My recent post about long nose pliers preferences made me realize that I have yet to write up a review of these Vampliers pliers that I started working with a while back. I have also been using a pair of similar green-handled Engineer Inc. pliers for even longer.
Note: This post was originally published on 5/30/2014, and republished on 3/23/20. After nearly 6 years, they’re still going strong, and the same is true with the Engineer pliers I have been using even longer. I use these pliers very regularly, although I want you to keep in mind that I still wouldn’t consider them “general purpose” type pliers.
What Are Vampliers?
Vampliers are miniature pliers with complex jaw profiles that make them exceptionally well suited for handling small screws, fasteners, and other parts. They are primarily advertised as being excellent screw extraction pliers.
As of the time this post was republished, Vampire Tools has added a couple of other pliers sizes and styles to their product catalog.
These pliers are made in Japan, and the quality and attention to detail really shows when you look the tool over for the first time. The handles are also textured, and although I initially thought this was just for looks, the grips are soft and quite comfortable.
The pliers’ handles have a spring-action feature that makes them a little easier to control when working on delicate parts.
Vampliers Pliers Performance
The special screw-gripping grooves work well, even if a fastener head is corroded and barely raised above a work surface.
You can also grip small fasteners with the horizontal jaws, but I find that the vertical grooves work a little better for this purpose.
The larger grooves are useful for turning shafts or gripping larger objects, but be mindful that – as with other pliers – the coarse teeth might gouge into softer materials.
The overall length is about 6-1/4″, making these pliers larger than miniature pliers meant for high precision and electronics work, but also smaller than full-size pliers.
Some Vampliers are packaged with jaw caps that hold the handles closed and make the tools easier to carry in a pocket or tool bag.
I really, REALLY like these pliers. They have become my go-to pliers for finer applications, as they really are useful beyond their specialty focus on screw extraction.
Vampliers, and the green-handled Engineer Inc. pliers are available for $26-$28. They’re not inexpensive, but they’re definitely versatile and well-built in such a way that you get full value for the price.
The wire cutters, mid-jaw section, and the mixed grooving at the tip lend themselves well to a variety of tasks and applications, but you’ll still want to think about whether these pliers are a right fit for how you’d use them.
The samples that Vampliers sent along featured custom laser-etched personalization, with “ToolGuyd” marking. At the time, it was available for a $4.95 premium, but it doesn’t look like this service is still being offered.
Buy Now: Vampliers via Amazon
Buy Now: Engineer Screw Pliers via Amazon
Vampire Tools’ Vampliers and Engineer Screw Pliers are made in Japan.
Thank you to Vampliers for providing the review samples unconditionally.
Nice. I may grab a pair to try them out. I usually, when I can, dremel a slot on screw head for a flat head screw driver. They look manly too, lol.
What is a flat head screw driver?
I had a helper once, that I sent out to the truck to get a “flat head Phillips 6-32 by 1/2 inch stainless machine screw”
He didn’t come back and after about 15 minutes of waiting I went out to see what was taking so long. Turned out he was looking for a slotted/ Phillips screw.
Maybe next time I’ll ask for a countersunk Phillips .
For me flathead is a screw head profile, used interchangeably with countersunk
They kinda do have a ‘flat head’ screw driver for slotted screws. It is often referred to as a cabinet maker’s screwdriver. The shank is the same size as the tip and does not flare out like most traditional slotted screwdrivers. If you try to install a slotted screw into a deeply countersunk hole using a traditional screwdriver, the flared sides will damage the sides of the countersink. Thus, the wooden plug will not fit cleanly. In this scenario, the case would also technically be true if using a non-flat head screw, but in woodworking, you typically would only use a flat head screw.
By “flat head screw driver” I am talking about the “flat head” of the driver and not the screw. If I said “slotted head screw driver” I would thing that the head of the the screw driver has a slotted head…I guess it all depend where you live. To me, flat head means the head of the driver is flat and not any other..:)
This is an issue I’ve never noticed, but cool to find out about lol I’ve called slotted screwdrivers flatheads, as well as cabinet and keystone per their manufacture names, but I’ve also called the screws flatheads, as well as 6-32, 8-32, 10-34, etc. Regarding screws I almost always reference contradict, pan-head, box screw, cover plate screw, cabinet screw, cap screw, bolt, etc. Thinking about it, I think the most common place I’ve heard Phillips/flathead would have been from my father and other mechanics, so I wonder if perhaps there’s very limited options regarding slotted fasteners in that industry?
