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Which is better - a six or twelve sided socket (sometimes referred to as six point vs twelve point)? Both have their place! Here's a shot of both - six point on the left, twelve sided on the right:
Twelve sided sockets have the advantage of being able to be fitted onto a fastener at twice as many angles. This advantage is somewhat negated when the sockets are used with a ratchet wrench, as the wrench can be adjusted to many different angles itself, but is relevant when being used with a breaker bar, T-handle or similar tool which lacks a ratcheting mechanism.
Six sided sockets have thicker walls than their twelve sided counterparts and grasp the fastener more in the center of it's flat faces, rather than in the corners - meaning that the six sided sockets are more appropriate when used in high-torque applications.
A high quality (often more expensive, not always) 12-sided socket is likely to be functionally equal to a 6-sided socket for most applications. If you have 12-point fasteners, you must use a 12-point socket. In terms of high-torque fasteners such as head bolts, suspension components, flywheel bolts and the like six sided sockets are often a good investment as rounding these off can be expensive and time consuming to remove and replace.
My personal preference is to use a 6-point socket where possible - I favour the Ko-ken Zeal 6-point range (as seen in this review) and high-tooth-count ratchets such as this Nepros unit - the high tooth count largely renders the 12-point sockets unnecessary in most circumstances.
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