Locking pliers are a type of pliers that work as a handheld vice, but can be locked in place. Most locking pliers contain an adjustable screw that further tightens the vice like hold on the surface you’ve locked the pliers onto, which amplifies the pressure exponentially. Aside from being used as clamps in a variety of situations, locking pliers are perhaps most often used in welding applications.
Best Locking Pliers Reviews
IRWIN VISE-GRIP Original Curved Jaw Locking Pliers with Wire Cutter, 10″, 502L3
The Irwin locking pliers are made of heat-treated alloy steel for a combination of strength and enduring dependability. These are pliers made to last.
The jaw has hardened teeth for maximum gripping hold while its curved shape makes it easier to fit into awkward angles. It’s not uncommon for locking pliers to be used as a temporary leaver, so the curved head definitely helps in that regard.
Hex key adjusting screw
The adjusting screw is hex key-operated. For those who’ve never used locking pliers or an adjusting screw before, what it does is work to further tighten the high-pressured hold on an object. This allows locking screws to be more versatile in their applications, handling far tougher jobs than they would otherwise be capable without the adjusting screw. And the hex key makes adjustment a lot easier than using a screw driver.
Classic trigger release
Irwin’s classic trigger release allows you to easily take the pressure off with a mere tough, allowing for easy operation and release.
What I like about the IRWIN VISE-GRIP Original Curved Jaw Locking Pliers
The hex key adjusting feature makes it really easy to tighten the hold, which I love. The curved jaw makes it easy to fit and lock the pliers at weird angles, and the teeth create a really good hold. Also, the release is easy to use, and for that reason, I’d definitely say these are some of the best locking pliers in terms of ease of use.
What I don’t like about the IRWIN VISE-GRIP Original Curved Jaw Locking Pliers
Due to the size, they’re a little hard to manage if you have small hands. It’s not a huge deal because women and younger guys with smaller hands can still use them, but it makes things a little more difficult.
Knipex 4114250 Universal Jaw Locking Pliers 10-Inch
Unlike some other locking pliers, the jaws and the body of the Knipex locking pliers are made out of different materials from each other. The body is made from oil-hardened, forged rolled steel. The jaws are a forged alloy of chrome and vanadium electric steel. The thought behind this seems to be that each of those materials is the best material for the composition of that part of the plier. The best locking pliers tend to be well-thought out in terms of design, so this could be a real point in Knipex’s favor.
Ideal for round or flat materials
The uniquely round head has flat gripping jaws at the tip of the nose that work great for gripping sheet metal while the center of the head features a sort of hollowed-out curved, teethed design, which makes for better gripping on larger round objects.
The adjustment screw allows you to add extra pressure, making it a great clamp substitute.
Good release lever
The release lever makes it really easy to end your current task with just one hand, upping convenience.
What I like about the Knipex 4114250 Universal Jaw Locking Pliers
I like the extra thought put into the head design in terms of allowing for different objects and shapes to be held easier. It really does make holding around objects easier, while it still maintains a classic flat grip at the end for sheet metal. Essentially, the head, depending on your specific applications, can be a big help.
What I don’t like about the Knipex 4114250 Universal Jaw Locking Pliers
The one note I have about the head is it’s a bit large. It makes for a great clamp, but you’re going to have a hard time fitting it into smaller or awkward spaces. I’m on the fence about the head and body being made of different materials. Time will tell on that one eventually, so as of now that aspect is still an unknown.
Stanley 84-810 7-1/2-Inch MaxSteel Straight Jaw Locking Pliers
Turn screw adjustment
You can adjust the locking pressure simply by turning the screw, which makes it a lot easier than the models where you actually have to use a screwdriver to tighten it. Any screw adjustment you can do by hand is preferable, because it’s simply more convenient and will suit most needs and applications.
The jaws are machined, forged and plated with chrome for a combination of strength, durability and corrosion-resistance.
The straight jaws (as opposed to curved or rounded jaws) are ideal for working with flat objects or acting as clamps.
Pull-style release lever
Most release leavers require you to pinch or press them to activate the release. This model features a pull-style lever. Which you prefer is mostly down to preference as most people can operate each release lever style singlehandedly.
What I like about the Stanley 84-810 7-1/2-Inch MaxSteel Straight Jaw Locking Pliers
You can’t beat the straight jaws for clamping applications. I feel like it gets better contact and thus better pressure when I adjust the tension. Also, the tension is super easy to adjust which makes using these pretty effortless.
What I don’t like about the Stanley 84-810 7-1/2-Inch MaxSteel Straight Jaw Locking Pliers
The main downside of the Stanley locking pliers is that they’re not going to work well (if at all) for most round objects. If you require maximum versatility in the head of your locking pliers, then these are probably not the best locking pliers for your needs.
Ultimately, the locking pliers I recommend are the IRWIN VISE-GRIP Original Curved Jaw Locking Pliers with Wire Cutter, 10″, 502L3. The uniquely-shaped jaw plays well with both round and flat surfaces, making it ideal for a variety of applications. Also, the curve makes it easier to fit into awkward locations, upping their versatility tenfold. The hex key adjustment was also the easiest to use, which seals the deal.