Expertpickhub Tools Pliers Best Snap Ring Pliers Review
5/51 rating

If your daily tasks have anything to do with mechanical work, you probably need a good set of tools to deal with the tasks. In case you still do not have circlip pliers in your box of tools, I believe it is the right time to purchase them. In this review, I will help you choose the best snap ring pliers that you might need not only at your worksite but also in your household and even in your office.

Whenever you need to install or remove snap rings or circlips, you can deal with this task efficiently if you have snap ring pliers. Of course, you can change retaining rings by hand, or you can use a screwdriver instead, but it will still be a more challenging and time-consuming job for you if you do not have circlip pliers. This type of pliers has firm blunt needle tips that you put right inside the holes of a C-clip whenever you have to install or remove it.

Our pick
best snap ring pliers
Neiko 02130A
Best snap ring pliers review
Interchangeable tips and frame are made with hardened, heat treated steel for durability and long service life.

Best snap ring pliers review

Neiko 02130A – best overall

Neiko 02130A

It is good to have one tool that can install and remove snap rings, but it is always better to have a set. Wouldn’t you agree? A two-piece set of circlip pliers Neiko 02130A produced in Taiwan can cope with versatile tasks, as it includes both internal and external pliers for circlips inside a housing or around a shaft. Handles of this tool are made of alloy steel which makes them durable and appropriate for heavy-duty tasks.

This item has a spring ratchet locking mechanism which makes it easy to deal with non-standard snap rings. Snap ring pliers come with interchangeable heads made with hardened, heat-treated steel to provide long service life. The product has attached straight tips and also includes two 45-degree and two 90-degree snap ring tips. It comes in a carry case for convenient storage and transportation. The capacity of internal pliers is 3-1/16″ to 6-1/4″ while external pliers’ capacity is 3-1/2″ to 6-1/2″. Please note that the tip diameter is 0.12″ and the length of pliers is 16″.

In comparison with Channellock 927, where tips can be changed with a simple lever, here you need to unscrew bolts and put them into different holes, so it is a more time-consuming task.

Neiko 02130A other view

From my experience, I can assure you that these pliers are very convenient for constant use, but I did not like that replacement tips are not available. You will need to get a new set in case you damage or lose some of the tips.

All the key features of Neiko 02130A prove that it is the best snap ring pliers set that you can use for versatile purposes.

Key specs

  • Internal ring diameter range, inch: 3-1/16 to 6-1/4
  • External ring diameter range, inch: 3-1/2 to 6-1/2
  • Snap ring tips: 2 – 45°, 2 – 90°
  • Tip size, inch/mm: 0.12/3
  • Lenght, inch/mm: 16/400

Pros

  • Made of sturdy alloy steel
  • Includes a carry case for convenient storage and transportation
  • Easy to deal with non-standard circlips
  • Sturdy tips that provide a long service life.

Cons

  • Replacement tips are not available.

Channellock 927 – budget

Channellock 927

If your budget is limited, just like space in your garage, and you still need a high-quality product, I would recommend you to take a look at Channellock 927 pliers. This item is made in the USA, and the manufacturer gives a lifetime warranty, so the product is guaranteed against any breakage or failure.

The pliers can be effortlessly conversed from working with external to internal snap rings and vice versa with a simple switch of a tab. A heavy-duty return spring prevents you from getting hand fatigue. The item comes with 5 pairs of color-coded interchangeable tips: .039, .047, .074 straight and .039, .047 90-degree. Internal ring diameter ranges from 3/8 to 2-inch, while external ring diameter ranges from 1/4 to 2-inch. The length of the tool is 11 inches.

Unlike Neiko 02130A these pliers do not come in a carry case, but in fact, it is not needed for a single tool. While Channellock 927 pliers have blue grips for comfortable use, the rival has red handles.

Channellock 927 other view

Unfortunately, the jaws have play in them and would not close completely, so I could not use them to remove a tiny snap ring. The ratchet does not have an auto-release, so you can unlock it only with an extra squeeze. I would say that this tool is not for professional use, but it can be practical if you only need it once in a while.

All flaws aside, Channellock 927 are extremely good snap ring pliers if the budget is a critical aspect for you.

