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.
Here’s the problem HF is running into, at least for my dollars, they are starting to price up near the name brand with many new tools. At which point I simply buy the name brand. I’m pretty sure the quality is they’re on the HF clone but I can be certain if I go with the name brand. Also, as Stu said, if you hold out for some sales you can do even better on the name brand, especially when it comes to holiday promos.
That’s basically my take on this. $40 isn’t all that much cheaper than $60. And it’s not difficult to find the Knipex on sale from time to time either making the price difference even lower.
I do think it was smart for them to begin with the 10″ model. I have several Knipex in a wide range of sizes but the 10″ is the one I use the most.
I use my 10″ the most too, but I hear the 7.5″ is also very popular.
It’s funny, there’s a lot of plier wrenches on the market now, but almost all of them are the 10″ size. You’d think an obvious move would be to make other sizes too.
The 16″ plier wrench XL for example, is very expensive.
I don’t have the 7.5″, but I do have the 7″ Cobras, and I use those an awful lot too so I’d think the 7.5 would be very handy too.
I have 5, 10, 12, and 16″. My most commonly used after the 10 is the 5, and then the 16″ XL.
Mine too the whole icon line is just confusing marginally cheaper tools of unknown quality.
Pittsburg pro socket sets is where they should have stayed not the best but decent tools and cheap enough to buy multiple sets to have at camp in the house and in the shop.
“$40 isn’t much cheaper than $60”
Phillip, it’s a matter of economic perspective. $20 doesn’t mean the same between a person living paycheck to paycheck and someone who isn’t. Just my $.02.
Agreed, when $20 is all you have to do you until payday!
Lol if your doing that rough then you got more issues than buying pliers.
To me, they’re both in the category of “too expensive to buy on a whim, but not exactly prohibitive”. If I was on a budget I wouldn’t even be considering the $40 tool and I’d look for something much lower.
Marvin L. McConoughey
I consider a one/third savings to be significant, an attitude I’ve had all my adult life to many purchases. I would buy the Harbor Freight version first and, if found to be of poor quality, not trust the Harbor Freight advertising in the future.
By the time you spend gas and your time getting it replaced under warranty it will be a break even.
My guess is Icon is Made in Taiwan at the same plant Doyle pliers are made.
They are much better than main land China when it comes to hardness but aI would rather own German steel which is hardened to exact tolerances.
Finally, you buy this wrench once a decade or if you are not in the trades you pass it on to your kids.
I totally agree with you about the high quality and reliability of German tools. I own German tools like brands( VBW) and others since 40+ years and they are still working good. Cheapest tools is not good choice at all. Thanks
True that. HF has lost a lot of my business by no longer being the cheapest option. I still get random stuff there, but if I’m going cheap on a hand tool it’s Husky or Menard’s house brand….Masterforce?
Pittsburgh Pro automotive hand tools are an exception…as a DIYer I have been super impressed with my 1/2″ and 3/8″ drive sets, and they are still the cheapest on the block.
I think husky tools or the bottom of the barrel
My new rolling tools chest from husky is freaking awesome. I think husky is stepping up their game too.
More fun, it’s on woot.com you can find the craftsman branded knipex pliers for like 28 bucks made in German
They just say Craftsman instead
Except those are different (cheaper) pliers… That HF has also knocked off under their Doyle brand.
Wrong…the craftsman version is a lot closer to knipex than the Doyle version. I have them both and craftsman is of a lot better quality.
What he means is that the Craftsman is a rebranded Cobra, which is less expensive than the Pliers Wrench.
No way would I buy a $40 Harbor Fright pair of pliers. I do love my knipex.
You are 100% correct! What made HF great was price, decent products for avg Joe! It seems HF is inching closer to the pro side in price at the expense of the avg Joe.
I agree I don’t think the power tools like Bauer and Hercules are worth it. I’d rather shell out a few dollars more for a brand name after reading reviews. Although I do like the welders they offer I own both the titanium mig 140 and and the Vulcan omnipro 220 for the price they are performing just like the brand names and with the warranty if it breaks or you run it over with your truck you can go into your local hf and walk out with a brand new one in the box. With the other brand names you have to ship them yourself to be repaired under warranty. Of course there are so many good deals there like dial indicators, clamps, punches I could go on and on. The central machinery tools like the band saw, shop press, floor model drill press, pipe bender (although they do need to be modified to work correctly) are main staple’s in my shop. Also the hydraulic jacks can not be beat for the money, I actually see them being used in a lot of mechanic shops and tire shops around here.
I always was a fan of HF and still am but the move towards premium tools with slightly less premium prices is a mistake on their part. Also no more coupons is a major disappointment
At this point I only buy electrical ties, foil tape, some types of caulk, rulers, and some hand tools. While the performance on their tools (Bauer, Hercules) is much improved, they cut corners typically on something like a switch. When that breaks or you need new brushes it is hard to get parts even though they do sell parts it takes too long to ship or they are out of stock. Their return policy is not friendly. Look at Amazon. Their tool price point is similar to Amazon, do get better quality in my usage, and easy returns.
Like a mechanic told me is long as it is lifetime warranty and it doesn’t brake when you 1st use it then you got a winner but snap on is over price and a middle brand price tools should do the average person just right and snap on mac are good for professional cause they come by there shop and thats where you pay for settle going to a store to return the tool so if you don’t mind driving then save money buy cheaper…. in my opinion some tool are the same and some are not but after patent end the tools will be the same
I understand how you feel Steve but here’s one of the things that I really like about Harbor Freight. I don’t have to wait until Tuesday for the Snap-on guy to show up or have to wait till Thursday afternoon for the day gum Matco guy to show up. I just go by Harbor Freight on my way home and return something that’s broken and I’ve never had a problem returning something that has a lifetime warranty at Harbor Freight with that being said I’m really impressed with the icon
I’ve had great luck with the Doyle brand harbor freight stuff. I like it better than channelock
You must have had good luck. I have found Doyle tools to be acceptable, but in no way better than Channellock.
