Vampliers Pro - Review
I have to admit that the name "Vampliers" was a little off-putting at first. It sort of sends the vibe of, "yeah, the tool doesn't have much going for it, so we gave it an interesting name." Turns out, that's not the case at all. The Vampliers are, in fact, a unique, useful and interesting variation of a set of linesman pliers. The fact that they're very well made only adds to the goodness.
What makes the Vampliers the Vampliers is the shape of the nose. Instead of two flat jaws coming together, the Vampliers' nose is serrated with a slight gap between the teeth, giving the impression of a smiling wolf or maybe even, gee, I don't know, a vampire? When you open the jaws, you can see that the serrations extend up the inside of the jaws in a slightly concave fashion. Along the sides are serrations that run perpendicular to the first ones. So there is no flat to flat jaw here, except along the sides where the teeth fit perfectly together.
And why is this? Well, the Vamplier's specific mission in life is to assist with the unscrewing of stripped or damaged screws. And at that task, the tool is a doozie. Because of the shape of the jaws, the Vampliers can grab just about anything and the teeth dig in to the extent that as long as you're strong enough to turn the handles, the jaws will hold.
I tested it out on a ton of different screws and fasteners and the only one where the tool was unsuccessful was when I tried to use it to twist out the plug on an ancient radiator. To the Vampliers' credit, in the end we had to drill out the plug. Nothing else worked (it was basically an impossible task, but we gave it a shot anyway). Still, my plumber was very impressed with the tool.
To use the Vampliers is to twist and torque the handles. On low-grade pliers, this would be a weak point, but on these, the pivot connection is extremely solid, sort of like the quality that you might see on a set of Kleins. I also like how the nose of the tool has some interesting machining to it. There's a little flair to the design. Not a ton, but some thought went into the aesthetics of the tool. The same can be said about the handles (which are also comfortable).
The Vampliers Pro cost around $40. It may seem like a decent chunk of change for a hand tool, but it's on par with any other high quality hand tool (Knipex, Channellock, Kleins, etc). By all indications, the Vampliers offer that level of durability. Their usefulness is unique and anyone who has ever struggled with a stripped or otherwise semi-destroyed bolt will understand their value.
There are a couple different versions available. There is a smaller version, one in the form of slip joint pliers, and the original Vamplier which just does the screw extraction without some of the Linesman function. More info on those here.
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Posted by Doug Mahoney at November 4, 2014 11:48 AM
I may have missed earlier comments, but I believe the Vampliers are identical to the Japanese "Engineer" brand of extraction pliers. In fact, the Vampliers have the same appearance and handles as the Engineer models. The Engineer pliers have GREEN handles, while Vampliers have RED handles. The handles of both have "Engineer" imprinted on them.
There is an appreciable difference in price, as well, so it's mostly a matter of preference whether you buy one over the other. No doubt part of the price differential is owing to extensive advertising; Engineer doesn't seem to advertise, so perhaps that's why they don't charge as much. Mechanics like Scotty Kilmer and Eric the Car Guy (ETCG1) have tested the Vampliers and think they're worthwhile, but I don't think they receive(d) a stipend for their opinions.
In any event, I wouldn't get rid of your other extraction devices. These are just one type you should have in your arsenal for that task. For instance, they'd be useless in trying to remove a screw that had broken at or below the surface, when there's nothing for the jaws to grab hold of. Your chances of removal are increased, too, if you use some penetrating oil (or heat, if that would be prudent). Sometimes a few light taps with a hammer can break the fastener loose if it's physically restrained by corrosion.