Every now and then, I search Amazon using minimal keywords, to see which brands or styles of certain tools might be trending. This time, I searched for “knife,” and the top result, taking the top half of the page was a “Buy it again” message with Amazon encouraging me to order another pair of Channellock pliers.
Well, that’s strange – somehow my search triggered an Amazon order history recommendation. Ah, I see what happened – these pliers have “knife and anvil” style side cutters.
I purchased this particular model two years ago, 8-inch pliers with model number 317.
Maybe Amazon’s algorithm thinks this is a consumable and that I should be replacing my order from two years ago?
I have been a fan of Channellock for a long time, and I own a couple of pairs of their pliers, including these long-nose pliers.
Channellock is usually an easy recommendation. Are these the best pliers though? No. Truth be told, I don’t have a single pair of Channellock pliers in my office tool box, where my pliers drawer is filled with Knipex, NWS, Xuron, and Engineer Inc pliers. However, I have Channellock pliers in my main box as well as project-specific kits.
Sometimes the pivots could be smoother out of the box, and other times the handles are distinctly plain and basic. Still, Channellock’s pliers quality is consistent and long-lasting.
This particular style of pliers has well-formed jaws, uniform and durable crosshatched grooves, and convenient wire cutting blades. I don’t usually like wire cutters on long nose pliers, but Channellock is one of few exceptions due to their better quality.
Channellock uses a “knife and anvil” cutter design, which tends to provide better performance than double-knife cutter blades. Have you ever used wire cutters or scissors that twist what you’re trying to cut before actually cutting them? These won’t do that.
Channellock advertises these pliers as being forged from US steel and being 100% made in the USA.
So no, these aren’t the best pliers, but I’d buy them again in a heartbeat. Amazon had the right idea in spotlighting these to me, but for the wrong reasons.
The brand has different styles of long-nose pliers, but the 8-inch with wire cutting blades is probably going to be the best general purpose choice for most users.
Buy Now via Amazon
Other Styles via Amazon
Raise your hand if you’ve got Channellock long nose pliers in your kit.
Channel lock is one of my favorite brands. Somewhat due to this website ! Thank you
Channellock makes great pliers. Not the best pliers mind you, but arguably the best value in the pro category. I am also a fan. I have an embarrassing assortment.
In this style I particulalry like my e326cb pliers. Long nose with cutters too, but 6″ with “Code Blue” comfort grips.
I have the 8″ too (and the 8″ with dipped handles… and the 6″ with dipped handles), but I just like the way the 6″ comfort grips fit my hand.
That “knife and anvil” cutter isn’t just marketing either. It cuts clean and seems very durable.
I tend to evangelize Channellock pliers almost as much as I do the Knipex pliers wrench. 😄 but seriously, if your pliers experience is limited to Kobalt, Husky, Stanley etc, Channellock will blow your mind.
I ❤️ 326s!!!
I love 326s… The emoji didn’t take last response
Channelock fits the niche of being good enough and a great price while being American made. I generally don’t consider any other brand when it comes to pliers unless it is something they don’t make.
I agree with the general sentiment here: not the best but certainly a solid choice. In my opinion this specific pair would be a great choice for your next “beginner DIY tool list”.
I have a rather large collection of ChannelLock pliers. I’d go along with the view that they are not the best at any price, but hard to find better for the price and USA made to boot. I’m very impressed with the grip as well as overall strength of their ‘nutbuster’ series.
I agree that while there are lots of other pliers manufacturers that produce more refined tools – especially for specialty applications – Channellock makes some good utilitarian tools.
The Channellock 447 is my go-to tool for many brad and staple pulling tasks. The curved jaw helps provide the leverage.
I’m also a fan of their 350S:
There are other USA made pliers (Klein, Malco, Swanstrom, Tronex, Xuron et. al.) – but probably none as ubiquitous or encompassing as broad a line as Channellock
Matt the Hoople
I’ve got two pairs of those ironworker pliers. I needed linesman pliers for my electrical tool pouch and saw those and got them instead. Misplaced the first pair so bought a second. Then found the first pair so now have one that lives in the electrical pouch and one in the house tool box.