Same, when HF is 50% of a name brand price it looks pretty attractive. For example I have their US General roller cabinet and it’s fantastic for the price.
This though, it’s just too close to the price of the Knipex, and I feel like if the Project Farm channel on youtube did a video, I’d expect the HF brand to fail well before the Knipex on all tests.
HF is ideal for diy’ers who will use to tool 2 or 3 times a year. So for 40 bucks, I’d say that plier is too expensive for me. If I was a shop mechanic/tech, I’d say that’s a bargain, but I’m not. I’ll stick with the 8 10 12 bucks pliers.
I just bought a 3 pack, 8 inch, 10 inch, 12 inch joint plier. Had to change out sink basin pipe. It was for 25 bucks at Lowes. Hf had a budget 20 bucks plier set came with 4 pieces pliers, looked too cheap.
Wow, they even went so far as to “skeletonize” the wrench head to look identical.
You could honestly put the first two side by side and play that picture game of spot the difference.
For anyone that’s looking for a pair of Knipex.
Just set up a “deal alert” for “Knipex” and support the original manufacturer.
I’m all for good deals, but I have yet to see ANY of the knockoffs improve any part of the original tool (and I have several out of curiosity for the purposes of comparing). Until someone actually comes out with a genuine improvement, I see no reason to jump on this. Especially for such a blatant ripoff/copy.
You’d think they would get sued for this
Yeah, agree that this blatant copying is ridiculous. That said, I genuinely think the Irwin Adjusting GrooveLocks are a minor improvement. Bigger button and the mechanism felt slightly smoother too. Also cheaper, but no clue how well they hold up to abuse.
The Irwin are NOT an improvement – they can’t be used in the same manner as Knipex’s when turning fasteners (at least the sizes I tried), making the process slower.
I have a pretty complete set of the Knipex ones – so I’m not in the market. But If I were buying only 1 more – I’d stick with Knipex (the known entity.) I’d also prefer to shy away from items that do nothing more than copy an original verbatim – adding nothing other than an undercut price.
All of that said, if the Icon model performs and holds up well – I suspect that HF will sell a lot. When we tried our first Kinpex plier wrenches out (now over 21 years ago) – we were so taken that we bought another batch of 20. Thinking about that today – would we have bought 20 Icon for $800 or 20 Knipex for $1220? – I’m not sure.
Before commenting on HF, a paragraph about Knipex (which the HF copy).
I switched a lot of my purchasing of Knipex to Lowe’s and a couple of US-based German tool specialists (I don’t mention which because there’s anothre one that I don’t use, primarily because their website doesn’t work properly for me, and I don’t want to call them out). Lowe’s generally had the best price and in stock for shipping (sometimes drop shipped) and accepts discounts. For a few SKUs they’re even in stock at the stores.
I’m a big fan of Knipex, primarily because the teeth on the Cobras/Alligators and the flats on the pliers wrenches are so durable due to the induction hardening process they use. I’ve not found another set of pliers that are that durable. And those durable teeth make sure that I get a good hold on my workpiece without even having to maintain grip pressure. In the case of the pliers wrench, the hard flats plus the gripping leverage ensure the pliers aren’t the reason if you lose hold.
One recent instance, a foreman at a job couldn’t get enough grip and leverage with 10″ Channellocks to shut off the gas at a site and didn’t have the gas tool, so he asked me to bring one next time I came out. I told him I would do it and showed him 10″ pliers wrench, and he laughed, but it was done in seconds. Would the HF version have worked here? Probably, but I would be wary of putting a lot of pressure on a tool with my hands if I don’t trust the tool to hold.
So when it comes down to it, if I am going to spend almost any money on something that a failure could result in injury, I am going to get something I trust. And if you make a good tool, I will use it. If you sell it cheap, even better. But if you’re outright participating in questionable IP appropriation, I’m rarely on board.
I know SBD has trademarked yellow and black for Dewalt (they either let Stanley “get away with it” or claim the inverse pattern). So usually the Chinese factories will ignore any legal issues and produce the product, and when the deal is too good to pass up, an American retailer will give it a go, knowing that the only impact is when they will eventually get slapped with a cease & desist and ship the product back to the factory and don’t pay for the unsold items (this is common–the factories protect the sellers because profit has already been made in the first few sales).
SBD is an acronym for Stanley Black & Decker, so Stanley owns Dewalt. That’s why there’s no trademark issue.
Which is why “get away with it” is in quotes!
But still, even under the same parentage, most companies don’t want their stablemates copying the same trade dress except when functionally necessary. The Craftsman impact drivers don’t have all the same “protrusions” as the DeWalt despite being the same under the hood. And the accessories that attach to the bottom (belt hook, bit holder, Versatrak hook) aren’t compatible between the two even though they are within 1mm of working.
“because there’s anothre one that I don’t use, primarily because their website doesn’t work properly for me, and I don’t want to call them out”
This has to be the same website that doesn’t work properly with me. Rhymes with kay and sea and toolz perhaps? They have the best selection of German tools (Knipex, Hazlet, Gedore,…) but their website has something going on, their admins don’t respond, so I shop elsewhere.
Lowes (online) carries a significant selection of Knipex, as well as Tekton and Gearwrench, which are brands I’ve come to trust. Just the Lowe’s prices aren’t better than that “website”. Perhaps when gifted a card or some “deals” get listed here…
Yeah, it’s something like that. By something, I mean exactly!
