Yadda wrote in with a tip about new Irwin Vise-Grip Multi-Pliers, which are locking plier multi-tools. There are 3 new models, with the difference being the jaw shape and overall length: 5-inch curved jaw (5CR), 5-inch straight jaw (5WR), and 6-inch long nose (6LN).
I picked up the 5WR version of this Vice-Grip Multi-plier tool from my local Lowe’s. Great idea, poor implementation in my opinion. The knife is barely usable on the 6LN. Probably a Christmas item.
- Combination stainless steel knife blade
- Built-in wire cutter (lower section of the jaws)
- Screwdriver bit holder (1/4″ hex)
- Comes with a 6-8 mm slotted and #2 Phillips bit
- Fast release locking pliers mechanism
- Included belt pouch
Buy Now(Long Nose via Lowes)
Buy Now(Curved Jaw via Lowes)
When I think of locking pliers multi-tool, I think of the Leatherman Crunch, which a contributor reviewed for us a while back. I have since bought one, and although I don’t carry it often, I really like its folding locking pliers design.
These Irwin Multi-Pliers seem to be regular “Fast Release” Vise Grip locking pliers with a knife blade and screwdriver attached to the lower handle. From the images, it doesn’t look like these features add to the bulk of the locking pliers. Actually, it looks like the entire lower handle was redesigned to neatly accommodate the multi-tool features.
Lowes, the only stocking distributor I could find, advertises these as 4-in-1 multi-tools. There’s the locking plier jaws, the built-in wire cutter, which is found at the lower jaw section, the knife blade, and the screwdriver bit holder.
Yadda, a long-time reader and commenter, bought one – the long nose version – and said that the knife blade is “unusable.” Looking at how the tool is designed, I cannot say I disagree. It looks more than a little awkward to use.
The screwdriver, which locks in straight as well, also looks a little awkward to use. If you ask me, it would be more versatile if it flipped open from the outside and had an additional right angle locking position, for when greater torque is needed.
While I would like to reserve judgement before trying these first-hand, I could tell you that Multi-Pliers already look like the type of tool I’d scoff at for being a gimmicky “junk drawer” tool – the type that has strong initial appeal but weak delivery. Maybe I’m wrong, but Yadda’s introduction doesn’t leave me which much optimism.
But if the knife and screwdriver don’t get in the way of regular use of the locking pliers, then there might be little harm in adding one of these to a portable tool kit. That way, you get the knife and screwdriver just in case you need them, but can ignore them when you don’t. I’m just trying to be a little open minded here.
What’s your take on them? If you buy one, let us know how you like it! Am I wrong in my hesitation?
It would make more sense if the knife was attached so it opened towards the rear. The price isn’t bad though. Most of us have at least one other knife (or more :)) so this might be OK for tossing in an emergency kit.
My first thoughts was something Sears would sell at Fathers day or Christmas. They will sell these to people that have little or no knowledge re the use of tools.
Between 2001-2003, American Tools/Irwin had a American made version of this tool called the Vise Grip Tool box. Via eBay, those are almost never cheap and sell for hundreds of dollars in some cases. Certainly, this was a “new idea” on for locking pliers to have a knife and other accessories, however, the functionality left much to be desired.
This might shock others and I almost never take this stance, but despite being USA made, these Vise Grip Tool box multi tools were more of a hassle and had some safety issues as well. There were complaints about end users injuring themselves with the knife, even when this was used properly and the 1/4 inch bit holder being challenging to engage sometimes.
Most of the issues I remember were about the knife and safely deploying and retracting said knife. Given that the USA made variations fetch a decent price on eBay, I’d recommend anyone that finds/has one to sell this, as they are worth some monetary value to collectors.
here is a link:
The Schrade/Vice- Grip Toolbox is highly collectable and as mentioned also potentially dangerous/problematic if you use any of the tools except the Vice-Grip pliers. Those tools were the full size versions. This iteration is the 5 inch 5WR and 5CR and the 6 inch 6LN. These tools are more pocket friendly.