I have about 8 or 10 different channel lock pliers and cutters. Good quality and if I loose/ loan/or damage a pair, no biggie. They are my go to recommendation to people looking for pliers. Made is USA, better than the Chinese/Taiwanese/store brands at a fraction of the price of the knipex, NWS, etc… It is easy to convince a newby to spend a little more on the Channelocks. It’s a tougher pill for many to swallow to buy the “fancy” brands. And yes, I have a bunch of those too.
I like Channellock pliers. They aren’t the greatest but they are good. I have a set for my camper toolkit. We have tried a variety of different groove pliers at work and Channellock really are quite good. They are the best readily available at Home Depot too. I do love me some Knipex but Channellocks are a good baseline.
I have these pliers too. They are my go-to needle nose. I’m sure they’re not the best, but they’re good enough, affordable, and American-made. Ticks all the boxes for the weekend warrior.
I bought my pair in the store a few years ago. I rooted through the bin to find the pair with the best-formed tip. I noticed there was perceptible variation among those on the shelf. While I think Channellock’s overall quality and value are defensible, I wasn’t impressed by that. It speaks to concerning QC.
Hopefully that was just a one-off batch. Channellock is one of the few tool names that still makes USA tools at mid-range prices that I can justify for non-professional use.
Pinching monsters. After 40 years of getting blood blisters on my finger after the damn things slip and pinch my finger, I have thrown away every plier constructed in that style. I’m too old to take any crap from a pair of pliers.
I like their high leverage pivot. It actually helps a lot. Cutting with the channellocks feels like cutting through butter, while using non high leverage pliers is a pain.
Have anyone used sand or valve grinding compound to break in stiff pliers? If so. Is it worth it?
I had to work a pair of Klein cutters for almost a week straight before they were usable. I used wd40 . Probably 30 min a day before they opened smoothly. It was mostly residue from the manufacturing process. I worked them until the worked oil was clear as what I put in. I would stay away from anything gritty that can’t be easily cleaned.
Matt the Hoople
Lol. I have done that with valve grinding compound on all kinds of tools with moving parts that were either initially a little stiff if had become that way over the years due to corrosion. Also works well on various adjustable wrenches (especially old pipe wrenches) and pruning shears/loppers, etc.
Most of the tools you described can be taken apart. You’re not taking pressed rivet pliers apart.
Please forgive my bad grammar.
I was afraid it could ruin the pliers. Thank you very much.
Oh yes, valve compund works great. One major trick is to stop before they get as loose as you want them to be – then wash out the abrasive, and you’ll then likely find them right here you want them.
Go far enough to get them loose when the abrasive’s still in there, then they’re too loose when the abrasive is out.
When I was building out my Homegamer Electrician kit a few years ago I compared a few pairs of long nose pliers. I ended up with the Channelocks and they’ve been excellent.
I wouldn’t hesitate to purchase any of their pliers, they’re an excellent value.
Twice I’ve bought Channellock needlenose pliers and both have had too much of a gap to grab thin pieces of sheet metal so I’ve replaced them with other needlenose pliers that haven’t given me problems. Their needlenose pliers are their only tools I’ll avoid unless I can personally inspect them before purchase, but I have no need to buy any more.
This would be a problem, they absolutely need to be able to grab the thinnest metal or wires.
I see just about every comment echoing Stuart’s comments on they are good but not the best. What exactly constitutes great or the best? Here, Joe H points out a problem which, to me is unacceptable and would make them a “throw them in the trunk toolbox”.
I have a bunch of Channellocks, but no long nose. No special reason other than I never came across a pair in the store and decided to get them…so I cannot comment on CLK in particular.
