The 5 Best Snap Ring Pliers [Ranked]
Snap-ring pliers are engineered to both remove as well as to install snap rings. You may not use them a lot, but when you need one, they're really the only tool to get the job done.
They work on snap (or retaining) rings, which are fasteners that hold assembles or components onto a shaft or in a housing when it is installed within a machined groove (Wikipedia).
Retaining ring pliers are specialty tools that have a highly specific function. Mechanics, service professionals, electricians and even some home repair do-it-yourself types say that without this specific tool it is nearly impossible to either install or remove a snap ring (Home Depot).
Unfortunately, most of these specialty tools are junk that don't survive (poorly) executing one retaining ring installation or removal. The one exception is the USA-Made Channellock pliers, which is why it's our top pick.
Snap Ring Plier Buying Considerations
- Is it USA-made? (The Channellock is.)
- # of included interchangeable tips
- Is it built for internal and external ring installation/removal?
- Will it survive more than one use?
Our Top Pick: The Channellock Retaining Ring Pliers
- QUICK CONVERSION by a simple switch of the tab, easily remove or apply both internal and external rings
These Channellock pliers are American-made and are designed for internal and external snap ring installation or removal.
They're the most durable and easily-used snap ring pliers of the options we examined.
Not cheap, Chinese-made junk, but not the most expensive option either- a solid middle ground. You can easily switch from from external to external rings with a toggle of the tabbed switch. It ships with five pairs of color-coded interchangeable tips.
Channellock Product Specs
- External 1/4" to 2"
- Internal use: 3/8" to 2"
- Ships with the following tips: .039, .047, .074 (straight); and .039, .047 (90°)
Let's take a look at 5 of the best-selling options on the market and see how they compare.
- For internal and external use, eliminating the need for 2 sets of pliers
- 【Package Include】- The snap ring pliers set includes 4pcs 7" internal/external circlip pliers, they are 1pc straight internal snap ring pliers, 1pc 90-degree angled internal snap ring pliers, 1pc straight external snap ring pliers and 1pc 90-degree angled external snap ring pliers
- External: 1/8" to 1", Internal: 1/4" to 1" Includes tips: .023, .039, .047 straight and .039, .047, 90°
- VERSATILE SNAP RING PLIER SET: The Performance Tool W1159 5-Piece Interchangeable Jaw Snap Ring Plier Set includes 4 tip assemblies and pliers with 90-degree, 45-degree, and straight angles for both internal and external snap rings.
- DURABLE CONSTRUCTION: These circlip pliers are made of high quality carbon steel with high hardness and durability, polished and black finished for corrosion resistance and longer tool life.
The 5 Best Snap Ring Pliers
These 6-½ inch snap ring pliers offered by Irwin are comfortable, easy to use, and practical for any homeowner. Users love that the pliers are suitable for internal and external use, but so do note that the rivet is not tight enough.
These lock ring pliers measure 11” x 5.1” x 1.1”, and they have ProTouch grips for added comfort, a durable alloy steel construction, and a weight of 7.7 ounces. They feature four interchangeable tips, and they come with a lifetime guarantee. Overall, these pliers are an excellent choice if you want a 2-in-1 set of pliers.
A user comments that the Irwin snap ring pliers are perfect for changing C-clips and that he is very impressed with the quality. The reviewer adds that it takes seconds to change the tips and they stay in place.
But the user would have preferred if there was a storage case for the extra tips. Another happy user mentions that these pliers feel sturdy and that it’s easy to set them up for external or internal snap rings. He highly recommends them as one of the best snap ring pliers. However, some customers have complained that these convertible snap pliers are flimsy and that the interchangeable tips fall off.
Some also note that the tips are short and that they found the pliers hard to use.
Irwin Snap Ring Pliers Video Review
- Four interchangeable tips
- Tips fall off
- Short tips
- Might be hard to use
- Rivet is loose
- Complaints of malfunctioning
- No storage case
If you’re looking for top-notched snap ring pliers, you might want to take a look at these ring pliers offered by Channellock. Users love the heavy-duty design, but some do note that they are expensive.
These retaining pliers measure 12” x 5” x 1.2”, and they are made of polished steel. The pliers feature heavy-duty return spring, a switch for changing from internal to external rings, a weight of 8 ounces, and five pairs of color-coded interchangeable tips. The internal range is 3/8 inches to 2 inches, while the external range is ¼ inches to 2 inches. The pliers also have a lifetime guarantee.
