Locking pliers come in handy when you encounter a fastener that just won’t budge, however much effort you exert or apply. They make it easy, quick, and effortless to grab, loosen or twist a wide range of rounded over, stuck, stripped, or stubborn bolts and nuts. Besides that, they come with high-quality serrated jaws for locking onto several other objects, making them one of the most versatile tools a handyman can have in the toolbox. The combination of a locking mechanism and clamping down prowess minimizes stress and strain on the hands, enabling you to finish your tasks quickly and easily.
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After figuring out that you need locking pliers, the next step is ensuring your pick matches the demands of the job you want to undertake. Which translates to analysing, comparing, and testing the hundreds of models currently on offer on the market. If you have neither the time nor the energy, this guide will help you make the right decision. Here, we walk you through the essential factors to consider as you shop for locking pliers. After that, we present you with 10 of the best models to help you decide on the one that best matches your projects.
10 Best Locking Pliers
1. Grip-On 111-10
Celebrated the world over for its persistence in pushing the boundaries of innovation and quality, you can trust Grip-On to produce some of the world's best locking pliers. Boasting more than 3 decades in the industry, the brand is clearly an industry doyen, as their flagship Grip-On 111-10 10-Inch pliers prove. Besides fast release and the no-pinch design, the locking pliers also effortlessly combine incredible finesse and aggressive gripping power. The locking mechanism is exceptional, and so is the construction quality. The easy-to-turn jaw-sizing knob and the aesthetically appealing orange colour are two more reasons to consider going with this option.
They come with a bunch of exceptional features, but the one that stands out most conspicuously is the unlocking mechanism. The ingenious design makes it easy to unlock the jaws with just a single finger and without gnashing your teeth, as is often the case when using cheap, humdrum option on the market. The unlocking mechanism is also surprisingly smooth and devoid of the sudden jolt and ear-piercing noises made by other models. All you'll hear is a soft, low-key pop.
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The second reason to give the locking pliers some serious consideration is the construction quality. They’re professionally and expertly put together using high-end materials that enhance their tolerance and leave little to no room at all for the wiggling of the lower jaw. Handymen, carpenters, and DIY enthusiasts who work for hours on end will love the comfort of the rounded over handles. Holding or squeezing them for hours on end won’t leave you with blisters or a strained hand.
Besides the ruggedness of the forged jaws that provide strength and durability, the locking pliers also boast a maximum capacity of up to 2-1/2 inches and the opening screw is threaded for comfortable jaw resizing.
In all, they are clearly the bees’ knees seeing as their performance, practicality, and convenience exceed expectations. They are considerably more expensive, but that's offset by the perfect unlocking system, superior construction quality, and the ease of use.
Strong and durable forged jaws
Jaw resizes easily and quickly
Has a no-pinch quick-release lever
Lacks padded handle
2. IRWIN VISE-GRIP Original
Irwin is one of a handful of brands that easily and consistently enthuses the industry with its innovative, user-friendly, and high-performance tools. And its leading locking pliers, the IRWIN VISE-GRIP Original pliers, are no different. They come with a choke full of features and specs to make it easy to work with a wide range of materials of different shapes and sizes from all angles. Thanks to the heavy-duty jaws, they grip materials firmly and securely and come with a wire cutter for greater versatility.
These may lack the easy unlocking mechanism of our first pick they offer something equally good if not better; exceptional performance. A perfect choice for heavy-duty applications, they come with hardened teeth designed for gripping materials from all angles. The jaws are both sturdy and durable seeing as they're made from high-quality, heat-treated alloy steel. Further, they come with a hex key adjusting screw for varying pressure and drawing materials together. And to cap their performance, they also feature a convenient wire cutter that makes them even more versatile. But that's only a tip of the iceberg.
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In addition to the already mentioned features, they are considerably easy to use. With a length of 10 inches and jaws capable of adjusting up to 1-7/8 inches, they can tackle the most challenging projects on the work site and around the house. The locking mechanism works quickly and instantly and is easy to adjust to plier action. The jaws are both curved and involute, allowing for the easy and quick application of tremendous amounts of pressure on 4 points of any style nut or bolt head. Further, they weigh a paltry 1 pound and come with knurled tips for ease of use.
In sum, we love the simplicity, performance, and construction quality of these IRWIN VISE-GRIP Original pliers. They work effortlessly and precisely and are aggressively durable.
