Linesman pliers are a type of highly versatile combination plier that have serrated grooves in the jaw for gripping with cutting edges at the top of the jaw (or nose), just below the pivoting joint. While most models aren’t rated to be shock-resistant, some models have hand grips that are especially insulated and rated to protect against a certain electrical voltage. Both the shock-resistant and non-shock-resistant varieties are popular with electricians, because of the usefulness of the specific combination of the strong grip and cutting edges in their trade. Because of their versatility, they’re a popular tool for any trade that requires gripping or wire cutting; linesman pliers are also commonly found in the toolboxes of homeowners and do-it-yourselfers for the same reasons.
Best Linesman Pliers 2017
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Irwin Vice-Grip North American Lineman’s Pliers
The best linesman pliers are going to have a comfortable handle so you don’t get sore during long work hours. At the same time, the handle should have a shape and texture that keeps your hand from slipping during use, which is why the Irwin ProTouch handle is so awesome, because it’s not only comfortable—it makes these pliers easier to use.
Induction hardened cutting edge
The Irwin linesman pliers feature an ultra-sharp cutting edge that’s induction hardened, which the company touts will keep your edges sharper for a longer period of time.
The jaws are machined to be stronger and more durable. The nose end features quality serrated grips, so you can bend and grip all day long; meanwhile, the cutting edge located just below the joint is tough and able to tackle any wire cutting task you can throw at it.
The jaws are made with chrome-nickel steel, a powerful alloy that is resistant to corrosion and tough enough to handle hard jobs.
What I like
The handle is incredibly comfortable and the grips are great grabbing sheet metal and easily bend whatever you need them to. The cutting edge is amazingly powerful. I had no trouble cutting through steel wire.
What I Don’t like
My only note is that these are 9.5 inches, which is great for tackling bigger projects, but it’s not so easy to fit them into tight spaces. However, it’s not a big deal for me personally, because I do have smaller linesman pliers to suit my needs.
Channellock 369 9-1/2-Inch High Leverage Linesman Plier
Crosshatch grip pattern
The jaw grip has a crosshatch pattern which lends itself to easy gripping even on super flat surfaces like sheet metal.
Knife-and-anvil cutting edges
Channellock designed their linesman pliers with their exclusive knife-and-anvil cutting edges, which they tout as superior to the typical cutting edges found on most linesman pliers. The cutting edges are also laser heat-treated to make them stronger and ensure greater longevity. It seems as though the special attention to the cutting edges has paid off: According to the manufacturer, the cutting edges on the Channellock Linesman Plier can easily cut through piano wire, which is no small feat.
Made with high-carbon steel
High-carbon steel is an especially strong, durable type of steel, so it’s no wonder why it’s Channellock’s material of choice for their linesman pliers.
Xtreme Leverage Technology
Channellock’s Xtreme Leverage Technology (XLT) is just what it sounds like: The pliers are specifically designed to yield superior leverage so it’s easier to cut and grip heavy-duty materials. The way they achieve this is actually quite simple—they just put the cutting edge closer to the pivot. Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best ones.
What I like
The biggest like about the Channellock linesman pliers is the knife-and-anvil cutting edge, as well as the XLT feature. Visibly, you can see the cutting edge is different from most linesman pliers in both basic design as well as the fact the cutting edge is longer, running all the way from the grip end to the rivet at the joint—which is what their Xtreme Leverage Technology is about. All-in-all, I think it does help cutting larger, thicker wires.
What I Don’t like
While the cutters are great, the handle kind of makes my hand ache. Also, these handles aren’t rated for being shock-resistant, so they don’t really offer much for electricians and handymen.
BOSTITCH BTHT74918 Linesman Pliers, 9.5″
The jaws are made of forged carbon steel to provide superior strength and are finished with black-oxide to prevent rusting.
The pivot on the Bostitch linesman pliers is pretty cool, because not only does it take less force to cut, the jaws actually open wider; since a lot of people complain about the jaws not opening wide enough, this is a point in the Bostitch’s favor.
Dipped grip handles
The dipped grip handles are designed to be comfortable and prevent your hand from slipping while you’re on the job.
9.5-inch linesman pliers
These larger sized pliers are good for tackling bigger projects. It’s simple physics; by being larger, they’re able to apply more cutting force—it’s as easy as that. 9.5-inch linesman pliers are really the best linesman pliers for large jobs, period, because of that simple reason.
What I like
My favorite thing about the Bostitch linesman pliers is how wide the jaw opens. Nothing is more annoying than needing to cut a large wire and then finding your pliers that should be big enough just won’t (literally) cut it. The high-leverage pivot, to me, makes these a good option.
What I Don’t like
While the sort-of slim handles are easy to maneuver with, they can be a bit uncomfortable after long periods of usage; if you have arthritis, you can essentially multiply that complaint exponentially. But, of course, it is a tradeoff. And for short periods, it should be fine.
My Top Recommendation
For me, the ultimate winner is for top linesman pliers are the Irwin Vice-Grip Lineman’s Pliers, 9-1/2″. It was an easy choice to make, because not only do they grip and cut flawlessly, they also have an extremely comfortable handle, which is a big point in their favor, because chances are, you’re going to be using it a lot and comfort is always essential in that case.