Knipex Cobra XS Review: A Must-have EDC Adjustable Pliers

The Knipex Cobra XS water pump pliers are tiny, have a thin design, and bite strongly. They make great EDC pliers. Find out in this article why you need them in your pocket or pliers holster.

The Knipex cobras are the world’s leading type of water pump pliers. They are durable and very versatile. And now there is a remarkably small Knipex Cobra dubbed the Cobra XS (86 04 100). It is the world’s smallest water pump pliers.

The extra small Knipex pump pliers fit well in the belt plier holder or back pocket and travel with you wherever you go. Here is all you need to know about them and why they should be your EDC.

Key Features of Knipex Cobra XS Pump Pliers

knipex cobra xs pump pliers

Key Features

  • Self-clamping feature
  • Pinch feature regardless of adjustment position
  • Ultra-compact design and slim head
  • 11 adjustment positions
  • Sturdy box joint


  • Weight: 2.1 ounces (60g)
  • Hinge width: 0.39 inches (10mm)
  • Jaw width: 0.15 inches (4mm)
  • Handle thickness: 0.36 inches (9mm)
  • Length: 4 inches (100mm)
  • Gripping capacity: 28mm

Lightweight and slim

The tiny Cobra XS is not only small in size but also very light. It won’t pull down your pants or puncture your pockets. In fact, you can keep it in the little watch pocket of your jeans.

The overall slim profile of the tool lets you get into very tight spaces with ease. The thin jaws in particular let you get into spaces where the 125mm Knipex Cobra cannot. This is very important for a plant engineer who at times needs a small tool to inspect and tighten fasteners in hidden areas.

Gripping capacity

cobra xs gripping capacity
Gripping pipe with cobra xs (source: Knipex)

You might think that because the Cobra XS are the tiniest water pump pliers in the world, they only grip small fasteners. The truth is that this little tool can grip up to 1-inch pipe fittings and fasteners. However, the most practical size is 3/4″ and below. You can use it to fix plumbing fittings around the house, which typically have less than 1-inch diameter.

Self-locking jaws

The Cobra XS has the self-locking feature just like the other Knipex Cobra water pump pliers. This ensures no slipping on the workpiece and that you do not have to squeeze the handles together when turning.

Once the jaws lock onto a fitting or fastener, you only need to push the upper handle to the direction you want the fastener to turn. Therefore, the locking feature ensures that all the force you exert on the pliers is used to turn the workpiece. With the tongue-and-groove pliers, some of the hand force is used to keep the jaws locked onto the workpiece.

Hardened teeth

Like other Knipex pliers, the teeth of the Cobra XS are specially hardened to resist wear and to bite hard on objects. The hardness is approximately 60 HRC on the Rockwell scale. This also means that if you squeeze the handle too tight you could potentially mar a delicate surface. Therefore, I recommend placing a rug over the workpiece or you can try any of these methods to keep the pliers teeth from leaving marks.

Box-joint design

The hinge on the Knipex Cobra XS is a box-joint, which increases the tool’s durability. Box joint also helps to keep the jaws aligned.

V-groove jaws

The cobra xs has V-shaped jaws that are not only good for gripping round pipes but also the hex fasteners. They grip the corners of hex nuts and bolts tight enough to make sure no slipping occurs when turning. The jaw geometry is common across the cobra range of pliers.

Multiple adjustment positions

The Knipex Cobra XS pump pliers offer 11 adjustment positions. The many positions ensure that the jaws close in on workpieces tight enough.

The best thing about the adjustability of these tiny pliers is that you can adjust them open with just a flick. Just grab the handle for the lower jaw and flick the tool to open the jaws with one hand. Then place the object you want to grip between the open jaws. Lastly, push the upper jaw downward with your index finger to close in on the workpiece. All these by one hand!

What are the downsides of Knipex Cobra XS?

The Knipex cobra xs are excellent miniature water pump pliers but have one shortcoming. The handles are not covered with plastic or rubber for a more comfortable grip. Unlike the other cobra pliers, the XS has naked textured handles which apparently were deliberately left that way to maintains the pliers slim profile. Although they are not that bad, they are not as comfortable as the 5″ cobra.

If you want to wrap yours, you can plastic dip them yourself or use heat shrink tubing.

Another difference with the bigger cobras is that the XS does not utilize the push-button adjustment mechanism. Instead, it leverages the same adjustment mechanism as the cobra quickset. Again, according to the manufacturer, the pushbutton was left out to keep the hinge as slim as possible. It is only 10mm wide; slim enough for very tight spaces.

Who needs the Cobra XS and Where to buy it?

If you are looking for good pliers to integrate into your EDC, it is the Knipex Cobra XS after its cousin Knipex Pliers Wrench XS. The Knipex XS pliers are an engineering marvel and must-have pocket pliers for anyone who works on machines and like to randomly inspect fasteners and pipe fittings. The tiny water pump pliers are also great for homeowners for fixing plumbing fittings around the house. If you wish to get your XS cobra today, you can check it out on Amazon or KC Tool via the links below.

However, if you already have the Knipex Cobra (125mm), you might not need the XS unless you really need micro pliers. But for a Knipex fan like me, it is a no-brainer to add the cobra xs to your lineup of Knipex pliers.

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Julio a.k.a Pliersman is the owner and creator of the Pliersman Website. A blog that informs and educates you about different types of pliers and their uses. Julio is a handy person and has used a variety of pliers including general-purpose and specialty pliers to accomplish tasks. He holds an electrical engineering degree and has previously worked as an O&M manager for minigrids where his love story with pliers and other tools began.