Best Channel Locks for Plumbing | Reviews and Buying Guide

If you’ve ever used adjustable pliers, you might think you know everything you need to know about these great tools. However, the fact is that there have been several developments in adjustable clamps recently, which means there is more to know about best channel locks for plumbing than ever.

Read More: Best Plumbing Tools for Professional Plumbers in 2021

If you want to invest in a tool that increases your speed and efficiency, you need to know not only what’s new, but also the features of channel locks that influence your experience the most.

For those limited in time we have created a summary of the best channel locks for plumbing here. Below within the article you will find a more in-depth review.

Summary: Best Channel Locks for Plumbing

Best Overall Channel Lock - Channellock 440 Tongue and Groove
13,014 Reviews
Best Overall Channel Lock - Channellock 440 Tongue and Groove
The Channellock 440 Tongue and Groove is our best overall pick for various reasons. It is made by a well-known brand. It has thousands of positive reviews online (including us, of course). It is made of high carbon steel, which ensures excellent durability. And with excellent durability comes great value for the money. But that’s not all; this channel lock comes with double heat-treated teeth and a non-slip design to efficiently meet your plumbing and handyman needs. Overall, the Channellock 440 adjustable plier is a very good investment, especially for those skilled workers in the plumbing industry who are always on the go.
Knipex Cobra Water Pliers
23,138 Reviews
Knipex Cobra Water Pliers
This channel lock should be on the top of the list if it were a bit cheaper. But still, it’s worth the money as it sports many features that will surely help you do your tasks efficiently. It comes with a unique self-locking adjustment, and induction hardened gripping teeth that stay once set up. Its unique jaw configuration can grip shapes such as square, hex, round, or flat. This is an improved model with 30% more gripping capacity compared to its older models. It won’t let you down when it comes to durability since it is constructed from chrome vanadium electric steel - an innovative high-alloy, oil tempered steel that ensures a long lifespan. The Knipex Cobra channel lock comes at a premium price but with amazing features. All in all, it’s yet another great investment you can choose.
Best Budget Channel Lock - IRWIN Vise-Grip
1,922 Reviews
Best Budget Channel Lock - IRWIN Vise-Grip
If you’re a plumber or handyman but currently tight on budget and at the same time badly needs a channel lock, then the IRWIN Vise-Grip is for you. This channel lock features a distinct design that ensures a precise and secure grip. It also boasts an innovative press-and-slide button that lets it adjust twice as fast as traditional tongue-and-groove pliers. The main takeaway is that it will meet all your basic and some advanced plumbing needs for an affordable price!
TEKTON 16 Inch Groove Joint Pliers
848 Reviews
TEKTON 16 Inch Groove Joint Pliers
Even though the TEKTON 16-inch Groove Join Pliers come in fourth place, it still delivers excellent performance and will surely make you more efficient when it comes to your plumbing tasks. It features slanted teeth, which gives it the same power as the other outstanding channel locks on our list. Furthermore, it is also corrosion-resistant, which makes it a good bang for your bucks.
Channellock GL10CB 9.5-Inch Grip Lock Tongue and Groove Plier
12,900 Reviews
Channellock GL10CB 9.5-Inch Grip Lock Tongue and Groove Plier
Just like the Channellock plier on the top of the list, the Channellock GL10CB 9.5-Inch adjustable plier won’t let you down as it provides excellent value. If you can’t afford to get the Channellock plier we featured on the number one spot but still want to have a Channellock model, then this one is for you. It features a special griplock jaw design as well as an ergonomic offset head that can deal with different shapes while giving you excellent leverage. It is also crafted with strong laser-hardened teeth for superior longevity and grip strength. Finally, it is designed with high-carbon steel for optimal strength and durability to prevent corrosion to make it more long-lasting.
Stanley 84-024 10-Inch Bi-Material Groove Joint Pliers
366 Reviews
Stanley 84-024 10-Inch Bi-Material Groove Joint Pliers
It’s true that this channel lock is in the last place on our list, but worry not because we’re sure that it will be able to meet all your plumbing and handyman needs. The Stanley 84-024 adjustable plier features a jaw with adjustable width that guarantees secure grip and rotation. It is incorporated with a rust-resistant chrome finish, so it will surely last long. All in all, this one won’t fail you when it comes to tasks that involve channel locks, especially because it is made by a prominent tools brand, Stanley.

