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10 Best Snap Ring Pliers in 2021 – Reviews & Top Picks

using WORKPRO W001331A Snap Ring Pliers

Snap ring pliers sometimes feel like a blast from the past. After all, these were a staple of your dad’s toolbox back in the day. Now, however, it is very difficult to find the pliers you need.

The good news is that you don’t have to track down pliers from yesteryear. Instead, you can check out our reviews of modern pliers that you can order today. We delve into the pros and cons of each model to let you know what’s worth your money.

Between these reviews and our buyer’s guide, you can find answers to all of your most pressing snap ring plier questions. Without further ado, let’s dive right into the review roundup!

A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Channellock 927 Snap Ring Plier Channellock 927 Snap Ring Plier
  • Versatile
  • Durable
  • Heavy-duty spring
  • Best Value
    Second place
    WORKPRO W001331A Snap Ring Pliers WORKPRO W001331A Snap Ring Pliers
  • Durable construction
  • Internal and external uses
  • Convenient pouch to organize everything
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    Neiko 02130A Snap Ring Plier Set Neiko 02130A Snap Ring Plier Set
  • Versatile
  • Spring ratchet system
  • Large and strong
  • IRWIN VISE-GRIP Convertible Snap Pliers IRWIN VISE-GRIP Convertible Snap Pliers
  • Versatile
  • Interchangeable tips
  • Ergonomic handle
  • Lang Tools 3495 Snap Ring Pliers Set Lang Tools 3495 Snap Ring Pliers Set
  • 12 plier set
  • Versatile design
  • Durable
  • The 10 Best Snap Ring Pliers – Reviews 2021

    1. Channellock 927 Snap Ring Plier – Best Overall

    Nobody understands that “time is money” more than a handyman. And if you’re shopping for snap ring pliers, chances are that you want us to cut to the chase. If you’re looking for our best overall pick, look no further than the Channellock 927 Snap Ring Plier.

    We loved that this model came with five different interchangeable tips, and this greatly adds to the versatility and durability of the tool. That durability is enhanced by the sturdy Channellock design, right down to the heavy-duty spring for extra power. If that’s not enough, you can swap between internal and external modes simply by pressing a switch.

    Honestly, there is only one drawback to this tool. Compared to other pliers, it is a bit bulky and wide. That means you can’t use it for certain jobs such as automotive work.

    Pros
    • Versatile
    • Durable
    • Heavy-duty spring
    • Internal and external modes
    Cons
    • Overly bulky and wide

    2. WORKPRO W001331A Snap Ring Pliers – Best Value

    WORKPRO W001331A Snap Ring Pliers

    Not every handyman is working with the same budget when shopping for pliers. If you’re shopping on a tighter budget, chances are you are looking for the best snap ring pliers for the money. In our opinion, the best value pick is the WORKPRO W001331A Snap Ring Pliers.

    In addition to the awesome price, this purchase brings you an entire set of possibilities. The hardened CR-v construction makes them nice and sturdy and the 4-piece set gives you internal and external options. Finally, the polyester rollup pouch helps you keep everything organized.

    Why, though, are these our “best value” pick instead of “best overall?” The plier tips bend a bit too easily, and some users report the tips being a bit too bulky for their particular needs.

    Pros
    • Solid price
    • Durable construction
    • Internal and external uses
    • Convenient pouch to organize everything
    Cons
    • Tips bend too easily
    • Tips may be too bulky for your needs

    3. Neiko 02130A Snap Ring Plier Set – Premium Choice

    Neiko 02130A Snap Ring Plier Set

    It’s an open secret that a bigger budget usually gets you better tools, especially with snap ring pliers. If you’ve got the extra cash, what is the best premium choice you can make? For us, it didn’t get better than the Neiko 02130A Snap Ring Plier Set.

    What does that extra money get you? In this case, you get interchangeable tips that allow you to work at 45-degree and 90-degree angles. The spring ratchet system helps hold everything in place during use and allows you to use other (non-standard) circlips as needed.  Finally, these large pliers are quite strong and help you apply force as much force as you need.

