It may seem like it’s impossible to get a good set of snap-ring pliers today, especially if you’re shopping online. But, before you go hunting for ancient, and expensive tools produced decades ago, you should know that you can get high-quality snap-ring pliers today. You just have to know where to look.
We’ve done the hard part for you and selected some of the best snap-ring pliers of 2020. We’ve culled the herd down to just five, and we show you the best and worst parts of each model so that you can find one with all the features you need and avoid any flaws which would drive you crazy.
Also included is a short buyer’s guide, which is designed to help you think through the buying process and find the tools that are right for you, at a price you’ll love.
|Channellock 927 8-Inch Plier|
|Lang Tools Snap Ring Pliers Set, 12-Piece|
|Neiko 02130A Snap-Ring Plier Set, 2-Piece||2 lbs||4.4/5|
|IRWIN Convertible 6-1/2" Snap Ring Pliers||1 lb||4.1/5|
|Cal Hawk Tools Snap-Ring Pliers Set, 11-Piece||3 lbs||3.9/5|
The Channellock 927 8-Inch Plier is an innovative, spring-powered take on the traditional snap-ring pliers. Consequently, flipping a switch is all that’s required to easily switch between internal and external modes. This model also comes with five different tips, meaning you can replace multiple tools with just this one. The spring it uses is heavy-duty, and easily gives you the extra power you need to get some tough jobs done. Plus, everything on this plier is made well, which is what you’d expect from a Channellock tool. It’s durable enough to last for a long time without any kinds of problems.
The only thing we don’t love about this model is that it won’t work great for one of snap-ring pliers’ primary uses: automotive work. These are bulky and wide, as far as snap-ring pliers go, and while this tool will work great when you have plenty of space, it can become hard to use when you don’t have a lot of clearance. However, if you know you’ll be working in the open, and want a tool that will last for a long time and provide effective service, then you can’t go wrong with this model.
If you’re looking for a more traditional snap-ring plier, then you’ll probably like the Lang Tools Snap Ring Pliers Set, 12-Piece. In fact, you’re getting 12 such pliers in this set, and its quality is so high that this is easily the best snap-ring pliers set on the market today. Each of the four sizes comes with a straight, 45-degree, and 90-degree variant so that you can use the model which best fits the conditions in which you’re working. It also comes with a case, which isn’t of exceptional quality, but it is nice enough that it qualifies as a plus. These tools are surprisingly sturdy given their price, which isn’t excessive. You can expect them to last a reasonably long time.
However, these models suffer from tricky internal to external switching. Sometimes the mechanism fails, and you have to take the tool completely apart to switch the direction. That’s a pain to deal with, and will greatly slow you down in the long run. However, if you’re not going to be switching often, it’s not going to be that big of a deal. Overall, there’s a lot to like about this set, and it will leave most people happy.
The Neiko 02130A Snap-Ring Plier Set, 2-Piece is a high-quality set of external and internal snap-ring pliers. It comes with interchangeable tips, which gives it the option to work with straight tips, or 45- or -90-degree tips, giving you a lot of versatility in the ways you approach the problem. It also comes with a spring-ratchet system, which allows these pliers to securely hold while in use, and also to work with non-standard circlips. As one would expect from pliers this large, these are very strong pliers and will give you a ton of force.
However, they will still break in certain situations with stuck circlips. That’s a problem you’ll have with just about any snap-ring pliers. While they do provide a ton of power, these are relatively expensive. At this price, some people may think that they’re getting pliers that won’t break under any circumstances, but you still have to be smart with the way you use these tools. That means there’s a mismatch between price and value, one which costs this model a few spots on our list. Still, if you’re looking for a powerful set of snap-ring pliers, you’ll still probably be happy with this one.
The IRWIN Convertible 6-1/2″ Snap Ring Pliers do some things right and other things not as well. This is a convertible set of pliers, so it goes from internal to external like the top model on our list. However, the switchover isn’t as easy as our top model makes it. This model also comes with two pairs of interchangeable tips, which isn’t as many as you get with other models, but it does give you some versatility. The handle on this model is arguably the most comfortable of any on our list, so if you value that a lot, you’ll really like this pair of snap-ring pliers.
However, this isn’t the strongest pair of pliers out there. If you need to do heavy-duty work, you won’t be happy with the maximum power this model puts out. It also has a poor overall range. It doesn’t open wide enough to do large jobs, and it also doesn’t close enough to do narrower jobs. That means this model will only be useful to certain people in certain situations, which isn’t what most people want. For some people, it will the right choice for the price, but it doesn’t have universal appeal.
In theory, the Cal Hawk Tools Snap-Ring Pliers Set, 11-Piece could be a good set of snap-ring pliers, but it ultimately doesn’t live up to the high standards required to rise on this list. This set does come with four straight snap-ring pliers, and four 90-degree snap-ring pliers, so you have some versatility in what you can do with this set. On a per-unit basis, they’re not terribly expensive, so if you need something to do a job or two, you might be just fine with this model.
However, they have a lot of serious problems which should dissuade serious and professional users from buying this set. They often quickly break on the first or second use, which is a pain, especially if the return window has already passed. They also require a lot of effort to use, since they don’t come with a spring to bear part of the load. Even worse, they sometimes arrive broken, which is something you never want to experience. Overall, these aren’t great tools, and if you’re looking for a set that will get tough jobs done or one that will last for decades, you’ll be very unhappy with this set.
When it comes to choosing the right pair of snap-ring pliers, the most important things to focus on are ease of use and durability. Most people who get a pair of pliers that excels in these two areas will end up happy with their purchase, even years after they made it.
So, when it comes to evaluating ease of use, it’s important that you first figure out what your needs are. Make sure you’re getting a model that can close enough or open enough to remove the snap rings you’re likely to be working with. You’ll also want to get a model that is comfortable to hold, especially if you’re going to be using it a lot.
The best models in this category feature a switch or another mechanism by which you can quickly switch between internal and external operation so that you can spend more time working and less time preparing your tools.
When it comes to durability, rust is the natural enemy of pliers. If you can, invest in a model which is either made from a material that naturally resists corrosion, or in a model that’s had a chemical treatment to the same effect.
You’ll also want to make sure that you get a model with durable tips. Tips which break are a common source of frustration among users, so if you’re researching a model and see that there are a lot of complaints about the tips breaking, it’s a good idea to invest in a different model.
The Channellock 927 8-Inch Plier is the best overall model due to its easy switching between internal and external modes, its heavy-duty spring, and its interchangeable tips that give it the usefulness of multiple tools in just one. The Lang Tools Snap Ring Pliers Set, 12-Piece comes with 12 pliers, including straight, 45-degree, and 90-degree variants of each size. However, their tricky switching between internal and external modes keeps them out of first place. In third is the Neiko 02130A Snap-Ring Plier Set, 2-Piece which comes with interchangeable tips and a spring-ratchet system, though its high price means it can rise no higher than third. The IRWIN Convertible 6-1/2″ Snap Ring Pliers have a comfortable handle and interchangeable tips, but they’re better for small jobs and are relatively weak. In the last place is the Cal Hawk Tools Snap-Ring Pliers Set, 11-Piece which is inexpensive, but has serious quality control and durability problems which can make them a frustrating buy.
We hope that our reviews and buyer’s guide have helped you better understand snap-ring pliers and find the model which is right for you.
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!