Buyer’s Guide: Factors to Consider When Buying the Best Channel Locks

Before spending your hard-earned money on channel locks, make sure you know what are the factors to consider when buying one. By doing so, you’ll be able to get the most value out of your money.

Here are factors you should keep in mind:


You must get a perfect-sized tool in order to rotate the nuts and bolts or to hold specific-sized workpieces. If you try to do unfasten or fasten something with a wrong-sized tool, problems may occur.

This is the main reason why you must use the perfect sized channel locks. Nowadays, manufacturers produce different sized tools. For example, you get a 6.5, 9.5, or 12-inch channel lock. In some instances, there are sizes that come in a set. If you have some budget to spend and, at the same time, a newbie in this industry and trying to establish an excellent tool arsenal, we advise you to go with a set. It’s worth the investment!


If you’re not getting enough grip over your tool when using it, then there’s no point at all. This is the reason why checking the grip is crucial. The most straightforward way to check the grip of a tool is to inspect the specifications or data provided by the maker.

Some oldest manufacturers feature their trademark blue grip, which boasts a legendary success story over the past few years. On the other hand, some comparatively new manufacturers have also included those kinds of grips into their tools. But whichever you pick, be sure that the handles are covered with soft materials.


We all know that channel locks feature a distinctive long handle. That’s why they are better when it comes to leverage and can prove themselves very useful when it comes down to clamping or holding something and even in cutting. This is the reason why you must get a channel lock that long enough handle to give you the necessary leverage you need.

To check the length of the handle, just check the specifications provided by the manufacturer, then compare the length with other channel locks. We suggest you get one with the longest handle.


If the channel lock you chooses has good ergonomics, it means you’ll have better working experience and leverage. Just check the design of the tool and compare it with others to see if it has the right ergonomics factor for your needs.


When it comes to budget on channel locks, you shouldn’t restrict yourself too much if you want to get a high-quality one. After all, your tools are investments, especially if you’re a plumber.


Of course, Channellock tools is the best brand when it comes to channel locks (at least for us). 

But you can check the features and specifications of other brands, and maybe you’ll have a new favorite.

The Most Important Factors to Look for Channel Locks

What are the most important things to look for in a channel lock?


Adjustable pliers usually come in three designs: smooth jaw, straight jaw, or v-jaw. The most versatile is the V-jaws which, if seen from the side of the hand tool, features a V-cut out on both top and bottom jaw. Because of these notches, V-jaw adjustable pliers can securely grab flat, hex, or round bolts and nuts.

10-Inch Length

This factor splits the difference between too big and bulky and too small and ineffective. 10-inch adjustable pliers come with a grip area of around five inches, making them comfortable in most hands with gloves or without. Typically, they have a jaw capacity of about two inches which means they can make all of the plumbing connections under any large pipes or any standard 4-inch waste line clean-outs as well as under the kitchen sink.

Ergonomic Handles

Get a channel lock that comes with some type of padding on its handles. The whole point of channel locks is to grip, hold, twist, and turn, and these actions can really put some stress on your hands. Many manufacturers still make the older-style grips, which are nothing more than metal handles dipped in metal or plastic surrounded by a thin layer of plastic.

If you want to remove a radiator so you can paint behind it or take the blade off your mower, you are most likely going to exert a lot of hand strength on the channel lock, and that’s not good. Remember, your hands are very important in your job. So, make sure to get one with good ergonomic handles.

Push-Button Adjustment

The push-button adjustment is a quite recent innovation, and it makes adjusting the jaw size fast and easy, particularly when compared to the old tongue and groove models. The ease of the system is centered around a button found at the connection point of the two handles.