I have 3 pairs of the old USA made Vise-Grip/Schrade multi tools. One of them, like you said, is almost dangerous to use anything but the pliers. The other two, however, I REALLY like. They are my multi tool of choice, when I want the strongest pliers in a multi tool, and still have a serviceable knife and screwdriver. The knife blade swings out from the end of the handle, stays put until I deploy it, and locks open securely. Not the handiest knife to use, but serviceable. The screwdriver uses a double ended bit, in the standard 1/4 hex drive. It locks fuly open, and halfway open, for maximum torque. Many times I have used it with 1/4 nut drivers or a #3 Robertson bit for places I expect to need a lot of torque, and need to carry as light as possible. My understanding is the last two I got (on clearance for under $20 each) were the latest design, with improvements over the earlier models, and I believe it. The first pair I got as a gift, I thought were great pliers, with other tools one could use in a pinch, rather than have nothing. Those last two were actually pretty usable. I know they were put on clearance about the time Irwin bought them, but have no idea when they actually were made.
PS these new ones look like they wouldn’t be too bad if the knife opened the other way, so as not to have the pliers in the way. Turn it around, maybe even give it some sort of ‘safety’ so it stays shut until needed, have the screwdriver socket lock halfway and all the way open, and they may have something there. As it is, for me, it will be a bargain bin or clearance item for me, I just don’t like the way the knife hinges.
I agree, the blade position makes it useless for many applications, especially on the long nose.
Also I’ve given up on Vice Grips since the Irwin takeover, even before they moved production out of the US the steel was reduced in quality. Now, they are very hard to unlock, the jaws bend and shift when used with any force, so they are no longer fit for purpose. I would put these in the please-don’t-give-me-these-as-gifts category.
I prefer Blackhawk locking pliers, COO is Taiwan, very strong, and they have a very nice reversed unlocking lever.
Here’s a ToolGuyd review of those Blackhawk locking pliers: https://toolguyd.com/blackhawk-locking-pliers-review/
Hi Stuart. Thanks for the shout out!
After a couple of days with this tool. I can’t say my impression is any better. The screwdriver does not lock in place once extended and because it folds from inside the handle out when extended you can’t use it at a 90 degree angle unless you are desparate or have a really unusually mounted screw. It looks like the stock at each Lowe’s is 12 each of the 5WR and the 6LN. As collector’s items or emergency kit they are probably okay, but as is always true with multi tools, the dedicated version of each tool is much better.
For locking multi tools, the Leatherman Crunch, the Gerber Grappler or the now discontinued Kershaw A100 are all better choices.
The one good thing I will say is that this tool is solidly built. All metal construction. There is a little side to side wiggle in the handle when the plier handles are open, but in my experience that isn’t completely uncommon in Vise-Grip tools .
Also want to add, the version being sold at Lowe’s does not include the pouch.
WOW, I got three of the original ViseGrip Tool boxes, for $325 bucks I’ll probably put mine up on ebay!!
I am being 100% serious that these are worth money to collectors, especially on eBay. Trust me, anytime you see a USA made version for not much money, buy it, lightly clean this and sell this on eBay.
In case anyone is wondering why would I be giving this information away literally for free, that is because I genuinely feel that this type of knowledge needs to be shared. Don’t bother keeping these just because these are USA made, as not similar to the proper American made Petersen/American Tool Vise Grip locking pliers, these are the most valuable and nearly impossible to find cheapily.
If you buy this and think this will be useful, I guarantee you, you’ll want to return this or give this away sooner or later. I held onto my older USA made version until a couple of years old and sold this on eBay, as that American Tools Vise Grip tool box had nicked my hands with too much and this became not worth using.
Given this modern tool is likely made in China and probably has the cheapest components imaginable, I imagine the injuries would be much more common with this. If you need a knife, I’d either recommend a traditional pocket knife first and foremost.
For me, as soon as Rubbermaid shipped all the work to China/Taiwan, Vise Grip locking pliers were a tool I’d no longer buy new. Thankfully for eBay, pawn shops and for a while, Harry J Epstein, I have all the USA made locking pliers I’ll ever need.
Definitely made in China. It states on the package, “Made in China to Irwin’s specifications.”
Which basically means very little. Let’s be honest, Irwin’s specifications might sound very fancy and perhaps make it seem as if high quality parts are going to be used, but that is just a marketing rouse.
I guarantee you, the worker (be this a child or adult) that made this tool was paid very little, is working hours upon hours without any breaks and the working conditions are not ideal. Sadly, your average consumer wants cheap tools and couldn’t care less about country of origin, so this in turn puts more pressure in keeping the prices as low as possible.