High-quality all-alloy steel construction
Comes with a wire cutter
Easy-to-use trigger release
3. CH Hanson 10100
CH Hanson 10100 tout several nifty features that work seamlessly in tandem to provide the user with one of the best work experiences. If you’re anything like us, you’ll like them the moment you lay eyes on them and sold the second you try them out. They work like a charm; quickly, effortlessly, and with military precision. Besides these knot of features, you’ll also like the ease of use. If you want smooth, trouble-free performance, these are the locking pliers to go with. For an in-depth review, continue reading.
Aptly described as what the doctor ordered for the handymen, craftsmen, carpenters, and extreme DIYers out there, these will never let you down. They perfectly blend the essential features like performance, convenience, versatility, affordability, and portability. It’s for these and many other reasons that they're an all-time favourite of professionals from all around the world.
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The first outstanding feature is the patented locking mechanism. The system allows for the automatic and versatile adjustment of the clamping pressure from slight to extreme. You get to choose a pressure level that best matches your workpiece for the best results. You also conveniently get to use one hand for the purpose and thanks to the curved design, getting a firm grip takes a few seconds and once achieved, you'll never lose it. The Set and Forget technology comes in handy for setting the desired pressure and the jaw will automatically self-adjust.
As for ease of use, you get to release the workpiece in a snap with the included no-squeeze release lever. The grip is ergonomically designed and textured to offer the user a comfortable yet firm grip throughout the project, making it easy to do otherwise onerous tasks quickly. And to top it all off, you get a generous lifetime warranty.
In all, the CH Hanson 10100 pack all the right features for smooth, powerful, and easy performance. They’re also affordable and comes with a lifetime warranty.
High-performance jaws with self-adjusting, locking feature
Highly customizable jaws
The grip is comfortable and slip-resistant
A little difficulty closing the pliers
4. Knipex 4104180
Knipex is an industry leader that needs little preamble. Its leading option are these heavy-duty Knipex 4104180 that are expertly designed for gripping and locking onto a plethora of materials, including but not limited to round or flat objects. It works flawlessly, as you’d expect, and in light of the high-quality construction using first-rate materials, the locking pliers can easily last more than a lifetime of heavy use. They are also festooned with several auxiliary features and are therefore every bit deserving of the 4th position on our list of best locking pliers currently on the market.
While it’s festooned with a retinue of features, the inclusion and performance of the toggle lever action easily stand out. It works by allowing for the application of tremendous amounts of clamping pressure, enabling you to securely and firmly hold a wide range of materials that include round, section, and even flat. The two other additional features that take the performance of the locking pliers to a whole new level are the adjustment screw and the release lever. Because of these and several other features, it’s surprisingly easy to operate the tool with just one hand, making them a perfect choice especially for greenhorns and inexperienced homeowners.
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The construction quality is a far cry from those of flimsy, off-brand models on the market. The body is made using high strength rolled steel while the jaws feature an all-chrome vanadium electric steel construction.
The ear-ripping, tough-twisting materials simply translate into two things: optimum cutting performance and durability. You'll be hard pressed to find these features on the simplistic, humdrum models currently flooding the market. A cinch to use, the locking pliers are lightweight and ergonomically designed to offer the user comfort and allows for easy maneuvrability.
These Knipex 4104180 are the most versatile, reliable, durable, easy to use, and practical locking pliers we’ve used so far. If you want a piece of that action, get yourself one now.
High-capacity jaw locking pliers
Features a wire cutter
Has quick-release lever
5. WORKPRO 3-Piece Set
This option is an ideal choice for everyone, from the veteran handymen to the extreme DIYers and everyone else in between. It’s a multi-functional tool as well and works perfectly with a wide range of materials found around the house and the worksite. Their crafting from commercial-grade materials and the fact that they are incredibly easy to use means they’ll be of great assistance in getting the job done quickly, accurately, and effortlessly. If you want to know how the locking pliers stack up against our previous and next picks, continue reading.
An epitome of versatility, the locking pliers come with all the accessories you need to get started with your project right away. The set contains 10 and 7-inch curved jaw tools and a pair of 6-1/2-inch straight jaw pliers. The latter inclusion is perfect for detail work. While the former is optimized for efficiently tightening, clamping, and turning various round objects, the latter is specifically designed for universal applicability. Further, as you'd expect, the locking pliers come with both a locking and release mechanisms whose reliability and dependability put them on the same performance par as the costlier, high-end models out there.
