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10 Best Adjustable Pliers 2020 – Top Picks & Reviews

person using WORKPRO Adjustable Water Pump Pliers

Adjustable pliers are a true staple of every handyman’s toolbox. In fact, this is such a common item that you may think you know all about this particular product. However, you may be surprised at how much the design and efficiency of these simple tools have evolved in recent years.

Long story short? It’s time to toss your old pliers and get something that provides more reliable performance. But how can you know which pliers are worth your time and which ones should never come anywhere near your toolbox?

We put together comprehensive reviews of some of the most prominent adjustable pliers on the market. Between our reviews and our buyer’s guide, you’ll be able to make the best decision before you take on your next project.

Ready to get started? Keep reading to dive directly into our reviews!

A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Channellock 440 Tongue and Groove Pliers Channellock 440 Tongue and Groove Pliers
  • Heat-treated teeth
  • No-slip design
  • Rust-resistant
  • Best Value
    Second place
    WORKPRO Adjustable Water Pump Pliers WORKPRO Adjustable Water Pump Pliers
  • 5 position settings
  • Ergonomic handle
  • Nickel-plated finish
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    KNIPEX Tools 8751250 ES Extra-Slim Pump Pliers KNIPEX Tools 8751250 ES Extra-Slim Pump Pliers
  • Large capacity
  • Self-locking teeth
  • Pinch guard
  • IRWIN Tools 4935351 VISE-GRIP Tools GrooveLock Pliers IRWIN Tools 4935351 VISE-GRIP Tools GrooveLock Pliers
  • Single-button adjustments
  • Budget-friendly price
  • Anti-pinch grip
  • TEKTON 37526 Groove Joint Pliers TEKTON 37526 Groove Joint Pliers
  • The angled teeth
  • Long-lasting steel design
  • Convenient interlocking tongue and groovy
  • The 10 Best Adjustable Pliers – Reviews  2020

    1. Channellock 440 Tongue and Groove Pliers – Best Overall

    If you want to get back to your next project sooner rather than later, then you probably want to get to the good stuff right away. So, what’s the pick for best overall adjustable pliers? We’re going to go with the Channellock 440 Tongue and Groove Pliers.

    We love the durable heat-treated teeth and the no-slip design is a real “must-have” feature. Finally, the fact that it’s rust-resistant and tackles nuts and bolts without stripping them makes this a low-maintenance and user-friendly pick.

    It’s not completely perfect, though. Those same teeth we love so much may end up leaving their marks on some of the more difficult nuts and bolts. If those nuts and bolts are visible, this may hurt the overall aesthetic.

    Pros
    • Heat-treated teeth
    • No-slip design
    • Rust-resistant
    • Handles nuts and bolts very easily

    Cons
    • Teeth may mar trickier nuts and bolts

    2. WORKPRO Adjustable Water Pump Pliers – Best Value

    WORKPRO Adjustable Water Pump Pliers

    What’s the key to having plenty of tools and toys? Simple: don’t spend more than you have to. If you’re a budget buyer seeking the best adjustable pliers for the money, then we recommend the WORKPRO Adjustable Water Pump Pliers.

    You get a lot of features for the price, including 5 position settings and an ergonomic handle. The nickel-plated finish helps these pliers go the distance, and the hardened teeth reliably provide no-slip leverage.

    Why, then, is this our best value pick and not our best overall pick? Really, our only gripe is that these pliers are mostly useful for around-the-house tasks. But if you’re going to be doing any heavy-duty tasks, you may need to seek beyond this budget buy.

    Pros
    • 5 position settings
    • Ergonomic handle
    • Nickel-plated finish
    Cons
    • Mostly suitable for smaller tasks around the house

    3. KNIPEX Tools ES Extra-Slim Pump Pliers – Premium Choice

    KNIPEX Tools 8751250 ES Extra-Slim Pump Pliers

    The best tools are more than tools: they are an investment in your home and your future projects. If you want to make the most out of that investment, you may be researching some premium adjustable pliers. And as “premium” choices go, the KNIPEX Tools 8751250 ES Extra-Slim Pump Pliers are the best.

    The large capacity makes these pliers great for rounded pipes up to 2 inches in diameter. The self-locking teeth are also very convenient for newbies and veteran handymen alike. The pinch guard keeps your hands safe, and the lightweight design can help you work far longer without tiring out.