I should point out that I order online from Lowes a lot, and pickup in store. (I need a reason to make me go to the store, because the store has closeouts and clearance pricing that you never see online or in the app… although the pricing is available in the app if you are actually in the store using the app.)
On several occasions (for instance, 2-3 times since the holidays) I’ve had a “thank you” card with a $5 or $10 gift card included in the bag with my order when I pick it up.
It gives a little discount for some of those hand tools that you need to get at Lowes for whatever reason (contract, lead time, etc.)
There’s no trademark on yellow and black. You cannot legally trademark colors.
Of the ICON labeled tools I’ve put hands on all have seemed to be well made copies of something. Their ratchet might as well say TEKTON or GEARWRENCH on it for example. But the pricing and the distaste I have for HF stuff makes me put it back and buy someone else. In fact I Think ordered off internet TEKTON is cheaper for a quality product.
So for this I would also be hard pressed to buy the ICON vs buying a Knipex off the internets. If the price is really 50% more perhaps I’d try the icon then.
The Knipex stuff is so good, I’d rather support them and their ingenuity in creating these new types of products.
New? Pliers wrench is not a new product.
I purchased the 10″ Knipex in 2017 for $54.79. Totally worth it. This HF is a blatant rip off that I could never support. Sometimes I find myself waiting for a patent to expire so I can get a clone at a reasonable price (thinking Domino here) but in this case I am happy to have bought the original. The price is reasonable given the quality and it was probably made by fairly paid workers.
In some ways I think this was a good move on Harbor Freight’s part – the moralities of copy-catting aside.
Lots of the knock-offs have problems when compared to Knipex. Irwin is too bulky, Wiha/Maximum uses a different adjustment mechanism, Gedore and Grey are as much or more expensive but not any better, Craftsman has a worse finish and handle angle, Lenox is really a different tool.
At least these ought to operate like Knipex’s. That said, I would probably skip these in favor of a pair of Knipex – unless it was a backup tool or somesuch, in which case I might be tempted.
The best tool is the best tool. I’m glad that there is a company that is forcing, by copying or close to it, to make tool manufacturers, to either lower their price, or in many instances, make better tools.
If these guys had been around 50 years ago, Snap On tools would be affordable today. And probably be better tools.
It’s the same thing with cordless battery platforms. Dewalt makes a better drill, Milwaukee has to step up.
We can all probably agree that the HF version is not better. It might possibly be equivalent – but not better. It’s, at best, going to be the same quality but less expensive. But more likely, lower quality and lower cost, though, right?
I buy HF stuff when I can consider it disposable (similarly to others of us). When buying something to last, I never, ever screw around with knockoffs (also like most of us).
For HF and their eager customers, this stuff is short-term gain, long-term pain – especially with the too obvious knock-off appearance.
Been using harbor freight version. It works fine and will last long. Not knocking knipex but other manufacturers are stepping up and catching up BIG TIME……just that simple.
I was looking at the Knipex pliers wrench a few weeks ago. I could only find it for about $66 or so. That’s a bit of money considering I have several other pliers and adjustable wrenches and I don’t have an immediate need for it. Who knows how often I’ll really be using it so I didn’t buy it. I saw a review that showed the Irwin version slipping and the Lenox and Craftsman designs were similar so I didn’t consider them as alternatives. I would consider this Icon version because it looks like the same mechanism as Knipex and if it was made in Taiwan and if I could get it for 20% off ($32). I understand Knipex is a much better tool but I am not a pro so that extra quality is not crucial to me. And if it breaks I just walk in to HF and get a new one instead of shipping it out to Germany or wherever their RMA center is located. I would like to see pliers wrench comparison and see how it compares to the Knipex.
The more I think about it the more I think the high end quality Knipex is famous for probably isn’t as important for this tool. One of my main reasons for buying Knipex is that they do the teeth in pliers very well. They are properly sharp and they are also hardened well so they don’t wear out or deform as bad as most brands over time. But that isn’t so important for a smooth jawed tool.
I agree with you about the teeth, but the flats on the pliers wrench seem to be hardened was well (I don’t have any hard evidence). This keeps the workpieces from harming the nice smooth finish on the flats, and keeps marred jaws from damaging further work later on down the line.
That is absoutely true, the flat jaws do need to be hardened, but that’s an easier challenge than serrated jaws. While I don’t have a very high opinion of HF tools in general I must admit they are able to get the hardness of flat jaws, such as on adjustable wrenches, and open-end wrenches, correct. I’d expect they could get this right, especially given it’s an Icon branded tool. Like Nathan wrote above the Icon line seems on par with much better brands than the lower-end HF lines like Pittsburgh.
I Own the complete line of the Knipex pliers.. the one thing that I belive in is quality, I’m a hea y equipment mechanic,, my job demands that my tools has to be tough I prefer American made tools So cornwell is my go to tool, but if I can’t find what I need American made I research the tool I need , the only thing that I did buy at Harbor Freight was their Earthquake XT 1/2 air inpact that was a tough little tool after 5 years of heavy work It gave out on me so I bought a Ingersol Rand
But keep in mind Quaility saves bodly injuries, and extended down time because it’s cheap does not make it better,
On the flip side, more expensive does not make it better either. Honestly, we can talk all we want about the supposed quality of this tool, but until someone actually puts it through its paces we won’t really know. And you (a heavy equipment mechanic) have different requirements than me (a DIYer). Sometimes HF is all I need.
I’m in the Midwest so at Menards we can get both the Cobra and Alligator style 10” Knipex for just under $30 and the pliers wrench for just under $60. When they have 11% back or other deals, they’re cheaper. Also watch KC Tools online for deals (they’re a German tool dealer out of KC with good prices and relatively quick shipping).
