Snap-On Talon Grip Pliers are Top Quality; Do Icon or Any Others Compare?
Needle nose pliers and pliers in general are an oft forgot about essential tool for auto mechanics and like many other hand tools, Snap-On sells some pretty good ones. Like most things Snappy though, they aren’t cheap. High-quality tools are sold at a premium usually and the newest sets of Snap-On slip-joint and Talon Grip pliers are no different.
In this post, we’re going to have a look at Snap-On’s latest sets of needle-nose pliers. I want to touch on things like quality, price and of course the warranty on Snap-On hand tools before we go looking for a set of pliers like the Icon slip-joint that compares to the “ACF” line of Talon Grip pliers that Snap-On has for sale on the tool truck right now.
What’s Special About Snap-On 95ACF, 411CF and 911ACF Pliers?
If an auto tech is willing to get on the tool truck and spends hundreds of dollars per pair of Snap-On pliers, there must be something special about the ACF line right? Or is it just brand loyalty that gets new and old techs alike excited about a new line of pliers from Snap-On? I would argue that the brand loyalty factor plays a large part in why people pay Snap-On prices for tools that can be bought much cheaper from competitors.
In this section we want to know what’s good about the Snap-On “CF” line of “Talon Grip” needle-nose pliers though. Later on we will look at the competitors like Knipex, Irwin and even Icon from Harbor Freight. For now, here are some of the specs on Snap-On’s needle-nose plier lineup.
Snap-On 911ACF, 95ACF and 411CF Plier Specs-What’s Good?
According to Snap-On’s website, the 411CF pliers are a 35 degree bent needle nose design. The 911ACF is listed as an 11” “talon grip” needle-nose plier. What’s a talon grip mean?
What is Talon Grip from Snap-On?
According to Snap-On, it’s patented “talon grip” pliers provide 57% more pulling power. How Snap-On’s talon grip increases power according to the company is by relocating the joint on the pliers and optimizing the handle.
I can vouch for these because I have owned the Snap-On Talon Grip pliers. The needle nose pliers are definitely a quality design, but are Snap-On’s pliers the best that a mechanic can buy? Tool competition- especially hand tools is fierce. Even cheaper brands like this mechanic plier set made by VCT is high-quality and can be bought cheap on Amazon.
And then you have “high-leverage” plier sets, like this 20 piece set that includes everything from slip-joint to needle nose and channel locks.
With so many cheap competitors in the mechanics plier market, is it really worth paying $100 or more per pair of Snap-On pliers?
Back to the Snap-On Talon Grip Pliers; Are they Worth Buying?
I find it hard to review pliers because there are so many different styles from Snap-On, Knipex, Gearwrench and even Amazon brands. Essentially in order to figure out if a set of pliers like the Snap-On Talon Grip is worth buying over a cheaper brand, we need to look at the price and warranty because there aren’t many other ways to compare something as basic as a set of pliers.
When looking at which pliers would work best for any given mechanic, it’s important to figure out the intended use and life span so you can decide if it’s worth paying nearly $100 per pair on the Snap-On truck when you can buy a similar set of Icon Slip-Joint pliers for under $20 at Harbor Freight.
If you don’t think the Icon Slip-Joint pliers are as good as the Snap-On, go ahead and have a look at this YouTube video comparing the Talon Grip Snap-On pliers to the Icon 8-inch slip-joint pliers. Or you can check out this Facebook post from the group “Mechanics Do It Better”, a popular page for mechanics from all over the world. If you don’t have time, I’ll summarize by telling you that the OP says several pair of Icon pliers feel and look as good as his Snap-On but for 1/4 of the price!
It’s amazing how many tools are equivalent to Snap-On for a huge discount. Check out the screw driver set from Tekton that I reviewed a while back. It looks just like a Snap-On screwdriver set and got great reviews all over the internet.
What About the Snap-On FlankJaw Pliers?
Another set of pliers that Snap-On is promoting heavily is the 8-inch FlankJaw pliers designed for removing fasteners without ruining them. It’s easy to say that the pliers won’t ruin fasteners, but does the claim hold up in real life applications?
If you’re wondering what FlankJaw pliers are, think “Turbo Socket” or Rocket Socket design on a set of 8-inch pliers. Snap-On is far from the first to come out with a set of pliers designed to remove fasteners. These “Vampliers” below have been around for a while and only cost around $30 on Amazon.
User Reviews are the most Effective way to Rate Pliers
If you want to know how good the Snap-On Talon Grip 8” or 11” pliers are, the best way to find out is to see what other mechanics are saying about them. Are Snap-On Talon Grip pliers the best in the industry? Are these special grip pliers better than the Icon brand at Harbor Freight which continues to step on Snap-On’s neck when it comes to hand tools and it’s Icon tool boxes?
It seems that reviews of the Snap-On Talon Grip pliers are mixed on the internet and YouTube. Some mechanics proclaim that the Snap-On 137ACF pliers and the slip-joint are a MUST HAVE!.
While some others on YouTube have been quick to point out that the Snap-On slip joint pliers are literally identical to the ones Harbor Freight sells under the Icon brand for 1/3 of the price.
Does Snap-On Brand Loyalty Play a Part?
It seems extremely likely that the mechanics who claim Snap-On Talon Grip pliers are the best on the market are pretty loyal to the brand or just unaware of the cheaper, high-quality competition on the market.
I understand it because I was once the guy that only bought from the Snap-On truck. In fact, I still have a ton of tools that I bought in those days and I still use all of them frequently. Im not a fan boy anymore though and I learned from years of spending money on tools that their is almost always an equivalent to the tool trucks that cost less and performs as well or better.
Other Good Plier Brands
Pliers are a pretty common tool whether you’re an auto tech, plumber, carpenter- whatever. Every trade needs quality pliers in all sorts of varieties. So what are some pliers that are as good as Snap-On?
My first mention here is Knipex. I have abused the heck out of my water pump pliers for years and they will not break. I bought my Knipex Cobra as a three piece set way back when, but you can buy just specific sizes, styles and two-piece sets now also.
Irwin, the brand behind the Vice-Grip line of pliers has been making high quality pliers and sets for a long time, so they are an option for techs. Gearwrench sells the Pitbull K9 set of straight jaw tongue and groove pliers. Channelock sells a GS-3 three piece set and tons of single pair of pliers. Even Craftsman make some pliers that are decent- not great either.
The point is, there are many option when it comes to automotive tools. It’s smart to look around and not pay three times as much from the tool truck just because it’s convenient. With Amazon Prime (free trial) you can have just about anything in a day or two max.
When do Techs Stop Caring About Brand Loyalty?
I totally understand brand loyalty, especially when it comes to tools. We as techs spend so much of our income on tools that we want to be comfortable we aren’t wasting money if we do jump astray and buy from an unfamiliar brand. It was something I struggled with when buying tools for a long time. It wasn’t until I started replacing my Snap-On cordless tools with Milwaukee’s M18 electric tools that I really started to accelerate my spending toward brands other than Snap-On and the other tool trucks.
I think for most techs it takes a good part of his or her career before they become willing to start buying brands other than what they are comfortable with for hand tools, cordless and pneumatic tools. That’s why I do a lot of these posts is because I wish so badly that I had even a fraction of the money back that I spent on a brand instead of a tool. I think that if I can convince techs early on to shop around for tools and fill their box with a diversity of brand name tools, they will be much better off financially in the long run.
Author- John Green
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