The 10 Best Pin Punches
This wiki has been updated 16 times since it was first published in February of 2019. If you're trying to remove a roll pin or similar connector, you're going to want the right pin punch, not only to make the task less difficult but also to prevent any damage to whatever you're fixing. Depending on the type of items you regularly work with, whether guns, watches, or transmissions, you'll need different sizes, so we've included sets here that should help you cover all the bases. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
October 01, 2020:
Removed the Grace USA Steel 7-Piece because they are roll pin punches, not pin punches. Removed the Wheeler Engineering Starter because they are holder punches, not pin punches. Added the Grace GRPS8 and the Grace PS-7.
There are substantial differences between pin punches, roll pin punches, starter punches, center punches, and holder punches. They are not interchangeable and you'll want to avoid using them in the wrong context. Many of the complaints against a particular set of punches are actually caused by human error and not because they tool itself is defective or of low quality. If you bend the 1/16th punch in the Starrett 8-Piece, in all likelihood, you either angled the punch when you struck it, used too much force, or you didn't use a starter punch on a stubborn pin. If you use steel pin punches on roll pins, you take the risk of damaging the ends of the pin.
A common complaint about brass punches like the Grace GRPS8 is that they damage too easily. They're designed to be somewhat sacrificial for the sake of your workpiece's finish. The point of brass punches is to limit the chances that you'll dent or scratch something if you're using it on steel. To extend their life, you can use a steel starter and then finish off the pin with the brass punch. You should also never use brass pin punches on roll pins as the sharp pin will almost certainly damage the punch.
February 21, 2019:
We started by adding two Starrett models right off the bat, because they are widely known for their reliability and durability, which more than make up for their higher price. The one grumble that's occasionally voiced regarding the ever-popular Starrett 8-Piece is that the case is plastic rather than some other more elegant material, such as wood, but this is a small annoyance that in no way affects the quality of the actual punches. For those who really, really want a different storage option, though, the Tekton Gunsmith Set is a fine alternative that would look great on just about any workbench. On the less expensive side there are the Wheeler Engineering Starter and the Astro 16-Piece, but they're probably best for light-duty use; those who work in industrial environments way want to steer clear.