Years ago, I thought of buying these as I kept on running into situations where stripped screws were an issue. At least for that price they are made in Japan rather than Taiwan or China though. Wish they were American made, but that isn’t always possible.
These look as if they would be great in removal of smaller screws/bolts. Especially Phillips, slotted, Torx and other drive sizes.
One of the projects I am talking about that years ago this tool might have been helpful is removal of one way screws. Stuart, do you think this tool would be able to remove these types of screws?
Yes a rotary tool can sometimes be used, but that isn’t as possible for a variety of reasons though.
Possibly, but a better bet would be for a screw removal bit or accessory that requires less elbow grease. It depends on the size of the screw. These pliers are great for smaller screws, but over 1/4″ fasteners or so and the pliers become a bit undersized for the job.
Thanks for the response Stuart. Years ago when I was doing a great deal of stripped screw removal, I would constantly receive complaints that the power tools I was using were too loud, yet these same people would have these even louder parties at night though.
Fred: Always happy to see another Ultica collector/user as few people even know of this brand these days. I own several of those USA made Ultica pliers, but finding these isn’t as easy as this once was.
If you ever decide to donate that “evaluation” sample, I am game!
Seriously, I could have used these years ago. Back in college, I used to repair electronic gear (mostly guitar amplifiers and musical instruments) and often needed to remove stubborn screws that had been cemented with sticky beer and Coke residue.
I still do a lot of projects and those will definitely come in handy.
I bought a set a while back for my son-in-law. I have 3 different (PZ55, PZ57 and PZ58) sizes of the Engineer (Futaba Manufacturing Co.) pliers – that they also call Neji-Saurus pliers. From what I can see on the Vampire tool website – it looks like many of their tools are re-branded or slightly tweaked versions of the Engineer tools. I like that the Vampire version of this pliers comes with jaw caps – otherwise I see little difference.
I think that I’ve posted before – that if you want a somewhat similar but larger pliers you might take a look for a vintage Utica 1300-10 gas pliers – or one made by Cementex:
Crescent offered similar gas pliers models as well IIRC.
Is there any difference between the Vamplier and Engineer pliers? Except for the color they look the same…
None that I can tell, although at the moment I have misplaced my Engineer pliers.
The Vampliers came with the cap, and I don’t think one’s available for the Engineer version.
I noticed, too, that these are virtually the same; the minor differences came in the form of red v. green handles, and the laser markings on the pliers. On Amazon there was a price differential of $6-$7 between the two, and that seemed to be based on the jaw cap that came with the Vampliers model. I don’t believe you can get one with the Engineer version. That’s a shame, because the jaw-opening spring keeps them well…open, which wastes space in your tool box. I opted for the Engineer PZ-58 model, but haven’t had a chance to put it to use yet as an extractor.
One negative people mentioned was the extra force put on the hand while using it to extract a screw, which you wouldn’t experience with a Vise Grip pliers. Those, however, can’t grip as much of the screw with their tips as the Engineer or Vampliers are able to. It’s also possible that you may deform or crush the screw beyond re-use (or even break off the head) with the Vise Grips.
Jaw cap for in Green:
There are Vise Grip-type versions available on eBay from Japan: look for 3.peaks small screw vice DS-130 and DS-200 for 130mm and 200mm versions, respectively
I know this is an old post but Engineer is the OEM for Vampliers…the “Engineer” name is even stamped only the handle of the Vampliers 😉
You can order the cap from the Japanese Amazon site:
It’s actually cheaper to buy the pliers and the cap separate if amazon.co.jp is the method you’re using. If you’re worried about shipping, it’s not free (even for American Amazon Prime members), but you’ll still get it in a few days.
A few Amazon reviews note the plier grooves are soft and wear quickly. Stuart, what is your experience?
All of mine are still in great condition, but then again I use these as everyday pliers. If I use them on screws, they’re small machine screws that are in great condition.
For really stuck-in-there screws, I use large pliers or locking pliers.
I am wondering what grade of steel is used with these pliers if wearing out is an issue. Now granted, I imagine these aren’t made out of soft steel, but I also wonder if the negative reviews are coming from people that are misusing or don’t know the limits of this tool.
If these are being hammer upon or being used to remove larger screws/bolts, then no wonder this tool has a limited life span.
I don’t own these, but I am under the interpretation that these really are designed to remove smaller stripped screws though.