Key specs

  • Internal ring diameter range, inch: 3/8 to 2
  • External ring diameter range, inch: 1/4 to 2
  • Snap ring tips: 3 – straight, 2 – 90°
  • Tip size, inch/mm: 0.09/2.5
  • Lenght, inch/mm: 8/200

Pros

  • Can be conversed with a switch of a tab
  • Blue grips for comfortable use
  • Heavy-duty return spring.

Cons

  • The jaws would not close completely
  • The ratchet does not have an auto-release.

KNIPEX Tools 00 20 04 SB – premium

KNIPEX Tools 00 20 04 SB

Are you looking for the best snap ring pliers of premium quality? Please, rivet your attention on KNIPEX Tools 00 20 04 SB. These expensive tools are produced in Germany, and you actually get a kit of 8 circlip pliers. The body of the product is made of durable alloy steel, while the handle material is foam. Tips are made of high-density spring steel to provide extra protection against excessive stress and strain.

These tools are designed for professional use and are extremely solid to guarantee up to 10 times longer service life. This set includes such internal snap ring pliers as 48 11 J1, 48 11 J2, 48 21 J11, and 48 21 J21 and the following external snap ring pliers: 49 11 A1, 49 11 A2, 49 21 A11, and 49 21 A21.

In comparison with Neiko 02130A, the tips on these pliers are not changeable but crimped in. The length of this item is 12 inches, so these pliers are shorter than the rival.

KNIPEX Tools 00 20 04 SB picture

Even though it is a professional set of pliers, none of the eight pliers is suitable for extra small C-clips. I find it inconvenient that internal pliers do not have a spring to close the jaws.

My verdict is that KNIPEX Tools 00 20 04 SB are high-quality professional snap ring pliers for continuous operation.

Key specs

  • Snap ring tips: 4 – straight°, 4 – 90°

Pros

  • Made of durable alloy steel
  • Advised for professional use
  • Provide extra protection against strain.

Cons

  • Spring is not included for internal pliers
  • Not suitable for miniature circlips.

Astro Pneumatic Tool 94222

Astro Pneumatic Tool 94222

If you are looking for a professional set of tools to install and remove retaining rings, then you should have a look at Astro Pneumatic Tool 94222. Produced in China, this item includes both external and internal straight and 90-degree bent pliers with a 0.90” tip size. These pliers are large and strong and are designed for dealing with large C-clips. Extra-large snap ring pliers are not included in this set.

The toolset consists of 4 items that are made of hardened chrome vanadium. Each of the pliers is in black, has a polished finish, and is complemented with red non-slip handles.
Pliers are 13” long, while the size of the tip is 0.90” (2.3mm); cutting width is 0.23 cm. The product will be helpful when you need to change the bearings in wheel hubs or remove axles on a vehicle.

Both Astro Pneumatic Tool 94222 and WORKPRO W001331A come with storage cases. While the latter is a 600D polyester roll-up pouch with a cover and special pockets, the rival is a case with a zipper.

Astro Pneumatic Tool 94222 other view

I absolutely love the storage case that comes with a set, but I was disappointed that the zipper to close it would be so nondurable. Unfortunately, you cannot get replaceable tips in case they bend or break, just like it happened with me.

In general, Astro Pneumatic Tool 94222 is a great set of large pliers for professional use, owing to the solid material they are made of.

Key specs

  • Snap ring tips: 2 – straight, 2 – 90°
  • Tip size, inch/mm: 0.09/2.3

Pros

  • Large pliers to deal with large snap rings
  • Made of hardened chrome vanadium
  • Comes with a storage case.

Cons

  • Replaceable tips are not available
  • Zipper on a storage case is nondurable.

WORKPRO W001331A

WORKPRO W001331A

You will like WORKPRO W001331A if you need an affordable product of high quality. All the items in this set are long-lasting as they are produced from hardened CR-v steel with a fully polished, electrophoretic coated black finish. One of the key features of these heavy-duty snap ring pliers is bi-material ergonomic handles for enhanced grip and better control.

You can use the pliers for multiple tasks as they provide instant holding power and are easy to reposition during assembly, fastening, and gluing work. The tip diameter is 5/64-inch. The internal ring diameter ranges from 29/32” to 1-25/32′, while the external range is 29/32” -1-25/32”.

Just like Astro Pneumatic Tool 94222, this set consists of 4 tools, but these are much smaller, 7-inch pliers with internal and external straight and bent tips. WORKPRO W001331A is twice cheaper than the rival.

