Top 13 Best Snap Ring Pliers 2022 Test

Best Snap Ring Pliers

Do you have snap ring pliers in your toolbox?

You might not use these a lot, but when you need to remove or install snap rings, these special pliers are truly the only tool to get the work done fast and conveniently.

Whether you’re a professional mechanic, electrician, home repair professional or just a DIYer who likes to handle tasks around the home, a pair of best snap ring pliers set are a great addition to your tool collection.

If you don’t have one, it’s probably time to get it.

But, before you go shopping, it’s good to note that there are lots of junk models out there. They don’t perform well, and they don’t hold up.

To avoid these and get a good model that works and lasts, you might want to have a look at reviews.

My Top Pick

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Channellock 927 Retaining Ring Pliers (8-Inch)

The Channellock 927 Retaining Ring Pliers gives you five interchangeable tips.

You get various styles of tips including straight and angled ones for different projects.

The angled ones are helpful where you’re working in a confined space, and you cannot approach the ring directly.


Snap Ring Pliers


Our Rating


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Editor’s Choice

Channellock 927 Retaining Ring Pliers (8-Inch)

5 out of 5

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Editor’s Choice

TEKTON 3571 Internal Snap Ring Pliers Bent Tip (7-Inch)

5 out of 5

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Editor’s Choice

VISE-GRIP Convertible Snap Ring Pliers by IRWIN (6½”)

5 out of 5

[amazon align=”center” cart=”n” height=”160″ box=”B005MVB6TG” locale=”US” nw=”y” nf=”y” src=”” tag=”marineglobal-20″ width=”120″] Lang Tools 12-Piece Snap Ring Pliers Set

4.5 out of 5

[amazon align=”center” cart=”n” height=”120″ box=”B0014DKIK4″ locale=”US” nw=”y” nf=”y” src=”” tag=”marineglobal-20″ width=”160″] Astro Snap Ring Pliers Set (10-Piece)

4.5 out of 5

[amazon align=”center” cart=”n” height=”92″ box=”B00209ETSS” locale=”US” nw=”y” nf=”y” src=”” tag=”marineglobal-20″ width=”160″] Stanley Proto J250G Lock Ring Pliers (9-Inch)

4.5 out of 5

What is Snap Ring Pliers and what are the benefits of using it?

Otherwise known as circlip pliers or retaining ring pliers, snap ring pliers are a special kind of pliers used to install and remove circlips/retaining rings.

Circlips are ring-like fasteners made of semi-flexible metallic material. They have an open end with holes/grooves, and it is these holes/grooves that the pliers hold onto during installation or removal.

The benefit of snap ring pliers is that of easy installation and removal of snap rings.

One thing about snap rings is that they’re tough. Yes, they’re small, but they’re too tough to open with your bare hands. But with a pair of heavy duty snap ring-pliers, the process becomes extremely simple and fast too.

You might not need snap rings ever day, but when you do need to work them, you’ll really be glad you bought them.

Now, it’s time to go through the reviews.

NOTE: any prices you’ll see in the review represent the current prices of the products at the time of composing this article. The current price now might be different, and the only way to be sure is to check through the links provided.

Let’s go ahead and see what we have.

My Top 13 Best Snap Ring Pliers Favorites

1. Channellock 927 Retaining Ring Pliers (8-Inch)

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Do you find yourself working with circlips a lot? Do you know what you need? A pair of retaining ring pliers with a high degree of versatility.

The Channellock 927 Retaining Ring Pliers gives you five interchangeable tips. You get various styles of tips including straight and angled ones for different projects. The angled ones are helpful where you’re working in a confined space, and you cannot approach the ring directly.

You also get an Allen key, which is very important for changing the tips.

Aside from that, these pliers come with two sets of screws. If you lose one while changing the tips, you can just use the extra set. Great benefit, don’t you think?

Another versatile feature you’re really going to enjoy is the ability to switch between internal and external use. But this benefit doesn’t stop there.

Changing between external use and internal use is extremely easy, thanks to the little red switch on the tool.