I have no issue buying Icon or other HF tools but they’ve got to be a good deal for me to buy them usually. Also they’ve got to be something that my local store will stock normally so that I can get them replaced under warranty reasonably quickly.
I would say normal price for each, I’d consider these if I didn’t already own multiple sizes of Knipex including the 10”. I may purchase these for work to see how they hold up (food plant maintenance where they supply everything we need, but I prefer supplying some of my own tools).
I think I’ve gotten almost all of my Knipex from Menards. Love being able to drive up the street and get them at a fair price. The 11% is just icing. Just picked up a set of the CoBolt cutters this weekend. With the 11% + the stack of rebates I had to cash in, they were almost free.
Their 15% bag sale is where I bought all mine, I believe.
I’m the rare read who likes HF and sticks up for them. But h3ll no. I purchased knipex….. I paid more. And I’d do it again. There come a oint when the reason for choosing HF doesn’t make sense anymore. Trusted? Not for me. I’ve used HF warranty bc the stuff does break. Those were use cases I didn’t care about, and I had more time to run back to stores. That’s no longer the case. And unless they paid Knipex for a legal way to do this, I would think users are screwed once the product is pulled. Where’s your warranty then?
I don’t know why there would be a substantial legal issue (other than maybe the red handle dip). The patent date for the pliers wrench is 1994. The patent would have expired in 2014. The worst that would happen is they might be compelled to change the handle dip color to avoid a potential trademark issue.
a few weeks ago i paid $51 for my knipex 10″ in black with comfort handles. i like HF in general because it works and saves money but $11 isnt enough especially for inferior handles
Not everyone can afford good tools but top shelf tools are available used in very nice condition on any given day online.
The icon line is ok but price is too close to used top shelf. Rather support a Us company manufacturing in us if at all possible
The Knipex are made in Germany. Similar models by USA brands are made in Asia. There is no USA version of this tool that I’ve seen yet.
“Binford Tools ,now with the binford 3000 gas powered super duty grip wrench that’ll bite and not let go” (tim the toolman grunts) 😉 … my fave is his overpowered jet chainsaw motored straightshaft weedwhip with a circular saw blade rather than plastic string and he trims just a bit too close to a tree that lands on a house 🏡👀
Even though the pictures can’t do the actual fit and finish of the Knipex justice, I can still see larger teeth on the Knipex, more detail, and a smoother casting/forging on the inner parts. The HF looks like someone dropped a Knipex into a sand cast mold in some areas.
Matt the Hoople
I still have PTSD from some Pittsburgh stuff I owned 30 years ago. I’ll buy the occasional open stock impact socket or large wrench for a one-time use type of situation only because they are cheap. Their pliers wrench isn’t that cheap. I need a 10” set (have the 6 and 7.5”) but will likely hold out for the Knipex on sale.
I can’t force myself to buy anything at HF, aka CF.
CAPRI also just came out with their own version of the ‘Plier-Wrench’ as well. Also a bit cheaper. Also with Lifetime warranty.
Although I think it’s too early in the game for anyone to be able to REALLY speak on the quality of ANY of the new ‘Non-knockoff knockoffs’.
Guess we shall see.
Like people above stated.. for $20 more… I’d just go with the tried & true Knipex brand.
It’s not too early for me to comment on the Gedore “knockoff” version. Probably due to reasons of volume sales, it cost me more than an equivalent Knipex. It was kind of disappointing. While the Knipex newer PWs have gotten slimmer, lighter, and have jaws that open wider, the Gedore version is more… industrial. It’s bigger and thicker and I am not sure it makes it stronger.
It does have one standout feature (no pun) in that the adjustment button is much more prominent. This could be a positive for people with sight or dexterity issues. It’s also concave rather than convex, which makes it more enjoyable to use as the spring holding the adjustment button is also higher rate. The button protrusion could be an issue for use in a tight space, but anyone using an adjustable wrench ideally should not be using it in a tight space.
Knipex provides replacement parts like the flat springs and button locks. I wonder if the other (cheaper) companies do as well? HF’s warranty on a $40 tool is marginal at best for me (it’s a $20-25 trip for me with gas or bridge tolls). But a worn spring plus damaged adjuster button for Knipex I can have delivered same/next day for $12.
The lawsuit with snap on was dropped when harbor freight mentioned that snap on was misleading their customers about being made in the USA. That leads me to believe that the harbor freight and snap on jack’s are being built in the same factory. Something tells me that the same thing may be happening here. Are these knipex plyers really made in Germany, or are they bending the laws and regulations to say that they are?
Knipex are made in Germany.
I understand that. Snap on are “made in the usa” what I’m saying is that there are ways for companies to get around all of that. This day and age, if something says “made in” it doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Companies are doing everything they can to make it look like their product is made in the USA or Germany, or Japan. They are finding loopholes to get away with it.
For some reason, when harbor freight mentioned that snap on was misleading their customers about being made in the USA, snap on dropped the lawsuit. If harbor freight knows the same thing about knipex, I feel like they wouldn’t be afraid of a lawsuit.
Great video, thanks!
Something to understand about manufacturing. Even two products made in the same factory for two separate companies can, and often will, have WILDLY varying levels of quality. Tolerances, materials, production techniques, finishing practices, etc. in the same factory will be different for different products.
I once worked in a factory that made automotive brake pads. We produced pads for 6 different auto makers. Even for pads that were visually identical, there could be huge differences. For instance, we made a brake pad for Cadillacs that was identical in dimensions and design to one we produced for Toyota. However, the Cadillac pads used much higher quality materials, had tighter tolerances, and used more refined finishing techniques.
Remember, Stanley and Dewalt are made in the same factories. Only a fool would argue that Stanley or Black and Decker is the same quality as Dewalt
Hmm, I must be a fool, because I have a B&D reciprocating saw that if you go on Servicenet, all the replacement parts are the same numbers as Dewalt. Well, except for the housing and the decals.
