Best Aviation Snips of 2021: Buying Guide

Aviation snips – a tool that was initially designed to construct aircrafts – are one of the most essential tools of any DIYer’s toolbox. Need to cut plastic, sheet metal, thin strips of wood, leather, or any thin object down to sizeWhip that trusty aviation snip out and get to work!

From its appearance and usage, one might argue that aviation snips and tin snips are one and the same. This is a common misconception that we need to clear right now. Aviation snips are not snip snips. They have a compound system that gives them much better-cutting power while offering a more comfortable grip. If you’re working with thicker sheets of metal, an aviation snip is what you need.

But how do you find the right aviation snipThat’s why we’re here. If you’d like to purchase an aviation snip without reading too much, take a look at our picks of the best aviation snips available today. Keep reading if you’d like to learn more about how to find the best pair.

Ultimate Aviation Snips Buying Guide

In this section, we’ll go over the most important features in aviation snips. Pay close attention – the last thing you want is tearing a thin strip of steel by using the wring snips.

Color Code Meaning

The first thing you’ll notice when looking at multiple aviation snips is that they’re all color-coded. The three colors are used to distinguish right, left, and center-oriented blades. Left-offset aviation snips are ideal for cutting in an anti-clockwise direction, right-offset for clockwise, and centered blades for straight cuts. If you plan on using aviation snips regularly, you might want to consider purchasing one of each type.

Offset Handle

Similar to tin snips, aviation snips can have offset handles that prevent your hand from obstructing the view. Offset aviation snips are best suited for making long, straight cuts in wide pieces of sheet metal. A straight-handle aviation clip is best for dead-on cuts into the material.

Multi-piece Aviation Snip Set

Which brings us to the next consideration: multi-piece sets. These sets can either include 2 or all of the aviation snip types. Purchasing in a bundle is more cost-efficient than individually but only if you need to produce more than one type of cut.

Blade Material

The most commonly used material in aviation snip blades is high-speed steel. Tougher than most materials you’ll ever work with, it’s the best starting point for those aiming for versatility in their snips. However, the most durable material is HSS-TiN, which is HSS coated in titanium. To chomp through stainless steel, you’ll need HSS-TiN aviation snips since everything else will not hold up. “Weaker” types of steel are cheaper and work great on softer materials like aluminum, plastic, leather, and wood.

Serrated or Smooth Blades

If you’ve looked at hundreds of different aviation snips, you’ll notice a majority of them have serrated jaws. The serrations in the blades add gripping power to the snips, helping you cut more accurately with little effort. However, serrated teeth do have a maximum life expectancy, and using them on abrasive objects could wear them down much quicker. Smooth-blade aviation snips don’t have this problem.

Cushioned Grips

Aviation snips, unlike most tin snips, are made to bite through thick, tough metal sheets. But this is only achievable if the snips have cushioned grips. Without such a thing, you would probably end up with sore hands and wrists within the first few cuts. Other than preventing calloused fingers and palms, the cushions serve to improve the user’s grip and prevent slippage.


The size of the aviation snips refers to two things: the actual size of the entire snip and the maximum distance between the blades when opened. When looking at aviation snips, they should fit comfortably in hand and accommodate making tight turns at awkward angles. As for the blades, aviation snips come in various sizes, usually measured by how thick the metal piece – measured in gauges – it can cut.

Built-in Spring

The best aviation snips have built-in springs that pop the blades open after each cut. This makes for efficient work since you won’t have to think about pulling the jaws apart after each snip. Not all springs are effective, so try and give the snips a few practice squeezes like you would with kitchen and BBQ tongs.

Locking Latch

The locking latch is usually found on the ends of the handles. These locks keep the jaws shut when not in use, preventing damage to the edge of the blades during transport. Many of the model we tested come with latches, but surprisingly, most of them would easily unlock with the slightest bump in the toolbox.

Aviation Snips FAQ

Can these snips cut through 18/20/24/26-gauge sheets?

Depending on the aviation snip model, you should be able to. Pay close attention to the maximum size that can fit between the snip’s blades – the higher the gauge count, the thinner the material. Also, as long as the object can fit in the mouth clearance, you should be good to go.

Do aviation snips leave smooth edges?

It depends on the type of blade used. Earlier, we talked about serrated (better grip) and smooth (longer life) blades. Smooth blades, without serrations, will produce smooth edges, albeit with a very slight curve depending on the material. On the other hand, serrated blades will leave a rough edge which can be smoothened out with a power sander or a seamer tong.

Can I use aviation snips to start cuts in the middle of material?

In things like drywall, you could use the blade to puncture a hole and begin a cut in the middle, but for denser materials, you’ll have to drill a hole first.

Closing Remarks

Aviation snips are like tin snips but much more durable and better equipped for heavier-duty cutting. In any situation where tin snips can be used, an aviation snip with the right mouth clearance and blade type could easily take over. If you need a snipping tool to make a watch band or modify the length of downspouts, an aviation snip is a perfect tool to use.

In this article, we’ve provided you with several aviation clip models that have passed our quality tests. We have also included a buying guide that should help you find the best pair in your local hardware store.


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