All you have to do is push it either to the right or left depending on whether you want to remove internal or external snap rings.

The spring has a pretty nice feel, helping you move the pliers nicely and smoothly. It seems heavy duty, and it returns the pliers to default shape seamlessly.

And talking of nice and smooth, these are just the words to describe the feeling you have while using the tool, thanks to the ergonomic design.

In that regard, the grips are shaped to conform to the human hand. They’re covered with nice pieces of plastic with a rubber-like feel. They’re also non-slip.

The Channellock 927 Retaining Ring Pliers are made in Meadville by the Channellock Inc.

So far, we honestly have nothing negative to comment about this product. Go ahead and check it out on Amazon and see what others think about it.


Highlighted features:

  • 5 interchangeable tips – both straight and angled
  • Strong spring that moves smoothly
  • Quick-change switch for shifting between internal use and external use
  • Comfortable grips
  • Heavy duty material for durability
  • Hex key for changing the tips
  • Extra screws for holding the tips
  • Made in the USA

2. TEKTON 3571 Internal Snap Ring Pliers Bent Tip (7-Inch)

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When you want to reach those obstructed areas, you cannot do it with straight tips; what you need is bent tips.

The TEKTON 3571 Internal Snap Ring Pliers has bent tips that are not only super strong but also ergonomic. The angle is positioned such that you’re able to reach those hidden internal rings with great efficiency.

One of the greatest challenges you might face when using pliers is that of muscle fatigue. If you have to use your hands to keep the jaws open, then that cannot be a good experience.

Fortunately, you don’t have to deal with any of that while using this model. It comes with a heavy-duty spring that easily keeps the jaws open. That way, your hands are relieved from the task of having to keep them open.

Something else that determines your comfort while using a pair of pliers is the grips. You’ll be glad to know that the grips of this model are curved outward and shaped to fit most hands without a struggle.

They’re also covered with a rubber material that feels comfortable and provides a non-slip surface.

The construction of the tool is another aspect you want to look carefully into, as it will determine the strength and longevity of the tool.

If you want to enjoy power and longevity, the TEKTON 3571 will do. It’s made of hardened steel. Hence, it will not break when used a lot or to remove strong snap rings.

There’s one major downside you need to be wary of. The tips are too large and can only be used with 7/16″ rings and above. They can’t seem to work with anything smaller.

That said, the product is a great buy, going for only 10 bucks currently. Plus it comes with a lifetime warranty!

Highlighted features:

  • Strong spring that keeps the jaws open
  • Made of hardened carbon steel for strength and durability
  • Comfortable, non-slip handles
  • Bent tips (around 90°) for reaching obstructed spots
  • Lifetime warranty

3. VISE-GRIP Convertible Snap Ring Pliers by IRWIN (6½”)

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Why get two pairs of pliers while you could get one that you can use with both internal and external circlips?

This equipment comes with a built-in lever that helps you change from internal use to external use. The lever might not be as easy to use as that of the Channellocks (see above), but it works.

Being able to change between internal and external use will help you save money as you don’t have to get two separate pairs of pliers.

One really cool feature you’re going to love with this tool is the handles. These are covered with a plastic material that’s just the right size to keep you comfortable.

The four different tips that this tool comes with are very helpful. You’ll get a mix of both straight and angled tips, giving you the freedom and ability to work on varying projects. Whether it’s free or confined spaces, one of these sets of tips will help you complete the job.

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On the flip side, some of the tips aren’t the same size. We don’t know whether it’s just a small production glitch or a quality control issue affecting the entire production, but we’ve seen several users complain about it.

The other issue has to do with jaw play. Once again, we’re not sure about the frequency of the problem, but one thing we can tell you is that it’s not a deal breaker depending on your situation.

If you’re okay with using one hand to stabilize the jaws while you use the other hand to work the tool, then the problem shouldn’t stop you from getting this budget tool.

We have to warn you though – you’ll have trouble when working in a tight space.

That said, this model is pretty inexpensive. Check it out if you’re on a budget.

