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The Best Pliers for Any Job Imaginable

There seems to be a specialized type of pliers for every job imaginable, but you can usually get away with a handful of the most basic types. From needle nose to channel lock, you'll find the best of the best on our lists of pliers in 2021 below. Each of these tools will be made with high quality materials, function smoothly and have a long working life so you can be rest assured that you're getting the best pliers for the job.

Here are the best pliers of 2021

best Snap-On 4 Piece Plier

Snap-On 4 Piece Plier - Best Pliers Overall

Snap-On has long enjoyed the reputation of being the top brand of mechanic's tools around. They are known for this both from the quality of their tools, as well as the lifetime warranty on them. You break a Snap-On tool, and they give you a new one, no questions asked. This set of pliers holds true to that reputation, giving high quality and years of service. The set includes 47CF combination slip joint pliers, 91ACP channel locks, 96CF needle nose and 87F diagonal cutters. While they do have better tools for each of these categories, they don't have them in a set like this one. The tools come packed in a storage tray, so that you can keep them neatly in your toolbox drawer.

best Matco 4 Piece Universal Plier

Matco 4 Piece Universal Plier - Runner Up

Like Snap-On, Matco tools is a brand that markets directly to the mechanic. In many ways, they follow the Snap-On business model, with dealers visiting mechanics shops in well-laden step-vans, brining the tools right to the mechanics. This set is very much like the Snap-On one, containing slip joint pliers, channel locks, needle nose pliers and a set of diagonal cutters. The steel is comparable to that in Snap-On's tools and the price is just a bit better. I like their slip joint pliers, which have a narrower nose than most brands. This makes it possible to use them in places where slip joints normally won't fit and needle nose aren't strong enough. There are those who say that these tools are just as good, while offering a savings on price.

Channellock TOOLROLL-3 5-Piece Plier - Most Quiet

I had to include at least one set that was over the top and I'm glad that it's from Channellock. I'm a big fan of their tools, which provide a lot of value for the money. Not to say that this kit is cheap, but you get double the number of tools in it for about the same price as the Snap-On kit; and they're good quality tools as well. This kit contains three different size pair of channel locks, as well as slip joint pliers, lineman's pliers, diagonal cutting pliers, end cutting pliers, needle nose pliers and an adjustable wrench. While I can't pretend that the wrench is a pair of pliers, it's nice they threw it in. All the tools are made of high quality C1080 steel, hardened and dip coated to make the handles more comfortable. They are packed in a convenient tool roll, for those who want it. Personally, I'd probably lose that.

SK Hand Tool Snap Ring Pliers - Consider

SK puts together a nice set of pliers at a much more reasonable cost. This five piece set includes all the basics (slip-joints, needle nose, diagonal cutters and water pump pliers), plus one extra set of water pump pliers. The second one is smaller, at 7". Considering the usefulness of these pliers, that's a nice addition to have. Elastomeric dipped handles make them comfortable to work with and a chrome finish ensures that the tools won't rust. This set comes packed in a pouch, which like ChannelLock's roll, I would lose quickly.

Greenlee 0159-29 Dipped Handle Pliers Set, 5-Piece - Best Pliers Set

Greenlee is a largely unknown tool manufacturer who makes tools specifically for tradesmen. Their tools are comparable quality to those of SK or Craftsman. This kit has one pair of pliers which is different, in that it isn't the standard set of slip-joints. Instead, they've included lineman's pliers, which combine pliers without curved jaws with side cutters. It also comes with an over-the-shoulder tool pouch, which really makes the kit stand out. This isn't just a pouch for the tools in the kit, but a pouch that an electrician can use for carrying all their "ready to hand" tools on the job site. That adds some nice value to the set.

Snap-On, Blue Point BSGLP10, 10" Curved Jaw Locking Pliers

Snap-On, Blue Point BSGLP10, 10" Curved Jaw Locking Pliers - Best Locking Pliers

It would be almost impossible to have a list of best mechanics tools of any sort, without including Snap-On. While locking pliers aren't limited to mechanics, they are used enough by this group of tradesmen, so that Snap-On manufactures a full line-up of them. I've picked this model from their Blue Point series, because it has soft grips, something that their regular Snap-On lineup doesn't have. The padded handles make them easier on the hand, while reducing the chance of slipping and dropping the tool when your hands are oily. They are made of high grade, heat-treated alloys, chrome plated for long life and durability. These pliers offer a jaw capacity of 1.875 inches, with a curved jaw design. With a fine threaded adjustment screw, there's little these pliers won't get a grip on.

