PA-09 crimper - you can see the precision jaws.

If you were buying a crimper and wire strippers, which brand would you choose for security applications? Currently torn between buying cheap gear from an auto parts store or spending big – not an easy choice! Compact size is important to me – most the quality crimpers and strippers are enormous.

A: If you’re a professional security installer the decision is made easier by the fact you will be using these tools a lot. If they are constantly in your hands and are integral to the quality of your work, then you need quality products, not something with wide tolerances and flimsy hinges that’s made of soft metals with inadequate coatings.

When it comes to a crimper we’d be thinking of a dedicated unit – if you’re mostly installing 22AWG wire, then the Engineer PA-09 would be a good choice – for slightly larger diameters, the PA-21 is better. Worth bearing in mind you can crimp connectors in an oversize crimp channel but not the other way around – if you crimp using an undersized crimper the results can be unpredictable. Something else in crowded security panels is that you want your most used sizes to be closer to the tip than the hinge, hand strength being equal to the task.

The PA-09 from Japanese tool maker Engineer can crimp 32-20AWFD wires across 80 different pins, can crimp 1.25 to 2.5mm pitch connector pins (narrow-pitch) and has 4 crimping die widths – 1.0mm, 1.4mm, 1.6mm and 1.9mm. The PA-09 weighs 135g and it’s compact – 5.7 x 17.5 x 1.2cm. The PA-21 crimp dies are 1.6mm, 1.9mm, 2.2mm and 2.5mm, the tool is 141g in weight and it has identical dimensions to the PA-09. These tools do delicate open channel crimping, as well as butt connectors and terminals.

Meanwhile, the PA-07 wire stripper can handle 24~12AWG stranded cable and 22-10AWG solid cable. It has carbon steel jaws that are super sharp, meaning conductors and insulation can be cut cleanly. The PA-07 stripper weighs 134g and dimensions are 17.5 x 5.21 x 1.19cm. The crimpers are about $A100 and the stripper about $70. These are precision tools with low tolerances that are beautifully made. Just make sure you buy the crimper most suitable for your work when spending this amount.