Highlighted features:

  • 4 interchangeable tips
  • For both internal and external uses
  • Comfortable handles
  • Lifetime guarantee

4. Lang Tools (3495) 12-Piece Fixed Tip Combination

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What if we told you that you don’t have to get your retaining ring pliers one by one? Yep, you can get them in a set.

As the name suggests, the Lang Tools 12-Piece Snap Ring Pliers Set comes with 12 pairs of pliers.

These currently go for 79 bucks, meaning that each piece costs you less than 8 bucks. If you asked us, that’s an unbeatable price considering the quality.

If you’re looking for great versatility, this is the set for you. As you can already guess, the multiple pliers contained in there help you work on both internal and external ring installation and removal projects.

The coolest part is that all the pieces are convertible to internal and external use. Each piece has a center screw and spring washer, allowing you to convert it without much effort.

The two features (spring and center screw) are really handy, keeping the jaws stable during operation. No unwanted playing.

As an added versatile factor, this set features pieces of different tip sizes. In there, you’ll find 4 of the most common tip sizes, in both the straight and angled shapes.

The angles include 45 and 90 degrees, which is pretty helpful for completing a wide range of projects.

Maybe you’ve ever used pliers whose grips became worn with time making the handles uncomfortable to hold. Well, you’ll not have to deal with that problem using the Lang Tools pliers.

The material used to make their grips is low-temp and high-impact, making them extra durable. It’s good to mention that just as they look, the grips have a nice feel in the hands and they’re comfortable to use.

There really aren’t any drawbacks we can think of. Go ahead to Amazon and view the product’s stellar ratings.

Highlighted features:

  • 12 pieces
  • Both straight and angled tips
  • Both 45- and 90-degree angles
  • 4 of the most popular tip sizes
  • Low-temp, high-impact grip materials for durability
  • Great price

5. Astro 9401 10-Piece Set

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How would you like to get a set of 10 pieces for less than 30 dollars? Very helpful if you’re on a budget, isn’t it?

Going for just 29 bucks, the set allows you to get each piece at the incredible budget price of less than 3 bucks. Where else can you get that?

The pliers are designed for both internal and external use. They have a bolt and two holes. To change between internal and external use, all you have to do is open the bolt and connect it to the other hole.

The mechanism of making this shift is not as user-friendly as Channellock’s snap-on mechanism, but it works.

Something we liked a lot about these pliers is their grips. These are made of vinyl material to keep the handles insulated. They’re comfortable to hold, and on the bigger sizes, grooves are cut into the outer surface to boost the grip.

The manufacturer says the pliers are made of chromium-molybdenum steel and that they’re going to last. Well, we don’t buy that.

The truth is, these pliers will break if you use them too much or apply too much force while removing those rings.

That being said, if you’re looking for something suitable for light duty tasks and you’re not going to need to use the pliers too often, this set will work just fine.

Of the 10 pieces, 8 of them are pliers which the remaining two are a 5-inch hook tool and a 5-inch pick tool. Go on and check them out.

Highlighted features:

  • 10 pieces of different sizes and tip styles
  • For operating both external and internal rings
  • Both straight and curved tips
  • Insulated vinyl grips
  • Unbelievably inexpensive

6. Stanley Proto J250G Lock Ring Pliers (9-Inch)

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Have you literally spent hours trying to remove snap rings from your brake, transmission or gear system (or anywhere else for that matter)? You’ve tried various snap ring pliers, but they just aren’t doing it!

Well, don’t give up yet. Try the Stanley Proto J250G Lock Ring Pliers. These are the Top quality snap-ring pliers designed for removing and installing steel lock rings on shafts.

They also spread horseshoe lock washers with amazing efficiency.

When you first get this tool, the first thing you’ll likely notice is the great construction. These are made in the US using heavy-duty steel, making them extremely strong and durable.

The jaws are well connected, so there’s no playing when you use the pliers. The spring is also made from high-grade steel, and it’s thick enough, so it doesn’t go loose. Keeps the jaws closed and moves smoothly when you’re opening them.

The other feature you’re going to fall in love with is the handles. These will fit nicely in your hands and guess what? They’ve covered with plastisol to keep you totally comfortable when using them.

