Every once in a while someone sends us a tool that is tagged with a claim that’s a bit hard to swallow. Vampire Tools sent us their Vampliers, which the company labels as “screw pliers”. These pliers are designed to grasp onto stuck screws of any type and allow the user to remove them with the sheer (but hopefully not “shear”) force of the jaws’ grip. They’re more suited for this work than a tool like Milwaukee Diagonal Pliers or even a pair of Klein J2068C Pliers.
We had to see it for ourselves, so we took the pliers immediately to a rusted patio table that needed to be disassembled and discarded. The problem was, the bolt holding the two interlocked pieces together was completely rusted through—and thus impossible to remove with a standard hex wrench. The inner walls of the screw were falling apart just like every other part of the table, causing the bolt to strip out immediately upon insertion of an Allen wrench.
Then we applied the Vampliers. First off, the Vampliers are really comfortable to use. You probably won’t keep the rubberized cover that slips overtop the closed jaws, but the same red elastomer material covers the handles and it’s easy to grip in the hand. The design is sort of odd, with a lot of detail and many angular features that make us think the entire point is to make sure these don’t slip out of your hands. They’re comfortable, but comfort doesn’t seem to be the primary purpose.
The pliers are small, about 6-1/4″ tall and you can’t use them for major jobs that you’d need a pair of Kleins for. Rather, these are perfect for small rusted bolts and jobs that don’t require a ton of torque or wrist strength. Grip is the key. The jaws of the Vampliers are naturally kept open by the integrated spring, and they feature several perpendicular surfaces, etched in different manners so as to provide a decent grip for many different sized screws. In our testing they indeed gripped the rusted hexagonal Allen bolt and, when we twisted, allowed us to free the two rusted pieces.
Are the Vampliers for everyone? Possibly, but at $34 they’re not inexpensive. The problem is that when you need them—you need them. And having them around is going to end up saving you in some way or another, be it a plumbing job or even an automotive application where you can’t really get a screw to come free. In that scenario, the $34 cost of entry is going to mean very little compared to getting the job done.