I was looking for an older photo and found a 2-year old shot of all of my long nose pliers. Yes, there are more than I need, and yes, some of these do nothing but collect dust most of the time.
Here’s what I learned over the years:
- Any long nose pliers are better than no long nose pliers.
- I never use long nose pliers to cut wire, but the gap sometimes created between the jaws can be a nuisance.
- Good simple dip grips are better than lousy “comfort” grips.
I am impartial to dipped or molded grips. In theory, molded grips are better, but I rarely mind using pliers with simpler handles.
What I don’t like to see are uneven, rough, or unfinished jaws. The grooves should be well formed, and the tips straight and touching with minimal or no gap.
Long nose pliers should be easy and comfortable to use. I don’t like it when pliers have sloppy pivots, but pliers that are stiff and hard to open are worse. If I cannot comfortably use the pliers with one hand, then they don’t belong in my toolbox.
I could go back and forth for days without being able to tell you which brand makes the “best” long nose pliers. But I can tell you what I think about each brand I’ve tried.
Knipex – Great, no major complaints.
NWS – Also great, with excellent handle grips.
Craftsman Professional – Decent, but the pivot never quite broke in.
Channellock – These are actually “snipe nose pliers,” which are supposed to be great for working in tight areas, but I like use them for when I need great gripping power since the jaws have cross-hatched grooves.
Stanley – Cheap-feeling and loose, but they served me well for years. They work great for the money.
Vise-Grips – Seldom used, but great when a locking ability or extreme gripping power and pressure is needed.
Gearwrench (Double-X) – Pliers work great, but quality control of the tips and jaws could be better.
Crescent – Similar to Gearwrench, but with clunkier handles and slightly better jaws.
Kobalt (not shown) – They’re a good value, but nothing special.
I have tried a couple more brands since taking this photo, but these are still my most-used long nose and needle nose pliers. If I had to make purchasing decisions all over again, I would follow the same exact upgrade path, and except for the specialty styles I would stick to fewer brands.
Low Budget: Stanley
Medium Budget: Channellock
Unrestricted Budget: Knipex or NWS
There are a couple of brands I still look forward to trying, such as Bahco, but there’s only so much that can be done to create better long nose pliers.
What are YOUR preferences when it comes to long nose or needle nose pliers?