IRWIN Tools VISE-GRIP 4" Locking Pliers, Original - Best Locking Pliers

We couldn't let this list go by without including the original Vice-Grip locking pliers, which are still in manufacture. The 10 inch model, which is my pick, is also backed up by 7, 5, and 4 inch models, for those times when you need something smaller. The jaws of this pair of pliers are curved which provide maximum grip in four points, allowing you to remove the worst rounded bolts and nuts. Adjustment screw accepts a hex key for tightening and for easy releases. Teeth are hardened for the best grip. A wire cutter is included, allowing you to cut even hardened steel wire. This tool is backed by Irwin's lifetime guarantee.

Triplett TT-200 LongLockers Locking Pliars - Best Locking Pliers

This pair of locking pliers is a bit unique. To start with, it's a long-nose model; but the stretch doesn't stop there, as it has an extended handle as well. This allows you to grab nuts, bolts and other parts farther than you can with any other pair of locking jaw pliers. Only the handle and jaws open, leaving the middle part of the tool closed, so that it will fit in tight places. Jaws are needle nose and curved, allowing them to grab four points on a bolt head or nut. Once the tool is introduced into the area, the hand grip can be opened, in order to open the jaws. Handles have cushioned grips for more comfortable use and the overall tool is 15" long. The tool comes with a five year warranty.

Craftsman 6 Pieces Mini Set Pliers - Best Locking Pliers

Sears offers an excellent pair of locking jaw pliers in their Craftsman line. These are straight jaw, rather than the round jaw we've seen on the others. That works best when grabbing the flats on a nut or bolt, or when using the pliers to grasp parts and clamp pieces together. It has padded handles for more comfortable work with lower fatigue. The handles also offer a "FastRelease" which is twice as easy to open as the conventional release, even when opening the tool with one hand. Adjustment screw hold in position when opening, allowing for repetitive work without readjusting the screw. As is customary with Craftsman tools, these pliers are guaranteed forever.

KNIPEX 85 01 250 US Auto Adjusting Water Pump Pliers - Best Water Pump Pliers

Knipex is the current leader in self-adjusting water pump pliers, offering a range of sizes to choose from. This 10 inch pair can grip pipes up to 1 1/4 inches in diameter or bolt heads up to 1 3/8 inches. The tool is 10 inches in overall length and comes with narrow, tapered jaws, which are shaped to provide positive contact with bolt heads and hex nuts. The self-adjustment mechanism makes the tool self-locking on pipes and nuts; it will not come loose if you have to let go of the tool. A locking lever holds the handles closed in order to take up minimal space in your toolbox. Plastic handles make the tool more comfortable in your hand and provide protection from electrical shock.

Channellock 414 2" Jaw Capacity 13.5" Double Tongue and Groove Plier - Best Water Pump Pliers

We have to include Channellock's tools on this list; not only because they invented the water pump pliers, but because they have the largest lineup of different models. Their water pump pliers are also some of the smoothest and easiest to use, with the boss and groove system perfectly matched for easy adjustment. This particular model is the 13.5 inch version of their "Nutbuster" design. This design adds extra strength to the upper jaw and modifies the lower jaw to be more like a pipe wrench. That makes this tool not only excellent for gripping stubborn nuts, but also pipes that need to be broken loose. The tool itself is made of high-carbon steel for extra strength, chrome plated for long life. The teeth are heat treated and the joint is held together by a PermaLock fastener, rather than a nut and bolt. So, you never have to worry about it coming apart. This pair of pliers has a jaw capacity of two inches.

KNIPEX 86 03 300 SBA Pliers Wrench - Best Water Pump Pliers

This unique pair of water pump pliers from Knipex is advertised to be both pliers and an adjustable wrench. The jaw spacing mechanism is different on it, allowing it to provide true parallel jaw action for when it is used as a wrench. Rather than a boss and groove design, they have gone with a ratcheting design, which offers a much finer adjustment for a much wider number of jaw openings. The tool has a 2 3/8 inch jaw capacity for nuts and is 12 inches in overall length. Jaws are smooth, rather than having teeth, so that they won't damage chrome plated or other finish hardware. The handles are coated for electrical resistance.