In general, users have a very high opinion regarding the Channellock retaining pliers, and they praise their functionality and design. A buyer comments that these are the best pair of snap ring pliers that he has owned and that they open wide enough to remove 2” C-clips. The reviewer adds that the reversing mechanism is useful and easy to engage.
A happy purchaser shares that the interchangeable tips come with a convenient pouch for storage and that the pliers are perfect for repairing a dryer’s blower. However, some customers have complained that the pliers broke quickly and that they don’t grip strongly. A user also notes that the switching mechanism doesn’t work as it should and that the small tips break.
- Heavy-duty design
- A return spring
- A switch for internal and external rings
- Five pairs of tips
- Complaints of malfunctioning
- Problems with the switching mechanism
- Tips break
These lock ring pliers offered by Tekton are cheap, handy and comfortable to use. Users love the price and the plastic storage case, but some do note that they are not durable. These universal snap pliers measure 4 x 1.2 x 7.8 inches, and they are made of heat-treated carbon steel.
They feature a corrosion-resistant black finish, precision-machined interchangeable tips for external and internal use, spring-loaded handles, non-slip grips, and a weight of 8.8 ounces. The external range is 1″ – 2 ½”, while the internal range is 3/4″ – 1 ¾”.
In general, users have a mixed opinion regarding the Tekton snap ring pliers, and they agree that the pliers are flimsy. A buyer comments that the tips bend and that it’s difficult to pull snap rings.
The reviewer also mentions that the ring pliers fall apart during use and that he doesn’t recommend them for regular or repeated usage. Another unhappy user warns that these universal lock ring pliers shouldn’t be used with heavy snap rings and that he is disappointed by their performance and quality.
On the other hand, a happy customer states that the pliers arrived quickly and that he didn’t have any problems removing or reinstalling a snap ring. A purchaser says that he doesn’t worry that the snap pliers would break and that they are reliable when you use them correctly.
Tekton Snap Ring Pliers Video Review
- Plastic storage case
- Made of steel
- Spring-loaded handles
- Non-slip grips
- Tips bend
- Not suitable for heavy-duty jobs
These lock ring pliers offered by ABN are inexpensive, practical, and light. Users love the price and the comfortable handles, but some do note that it’s not easy to change the tips.
These pliers measure 0.5” x 0.4” x 7”, and they feature four interchangeable jaws, vinyl handles for firm grip, and a comfortable gripping area that decreases hand fatigue. The tips that come with pliers include two straight tips, one 45-degree angle tip, and one 90-degree angle tip. As a whole, these pliers are good if you want cheap pliers, but they have several shortcomings.
In general, buyers have a favorable opinion of the ABN snap ring pliers set. A user comments that once you get used to these lock ring pliers, they work perfectly.
The reviewer adds that the pliers arrived quickly and that they are well-made. Another customer shares that he bought them to fix the front driveshaft of his Grand Cherokee and that they did the job smoothly. He mentions that they would probably last for a long time. A purchaser also states that it’s easy to change the tips. However, some customers have complained that the pliers are cheaply made and that they fall apart while you’re using them. Some users also note that the tips don’t fit tightly and that the design has numerous flaws.
A buyer also adds that it’s not suitable for heavy-duty rings like CV joints.
- Four interchangeable tips
- Vinyl handles
- Cheap quality
- Fall apart
- Tips don’t fit well
These convertible snap ring pliers offered by Ares are expensive, reliable and handy to have around your home. Users love that the pliers are easy to use, but some do note that they aren’t suitable for heavy-duty work.
These ring pliers measure 1.2” x 5.4” x 8”, and they feature precisely machined and tapered tips, a hex key and a weight of 8.8 ounces. The internal size range is 7/8″ – 1-7/8″, while the external range is 5/16″ – 1-7/8″. There are eight interchangeable tips included – four straight and four 90-degree angled tips.
A buyer comments that the Ares snap ring pliers are strong, stable and well-constructed. The reviewer adds you only need to flip a switch to change from inside to outside rings and that he is very impressed with their functionality.
Another customer shares that these lock ring pliers are a necessity for every repairman and that it’s incredibly easy to use them. He also states that you should tighten the locking mechanism correctly before using them.
Another satisfied purchaser adds that the used these snap pliers to rebuild a motorcycle cylinder and that he didn’t encounter any issues with them. However, some customers have complained that the Ares convertible lock ring pliers are not meant for rusty rings and that the tips bend quickly. A user also notes that the handle is widely open and that it’s uncomfortable for small hands.
- Eight interchangeable tips
- Easy to use
- A hex key
- No heavy-duty jobs
- Tips bend
- Uncomfortable for small hands