Last Updated on August 14, 2020
You’ll rarely find a toolbox without a set of needlenose pliers in it, and that’s because while they are used generally by people who work around electricity they have a lot of capabilities. Electricians use them to pull, bend and cut wires, but if in general you just need to pick up something small and/or hold it in place a good set of needle nose pliers gives you pinching with precision.
We took a look at some models of this must-have tool and wrote reviews of what we thought. Since the market is littered with different kinds of needlenose pliers, we follow up our reviews with a buyers’ guide intended to help you figure out what you need to look for in a set and how to buy it.
Although this is a tool that you can probably get by with just about any model, there are little tricks and differences that will help you find the perfect set for you. If you’re going to have just one, it really ought to be as close as perfect for your needs as possible. We wish you the best of luck in finding it.
|Top Pick||Klein Tools J207-8CR||
|Best for the Money||IRWIN Tools VISE GRIP 2078216||
|Stanley 84-096 5 Inch||
Versatile, comfortable and built to last, the Klein Tools J207-8CR is our top pick among needlenose pliers. In fact, they’re more than needlenose pliers. They have features to complete a lot of electrical jobs associated with needlenose pliers like stripping wire and crimping. So, they’re less standard pliers and more multitools.
They are also beasts, built tough with comfortable grips. They can take on the toughest jobs in the dirtiest conditions. If you’re a professional electrician, these are a worthwhile investment.
An investment is also precisely what these are. They are many times more expensive than a basic pair of pliers. These are not a “buy and toss into your junk drawer” set of pliers. If you’re putting this kind of money into your needlenose pliers, it’s because you really need to. They’re also a bit big for small jobs like repairing jewelry.
The Channellock 3017 are just about perfect when it comes to being a standard set of needlenose pliers. They are great quality and have a cost that makes them a great value. If you use your needlenose pliers quite a bit, they are a great candidate as an everyday tool. If you need to grab and shape a wire lead, they can do that. If you need to pick up a small screw or hold a ring in place while fixing a mount, they can do that, too. If not for the multi-tool versatility of the Klein Tools model, we might have ranked them as our top choice.
That said, one nit we pick with them is that the tip is a little too narrow for proper gripping power. These are definitely a “grab and let go” tool where you don’t maintain a hold on something for too long. That aside, these are great needlenose pliers and a great value.
If you’re looking to stock a toolbox with basic representatives of every major tool line, the IRWIN Tools needlenose pliers are a great candidate for that. They’re a great value and come with something that occasional users will probably appreciate, which is a comfortable grip. They’re inexpensive, comfortable and are well suited for occasional use. That’s the very definition of a best for the money tool.
The things that make them a great value, however, are also the things that also limit them. If you’re doing small, precise work, the tips are too thick. If you need to pull wire, they are a bit too small for that. They aren’t bad pliers, they’re just limited. But for the money and for what they can do, they’re the best for the money.
When it comes to needlenose pliers, Stanley has a reputation for making great tools. No review of these kinds of tools would be complete without considering a Stanley model.
The five-inch pliers are pretty good. They have a sharp time and have a spring to push the handles open. That makes them great as small-use needlenose pliers. They occupy that niche of pliers between general use and micro-use, which limits their utility around the house.
We also found them a bit uncomfortable to use. When it comes to general use, comfort is probably a bit oversold because they aren’t commonly used for so long at one time that they can fatigue your hands. When it comes to small tasks, you need something that is going to be comfortable to hold, because those tools are at the point where they start to stress the limits of people whose hands aren’t very nimble.
We don’t hate the Whizzotech W9101. There just isn’t anything about it to recommend it above any of the rest of the field that we reviewed.
It’s built to last and we like-spring-open handles to make for a more intuitive plier experience. They are also big enough and sharp enough that they meet the definition of a set of needlenose pliers.
If you do a lot of work that would require outstanding performance, there are better models out there. This would be a great “toss in your drawer to use every six months” tool, except that you can get similar results from a set of pliers that are a little bit cheaper. That makes them a subpar value, even if you’re not sinking all that much money into them.
