Ton asked a question in Ben’s Knipex pliers deal post from yesterday, and it’s a doozy of a question. I know I’ve said that before with other reader questions, but this one’s tough.
I can’t decide between the Knipex or NWS, linesman and long nose pliers, which would you get?
Someone asked me something similar last year, in response to my NWS YouTube video, about which is better – Knipex, NWS, or Stanley FatMax. I said that: Knipex and NWS are on-par with each other, with both brands’ pliers being better than Stanley FatMax pliers. In terms of Knipex vs. NWS, I tend to favor NWS a little better, but there are a few Knipex styles that NWS doesn’t offer, and NWS styles that Knipex doesn’t offer. I have a mix of both.
Ton’s question asks specifically about long nose and linesman’s side-cutting pliers. I have both Knipex and NWS pliers at my disposal, and luckily I found two similarly-sized long nose pliers to do an apples vs. apples comparison with.
See Also: Long Nose Pliers Roundup
Knipex: 6-1/4″ angled chain nose pliers with cutter and comfort grip (model 25 25 160). I paid ~$20 for these from Amazon a while back, and they currently retail for $30-45.
NWS: ~6-3/4″ (170 mm) chain nose pliers with wire cutter, comfort grip, and Titan finish (model 140-69-170). German Hand Tools sent these over for evaluation, and currently sells them for $22.
Which Do I Like Better?
Both tools are about the same size. They’re both comfortable to use. I’ve never had any problems with Knipex or NWS pliers, or at least nothing comes to mind. I haven’t really used the cutters on anything but the occasional soft copper wire.
The Knipex handles appear to be spread wider, but they’re not. At least not by eyeball. Maybe they do spread a hair wider. The NWS comfort grips are softer, flatter, and wider, but this might not be true for other sizes.
I stood at the tool box, holding both pliers in my hands for a good couple of minutes, switching them back and forth and then handling other pliers sizes. In my use, I never thought about which might be better. In a quick A vs. B comparison as far as comfort is concerned, there’s no clear winner!
And so I’m stumped. I cannot really say whether one brand is better than the other, at least in terms of long nose and linesman’s pliers. I don’t have Knipex linesman’s pliers, but I do have NWS combination pliers, which are almost the same.
Honestly, it’s going to come down to personal preference. The Knipex handles are slightly curvier, the NWS pliers have larger and flatter surfaces to squeeze with your palms. Both have hardened cutters – Knipex says theirs are hardened to 61 HRC, NWS doesn’t provide a particular value that I could quickly find.
It’s hard to recommend one brand over the other when there’s nothing wrong with either!
If I had to pick, I’d go with NWS, as I think I find their grips to be a little bit more comfortable. I’d get them from German Hand Tools, Lee Valley, or Amazon under Irwin relabeling, although the Irwin pliers are pricier.
For ~6″ and 8″ long nose pliers, as well as side-cutting combination pliers that are akin to linesman’s pliers, you’ll often spend less choosing NWS over Knipex. That makes the decision a little easier to make. Knipex tools are easier to find, but NWS pliers have become more available and better stocked.
Keep in mind that this is for apples vs. apples comparisons, but that won’t always be the case. For instance, NWS Fantastico compound leverage cutters, or Knipex TwinForce? NWS, every time.
If you’ve used both pliers, would you agree that this is a very tough comparison to make? It’s like asking: which is better, Channellock or Klein? (Actually, I might just do that tomorrow.) I have bought several Channellock and Klein pliers, including both brands’ linesman’s pliers. I prefer Channellock’s, but know that many if not most electricians swear by Klein’s.