Thanks guys, I just got it off... I feel I'm now in a position to give a review of dang near every brand of snap ring pliers out there:
Lisle "snap ring pliers": Broke in about 30 seconds. Has the small replaceable tips for different type rings... I returned it, luckily they have a warranty
Ultra steel snap ring pliers: Bent in about 45 seconds. These are about as cheap as you can go, but my options were limited. They didn't even open the ring enough to get it off the axle shaft.
Channel-lock brand snap ring pliers: I was really excited about these but they didn't work because they are too bulky to fit between the axle shaft and the hub housing... so they wouldn't work either
Irwin: I didn't even take this out of the package, I could tell once i got it home that it was also too bulky to fit between the shaft and the housing... strike 4 it looks like
Lisle "lock ring pliers": these worked as advertised and have been very durable, but weren't able to open the snap ring enough to get it over the axle shaft... strike 5
Snap On "lock ring pliers": JACKPOT!! the tips are small enough to actually fit inside the snap ring holes, they are VERY strong and don't flex at all... got the ring off in about 45 seconds... THANK YOU SNAP ON DUDE!!
I hope this can be helpful to somebody, save your money, go right for the snap on brand (they were about $42) I spent over $100 on all the other brands, so take my advice... bite the bullet, get snap on.
Thanks for the advice guys