Updated August 01, 2020 by Rafael Perez

The 10 Best Locking Pliers Sets

video play icon

This wiki has been updated 22 times since it was first published in April of 2016. Whether you need to release a stubborn nut or bolt, clamp together metal while welding, or bend hot steel in your project, you'll need strength, leverage, and a vise-like grip. The right pair of locking pliers can help you complete any of these tasks safely, so we put together a comprehensive selection of sets comprising various sizes and styles so you can find the one that's perfect for you. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. If you'd like to contribute your own research to the Wiki, please get started by reviewing this introductory video.

1. Stanley Proto XL

2. Irwin 1078

3. Craftsman 945713

Editor's Notes

July 29, 2020:

Removed the Craftsman Evolv in favor of the Craftsman 945713.

The Craftsman 945713 are a significant upgrade over the budget-friendly Evolv in terms of materials and design. With respect to design, the release lever is enclosed within the bottom handle and is activated by separating the two handles. I've found that the locking mechanism is sensitive enough to be released with one hand by pushing your fingers away from the top handle. You would think that this makes it prone to spontaneously opening but that isn't the case. Overall you get a good set of pliers at a very affordable price.

The Irwin 1078 includes most of what you'll ever need in locking pliers. The two C-clamp pliers are close to a necessity if you plan on welding or brazing anything from sheet metal to square and angle stock. The release is smooth and the jaws maintain alignment even at their maximum clamping forces and at uneven clamping points. While they don't have big rubber overmolding on the handles, I've never felt that you really need cushioning on locking pliers or that it really adds very much to comfort or function.

March 22, 2019:

Locking pliers are commonly known as vise-grips, which happens to be the trademarked named of one of the original and wildly popular models. While Irwin's Vise-Grips are still a formidable choice, they're not necessarily the be-all and end-all of locking pliers, though. Depending on your use case, you can spend anywhere from a few bucks to a couple hundred on a good set. If you mostly need them for minor repairs around the house or small crafting projects, the WorkPro are hard to beat, due to their general reliability and extremely low price. The Crescent are of similarly high value. Stanley and Craftsman are another two very well-known brands, and their entry-level models are of good quality. If you'll be using them a lot, it may be worth the upgrade to the Proto Blackhawk, which are also made by Stanley, only to a slightly higher standard than others. The Grip-On set comes with great reviews from users and experts, and with 5 pieces, it offers plenty of versatility. If you've got specialized projects in mind, consider the MaxPower KitBag, which provides some unconventional jaw shapes that can make difficult jobs far easier. But if you're looking for the very best, Stanley's Proto XL line is it. It's crafted of the finest materials, and made with a close eye on quality and close tolerances.

4. Stanley Proto Blackhawk

5. Irwin VISE-GRIP

6. Grip-On GK500

7. Crescent CLP-5SETN

8. Stanley 94-960

9. MaxPower KitBag

10. WorkPro 3-Piece

Rafael Perez
Last updated on August 01, 2020 by Rafael Perez

Rafael Perez is a doctoral candidate in philosophy at the University of Rochester. His primary focus is the metaphysics of time and the philosophy of mind, with a particular interest in artificial intelligence and antirepresentational models of the mind. He has extensive experience as a mechanic, a construction worker, and a general repairman. This has allowed him to gather a wealth of knowledge on automobile repair, auto parts, carpentry, masonry, welding, and the tools used in those trades. In his spare time, he enjoys playing guitar, woodworking, and fishing.

Thanks for reading the fine print. About the Wiki: We don't accept sponsorships, free goods, samples, promotional products, or other benefits from any of the product brands featured on this page, except in cases where those brands are manufactured by the retailer to which we are linking. For more information on our rankings, please read about us, linked below. The Wiki is a participant in associate programs from Amazon, Walmart, Ebay, Target, and others, and may earn advertising fees when you use our links to these websites. These fees will not increase your purchase price, which will be the same as any direct visitor to the merchant’s website. If you believe that your product should be included in this review, you may contact us, but we cannot guarantee a response, even if you send us flowers.