Quality crimp connections, the right tool makes all the difference

Ben Stein

Ben Stein

Publisher of Panbo.com, passionate marine electronics enthusiast, 100-ton USCG master.

41 Responses

  1. Beth Burlingame says:

    Insulated terminals and heat shrink terminals are different. Insulated terminals do not have heat shrink and are meant to be double crimped. The first two crimpers you tried will crimp insulated terminals. Look at the tools and you will see two little crimping surfaces of different heights. The insulated terminal will have a ridge and a fatter side. You have to use the tool in the proper orientation to crimp successfully, and it won’t do a proper job on a heat shrink terminal. The final tool you mention, in its expensive version or the inexpensive one, will work beautifully on heat shrink terminals, which are meant to be single crimped. Of course, always tug hard after crimping.

    • Ben Stein Ben Stein says:


      You’re definitely correct that insulated terminals call for a different crimping tool than heat-shrink, but that’s not the whole story here. Neither of the two Amazon crimpers mentioned here have differing heights between their two crimping surfaces. Additionally, the Titan tool is specifically sold as a heat-shrink crimper, despite the double crimp setup.

      -Ben S.

      • Beth Burlingame says:

        That’s funny, because before I posted my comment I checked thatAmazon link you provided and that Titan tool specifically says it is for insulated terminals, and not recommended for heat shrink terminals. Perhaps you posted an incorrect link, but it certainly looks like the same tool and is very similar to an Ancor tool I own ( the Ancor tool picture you posted is different than mine, and does look like it is a single crimper.

        • Ben Stein Ben Stein says:


          Mea culpa, you’re absolutely right. That link I posted is for an insulated crimper and not a heat-shrink crimper. I bought mine several years ago and I clearly recall that it was marketed for heat-shrink terminals at that time. Given the length of time it’s possible my recollection is mistaken or I made a mistake in the variety of crimper I selected (this one has four different models under the main listing).

          While reviewing Amazon for this story I noted that there are crimpers that appear to be double crimp for insulated terminals sold as appropriate for heat shrink (https://amzn.to/3aMZbn8 is one such example) still sold on Amazon.

          So, part of the story should be to be pay more attention to the type of crimper you purchase and not make the same mistake I did!

          -Ben S.

  2. FB says:

    Ben – I see you photo of the Ancor. Did you ever purchase that one and how well did you find it worked?

  3. Ronald C Rogers says:

    I had a surprise when “saving money” by buying my adhesive heat shrink connectors in a Walmart RV section. They were high quality 3M connectors. There is only one thing wrong, their outside diameter is smaller than marine connectors and my crimpers (yes, multiple different ones) didn’t squeeze down enough. I had to use the Channellock pliers to completely affect the crimp. Of course, there are automotive crimpers which work fine.

  4. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    This entry motivated me to take an honest inventory of my own crimping tool history, and it’s not pretty. Few of mine even have brand names. And, yes, I’ve sometimes used a crimper meant for insulated terminals on heat shrinks — thanks, Beth, for the accurate detail — though the results can be reasonable when done with care.

    In recent years I’ve been using an inexpensive BSP heat shrink terminal crimper that looks similar to the DIY-HST tool that Marine How To sells. And I think it’s worth consideration for light DIY use, especially when purchased as part of the for the kit I bought at Defender:


    I’ve used most of the shrink wrap terminals included with results that have held up, and all three tools work OK. Admittedly, there’s no “BSP” branding to be seen, just “Made in China” labels.

    BSP heat shrink terminal kit

  5. Keith Pleas says:

    I have the Ancor tool somewhere but I haven’t used it in a long time. I also have a YYT1, and an Ideal Crimpmaster. But my go-to tool for…maybe a decade…has been a 3M TR-490 – in fact I have two of them. And my TR-490 looks a LOT like that HST-Pro except for perhaps the head which is squared off like the TR-440. And that slotted “ratchet stud nut” on the lower handle of my TR-490 is field-adjustable in 5 pound increments – does the HST have that feature?

    • Jason says:

      The TR-490 looks nice – has crimping options for non insulated crimps as well. Although the literature never mentions that it’s made for heatshrink terminals – it does look identical to the ProHST. You use yours for heat shrink?

  6. Jake J. says:

    It’s quite obvious that in both the cases of the Tool-Aid and the Titan crimpers that they are not adjusted properly and hence the crimps are very weak. You need to unscrew the Phillips screw on the adjuster, and turn it in the + direction to add some tension. It’s very clear in the video of the Tool-AId crimper in action that it’s not applying enough pressure just buy how easily you’re able to get the tool to the release point. I agree that you generally get what you paid for in tools, but a $20 ratcheting crimper can produce very strong crimps 100% of the time if it’s properly adjusted.

    • Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

      Jake, but even with the tension adjusted up these tools aren’t crimping the connectors in the way they’re designed to be crimped. Heat shrink terminals aren’t designed to be double crimped and those terminals that are designed for a double crimp should be crimped at two different depths. These tools don’t do that so the best case is that you’re going to apply more force but not the right force in the right place.

      -Ben S.

  7. Mic says:

    It’s a little off topic but since we’re discussing electrical tools I thought I’d give a shout out regarding a nice (yet reasonably priced) clamp-meter I bought last year:
    Uni-T B4Q094 UT210E True RMS AC/DC Current Mini Clamp M W Capacitance Tester
    Learn more: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00O1Q2HOQ/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_U_NQrJEbWWK6QGB

    I checked it against a HP/Agilent 34401A bench multimeter, a Fluke 87-III and HP/Agilent E3632 power supply readout; The UT210 read within less than 1% of all the others over a range of DC voltages. It seems fairly well made. Not bad to get a fairly accurate clamp-meter with True-RMS AC for under $50.

    • Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

      Mic, I’ve got the same current meter and it recently checked out fine on my boat’s battery cables, charge or discharge, versus the installed Victron BMV shunt. Also, I’ve recently been impressed with an inexpensive battery analyzer that measures internal resistance and cold-cranking amps. It’s been startling accurate on batteries I know the specs of and think are in good shape, while also definitive about a couple that I thought to be marginal:


      A power pro I know is very keen on this meter, saying that internal resistance is a key value and that measuring it usually costs much more.

      • Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

        Funny, I have that meter and a more traditional one (https://amzn.to/2Rmu6PX) that I find a real pleasure to use. I’m sure a properly calibrated Fluke is more accurate but I’m yet to be able to detect that difference and I’ve definitely had better results with these meters than what you might buy at a big-box home improvement store.

        -Ben S.

  8. Brian says:

    I’ve used the same set of Klein Tools 9-3/4″ OAL Crimping Pliers with great success for going on 15+ years now. I’ve almost completely rewired both my current and my previous boat with them, having brought the set home after using it in professional tower work. I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad crimp that wasn’t blatantly my fault. They are similar to your channel lock tool, but importantly different in they have the insulated and bare crimp dies positionally swapped from yours, which means the cutting edge doesn’t score the insulation, and the insulated die is closer to the jaws which provides more crimping force. If you like the channel lock ones, you’ll love the Klein version, it’s subtly but significantly better yet.


  9. Joseph Augustine says:

    I enjoyed reading this post. Now I am looking for a pair of the CMI Pro-HST wiring crimpers and I cannot find a pair anywhere. Rod Collins from Marine How To, has had a stroke and his store is down. If you know of a source, I would appreciate it.
    Thank you

    • Ben Stein Ben Stein says:


      I’m not sure of the answer right now. I’ve reached out to Rod to see if he has any ideas but his responses are delayed as he works through his health challenges. I’ll keep you updated if I hear anything back.

      -Ben S.

  10. Randy Fredrickson says:

    I am also looking for a pair of the CMI Pro-HST wiring crimpers. I can’t find them anywhere. If anyone knows where to buy them I would really appreciate it. Or any suggestions of a pair of same quality that would be great. Thanks Randy,

    • Joseph Augustine says:

      I found the seller of them but he will only sell locally because he had a stroke. He is in Maine and I live in Ohio. Wish I knew someone in Maine that could ship a pair to me.

      • Randy says:

        Thanks Joseph, I appreciate the reply. I know a couple of airplane mechanics, so I’ll just bite the bullet and get recommendations from them. Although the crimpers will be more money, but they will work like the should.

  11. Steven says:

    I am going to pull the trigger on the Knipex half round crimpers for heat shrink terminals. I am hoping that the different die sizes help me get a good crimp without damaging the insulation.


  12. Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

    I have a few of the HST-Pro crimpers available if anyone needs them.

    I’ve been working Rod on a few things recently. As you may know, Rod suffered a serious stroke last year. He’s made a remarkable recovery, but some things remain difficult for him. As a result his web store is permanently closed. I have his remaining inventory which is a small number but I’m working on getting more on hand.

    Two and a half years later I use these crimpers every day. I couldn’t begin to count how many crimps I’ve made with them, but I do know that in that time I’ve ordered far more than 4,000 crimp connectors. They work as well today as they did the day I took them out of the box.

    -Ben S.

    • Chris Wagner says:

      Ben – if you still have any HST-Pro – I would be interested.

    • Sean says:

      Hey Ben, I’m looking for a pro-hst if you have any left. Please drop me a line! Thanks

    • Brien Barnewolt says:

      Hi Ben, Would be interested in the HST-Pro crimpers and would also be interested to know what else you have from Rod. Lost my boat and all tools in the Mattapoisett Boatyard fire two weeks ago and would like to rebuild my toolkit. I had purchased several items from Rod in the past and never regretted it.

    • Joseph Augustine says:

      I am willing to pay, to get a pair of the HST-Pro Crimpers. Please let me know

      Thank you
      Joseph Augustine

  13. Greg Nutter says:

    Interested in a pair of HST-Pro crispers if available.

  14. Paul Wyand says:

    interested in the HST-Pro crimpers if you have anymore.


  15. Drewsky says:

    Hello Ben,
    A colleague turned me on to Rod’s article, “Marine Wire Termination” – an awesome read! I have been looking into the “new” (read that: “new” to me) heat shrink splices. As I researched them, I found that I needed a completely new and different crimp tool, and my favorite vendors (T&B, Amp, etc.) didn’t seem to have the right tool. So I shelved the idea. This has me excited again! Please let me know if you have any of the PRO-HST crimp tools available.

  16. Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

    Great news! I have more crimpers on the way. Rod helped me get my hands on some additional crimpers. Currently, 20 of them are en route to me and should be here soon. I have put up a web store for these (https://webstore.panbo.com). Please let me know if you have any troubles placing an order.

    -Ben S.

  17. Dave Edwards says:

    Had to mention Klein make a crimper much like the Cannel Lock 909 but with the indent and circular sections in opposite positions. Think you will find these a bit easier on heat shrink terminals.

    Dave in Darwin NT Australia

  18. Joseph says:

    Interested in these tools but I’m more of a hobbyist, is there any chance you are able to source the DIY version of Rod’s crimper? Thanks

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