In a market glutted by different makes and models of needlenose pliers, the SE LF01 are among the cheapest you’ll find … in every sense of the word. They cost about the same as a fast-food hamburger and fulfill the same level of quality to hand tools as a Big Mac does to nutrition. Just about the most damning thing you can say about them is that when you buy them, chances are not terrible that you’ll actually have to finish getting them ready to use by sanding down burrs and aligning them.
One thing a really inexpensive tool can have going for it is that it’s great for homeowners who just need to buy something to toss into a junk drawer for occasional use. This isn’t that tool. It’s too small for general use. If it was better quality, it’d be useful primarily for jewelry. As a homeowner’s standard, it just doesn’t have the size.
Truthfully, if you already have a set of needlenose pliers, you probably don’t need to go out and buy another, more specialized one. They aren’t so complicated that there is a ton of difference in performance from model to another. But, let’s say that you’re just getting started or that an asteroid hit your house and took out your toolbox and you need to go out and buy everything all over again. Then, it might be helpful to know a little bit about what can set apart a good, workman-like set of needlenose pliers and one that excels at its job.
One exception is that you might have jobs of different scales. A regular old set of needlenose pliers is great for pulling and shaping regular old copper wire, but there are also micro pliers for really small work. Say, you’ve just unscrewed a nut from a laptop case and need to pull it out. That’s where you might want a pair of micro pliers because the jaws really can come right down to the size of a needle. Those pliers don’t offer the right traction, however, if you need to pull wire through a tight spot.
There aren’t a lot of features that can set apart needlenose pliers. But they do exist and you’ll want to know that they at least exist before you shop for a set. One is how comfortable the grip is. It’s not critical because the sort of work you do with this tool doesn’t usually fatigue your hands and wrists. On the other hand, the purpose of a grip isn’t always about comfort, either. If you work in a damp environment, you might find a grip that doesn’t get slippery when wet to be most helpful.
One thing that you might like are handles that spring back open when you release your grip. It’s not terribly common, because the basic role of the needlenose pliers is to hold something fast and that’s not accomplished very well if the pliers easily loosen their grasp on it. But a set of needlenose pliers where the handles don’t open very easily is also a set of needlenose pliers that is no fun to use.
Most needlenose pliers have straight jaws. You open them and grab something right in front of them and either shape it by twisting the pliers, pull it out or hold it fast for some other reason. But there might be reasons why you need angled jaws. These jaws have an application where you are using multiple sets of pliers at once and don’t want them to get in the way of each other. They are also useful at times when doing electrical work or in jewelry making and repair.
As always a final consideration is the price of the pliers. If you have two sets of needlenose pliers that are virtually identical in every other way and one is a few bucks cheaper than the other, you’ve got yourself a deal maker. It can’t be overstated that while there are some clear differences in different sets of needlenose pliers, that if you just need a set for your toolbox that just about any of them will do. Don’t get a bad set, but also don’t break the bank for more tool than you need.
We took a look at some of the many, many models of needlenose pliers on the market, and wrote up some reviews to give you an idea of just what a good set of them look like. We really liked the versatility of the Klein Tools J27-8CR multitool because it let you do the most without having to set the tool down. We also liked the Channellock 3017 as just a flat-out good set of basic needlenose pliers. If you’re looking for needlenose pliers that deliver a lot for just a little money, the IRWIN Tools needle-nose pliers are a great option. Stanley’s five-inch needlenose pliers is another good option, but one we weren’t as impressed with as the other three. As for the Whizzotech W9101 and the SE LF01 Minis, the market is crowded enough that you can probably look for an alternative if you’re thinking about buying those.
We hope these reviews provided some value to you, and if you had other questions about these tools that our buyers’ guide provided some useful purchase tips. We wish you the best of luck in getting the right pair and long years of happy DIY fun.
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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!