I do have at least a dozen that are house brands or cheaper names, 4 NWS which were part of a 9 piece set I got from Lee Valley years ago, 1 pair of Wiha (made in Vietnam), 1 large pair of Knipex as well as a smaller pair from Knipex that also have some wire strippers just below the teeth. I even have a real nice pair of Diamalloy I bought back in the early 70’s. When I was in the store I was trying to keep the faith that paying $6 for these Diamalloy made sense over the lesser brand names for $3-$4, that had already started making them in China.
The large Knipex have a small amount of flex when you grip super hard or twist them, which I have read some electricians comment they don’t like. I don’t mind the flex, it is very minimal and sometimes can be useful.
There are many tools I have which are my go to because they “feel” right; just like that particular tool over other similar ones I have. I don’t have a preference in long nose, I’ll just grab whichever, probably size or bent nose being the only thing I care about.
So what Joe H says he needs to try a few to get the right ones, that is a QC issue, which should not exist in a made in the USA tool. Aside from this issue, I suspect most of you have a pair that close well.
So what makes them NOT the best or greatest? (QC aside)
Joe must have some very bad luck. I’ve got several Channellock Needlenose and none would have any difficulty grabbing thin wire or a sheet of paper.
There’s a couple things that makes them “not the best”, yet nothing that keeps them from being extremely durable and high performing.
1. Some pliers have special coatings to keep them clean or from rusting. Not so with Channellock – well, they do have something on them (like a clear coat maybe?) But not the same as the Teflon coating on NWS or the chrome? on Knipex, for example.
2. Channellock pliers look like they’re finished by hand – to me at least. If you inspect them closely you might find inconsistency between the grinds on the top jaws versus the bottom – NOT alignment issues might you (which would affect performance). In the needlenose pliers, for example, if you start at the tips straight on from the front, don’t be surprised if one Jaw ends slightly thicker or not quite perfectly round.
3. Weight. Channellock pliers tend to be heavier than other premium pliers (Klien is the same way in my opinion). I don’t know if it’s the steel, the design or what. If you pick up a pair of NWS linesmans and Channellock at the same time, it’s noticeable.
4. Handles. Dipped is dipped, but some more expensive brands have more exotic multi-material comfort grips. I quite like Channellock’s “Code Blue” comfort grips, but they’re not available for every plier and their not the fanciest on the market.
I think that’s about it. I read of people having performance issues with Channellock pliers (like Joe 😉) but I hear complaints about other brands too. It’s the internet – I think problems are likely over-reported versus all the people who own Channellock without issues.
If you genuinely get a dud – just tell Channellock. I once broke a flat blade screwdriver tip on a CB-6in1 bit. I asked Channellock customer service if it was possible to buy just the bit (because they have detents on the side – not just any bit will fit). Instead they priority couriered me a whole new screwdriver and gave me a Channellock ball cap 😃).
P.S. for the things that really matter, Channellock is great. They’ve got durable hardened teeth and sharp cutters (that stay sharp).
“3. Weight. Channellock pliers tend to be heavier than other premium pliers (Klien is the same way in my opinion)”….I have a pair of Klein 9″Journeyman Lineman pliers and a pair of Knipex, I do not recall the model, but they are the 1000 volt red & yellow handled 9” pliers. They are both super solid, excellent pliers, but never felt any apparent weight difference. I’ll need to play around with them to see if both are in my hands, I feel a difference.
Funny, I have about 4-5 of their classic locking, a couple of nutbusters, side cutters (dikes), nippers, oil wrench, crimpers and a couple of others, but long nose and lineman pliers…the most basic of pliers, I do not have in Channellock.
NWS 128C-52-215 8.5″ Mechanic’s Pliers – Plastic Grip
My personal favorite needle nose, also have a pair of their chain nose with the fatter handles, that are more rigid when needed. Channellock was where I started with most all of my pliers, and all of them still make up my home box. Work box is nws, knipex, and grip-on for me.
Koko The Talking Ape
“Every now and then, I search Amazon using minimal keywords, to see which brands or styles of certain tools might be trending…”
Doesn’t that just give you whatever they happen to be promoting at the moment? I tried “knife” in Amazon, and 14 out of the top 15 results I got were no-name Chinese cooking knives. I just assume they’re whatever manufacturer is paying Amazon for top billing.
