Needle-nose pliers have pointy, long-jawed pliers that can reach into extremely tight places. They can also help you get a grip on tiny objects at awkward angles. Needle-nose pliers are a go-to when you’re faced with small jobs that require precision.
When it comes to choosing the best needle-nose pliers, all things are not equal. Some pliers use stronger materials, while others may have built-in features that come in handy in a pinch. If you’re looking for your first pair of needle-nose pliers, or it’s just time that you replace your old, worn-out set, make sure you invest in a high-quality product that will last you years. This guide will help you find the best needle-nose pliers for your toolbox.
- BEST OVERALL: KNIPEX Tools Long Nose Pliers with Cutter, 8 Inch
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: IRWIN VISE-GRIP Long Nose Pliers
- BEST EXTRA LONG: Channellock 738 8-Inch Needle Nose Long Reach Plier
- BEST BENT NEEDLE NOSE: TEKTON 6-Inch 70-Degree Bent Long Nose Pliers
- BEST SET: Neiko 02105A 11″ Long Nose Plier Kit
- BEST FOR FISHING: KastKing Cutthroat 7” Fishing Pliers
- BEST FOR ELECTRICIANS: Klein Tools D203-8N Long Nose Pliers, 8-Inch
What to Look for When Buying Needle-Nose Pliers
While needle-nose pliers are pretty common, quality isn’t always a guarantee. Purchasing a low-quality pair may lead to frustration and marred workpieces. You’ll also end up replacing them far sooner than if you bought a top-quality set. To choose the best needle-nose pliers, look for helpful features, the right type of jaws and materials, and other considerations listed below.
Length isn’t an indication of quality, but it can contribute to convenience. Needle-nose pliers come in many lengths, as small as 4 inches and up to a foot. Choosing the best needle-nose pliers length depends on the intended use.
Folks that work in tight confines like cars and computer towers may prefer longer pliers. There are 8-inch long pliers that can reach into a narrow area where their hand won’t fit. Electricians, on the other hand, who keep their pliers in a tool pouch or back pocket, would benefit from something more compact. A standard length of around 6 inches is likely suitable. These pliers are suitable for reaching in electrical boxes or looping wires.
Needle-nose pliers come in a few different materials, and these materials are the main factor in the type of quality you can expect. Low-quality steel pliers with a chrome finish won’t last long. In contrast, a stronger material like nickel-chromium steel will outlast and outperform most other materials.
It might seem that you can get away with a cheaper set of needle-nose pliers since you use them less often than a pair of adjustable pliers. However, the opposite is true. Needle-nose pliers have very little surface area to grip a fastener or object, so they must grip it firmly. Lesser-quality needle-nose pliers’ teeth or cross-hatching will degrade far quicker than a high-end pair.
Depending on the project, you may want a little more from a pair of needle-nose pliers. Luckily, manufacturers are very good at including an extra feature or two that can boost the usefulness of your pliers.
Wire cutters, crimpers, and wire strippers are common features you may find built into the pliers. These features allow a pair of needle-nose pliers to tackle a few different jobs without needing to swap them out for another tool. You can cut, crimp, loop, and fasten a wire to a terminal with one pair of pliers, essentially doing the job of three or four different tools.
Before choosing a pair of needle-nose pliers, you should consider the jaw style that you’ll find most helpful. Whether it’s a straight needle nose, a pair of bent jaws, or a set with grooves that grab fish hooks, you should choose the right style of needle-nose jaw for your needs.
Most will do fine with a standard set of needle-nose pliers with straight jaws, but some tradespeople may prefer other styles. For instance, a mechanic may prefer a set of bent pliers that allow them to hold a fastener securely without their hand blocking the line of sight.
If you love to fish, choose a pair of needle-nose pliers explicitly designed for fishing. These pliers have long, thin jaws with grooves for gripping hooks. Since these pliers don’t see a lot of rotational force, they can be thinner and fit into a fish’s mouth or gills easily.
When you need to get a solid grip on a nut, bolt, or nail, you’re going to have to exert a bit of force on the handle. Choosing a pair of pliers with cushioned grips or non-slip handles might be the way to go.
Manufacturers coat their handles or use over-molded grips to provide a non-slip and cushioned handle. These grips allow you to use a pair of pliers in different scenarios without much pain or discomfort.
A cushioned grip comes in handy when you’re cutting wire all day. While copper tends to be easy to cut through, stubborn steel wire like the type used for fencing can be a challenge. Cushioned grips are essential for those types of projects.
When it comes to hand tools, prices are relative. What’s “affordable” to a tradesperson may seem excessive to a homeowner. The reality is, however, that most quality tools require an investment.
When it comes to needle-nose pliers, you can find options from as low as a few dollars to as much as $100. Where a set of pliers falls on this range often has to do with materials and quality. Still, there are plenty of durable, well-made pliers in the middle of the range that won’t break the bank. There are a few high-quality models at the low end as well—you just need to know what to look for.
