Last Updated on August 28, 2020
If you’ve used a pair of adjustable pliers before, you may think that you know everything you need to know about these great products. However, the truth is that there have been a lot of recent developments in adjustable pliers, which means there’s more to know than ever before.
If you want to invest in a tool that will increase your speed and effectiveness, you not only need to know what’s new, you need to know what features most impact will your experience. That’s not something you can get from an online product description, and it can make tool-shopping more difficult than it needs to be.
We understand that challenge, and our reviews of the best adjustable pliers of 2020 are designed with you in mind. We show you each model’s strong and weak points so you can find the one that’s right for your next job and that you’ll love using. We’ve also included some tips on getting great value for your money, so if you’re hunting for a great deal, read on.
|Best Overall||Channellock 12-Inch||
|Best Value||IRWIN Tools 6-inch||
The Channellock 12-Inch Tongue and Groove Plier is the model you call when you have a serious problem and need a superior pair of adjustable pliers. There are a lot of reasons this model is called the best Channellock pliers. It comes with heat-treated teeth, which are super-strong and provide great contact with the nut or bolt head. This model is also cast from rust-resistant steel, which greatly extends its service life. Plus, those teeth do a great job of getting nuts and bolts loose without stripping them, making them a lifesaver in certain situations.
This model’s design also goes a long way towards reducing slipping, which often leads to bloody knuckles when working with inferior models. That may be a feature that justifies this model’s price on its own. The only potential issue you need to be aware of with this model is that the teeth have a high likelihood of marring tricky nuts or bolts. This isn’t a big deal if they’re hidden, but if they’re going to be seen, you may want to use something more forgiving on them. Overall, this is a great pair of pliers and one that can get just about any job done.
The Knipex 10-Inch Adjustable Cobra Pliers has a large capacity and can work with round pipes up to two inches in diameter, which is pretty fantastic for a ten-inch pair of pliers. Like the previous model, this one comes with teeth for better gripping. However, this model’s teeth are oriented opposite of the rotational direction, so that they self-lock automatically. This model also comes with a pinch guard, making it harder to accidentally get your hand caught, which is always a painful experience. If you’re looking for something lightweight to put in a toolbox or tool belt, you’ll be very happy with this model, which weighs just 12 ounces.
Our only gripe is that this model has some side-to-side play. That’s common among pliers, and especially among adjustable pliers. However, this model costs about 75 percent more than our top model, so one would hope that it would live up to higher quality standards. That’s not to say that this model is the wrong choice for most people, but if you’re bargain-hunting, you’ll won’t love this model’s price. If the quality were higher, this model could take first place, but as-is, it will have to settle for second.
The IRWIN Tools 6-inch GrooveLock Pliers are another good set that most people will love. It comes with easy jaw adjustment. Just press a single button, and you’re ready to reset this model. It also comes with a multi-groove ratcheting system, which gives you far more positioning options than you get with most pliers. Like the best pliers, this model comes with anti-pinch grips, which will help you avoid a lot of pain when you’re working quickly. As you may know, you can pinch yourself even when wearing gloves, so it’s nice to invest in tools that have your back in this area.
This model is also cheaper than the top two on our list but has similar quality. If you’re looking to get a good deal on a model that has all the features you’d expect from top-priced models, you can’t go wrong with this one. In fact, it provides the best overall value for the money on our list. Our only gripe is that it doesn’t have natural rust resistance and will rust quickly if it gets wet. However, there are some home remedies for this, and if you take careful care of this tool, it will last.
The TEKTON 4-1/4-Inch Adjustable Pliers have some potential, and they could be the right choice for some people. This model comes with angled teeth, giving it the same great gripping power that higher-up models on our list give you. They also come with interlocking tongue-and-groove joints that won’t separate while they’re in use. That’s a feature that will save you some time and frustration on most jobs. The kind of steel used in this model’s construction is naturally corrosion-resistant, though we’d still recommend that you don’t get them wet if you plan to have them around for decades.
However, this model features a bolt that holds the two halves together. You may find yourself constantly having to tighten it, as the force will slowly unwind it over time. That’s not nearly as convenient as the mechanisms used on other models. This model also comes with relatively-slick handle coverings, which isn’t something most people want to deal with. There’s also a decent chance you’ll pinch yourself with this model if you’re not careful. Overall, this isn’t a terrible pair of adjustable pliers, but you can do better with modern advancements on other models which cost about the same amount, or less.
While an eight-piece set might seem strange on our set, there’s a reason that we took the time to review and rank it. The Irwin VISE-GRIP GrooveLock Pliers Set, 8 Piece comes with an eight-inch, ten-inch, and twelve-inch Groovelock pliers, meaning you’re getting three great adjustable pliers in this set. Each model comes with angled teeth, which makes it easier to get a grip on recalcitrant bolts to pry them loose. This set also comes with an easy-carry bag, which makes it easy to throw these tools into a tool chest and not worry about damaging them.
However, the other five pliers in this model aren’t nearly as good as the GrooveLock adjustable pliers. At some prices, you might be saving money buying this kit instead of buying the three good pliers individually, but most of the time the price is too high to make this feasible. When all the tools are in it, the carrying bag can get heavy, which is a shame. Overall, there are some good pliers in this set, but we’d like it far more if you could get the good pliers without committing to buying the bad pliers as well.
Some sets value quantity over quality, and the Pittsburgh Tongue & Groove Joint-Pliers Set, 4 Piece is one of those that will likely leave you with some regrets about buying them. The upside is that this set comes with four pliers, for the price of one very nice one. So, if you’re looking to cheaply maximize the number of pliers you have at your disposal, then this set might be a good choice. Again, this set isn’t terribly expensive, so if you just need pliers and a lot of them, then these will be what you’re looking for.
However, these pliers feature an annoying bolt holding them together. It will often require tightening over the tools’ life, which can be a pain. They also have questionable rust resistance. You’ll want to keep them dry and clean when they’re not in use. The worst problem may be that the grips like to slide off, which makes them hard to use at times, and frustrating to keep in good shape. Overall, we want you to invest in tools that you like using, and at the end of the day, these aren’t tools that will leave most people happy with their investment.
More other pliers we’ve reviewed:
The Channellock 12-Inch Tongue and Groove Plier is our favorite pair of adjustable pliers due to its heat-treated teeth, no-slip design, and natural rust resistance. In second is the Knipex 10-Inch Adjustable Cobra Pliers which has a large capacity, self-locking teeth, and a pinch guard, though its side-to-side play keeps it out of first place. The IRWIN Tools 6-inch GrooveLock Pliers come with easy jaw adjustment, a multi-groove ratcheting system, easy jaw adjustment, and anti-pinch grips. It also has a great price, making it the best overall value for the money on our list. In fourth is the TEKTON 4-1/4-Inch Adjustable Pliers which have angled teeth and corrosion-resistance, but the constant required tightening and slick handle coverings cost it some places on our list. The Irwin VISE-GRIP GrooveLock Pliers Set, 8 Piece comes with three pairs of adjustable pliers, which have angled teeth, but the other tools in the set aren’t that great, making the overall price unreasonable. The Pittsburgh Tongue & Groove Joint-Pliers Set, 4 Piece comes with four pliers, but the quality isn’t up to most people’s standards.
We hope that our reviews have helped you find a model you and your wallet will love.
Hi there! My name is Adam and I write for HealthyHandyman. I have a great passion for writing about everything related to tools, home improvement, and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either fishing, playing the guitar, or spending quality time with my beloved wife. You'll also often find me in my workshop working on some new project!