Channellock Tongue and Groove Pliers - Best Water Pump Pliers

Every once in a while you need a tool that's just a little bit bigger; that's where this one comes in. This tool is 20.5 inches in overall length and has a maximum jaw opening of 5.5 inches. That's broken down into 12 separate grooves so that handle distance stays reasonable. Got a trailer hitch that you need to remove or a large axle nut? This massive set of channel locks can handle it. Made with V jaws, this one grips bolt heads and hex nuts solidly for ease of tightening and removal with hardened teeth on the jaws for long life. Nobody beats Channellock for these pliers; they have the smoothest non-automatic mechanism made, adjusting easily for whatever size you need. Jaws are held together by Channellock's unique PermaLock system, rather than a nut and bolt that can come loose. The handles are rubber coated, making them easier on your hands, as well as being electrically insulated.

IRWIN Tools VISE-GRIP Max-Leverage Pliers - 1902413 - Best Diagonal Pliers

Irwin, the owners of the Vice-Grip brand, have redesigned the standard diagonal cutters, providing more leverage with the same size tool. Their secret is the power slot, which allows the pivot point of the tool to change, providing the exact amount of force needed for the cut. The induction hardened cutting edge will cut ACSR, nails, screws and even tempered piano wire. All metal parts of the tool are coated for rust resistance while the grips provide three zones for maximum comfort and control. They've even included a lanyard system to go with their hand tools, preventing tool loss when high up on a scaffold or ladder. This tool's quality is backed by Irwin's lifetime guarantee.

best Snap-On Pistol Grip Diagonal Cutters 6 5/16"

Snap-On Pistol Grip Diagonal Cutters 6 5/16" - Best Diagonal Pliers

Snap-On has provided us with innovation in a different way, creating a pistol-grip diagonal cutter. It might look like those handles are bent the wrong way, but it's intentional. If you put the handles vertical, the cutting head is at an angle, much like the barrel of a pistol, compared to its grip. That makes these the most ergonomic diagonal cutters on the market. If you've got to do a lot of cutting, these will be much easier on the hand and wrist. Being Snap-On, you can be assured of the quality of these tools as they use the best steel and chrome plating to prevent rust. The blade is hardened and sharpened for maximum cutting efficiency and of course, this tool is backed by Snap-On's famous lifetime guarantee.

Klein D248-8 8" Standard High-Leverage Diagonal Cutting Angled Head Pliers - Best Diagonal Pliers

Like the other manufacturers we've looked at, Klein has several models of diagonal cutters to choose from. This pair offer an excellent combination of features. The short jaws and long handles make these a high-leverage pair, reducing the amount of force you have to apply. This makes a 36 percent difference in the actual work you are doing. Induction hardened and beveled cutting edges permit close cutting of the wire without damage to the blades. It also includes notches ground into the blade for stripping 12 and 14 AWG solid wires, saving you from having to switch tools to strip off insulation. The handles are also plastic-coated for comfort.

Channellock E338CB E Series 8" Diagonal Cutting Pliers - Best Diagonal Pliers

Channellock has taken a unique approach to the problem of blade misalignment, one of the biggest destroyers of diagonal cutters. Rather than having two cutting blades, theirs comes with a blade and anvil design, ensuring that the blade will always be in perfect alignment. This design improves the life of the tool by eliminating the main reason for premature wear and tear. The blades edge and anvil are laser heat-treated to ensure pinpoint accuracy and hardness. The tool is made of high carbon C1080 steel, specially coated to prevent rusting. Lastly, Channellock's "Code Blue" handles are designed for durability and user comfort.

Hakko CHP-170 Micro Soft Wire Cutter - Best Diagonal Pliers

This is a smaller diagonal cutter, for use on electronic components. I've used a pair almost identical to this one for years. It provides flush cutting, something that most diagonal cutters can't do and accomplished by beveling only one side of the blade with the other ground smooth. Therefore, the cutters can literally cut flush up against any surface, such as a printed circuit board. These are limited, in that they are only designed to cut copper wire up to 16 gauge; they are not strong enough for harder wires or larger size. Think of it as a precision tool, rather than a heavy-duty one. The molded handles are comfortable in the hand and provide great control of the tool.

Vise-Grip 2078218 8" Long Nose Plier and Comfort Grip - Best Needle Nose Pliers

There are a lot of needle nose pliers that are essentially similar to these, from a host of manufacturers. I like the Vice-Grip pliers because of the quality of their fit and finish. The smooth finish help ensure good gripping action from the jaws. When using them as wire cutters, you can be assured of a good grip on the wire and good leverage for cutting. While pretty much all needle nose pliers have elastomeric handles, Vice Grip has gone a step farther, providing a molded handle. Overall tool length is 8 inches, while the jaw length is 2 5/16 inches, a good length for grabbing things.

