The Best Needle-Nose Pliers of 2022

Needle-nose pliers offer extended reach for grasping in tight spots. We tested the top needle-nose pliers on the market—find out which models fared the best.

By Tom Scalisi and Glenda Taylor | Updated Jul 27, 2022 8:13 AM

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The Best Needle-Nose Plier Options

Photo: Glenda Taylor

Needle-nose pliers have long, pointy jaws for reaching into narrow or tight spots, such as the backs of electrical outlet boxes or crevices in car engines. They can also help users get a grip on tiny objects at awkward angles. These spiked grasping tools are a go-to when faced with small jobs that require precision. But which models perform the best? That was our question, and the only way to get an accurate answer was to test today’s top contenders ourselves.

So that’s what we did. We selected the best-selling needle-nose pliers on the market and put them through their paces. We didn’t pull any punches and we didn’t give them any slack. We grasped frozen nuts and exerted as much twisting force as we could muster. We jabbed the needle noses into impossibly tight spots, and we used them to bend and twist wires and cables. When we finished testing, we examined the tools to determine whether the jaws were still in alignment.

Ahead, learn what to look for when shopping for the best needle-nose pliers, and find out how the following models earned a spot on our lineup.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Knipex Tools 8-Inch Long Nose Pliers with Cutter
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Irwin Vise-Grip Long Nose Pliers
  3. BEST EXTRA-LONG: Knipex Tools Extra-Long Needle Nose Pliers
  4. BEST BENT NEEDLE-NOSE: Tekton 6-Inch 70-Degree Bent Long Nose Pliers
  5. BEST SET: Sunex 3706V 16-Inch Long Reach Plier Set
  6. BEST FOR FISHING: Zacx Fishing Pliers Fish Lip Gripper, Upgraded
  7. BEST FOR ELECTRICAL WORK: Kobalt Electrical Long Nose Pliers With Wire Cutter
The Best Needle-Nose Plier Options

Photo: Glenda Taylor

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Needle-Nose Pliers

Not all needle-nose pliers are created equally. Some use stronger materials, while others may have built-in features that come in handy in a pinch. Whether looking for a first pair of needle-nose pliers or ready to replace an old, worn-out set, make sure to invest in a high-quality product that will last for years.

Length

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 who work in tight confines such as cars and computer towers often prefer longer models, such as 8-inch-long pliers, which can reach into a narrow area where a hand won’t fit. Electricians, on the other hand, who keep their pliers in a tool pouch or back pocket, may benefit from something shorter or more compact.

Material

Needle-nose pliers come in a few different materials, and materials are the main factor when it comes to quality. Pliers made of low-quality steel with a chrome finish won’t last long. In contrast, a stronger alloy steel that combines additional elements, such as nickel chromium, to the steel will outlast and outperform most other materials.

It may seem that users can get away with a cheaper set of needle-nose pliers since they use them less often than a pair of adjustable pliers. However, the opposite is often 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 more quickly than those on a high-end pair.

Features

Depending on the project, consumers may want a little more from a pair of needle-nose pliers. Luckily, manufacturers often include an extra feature or two that can boost usefulness. Wire cutters, crimpers, and wire strippers are commonly built into these 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. 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.

Jaws

Before choosing a pair of needle-nose pliers, consider the jaw style that is most helpful. Whether it’s a straight needle-nose, a pair of bent jaws, or a set with grooves to grab fish hooks, users should select the right style jaw for their needs.

Most DIYers will do fine with a standard set of needle-nose pliers with straight jaws, but some tradespeople may prefer other styles. For instance, mechanics may want a set of bent pliers that allow them to hold a fastener securely without their hands blocking the line of sight.

Folks who love to fish often opt for needle-nose pliers explicitly designed for this pastime. These pliers have long, thin jaws with grooves for gripping hooks. These pliers don’t see a lot of rotational force, so they can be thinner and will fit into a fish’s mouth or gills easily.

Handle

When a solid grip on a nut, bolt, or nail is needed, users are going to have to exert a bit of force on the handle. Choosing a pair of pliers with cushioned grips and/or nonslip handles may be the way to go.

Manufacturers coat their handles or use over-molded grips to provide a nonslip and cushioned handle. These grips allow folks to use a pair of pliers in different scenarios without much pain or discomfort.

A cushioned grip will feel like a blessing when cutting wire all day. Copper tends to be easy to cut through, but stubborn steel wire such as the type used for fencing can be a challenge. Cushioned grips are essential for those types of projects.