Now, most people here will scream “warranty!” at you really loud because the Dewalt has a 3-year warranty and the B&D is probably only 90 days. So is that warranty part of the “quality” you’re talking about? If so, then I wouldn’t argue.
Eddie the Hook
I’m running out to buy 1 or 3 of them…….as soon as Channellock makes them🙏. Or another US manufacturer does. ps: $40 is too expensive for Horror Freight to charge for a knock off of someone elses product.
That would be sweet. I’d certainly add some more blue handles to my collection if Channellock popped these out! Let’s hope they do!
There is just a 5 dollars price difference. For the knipex, I can get repair kits, will HF offer repair kits? I would like to try one, not because of the price, but to compare the quality, fit and finish.
I believe Capri tools is coming out with their version too.
They missed the mark by about $10 with their price on this one. I’ll stick with Knipex. Just not enough savings to go with a knock off.
I have the 10 inch Knipex locking pliers ,so I am pretty fermilar with them. I also have Snap on , Mac, Matco ,Proto,Black Halk ,Stahlwille, Hazet Whitte, Wiha, Wera , NWS ,Bacho and Felo tools along with other odd brands including Icon by Harbor Freight and Carlyle by Napa Auto Parts. My Box is packed .
So I have a pretty good idea of what can be expected buy most high quality major brands.
What you can expect from Knipex is Simply the highest quality metallurgy in the tool industry.
They have been experamenting with heat treats and alloys in pliers more than anyone, their engineers are the best in the industry. Knipex is a no compromise product that works and endures use and abuse long after everyone else has failed.(Made by German Craftsman to the highest standards exseeding DIN /ISO .
The Icon brand is made in Taiwan , it will always be an imitation of the Knipex made to very high standards to meet the needs of professionals and weekend warriors like myself.
They will most likely not be as consistent in heat treat or have the same alloys as the Knipex.
But they will be a very ,very good plier with a fantastic warenty.
If they break ,you exchange them no questions asked.
It is a little harder to warenty Knipex but you will most likely never have too. There is a reason every tool truck carries rebranded Knipex products, because they are with out compromise, the best .
It’s Mercedes vs. Hyundai, both will get you there one is better warented. That extra $20.00 gets you German craftsmanship, German heat treat, and German metallurgy not to mention the resurch and development you are funding that will create the next cool new tool everyone will race to copy. It is important to support company’s that move the industry forward. Who hasn’t copied Snap on ? Detachable sockets with a ball bearing detent, Flank drive, bolstered screwdrivers.
It is worth paying a little more to have better quality and you are investing in company’s that create the products that make your work easier and more rewarding.
Ironically, Hyundai has the better warranty AND better reliability than the German brands in their modern cars. Hyundai was in the top third in recent ranking while the German 3 were in the bottom third. And they’re more expensive to maintain.
Maybe for $30 on a sale I would get the Icon. Yeah, the Knipex might be better, the patent might have run out on their design. I have to assume, for now, this is a legal copy. I would have to see a hands on comparison review, like project farm, to change my mind.
More fun, it’s on woot.com you can find the craftsman branded knipex pliers for like 28 bucks made in German
They just say Craftsman instead
Accidentally posted in a comment reply
I have a golden rule when it comes to tools:
If I can afford it, I try to buy the best. That simple.
Why? Because in most cases these tools will last a lifetime then.
I have so many Knipex pliers, or Picard hammers, or Hazet or Gedore ratchets (BTW, they are considered the same quality here in Germany, and they are more or less neighbors in the same tiny area ), and a lot of these tools I bought in the 80s. And they are still perfect.
So why should I invest money in something where I am not sure if it lasts?
And anyway, a great tool is just more joy to use, isn’t it?
I got the gedore set a few years back when they were on a christmas sale for $32 and they came with a free bottle opener 🙂 I have the 7.5″ knipex ones as well (and honestly use them more than the 10’s) . I know that the times being what they are alot of stuff is more expensive, but I think HF missed the price mark on these by about $10 too much. for $30 I might try them, but for $40 I might as well forgo a couple cups of coffee and just get the real deals.
I’m a knipex fan and electrician and basically have all tools but there one company that has surpassed there pliers wrench. That pliers wrench is the 7 ” and 10″ gedore. I have put both to test and work and abuse and gedore clamp with more force and precision. Still love Knipex but Gedore are actually made better.
HF seems to release ICON tools at the high price point instead of a low intro price. They seem to like to feel out what the market will bear then drop down in pricing to meet volume targets. I expect you might see discounts on these later in the year.
The thing with HF is that they have actually been improving their tools steadily over the years. I’ve been buying from them for a couple decades now, and most everything has gotten better in that time. I have a 10 year old 4 drawer service cart that has been great, but I can tell the newer ones have better slides heavier gauge in a few spots and better lid hinges. Another example would be the one hand bar clamps, the ones from 5-10 years ago were awful broke or had very limited and inconsistent clamp pressure, the new ones are not as nice as my Pony and Irwin clamps but for the price they are pretty damn good and worlds better then previous HF ones.
I usually stop in HF once a month or so in the morning. No where near as busy as a couple years ago but they have steady business, I’m always amazed at how many compressors and air tools they seem to move, I always see people carrying those out, that and jacks most be huge part of their business.
Sounds like Stu will have to get a pair for a side by side comparison. I may consider them with a coupon.
Here’s a question I haven’t seen asked: How useful is the tether point on the 10” pliers?
I would go with the Knipex but seeing that I drive by a HF almost daily on the way home from work I’d probably go for Icon. I hate calling and emailing for warranty and this simplifies that.
We use our tools daily on large equipment, knock-off stuff has no place here.
