Irwin recently updated the design of their Vise Grip GrooveLock adjustable pliers, which first came out a couple of years ago. These pliers feature an easy push-button adjustment mechanism and V-groove jaws that are great for holding round materials. Although we have several higher-end pliers available, we often use these GrooveLocks for random tasks.
Taking a look at a 10-inch version purchased in March 2007, model VG10, and one that was purchased in early December, we observed a number of differences. The older pliers are on the left, newer ones on the right.
Whereas the older style features a 3-piece design with slightly offset handles, the new style is more symmetrical with one straight handle mounted through the other. We’re not sure if this change was done to save on cost, but it does offer a few advantages.
At the very least, the newer style pliers are slightly more slender than the older style, which might make a difference when working in tighter areas. Besides that, the symmetrical construction just looks more finished and thoughtfully designed. Perhaps it’s more rugged as well, but we’ve never had any issues with our older pliers.
Improved Jaw Design
Irwin’s engineers also managed to tweak the jaws for better gripping performance. Looking at the photo, you should be able to see the longer gripping zone at the tip of the newer pliers’ jaws.
But not only is the front gripping zone area longer, the grooves are a bit coarser and more pronounced. This should help the pliers bite into materials just a little bit better.
How to Tell the Difference?
There’s nothing wrong with the older style pliers, but why buy an older design when the newer improved design is available at the same price point? The model numbers are the same, but you should be able to tell the difference just by looking at the pliers.
Rather than inspect all the pliers on a rack, look for the two silver pins – one on the lower jaw and and one on the upper handle. If they’re present, then the pliers are of the older design. Note that most online retailers have not updated their product images, probably since the updated pliers share all of the same model numbers.
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