If I were to exaggerate even the tiniest bit, the battle of Klein Vs. Southwire is as old as time itself. Nevertheless, these two brands’ offer excellent tools, and the argument has been raging on for some time.
As an aspiring electrician, you will gradually form your opinion about the brands. Veteran electricians, on the other hand, already know which tools they like. So the tools hold a revered place in their toolboxes.
The purpose of this post is not an attempt to sway anyone’s decision. But it is an honest comparison between the two tool brands and also dissects their pros and cons.
First, a crash course on the two companies.
Klein Tools was founded in 1857 by Mathias Klein. With its headquarters in Illinois, US, Klein Tools is a privately owned business with revenue of $535 million as of 2019.
Electrical and telecommunication tools are the best sellers in the company. Klein currently boasts more than 3,800 tools in their inventory. But their most popular and best selling tool is the different pliers. At present, there are more than 165 types of pliers from Klein.
Southwire Company LLC
Southwire is a family-owned company and was founded in 1950. The company has its headquarters in Georgia, US. In 2019, Southwire’s annual revenue was $5.7 billion, according to Forbes.
Wires and cables are the primary products from Southwire. However, the company also has a gamut of electrical and digital tools as part of their offerings.
Klein Vs. Southwire – The differences
For the ultimate battle of Klein Vs. Southwire, we need to consider the differences and similarities between the two.
The tools’ origin
Klein hand tools are supreme for many electricians. There is a good reason behind this. Klein makes their tools in the US, which many companies cannot boast about. Also, they source raw materials from the US.
Hardcore Klein lovers might argue that the ‘Made in America’ is the only justification they need. However, I would prefer to dig a little bit farther.
Although Klein honours the commitment to manufacture their hand and flagship tools in the US, they also outsource some of their products. You will find the evidence in some of Klien’s products. Besides, the company is also transparent about outsourcing some products in their site’s FAQ section.
On the other hand, Southwire outsources a significant part of their products. In fact, until recently, almost all their manufacturing was from overseas. However, the latest electrician hand tools and a handful of accessories are manufactured in the US.
You can check out their website to see which tools bear this sign. In addition to plastering the ‘Made in USA’ logo on the tools, the tools colour scheme is very similar to the Star-Spangled Banner.
In this regard, I would say that Klein takes the trophy for their commitment to make their electrical tools in the US and not rely on outsourcing.
Quality and construction
Let’s take an example of their best selling tools, the side cutting pliers. It consists of US steel and a hot-riveted joint that makes operation smooth with little to no wobbling. Also, the knurled jaws make every grip precise and unforgiving. It is finished with an induction hardening, which renders the pliers exceptional in longevity.
Furthermore, the high-leverage design with soft materials on the handle ensures optimum comfort and grip.
Klein tools are top-notch. It not just because the tools are manufactured in the United States. It combines using the best raw materials and craftsmanship that makes Klein tools exceptional in quality, performance, and durability.
The high-leverage 9-inch side cutting pliers from Southwire bears remarkable similarities to the Klein’s. Everything from the design to the hot-riveted joint and induction-hardened blades is the same.
This similarity between the pliers is a topic of contention between the two groups of supporters. Klein lovers firmly believe that Southwire ripped the design from the former. I scoured the internet for patents filed by the two companies. Klein’s patent for high-leverage pliers was granted in 1956. The patent for Southwire high leverage pliers is not available. However, the company launched its pliers in November 2017 during a Facebook live event. So you can judge for yourself.
Nevertheless, both pliers are of good quality, in my opinion. Where durability is concerned, I think the way you handle your tools has a lot to do with it. Although electrical tools are by no means high-maintenance, taking care of your tools also matters where longevity is concerned.
When it comes to the price, Klein tools seem to be on the higher side. This is especially true if we compare similar tools from the two brands.
For instance, Klein tools 9-inch high-leverage pliers retail for £39.62 on Amazon. Southwire’s 9-inch high-leverage pliers, on the other hand, retails for £29.10 on the same platform. The same applies to other similar tools from the brands.
Southwire’s tools are easier on the wallet. However, I understand that affordability is very subjective. So whether you choose a Klein tool with a higher price tag or a Southwire that costs a bit less comes down to personal preference.
Klein has a lot of tools in their inventory. However, they mostly stick to tools and accessories for tradespeople. Feel free to check out the product catalogue from Klein tools website.
Southwire, on the other hand, has an extensive inventory. This includes tools, equipment such as cables and carts, as well as accessories. In this regard, Southwire has the upper hand. Check out Southwire’s product catalogue here.
Both Klein and Southwire seem to be trustworthy when it comes to electrical tools. They bear many similarities in the quality as well as construction. When it comes to craftsmanship, Klein is a standout. However, the higher price range may be a deterrent for beginners.
Southwire’s hand tools are not as immaculate as Klein’s. But they have the advantage of affordability. Ultimately, I think it comes to personal choice as to whether you go for a Klein or a Southwire. You cannot go wrong with either.