I should start off by saying i love Knipex (& NWS too!) as some of the best pliers out there.
I have no experience as of yet with Icon pliers, but i do have some sets of sockets i have as well as a few ratchets and they are quite good.
I would be inclined to try these if they were maybe a bit lower in price or i found them on the rare sales on Icon tools.
I agree i have seen Knipex on sale from time to time and given the choice I know Knipex would be great.
I would like to see someone do one of those head to head comparison testing from both. I kind of repulse when i see good tools being destroyed but there is a small part of me that wonders if the steel is as good a quality, are the Jaws as sharp and do they hold up and probably most importantly will the adjustment mechanism fail prematurely.
But for me since i am not a professional mechanic a tool is a tool and if it does the job COO is not as important to me. At that point cost is a major consideration. Harbor Freight is probably Easier to warranty than the Knipex.
Has to be patent infringement. they are exact.
Unless they have a licensing deal.
Patents only last 20 years, in most cases. After that, it’s fair game. I don’t know how long this Knippex tool has been out, but there is a chance it is legal.
I suspect they are legal. I’ve had my 10″ model for at least 15 years. And the patent having expired would also explain why Gedore, Wiha, and others have similar models too.
17 years to be exact. You have to pay to extend it, it’s not free. So at that point many companies just let it expire and move onto investing in other endeavors that are new for the time.
Looking at the picture, the Icon pliers seem to be a closer copy to the older generation Knipex. There are small subtle differences in the older and newer generation Knipex. To me it looks like the patent has lapsed on the older generation Knipex pliers wrench.
SK Tools was one of the pioneers of the traditional round head ratchet with their model 45170. It is still widely copied to this day.
For me it comes down to whether I want to use my money to reward a German innovator or reward a Chinese company who steals ideas. Simple decision.
I would not even consider these until they are 1/3 the price of the Knipex or less. In this case, maybe $20. I’ve got the Knipex sizes I really need.
Patents on the pliers wrench dried up a while ago. Isn’t it from the 80’s? Even then, you could challenge the patents with some pre-existing tools out there.
It’s a carbon/cast copy, so a trade dress lawsuit would be more than appropriate.
You can buy the Knipex 10” pliers wrench for under $50, every day of the week. Hell, they’re at Menards.
I BUY CHANNELLOCK, they are made in the USA!!!!
We had over 20 plumbers on the payroll when we bought our first Knipex plier wrenches about 22 years ago. We had been using Channellocks – both serrated and smooth jaw ones. Once the guys passed around the Knpiex ones – they all wanted their own pair. We liked to buy American plumbing tools as well (Ridgid, Reed, Channellock, Wheeler-Rex et. al.) – but when we came across a tool that was clearly better than its US-made counterparts – then we became agnostic about its COO. Knipex pliers – particularly the parallel jaw plier-wrench had no equal in a USA-Made tool. The guys also thought that Knipex Cobra pliers were superior to Channellocks – but not so much to trash the old and replace them all in one fell swoop. Btw – some of the guys favorite Channellock tools are their wide-mouth adjustable wrenches – not USA-made – but made in Spain by Irrega.
If flat out copying a proven design is “imitation”, then yeah…
That’s exactly what imitation means.
A copy can be an identical reproduction.
An imitation is a non-identical copy.
Stu is correct on this. lol…
Is the Knipex tool 33% better than the HF knock off? Almost certainly. In fact, I would bet that the quality of materials and construction are easily twice as good as the HF. A professional user looks for value rather than price. The Knipex provides better value. The DIYer or hobbyist might consider the HF brand, but as mentioned several times already in the comments, the price is so close, why not buy the real thing?
HF has operated a successful business model for many years selling poorly made, low priced tools. Their move upmarket is curious. Are they trying to fill a void in the “mid-level” tool market? I know of no professional construction professionals in my area who use HF tools, not even the higher end ICON line. Most of these guys avoid Husky and Cobalt as well.
The only way I see the move up being successful is if HF contracted for some genuine, made in USA hand tools. This would be way outside their wheelhouse, but might attract that professional user. Maybe.
I buy the cheapest tools that work period. If you save a dollar it’s worth it to me. Why be loyal to a brand that could care less about you or there own employees. If it’s not made in China go for it! Made in the USA by workers who make a decent wage is long gone. Now it’s made in the USA by Mexicans.
That price is too high for Hf. I only buy Hf stuff for that item that is not going to be used much and is significantly less than a really good product.
Mainly it is which China made pos is worth buying.
I actually like most kobalt tools for the basic stuff.
IndianaJonesy (Matt J.)
If I was desperate for a deal on plier wrenches, the Napa-rebranded Fujiya Grip Monkeys are a much better deal. Not at normal prices, but they go on sale as cheap as $20ish almost every tool holiday season (Christmas, Fathers Day). I like my Knipex better, but not that much better. Plus, they’re made in Taiwan, not China, and I can walk into Napa and walk out with a new pair no questions asked with their lifetime warranty, same as HF (but closer, at least for me).
I will almost always support the innovator brand (in this case Knipex) R&D and precision manufacture through purchase. “You get what you pay for” is important versus lost work time. Durability and reliability on the job are more important (to me) than increasingly smaller cost difference. If the HF brand fails on-site, the limited lifetime warranty “full replacement” does me little good that work day -assuming a replacement is available on demand.
Looks impressive. Might try it.
Not a HF devotee but I don’t devote to ANY brand,
Give it up on the Icon hate. Haters disdained Pittsburgh so HF responded. Some will never be happy with less than SK or Snapon.
