Harbor Freight has come out with a new 10-inch pliers wrench under their Icon professional tool brand.
The Icon pliers wrench has 24 locking positions, push-button adjustment mechanism, and non-slip cushion grip handles.
As with other pliers wrenches, the Harbor Freight Icon model features smooth parallel jaws to avoid damaging work materials.
Harbor freight says that their Icon Professional Pliers Wrench won’t round-off nuts or bolts because the jaws remain parallel for all sizes of fasteners.
The Icon pliers wrench has only been released in a 10″ size so far, featuring 10-1/4″ overall length and 2″ max jaw opening width.
Harbor Freight has the Knipex Pliers Wrench as their “Compare to” benchmark, advertising that customers “save 40%” if buying the Icon tool over the Knipex model.
A Knipex Pliers Wrench Imitation?
As you are probably aware, Knipex is a German hand tool company known for their premium quality pliers. Pliers are their specialty, and the Pliers Wrench is one of their most widely recognizable tools.
Quite a few tool brands have pliers wrenches of their own, such as Wiha, Irwin, Lenox, and Craftsman. However, while most pliers wrenches are distinct from Knipex’s original innovative design, it seems that Harbor Freight went in a different direction.
As you can see here, the Harbor Freight Icon pliers wrench very closely resembles the Knipex Pliers Wrench, at least in appearance. Harbor Freight even went so far as to give the pliers bright red handle grips.
It is not yet known whether Harbor Freight has been able to match the strength and performance of Knipex’s iconic pliers.
Harbor Freight’s Icon brand is not alone in imitating Knipex’s Pliers Wrench geometry – Gedore, a European tool brand, also has a pliers wrench (via Amazon) with strong resemblances to Knipex’s design. Still, Gedore provides some differentiation with blue and black cushion-grip handles.
Although Harbor Freight’s other newly-launched Icon pliers also feature bright red handle grips, their Icon screwdriver and ratchet handles have a red and black color scheme.
In my opinion, this has the potential to cause confusion, similar to how there are misconceptions about some of Harbor Freight’s other tools. No, Harbor Freight does not own Snap-on, and no, Dewalt does not make Harbor Freight’s Hercules tools.
While some Harbor Freight tools or equipment might share the same manufacturing origins as other brands’ tools, that’s not the case here. While the Icon pliers wrench looks a lot like a Knipex pliers wrench, this is not a rebranded Knipex tool.
Knipex and Icon both have limited lifetime warranties.
In 2014, a shipment of 2,000 multimeters was confiscated by US customs after it was determined the tools too closely imitated Fluke’s trade dress. This had nothing to do with Harbor Freight, but is an example of what can happen when imitation goes too far.
In 2017, Harbor Freight and Snap-on settled a lawsuit (Wisconsin case no. 16-C-1265) over a dispute on whether Harbor Freight’s Daytona floor jacks were “substantially visually identical” to Snap-on’s.
The irony with the Pliers Wrench is that Harbor Freight is blatantly imitating another brand’s iconic tool for their Icon brand.
Here’s a question for you – would you buy the Harbor Freight tool for $40, or the Knipex 10″ Pliers Wrench for $60+? At the time of this posting, the dipped-grip Knipex tool is ~$61 at Amazon, and the cushion-gripped version is ~$66 at Amazon.
You can get the Knipex Pliers Wrench for a bit less if you’re patient and watchful.