IRWIN Tools VISE-GRIP Pliers, Needle Nose with Spring - 2078955 - Best Needle Nose Pliers

This selection is another small pair of needle nose pliers; in this case, only 5 1/2 inches long. What makes these so special is the way the jaws are ground. They are extremely thin, making this tool ideal for the very tight spots one finds when repairing modern electronics, watches or making jewelry. As a result, the jaws are ground smooth so as not to not mar the workpiece. The same sort of molded grip is provided for these pliers as is found on the pick in our number one slot. These plier handles are also sprung, so that they'll open when you release pressure.

Tekton Bent Long Nose Pliers - 34404 - Best Needle Nose Pliers

I personally consider a pair of long-nose needle nose pliers an essential part of my toolkit, but few manufacturers provide them. Tekton, the makers of this specific pair that is bent at 45 degrees, also makes a pair that is bent at 90 degrees, as well as one that is completely straight. The nice thing about these pliers is that you can reach into places with them, that you can't reach with other, shorter needle nose pliers. Nothing fancy about these pliers, except the fact that they can do things that others just can't do.

Titan 11477 Ratcheting Wire Terminal Crimper - Best Electrical Crimping Pliers

I've picked this ratcheting crimper from Titan as my favorite crimper. The jaws are clearly marked for the three common sizes of crimp-on connector and even more importantly, those jaws are ratcheting. While factory preset, the adjustment on the jaws is adjustable; this means that you can keep your crimpers working properly, even if something happens to mess up their adjustment. These will work with wires ranging from 22AWG all the way up to 10AWG. The molded grips are comfortable, adding to the pressure you can apply without hurting your hands.

S&G Tool Aid 18900 Professional Ratcheting Terminal Crimper - Best Electrical Crimping Pliers

This crimper from S&G Tool Aid is very similar to the one from Titan as is also a ratcheting crimper. However, it does not have a ratchet adjustment, but only the factory preset but that should be enough for most people's needs. The crimpers work for wires from 10AWG down to 22AWG, with three clearly color coded dies on the jaws. Just for clarification, this set of crimpers does not have replaceable jaws like many of S&G Tool Aid's crimpers do. So, you cannot change it over for use with other types of connectors. Between the ratcheting action and molded handles, all your crimps will come out perfect every time.

KNIPEX 97 52 36 3-Position Contact Crimping Pliers - Best Electrical Crimping Pliers

This set of crimpers from Knipex isn't a ratcheting model like the other selections we've looked at. Instead, it's positive contact which lets you know you've crimped the connector fare enough by bottoming out. There's also an integral lock which has been calibrated in the factory. The lever action jaws provide superior leverage, allowing you to get plenty of force behind your crimp, thanks to the oil-hardened jaws. The plier jaws also have three color-coded indentations in them, allowing this crimper to work with 22AWG up to 10 AWG wires and connectors.

IRWIN Tools VISE-GRIP 8" Multi Tool - 2078309 - Best Electrical Crimping Pliers

Irwin, the owners of the Vise-Grip brand, offer a combination tool for those who don't want a ratcheting crimper. This one has the crimpers on the handle side of the joint, allowing you to provide lots of force. The jaws themselves are ground to provide wire cutters and strippers for 10-22 AWG wires. A built in bolt-cutter allows you to cut off small machine screws, of the sizes likely to be found in electronic equipment. While designed to crimp all three common sizes of crimp-on connectors, this one also adds the ability to crimp spark plug wires for cars.

SK Hand Tools 8" Crimping/Stripping Pliers - 7698 - Best Electrical Crimping Pliers

Another option for a combination crimper/stripper comes from SK Hand Tools. This model 7698 incorporates crimping jaws for standard crimp-on wire connectors, with wire strippers as well. It also has crimping jaws for 8 gauge spark plug wires. An integral wire cutter and small-sized bolt cutter is also provided, as well as needle-nose plier points. It also comes with a separate stripper which also strips wire sizes 10AWG to 22 AWG. The difference on the second stripper is that the handles are spring loaded, so that they will open automatically to accept the next wire. If you are concerned about space and need everything together, this tool offers it.

Buyer's Guide

Pliers are some of the most versatile tools for handy people and workshops and should be in every toolbox. They are very useful for building, maintenance, repair, or engineering tasks that require gripping, cutting, twisting, clamping, pulling, or shearing. Pliers have been around for a while now and come in various forms and styles, all adapted to fit various appropriate functions.

With all these variants of specialized pliers available to choose from, it can be a bit of a fix to find the best one to fulfill your needs. Our buying guide analyses some of those things you’ll come across when you are looking to buy yourself a great set of pliers.

What are the types of pliers?

There are quite a number of types of pliers in the market available to choose from. Here are some of the more common ones you are most likely to come across.