Often I need an insulated screwdriver. Klein and Honeywell make you wonder if it comes with a free crack rock and their insulation is very easily damaged. I got tired of returning the Pittsburgh branded screwdrivers because the blades kept snapping off. The Icon set is that perfect blend of good quality metallurgy and toughest insulation I’ve seen yet. It’s less than others and hard to hate on when it’s the best out there. I bought them to try and I’m sold. That doesn’t mean I’ll be single branded.
I agree in thinking Icon is a good more for Hazard Fraught. If they can keep the price reasonable, the quality great, and the warranty lifetime, that’s enough for me.
I won’t buy this stuff just on principle.
I read here a lot that warranty is very important to a lot of people. Why is that?
Reason I am asking is that not one of my pliers, or screwdrivers, or hammers or whatever ever broke. I really don’t think about warranty when I buy tools (exception are of course powertools, but even there not so much).
When I buy tools, I buy tools where I know they last a lifetime. And so far they did.
And I would also not be very amused if they would break down during a job, even if I could (have to) go to the store to get a new one. Because it is time wasted, and in the end you have the same tool that will break again.
Warranty was important to me when I was younger and first buying tools. I couldn’t afford the really nice stuff so a warranty on the cheaper tools was a big deal. For example, when I first started wrenching on cars as a teenager I couldn’t afford to buy something like Snap-On or Proto, so I bought Craftsman. And there were multiple occasions where I needed to warranty a broken ratchet or a socket so Craftsman’s warranty was very much appreciated.
But otherwise my experience is like yours, I very rarely encounter tool failure. Really the main failures I experienced were the old Craftsman ratchets and I’ve long since replaced all of those in my toolbox with Snap-On. The old Craftsman sockets are still kickin’ though! About the only example I can think of where I appreciated the warranty on a high-end tool was for a pair of Sandvik Lindstrom flush cutters. I use those for precision electronics work and I’ve had them for many years. The steel parts never gave me any trouble but after many years of ownership the plastic handles started to come apart. It must have been some kind of defect in the manufacturing of that specific pair as I have several different types of those but only one of them failed in that manner. Sure I could have just used plasti-dip or something like that, but they have a lifetime warranty so I just sent them in and got a new pair.
I agree 100% about the concerns of tools failing during a job–it’s time wasted which could translate into significant expense. And tool failures can also cause injuries.
Oh, and with respect to power tools. Again, when I was first buying tools I couldn’t afford the top of the line brands so I ended up buying basic tools: Black & Decker and Craftsman, mostly. I did have some of those tools fail, and it’s put a bad taste in my mouth regarding Craftsman power tools ever since. As soon as I could I started swapping those tools out for Milwaukee, Makita, Dewalt, Bosch, etc. Since then I haven’t had any power tool “fail” on me. Now I have had some older tools that had wear and tear build up after years of use. At that point when problem comes up I usually use that as an excuse to replace the tool. Even if the manufacturer did warranty it 10+ years after it was made chances are that new tools are better anyway, so it seems a bit silly to fix up, say, an old drill-driver when the new models are more compact, more powerful, have better runtime, and have better safety features like bindup protection, etc.
My exception for that is machine tools. I prefer to buy old-school “big iron” because in my experience the most of the new machine tools aren’t any better. Quite the opposite, really.
Exactly my experience too. The old machine tools are constructed to last forever. I have an old drill press that was made shortly after the war. It still works like new. And is heavy like nothing else 🙂
An excellent warranty can be a reassurance that the manufacturer stands behind their work. A very limited or short-term warranty raises the question of “why?” If the tool is truly excellent, why doesn’t the manufacturer want to stand behind their product with a trouble free warranty?
That’s not always the case, the theory is good, but in practice many manufacturers will advertise a good warranty, even lifetime, that implies their product is great and to get the sell. Sometimes that is true sometimes not. Most times the product price is inflated to cover these extended or lifetime warranties. Some companies make it difficult to use the warranties.
A warranty is no guarantee of product quality.
Yes…. That is why I said it “can” and also that the lack of a trouble free warranty raises questions.
I think that you are all correct and that warranties are just another thing to consider when buying anything. Some may be great – others not worth the paper they are printed on – especially the paper that may contain the fine print that can make them difficult or impossible to use. One for one replacement policies are OK until what you need to replace is out of stock or no longer made with no new-model replacement option. These warranties may also be more attractive to individual users or small companies.
Your view of warranties may also vary with your situation/circumstances and how risk adverse you are. Some folks seem to like buying extended warranties on major purchases like cars and appliances. My personal opinion is that these offerings are usually overpriced, and I prefer to roll the dice. But my financial position may be quite different to others who can’t or don’t want to take the risk of a big repair or replacement bill.
In our businesses, we looked at most small tools (under $500 first cost) as expense items and looked to recover their purchase price quickly. Naturally larger tools and equipment were typically depreciated/amortized over time on a schedule. In either case a tool failure was more of concern because of its concomitant loss of production (or worse yet personal injury) rather than its replacement cost. We typically were large enough to plan for what we considered to be likely contingencies and have critical spares on hand (or workarounds) to let us recover quickly. With the coming of places like decently stocked Home Depot (pretty dense in our service area) replacements for common tools became less problematical. So, as an example, instead of needing to stock extra table saws in our workout centers and running back to pick one up – a table saw failure on the jobsite might trigger a run to the local HD – and then deciding what to do with the failed unit later.
Another piece of the puzzle for us – was making repair versus replace decisions on power tools. Our anecdotal evidence changed on this over the years. When we had mostly corded tools – it seemed that a few were regularly in the repair shop. We seemed to develop a relationship with some of these factory authorized repair shops – and had a degree of comfort with their recommendations for repair versus replace options. As we morphed more and more to cordless tools – many more seemed to be not worth servicing when they failed. Some of this may have related to limitations on warranties – but the cost of us sending someone back and forth to the repair shop was also a factor. Then too, by the time we’d wear out many tools – a new-better-more productive tool was probably on the market – and the cost of a repair for a fully paid-for tool would not seem prudent.
