The Definitive Guide to the Best Vise Grips: A Must-Have Tool for Every DIY Enthusiast

best vise grips

Alright, all you hands-on DIY folks, it’s time to add a new tool to your kit. We’re talking about the kingpin of gripping strength — the mighty vise grip. If you’ve been on the hunt for the best vise grips around, buckle up because we’ve done all the heavy lifting for you.

Locking Pliers 101: Getting a Grip on the Basics

Let’s kick things off by sinking our teeth into the nuts and bolts of what makes vise grips tick. You may know them as Mole wrenches, or even vice grips, but these little beasts are officially known as locking pliers.

Designed by William S. Petersen in the U.S. back in 1924, these tools quickly locked down a reputation for being invaluable additions to any tool kit. Over the pond in the U.K., M K Mole and Son began crafting similar pliers in 1955. And so, the vise grip was born.

The key selling point of these pliers is their “over-center” cam action, which allows them to lock in place and maintain a strong grip without continuous pressure. This principle ensures they remain clamped to an object even after you’ve taken your hand away. It’s no wonder they’ve become a staple for jobs ranging from welding to acting as temporary substitute levers or knobs1.

Picking the Best Vise Grips: A Cut Above the Rest

So, with a good handle on the essentials, let’s pivot to the meat of the matter: finding the best vise grips. We dove into extensive testing of various brands and have some clear winners.

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The Cream of the Crop

In a comprehensive test conducted by the popular YouTube channel, Project Farm, a variety of vise grips underwent rigorous testing to determine their gripping strength, ease of release mechanism, failure load, cutting ability, and overall durability. The results were quite revealing.

The Malco Eagle Grip pliers emerged victorious, displaying remarkable durability and strength. With an outstanding 1053 inch-pounds on the failure load test, these pliers demonstrated themselves as some of the most robust on the market. If durability is a key consideration for you, the Stanley Fat Max pliers also deserve your attention.

However, the Malco Eagle Grip pliers were not the only ones to shine in these tests. The Irwin Vice Grips displayed exceptional gripping strength, leading all contenders with an impressive 594 inch-pounds. Additionally, they showcased superior cutting ability, managing to sever a 16 penny nail with just 140 pounds of pressure.

For those prioritizing an easy release mechanism, the Milwaukee pliers were the clear winners. They required a mere 12 pounds of force to unlock, highlighting their user-friendly design.

It’s important to mention that while the Malco Eagle Grips were declared the overall best performers, the Craftsman pliers also delivered a commendable performance, making them another excellent option worth considering.

Bang for Your Buck

If you’re searching for great performance without breaking the bank, you’ll want to give the CH Hanson pliers a whirl. They delivered on all fronts and are an excellent option for value-conscious tool aficionados.

The Tried and True

Don’t forget about vintage Vice Grips either. These time-tested tools still hold their own in the modern world and could be just the ticket for more traditional DIY lovers.

Our Suggestions For Best Vise Grips:

Eagle Grip by Malco LP10WC 10 in. Curved Jaw Locking Pliers with Wire Cutter

When it comes to a sturdy and reliable pair of pliers, the Eagle Grip by Malco LP10WC stands out among the crowd. It’s crafted from alloy steel, boasting an overall size of 9 x 0.75 x 2.75 inches, which lends it substantial durability. With a weight of just 0.01 ounces, it offers a lightweight solution without compromising its “Power Grip” ability.

The patented PowerRing is a significant feature. It enhances the thread strength, providing increased clamping force. The pinned and brazed upper jaw ensures a superior bond between the upper jaw and the body of the pliers, even under the most strenuous conditions. The teeth of the jaws also stand out, offering the sharpest grip and top-notch wear resistance, durability, and life.

Based on customer feedback, these pliers are heralded for their high-quality construction and sturdiness. The product is also often praised for its versatility, with users rating it 4.9/5. Their versatility makes them suitable for a wide range of general purposes. A notable feature that customers enjoy is the hardened adjustment knob, which increases lubricity for smoother operation.