It’s good to mention that the grips are also non-slip, so you’re able to hold the clips without using too much effort to stay stable. Very helpful for completing the project quickly without suffering from fatigue.

Opening to a maximum width of 1 5/8 inches, the jaws enable you to work on rings of different sizes. The indents on the outer surface of the jaws will help you secure those circular spring clips very efficiently.

We’d like to warn you about some cons but unfortunately (fortunately, actually) there are none.

Put simply, these are some of the finest retaining ring pliers out there, and you will be glad you got them. This is not some gimmick to try and get you to buy but our honest thoughts on this product.

At 27 bucks, it’s more expensive than most others, but it’s worth every dime.

Highlighted features:

  • 9 inches long
  • Plastisol-covered handles for comfort
  • Extremely strong and durable steel body
  • Indented outer surface of the jaws to secure circular spring clips
  • Made in the US
  • Robust spring that allows a smooth movement

7. OTC Tools Heavy-Duty (2 Pieces 16″)



Ever had a retaining ring almost out, only to have it slip off the pliers and you have to start all over again? Not a good thing, is it?

Well, that’s what the OTC Tools Heavy-Duty Snap-Ring Pliers is here to help you avoid. With this tool, you’ll be able to hold the snap ring securely, thanks to its spring ratchet locking mechanism.

This set contains two pairs of pliers. These are large tools that look very powerful. Made of heat-treated steel, they’ll definitely be be very useful for those heavy-duty projects.

If you can remember correctly from your Physics lessons, the lever acts as a force magnifier. So, a longer lever equals less effort requirement.

This tool is big, and the handles are long. That means you need only a little effort to use the pliers.

The handles are covered with what looks like plastisol, and they’re super comfortable to hold. Plus, the surface is non-slip.

All these are features that give you a great experience using this tool.

Apart from the 4 tips connected to the pliers (2 on each), the set comes with 8 other tips, both angled and straight. All you have to do is unscrew the bolts and replace the tips with the pair that suits the current project.

You’re also provided with 4 extra bolts just in case you lose the ones connected while changing the tips.

The only issue you’ll probably encounter while using these is that the ratchet lock gets in the way while working in confined spaces. It’s not really bad, and as you get used to the tool, you’ll be able to keep the ratchet out of the way.

Other than that, this is a great set that you’ll be proud to own. Oh, and it comes with a nice and sturdy carry case.

Highlighted features:

  • 2 pairs of pliers – 16-inch
  • Ratchet lock to keep the clip secured
  • For external and internal circlip operation
  • Extra sets of tips and screws
  • Blow-molded carry case

8. Wilde Tool G409P Lock Ring Pliers (9-inch)

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The ability of pliers to open and close with ease determines a lot when it comes to the ease of use.

With the Wilde Tool G409P, this ability is top notch, making using this tool a breeze.

Like the Stanley Proto J250G, this pair has indents on the outer side of its tips. This is a great feature that enables the snaps rings to lock in place, preventing them from slipping during removal.

Do you have projects of rebuilding T/cases or transmissions and you’re working with retaining rings? Ordinary snap-ring pliers might not be up for the task. In that case, do you know what you need?

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Extra-ordinarily powerful pliers built for heavy-duty jobs – like the Wilde Tool G409P. Made of nickel chromium steel, these hold onto those hard, stubborn rings without breaking, and they pull them out in seconds!

The tips on this tool are positioned at a right angle. This style will come in helpful when you’re working in confined spaces.

The jaws are properly aligned with each other, and the center bolt is heavy duty, keeping the nicely held together. They have a maximum spread of 1.6 inches.

There’s zero play, and that gives you the stability you need to complete those intricate tasks.

The cutting edge on some pliers goes totally dull after some time. But guess what? On this model, it remains sharp for a long time, thanks to induction hardening.

This is yet another tool that seems to be flawless. Going for 21 bucks and offering all these perks, it’s a pretty good buy.

