Knipex or Snap On? Who makes the best Vise Grips? Locking pliers are similar but actually different.

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  • ℹ️ Published 4 months ago
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Knipex makes a line of locking pliers that have substantial differences in operation compared to other designs. This pair of Knipex 41 14 250 universal jaw galvanized chrome vanadium locking pliers are rough but wonderful. And less than half the price of the Snap On LP7WC version.

The Snap On locking pliers look and feel like jewelry compared to the Kinpex and all are better than the Craftsman and original Vise Grips. What do you think?

💬 Comments
Author

Thank you Doc! I know there was some discussion in the comments a while back about you doing a locking pliers review and I am very appreciative of the review. I am a hack who works on rusty things so I love locking pliers. A few additional thoughts and details below for you and the peanut gallery.

The old snap-on were made by Grip-On in Spain. I believe they are independent and not owned or affiliated with Bahco (Bahco is owned by Snap-On).

New snap-on locking pliers are made by Malco in the US (in the old Vise-Grip factory in DeWitt Nebraska). The new snap-on are almost identical to Malco eagle grip. The Malcos are my favorites and have held up the best. You can beat the snot out of them and crank down on the allen head at the end really hard. I have not broken a pair or even really hurt the teeth.

The Knipex are matte chrome (maybe matte nickel, hard to tell), not galvanized (galvanizing is a zinc coating not chrome). This is a feature not a bug according to German tool companies because matte chrome provides a no slip grip and makes the chrome less likely to chip when scratched or damaged. Gedore are similar, but have an extended handle for easier use. I believe the same company (whether Knipex itself or someone else) also makes Hazet and Stahlwille locking pliers (they look the same to me anyway). Gedore are my favorites of the German brand locking pliers. The ones with the triangle in the bottom 137 10 are nice for nuts.

On the knipex 41-14-250 you reviewed, the rounded portion of the jaw is designed to grip pipe. (Like a Swedish style pipe wrench or the VBW S-grip pump pliers — highly recommended both these tools). I worry they are a Jack of all trades master of none tools, but your review caused me to buy the 41-14-250 you showed (I have other Knipex locking pliers and they are ok and the 41 04 250 normal round jaws I get for $20 off German jungle website which is a good value). The quality and sturdiness is not up to Malco or Gedore (also used to get for $20 on German jungle website).

Vise-Grip, the name is owned by Irwin (which was owned by Newell Rubbermaid which bought the original Vise-Grip, closed the plant in Nebraska and moved production to China). Newell Rubbermaid sold the Vise-Grip and Lenox lines to Stanley Black and Decker in 2017. I think Irwin is concerned about losing the Vise-Grip trademark through common usage (like aspirin) so now Irwin calls all its pliers “Irwin VISE-GRIP” brand even if they are not locking pliers.

The new Malco eagle grip are, in my opinion, superior to all others, but the line is limited (7in and 10in straight, 7in and 10in round, and clamps — I have all of them plus spares). The China made Irwin VISE-GRIP locking pliers are ok, but not great (they are only $12 though).

Author — ptstouring

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German engineering is mind blowing. They manage to reinnovate simple things

Author — Jamshid

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Thank you Doc, for posting this, as I was looking into a new set and wavering between these two brands. Great review! PS - Your tool collection is stellar! Nice work!

Author — Eben Kellogg

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Hey Doc,
How about do one more video on this topic.
Keep the usual suspects in the lineup, but bring in two newcomers.
1. Tekton - fairly cheap but great warranty.
2. Malco Eagle Grip - NOT cheap. But possibly the best ever made.

Author — Tiny Tree Publishing

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What is also nice, OTC 7948 Silver Slapper 10-Way Slide Hammer Puller Set with Storage Case has one of its accessories that would screw into gripping / locking pliers and then screw into slide hammer to use as a puller. Pretty neat concept if your interested. Thanks again for all the videos.

Author — 15Buckeye

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The knipex design of release, the most common, still smash your fingers when released under high pressure. When that pressure is much higher i find myself hitting the release with a hammer or using another pair of locking pliers to squeeze them as single or 2 finger pressure sometimes isnt enough. The benefit seems to be the ability to grip bolts, you know you can trust the teeth on knipex pliers to really bite. I prefer the Milwaukee style screw for comfort and grip though not having a mechanically advantaged release lever is nothing short of dumb. When I need serious clamping force I want to really clamp down, prying them back open is awkward and I've stabbed my hand with a screwdriver in the past doing that. The perfect locking pliers are still yet to be made in my opinion.

Author — George Croney

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Being a German pliers enthusiast with some dozens of Knipex pliers (they’re much cheaper here than in the US, whereas Kleins are very expensive in Germany) in my possession who thinks it’s the best brand for pliers in the world, I have to admit that their vise-grips are not to their standards, but they’re relabeled from the leading German manufacturer of those, Bollmann. Good stuff, but by far not as good as their own products. The Snap-ons come from Malco and sure are the best, as far as grip strength is concerned. But there are some niceGrip-on vise-grip pliers coming from Spain. For long nose and other special ones.

Author — Mux Murki

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The best use for me with the grey Snap On slim is holding sway bar link ball stud from spinning. Very limited space on a lot of vehicles and they work great. Snap On always warranties when the teeth wear.

Author — Ban Won

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I always used to PREFER the Craftsman locking Pliers because of that release mechanism. I have The Malcos and a few of the old Peterson locking pliers. I may pick up a pair of the Knipex because I really like that release

Author — Mark Olsen

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Hello again Doc
Thank you for another Great Video. I knew you would have quite the following on this channel. I own Vice Grip Pliers, mine are probably more than twenty five years old. And still going. Although, I am looking to upgrade my tools. Again thank you

Author — George Ferlazzo

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1:51.. you can still control your work with one hand with this style of release rather than the traditional Snap-on style that takes two hands typically

Author — Craig Cundiff

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For general use.. the husky China are holding up great feel very consistent with old school vice grip.
For me no need to step up to better brand

Author — Tom thumb

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I prefer the Knipex style release lever. Proto/Stanleys are like that.

Author — hogwashsentinel

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I have some older Peterson, a Crescent (poorly made), a Gearwrench (not bad), and a few Milwaukee. Would like to try the Malco; I just don't use locking pliers that often and looking at unused tools in my box drives me up a wall. Even the tools that I collect are used regularly.

Author — Felix F

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Will you do a video on the knipex 10” quickset cobras? I just got a set and I’m not convinced I like them more than the normal cobras I would like to hear your thoughts

Author — Zac Hoskins

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Try a pair of the new Milwaukee I like the eye on the set bolt I have the thin Snap on grips they have warranted several sets they are great for removing stabilizer links

Author — M. Mooverssr

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The old design snap-on the ones made in Spain, . Are exactly the same design that Stanley used to have made in Spain in 80s when they stopped making them in the UK, indeed not as heavy duty as the older

Author — Jusb1066

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Knipex takes vise grips to another level! Gotta get 'em!

Author — Chip Hill

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The Knipex are still $31 today on Amazon

Author — Mark Thomann

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I find unbiased reviews interesting, maybe you could do one ?

Author — bryan latimer-davies