ratchet set from them. If it's no good I'll either return it or eBay it and chalk up the money I lose to experience. They are ISO 9001:2000 certified, and they do supply lots of european motorsports teams (though...thats probably just because they probably give them the tools for free...it appears thats what they are doing with Ferrari, Ferrari uses the tools for free and in return Beta gets licensing and it appears feedback to help make new/better tools).
Facom, which we used to get in the US, is really good (best punches in the world, and CDX drive is a genius idea - spline drive in a compact ratchet), but Stanley decided not to bring them to the US anymore (apparently they were losing tons of money by importing here).
Yeah, it's true, nobody has the ease of support of Snap On or Craftsman, and that lifetime warranty is key (though Beta has that too...and I thought Hazet did but I guess not), but if I have to put up with a little more hassel in case of failure, and that means less money gets me an equally good tool, I want to spend less money (since I'm not in a situation where being without a tool for a little while means I can't do my job).
Craftsman pro??? I've used some of their sockets before (mostly allen key sockets, and some impact sockets), but have you looked at their screwdrivers? I think after making the tip, they then jam it against a concrete wall repeatedly, especially with the phillips heads.
And Husky (yes, I realize you didn't mention them) is a knuckle killer (sockets break), and a bolt rounder (sockets only grab at the corners and even then aren't a very consistent fit).
And while I'm on the subject, Stahlwille, I really like their idea for their wrenches...just that the actualy product is not so good.
Oh, and I think it's safe to say Knipex makes the best pliers cost be damned.
Last edited by marlinspike; 10-11-2006 at 07:05 PM.