Highlighted features:

  • Right angled tips
  • Made of nickel chromium steel for durability
  • Indented tips for extra grip
  • Strong spring
  • 1.6-inch jaw spread

9. Motion Pro Pliers for Master Cylinder (Long Nose)

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Retaining rings used in master cylinders aren’t easy to remove. Due to their confined positioning, they cannot be removed with the regular snap ring pliers; they need special model pliers crafted for the task.

The Motion Pro Pliers are special snap ring pliers equipped with long tapering jaws to help you reach those hidden, squeezed spaces and take out the rings without struggling.

The jaws are bent at right angles to prevent the handles and your hands from getting in the way.

Because of their shape, the jaws can reach and remove rings that are up to 50mm deep. For that reason, they’re the best snap ring pliers set for various car applications including transmission and hydraulic cylinder maintenance and more.

Once you open the package, you will notice that the tips are really small. You might even wonder if they’ll work for those tough rings.

Well, first of all, the small size of the tips is pretty handy, helping you remove smaller rings perfectly. And when removing the bigger, tougher rings isn’t an issue either.

Although small, the tips are extremely tough and they’ll hold and remove even those big clips without a hitch.

You will love the way these pliers work. They have a heavy duty spring that pulls the handles together, keeping the jaws closed.

The coolest part is that the spring moves smoothly and quietly. Fatigue is not an issue you’re going to deal with, as the handles are covered with a comfortable insulating rubber-like material.

Only downside with these is that they’re only meant for internal snap rings. That being said, they work really well, and the price (25 bucks) isn’t bad.

Highlighted features:

  • Long nose for reaching hidden spaces up to 50 mm deep
  • Heavy-duty spring that moves smoothly and quietly
  • Nice and comfy handles
  • Extremely tough tips

10. KNIPEX Tools 00 20 04 SB (8-Piece Set)

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Why should you buy an expensive plier set going for 200 bucks when some sets go for as little as 30 or 40 dollars and that have the same number of pliers in there?

Simple – because they work!

Yes, the KNIPEX Tools Snap-Ring Pliers Set will cost you 204 bucks, but it’s worth every dime.

All 8 pairs of pliers in the set are pretty heavy duty. They’ll not break when used for continuous operations and the way we see it, these are tools built to last.

4 of the pliers have straight jaws, and the remaining 4 have angled jaws. Apart from that, the pliers have varying jaw spread distances.

This versatility means you get to complete different projects. The different jaw styles will help you reach different spaces, and the varying spread distances enable you to work circlips of different sizes. Pretty handy!

Another versatile factor is that there are pliers for both external ring and internal ring removal. The different tip diameters make it possible to operate both small and big circlips.

Maybe you have used different models of circlip pliers before with flimsy tips that broke easily. The tips of the KNIPEX Tools pliers are different.

Made of high-density spring steel, these tips are excellently protected from strain. You can depend on them for removing those large, tough rings without worrying about snapping.

The con with these is that the internal ring pliers don’t have a spring to close the jaws. But, this is not a big concern as the pliers work just fine.

Highlighted features:

  • 8 pliers – 4 straight and 4 angled
  • Heavy duty tips that are resistant to stress
  • Chrome vanadium steel body for durability
  • Both internal and external ring pliers

11. Astro Tools 94221 Internal/External Cr-V Pneumatic Tool 7″

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If you’re a budget-minded buyer, the Astro Tools Snap Ring Pliers Set might be a suitable pick. This set includes four pairs of pliers, and going for a total price of 18 bucks, it’s a great buy.

Two of the pliers are for working external snap rings, and two of them are for operating internal snap rings. Aside from that, two of them have straight tips, and the remaining two have 90-degree angled tips.

So you get one straight tip internal and one angled tip internal and one straight tip external and one angled tip external.

With such a nice mix, you’re well equipped to work on a range of projects.

One issue with the budget pliers is that they break easily and they’re generally not durable. But, these pieces are different.

As long as you stick to light-duty tasks, you can count on them to last years.

One of the aspects that most drew us to these is their elegant design. The jaws feature a black and polished finish with the turning part being glossy silver. The handles are covered with reddish plastic glossy grips which also look great.

