External snap ring pliers, on the other hand, are used to install and remove external snap rings from a groove in a shaft or axle housing, but work opposite of their internal counterparts. They have wide parallel jaws that provide for a better gripping surface, without damaging the snap rings. The jaws of the forceps are often adjustable to fit most common sizes and utilize an eccentric camming action that deflects the plier's tip away from the groove to allow for removal of tightly fitted external snap rings.

External circlip pliers are used in automotive industry, material handling equipment industry and powertrain components industry.