Finding the “best” welding pliers really comes down to personal preference. MIG pliers are an essential tool if you plan on using the MIG process for your fabrication projects. Often referred to as “Welpers”, this handy tool can clean your nozzle, tighten your contact tip, adjust your nozzle, and cut your wire to your desired stick out length.
These pliers can also cut TIG filler wire if you prefer a shorter filler rod. You can also use them to chop down a stick electrode if you need a shorter length for a specific project.
Welpers are relatively inexpensive and generally last for years – even when heavily used on a daily basis. Their simple design allows them to perform properly for a very long time. Generally, tools with less moving parts have a lower chance of breaking on the job site.
This article will cover the top rated MIG pliers/welpers on the market. We will go over the features and benefits of each of these pliers. They must be sharp, ergonomic, and well built to ensure that they last for years to come.
Tools like these are extremely necessary for welding and fabrication, but are often overlooked. It is often the least expensive tools that get used the most, and it’s important to pick a quality offering that won’t break on you.
The “buy it nice or buy it twice” rule really comes into play in the world of welding tools. If you can avoid making trips to Harbor Freight and instead save up for some nice tools, you’ll be much better off in the long run.
All of these pliers below come from highly respected brands that have been making welding tools for many years. A few of them even come with lifetime warranties, so you can rest assured that the company backs their products 100%.
Lincoln Electric MIG Pliers
These are my favorite pair of welpers for personal use. I have had them for about 3 years, and haven’t had a need to replace or repair them. The grips haven’t worn, and the blades are still extremely sharp. The spring has held up very well – even after hundreds of days MIG welding at the shop.
They are made of high strength drop forged steel; this makes them extremely durable and almost impossible to damage. The form fitting handles have a curvature which is extremely ergonomic in the hand. This evenly distributes pressure and makes them easy to use for any hand size.
The spring loaded hinge ensures that they always return to their opening position after you cut your wire. This saves time over the course of a work day, and this specific spring is very heavy duty compared to other models.
In addition to the cutting, cleaning and tip adjustment functions, they feature a large indent for adjusting your nozzle. This is what makes the pliers in this article “complete”. Models without the rear opening will not allow you to adjust your nozzle with the welper.
If you prefer to adjust your nozzle by hand, always make sure to wear your welding gloves. Nozzles can become extremely hot during the MIG welding process and can easily leave you with a 3rd degree burn. A high quality nozzle gel can help with cooling your nozzle and preventing spatter.
The red silicone grips are comfortable in the hand; and are very resistant towards sparks and spatter.
Irwin Vise Grip MIG Pliers
These are another great welper that always gets high ratings year after year. They feature an induction hardened cutting edge, which provides more longevity than other models. We have regularly seen these last longer than other more traditional offerings. Irwin products tend to outlast other brands on a consistent basis.
They feature a heavy duty nose section which really helps for cleaning your MIG nozzle and removing spatter. Also, these have a solidly built spring mechanism similar to the Lincolns shown above.
The “dipped” style grips are a different design approach taken than the Lincoln model. They allow your palm to form around the grip – which can be beneficial for certain folks. This comes down to personal preference, but we found these to be very comfortable to use all day long.
One of the main benefits of these pliers is that they come with Irwin’s lifetime guarantee. If they break or you aren’t satisfied, Irwin will replace or refund your purchase. This is quite rare for a relatively inexpensive product, and we are impressed by their customer loyalty.
Strong Hand MIG Pliers
These are the most heavy duty pair of welpers we have come across. Strong Hand is known for making their tools virtually indestructible, and these are no exception.
They feature very coarse files on the tips which provide ultimate cleaning action for the interior of your MIG nozzle. They also come with an attachment chain which you can attach to your machine (or cable) to prevent loss. We wish the chain was a bit longer, but it is still a great idea.
We also found that these are the best option for cutting heavier diameter MIG wire. For sizes like .040 and .045, you’ll need a heavy duty welper that won’t dull over time. This is especially true for heavy duty flux cored MIG applications. Welpers that are poorly built will usually have a tough time cutting thicker diameter wires.
These are highly rated and are the choice of many shop fabricators who need their gear to last a long time.
Ion Tool MIG Pliers
These are a solid, mid priced pick from Ion Tools. They are made from the best quality forged carbon steel on the market; this makes them highly durable and especially rust resistant.
They also feature non slip, riveted handles for a solid grip. Having non slip rubber on these ensures that an accidental drop is much less likely than a traditional handle. These also have a very high quality spring to ensure that they return to their “open” position every time.
The nozzle adjustment opening on these has a great rounded shape, and we found that it grips nozzles much better than some of the other models.
Ion also includes a satisfaction guarantee that is very similar to Irwin’s. If you don’t like them or they fail on you, you’ll be covered for a refund or replacement. These are definitely one of the best valued pliers currently on the market.
Hobart MIG Pliers
This Hobart model is a well built, affordable welper pick. They are more compact than the other models, and are great for cutting smaller diameter wire on lighter duty projects.
The handles are a bit short, but the rubber has a nice feel to it and grips really well. When we’re jumping into smaller fabrication projects, we tend to opt for these pliers.
If you are really into heavy wire diameters and larger scaled jobs, these probably aren’t the best fit. However, for the average hobbyist they are quite the value. If you are just getting into MIG welding and you’re not looking to spend a lot on the basic tools, these Hobarts are worth looking into.
These pliers last a long time, and anything that Hobart makes is generally very reliable. However – If you rarely tackle light duty jobs and are always welding with high voltage MIG, then you probably want to consider a heavier duty model.
Migtronic MIG Pliers
These are a nice high end pick with some great features. They have been impact tested and wire cut tested at 10,000 cuts! The cutter even works well with stainless steel MIG wire. This makes them basically indestructible no matter which type of wire you plan on cutting.
The tension spring is removable/replaceable and can be adjusted to your preferences. Also, the tips feature a diagonal file for optimum interior nozzle cleaning in a quick manner.
The nozzle adjustment opening on these is kind of an odd shape. It is a bit small for our liking and we wish that Migtronic would have opted for a larger, rounder design. Larger openings tend to make it easier to adjust nozzles of different sizes.
All in all, we recommend these for the welder who wants a high end pair of welpers that can last a lifetime. They also look awesome as well.
Ally Tools MIG Pliers
These are a nice affordable pick from Ally Tools. The high carbon steel body is one of the toughest builds out of any MIG plier. This nickel/iron plated steels prevents rust more than the other pliers available on the market.
This rust prevention is especially important if you are working in an outdoor environment on a regular basis.
These are on the less expensive end of the spectrum, and they are extremely durable. They generally receive awesome ratings year after year. Their slim design is very appealing, and we found that it feels great in the hand.
When you start building your tool collection for welding, it is really tempting to skimp on price so you can build your collection quickly. Although this is an option, we really recommend that you consider higher quality tool models as a general rule of thumb.
It is best to know that your tools will hopefully last a lifetime, not just a couple of years. When you look back later on, you’ll be glad that you didn’t have to replace your tools because they broke prematurely.
We have found that it is more beneficial to build your collection slowly, and you’ll end up with high quality tools that can actually hold up to the tasks at hand. Also when you don’t own a bunch of junk, you’ll be more proud to show off your tool box to your buddies.
Buying higher quality tools is also important if you plan on welding and fabricating full time. Since we’re using our tool collection at least 5 days out of the week, we need to be confident that our tools will be able to withstand this long term use and abuse.
Featured image credit : Irwin MIG Pliers (Amazon)