In short, it’s the sort of tools you’ll be proud to have on your desk and to show to your friends.

If you love travelling with your tools, you won’t have to stress about where to keep these. They come with a nice carry case.

Before you get these, we have to warn you that they’re not meant for professional use. If you have lots of work that involves using snap ring pliers and you’re hoping this model will work for you, you’re wrong.

But if you want something to help you handle light duty snap ring removal and installation once in a while, these will work just fine.

Highlighted features:

  • Four pairs of pliers
  • Good mix – straight and angled and internal and external use pliers
  • Awesome design – polished finish
  • Comfy, non-slip handles
  • Nice carry case

12. KNIPEX Tools External Straight Retaining Pliers (8.25″)

[amazon align=”center” cart=”n” height=”500″ box=”B0002YYMDK” locale=”US” nw=”y” nf=”y” src=”” tag=”marineglobal-20″ width=”500″]

We’re going to share a secret with you right here. When selecting snap ring pliers, one of the most reliable brands to look to is KNIPEX. Its pliers have some of the best ratings on the market.

Now, if you’re looking for the perfect retaining ring pliers for removing external snap rings, consider getting the KNIPEX Tools External Straight Retaining Pliers.

As you’re about to see, these have everything it takes to do the job seamlessly.

First, this tool is forged from one of the strongest materials used for making hand tools – vanadium chromium steel. It doesn’t matter the amount of pressure you’re going to exert on these with your hands; they’ll not break.

With most retaining ring pliers, the tips are made from pressed steel. As such, when high amounts of pressure are exerted on them, they just snap.

The tips on this model are different. Made of the same material as the body (chrome vanadium steel), they have an incredible ability to hold up to strain.

Besides, the tapering design of the jaws helps distribute the stress well to keep them (and the tips) from breaking.

At the neck is a strong, high-grade spring that keeps the jaws closed. It allows you to

Going for 30 bucks, these pliers are on the premium side. And considering they’re not convertible to remove internal rings, they don’t seem like a good choice for someone on a budget.

But again, why keep purchasing models that will break and not even do the job when you could just sacrifice that 30 bucks for a model that will do the job efficiently and that you won’t replace in years?

Highlighted features:

  • Chromium vanadium steel body for strength and longevity
  • Plastic grips for insulation and comfort – non-slip surface
  • Solid tips that don’t snap – suitable for heavy-duty tasks
  • Heavy-duty spring that keeps the jaws closed

13. Craftsman Professional Reversible Retaining Ring Pliers

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If you’re looking for a pair of reversible snap-ring pliers that you can easily change from operating internal rings to operating external rings, then you might want to check out these ones from Craftsman.

The Craftsman Professional Reversible Retaining Ring Pliers come with a switch. To change between internal and external use, you simply flip the switch to the other side.

Pretty simple and effortless, isn’t it?

One reason why we find this product to be such a nice buy is that it comes with really handy extra items. You get two extra pairs of angled tips. You also get two extra pairs of straight tips.

Apart from these, the package also provides you with a hex key for opening the tip bolts and two extra bolts just in case you lose the installed pair.

With so much stuff, we bet you’re beginning to see why that 25 bucks is a great price.

The design and the construction of the pliers is something we liked a lot, and we believe you too will.

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Compared to most other models, these are small and extremely easy to handle and carry. They can fit in your pockets.

The glossy handles with black plastic grips and the matte-finished jaws look really nice. On the handles, you’ll see nice Craftsman branding and “USA”.

There’s even a US patent number to show these are made in the US.

The body is obviously made of alloyed steel, and it seems pretty tough. Looks like it will hold up.

Highlighted features:

  • Robust steel construction
  • Lever for conveniently switching between internal and external operation
  • 8 extra tips – both straight and angled
  • Hex key for changing the tips
  • 2 extra tip bolts
  • Elegant design

Things to Consider Before Buying any Snap Ring Pliers


How to choose the best snap ring pliers


If you’re a professional or a DIYer and you find yourself doing maintenance tasks for vehicles, mowers, electrical tools, hand tools, or similar items, then getting the best snap pliers is a great move.

