Irwin Vise-Grip Cutting Pliers - Review
[I updated the piece with more info on the handles]
The other day Irwin sent over a sample of their new line of cutting pliers and man o man, are they nice. Really nice. They ain't cheap, but they're slick.
We first saw these a while back when Stu from ToolGuyd mentioned them, noting that they're manufactured by NWS. NWS is a German company and beyond the message board tool junkies, they don't have much presence in the US. Everything I've ever read about them has been positive but I've honestly never even held one of their tools until now. That apparently was a mistake.
It's pretty easy to see that Irwin has made a good call here. Their reputation for quality hand tools can only grow with this release. There are 11 new cutting pliers, from long nose to linesman (complete list here). I tested out the 8-inch diagonal cutters.
The cutting pliers have a cool compound hinge which consists of three parts and provides a significant amount of cutting pressure. It's the same idea as what's behind the Knipex pliers, but executed differently. The Irwin's slice through wire ties with next to no hand exertion. 12 gauge wire and even drywall screws can be snipped with minimal effort. The cutting power on these is impressive.
I also like that they're long in the nose. Not only is this good for tight spots, but it lets them ride along nicely in a back pocket.
The handles are really comfortable too, maybe the most comfortable I've ever used on a pair of cutters. The press material talks about a "3-zone comfort" thing. Not exactly sure what that means, but it doesn't really matter anyway, the grips are great no matter how we hold the tool.
[UPDATE: Irwin clarified the "3-zone comfort" thing for me. According to them, "this is a very specialized process where first the base layer is molded, then the 2 remaining layers are injected into the mold simultaneously. This process allows the entire grip to be molded in less than 2 minutes. The advantage of this 3-shot molding process is that when all three layers can be formed while they are still in a slightly heated state, maximum bonding is attained and delamination of the layers will not be an issue." This reminds me of the co-extrusion method of making duct tape. If the poly sheeting enters the manufacturing process in molten form, the cloth scrim will be completely bonded to it. It's way better than the other method of just smooshing the layers together. For more duct tape info than you'll ever need, go here.]
There is also a small loop at the butt end of each handle that is compatible with a small lanyard system sold separately.
I tested them alongside the Knipex (73 72 180) and in the end, I liked the Irwin's better. The cut takes less effort and as comfortable as the Knipex are, the Irwin's far outdistance them in that department.
Irwin also has a lifetime guarantee on the tools which seems like a safe bet given the smothering feel of quality that these things give off.
But like I said earlier, as with any quality tool, there is a hefty price tag that goes along with it. Right now, Amazon has these going for about $43. It's a good amount of money, but if you like your gear to be exceptional, this is a sound investment for a premiere tool of extremely high quality that should have no problems lasting a lifetime.
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Posted by Doug Mahoney at October 6, 2014 12:17 PM