If you want to adjust the jaw size, just press the button and slide the handle up or down, which increases or decreases the jaw opening. Once at the correct size, the button is released, and the tool’s handles lock-in. The good thing is that this action can be done with the jaws around a bolt or nut, so the appropriate size can be zeroed immediately.

On the other hand, the older style of adjustment needs the handles to be opened to their maximum width. So, if you’re searching for a specific size, it could take several tries before you find the correct one because you’re making your size selection with the jaws entirely opened.

Furthermore, the push-button design enables you to have more precision in the jaw sizing. A 10-inch pair of an old model of tongue and groove pliers might only have seven size settings. However, a push-button adjustment provides you with at least double that.

Some manufacturers have much more than that, such as the Knipex Cobra, which has 25 settings. This extra accuracy means a snugger fit on wider-sized nuts and bolts. In other words, a better gripping force that is more evenly spread over the nut, resulting in a good hold and an effortless turn.

We like the sturdy heat-treated teeth and the non-slip design of Channellock 440 tongue and groove pliers. We like that this channel lock is a low-maintenance and user-friendly tool because it is corrosion-resistant and tackles nuts and bolts without damaging them.

Best Channel Locks for Plumbing 2021

We understand this challenge, and our reviews of the best adjustable channel locks for 2021 are designed for you. The demonstrate to you the strengths and weaknesses of each model so you can find the model that best suits your next job, and you’ll be happy to use channel locks. We also put some advice to get good value for money. So if you are looking for a lot, keep reading.

Channellock’s 12 Inch Tongue and Grove Pliers – Best Choice

best Channel locks Buy on Amazon

Even though it’s our best overall pick, the Channellock 440 tongue, and groove plier is not perfect. Its durable teeth may end up leaving their marks on some of the more tough nuts and bolts out there. So, make sure you’re putting just enough strength on your grip.

best Channel locks

It’s no surprise this channel lock is our best pick. It met our expectations, it is made by a well-known brand, and above all, it boasts more than 3,500+ positive reviews online, which proves how much value it can offer for your money!

Key Features

  • Brand: Channellock
  • Made in: America
  • Material: High Carbon Steel
  • Weight: 1.64 pounds
  • Jaw Capacity: 2.25 inches
  • Number of Adjustments: 7
  • Handle Span: 1.81 inches
  • Joint Thickness: 0.05-inch
  • Jaw Length: 1.5 inches
  • Overall Length: 12 inches


  • It comes with extreme heat-treated teeth and provides excellent contact with the nut head or screw.
  • This model of channel locks is also molded in stainless steel, which extends the service life considerably.
  • These teeth can easily loosen bolts and nuts without removing them, making them a lifeline in some cases.
  • The design of this channel locks models also helps reduce slipping, which often results in blood joints when working with lower models.
  • Great value for the money considering all the features that it offers.


  • Its teeth are likely to scratch raw nuts or bolts if you’re not careful.


The Channellock 440 tongue and groove plier is made by a prominent brand, so rest assured that your hard-earned money won’t go to waste. In fact, you will be investing in an outstanding tool that many experienced plumbers and handymen recognize!

Knipex Cobra Pliers

With Knipex Cobra pliers, you won’t be wasting time on test-adjusting just to get the correct size. Just position the upper jaw to the object you’re working on, push the button, and close the lower jaw. Additionally, you don’t need to worry about blood blisters while gripping because this channel lock features a built-in pinch guard that prevents blood blisters on your hand.

best Channel locks for 2021 Buy on Amazon

This channel lock’s unique self-locking mechanism and induction hardened gripping jaws mean that once it is positioned, it stays. It won’t slip, and you don’t need to waste strength squeezing the pliers, which translates to a more efficient job.

Knipex Cobra’s unique jaw configuration can grip any shape object like square, hex, round, or flat. Also, its newly redesigned adjustments give 30% more gripping capacity compared to the older models. When it comes to durability, you don’t need to worry as it is constructed from chrome vanadium electric steel, which is an innovative high-alloy, oil tempered steel that guarantees longevity.

tool for plumbing

Really, if it weren’t for its premium price, we might have placed these Knipex Pliers on top of the list. But still, for what it offers, the premium price is nothing. It’s yet another great investment.

