For a tool that was invented in 1924, the Irwin Vise-Grips just keeps getting better with age. The latest addition to the Vise-Grip family is the new Fast Release Curved Jaw locking pliers that are available in three sizes. These new pliers come with no-slip ProTouch handles and take only one hand to open and lock closed and offer some other significant improvements over “The Original” style Vise-Grips. Now for all you traditionalist, Irwin Vise Grip still manufactures the “The Original” style Vise-Grips too.
Irwin Vise-Grip Review
All the Irwin Vise-Grip locking pliers are made of high-grade, heat-treated, alloy steel that is supposed to ensure toughness and durability. The teeth are further ground and hardened to make sure that you get a solid grip on your work piece. Where these new pliers depart from “The Original” style Vise Grips is that they have anti-pinch, non-slip ProTouch Grips on the handles. Also there is no more release lever to make the pliers open once they are locked closed. Now, with just one hand, you simply put a little pressure on the inside of the handles and they just click open. From what we can tell, these new pliers open about two times easier then “The Original” Vise-Grips once they are locked on something. One of the other nifty features that also stood out to us was that the adjustment screw on the end of the handle has a hex key hole. Now what you can do is once you have the pliers locked on your workpiece and you need just a little more pressure, you can insert an Allen wrench and give the adjusting screw a slight turn to adjust the jaw pressure and help draw materials together. Also, if the pliers are locked too tightly on a workpiece, you can use this same hex key hole to release some of the pressure and allow the pliers to unlock easier.
The last big feature that we noted on the new Fast Release Curved Jaw locking pliers is, well, the curved jaw. When we compared the jaw style to some of the other models of Vise-Grips in our collection, it quickly became evident that these jaws are designed for grabbing onto round, square, hex or just about any type of bolt or nut. Given the new geometry of the jaw and the teeth, and if you choose the right size pliers for your project, you will see that the teeth grip more securely. For example, when you lock the jaw onto a nut, its hex shape ends up having teeth pressing against four of its six sides. What we found this to mean in the real world is that there is a much less likely chance of the pliers slipping or stripping the nut or bolt. Irwin claims that the new Curved Jaw provide about three times more gripping power then the old style curved jaw pliers. We believe it.
Testing and Use
Testing and using the Irwin Vise-Grip Fast Release Curved Jaw locking pliers really was a matter of putting the tools in the tool box and keeping them handy for when an appropriate task came up. Of course around here, there is always something that needs some fixing or assembly. Just last week while helping a buddy with the rear brakes on his Honda Odyssey, we discovered that one of the rear break cylinders was leaking. Since it was not safe to put it all back together with the bad cylinder, we swapped it out with a new one. The trick was that the small nut that is installed on the break line was stuck and our regular wrenches would not break it loose without slipping. We grabbed the 5” pair of the Fast Release Curved Jaw locking Vise-Grips and we had the nut loose in no time – and with no damage to the nut, either. After we broke the nut loose, we went back to using the 10 mm wrench. Vise-Grips are just the type of tool that, while not used all the time, it is hard to imagine doing some things without them.
In our arsenal of tools, a Vise-Grip is one deviee that has not outlived its usefulness and actually has become significantly better with time. The new Irwin Vise-Grip Fast Release Curved Jaw locking pliers are a great addition to the Vise-Grip product line and we suspect that in short order the new Curved Jaw design will become the new design standard. For our Performance rating we gave these pliers a 9/10 since they are darn near perfect and we figured that if we gave them a 10 now, we would not have another point to give them when they come out with the next generation of Vise-Grips. For our Value rating, we gave these pliers a 9/10 also because of their combination of quality and features. You will be hard-pressed to find a better value (trust us here, there are plenty of knock-offs and similarly designed pliers on the market). We highly recommend the Irwin Vise-Grips to anyone!
About Irwin Tools
IRWIN Tools manufactures and distributes a broad line of hand tools and power tool accessories including VISE-GRIP pliers and wrenches, MARATHON saw blades, QUICK-GRIP clamping tools, SPEEDBOR wood drilling bits, STRAIT-LINE marking tools, UNIBIT step drill bits, and HANSON taps and dies. IRWIN Tools is a part of Newell Rubbermaid’s global portfolio of brands.