    For the price, though, it moves side-to-side far more than we would like. These are still great pliers, but you should be aware of that drawback before you buy.

    Pros
    • Large capacity
    • Self-locking teeth
    • Pinch guard
    • Lightweight
    Cons
    • Moves side-to-side too easily

    4. IRWIN Tools VISE-GRIP Tools GrooveLock Pliers

    IRWIN Tools 4935351 VISE-GRIP Tools GrooveLock Pliers

    Still on the lookout for a good budget option? One of our other favorites in this category are the IRWIN Tools 4935351 VISE-GRIP Tools GrooveLock Pliers.

    We love that you can adjust the jaw with a single button. And the multi-groove ratcheting system gives you plenty of options, especially at this price point. Finally, the anti-pinch grips help make the entire thing very user-friendly.

    Still, even the best pliers have some drawbacks. With these, the main issue is the lack of rust resistance. That means the pliers can only last so long, even if you take great care of them. Meanwhile, be advised that these pliers are not the typical tongue-and-groove channel locks. The jaws are only ¼-inch wide, which is good for reaching tight places but bad when you need to apply more torque. Some users complained that the IRWIN VISE-GRIP broke after a couple of uses. This is probably due to using too much force.

    Pros
    • Single-button adjustments
    • Budget-friendly price
    • Anti-pinch grip
    Cons
    • Not rustproof
    • Small jaws can’t handle heavy torque

    5. TEKTON 37526 Groove Joint Pliers

    TEKTON 37526 Groove Joint Pliers

    Ever wonder why there are so many different kinds of tools? Because there are so many different kinds of handymen. And for certain tool men, the TEKTON 37526 Groove Joint Pliers may be a perfect choice.

    The angled teeth help give these pliers solid performance at a fraction of the premium prices. And the interlocking tongue and groove can be a real time-saver, especially for novice handymen. And thanks to the corrosion-resistant steel design, you can be assured these pliers will be a long-term investment.

    However, certain aspects of the design are not very user-friendly. You’ll need to frequently tighten the bolt that holds the different halves together. And the handle coverings are so slick that you’re likely to pinch yourself while using the pliers!

    Pros
    • The angled teeth
    • Convenient interlocking tongue and groovy
    • Long-lasting steel design
    Cons
    • Bolt requires frequent tightening
    • Handle coverings are too slick

    6. CRAFTSMAN CMHT82547 Pliers

    CRAFTSMAN CMHT82547 Pliers

    The CRAFTSMAN CMHT82547 Pliers are definitely on the cheaper end of the spectrum. But do they offer the performance that you really need? Most of the time, the answer is “yes.”

    This 2-piece set offers nice value, and the drop-forged steel design is surprisingly strong and durable. The bi-material grips are comfortable to hold, and your pliers are actually protected by a lifetime warranty.

    There are a few areas where the design seems a bit shoddier, though. The jaws don’t grip as firmly as we would like. And on top of that, the grips slide off a bit too easily, which can make using the pliers quite dangerous.

    Pros
    • 2 pliers included
    • Durable steel
    • Comfortable grips
    • Lifetime warranty
    Cons
    • Jaws are not very firm
    • Grips slide off easily

    7. Bahco 8231 Adjustable Joint Pliers

    Bahco 8231 Adjustable Joint Pliers

    The Bahco 8231 Adjustable Joint Pliers seem like a “back to basics” approach with a solid price and streamlined design. But are they ready for whatever tasks that you throw at them? Honestly, it’s a bit of a mixed bag.

    These are versatile 8-inch pliers that effectively give you a 12-inch capacity. The one button setting is quite convenient during use, and the flat and pipe grip jaw makes these pliers even more versatile.

    At the same time, these pliers aren’t great for anything with a small diameter. And many users report that these pliers can seriously pinch your hands during use, so be especially careful if you make this purchase.

    Pros
    • 12-inch capacity
    • One-button setting
    • Versatile flat and pipe grip
    Cons
    • Bad for objects of a smaller diameter
    • Pliers likely to pinch your hands

    8. Crescent 52910N Adjustable Joint Pliers

    Crescent 52910N Adjustable Joint Pliers

    The Crescent 52910N Adjustable Joint Pliers is a tad more expensive than some of the lower-tier options. But does it bring the extra performance to go with the extra price? Sadly, the answer to that is “no.”