Why anyone would buy this type of tool, regardless of coo is a mystery to me. I assure you, this won’t solve the problems Irwin you might think this will.
It’s not April 1st yet, Stuart…
I am an avid Peterson Vise-Grip fan, but after the Rubbermaid buy out, nothing surprises me anymore.
This looks to be extremely unhandy to use….has anyone considered how you’d resharpen that blade?
I’ll keep my Crunch, or my old Kershaw A100.
Looks like one of those last minute, you should have been working but were goofing off, thoughtless contraptions.
Boss: “What have you come up with this month?”
Slacker: “Uhh, it’s a Vice Grip with…a…uhhhh…knife glued to the side”
Boss: “Brilliant, put it in production”
I love this, it looks like the design team wanted to go lunch early that day and just said fudge it, lets just zip tie a $1 walmart knife to it and call it a day. Is it that hard to flip the knife over so it could actually be used as a knife?
Keep the cursing to a minimum please!
As much as it seems that this was thrown together in a day, I’m sure that wasn’t the case.
Sorry about that Stuart, I guess my brain filter was on the fritz last night.
I really wonder what happened in the design process, did none of the designers ever use a knife before.
Thanks for being understanding!
Sometimes design decisions come from higher up, leaving tool designers with features and functions they just need to build into a tool.
They were probably working around a $20 price point and the need to keep the tool as close in size to regular Vise Grip locking pliers as possible. That would certainly limit designers’ abilities to create a more ideally configured tool.
Im sorry, by looking at the picture, all I can think of is “Yup, that wont end well.” Sigh.
To me, it’s a stupid idea! Why anyone would want one is beyond me. I keep a pocket knife on me all day but when I am doing fabrication work I just want Vice Grips that hold steel firmly!
The more I think about it, the more I want to say, just give me a 5 or 6 inch pair of well, made Vise-Grips, include the hex bit screwdriver, but make it locking, and if you can’t figure out how to properly integrate the knife, just skip it. The hex driver on my old USA made version of these is amongst my favorite multi tool screwdrivers for when a lot of torque is needed. Ditto the pliers, I think they are about the strongest pliers on any multi tool, locking or not. They were the best multi tool out there for hard use, although they were very basic. I still don’t know what Rubbermaid was thinking, moving something as iconic as Vise-Grips to be made in China. What’s next, Harley Davidsons with Chinese parts (pun intended).
In all seriousness, I can’t remember a time that I was using vise grips and thought, “I really wish I had a knife right now”. Most of my common uses for this type of tool are for applications where a knife really isn’t applicable. But perhaps that’s just me.
No Mahalo, it isn’t just you. I’ve heard the same thing over and over in my lifetime. The things you continually go back to are generally an indication of the things you should stick with. It’s interesting how these things come out, but are almost always short lived. This is more for impulse buying in my opinion. Don’t be surprised to see it on the Home Shopping Network.
People buy these things, then leave them laying in their toolbox from that day forward. My advice; buy a knife, buy a locking plier, buy a screwdriver, be done with it. None of those things are ever as effective when combined. It’s like one of those novelty Swiss army knives that contain every available implement. They’re a conversation piece only, but have virtually no practical application.
After thinking about this for a while my question is for whom is this intended? In general you usually carry a multi-tool because you have limited space to fit all the tools you’d need.
On one end of the spectrum is somebody who would carry it in their pocket. On the other end would someone who wants to stash a small toolkit in a car. I don’t see the knife part being useful for either of those cases. This isn’t saving anything space wise. It still takes up the same space as a separate knife and locking pliers would. In any case I can think of, you’d be better off carrying a separate knife and locking pliers.
OMG, this looks like an accident waiting to happen! Any time I use a VG, I am looking to apply serious torque on something stubborn. The last thing I would want is for the knife to accidentally open and stab me in the hand…
Which is likely going to happen as I guarantee you, this isn’t a item that is built with safety and quality materials. Heck, even the last version had issues and that saying a great deal.
If you are looking to save time, just carry a knife separately. Hospitals are never cheap and neither are doctors. Think about it, do you or your friends, family, co-workers etc. need anymore junk or the chance or the chance to injure themselves?
What stores have these?