Price

When it comes to hand tools, prices are relative. What’s “affordable” to a tradesperson may seem excessive to a DIYer. The reality is, however, that most quality tools require an investment.

When it comes to needle-nose pliers, there are 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, middle-range pliers, as well as a few high-quality models at the low end. To find these, shoppers must know what to look for.

The Best Needle-Nose Plier Options

Photo: Glenda Taylor

Our Top Picks

These needle-nose pliers are all standouts in their respective categories, providing plenty of value and function for a variety of uses. Find out how each performed in our hands-on tests and learn both the pros and cons so you can make an educated shopping selection.

Best Overall

The Best Needle Nose Pliers Option: Knipex Tools 8-Inch Long Nose Pliers with Cutter
Photo: amazon.com

Knipex is known for producing top-notch traditional pliers, so we were excited to see what they offered in the way of long-nose pliers. This pair of 8-inch needle-nose pliers didn’t disappoint.

Right out of the package, the Knipex needle-nose pliers showed quality craftsmanship with precise-fitting jaws that weren’t even a hair out of alignment. We found the pliers to be comfortable in hand and well balanced. Knipex makes these tools of alloy steel, and they’re stamped as being manufactured in Germany, a country with a reputation for producing well-engineered items. The grips are coated with nonslip plastic that is smooth to the touch.

We used the Knipex needle-nose pliers to loosen stuck-on bolts that didn’t want to budge. The serrated teeth kept the jaws from slipping even under strong twisting pressure. We tested their cutting ability on a variety of wire sizes, and the Knipex snipped right through with ease. The tips of the jaws are also the perfect size for curling electrical wire to fit switch and outlet terminals.

After testing, we checked to see whether the jaws were still in alignment, and they hadn’t budged a bit, which was impressive. This pair of pliers may not have a ton of bells and whistles, but it will probably outlast and outperform other models, even those with a higher price tag. The only thing we feel would improve these top-notch needle-nose pliers would be spring-loaded capability, but it’s not a big downside.

Product Specs

  • Plier length: 8 inches
  • Material: Alloy steel with plastic-coated grips
  • Cutter: Yes

Pros

  • High-quality alloy steel
  • Precision-fitting serrated jaws
  • Smooth, nonslip grips

Cons

  • Not spring-loaded

Get the Knipex Tools 8-inch needle-nose pliers at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Northern Tool + Equipment.

Best Bang for the Buck

The Best Needle Nose Pliers Option: Irwin Vise-Grip Long Nose Pliers
Photo: amazon.com

Why break the bank on a perfectly serviceable pair of needle-nose pliers? This quality tool from Irwin has plenty of features, including a comfortable overmolded grip, a cutting edge, and serrated jaws, making it more useful than some pliers costing three times as much. And at 6 inches long, we found the Irwin needle-nose pliers just right for carrying in a pocket or tool pouch or, alternately, stowing in a portable tool box.

These Irwin pliers are alloy steel enhanced with nickel chromium, so they’re strong, durable, and unlikely to rust. On first examination, we found the serrated jaws to line up almost perfectly—not quite as precisely as our Best Overall pick, but still within what we would call a high-quality range. Only a hair’s breadth was visible between the closed jaws, making them well suited for grasping all but the finest wires.

The cutters on this pair of pliers are exceptionally precise, and we were able to cut both heavy- and fine-gauge wires (12 and 28 gauge). As with the other pliers we tested, we used the Irwin needle-nose pair to loosen stuck-on screws, and we tested their reach into tight spots. After testing, we found the jaw alignment had not been affected. In all, this is a decent pair of long-nose pliers that comes at an attractive price and should last for years.

Product Specs

  • Plier length: 6 inches
  • Material: Alloy steel with plastic-coated grips
  • Cutter: Yes

Pros

  • Alloy-steel construction
  • Compact size
  • Cutters included
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Not spring-loaded

Get the Irwin needle-nose pliers on Amazon or at Acme Tools.

Best Extra-Long

The Best Needle-Nose Plier Option: Knipex Tools Extra-Long Needle Nose Pliers
Photo: amazon.com

Sometimes it’s not possible to loosen a nut or grab and pull wiring because an average set of pliers just won’t reach. That’s when extra-long pliers, such as the Knipex 11.1-inch needle-nose pair, can save the day.

As with most Knipex tools, we found these extra-long pliers to be of high quality. They’re made of alloy steel that’s been hardened with the inclusion of chromium and vanadium, and their needle-nose jaws fit with virtual perfection—we were able to securely grasp even the finest, 30-gauge wire without any slipping.

