We’ve heard good things about Irwin’s new Fast Release locking pliers — sold under the Vise-Grip name, of course — but this week we got to spend some time with a set in person.
In short: they’re a neat innovation for a tool that’s been around for scores of years and has found a place in toolboxes everywhere.
First off, we should mention that besides the new Fast Release mechanism, these are essentially the Vise-Grips you’ve come to love. They’re made of a high-grade heat-treated alloy steel and feature Irwin’s no-slip ProTouch grips.
We’re big fans of the ProTouch grips, by the way. We’ve tested a couple of other Irwin tools with them, and each time we’re surprised at how comfortable they are and at how well they clean up.
Of course, What sets these Vise-Grips apart is the Fast Release mechanism, which eliminates the trigger-style release assembly used on most other locking pliers. To release the Fast Release pliers, you simply pull outward on the grip.
The particular model we checked out was the long-nose version, though almost all of the Vise-Grip line is now available in Fast Release versions – including their locking clamps.
Latching the Fast Release Vise-Grips is just as easy as older versions. As you squeeze the handles you can feel the “over-center” bump that indicates the pliers are locked. It requires a bit of pulling force to release them, but not as much as you’d think.
The major advantage to the Fast Release system comes when you’re locking and unlocking the pliers in a tight environment – especially when you’re dealing with an obstruction near the handles since you don’t have to worry about how to fish your finger down in there to release them. It’s less significant, but still important, that they can’t pinch your fingers as the trigger-style pliers sometimes can.
These are slick pliers. If you use your locking pliers in tight spaces, or you’ve had some bad experiences with pinching, the Fast Release Vise-Grips are probably just the ticket for you. We found the set we checked out especially handy when trying to hold a small part in place in an engine compartment where releasing a trigger-style set would be difficult at best.
We found Fast Release Vise-Grips online starting at around $22 for a set of two, but don’t take our word for it with pricing – go check it out yourself. Irwin offers an incredible number of different packages ranging from single tools to 15-piece sets in all sorts of styles. It’s hard to nail down a specific price with all those options.