When shopping, here are a few factors you want to consider to ensure you’ve gotten the right pliers. Thanks toolstastico for helping us to write this section.

Internal vs external circlips

The very first factor you should consider is the type of circlips the pliers are built for.

There are internal snap-ring pliers meant for operating internal snap rings, and there are external snap-ring pliers, meant for operating external circlips.

The internal ones work just like standard pliers. When you close the handles, the jaws also close. Internal pliers are meant for working circlips sitting inside bores.

The external ones work in the opposite manner. When you close the handles, the jaws open. These pliers are meant for operating snap rings that fit around a shaft.



Every snap ring pliers has the smallest and largest circlip diameters it can work with. That is usually determined by the spread of the jaws.

So, when looking for snap ring pliers, think about the size of the rings you’ll be working with. Then, get the pliers with the sizes that fit the rings’ sizes.

If you’re not sure about the size of the circlips, we suggest you look for the good quality snap ring pliers set that comes with a wide range of sizes. There are a few sets on our review above, both cheap and premium. Have a look and see which one fits you.

Position of the rings

When working with the transmission and hydraulic systems, you might encounter rings that are hidden in deep spaces. In such scenarios, only a long nose pair of pliers may work.

Other times, you might find that only pliers with angled or straight tips work.

So, when looking for retaining ring pliers, consider the position of the rings and get the appropriate tool for the job. The best approach is to have an assortment of styles – angled, straight, long nose, etc.

You can buy them in an assorted set or get them one by one.


The strength of the pliers will depend on the materials they’re made from.

Look for models with a stainless steel or chromium vanadium body. With such heavy-duty construction, the pliers will withstand pressure excellently. They’ll not break when used in continuous operation and they’ll last many years.

It’s not just the body that needs to be looked at. The tips also matter (a lot in fact). Ensure the tips are heavy duty too.

Apart from that, think about the handles.

They ought to be covered with plastisol or tough rubber – an insulating material that won’t hurt your hands, and that will last. The grips should be properly attached, so they don’t come off the handles.


Snap-ring pliers come in two basic types – those used with external retaining rings and those used with internal retaining rings.

They come with various features, which we can use to sort them and help you decide on the model to get.

1. External retaining ring pliers

Retaining rings that fit around a shaft are referred to as external retaining rings. That’s what the external retaining ring pliers are meant to install and remove.

One way to distinguish these pliers is by the way they work. Contrary to the standard pliers, the external snap ring pliers open the jaws when you close the handles and close the jaws when you open the handles.

2. Internal retaining ring pliers

Snap rings sitting inside a bore are called internal retaining rings. That’s what the internal retaining ring pliers are meant to operate.

These work like the regular pliers. The jaws close when you close the handles and open when you open the handles.

3. Reversible snap ring pliers

Sometimes referred to as convertible or adjustable snap-ring pliers, these are versatile models whose operation can be interchanged between internal and external.

Some handy models have a lever that you can just push to the right or left to change the operation. These are extremely convenient.

Others have bolts that have to be opened and screwed into different holes. In other words, these have two different parts which you can separate and rejoin to change between internal and external use.

4. Angled tip

This is a type of snap-ring pliers with bent tips. Usually, the angle of the bend is 45° or 90°, although you can get other angles.

Angled tip pliers are helpful where the circlip is in a tight space and removal with a straight tip model is cumbersome.

5. Straight tip

The tips on this type are straight, as the name denotes. Straight tip snap ring pliers come in handy when reaching into a shaft to install or remove a snap ring.

6. Long nose

This a type of retaining ring with long, bent jaws. The distance between the bend and the tip is unusually long.

If you want to access a retaining ring in a master cylinder or some other place that is confined, then a lose nose type of pliers might be the right tool for the job.


To get a decent 4 set pliers, you have to spend between 20 to 30 dollers. If the pliers set is larger and have more options, then it will cost between 40-50 dollers.

