Headquartered: Lincolnshire, Illinois
Product Focus: Hand Tools
Target Markets: Low (to $100), Premium (+$100)
Production Facilities: mostly USA
Privately owned Klein Tools is a famous US maker of quality hand tools, with a focus on the electrical and utility applications trades. They manufacture thousands of locally made items, including pliers, screwdrivers, crimpers and bolt cutters, as well as tool bags and Klein multimeters.
This respected brand makes everyday tools that last, with their top end product line Journeyman being especially durable. The quality comes about through the use of good materials, keen workmanship and local production facilities.
Examples of their test meters we’ve reviewed:
The ‘Electricians Multimeter’ is a bestselling device used by electricians and DIYers all around the world. It is a solid tester with an array of manual and auto ranging options, including capacitance, frequency, temperature and more. This is a safe CATIV, 10A continuous current-measuring meter, with a strong backlit screen and accurate specs. Read more…
One of their cheaper multimeters, this is a manual ranging meter, albeit having a DC amperage range and dedicated battery tester inputs (1.5V / 9V). A decent, entry-level meter from a well known American brand that has the input protection of more expensive brands. Read more…
This is one-up from the MM100, having auto ranging capability and also AC amperage functionality. There’s a temperature input, capacitance range, frequency/duty cycle, and it is well built and fairly accurate. Good for general purpose electrics and electronics. Read more…
The MM6000 is one of Klein’s pricier multimeters. It is industrially rated and pretty tough, and boasts most measurement ranges, including micro-amps and temperature. There are also many modes, including Min/Max, relative and an auto hold. This is a good alternative to an expensive Fluke. Read more…
Klein have been producing since the mid-1850s, when Mathias Klein, a German immigrant who settled in Chicago, made an improvised pair of pliers for a telegraph lineman. The company grew along with the burgeoning telephony industry and they produced a huge range of hand tools alongside their signature pliers/side cutters. These would later included nut spinners, hex key wrenches, safety equipment and then electrical terminals, Klein multimeters and precision test products.
They have made several acquisitions over the years, including RH Buhrke in 1968 and Vaco Products in 1986. Expansions have seen a drop forging plant in Kansas, distribution centers built (including Klein Connection) and the establishment of corporate headquarters in Cedar Rapids. There is also a new manufacturing facility and heat-treating plant in Texas.
The Firm Today
Most importantly, the Klein family (fifth / sixth generation) still owns and runs the company, with offices all over the States and a catalog of agents and distributors around the world. Much of their inventory is made in the USA, with future investments to allow for more of their products to be built here as opposed to sourcing/rebranding overseas.
What started as an impromptu pair of pliers being produced over 150 years ago has morphed into a vast number of hand tools employed in many industries, from mining and construction to electrical, electronics and telecommunication. They produce almost 4,000 separate items, around 170 of which are pliers, and dozens of quality electrical test devices.
Made in the USA: Products marked Made in the USA are actually made in the USA. Future tooling investments continues to increase the percentage of tools made in the States, such as utility wrenches and screwdrivers. Products that are outsourced receive significant funds into those plants to produce high spec items.
They provide over a dozen multimeters, including the popular MM1000 Electrician’s meter. There are also low impedance DMMs with auto- and manual-ranging, HVAC True RMS devices as well as electrical test kits (to include voltage stick and receptacle tester).
Other Electrical Test Equipment
They also have a large range of digital amp clamp multimeters, often featuring auto-ranging, temperature measurements and true RMS for accuracy. They also make fork meters, electrical maintenance kits, electrical testers and voltage sticks, as well as digital temperature loggers, infrared thermometers and borescopes.