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Another fantastic feature of the locking pliers is construction quality. The brand's decision to go with drop forged, heat treated steel provides the locking pliers with the requisite durability, resilience, and corrosion-resistance necessary for undertaking a wide range of projects in all types of settings. Because the teeth are strong, they offer superior gripping performance compared to flimsy ones.
Designed with the user in mind, the tool is very easy to use. The handles are ergonomically shaped for comfort and rubberized to make them anti-slip and easy to control. The handles also feature an additional adjustable screw for providing the most suitable clamping pressure, further making your work easy and quick.
The WORKPRO set offers incredible value. It’s cost-effective, dependable, and built to the highest quality standards for durability. A perfect choice for gripping, twisting, and holding various materials, you can never go wrong with this comfortable set.
Fantastic build quality
Affordable yet dependable
Great value for money
Has cushioned grip for comfort
6. Crescent 5-Piece Set
If you want an option that comes with all the bells and whistles and still won’t cut a huge hole in your pockets, check out this set. Bursting at the seams with an impressive collection of features and specs, these are all you need to quickly and efficiently complete those onerous, time-consuming, and energy-sapping tasks you've been putting off. In the package are two differently sized needle-nose pliers and three curved-jaw pairs that provide you with a heart-stopping performance every time. To find out more, we welcome you to continue reading.
A high-performance, affordable, and convenient option, this set is all the handymen, craftsmen, mechanics, and carpenters here need. It comes with a 5, 7, and 10-inch curved jaw pliers and an additional two 6-inch and 9-inch long nose pliers. This is the arsenal that always gets the job done right every time. All the pliers in the set come with a patented angled tooth pattern that provides a secure and firm grip of the workpieces while the versatile curved jaw design boasts an innovative integral wire cutter.
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Bring together the long nose design, the heavy-duty wire cutter, and the accompanying compound action of the pieces, and you have a high-performance set that offers exceptional non-slip locking grip of both regular and irregular workpieces.
The construction quality is another virtue to behold. The set is crafted from first-grade materials for a pro-grade performance. Further, they benefit from a nickel-plated finish that resistant to both rust and corrosion, which reinforces the durability point made earlier. Made to last more a lifetime of heavy-duty use, these pliers are all you need for all your applications. The jaw opening capacity is also quite impressive.
For tradesmen, homeowners, the DIY weekend warriors and other professionals in need of durable, high performance, versatile, and easy-to-use tool look no further than this option.
Has all commonly used sizes
Offers superior grip and comfort
Rust and corrosion-resistant
Sports a long nose for easy reach and wire cutter
7. IRWIN VISE-GRIP Original Jaw Locking Pliers
Irwin makes a second entry with yet another high-quality option, the IRWIN VISE-GRIP. In spite of a few similarities with its bigger brother, they do curve their own path, falling far enough from the proverbial Apple tree. First off, they feature a 12-inch jaw that's ideal for all-around performance. Durability is never an issue, and they're built with the convenience of the user in mind. They are easy to use for several hours on end without the user experiencing any significant discomfort or fatigue.
These will quickly prove to be an indispensable addition to any serious handyman's toolbox. It offers an all-around performance that makes it ideal for plumbing, automotive repair, welding
, woodworking, and several other applications. The heavy-duty jaws boast immense gripping power and will tightly hold workpieces of all shapes from multiple angles. The wide opening jaws also mean you can comfortably and confidently take on light- to heavy-duty projects.
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To the above features add adjusting screw for exacting pressure. The resulting versatility enables you to match the pressure to the workpiece, assisting you in achieving the exact results you need. The ingenious design also allows for one-handed operation and to make it easy for future projects, the pressure remains adjusted for repetitive use. Together, these features make the locking pliers one of the easiest to use on the market. The gentle learning curve has both greenhorns and veteran handymen falling over themselves for a piece of the action.
In light of the attendant ease of use, you won’t break a sweat using the locking pliers. It's made using high-grade heat-treated alloy steel for longevity, and the user-friendly trigger release offers exceptional locking force. And thanks to the guarded release, you'll be working safely and quickly for as long as you want.
