Irwin - Quick-Grip XP600 Clamp/Spreader (Rating: 4)

I needed to pick up 4 clamps for a glue up, and it was between the Bessey DuoKlamp and the Irwin Quick-Grip. I haven't seen any reviews or posts about the newish Irwin XP-600 line, so I thought I'd post my thoughts.

Bessey Duo-Klamps:
I recently started using Bessey K-Body parallel clamps and I've been impressed, so I bought 4 24" DuoKlamps. One of the features offered with them is the ability to switch from clamping to spreading with the switch of a dial. This seems really handy, you don't have to disassemble jaws. However, you do have to switch the jaw pads from the inside to the outside, since you aren't switching the jaw direction around. This is where I started to have mixed feelings. Switching the jaw pads around sounds easy, but I didn't find that to be the case. The jaw pad material is a pretty stiff plastic, and the tabs holding them on the jaws are pretty deep. The result of this was that to switch them from one side to another took quite a bit of effort. So much effort, that I would rather have to remove a jaw and turn it around, than mess with the pads. I wouldn't be surprised if over time the pads loosen up and it becomes easier, but I wouldn't count on it personally. This flaw could have very easily been fixed if Bessey had simply included a few extra pads that could be left on the spreader side of the jaws. Unlike the Bessey K-Body clamps I recently got, the DuoKlamps had a feeling of cheapness. It's hard to describe this exactly, I couldn't place my finger on why exactly I felt this way. I decided to exchange them for the Irwin Quick-Grip XP600 clamps and see how they compared.

Irwin Quick-Grip XP600:
The Irwin's were more expensive. At the local big box store, I paid $20 a piece for 24" DuoKlamps, compared to $32 a piece for the 24" XP600s. I didn't really need them to be 24", so I downgraded to the $25 a piece 12" XP600s. There are a few features that I think make it well worth the increase in price compared to the DuoKlamps. First of all, the DuoKlamps are rated at 290 lbs of clamping force, compared to the XP600 which has 600 lbs. In regards to the jaw pads, I've seen posts on LJ, where people point out the DuoKlamps have the advantage of larger clamping surface. Not compared to the new XP600s. The Jaw pad has a lower section that is not secured to the jaw, but rests against it when you are clamping something. This gives much more clamping surface than the DuoKlamps, and you can see the clamping surface goes all the way to the bar. The XP600 also features a resting pad that lets you lay the clamp down with the fixed jaw and this spacer flat on a table. The Bessey will let you do this as well because the trigger is on the jaw side of the clamp and has the advantage over the XP600, where the trigger body will have to hang off the table to be laid flat on the table. The final advantage I can see of the XP600 is the rotating jaws. The jaws have a lock button to allow you to lock them parallel and 90 degrees to the bar. They can be unlocked to provide a few degrees of tilt, if you were clamping something that was not square. I don't see myself using this feature, but who knows?

One final note on the Irwins. In a recent kit purchase of Bessey K-Body clamps, I got a set of 4 KP Blocks. The length of the Irwin fixed jaws is slightly less than the KP Block heights (with the included adapters). This means I can have a work piece resting on the KP Blocks, and get the fixed jaw under the work piece to clamp vertically. Coincidental, but I'm glad about this, since I used this exact setup in my first used earlier today.