Key Features

  • Brand: Knipex
  • Made in: Germany
  • Material: Alloy Steel
  • Weight: 0.75 pounds
  • Jaw Capacity: Up to 2-inch for round and 1-13/16-inch for hex
  • Length: 10 inches
  • Adjustment Positions: 25
  • Handles: Plastic Coating


  • It features unique self-locking adjustment and induction hardened gripping teeth, so it stays once it is set.
  • Its unique jaw configuration can grip shapes such as square, hex, round, or flat.
  • It is an improved model which provides you 30% more gripping capacity compared to older models.
  • Made of chrome vanadium electric steel, which ensures longevity.


  • A bit pricey, but for what you’ll get, it’s worth the price.


If you can spend more on a channel lock, we highly recommend the Knipex Cobra pliers. What we mentioned above are just some of its quality features, but there’s more to this channel lock. It will satisfy all your plumbing needs just like with us. Trust us and see for yourself.

IRWIN Tools VISE-GRIP Tools GrooveLock Pliers- Best Value Channel Locks

This channel lock is part of the reliable Irwin Groovelock Vise-Grip professional line. It features a unique design to guarantee a grip that’s both precise and secure. It comes with an innovative press-and-slide button that enables the pliers to adjust twice as fast as traditional tongue-and-groove pliers.

channel locks Buy on Amazon

And similar to the Knipex channel lock we discussed above, it also features an anti-pinch mechanism. Additionally, it comes with non-slip ProTouch grips for enhanced control and user comfort.

The IRWIN vise-grip’s V-jaw is ideal for hex, square, flat, and round shape workpieces. This channel lock also boasts great durability and accuracy. All these advantages for an affordable price!

If you’re searching for an affordable channel lock that comes with an innovative design that ensures precision and easy handling, then the IRWIN Pliers is for you!

Key Features

  • Brand: IRWIN
  • Material: Alloy Steel
  • Weight: 0.3 pounds
  • Handle Material:
  • Metal Length: 6 inches


  • These channel locks come with a simple jaw adjustment.
  • Just press one button, and you can reset this form.
  • These channel locks also come with a multi-groove ratchet system, which gives you more positioning options than most pliers.
  • Like the best adjustable pliers, this model also has anti-trap handles that help you avoid extreme pain when working quickly.
  • This model of channel locks is also cheaper than the first two models on our list, but it is of the same quality.
  • If you are still looking for a decent deal on a model that has all the features you would expect from a premium model, you can’t go wrong with this model.
  • It provides the best value for money on our list.


  • Its small jaws might not be able to handle heavy torque.


If you’re restricted on budget but badly need a quality channel lock for your handyman and plumbing tasks, then look no further, as the IRWIN Vise-Grip will surely be able to meet your needs.

TEKTON 16 Inch Groove Joint Pliers

This channel lock features angled teeth that give this plier solid performance at a fraction of the premium prices. Its interlocking tongue and groove can save a lot of time, particularly for beginner handymen. Additionally, because it sports a corrosion-resistant steel design, rest assured that these channel lock will be a long-term investment.

channel locks Buy on Amazon

But take note that some of its design aspects might not be very user-friendly for some people. You will to always tighten the bolt that holds the different halves together. Its handle coverings are also quite slick that will most likely make you pinch yourself while using it.

channel locks

TEKTON is an amazing brand, and so is this channel lock. Its unique features will save you a lot of time and hassles with most jobs.

Key Features

  • Brand: Tekton
  • Material: Alloy Steel
  • Weight: 2.65 pounds
  • Length: 16.3-inch
  • Jaw Capacity: 4.3-inch
  • Height: 0.8-inch
  • Width: 4-inch


  • This channel locks model comes with slanted teeth, giving it the same power as premium models on our list.
  • It is also provided with tongue-and-groove seals that are inseparable during use.
  • This feature saves you time and hassles with most jobs.
  • The type of steel used to construct this model is inherently corrosion-resistant.