If your eyes are peeled for versatile, strong, durable, high-performance, and cost-effective pliers, look no further than IRWIN VISE-GRIP option. They are your best bet.
An all-around performer
Curved jaws and knurled tips for ease of use
Covered trigger release
Generous lifetime warranty
8. Crescent Tools Crescent - CLP5SETN
Like its bigger cousin we reviewed earlier, this 5 piece set offers the user outstanding value. The package contains 3 curved jaw standard locking pliers and another 2 straight jaw needle nose locking pliers. Considering that these are the most commonly used pieces for professional work and other tasks around the house, it's safe to use the set offers all-around performance and goes a long way in helping you complete a wide range of projects quickly and efficiently. Its construction quality is on par with the vast majority of other high-end models on the market, even though the latter are horrendously expensive.
As mentioned earlier, the features all the commonly used pliers. It comes with 5-inch, 7-inch, and 10-inch curved jaw pliers and 6-inch and 9-inch long nose locking pliers. The high point of all the pliers is the compound action which, together with the patented angled tooth pattern provides a powerful, non-slip grip. The long nose pliers offer numerous advantages the most useful being giving the user quick and easy access to tight or awkward spots. The curved pliers, on the other hand, provide the benefits of speed and ease of use.
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Tightening, clamping, twisting, and turning various materials is a demanding undertaking and calls for the use of a set that features solid, meticulous construction. And these offer just that. They’re made using high-end materials to exacting standards and sport a nickel-plated finish for rust and corrosion resistance. The result is a set that is doggedly durable for long-term performance. Even when it’s approaching the tail-end of its useful life, performance will always be exceptional.
Overall, few options on and off this list can hold a candle to this set. You won't be pouring your money down the drain should you prudently decide to invest in them.
Has all essential pliers
Rugged curved jaw with tough wire cutter
Long nose design for easy, quick reach
Rust and corrosion-resistant
9. Craftsman Evolv 3 Piece Set, 9-10061
Craftsman Evolv 3 Set is a perfect embodiment of the seamless blend of quality and comfort. Their performance is also on a whole different level, which explains why they're the go-to tool for the vast majority of homeowners, budding DIYers, and seasoned professionals. They also offer a firm, slip-resistant grip, enabling you to channel your effort and time on getting the job done without any hiccups. It's too easy to use and comes with a slew of convenience features for the benefit of the user.
First things first. The set is as versatile as any other locking pliers on this list. The set comes with a 6-inch, 7-inch, and a 10-inch pair of pliers. Because one of them is a long-jaw, it provides the user with a perfect hold for longer bends when working with considerably lightweight workpieces. The game-changing design lets you easily lock the pliers in position, effectively shifting your focus from grip to the project.
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The user-friendly and easy-to-turn metal knob on the handle takes the time and effort away from setting tension to a level that best matches your work material. Even though Craftsman doesn't try to reinvent the wheel with their flagship option, they adopt a tried and tested design that's been vigorously road tested to ensure the best results. The firm and secure grip on your workpiece boost confidence and peace of mind, enabling you to reach your full potential.
Another feature that'll tickle your buds is construction quality. They are made using rust resistant materials that are also commercial-grade and therefore capable of taking several hard beating for years on end before anything gives. The grips have ergonomic grips for a comfortable hold. And the icing on the cake is the brand’s lifetime guarantee.
In sum, whatever tasks you have that require the use of this tool, these this set should be your go-to tools. They ooze quality, comfort, convenience, durability, and are very affordable.
Adjusting pressure is easy and quick
Durable for heavy use
Comfortable and a cinch to use
10. Stanley 94-960
Despite coming last on the list, Stanley 94-960 ticks all the right boxes. Its performance, we're glad to say, is heart-stopping and will leave your money forming a perfect "O." And here's why. Unlike our previous choices, the set comes with durable, induction hardened jaws. Like them, it has an adjustment screw, a built-in wire cutter, meets or even surpasses ANSI specifications, and features heavy-duty construction.
Its performance is not exactly earth-shaking but considering that the jaws and other critical parts feature all-forged steel construction, it comes close. The resulting durability, strength, and resilience allow the locking pliers to prove its tightening, twisting, and gripping mettle easily. It further makes a case for the product's versatility and suitability for use for a wide range of projects including plumbing, automotive repair, welding, woodworking, and several other applications Included in the package are a straight jaw, a curved jaw, and a long nose locking pliers; everything you need to complete the job quickly, effortlessly, and efficiently.