The rounded, plastic-coated grips made it comfortable to use the pliers, even when exerting pressure as we twisted off stuck nuts. A slight downside is the lack of wire cutters on this model, but the inclusion of a serrated small-pipe gripper adds a beneficial element. We’d also put spring-loaded capability on our wish list, but for an extra-long pair of needle-nose pliers, it’s tough to beat this Knipex tool.

Product Specs

  • Plier length: 11.1 inches
  • Material: Alloy steel with plastic-coated grips
  • Cutter: No

Pros

  • Extra reach capability
  • Nonslip grips
  • Small pipe gripper
  • High-quality construction

Cons

  • Not spring-loaded
  • No cutter

Get the Knipex Tools extra-long needle-nose pliers on Amazon or MSC Industrial.

Best Bent Needle-Nose

The Best Needle Nose Pliers Option: Tekton 6-Inch 70-Degree Bent Long Nose Pliers
Photo: amazon.com

Though bent needle-nose pliers aren’t always ideal, there are certain scenarios in which they’re one of the only tools that can get the job done. The 70-degree angle on the jaws of these Tekton needle-nose pliers allowed us to reach around corners and bends to loosen out-of-the-way nuts.

We found the jaws on the Tekton pliers to be very precise and able to grasp the finest wires we had securely. Using the pliers, we were able to access a hard-to-reach nut tucked behind the flywheel on a shop machine that we couldn’t reach with straight pliers.

Still, uses for these pliers are limited because they can’t grab and twist in those tight spots where only straight pliers will fit. The plastic-coated grips are smooth and comfortable, and the serrated inside edges on the jaws offer additional gripping power. At just 6 inches long, these pliers fit perfectly into a pocket or tool pouch for easy access. The tool doesn’t come with cutters, but after our hands-on testing, the jaws were still in close alignment.

Product Specs

  • Plier length: 6 inches
  • Material: Steel
  • Cutter: No

Pros

  • Reach around obstructions
  • Precision jaws
  • Smooth-coated grips

Cons

  • Not spring-loaded
  • No cutter

Get the Tekton needle-nose pliers at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Lowe’s.

Best Set

The Best Needle-Nose Plier Option: Sunex 3706V 16-Inch Long Reach Plier Set
Photo: amazon.com

Some projects, such as working on engines or large motors, can be tricky without the tools needed to reach nuts, bolts, and wires located in deep, tight spots. Fortunately, the Sunex 4 Piece 16-Inch Long Reach Plier Set offers a workable solution.

We were impressed by the overall quality of this needle-nose plier set. It features four long-reach pliers that measure 16 inches long. One straight pair, a 20-degree offset pair, 45-degree bent-nose pair, and a 90-degree bent-nose pair. We were able to access every nook and cranny on a motorcycle engine by choosing one of the pliers in this set.

The grips are ergonomic and come with padded, nonslip coating that helped us get a firm grasp when reaching deep into the engine. The jaws on all the pairs matched precisely except the 20-degree offset pair, which didn’t fit as tightly as it should have—we were able to slide a wire between the jaws when closed. After testing, none of the jaws seemed to suffer from being used to grasp and twist frozen nuts. Overall, we deem this set of needle-nose pliers to be very suitable for working on motors and engines, and even for reaching around obstructions and in tight spots.

Product Specs

  • Plier length: 16 inches
  • Material: Alloy steel
  • Cutter: No

Pros

  • Extra-long reach
  • Variety of nose angles
  • High-quality steel
  • Comfort grips

Cons

  • Not spring-loaded
  • Jaws on 1 pair not precise

Get the Sunex needle-nose pliers at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Acme Tools.

Best for Fishing

The Best Needle-Nose Plier Option: Zacx Fishing Pliers Fish Lip Gripper, Upgraded
Photo: amazon.com

These are specialty pliers, so this is the only pair we didn’t test by twisting stuck-on nuts. Although they may be able to accomplish that in a pinch, they aren’t designed for that purpose. The Zacx pliers are made for fishing. So—lucky us!—that’s how we tested them.

The Zacx needle-nose pliers are spring-loaded, which makes them extra-handy, and they come with a lanyard that attaches them to a pouch, which can be worn on a belt. They proved to have extremely sharp cutters that sliced through both 10-pound and 50-pound braided fishing lines easily. The plier’s serrated jaws fit precisely, and they come with an overlapping notch at the tip that’s useful for opening the split rings found on bobbers and lures, making them well suited for changing lures before recasting.