WORKPRO W001331A other view

After using these pliers, I can tell you that the overall finish on the metal isn’t even, and I did not like that handles are made of plastic. The hinge is sloppy and loose, so the jaws move around and twist the snap ring.

All in all, WORKPRO W001331A is a reasonably priced set of snap ring pliers that you can use to complete multiple tasks.

Key specs

  • Internal ring diameter range, inch: 29/32 to 1-25/32
  • External ring diameter range, inch: 29/32 to 1-25/32
  • Snap ring tips: 2 – straight, 2 – 90°

Pros

  • Made of hardened CR-v steel
  • Ergonomic handles for enhanced grip
  • Perfect for multi-application.

Cons

  • The overall finish on the metal isn’t smooth
  • The hinge is sloppy and loose.

Snap ring pliers buying guide

Since there are two main types of snap rings, you are going to need two different circlip pliers to deal with them, internal and external ones and some snap ring pliers are convertible or reversible.

Types of snap ring pliers

Internal C-clips are retaining rings that are installed inside a shaft or a bore to hold assembly parts from coming out. For this particular type of circlips, you have to use internal snap ring pliers. They operate like regular pliers – the jaws of these pliers close when you squeeze the handles.

Internal snap ring pliers

When the retaining rings are wrapped around a shaft or housing, they are known as external circlips, and you need external snap ring pliers to install or remove such a retaining ring. You need to close the handles when you want to open the jaws.

External snap ring pliers

Some models can switch between internal and external operations and are called reversible or adjustable pliers. While some change modes with the help of a lever, others have bolts that you have to spin in different holes.

Reversible snap ring pliers

Pay attention to the tip angle of your tool. Some pliers can bend at 45-degree or 90-degree angles. A straight tip plier provides utmost reach into shafts, and angled pliers provide better viewing reach and allow you to use them in a narrow workspace.

Snap ring plier angle tip

Pay attention to the tip angle of your tool. Some pliers can bend at 45-degree or 90-degree angles. A straight tip plier provides utmost reach into shafts, and angled pliers provide better viewing reach and allow you to use them in a narrow workspace.

Snap ring plier sizes

If you still wonder whether size matters, I can tell you that it does. It goes without saying that the size of a retaining ring determines the size of a plier that you will have to use. So, it is necessary to find out the size of a snap ring before you start looking for the right tool.

Keep in mind that manufacturers provide a wide range of pliers’ sizes, from miniature snap ring pliers to large ones. Large pliers can deal with C-clips that reach up to 500mm, or 20″ in diameter. In fact, some instruments can even be applied for 1000mm or 40″ retaining rings.

Small pliers are usually used on 0.5mm, or 0.02″ snap rings, but it is not an easy task to find them on the market.

Snap ring pliers durability

The durability of pliers depends on the material they are made of. Sturdy pliers have to be made of stainless steel or chromium-vanadium to cope with constant pressure, even in harsh environments. The material of tips matters as well, so make sure that you choose heavy-duty tips because no durable pliers will save you if the tips are flimsy. Handles of pliers should be made of tough rubber that will last longer and will not hurt your hands.

FAQ

What are the uses of the circlip pliers?

Circlip pliers are used for a variety of tasks, including:

  • Removing and installing circlips
  • Adjusting the tension on circlips
  • Repairing or replacing broken circlips

What is the difference between a snap ring and retaining ring pliers?

Snap ring pliers are used to remove and install snap rings while retaining ring pliers are used to remove and install retaining rings. Snap rings are thinner than retaining rings, and they have a sharp edge that allows them to snap into place. Retaining rings are thicker than snap rings, and they have a smooth edge that prevents them from slipping out of place.

Are snap rings reusable?

Yes, snap rings are reusable. They can be removed and installed again as many times as needed. However, if they are damaged or worn out, they should be replaced.

How to use snap ring pliers?

To use snap ring pliers, first, identify the position of the snap ring and then open the pliers so that the jaws are perpendicular to the ring. Insert the jaws of the pliers into the groove on either side of the snap ring and then close the pliers to secure it in place. Finally, rotate the pliers until the snap ring pops out of the groove. Be careful not to damage the snap ring when removing it.

Do I need external and internal snap ring pliers?

No, you do not need external and internal snap ring pliers. You can use one type of snap ring pliers to remove and install both types of snap rings. However, it may be easier to use external snap ring pliers to remove a snap ring located on the outside of an object and internal snap ring pliers to remove a snap ring located on the inside of an object.