    These pliers are very good for limited tasks. For example, they fit connectors ranging from ¾  to 2 ½ inches quite nicely. And the three adjustment positions give these pliers some versatility right out of the box.

    However, these pliers aren’t very sturdy and won’t hold up to heavy or professional work. They slip out of alignment very easily during use. Finally, the pads are a bit too small to grip.

    Pros
    • Versatile connection range
    • Multiple adjustment positions
    Cons
    • Won’t last long
    • Slip out of alignment easily
    • Pads are too small

    9. Kobalt 0749270 Locking Pliers

    Kobalt 0749270 Locking Pliers

    For those looking for extra value, the Kobalt Locking Pliers 2-Piece Set may seem like a good value. Unfortunately, getting two bad pliers instead of one isn’t much of a value.

    At first, you might be taken in by the cool chrome design made of drop forged steel. And the ergonomic grips admittedly make these pliers very easy to hold.

    However, the overall construction of these pliers is not very sturdy. The plastic grips come off very easily. And thanks to the tooth grip design, these pliers cannot pick up thin items very easily. These pliers may seem like a good price, but you’ll keep “paying” for them long after the purchase.

    Pros
    • Attractive steel design
    • Ergonomic grips
    Cons
    • Not sturdy
    • Grips come off easily
    • Cannot pick up thin items

    10. Pittsburgh 4 Piece Tongue and Groove Joint Pliers

    Pittsburgh 4 Piece Tongue and Groove Joint Pliers

    Rounding out our reviews are the Pittsburgh 4 Piece Tongue and Groove Joint Pliers. Are these likely to be the pliers you’re looking for? Not unless you want a free side of disappointment!

    The fact that it’s a 4-piece set seems to offer decent value. And the steel construction on the actual pliers is good. Beyond that, though, these pliers seriously fail to impress.

    The actual design of these pliers is very poor and not likely to last long. And while the vinyl grips may look nice, they are very uncomfortable to hold. And the lack of a warranty means you won’t have an alternative when these break except to buy some replacement pliers.

    Pros
    • 4-piece set
    • Steel construction
    Cons
    • Not durable
    • Uncomfortable grip
    • Lack of warranty

    Buyer’s Guide

    With any luck, our reviews have helped you learn more about some of the most prominent pliers on the market today. But before you finalize your decision, you may need to answer a few more questions about pliers.

    That’s why we put together this comprehensive buyer’s guide. Reading it will give you the lowdown concerning types of pliers, benefits of adjustable pliers, and what not to do with your latest purchase.

    Between the product reviews and this buyer’s guide, you’ll be able to make the best decision for you and your projects.

    Different Types of Pliers

    Obviously, our guide has focused primarily on adjustable pliers. But do you know about the different types of pliers? It’s important to have this knowledge to determine whether you actually need adjustable pliers or not.

    Locking Pliers

    The first type of plier is the locking plier. As the name implies, these pliers are designed to lock into place after you squeeze the handles. With the plier appropriately locked on, you can apply any pressure or movement you need to do things like removing broken screws or freeing the occasional frozen nut.

    There are generally two varieties of locking pliers. There are curved-jaw pliers which are best for some of the aforementioned tasks (such as broken screws and frozen nuts). You can use this plier as a clamp if needed, and it’s generally very handy when it comes to demolition.

    The other type of locking plier is the long-nose design. If you need to get a crazy-strong grip on a small object (such as staples, pins, and screws), this is your go-to tool. And if you can only have one locking plier, this is the one you need in your toolbox.

    Non-Adjustable Pliers

    What makes a plier “non-adjustable?” The simple answer is that you cannot open up the jaws any wider than they were originally designed. And there are multiple types of non-adjustable pliers to choose from.

    • Lineman’s pliers are jaws that are deep, flat, and feature a wire cutter. If you need to work with electrical wires, rebar wires, or even light sheet metal, these are the pliers you need.
    • Curved needle nose pliers are longer and have a “nose” that is shaped a bit like the letter “S.” The teeth on the jaws are pretty light, making this a great choice for putting in or removing screws in various areas that are hard to reach.
    • Needle nose pliers (of the non-curved variety) have similar jaws, complete with light teeth, but with the addition of a wire cutter. These pliers are great if you need a light grip on something very small, including getting dropped screws. You can also use this plier to twist and bend wires as needed.
    • Finally, bent needle nose pliers have smaller jaws that are both pointed and angled. They also have a spring return and typically feature softer handles. These pliers help you hold and work with things like wires and screws without tiring out your hand because your wrist stays parallel to what you are working on.