  • This model comes with a relatively soft handle cap that most people don’t want to handle.


Though this channel lock is in fourth place, it still delivers great performance and will surely save a lot of time, especially for new handymen out there. It’s also durable because of its corrosion-resistant steel design.

Channellock GL10CB 9.5-Inch Grip Lock Tongue and Groove Plier

Another channel lock from Channellock. This one features a special griplock jaw design and ergonomic offset head that can deal with different shapes while providing excellent leverage. It boasts a patented Safe-T-Stop feature that helps prevent finger pinch.

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This adjustable plier also features a reliable permalock fastener that enhances joint strength and eliminates nut and bolt failure. It is also designed with strong laser-hardened teeth for superior longevity and grip strength. It is made with high-carbon steel for optimal strength and durability to prevent corrosion.

channel locks

You won’t just go wrong with any Channellock adjustable pliers. The brand has already proven itself, and they’re trusted by many handymen and plumbers out there. So, guaranteed, your money will be spent wisely!

Key Features

  • Brand: Channellock
  • Made in: USA
  • Material: Made of High Carbon Steel
  • Handle Material: Made of High-Carbon Steel as well.
  • Weight: 0.83 pounds
  • Length: 9.5 inches


  • These tongue-and-groove pliers have a displacement head in the shape of a geometry that provides a more significant lever.
  • The unique jaw design allows you to adapt these pliers to any shape and size.
  • It is equipped with PermaLock technology, which prevents defects of bolts and nuts.
  • Made by a prominent brand, which is trusted by many handymen and plumbers.


  • This channel lock would be perfect if it could open wider.


Just like any other Channellock pliers, the Channellock GL10CB 9.5-Inch Grip Lock Tongue and Groove Plier provide excellent value. If you don’t have enough budget to afford the number one on the list but want to get a more affordable Channellock adjustable plier, this one is for you.

Stanley 84-024 10-Inch Bi-Material Groove Joint Pliers

The Stanley 84-024 channel lock features a jaw with adjustable width, ensuring secure grip and rotation. It is perfect for automotive, plumbing, and other general applications that handymen work on. It is also very durable as it is incorporated with a rust-resistant chrome finish.

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It is also very affordable. Take note that even though it’s on the last of our list, it won’t fail you in terms of channel lock tasks.

Stanley is also a prominent brand when it comes to tools, so rest assured you’re getting the right channel lock for your plumbing needs.

Key Features

  • Brand: Stanley
  • Made in: USA
  • Weight: 0.95 pounds
  • Length: 12.2 inches
  • Color: Rust-Resistant Chrome Finish


  • These tongue and groove clamps have a jaw with adjustable width, which ensures secure grip and rotation.
  • These best adjustable pliers are the perfect choice for health, automotive, and general applications.
  • They have a very chrome-plated surface that is resistant to rust or other chemicals.
  • Heat-treated jaws help control things safely.


  • The handles are a little long for the size of the head.


Yes, sure, this channel lock is in the last place on the list but don’t worry, we’re confident that it will be able to meet your plumbing needs.

Different Types of Adjustable Pliers

These best channel locks for plumbing reviews and guide tackled on a number of different adjustable pliers. And as you might expect, there are various types of adjustable pliers depending on your specific needs.

Self-Adjusting Pliers – these types of pliers use a cam-and-ratchet feature to grip whatever you’re working on, and adjust the jaws using the handles to make everything parallel. This is essentially your all-around plier because you can use it in repairs, plumbing, and everything in between.

Tongue-and-Groove Pliers – these types of pliers combine long handles with serrated and groove-jointed jaws. If you want to work with other plumbing connectors and seriously want to unfasten some metal pipes, you need these pliers. Tongue-and-groove pliers are also known as channel locks.

Pipe-Gripping Pliers – these are known for their four-point slip joint and curved jaws, that’s why they are also known as slip joint pliers. As the name suggests, slip joint pliers are perfect for fastening and unfastening various plastic pipes without leaving any damage or scuffs.

