The Best Snap Ring Pliers

Snap ring pliers are one of those tools that do a very specific job and you won’t need very often. But when you need them you’re happy you have them. You also need a high quality pair that won’t be loose or cause problems.

With numerous inexpensive but lower quality products on the market, this article will serve as a testament to the highest quality and best snap ring pliers available.

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What do you use Snap Ring Pliers for?

A snap ring or retaining ring is a type of fastener that is designed to keep a component on a shaft. It typically sits in a groove of the shaft and will keep the component attached without sliding off. Think of a gear attached to a shaft, a bearing, or even ratchet heads. Lawn mowers, engines, carts, dolly’s, anything with wheels may need a retaining ring.

If you do your own auto maintenance or work on your own car, there’s a good chance you’ll run in to a need for a set. You’ll find retaining rings inside engines, cylinders, clutches, and many other moving parts inside an engine.

For example, a clutch master cylinder has an internal retaining ring that keeps a rotating drive shaft in place. A steering assembly may have an external retaining ring to hold the assembly to the steering shaft. Retaining ring pliers are made specifically to remove these rings and need to be the right size.

Retaining rings typically are very small parts but they can handle a lot of pressure. If you try to remove them with any tool other than these specific pliers, you’ll find yourself in a losing battle. There’s always the right tool for the job and this is one of them.

What to Attributes to Look for

First, look for pliers with a fixed head, not interchangeable heads. The interchangeable head pliers try to be all things to all people. This can have negative consequences in that you may become frustrated when you can’t get the retaining rings off. The interchangeable heads will have too much play, won’t be as precise, and will be difficult to remove the rings. Many of these tools are stamped, not forged. They are also reversible for inside or outside rings. These types of tools are designed for sparing use.

Look for a set that has a range of sizes so you’ll have the right size when you need it. The retaining rings vary in size depending on the size of the shaft or shank that you’re removing the retaining ring from. So you never know what size you may run across or need.

Next, you’ll want to look for tapered jaws for better access to tight places. Sometimes the straight jaws can get in the way or you won’t be able to access the rings. Having a variety of straight, 45 degree, and 90 degree bends will give even greater flexibility. The straight style will allow you to reach deep in to the shaft area while the 45 or 90 won’t be able to reach that far. The 45 and 90 give extra visibility to your work area.

Also look for a product that has a variety of handle depths, typically from 6″ up to 25″.

Features and Benefits of the KNIPEX Snap Ring Pliers

  • Forged in German Vanadium steel, not stamped
  • Lightweight
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Tapered tips for easier access
  • Hot riveted joints for long life
  • Comfortable non-slip handles

Special Feature

KNIPEX chose to make a custom vanadium steel alloy over a stamped tool for better durability. This choice allows them to offer a lifetime warranty because they are so confident in the quality of the metal. This type of steel alloy can be treated by heat, has a high ratio of strength to weight, resist corrosion, has an increased hardness, and is the perfect material for high quality pliers.

Review of KNIPEX Snap Ring Pliers

Company Profile

Carl Gustav Putsch started a small forge in 1882 making carpenter’s pincers in his basement. In 1942 the company started using the KNIPEX brand. They’ve grown slowly and methodically since then and are now in over 100 countries. Rather than spreading the company over various product groups, KNIPEX focuses on one product group: pliers. This advantage provides benefits in quality and performance. They do one thing and they do that one thing very well.

Where does KNIPEX make pliers?

KNIPEX proudly manufactures pliers in Wuppertal, Germany. They source materials sustainably with ecologically friendly methods.

Curated Independent Reviews

I have learned to appreciate good snap ring pliars. Not going to name a brand. But multi purpose ones, are not soo good.

dogboystoy on reddit

Proto and knipex make some nice ones. If you use them a decent amount don’t buy cheap ones or you’re just asking to lose an eye.

[deleted] on reddit

Bad snap ring pliers are so frustrating. I bought some that were like $15 a pair a while back; the tips bent over like butter the first time I went to use them.

I threw my hands up and bought an OTC set. Used them a bunch since then, no worries.

NeatHedgehog on reddit

In Conclusion

If you’re looking for a commercial grade snap ring pliers set, this is product that you’ll need to purchase only once in your life. As mentioned above, look for a lifetime warranty, a variety of sizes, and a high quality set that will last you a long time. This is one of the best brands on the market.