Our Top Picks
These needle-nose pliers are all standouts in their respective categories, providing plenty of value and function.
KNIPEX made their name producing top-quality pliers, and their needle-nose pliers are a great example of why they’re so highly regarded. This set of 8-inch needle-nose pliers has serrated jaws to create as much grip as possible on small fasteners, as well as a cutting surface for slicing through wires and cables. KNIPEX makes these tools with Vanadium steel, then oil-hardens and tempers them for long-lasting strength and durability.
The tips of these KNIPEX pliers also have more elasticity than other models, allowing them to retain their shape even under considerable twisting pressure. While this set of pliers may not have a ton of bells and whistles, it will outlast and outperform other models, even those with a higher price tag.
You don’t have to go into the red to find a perfectly serviceable pair of needle-nose pliers. This high-quality option from IRWIN VISE-GRIP has plenty of features, including a comfortable over-molded grip, a cutting edge, and serrated jaws, making them more useful than some pliers costing three times as much.
These IRWIN pliers are nickel-chromium steel, so they’re strong, durable, and aren’t likely to rust on you, providing years of penny-pinching service. Their 6-inch length makes them a good option for carrying in a tool pouch or on your belt on a job site or while working around the house.
Channellock is one of the notable names in the hand tool business, producing top quality pliers for DIYers and tradespeople alike. These 8-inch needle-nose pliers are a great choice for anyone looking for a durable set of pliers with a little extra reach. These pliers use high-carbon C1080 steel for plenty of strength and an electronic coating to reduce the risk of rust.
The cross-hatch machined jaws on the Channellock pliers provide lots of grip, especially when tightening a stubborn fastener. The coated grip is soft, comfortable, and non-slip, allowing you to work all day without tiring or losing a handle on your project. The long reach makes these pliers ideal for grabbing fallen items where hands can’t fit, as well as for holding nuts and bolts in awkward positions.
While bent needle-nose pliers aren’t always the right tool for the job, there are certain scenarios where they’re one of the only tools that can get the job done. If you’re completing a project that requires you to see what you’re doing, like picking up a small screw or grabbing the right wires, the TEKTON bent long nose pliers could be the ticket.
These 6-inch pliers, bent at 70 degrees, allow you to reach around obstructions or focus on what you’re doing without blocking your view with your hand. The non-slip handles provide grip on the tool, while the cross-hatch jaws offer plenty of grip on the fastener or wire. TEKTON designed these pliers to be thin and low-profile as well, allowing you to tuck them into some tight spots.
If you’re just building your toolset, this set of pliers from Neiko is worth checking into. This set of four pliers comes with two 11-inch long needle-nose pliers for standard gripping needs. It also comes with 45-degree and 90-degree bent needle-nose pliers, allowing you to grab hold of objects in awkward positions. They’ve got comfortable nonslip grips as well. This set of pliers is a great deal at this price, and it’s even better with a set of cutting teeth on one of the straight pliers, providing more capability than two identical straight needle-nose pliers.
When the open water calls, be sure to bring the KastKing Cutthroat needle-nose pliers along. These 7-inch fishing pliers are full of features, such as a split-shot crimper, a line cutter, and holes for tightening your knots safely without hooking yourself. They also have long serrated jaws, which allow you to reach deep into a fish’s mouth or through the gills to remove stubborn hooks.
The spring-loaded handles on these pliers make for easy one-handed use, while the rubber handles stay grippy even when wet or covered in mud. The Cutthroat also comes with a nylon sheath and lanyard, helping you keep these pliers on hand, or hip, whenever a big one bites.
A budding electrician needs a great set of needle-nose pliers to throw in the tool pouch. If that’s you, the D203-8N Long Nose Pliers from Klein are worth considering. These 8-inch pliers have bright yellow non-slip grips, allowing you to find them in a tool bag quickly—a real benefit on a busy job site. They also have cutting edges to shorten wires and built-in strippers to speed up the wiring process. The jaws feature a cross-hatch pattern, giving you a firm grip on many different materials. You’ll also be able to bend neat hooks and loops in the end of your wires with the rounded jaws.
FAQs About Your New Needle-Nose Pliers
There’s a bit of a learning curve with needle-nose pliers, and you may have some questions about your new pair. Here are some commonly asked questions about these tools and their answers.
Q. How do you strip wire with needle-nose pliers?
Place the wire between the cutting jaws and lightly squeeze the grips to penetrate the wire’s coating (without cutting the wire). Then spin the pliers around the wire to cut through the entire jacket.
Q. How do you fix needle-nose pliers?
If your needle-nose pliers break, you shouldn’t try fixing them. They’ll never work as well as they did from the factory. They could also become somewhat dangerous, causing blood-blisters or cutting into your skin if they fail again.
Q. Are long-nose and needle-nose pliers the same?
“Long-nose” and “needle-nose” pliers are technically the same, though true needle-nose pliers tend to be thinner than long-nose options. Today, however, the two terms are fairly interchangeable.