High & Mighty
These are made of tool steel. Otherwise known as chrome vanadium. The majority of all hand tools are made of this type of steel. Pliers, wrenches, screwdrivers, ratchets, you name it. The type of steel isn’t as nearly as important as the treatment they did after the tool came out of the die. That’s what makes or breaks the quality. The teeth should never chip or wear flat with pliers like these. These are excellent pliers for the purposes Stuart mentioned. Anything larger its best to use locking pliers.
“tool steel” does not mean that it’s CrVa. There are hundreds of different took steel alloys.
These look cool. I ordered a pair to try out.
I have three pairs of screw removal pliers. I like both the Engineer PZ-55,& PZ-58, which are similiar in both size and design to the Vampire. But, my new preferred go to pliers are the Lobster ZP200NA. They are larger and have an excellent well design wire cutter / sheer. The tip is wider and the longer handles allow much better leverage.
I purchased mine in Osaka, but they can be found online here:
Thanks, i had this on my amazon wish list and i see that now they lowered the price!
Received mine today. Very nice pliers I must say. The grips are fantastic and they finish is superb. Its everything id expect from a quality tool.
Thanks for the review – since I prefer the green handles, I have ordered the pz-58 pliers here in the UK from Amazon UK (for anyone in Europe, the plier’s cap is called the pzm-58 & available on Ebay Uk) …..I look forward to trying them out:-)
Rakuten has the Vampliers for $17 on sale today.
both are made by the same guy he started vampliers sold the company and then started engineer basically the same pliers
That’s not accurate. Engineer is the company that makes both pliers. Vampliers is JUST a company that has US distribution. Vampliers literally have “Engineer” molded into the pliers’ grip…Look at the second and third to last pictures, next to Stuart’s thumb.
These pliers are fantastic. I’ve had them for like six years and I’ve never come across a screw (That’s not recessed) that these wouldn’t work on. It’s soo much faster than using an extractor or cutting a slot in the screw head. They’re also great at gripping anything round. Engineer and 3.peaks also have locking pliers versions.
i bought these a couple years ago and actually keep them in my work truck..they work and when the situation presents itself,youll be glad you have them
Seems like in a lot of cases the locking version might be a lot better. Any reason to start with one or the other?
I have had a pair of these for about a year. They have a permanent place in my toolbox. Jerking a rusty screw and the head falls off – Vampliers can usually allow you to unscrew anyway. Have a bolt so rusted that there is not slot for the screwdriver. Pulling that is childsplay for vampliers. They look like normal pliers but like Dracual, you only see the fangs when a big bite is necessary.
They are great! I have 5 different size pair including vice grip style. Saves drilling out screws.
Japanese tools are equal to the old American quality before the hedge funds and the fast Eddies moved things offshore.
My 1975 Craftsman tool catalog that I saved in the bottom of my tool cabinet show Sears Craftsman tools with some made in Japan. They had the same forever warranty.
I did not buy the slip pliers since they were the only kind to get bad reviews.
I hav a pair of the green-handled Engineer Inc. pliers which I like, but I also have a pair of the Engineer Screw Removal Locking Pliers Easy Screw removal pliers, https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B07677TBQ6/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1, which is really like. They let you get a much tighter grip on the screw head.
I’m a healthcare worker on the front lines of covid response. I always enjoy reading your posts especially now when I get a few minutes to decompress after work.
I must say though I think it’s incredibly irresponsible to be posting links on Amazon for a set of pliers when their supply chain should be used for critical equipment at the moment. is it really worth having a delivery driver get covid so that someone can have a pair of new pliers?
Thank you, I appreciate it, your efforts, and the risk you take each day in your public service.
I disagree, but can’t argue with your sentiment.
I spent a good part of today going back and forth – what the heck can I write about today? Some topics on my queue seemed trivial. Others seemed inappropriate. With what everyone is facing, what should I post about today? The Harbor Freight news post made sense, that was pure news and it’s relevant.
It’s not writer’s block, it’s just… what matters in the tool world right now? How many readers won’t be receiving a paycheck for a while? How many readers are stressed out right now? Are any readers and regulars sick, or worse? What matters today?
There was a comment the other day, about how someone looked forward to regular tool posts for a sense of normalcy in these trying times. There are some readers who I’m worried about, mostly those who might be social distancing by themselves. Regulars are still tuning in, and I feel an obligation to provide some distraction and sense of normalcy. But how do I do that?
I quite frankly couldn’t think of anything “normal” to post about. The same happened last week. How do I pretend that what’s happening now is not happening, that everything is just as it was a few weeks ago? I couldn’t.
So, I dug into the ToolGuyd archives, found an older post that featured still-strongly-recommended tools, went over it twice for polish, and republished it.