    What are the downsides, then? In addition to the costly price, these pliers can still break under certain conditions (like when you have stuck circlips). If this happens, you may end up wishing you’d gotten something cheaper!

    Pros
    • Versatile
    • Spring ratchet system
    • Large and strong
    Cons
    • Expensive
    • More fragile than you may think

    4. IRWIN VISE-GRIP Convertible Snap Pliers

    IRWIN VISE-GRIP Convertible Snap Pliers

    When it comes to which pliers are best, the honest answer usually comes down to what you need the pliers for. And the IRWIN VISE-GRIP Convertible Snap Pliers are a good example of tools that work better for some tasks than others.

    Like some of the best models on our list, these pliers let you easily switch from internal to external use, making this a versatile choice. And that versatility continues with the convenient interchangeable tips (though there are only two of them). Thanks to the ergonomic handle, you may soon discover this is one of the most comfortable tools you’ve ever held.

    Why is this tool not higher on our list, then? The pliers aren’t very strong, making them more suited for smaller jobs than larger ones (this is compounded by the fact that the pliers don’t open very wide nor close very tightly). Ultimately, this tool is good for certain tasks but not others.

    Pros
    • Versatile
    • Interchangeable tips
    • Ergonomic handle
    Cons
    • Weak pliers
    • Best for smaller jobs

    5. Lang Tools 3495 Snap Ring Pliers Set

    Lang Tools 3495 Snap Ring Pliers Set

    Before buying, you need to ask yourself what you really want out of your snap ring pliers. If you’d like to get many pliers all at once, then the Lang Tools 3495 Snap Ring Pliers Set may be a solid choice.

    You get 12 pliers in this set, and that eclipses most of the options on this list. And those pliers provide variety, allowing you to work at both 45- and 90-degree angles.  The tools are sturdy and durable, and you can keep everything organized in the convenient carrying case.

    There is only one real drawback to these tools, but it’s a bit one: the internal to external switching is likely to malfunction on you. When this happens, the only real way to fix it is to tear the entire tool apart. Depending on how often you need to switch the functions on your pliers, this can be a real dealbreaker.

    Pros
    • 12 plier set
    • Versatile design
    • Durable
    Cons
    • The internal/external switching often malfunctions

    6. CRAFTSMAN CMMT14115 Snap Ring Pliers Set

    CRAFTSMAN CMMT14115 Snap Ring Pliers Set

    The CRAFTSMAN CMMT14115 Snap Ring Pliers Set kicks off the back half of our list, but does this set live up to the CRAFTSMAN name? Honestly, this set is perfectly average: no more, no less.

    We liked the versatile design, including the interchangeable heads that allow you to work at 45- and 90-degree angles. And while these pliers are good for most tasks, they are designed (at least on paper) for automotive work. Finally, you get additional peace of mind with your purchase thanks to the full lifetime warranty.

    What are the drawbacks? The plier studs are small enough that you might have trouble keeping the snap rings open. And some users report that the circlips are actually too small for anything over 1 inch in diameter, meaning these tools don’t actually work very well for automotive work.

    Pros
    • Good price
    • Versatile design
    • Lifetime warranty
    Cons
    • Plier studs are too small
    • Circlips are too small for most automotive work

    7. ABN 8499 Snap Ring Pliers Set

    ABN 8499 Snap Ring Pliers Set

    At first glance, the ABN 8499 Snap Ring Pliers Set looks like a great value. But you may want to check all the fine print before you buy this big set of tools.

    First, the stuff we liked: this set comes with 11 pieces, which gives you a lot of value for your purchase. And the ergonomic, non-slip grip is very impressive. The heavy-duty storage case is good, too–much sturdier than the small pouches that other sets come with.

    What did we not like, though? Some users report that the sizing is off on some of the pieces. And certain aspects of the design, from the handle of the case to the steel of the pliers, is of a lower-quality than you might expect.

    Pros
    • 11-piece set
    • Ergonomic, non-slip grip
    • Heavy-duty case
    Cons
    • Incorrect size descriptions
    • Cheaper, lower-quality design

    8. Cal Hawk Tools CPLSR11P Snap Ring Pliers

    Cal Hawk Tools CPLSR11P Snap Ring Pliers

    The Cal Hawk Tools CPLSR11P Snap Ring Pliers provide another 11-piece set that looks really good on paper. But we found it to be even more disappointing than the ABN set.

