Truth be told, Knipex pliers are highly reputed but they come at a premium price. And this begs the question, are they really worth the price?
As a regular user of these German-made pliers, I am tempted to answer this question. Based on experience, my simple answer is that Knipex pliers are worth the extra cost and I will explain why. But first, let us understand what the Knipex brand is and how it came about.
A little history of Knipex Tools Brand
Knipex is a family business for making and selling professional-grade pliers and other hand tools around the world. It was founded by Carl Gustav Putsch in 1882 as a small smithy for pliers in the basement of his house in Cronenberg, Wuppertal, West Germany.
The purpose of the smithy was to forge only two types of pincers; farriers’ pincers and carpenters’ pincers. The Farriers’ pincers are primarily for making horseshoes while carpenters’ pincers are for removing nails from wood. The need to meet the demand for these two types of pliers brought together a journeyman and 2 trainees. Together, they worked around the clock to make as many pincers as demanded by carpenters and farriers.
Unexpectedly though, the small craft business grew into a small factory in less than half a century. The number of employees grew to over 25 workers and the production shot up to 7000 pliers a week. However, it was not until 1942 that the KNIPEX brand name was developed and registered. The company has since expanded and become a household name for pliers across Europe and around the world. It is renowned for its innovative pliers designs and superior craftsmanship.
Today, Knipex manufactures a wide range of pliers and hand tools including cutting pliers, screwdrivers, adjustable pliers, and other general and specialty hand tools. Over the years, the company has fronted some of the most innovative products that have gained worldwide success and recognition. They include the Cobra and Alligator adjustable pliers, Pliers Wrench, and bolt cutters among others. Also, did you know that the world’s smallest water pump pliers and smallest pliers wrench, which everyone is raving about, are made by Knipex? Now you know.
What is special about Knipex Tools?
Knipex pliers tools have taken the world of pliers by storm. They are dominating in nearly all areas including cutting, stripping, plumbing, and crimping. Literally, the company is giving the likes of Channellock and Irwin Vise Grips a run for their money. In fact, the Knipex pliers have been so good that some people use them as the gold standard by which to measure other pliers brands. This makes you wonder, what are the Germans doing so differently?
My experience with Knipex and other brands and a little research have brought me to the conclusion that the Knipex brand is not doing anything new. They are just doing what any manufacturer should do. Being innovative, and producing quality products. Just that, and customers will follow you and take pride in your products like the Knipex fans do. For example, the fans have been impatiently waiting for the tiny knipex pliers wrench xs to hit the market since their announcement. And this happens with any other tool the company announces. To win that kind of loyalty, you really need to know how to strike the right chord in your customers. That is what, in my own assessment, has earned Knipex such a huge success.
All Knipex pliers are visibly high quality. They also have a high-quality feel and can stand up to heavy abuse. These pliers do not get beaten down easily like other brands. In fact, they will outlast your favorite blue-handle Channellock and even perform better than them throughout their lifetime.
One reason why the Knipex pliers stand out in terms of quality is the fact that they are German-made. I am not implying that anything made in Germany is of superior quality. But to a large extent, Germans are reputed for making high-quality products and Knipex pliers happen to be some of them.
To give you a better perspective of the German quality, recall the much revered German cars and machines. Ostensibly, a car is either in the category of “other cars” or “German cars”! And the latter is known for being engineered precisely to the standards.
Another reason why Knipex pliers are of good quality is that they are forged from high quality steel. Precisely, they are made from German’s chrome vanadium heavy-duty steel. The steel is oil-hardened to make it more tolerant to stress. For pliers with cutters, the cutters are super-hardened to cut without getting dented easily.
Lastly, the knipex pliers are ergonomically designed with your comfort in mind. They feature all types of grips from simple non-slip PVC, to comfort-grip and insulated grip.
Innovating does not necessarily mean inventing a new thing. It can be as simple as modifying something to make it more reliable and useful. That is what Knipex did with water pump pliers. Instead of copying the Channellock’s tongue and groove design, they came up with the Alligator water pump pliers. The alligator pliers have a slip joint with multiple grooves that lets you easily slide the jaws to the width of your stock. They are much easier to use than tongue and groove pliers.
Cobra pliers are an upgrade of alligator pliers. They have a slip joint with multiple adjustment positions. The major differences are that the cobras have more positions and slide more smoothly. Both of these types of water pump pliers are easier to use than the traditional tongue and groove pliers. These kinds of innovations are what set Knipex tools apart.
Sometimes, Knipex invents and patents new pliers designs as part of innovation. A good example is the pliers wrench. Although other brands are trying to make their own pliers wrenches, none is as good as Knipex. But some have come quite close such as the Lenox pliers wrench.
Other novel pliers tools Knipex has invented include the raptor pliers, TwinForce diagonal cutters, and TwinGrip slip joint pliers among others. Knipex also owns patents of various pliers operation mechanisms such as the push-button adjustment of Cobras and the ratcheting action of the jaws.
There could be other reasons why Knipex brand is so successful but the two main ones are innovativeness and quality products. However, not every Knipex pliers are the best. Some are inferior to other brands in some categories. For instance, most tradesmen agree that Klein linesman pliers are the G.O.A.T. in that category. That is why you should not blindly pick Knipex simply because it is Knipex.
So, always do your due diligence every time you go shopping for pliers. But I can assure you that Knipex will always be among your selection. This is why I conclude by saying, Knipex pliers are worth the extra cost most of the time.
But when it is hard to make a choice, just go for Knipex if your budget allows. You will only cry once and you won’t regret it because Knipex pliers are “buy once, cry once” types of tools. Worth every penny!
Frequently Asked Questions
Going by the quality and innovativeness in every release, I am convinced that Knipex pliers are a worthy investment. But as I mentioned, you should not go blindly for Knipex all the time. Always do your research!
It is not easy to advise on what Knipex pliers to buy first when I do not know the task you have at hand. But one thing is for sure, you will always find some work for Knipex cobra pliers. These are arguably the most versatile Knipex pliers. You can choose any size from 4″ to 22″ but the 10″ cobra is largely the most versatile. Cobra pliers are great for grabbing and twisting round, square, and hex shapes. You can also use them to grab flat metal pieces.
Knipex pliers are available in online stores and at local hardware stores. However, because of the price, most local stores only stock small and medium-size Knipex pliers. So, the best way to buy Knipex is to order them online from retailers such as Homedepot, KC Tools, Walmart, and Amazon among others.