Top Ranked Groove Joint Pliers (aka Water Pump Pliers) of 2023

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In this post we look at metal files. The Channellock two piece set receives our top ranking offering the best overall features at a reasonable price. Read below for tips and considerations, overall rankings, and further resources.

Channellock pliers

Considerations and Tips

      • These types of pliers can go by different names including: Groove Joint Pliers, Water Pump Pliers, or Channellocks.
      • A primary use for these pliers is to grip pipe. Another common use for these pliers is for very large bolt and nut sizes.
      • Often the handles are angled to allow use in tighter spaces such as between joists.
      • The handles can have a “dipped” style coating or a “sleeve” style handle padding. We prefer the dipped style as the sleeve style often comes loose.
      • Lengths can range from 4 to 16 inches. The two most useful lengths are probably 7-8″ and 9-10″.
      • The jaws of the pliers can be of a straight style or can have a V-style jaw. For gripping pipe, it’s good to have some shape in the jaws like the V-style. For bolt and nut tightening purposes, the straight jaw style can help prevent stripping.
      • These types of pliers often see water so choosing a pair with good corrosion resistance is wise.
      • The traditional size adjustment mechanism for these pliers is that the sides of the pliers can “slip” into “grooves” of various sizes. Newer adjustment mechanisms leverage a button to move between grooves of various sizes.


    1. Channellock

      The “name” when it comes to groove joint pliers. The two piece GS-1 set will likely cover all your needs. The jaws are straight but the teeth of these pliers will grab pipe. The pliers are made in America and use a dipped handle coating. The size adjustment mechanism is the traditional grooved joint. Channellock says these are forged with high carbon steel for strength and then specially coated for just protection. They come with a limited lifetime warranty.

      If your budget allows, check out the three-piece GS-3X set. With the extra set of pliers you can better tailor the tool to the job. These feature the button size adjustment mechanism, and the teeth of jaws are crosshatched providing enhanced grip. The handles are generously dip coated. These feature a safety lock mechanism that should help you from pinching your fingers. Lastly the pliers feature a reaming design on the head which you can use to debur pipes.

    2. Knipex

      Knipex is a quality brand from Germany. The design allows you to get a lot of pressure on the item you are wrenching. We also like the coating to help avoid corrosion. Lastly the dipped handles are good to go.

      If the button style adjustment mechanism is a deal breaker, you can upgrade to Knipex’s Cobra line.

    3. Wiha

      Another quality brand from Germany, these Wiha are quality tools that use the button adjustmen mechanism. They sport dipped handles. Their manganese phosphate finish is good for corrosion resistance. For the money, would look at the prior offerings though.

    4. Workpro

      These Workpro pair offer the best value. The sizes will probably cover most of your needs and they use the push button adjustment mechanism. The black phosphate coating will help with corrosion resistance but you’ll want to keep an eye on them regardless. We like their handles and price point.

      If you really need more size options you can consider this offering. We don’t love the grips on these.

    5. Libraton

      Like many of the the featured pliers, these are made using chrome vanadium (CR-V) steel which is a solid decision. These pliers use the button adjustment mechanism and have dipped handles. These are a better choice than the Workpro 3-piece set mentioned above but there is an added cost.

    6. Steelhead or Topline

      These are budget oriented pliers. They do use a dipped handle. They aren’t going to offer the same precision in size adjustment and they don’t leverage the strongest of steels. They do have a two year warranty.

      Similar story to the Steelhead, these Topline pliers are budget oriented but offer a 4th size.

    7. Craftsman

      These Crafsman pliers are decent for the price point but we think there are better choices. We don’t like these style handles.

    8. Gearwrench

      The price point isn’t great on these and we don’t like the handles. To their credit, these do have an applied coating to avoid corrosion.


    If you are looking for more information about files, check out the resources below.

    Watch the YouTube video where ProjectFarm shares his recommendations.

    You can also check the article from Bob Villa’s website.

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