    Some of it was pretty good. For example, the inclusion of straight and 90-degree pliers gives the set some versatility, and the whole thing is affordable enough that you won’t break the bank when buying it. Unfortunately, there are several downsides you need to consider.

    First of all, the included tools tend to break very quickly after use. And since there is no spring to bear any of the load, these pliers are hard to use. Finally, there is poor quality control, with some buyers receiving tools that are broken right out of the box.

    Pros
    • Good price
    • Versatile
    Cons
    • Tools break easily
    • Poor quality control
    • Hard to use

    9. Astro Pneumatic Tool 94222 Snap Ring Pliers

    Astro Pneumatic Tool 94222 Snap Ring Pliers

    The Astro Pneumatic Tool 94222 Snap Ring Pliers may look like simple tools that are up to the task. In reality, these tools are going to disappoint you more often than not.

    There are a couple of things about these pliers we liked. This includes the hardened chrome Vanadium for added durability and the versatility of the internal and external 45- and 90-degree pliers.

    What were the issues, then? Some users found the snap ring pliers a bit too large, and the closing zipper on the case is cheap and hard to use. Finally, the pliers snap off way too easily.

    Pros
    • Durable
    • Versatile
    Cons
    • Pliers too large
    • Closing zipper doesn’t work well
    • Pliers easily break

    10. GEARWRENCH 82033 Double-X External Snap Ring Pliers

    GEARWRENCH 82033 Double-X External Snap Ring Pliers

    The GEARWRENCH 82033 Double-X External Snap Ring Pliers is at the bottom of our list, but does it belong at the bottom of your toolbox? In reality, it’s best to skip buying this one altogether.

    It has some good qualities, of course. We enjoyed the dual-dipped grips for better comfort and better grip. And the fact that the jaws open wider than the handle gives it some added versatility, especially in tighter areas.

    What were the drawbacks? Some users report that the handle breaks off very easily and that the actual pliers are quite flimsy. Finally, the tips tend to slip off the snap ring, and this can greatly affect how productive you are with these tools.

    Pros
    • Dual-dipped grips
    • Good in tight places
    Cons
    • Handle breaks easily
    • Flimsy construction
    • Tips tend to slip off

    Buyer’s Guide

    Have you decided on the best snap ring pliers yet? Making the right decision can be pretty difficult. With any luck, our reviews have helped you figure out what you are looking for.

    However, it would be understandable if you still had some questions. That’s why we put together our comprehensive buyer’s guide to snap ring pliers. After you complete this guide, you’ll be ready to order your pliers and get started on your next project.

    Circlips: Internal vs External

    Choosing the right tool often involves working your way backward. For example, you need to determine what you want pliers for before you decide on the best pair of pliers. And that means taking a closer look at the circlips.

    There are two kinds of circlips: internal and external. Internal snap rings are designed for (what else?) operating your internal snap rings. Conversely, external snap rings are designed for external circlips.

    Internal pliers are more user-friendly for the average handyman because they operate much like any other plier. That means that you close the handles to close the jaws. Furthermore, these pliers are optimal for use on circlips that are located inside bores.

    External pliers work the opposite way. That means that you open the jaws by closing the handles. With these pliers, you can easily work with snap rings that are fitted around shafts.

    You might need different kinds of pliers for different kinds of tasks. But if you only have one type of use in mind, we recommend going with the plier that is best suited to your needs.

    Plier Size

    Handymen love to joke about whether “size matters” or not. When it comes to pliers, though, size very much does matter!

    You are buying pliers to work with snap rings. As you might imagine, the size of the snap rings determines the size of the pliers in question.

    When choosing pliers, check out what the smallest and largest circlip diameter is that it can handle. Factors like jaw spread ultimately affect how versatile your pliers really are.

    How do you pick the right size of pliers for your needs? Once again, it all comes down to working backward. Determine the size of the rings you will be working with and choose pliers that can handle all of the ring sizes in question.