I could have removed the Amazon links, but it didn’t seem necessary.
Now, there’s also the question about whether we should stop buying things right now. Last night I read a blog post from a USA-based maker of microcontrollers, electronics, and reseller of related components. They’re on a skeleton crew and are nearly desperate for cash infusion. Other smaller companies are in the same situation. Amazon’s not hurting for business right now, but thinking about the situation leads to stressful thoughts I’d rather avoid.
Now’s not the time for frivolous or discretionary spending, but if someone has a need and the means, and the product is available, why not?
Amazon has stopped accepting non-essential shipments from 3rd party sellers for their fulfillment centers. That’s good. They’ve also increased the lead times on outgoing shipments of non-essential items. That’s also good.
Everyone is impacted, these are not good times for anyone.
I’m sorry that you feel it’s irresponsible to include purchase links. Frankly, if there are fresh or bumped-from-the-archives posts tomorrow, they too will have purchase links if/where appropriate. The only way those posts happen is if I put part of my brain on pause and pretend for a few minutes that everything is hunky-dory with the world. And if I’m in “everything is hunky-dory” mode, posts have purchase links, whether I think anyone is up to buying tools right now or not.
I agree with Aldous. We are living in an extraordinarily challenging time. While diversions from the grim realities of what’s happening are needed and appreciated – we need to start thinking more about how our actions might be impacting on the health and even life of others.
While reading tool blogs is a welcome diversion – now is not the time to be placing undue burdens on our supply chains. While ordering non-essential items from Amazon might not be as egregious as some other actions that are still going on – every little bit helps.
I hear about children still being brought to playgrounds in NYC to congregate. Others are gathering for games of pickup basketball – as if nothing is happening around them. Government is loathe to shut parks and playgrounds down – but the reality probably is that they are a vector for spread of the disease.
My wife and I – both well into that age and “underlying medical condition” group that is at high risk – have been confining ourselves to home. We are blessed that when we want exercise – we can go out and walk around our property – with little fear of coming into social contact – let alone needing to maintain social distancing. What we have been ordering for delivery has been comestibles, household supplies and the necessities of living. When I see the delivery folks pull up the drive – I feel for them – hoping that they are staying healthy – but knowing that they have fewer options than I do for social distancing.
Let us all do what we can – and think about Aldous’s enjoinder that this is not the time for life as usual and ordering stuff we don’t need. That especially goes for hoarding face masks and drugs (assuming you could even get them) that are needed by those at the frontlines of this war .
The difficulty is in determining what would be a burden to the supply chain. It’s my assumption that adjustments would be made on the supply/retail side.
For instance, should we ignore all but bare essentials when grocery shopping? If a store replenishes Twinkies, did those Twinkies take the place of something else on the delivery truck? My assumption would be that if it’s the choice between Twinkies or bread, the call would be made to leave the Twinkies off the truck. Granola bars? Chocolate?
Talking about tools, some will be purchased for use in personal hobbies, and others in professional, commercial, or industrial services.
Personally, I put nearly all non-essential spending on hold. I ordered some kids’ books (opting for “ship together” a day later than estimated to cut down on the number of deliveries), and some gardening supplies so I can attempt to grow cucumbers this season.
The conflict for me is in trying to answer the question “what tool-related content should we post about in the midst of this COVID-19 pandemic?” What I need to do is ignore the question and pretend everything is fine and post as normal.
That said, when there’s a purchase link to Amazon or elsewhere, the main benefit (or at least primary use) is in pricing references and maybe even user reviews. Unless there’s high-impact deal, readers might click a link but most don’t place orders immediately or even over time.
If a purchase link is appropriately placed in a post, should I leave it out presently? If it seems irresponsible to post a purchase link to something deemed non-essential in the midst of a pandemic, then by extension the post is non-essential and a different topic should have been selected for the day.
Then the question takes me towards debating whether “typical” topics are okay, or if I should only focus on news and topics related to the pandemic and what’s happening in our different communities right now.
But frankly, I’ve enjoyed some “regular” content on other channels right now, and I’ve chosen to do the same – work on planned content or republishing of past archive content – as if everything were normal right now. But in doing so, it’s extremely difficult to work around grey areas. Either a post is created as if business is usual, or I basically put everything on hold for a while, which doesn’t seem like the best idea.
Quite frankly, I can’t find any editorial footing in the grey area between “pretend everything is normal” and “we’re in a pandemic and life for everyone is different right now.” If posts are going to focus on “normal” tool topics, they’re going to have to be crafted or edited as if everything is normal.