IRWIN VISE-GRIP Original Locking Pliers with Wire Cutter, Curved Jaw, 10-Inch (502L3)

The IRWIN VISE-GRIP Original Locking Pliers with Wire Cutter offers a comprehensive solution for gripping various shapes from any angle, thanks to its curved jaw with hardened teeth. These pliers are constructed from high-grade, heat-treated alloy steel that lends them longevity and durability.

The pliers also come with a wire cutter, adding versatility to their list of benefits. The classic guarded trigger release ensures maximum locking force, ensuring a tight grip on whatever it is clamping. It also comes with a hex key adjusting screw for controlling the pressure and release of the grip, a valuable feature when dealing with various materials.

Customers have provided positive feedback on the product’s performance, especially appreciating the easy-to-use mechanism, versatility, and excellent value for money. However, it’s worth noting that these pliers aren’t recommended for cutting electrical wires.

Grip-On 111-10 10-Inch Curved Jaw Locking Pliers

The Grip-On 111-10 10-Inch Curved Jaw Locking Pliers have a reliable and sturdy construction made with high-quality materials. Originating from Spain, these pliers have a curved jaw design, ideal for a firm grip on round objects such as rebar, pipes, or cables.

The handles are coated with epoxy resin, providing a durable finish that’s resistant to spatter. Other notable features include a threaded opening screw for easy jaw resizing and forged jaws for enhanced strength and durability. A quick-release mechanism with a no-pinch lever ensures easy unlocking, providing added safety and convenience.

Customers have praised the functionality and performance of these pliers, highlighting their quality construction and efficient operation.

CRAFTSMAN Locking Pliers, Curved Jaw, 10-Inch (CMHT81726)

The CRAFTSMAN Locking Pliers, Curved Jaw, 10-Inch (CMHT81726), are made of metal, offering a durable and robust solution for any DIY enthusiast. The one-handed operation and easy-release mechanism offer excellent usability, while multi-zone bi-material grips ensure comfortable use.

Made from high-grade heat-treated alloy steel, these pliers are built to last, making them an ideal addition to any tool kit. The adjustable feature, controlled by an adjusting screw, allows for controlling the jaw opening and locking pressure.

These pliers have received a positive response from users, receiving an impressive rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars. Users appreciate the durability, strength, and performance, making them a valuable tool for various tasks.

KNIPEX Tools – Universal Grip Pliers, Pivoting Jaw, Chrome (4014250)

The KNIPEX Tools – Universal Grip Pliers stand out with their pivoting jaw design, providing versatility in holding or gripping objects of varying shapes. Made from alloy steel and forged chrome vanadium electric steel, these pliers offer durable and functional performance.

The pliers have a slim head, making them ideal for working in confined spaces. They also feature an adjustment screw for controlling the holding or gripping pressure, a valuable addition when handling a variety of materials.

Receiving a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars based on global ratings, these pliers have been well-received by customers. KNIPEX also provides a limited lifetime warranty, offering users added peace of mind.

Wrap Up: Tightening the Screws

In conclusion, whether you’re a DIY novice or a seasoned pro, having a reliable pair of vise grips in your toolbox is a no-brainer. They’re versatile, reliable, and can be a real lifesaver in a pinch. Our top recommendations — the Malco Eagle Grips, the Irwin Vice Grips, and the Craftsman pliers — are sure to elevate your DIY game to new heights.

And remember, while vise grips are fantastic, they’re only one piece of the DIY puzzle. Check out our guides on the best 1/2 impact wrenches and the best digital torque wrench to keep your toolbox stocked and your skills sharp.

Tighten those bolts and straighten those screws, friends. It’s time to get your DIY on!



  1. Living History Farm, York, Nebraska for Vise Grip, Irwin Brands for Vise-Grip, and Johnson’s Dictionary Online for etymology.

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