Regarding optional “extended warranties” which you have to pay extra for: these are basically legalized gambling, except here the house has a much bigger edge than they do in a casino.
I worked at Best Buy for a time just before I went to college. I was sent to a training seminar run by the company to teach us how to better sell their extended warranties. Shortly into the presentation the speaker said: “it’s really important that you push these warranties hard on the customers because they’re like 95% profit for Best Buy”
I raised my hand and was called on. I asked, if they’re 95% profit for Best Buy, doesn’t that make them–statistically anyway–a terrible value for our customers?
He stood there dumbfounded for a moment, refused to answer my question, then told me to stand in the hall because “I wasn’t a team player”.
Now I can see them being useful in some situations where you have very high certainty that the warranty will be used. I have a friend who breaks her smartphone every 3 months. A phone warranty makes sense for her. But for the average buyer the warranty never makes financial sense. If it did make financial sense then nobody would be offering the warranty in the first place because there would be no profit to be made.
I support the companies that are innovating, and thus command a price for their innovative products. Companies like HF merely profit from the engineering work of others. HF would not exist if they weren’t able to steal others’ designs.
My hats off to you for purchasing only Fein drills and oscillating tools! Shame on Dewalt and Milwaukee for profiting off the backs of Fein.
I think that the marketplace has room for a broad spectrum of offerings. I also think that the idea of and adherence to patent protection is a good thing. At least that way the inventor of a novel tool will have some head start on the rest of the legitimate market. If the patented tool is worth its salt, then the inventor should be able to recoup their R&D costs. I’m not sure about how Fein did with their early invention of the cordless drill – but suspect that they did well with the Multimaster. Of course, when that patent ran out there were a plethora of copies – some adding new features, others just offering different price options – and some knockoffs offering low-end junk. But that’s the marketplace and should be expected. IMO Fein still makes good OMTs – but now having options is nice. Considering how many Multimasters and Supercuts we bought – I suspect we contributed a small bit to Fein’s profitability.
The same thing is happening with the Knipex plier-wrench design. But what I’m not seeing yet is a clearly better tool – unless perhaps you favor the Gedore’s button. The pricing of the Icon tool also suggests that it is not a junky knockoff – but an attempt to offer a somewhat lower priced alternative to appeal to HF customers. I for one, always welcome the competition and sometimes added value that comes after a patent runs its course. Then you have a choice of staying with the original – or trying something different. The competition may also encourage the original maker to improve their design – as Knipex has done.
All this being said – what I chuckle more about are some of the tool knockoffs that appear on Amazon – sometimes with advertising verbiage that seems like it’s meant to deceive you into thinking it is the real McCoy, Stuart posted a while back about a tool made in Norway (the Viking Arm) that is expensive but high quality. This sems to have encouraged Chinese knockoffs of such low quality as to be worthless.
First things first. If anyone was to believe that Harbor Freight owned Snap On I want some of what they are smoking. If anything maybe the other way around but they would never want to be associated with Harbor Freights junk. Harbor Freight has tried to better the quality of tools they offer but as stated previously they have drastically increased prices. By them slowly closing the gap between their stuff and name brand tools you would be even more foolish to buy from them. I have and still do consider Harbor Freights tools throw aways. They are just now starting to offer brushless power tools. What are they a decade behind everyone else? As far as the pliers I wouldn’t even consider theirs over Knipix. I would bet my life savings the quality isn’t close and pretty positive Knipix didn’t make them for Harbor Freight. The Craftsman pliers are absolutely made by Knipix and rebranded as Craftsman.
Yes, the Craftsman Cobra-like pliers are actual Knipex Cobra pliers with different handle grips. BUT, anything you see look to be legacy Sears-era products.
The Craftsman Cobra pliers have older model numbers and as far as I am aware, Craftsman and Stanley Black & Decker don’t have any business dealings with Knipex.
I bought these last night. I wanted some Knipex to leave in the tool roll I keep in my truck, for automotive repairs. I couldn’t justify buying another set of Knipex, so I grabbed the Icon to try and leave in the truck.
The Icons are pretty nice. Forging looks good, button and jaw action is nice with same side to side movement as Knipex. The teeth on the Icon are sharp and cleanly made, while the Knipex are only slightly sharper. The head opens the same as the Knipex. They do seem like a Taiwanese copy of the older Knipex model as posted in the article. The cushion grip is a little thicker and though its a dipped handle, mine appears to have a hard glue holding the grip on.
For something that will live in my truck and be hardly used, I am really happy with these and the fact that there is a lifetime warranty. There are plenty of HF stores near me to swing into if I need to replace them. A 7″ version would be a great buy if they make it.
I am all for supporting the originator and I already own a bunch of Knipex tools, but these pliers are a good deal, easy to source locally, and have a legit warranty. Time will tell if they were a good purchase.
HF also had new 10″ snap ring pliers from Icon, with fixed tips, and internal and external versions, that they were also comparing to Knipex. There was also a new set of 4 snap ring pliers that are 5″ in a plastic clamshell that can separate and use as storage in a tool chest. These all looked really solid as well.
I’ll stick with Knipex. I edc the 125mm, and use the 250mm and 300mm almost daily at work. As well as Knipex dykes, and water pump pliers. Hard to beat German engineering and metallurgy. Another benefit, is Snap-On trucks will handle the warranty, IF you ever need to.
It’s just disrespectful and can only end in a lawsuit. I’m not above buying knockoffs but I expect to find this kind of blatant ripoff on a Chinese site, not at a local brick and mortar store. I’d much rather put the extra $20 towards a legit version.