I agree completely with the principles you’re writing about.
But I’m also able to click on links that don’t automatically commit me to a purchase *nor some Amazon person to a trip through a biological minefield*.
I can use Amazon lists and even the cart to queue items for further consideration and future purchase. It’s just computer stuff at this stage.
There’s a middle ground between irresponsibility and hunkering in a bomb shelter, of course, just like there is between willy-nilly on-line ordering versus limiting ourselves to jigsaw puzzles and old books.
We can commit ourselves to physical limitations without corresponding attitude extremes – which I agree is anathema in today’s culture.
Well said. As is Stuart above you.
And wash your hands waay too much.
I agree whole-heartedly with Wayne R. I can follow the link and add it to my amazon wish list with no negative impact to the supply chain.
Additionally, I really need some content to offset the barrage of pandemic news overload. So I definitely vote for business as usual content from all my favorite sources. (Assuming the creators are up for task, if not then that is ok also).
A number of years ago I acquired some similar “screw pliers” from Lee Valley: https://www.leevalley.com/en-us/shop/tools/hand-tools/pliers/48332-screw-pliers
They’re great in the right situation.
Aldous, my daughter is a surgical resident on the front lines and I have no problem with pliers being sold through Amazon. She just worked all night on a suspected virus victim severely mauled by a dog and has been helping out in ortho with people who continue breaking their bones.
They do not have enough testing lots for patients anymore so they are saving them for doctors and nurses in the hospital.
My younger son works in a supermarket supplying needed food, and he is not even allowed to wear his own masks that I bought two years ago due to their union contract forbidding such use.
Perhaps You have Missed the announcement that Amazon had advised that they will hold off delivery of non-essential items until the first week of April so it is not disrupting deliveries of health and personal protection products.
Now that we are in a total lockdown in the New Jersey area , having a new set of pliers to work on in home projects is not a sin. It is also not a sin to support companies while we are in severe recession being close to a depression.
Further, having a delivery person place an Amazon box on your front porch without human contact does not raise the chances of him or her getting the virus since they have a route to drive everyday anyway.
Finally, I am tired of posters coming in and criticizing the behaviors of others while committing no crime or moral breech.
The second greatest gift God gave us was our free will.
Thank your “kid’s” for us. We’ll all need both of them to healthy especially now.
And I’ll continue to enjoy my Engineer tools that I likely purchased based on Stuart’s original post 6 years ago.
Jerry W Wyatt
Wow its has been a while. I bought these back when you first mentioned them and love them for removing damaged cover plate screws. I lost them for about a year under a plastic extrusion machine that was sitting in a drip tank full of hydraulic fluid which soak into the handle covers making them expand and slide off. Do you know of any way to shrink them back tight the same thing is affecting the cap also.
A lot of plastics can absorb moisture and oils.
I’d try soaking them in a good degreaser or dish soap. Beyond that, maybe an ultrasonic cleaner? You could also try contacting the company – they *might* be able to send replacement grips and a cap. Probably not, but it’d be a last resort. Maybe they could better advise on how to clean/shrink the handles back down to size. If the handles aren’t unusually textured, you might be able to wrap them or use Plasti Dip if all else fails.
Plasti Dip gets a bad rap by too many; that stuff’s great for new handles, just takes a little planning & care. Four dips at a minimum, I think.
Jerry W Wyatt
Thanks for the help. I will contact the company and see if they have replacement handles. Thanks again I always have enjoyed your site.
Make new handles with red marine 3 to 1 shrink tube
I came upon these a couple years ago. I thought that I would use them here or there but I’m finding I am using them quite a bit. It was totally worth the purchase.
Years ago I Dremeled longitudinal slots in locking pliers for just this purpose, and they work quite well. Stay well out there!
Slightly off the original topic, but has there been or could there be some kind of review of screw holding screwdrivers or screw starters? Kinda the opposite of extracting stuck screws. But I had a dickens of a time today trying to get a couple tiny Phillips head screws back in a ceiling fan without dropping them everywhere. Magnetic screwdriver didn’t work at all.
There are a couple of solutions out there, but I’ve found that they work better for general construction purposes than custom fabrications or device/product disassembly and repair. Because of that I generally don’t use anything other than magnetic bit holders, at least as far as Phillips bits are concerned. I do have a couple of retaining drivers for hex socket cap screws.
Unfortunately, many of the Vamplier & Engineer pliers are now being made in Taiwan.