    Long story short? The wider the range of the pliers, the more tasks they can handle. But sometimes the widest ranges and best performance come with a premium price tag. As usual, you must determine whether these different bells and whistles are worth paying a higher amount.

    Ring Position

    Earlier, we talked about the importance of ring sizes when it comes to the pliers you choose. Just as important as the size of the rings, though, is the ring location.

    For example, rings are sometimes located deep within certain areas. This is most common when you are working with a hydraulic system or a transmission system. If you know ahead of time that you’re dealing with rings that may be hidden deep within one of these areas, then you need to choose pliers that will have an easier time reaching them.

    In that instance, you will likely need long nose pliers to get the job done. In other cases, you might need angled pliers or pliers with straight tips.

    If you’re like most handymen, there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to ideal pliers. Your best bet is to get a wide variety of pliers (possibly from a good plier set) so that you are covered in the event of different plier needs.

    Overall Strength

    Generally speaking, you want pliers that are strong and reliable. But when it comes to strong pliers, there are a few different factors you need to take under consideration.

    The first factor is the body of the pliers. If the body is made of a material like chromium vanadium or stainless steel, then it should be strong enough to withstand intense pressure. That means that you don’t have to worry about it breaking on you when you least expect it.

    The second major factor is the tips. If the tips are flimsy, then it doesn’t matter how sturdy and durable the rest of the pliers are.

    The third and final major factor is the plier handles. You want pliers that have rubber or another tough material coating the handles. Ideally, the handles will also have sturdy grips that add further protection when you are putting the pliers through their paces.

    man using IRWIN VISE-GRIP Convertible Snap Pliers

    Snap Ring Types and Features

    Earlier, we talked about how the different snap ring pliers can be broken down into two types: internal and external pliers. But different pliers come with various features that may appeal to you. We’re going to take a brief tour of these different features and what they mean for your needs.

    Internal Retaining Ring Pliers

    What are internal retaining rings? These are the rings located within bores. And internal retaining ring pliers are designed to work with these specific rings. As we noted before, the jaws of these pliers close when you close the handles.

    External Retaining Ring Pliers

    External retaining rings refers to rings fitted around a shaft. And external retaining ring pliers are designed to both install and remove these particular rings.

    Unlike internal ring pliers, external pliers will open their jaws when you close the handles (and vice versa).

    Reversible Snap Ring Pliers

    Reversible snap ring pliers sometimes go by other names. Some handymen refer to these pliers as “adjustable” or “convertible” pliers. All of these terms ultimately describe the same thing: pliers that can switch between internal and external functions.

    With some reversible pliers, you can switch modes with a simple lever. Others may require you to open bolts and screw them into different holes, which obviously takes a bit more time than using a lever.

    Angled Pliers

    Many pliers feature angled tips. Generally speaking, these pliers will bend at 45-degree angles or 90-degree angles.

    Angled tips are great if you’re working with circlips in tight and/or narrow spaces. A good rule of thumb is this: if the straight pliers aren’t working, you need angled pliers to get the job done.

    Straight Tip Plier

    It doesn’t get any more straightforward (no pun intended) than this. A straight tip plier is a plier with straight tips, and this is usually ideal for reaching into shafts or other longer spaces.

    Long Nose Pliers

    Long nose pliers are those that have longer jaws with a bent to them. And these pliers get their name from the long distance between the bend and the tip.

    If you are accessing a ring in a tight space and angled pliers aren’t doing the trick, long nose pliers may work better.

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    Conclusion

    Now that you’ve read our reviews and buyer’s guide, you should have answers to most of your questions. Now, we just need to answer one more question: which snap ring pliers did we like the most?

    In terms of best overall pick, we’re sticking to the Channellock 927 Snap Ring Plier. It provided a lot of versatility and strength when we needed it the most.

    In terms of best value, our pick is the WORKPRO W001331A Snap Ring Pliers. You get a great price without making a great compromise, and you’ll ultimately be laughing all the way to the bank.

    While these pliers worked best for us, only you can determine what will work best for you. But one thing is for sure: once you have some good snap ring pliers in hand, your work is going to be easier than ever!

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