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Contributing to the flawless performance are the induction hardened jaws that boast superb durability and secure grip compared to their non-induction hardened counterparts. There is also the adjustment screw for providing a suitable holding pressure that makes it possible to match the pressure to the workpiece.
As for ease of use and peace of mind, these are backed by a lifetime warranty, giving you more than enough cover against deficiencies in material and craftsmanship. Also, they are lightweight and compact, weighing a paltry 2.55 pounds with dimensions of 11.6 by 9.9 by 1.2 inches. They are not only easy to control but also highly maneuvrable. The long nose locking pliers, on the other hand, give you effortless and quick access to hard-to-reach spots. The handles are ergonomically shaped for comfort and have a yellow mark for easy identification.
Despite being bare-bones, the set is a solid choice for various professionals, homeowners, and the DIY weekend warriors. Moving forward, no project will present the slightest challenge to you.
Limited lifetime warranty
Resilient and durable construction
Ergonomic, slip-resistant handles
Pocket-friendly price tag
Not as easy to use or dependable as top-notch models
Criteria for Choosing the Best Locking Pliers
The style and size of the jaw have a significant bearing on its ability to complete a particular activity. And you have several jaw or nose sizes to choose from with the most popular being straight jaw, curved jaw, long nose jaw, and large jaw, each, of course, optimized for various tasks and come with its fair share of upsides and downsides. With their straight and flat jaws, straight jaws are optimized for gripping and holding flat objects, most sheet metals.
To demolish things and twist a wide range of fasteners, you’re going to need the curved jaw pliers. Long nose locking pliers are for clamping onto smaller objects either when removing or installing them in place. Large jaw locking pliers, on the other hand, as the name suggests, are for holding or clamping together large objects.
For the best performance, you want options featuring high-quality construction so that it can withstand the rigorous task of holding, loosening or clamping together rugged and abrasive materials and objects. Like the rest of the locking pliers, the jaws need to house strong and durable teeth to enable it to hold various objects and materials firmly and securely in place.
Hardened jaws are also resilient and can last for several eyes on end, so you won’t have to look to replace the locking pliers every other time. As for construction quality, it ought to be top-notch, too, to increase the shelf-life of the product.
Locking pliers differ vastly in terms of performance and usability. For a user who wants the best performance without putting in lots of effort, a bunch of convenience features can mean the difference between completing various tasks quickly and with ease and returning home with a painful and swollen hand.
Look at the efficiency of the locking and unlocking mechanism. A functional locking mechanism also plays a vital role in the overall usability. And last but not least, pay attention to the handle. Ergonomically designed and padded handles offer superior comfort, leverage, and grip compared to their nondescript counterparts.
In spite of the great value they offer, XMs are, for the most part, affordable. So you don’t have to worry about remaining with a huge hole in your pocket after purchasing a set you find most suitable for the projects you’ll be undertaking. Still, you may want to pay attention to the fact that price is, in most cases, a reflection of the product’s quality. Most high-end and costly XMs come with several nifty features to save you time and effort.
They are ideal for the heavy-duty tasks and are therefore usually the preserve of veterans and professionals. For the DIY tinkerer and homeowner, go for something more suited to your level and tasks. Keep in though that these rules are not set on stone; you can break them anyway.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What are the uses of locking pliers?
A: These tools are remarkably versatile. Besides using them to clamp, hold, or pull nuts and bolts, you can similarly use them to replace your knob or lever, fix pipe leaks, cut wires, and even squeeze and press things.
Q: How are they better than regular pliers?
A: With the convenience of its locking mechanism, quick-release lever, and several working parts, these tools are perfect for heavy-duty projects and are considerably easy and quick to use.
Regular pliers, conversely, come with two pivoting jaws and require lots of brute force to operate.
Ideal locking pliers should tick as many boxes as possible. Our picks, for instance, have strong jaws with hardened teeth for powerfully and securing gripping, clamping, or loosening a slew of fasteners and objects. They also have user-friendly handles and no-pinch, quick-release levers for convenience. Provided you go for locking pliers that best matches your projects, you’ll never regret your choice. That we can guarantee.