Top Rated Snap Ring Pliers Brands on The Market 

When considering what snap ring pliers you’re going to buy, there’s an easy way to avoid all the cheap quality products flooding the market. Buying by brand.

Knowing the top brand gives you a shortcut when choosing the products and increases the odds of getting high-quality pliers.

Pretty wise if you don’t have time to look at all the features of each product.

Well, here are the top-rated brands in the arena of snap-ring pliers.


Channellock’s story goes way back to 1886. It began with a local blacksmith, George DeArment forging his own hand tools and selling them in the small towns of Northwest Pennsylvania.

Through the leverage of financing institutions, George was able to grow his business from a small-scale factory to a big company with a large market share.

Though the company hasn’t always been known as Channellock, it has been around for more than 130 years. That’s more than 13 decades of experience in the manufacture and sale of hand tools such as snap-ring pliers.

Tekton Tools

Tekton Tools is a family-owned company based in Michigan, US.

They hire some of the best engineers to design their tools, ensuring that the consumer receives nothing but the finest quality.

Tekton Tool’s product line spans a wide range of hand tools, from wrenches and sockets to ratchets and snap-ring pliers.


IRWIN Tools is another brand that has been around for ages. Their first tool was developed in 1885, and since then, the company has been making some of the most amazing hand tools in the US.

Today, IRWIN owns ten trademarks via which it sells its products. These include Vise-Grip, which is a respected name in the snap ring plier sector.

Lang Tools

Lang Tools is a Wisconsin-based company that was established by the Lang Family in 1932. This brand focuses mainly on making tools for use in the automotive sector.

Their tools are, however, widely assorted, going from diagnostic equipment to offset wrenches and snap ring pliers.

By focusing on the needs of the consumers and employing experts to make their tools, the company is able to make some of the most preferred hand tools in the market.

Astro Tools

For more than four decades, Astro Tools has been importing tools into the US from some of the top manufacturers around the world.

This family-owned brand uses a nation-wide network of distributors, including Matco Tool and Mac Tools to bring their snap on ring pliers among other products closer to the consumer. They also sell online via Amazon and other stores.

Heavy duty snap ring pliers FAQ

Q. What are retaining rings?

Retaining rings are fasteners used for holding assemblies or components in a bore or onto a shaft. They’re also called snap rings or circlips.

Retaining rings retain parts of an assembly, reducing vibration and withstanding axial loading.

Q. How are external snap ring pliers different from internal snap ring pliers?

Internal snap-ring pliers operate internal snap rings while external snap-ring pliers work the external circlips, or rather circlips fitting around a shaft.

The main variation is that instead of the jaws moving in the same direction as the handles, they move in the opposite direction. So, when you open the handles, the jaws close, and when you close them, the jaws open.

Q. Is it possible to get snap ring pliers for both internal and external use?

Absolutely. Reversible/adjustable/convertible snap-ring pliers are a special kind that can be operated both internally and externally.

There are two options for these. You can either get a model with bolts that you have to remove and reinstall differently, or a model with a switch that you just have to flip to the left to change between internal and external use.

The latter is a lot more convenient, but it’s a bit more expensive.

Q. What are the various parts of a snap ring pliers?

Snap ring pliers look like standard pliers only with a few variations. They have handles typically covered with an insulating material, a pivot, and jaws that open and close. At the far end of each jaw is a thinner tip that fits into the hole of the circlip.

Q. Are there other tools that I can use in place of snap ring pliers?

Yes, of course. You can use two flat end screwdrivers, and you can also use needle nose pliers. However, unlike snap-ring pliers, these aren’t specially designed for operating snap rings.

As you can guess, they come with multiple issues. For instance, the snap ring will often slip. Also, you’ll need lots of effort; much more than you’d need with snap ring pliers.

Snap ring pliers Final Words

So, did you find the best snap ring pliers for your needs?

Is it the strong and durable Channellock 927 that comes with interchangeable tips or the flawless Stanley Proto that is robust and extremely easy to use?

When choosing, remember there are external, internal, and reversible models.

There are also straight tip and angled tip pliers. Be sure to consider these factors and the others that we’ve discussed in the buying guide.

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