Linesman pliers

Also called electrician’s pliers and side-cutting pliers, this type of plier is ideal for electricians and is mainly used to cut, bend, strip and splice the wires. – hinge at a set pivot point. The jaws of the plier have a flat front with shallow serrations for gripping flat objects, this also allows electricians to twist wires together.

Slip-joint pliers

This pliers is popular amongst homeowners and is a handy tool to have in case of any kind of home repair. These pliers have movable pivots that can be adjusted down the length of the device to increase the distance that the jaws can open.

Tongue-and-groove pliers

Also called ‘water pump’ pliers, these pliers have their jaws offset and are most frequently used by mechanics, electricians, and plumbers to adjust nuts, bolts, and other fittings that have an irregular shape. They usually have serrated jaws set at a 45 to 60-degree angle from the precisely aligned handles.

Locking pliers

Locking pliers feature a bolt and lever mechanism that locks the clamps into place before releasing them again. This type of plier is used when a particular task requires pliers that will lock firmly into place. They are commonly used for welding where the welder needs to hold the 2 pieces of metal during the welding.

Cutting Pliers

These pliers are designed primarily to cut materials. Diagonal cutters (also known as a side or wire cutter) can be used for gripping and splicing wires in addition to cutting them. They're also useful for removing nails and doing work via indentation.

Needle Nose Pliers

One of the most common styles of pliers, needle-nose pliers have a long jaw that tapers down to a point. This makes it very useful for delicate tasks or jobs that need to be done in smaller spaces.

Wire Strippers

This plier works by providing you with cutting edges in a circular or elliptical shape to cut through just the insulation and leave naked wire when you pull the insulation off. Each of the plier’s holes is marked with the wire size it corresponds to.

Fencing Pliers

The design of this plier is very intentional as it does not have the typical look of the other pliers. It has a hammer shape that makes it function as a small hammer as well as a puller that enables it to pull out the nails as well.

What are the factors to consider when shopping for the Best Pliers?

There are several factors to consider when searching for the right plier today. These factors include:

Size of the plier

Your choice of the size and type of plier you get should depend on the amount of effort and strength needed for the required task. The different sizes of pliers available all have functions for which they are best suited. Pliers with longer handles are great for leveraging tools for narrow spaces and smaller confines. Smaller jaw pliers are ideal for precision-related work.

The Material

The choice of the material used in manufacturing a plier is also an essential factor that affects how the tool performs the job. HRC is the acronym for the hardness of a tool’s design material. Pliers with Harder HRC are made with tougher metals and as a result, tend to be more brittle. Pliers built from chromium and vanadium are usually a great way to go due to their user efficiency and sturdiness.

Ease of Use

Usually, any tool that is efficient and easy to use would attract more users. If you need to use the plier more regularly, you should consider spending more on a plier that has a better design or ergonomically shaped handles (which lessen tiredness).

Warranty

Certain brands offer more extended warranties than their peers. These brands' products are typically more preferable to brands providing shorter warranties. Warranties can come in handy sometimes and it’s always best to have the option.

Safety

. You should also think about safety when you choose your plier. The tool can cause considerable damage if used wrongly and as such should be stored properly and safely when not in use. Also, avoid using your pliers on surfaces that are polished and soft.

Conclusion

Before you commit to any pair of pliers, try to check that it works well for the reason you are purchasing it. Just like a lot of the other tools, buying these in a set is a good way to start – then you can start to customize from there.

By selecting the right pair of pliers for the job, you will have a better and more pleasant experience performing the task.

FAQs

What are pliers?

A plier is a hand-held tool that comprises two S-shaped bars riveted together close to the midpoint to create a pivot, with clamps on one side and handles on the other. The clamps also come in various forms (long, thin and pointed, broad, ridged, etc.)

How do I use a plier?

Pliers are very easy tools to use, fundamentally. All you have to do is squeeze on the handles to grip the target object between the clamps, leverage amplifies the pressure exerted by you. Specialist pliers may require some refinements to your technique but basically, that’s how you operate a plier.

What is the difference between pliers and wrenches?

The plier and wrench have similar uses but execute these functions in different ways. Pliers grip objects in pivoted jaws of various shapes and sizes and allow you to apply more force than you would be able to with your bare hands.

Wrenches on the other hand are made for tightening and loosening nuts and bolts. They are less likely to damage nuts and bolts because they are designed to grip them within a specially shaped head so you can apply significant rotational force (torque) and achieve movement. Wrenches are fixed and don’t move about a point like pliers do.

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