    Adjustable Pliers

    Our reviews touched on a number of different adjustable pliers. And as you might expect, there are many kinds of these pliers depending on what your specific needs are.

    • Wrench pliers have a cam-and-ratchet feature that you can activate with a simple button, and these pliers keep their jaws parallel regardless of the handles. That makes these pliers perfect for things like installing plumbing or removing bolts without accidentally stripping them.
    • Pipe-gripping pliers are known for curved jaws and a four-point slip joint. As the name implies, these pliers are great for screwing and unscrewing various plastic pipes without leaving any scuffs or damage.
    • Tongue-and-groove pliers combine long handles with serrated and groove-jointed jaws. If you need to seriously loosen some metal pipes or work with other plumbing connectors, these are the pliers you need.
    • Finally, self-adjusting pliers use a cam-and-ratchet feature to grip whatever you are working on, and then you can adjust the jaws with the handles to make everything parallel. This is basically your “jack of all trades” plier because it can be used for plumbing, repairs, and everything in-between.

    Benefits of Adjustable Pliers

    By now, you may have a very simple question on the tip of your tongue: why adjustable pliers? What is so special about this kind of tool?

    In a way, the very name tells you everything you need to know about these pliers. The ability to adjust things like jaw width can help you tackle a variety of different obstacles. Even if you only have a single adjustable plier, you may be surprised at how many different uses you can find for it because of its adjustability.

    man using Channellock 440 Tongue and Groove Pliers

    On top of that, adjustable pliers tend to be more user-friendly. If you’re a novice handyman who hasn’t worked extensively with pliers, you may enjoy the ability to adjust to your exact needs for every project. And regardless of your skill level, you should be able to intuitively determine the best adjustments for various kinds of projects.

    In short: if you want one tool that can do most of the job, then the adjustable plier is the way to go.

    Drawbacks of Adjustable Pliers

    Adjustable pliers are pretty great. But you may be asking yourself if there are any drawbacks to using these pliers. The answer is “yes,” but only in one area.

    Adjustable pliers typically require a strong grip. For example, you won’t be able to remove those pesky bolts if you don’t have an iron grip on the tools in question.

    So, if you have a weaker grip or have trouble using these pliers, you have two basic options. The first is to keep practicing until you have effectively strengthened your hand and your grip. The other is to look into other kinds of tools such as vice grips.

    What Should You Avoid Doing with Adjustable Pliers?

    We have extensively reviewed the different benefits and features of adjustable pliers. But you might have a more fundamental question: what should you not do with your new tool once it arrives?

    First, you need to make sure that you actually need an adjustable plier for the task at hand. Many rookie handymen put their tools at risk by using a plier on a tough nut when they should have tried to use a wrench from the very beginning.

    Second, you need to be careful when using your adjustable pliers around polished plumbing and other very visible elements of your project. Even the most careful handyman is likely to leave scuffs and marks on the metal with a plier. To protect its appearance, try to place a rag or other cloth between the surface and the jaws.

    Third, try to avoid twisting the plier sideways while you work. Even if you are being very careful, twisting sideways may end up stressing, loosening, or even breaking the joint.

    More other pliers we’ve reviewed:

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    Conclusion

     Now that we’ve answered those questions, there is only one big question that remains: who were the biggest winners when it came to our adjustable plier review roundup?

    For the best overall pick, we have to go with the Channellock 440 Tongue and Groove Pliers. It offered solid and reliable performance and quickly became a “go-to” tool in our toolboxes for so many different tasks.

    For those on a budget, we have to give the nod to the WORKPRO Adjustable Water Pump Pliers. Despite the low price, these pliers offered surprisingly great performance and precision. Budget choice or no, any handyman would be happy to have these pliers in their home.

    But are these the best pliers for you? That’s the beauty of being a handyman: there are different kinds of tools for every type of handyman out there. Only you can decide which adjustable pliers are best for you, your needs, and your projects.

    Fortunately, you can make an informed decision thanks to our reviews and our buyer’s guide. Now all that’s left is for you to “get a grip” on these pliers and get to work!

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