Wrench-Pliers – these ones come with a cam-and-ratchet feature that you can activate using a simple button. They keep their jaws parallel regardless of the handles, making them ideal for removing bolts or plumbing without accidentally stripping them.

Why Get Adjustable Pliers

If you’re new to handy tools, you might have a question why get adjustable pliers?

In a way, the very name of these tools tells you everything you have to know about them. The aspect of adjusting things like jaw width can help you work on various tasks. Even if you only have one adjustable plier, you may be shocked at how many different usages you can find for it due to its adjustability.

Aside from that, adjustable pliers are usually more user-friendly. If you’re a beginner handyman who has not worked deeply with pliers, you may enjoy the privilege to adjust to your exact needs for every project. And regardless of how skilled you are, you should be able to automatically determine the best adjustments for different types of projects.

The main takeaway is, if you want a handy tool that can do most of the task, then an adjustable plier is the perfect tool for you!

Disadvantages of Adjustable Pliers

Yes, adjustable pliers are amazing tool. But they also have a drawback. Adjustable pliers usually need a strong grip. For instance, you won’t be able to get rid of those pesky bolts if you don’t have a strong grip on the adjustable plier.

So, if you have trouble using these pliers or have a weaker grip, you have two simple choices. The first is to look into other kinds of tools such as vice grips. And the second is to keep practicing until you achieve that iron grip.

Things to Avoid When Using Adjustable Pliers?

What you want to do is make sure that you actually need an adjustable plier for the job at hand. A lot of newbie handymen put their tools at risk by utilizing a plier on a tough nut when they should have utilized a pipe wrench or any heavy-duty adjustable wrench in the first place.

Next, you must be careful when using adjustable pliers wrench around polished plumbing. Even the most cautious handyman is most likely to leave scuffs and marks on the metal using an adjustable plier.

If you don’t want that to happen, make sure to place a cloth between the jaws and surface. Finally, don’t twist the plier sideways while you’re working. Even if you’re being very careful, twisting sideways may end up loosening, stressing, or might even break the joint.


To finalize this guide, we should announce which is the best channel lock, right? So, which is it?

Based on our actual experience, we would choose the Channellock 440 Tongue and Groove Pliers as our winner. It is a very reliable tool that we’ve been using for many years now. Its thousands of positive ratings online prove how much value this channel lock from Channellock can provide.

How about you? Have you already tried one of the channel locks we discussed? Share your experience below so you can help those fellow plumbers and handymen!


What Are Channel Locks Actually Called?

Many newbie handymen have this question: what’s another name for channel lock pliers? 

Channel-lock pliers are also most commonly known as tongue-and-groove pliers, which is a type of slip-joint pliers. Additionally, channel locks are also known as gland pliers, tap or pipe spanners, multi-grips, arc-joint pliers, groove joint pliers, undercut tongue pliers, adjustable pliers, water pump pliers, and “Channellock” which is a brand of plier that manufactures channel lock pliers. In the plumbing industry, a channel lock is called water pump pliers most of the time.

Is Knipex Better than Klein?

Both feature crimping options, but Klein comes with more of them. However, the Knipex do a better job with the wider surface area crimper. They both come with the shape of needle nose pliers mixed with lineman’s pliers. But Knipex’s larger surface area proves to be far more useful. But overall, Knipex and Klein are both good brands.

Can I Use the Channel Locks for Clamping Purposes?

Yes, you can. The channel lock pliers can provide you a good clamping experience by holding the objects in position. When it comes to clamping tasks, make sure you have a long nose pliers, diagonal cutting pliers, vise gripand wire cutter ready at hand.

What Precautions Should I Take When Using Channel Locks?

Just be cautious of your fingers as they may come in line with the working area of the tool, and so you might get injured. You can use hand gloves to protect your hand from possible injuries.

How to Maintain Water Pump Pliers?

Just don’t let any debris to clog inside the jaws of the channel locks. The debris may cause rust and thus shortening the longevity of your tool.

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Last update on 2022-10-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API