These fishing pliers are also designed for removing a hook from a fish’s mouth. We didn’t even get a nibble the day we went out, so we couldn’t test that feature, but we did approach one angler as he was reeling in his catch and asked him to try it out. He did and said, “Those are really handy.” However, when we showed him the included lip-gripper, designed to hold a fish by its lip when opening its mouth to pull out the hook, his response was, “I wouldn’t give you a dime for that. A real fisherman would never use that.”

While some seasoned fishermen, like the angler we spoke to, may find the lip-gripper unnecessary, we really liked these needle-nose pliers, and we think the Zacx as a whole will be of great use to folks who like to fish.

Product Specs

  • Plier length: 7.28 inches
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Cutter: No

Pros

  • Lightweight, nonrust aluminum
  • Carry pouch with belt loop
  • Notch for opening slip rings
  • Spring-loaded

Cons

  • Grips are not nonslip

Get the Zacx needle-nose pliers on Amazon or Spectrum Warehouse.

Best for Electrical Work

The Best Needle-Nose Plier Option: Kobalt Electrical Long Nose Pliers With Wire Cutter
Photo: lowes.com

As DIYers who often do our own wiring, it’s not unusual for us to need a pair of long-reaching pliers and an additional pair of wire strippers. The Kobalt long-nose electrical pliers combine both tools into a single needle-nose pair of pliers.

The pliers measure 9.3 inches long and come with nonslip ergonomic grips that make them comfortable to use, even when exerting twisting pressure to loosen stuck fasteners. The serrated jaws fit tightly together without leaving any gaps. In addition, the pliers feature individual inner-jaw notches designed to strip insulated wires from 10 to 22 gauge in size. The Kobalt pliers also performed well for cutting various wire sizes with ease.

Though the Kobalt needle-nose pliers come spring-loaded, the spring is too small to open the pliers by itself. We found we still had to open as well as close the pliers manually. Still, this Lowe’s brand of pliers is among the best options for DIYers who perform wiring tasks. We were able to grab wires tucked at the back of an electrical box securely, cut wires to length, strip them, and even attach terminal fasteners by using the pliers’ crimping function.

In addition, we tested the pliers’ ability to shear small screws, and that also worked well. These are all-around pliers that will come in handy for wiring and other tasks.

Product Specs

  • Plier length: 9.3 inches
  • Material: Steel with plastic-coated grips
  • Cutter: Yes

Pros

  • Ergonomic, coated grips
  • Precision jaws
  • Strips wires
  • Shears screws

Cons

  • Undersize spring

Get the Kobalt needle-nose pliers at Lowe’s.

Our Verdict

All the needle-nose pliers that made our lineup are good options for accomplishing various household and DIY tasks, but our Best Overall pick, the Knipex Tools 8-inch needle-nose pliers, checks all the boxes. The tool is crafted of strong alloy steel, comes with precision jaws, and offers wire cutting. Our budget pick, the Irwin needle-nose pliers, provides quality features—including comfort grips, wire-cutting ability, and precision jaws—at an affordable price.

How We Tested the Best Needle-Nose Pliers

Although standard pliers are more versatile than needle-nose models because they offer a larger jaw surface for grabbing frozen nuts and pipes, sometimes only a long-reach pair of pliers will do. We selected the needle-nose pliers for testing from among the top sellers on the market to see which ones really lived up to the hype.

We tested each pair of needle-nose pliers for durability, comfort, and function. Except for the pair we chose for fishing, the Zacx needle-nose pliers, we tested each model by gripping and twisting off stuck-on nuts. This created intense torque pressure on the handles and jaws of the pliers (and on our hands), and we then inspected the tools to ensure that the jaws were still in alignment.

We examined the overall quality of the pliers and tested any additional functions they offered, such as wire cutting, wire stripping, and shearing of small screws. During each phase of the testing, we awarded points via a rubric, depending on how well the pliers performed. At the end of the tests, we added up the points and used them to help determine the categories and awards for each model.

FAQs

There can be a bit of a learning curve with needle-nose pliers, and shoppers may want further info about their new pair. Here are some commonly asked questions about these tools and their answers.

Q. How is wire stripped 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, and pull the jacket off with the serrated jaws of the pliers.

Q. Can broken needle-nose pliers be repaired?

It’s frustrating when tools fail, but we don’t recommend trying to fix broken needle-nose pliers. They’ll never work as well as they did from the factory. Worse, they could also become somewhat dangerous, causing blood blisters or cutting into 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.