Selection tolerance for selecting handles
Selection tolerance does not work for handles selection. You need to be very precise to select them. When smart guides are on, it works, but not when they are off.. For my type of work it's better to work without smart guides.
Leo Vitalis commented
Yep, it does seem to be broken. I've tested it on older versions, and it works fine there. There's a feature request to make the handles bigger to make them easier to grab. However, it may be just a bug with the tolerance feature.
Seem to be fixed in latest beta
AI CC 2017 doesn't feel and apply the tolerance, set in Preferences > Selection & Anchor Display!
I've just checked this in CS6. While fresh instalment doesn't do as you show, after setting 8px everything is OK. But in CC — NO.
Please see the animation attached.
G. Lafontant commented
When I hover over an anchor point with the direct selection tool, the cursor gives a visual clue that I am actually over it. When I click on the end of handle (successfully) it does as well. But if I click and drag but miss the handle end (which does not get bigger when I zoom,) it goes into selection mode and the handle goes away. This is annoying. I would like the cursor to change before I click on the handle end (while hovering - like it does on an anchor.) That way, I can tell when I'm actually in the correct spot to grab the handle before I click and drag and, frustratingly, lost the handle and have to reselect the anchor.