I’ve noticed the same. I’ll search for a basic item and the top search results will be filled with no-name Chinese products with low numbers of reviews, while the well known name brand product (with thousands of reviews) is buried much lower in the search rankings.
It’s strange, the search results don’t appear to be based on popularity or best ratings, either these generic sellers are paying for high rankings or they have figured out some way to game the search algorithm.
I use Channellock and Husky needle nose pliers quite often for most situations. They work ok, basic utility kind of tool. Interested in brands/models which are better quality and worth the investment.
I’ve been a Channellock fan for decades. Never the absolute best, always good enough, and always an excellent value. I definitely have other higher quality pliers, but you just can’t go wrong for the price with Channellock. Plus, Made in USA still matters to me.
I have a pair of 3017, which is the non-cutter version of Stuart’s 317. I broke one of the tips off doing something stupid years ago, ground the broken edge smooth and the other tip down to match, and I’ve been using them ever since. I actually appreciate having a stout stubby needle nose on hand, kind of a happy accident.
Tips broken off needlenose lead to some of the best, suprisingly useful modified tools.
I use my channellock needle nose at least 3-4 times a week. I’m a plumber by trade.
I’d agree that they are not the best, but for the price I don’t think you can do better. Sure, there are higher quality pliers out there. My pliers are constantly getting soaked in water (and worse), and I’d be rather put out if I trashed a high dollar pair.
Quite often a tool only has to be good enough. Most of us aren’t machinists or other high precision jobs. It’s not worth the money (to me at least) to buy the absolute best of everything because I probably won’t notice the difference between a good enough tool and a high precision tool in a general role.
Maybe that’s my problem, I don’t notice the difference between very good and best.
I have 3017’s and 326. The 326 are what I use the most. Channellock pliers are great for the money and made in USA.
I got my dad who’s a plumber a pair of Tekton (Wilde Tool) tongue & groove pliers and he now uses them along with Channellock in his work tool kit. For me Channellock, Tekton/Wilde get the job done and are good quality for the price.
I’m constantly telling the new apprentices to buy what they can afford when they start getting tools and to avoid the high end stuff until they start making more money. One of them is $1000s in debt because he thought he needed all brand new Milwaukee Fuel power tools. All he uses on a regular basis is the impact driver.
A lot of the others hear the journeys talk about the Knipex and think they have to get 4 pairs right out of the gate. 2 channellocks will do the same thing for a fraction the cost.
I got the 326 as well, really like how the XLT models work since it saves a little wear and tear on my body.
High & Mighty
No, but I need to get me a pair of some quality long nose pliers. I’m sure anything is better than the Dewalt long nose pliers I have. Those are outright terrible and very poorly designed. The compound action design made absolutely no sense to incorporate such functionality into a pair of small pliers. They designed a pair of wire cutters the same way. And they’re equally as terrible as the long nose pliers. Although I’ve since replaced those with channellock wire cutters.
Reading this inspired me to run up to HD and buy a pair of Milwaukee long nose pliers which I think will serve me well. I also bought some dirt cheap Stanley pliers for three bucks. Unfortunately they look exactly what they cost. No pride taken in manufacturing whatsoever. Definitely not what you would expect from a once well renowned brand of hand tools.
On every trip to the flea market, I’m looking for Channellock Blue. Yesterday, though, I ended up with good Klein D203-9 needlenose, for which I’ve had a long term jones, and satisfied that for $5.
The Starrett 6″ Combination Square for $3 and the Mini Maglite for $1 (and I already had a spare LED upgrade) made the near-100 degree temp sorta agreeable.
The only long nose I recommend is Snap-On and Klein, and I’m totally not a Snap-On nor Klein guy. I haven’t actually owned/used any Channellock long nose pliers in years, though. I should check them out sometime.
Can’t ever go wrong with Channellock pliers!!
Zach Of All Trades
Channellock 420’s for life
Channellock 738’s for life