Safety wire pliers are a tool that comes from high-stakes work. They wind safety wire ends together tight and quick to hold bolts in place. Originally, these pliers were used in aviation, where the need to keep bolts in place is the difference between flying and crashing. That technique, and thus the safety wire pliers, was adapted for use in car racing. Now, it’s finding application in just lots of things where high-speed travel means placing a premium on safely holding bolts in place.
The upshot is that there are probably good odds that you’ve never heard of safety wire pliers or what they’re used for unless you’ve done this kind of work. Chances are good that you’re here, in fact, because you found yourself with a job that calls for working with a kind of wire and a kind of pliers you’re unfamiliar with.
We wrote our reviews with you in mind. You can either use these as a direct guide to suggest a tool purchase or take our reviews as a kind of buyers’ guide. We encourage you to use both and make a wise choice. The stakes of success, in this case, are probably pretty high.
|Boulderfly Reversible |
|Milbar 1W393||9 inches||4.6/5|
Best for the Money
|OTC 4795 ||8 inches||4.3/5|
|Wicks Aircraft ||6 inches||4.1/5|
The Boulderfly 6-inch Reversible safety wire pliers got our top pick despite not being the top performing tool we looked at. We gave it our top pick because it delivers great quality but at a price that makes it an outstanding value for what you pay. We went with a different tool for our best budget pick, but if you’re looking at return on a top-shelf tool this one is the best. It does that without giving up too much in performance.
There are two things that we thought dropped its quality a bit. The first is that the handles require a lot of compressing power to lock into place. An uncomfortable amount of compressing power. The second is that the cutter isn’t as good as its closest competitor, which we’ll meet here in a second.
If the Milbar 1W393 were a bit cheaper, we would have given it our top pick. When it comes to safety wire pliers, Milbar is the first name in quality and this model demonstrates why. It winds safety wire quickly and makes it nice and taut. It’s reliable and the cutter’s quality means that you don’t have to swap out tools in the middle of a job.
That said, it’s more expensive than the Boulderfly 6-inch and isn’t so much better in quality that it would warrant ranking it higher. If you are working on aircraft or high-performance automobiles, you’d probably want to pay for the quality because there’s no price to be put on safety. But when you’re just doing other work, you can save a few bucks and get pretty similar performance.
If you’re looking for a set of safety wire pliers that will get the job done on basic automotive, motorcycle or even bicycle repair tasks and won’t cost you a lot of money, the BikeMaster 15-1554 is one tool you’ll want to look at. We ranked it as best for the money because it delivers good basic performance at a price for every budget.
One thing that stands out is that it doesn’t take up a lot of room. For most people, safety wire pliers are at best a once-in-awhile tool, so you don’t want these taking up a lot of space. These fit the bill, which means you can save money buying them and save space storing them in between uses.
That size is also its primary drawback. They aren’t designed to tackle the biggest, most serious jobs. Their slim jaws have difficulty in gripping onto larger pieces of wire. If you’ve got high-speed auto or motorcycle work to do, you’ll want to spend a little more to get something a little bigger.
In truth, we liked these almost as much as we liked the BikeMasters 15-1554. It’s also a good value that delivers better performance than what you pay. If your requirements don’t include repairs and maintenance on high-performance components, these are a good option as a budget tool.
We dropped them in rank because they just don’t have the value as the BikeMaster. Their performance is not as good and the tool itself isn’t as durable. You will save a lot of money buying these over a much more expensive, better-performing tool, but you’re also likely to have to replace it much more quickly. Over a long enough timeline, going with this option is moderately more expensive than the BikeMaster, which is why they aren’t as good a value.
The Wicks Aircraft 6” got our lowest ranking based almost purely on price. It’s far too expensive for what it does. That makes it a pretty bad value in terms of return on dollars spent. You can spend a little more money and get something bigger and far superior in terms of performance.
It’s not a terrible tool or a terribly made tool. It’s great for the smallest of safety wire jobs and is comfortable in your hands. It has applications and if you need a range of safety wire pliers, this probably has a place in your inventory.
That said, it just occupies that horrible niche of too much cost for not enough performance. It’s too small for big work, so it’s probably not the one safety wire plier set you’re going to buy. It’s an inventory add-on for work too small for your top-shelf investment, and an expensive one at that.
We hope you found value in our reviews of safety wire pliers. Given the stakes, of safely holding bolts in place during high-speed travel, dear god we hope you found value in our reviews of safety wire pliers.
Of those we looked at, we liked the Boulderfly 6-inch Reversible safety wire pliers the best. The Milbar 1W393 was a close second. If your work isn’t as high-stakes as aviation, maybe you are just working on a mountain bike, the Bikemaster 15-1554 delivers the best overall return on investment. We also reviewed the OTC 4795 and the Wicks Aircraft 6” Safety-Wire Pliers are were less impressed with those.
If you’re moving on with your search for safety wire pliers, we hope you at least use our reviews as a guide in what to look for. if you’re reading this, it’s because you’re new to this kind of work and we would like you to make an important purchase like this with as much information as possible.
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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!