I couldn't find a definition for "bull nose pliers". I've had a look at the results in Google Images and it looks to me that "bull-nose pliers" could be a synonym for "combination pliers" and "Lineman's pliers", but I'm no expert. Wikipedia, however, lists only Lineman's, linesman's (US English), linesman pliers (Canadian English), combination pliers and side-cutting plier for the same type of pliers. Bull nose pliers don't appear on their site at all as a term, and it's hard for me to make out any particular characteristics of this tool to set it apart.

  • Where did you hear or read about bull-nose pliers? If your boss asked you to buy a set for yourself, just ask to see his so you now which kind he means.
    – The Photon
    Nov 26 '17 at 0:29
  • I got that term from a pictorial dictionary and want to write a definition for it. I can't do that if I don't really know what exact type of pliers they are. The pictorial dictionary gives a translation, but I had to realize that the translations are sometimes wrong and I could not verify this translation somewhere else, so doubts remain. Nov 26 '17 at 0:37
  • AFAIK (and a google image search supports this) the term "bull-nose pliers" is not widely used in the US. It could be common in some particular trade, like tile-setting or wire-pulling, or some other country, that I'm not familiar with. It could just mean any pliers with a bull-nose shape (square-ish with rounded corners).
    – The Photon
    Nov 26 '17 at 0:41
  • The term "line[s]mans pliers" is certainly well-known in the US, so if you want to talk about that kind of pliers, use that term rather than "bull-nose".
    – The Photon
    Nov 26 '17 at 0:42
  • You might be right with the US, since the dictionary was produced in India, and it sometimes even uses Indian English words that are only used in India and hardly anywhere else. I got about 100.000 Google results though, so the term is at least in use at a reasonable number. Nov 26 '17 at 0:43

Perhaps the term is regional. I'm in the midwest in the United States, and I have heard the term "bull-nosed pliers," but I've never heard of "combination pliers" or "linesman's pliers" before.

It's not a term I've heard in a while, but as far as I know, bull-nosed pliers are a stubbier version of needle-nosed pliers.

So here's some "regular" pliers – note the adjustable joint and how the jaws sort of make a circle:

adjustable joint pliers

Then here's some bull-nosed pliers – note the lack of adjustable joint and how the jaws touch from top to bottom:

bull-nosed pliers

Bull-nosed pliers are contrasted against needle-nosed pliers, which are more long and pointy, and the jaws of which also touch from top to bottom:

needle-nosed pliers

The bottom part of the jaws on bull-nosed and needle-nosed pliers also often comes to a somewhat sharp point on the inside to allow for cutting wires and whatnot. (This is shown in the pictures above, though you may not be able to tell that's what's going on if you haven't seen such a pair of pliers in person before.) But I'm not sure that's a mandatory feature for a pair of pliers to qualify as needle-nosed or bull-nosed. The more distinguishing features are the length of the jaws and the lack of adjustable joint.

  • + 1 This is mostly right, but where I have worked what you call 'regular' pliers could be called 'bull nose' pliers, too. 'Bull nose' and 'needle nose' designate the shapes of the jaws: 'bull nose' pliers have short, blunt jaws to apply maximum leverage on the object gripped or cut, while 'needle nose' pliers have long, narrow jaws to manipulate small objects in hard-to-reach places. Long jaws can gape wide or close, but short bull nose jaws have a very limited range of opening, so they are often equipped with slip or channel joints to accommodate larger objects. Nov 26 '17 at 2:51
  • @StoneyB Thanks for the tip on "jaws." I honestly didn't know what to call them. I updated my answer to use that terminology. As for the other distinctions, though, maybe you want to post your own answer to show how the definition is apparently not so well-defined because I would not call the first picture "bull-nosed" pliers.
    – cjl750
    Nov 26 '17 at 4:05
  • The 'needle-nosed' pliers are also sometimes referred to as 'wiring pliers'. I believe 'combination' refers to the inclusion of the wire-cutting feature, which is visible in the second and third photo. The tool in the first photo, I'd personally be more inclined to think of as a 'pipe-wrench' or maybe a 'grip', rather than any kind of pliers. Some of these names vary by industry and by Br-Eng / US-Eng usage.
    – peterG
    Nov 27 '17 at 15:55

I'm looking for a guide to sharpen my bullnose pliers. I know this is old but can add to it. I'm from Ontario, and now live in Alberta, Canada.

I'm an Electrician and pliers are basically almost any double handle, first class levering tool, using for gripping and/or cutting. The various names describe the gross shape and mechanical advantage. As for the photos in the answer by cj750, I'd call them stupid pliers (lol just a joke from personal experience), lineman pliers (Kliens), and needle-nose pliers.

Bullnose pliers (nippers) to me are end cutting pliers. These are similar to side cutters (diagonal cutting pliers) with double cutting edges, but the blades of the bullnose pliers are perpendicular to the handles. There is hardly any depth of cut at all but huge mechanical advantage. We use them for installing stainless steel wire and if you can squeeze hard enough you could cut four 16ga strands at a time.

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