Best Utility Knives Reviews and Ratings
A good utility knife will change how you work, while a bad one will make a project more difficult. There are many things that make a utility knife great, starting with the blade and ending with the quality of the handle. Having just one of these features isn’t enough to make the purchase worthwhile, so users have to be selective about the type of knife they buy.
Our Top 3 Picks
- Slice Mini
There are even cases where disposable utility knives are a better buy for consumers that have a quick project to complete. Customers should be well informed about the products they’re sinking money into so that it doesn’t end up being the weak part of their tools.
There are no dominant brands in the consumer market, even with some standouts like Stanley. Most of the market on the consumer level is filled with a small to large companies that offer similar utility knives. Some just so happen to handle their features better than others, and that is what gets them recognition. When you go away from the consumer portion and look at professional grade, top picks like Black & Decker, DeWalt and other worldwide names dominate the market. This includes all areas, even in competitive spaces where companies are trying to save a lot of money.
Maintenance and Cleaning Tips
The blade portion of a utility knife is going to dull and eventually be thrown away. Blades are meant to be discarded, but you’ll run through more than your fair share if you don’t take care of them. That means sheathing/locking them when not in use, and not using more force than the blade can handle. Cleaning is fairly easy with utility knives since the majority of them can be taken apart. Blades are changed out often so users can simply clean the product whenever they need a sharper blade. Utility knives that can’t be taken apart are usually throwaway products so cleaning isn’t even necessary.
10 Best Utility Knives
1. Stanley 10-099
Best Buying Options
The buying choices are plentiful whether you’re purchasing for personal reasons or for a business. It’s available as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 12, 24 and 36 pack options.
Three position retractable blade
Three 11-921 heavy duty blades
No matter what quantity you purchase, the price is low. Since this is the biggest brand name on the list, the value comes from the quality and attached warranty.
Stanley is a dependable company and this is one of their best selling products. It’s the best utility knife available at a price that pleases multiple consumers.
- Stay sharper longer than other knives
- Interlocking nose for better blade holding
- Assembly takes some getting used to
2. Slice 10514
Smallest Product On The List
This utility cutter is small enough to fit in the front pocket of a shirt. So not only is it the smallest available, but it’s also the lightest at 2.0 ounces.
3 inches in length
Auto retractable blade
There is no beating the low cost of this product on its own, or when purchasing with in bulk at 12 per pack. The only downside is that it may be a little too much for arthritis sufferers to handle.
This utility knife is valuable for users that need a main or backup knife. With tough materials and a small size, it will do a good job in delivering promising cutting results.
- Lanyard/key-ring hole
- Double sided ceramic blade
- Slider button needs to be held down while using
Stacked With Blades
Inside the package is eleven blades, with one installed and the other ten in the safety dispenser. For most people, that is enough to last an entire year without having to think about a refill.
Aviation-grade aluminum handle
Low priced as usual, with the addition of the extra ten blades adding to its value. At the current price, when you run out of blades it is cheaper to buy the entire package all over again instead of going for a refill.
Extras in any package is always a welcome addition to the savvy consumer. This is one of many Kobaalt products that meets that criteria and impresses its users.
- Quick change blade replacement mechanism
- High quality blades
- Handle doesn’t hold spare blades
4. FC Folding Pocket
It’s hard to make a tough utility knife without the extra heft, but somehow they did it. The light weight of this product is complimented by the anodized aluminum design.
Quick change mechanism
There isn’t any difference in price from this item and any of the others on the list. It is low priced and comes with five extra blades.
When toughness is a quality that you need with a utility knife, the FC Folding becomes a top five choice. A strong blade and handle makes this a top pick on multiple lists that favor durability.
- One of the toughest knives on the list
- Can use standard size blades
- Doesn’t hold extra blades
5. Tape King
Another Twelve Set Purchase
This is the second product on the list that offers twelve utility knives in a single box. Although the price is a little higher per knife than the previous one, it is still a tremendous deal (and also from the same company!).
Available in 9mm and 18mm
Buyers can get this twelve pack in 9mm or 18mm for a low price. The little bit extra you spend on this set pays off in quality if you compare it to their previous models.
Tape King does it again by providing an excellent choice in the bulk utility knife category. Small and lightweight, these knives will last a long time in the right hands.
- Box is great for storing unused knives
- Safety lock tab is easy to set
- Blades are too thin
When your blade gets dull and you need to refill, Tarvol sells a ten pack for cheap. This is still one of the better prices in the entire industry, so it is worth considering if you refill blades on a monthly basis.
Available as a three pack
Retractable snap off blades
Both the refill pack and the three pack of utility knives are low price. They are well worth the money for buyers that need to stock up on extra blades.
For a lot of buyers this will be perfect for their needs, whether that is big or small jobs. Tarvol found their target audience by making the accessories as low cost as possible.
- Casing is made from quality ABS material
- Replacement blades are cheap
- Locking mechanism is average
Ease Of Use
None of the utility knives on the list are difficult to use, yet there is something to be admired about a product that goes the extra mile. Even if you’ve never used a utility knife before, this will be the easiest to handle.
Safety auto headlock
Five extra blades
The price is low, and it includes five extra blades. Everything in the package points to a good overall value.
Comfort and ease of use are the two big things that landed this utility knife on the top ten. Beginners will get the most use out of this model since it is painless to setup.
- Heavy duty but comfortable handle
- Great beginner utility knife
- Very heavy
8. The Original Pink Box PB1UKN
Made For Small Hands
The entire set is made for smaller hands and includes a contoured handle for keeping the blade steady. Compared to the other choices in the industry, the size of this model is perfect without being too small.
Available to purchase as knife, scissors or knife/scissors combo
Fully retractable blade
No matter which version you get, this is a low priced set at a good value. Not a lot of worthwhile utility knives are made for smaller hands, so this is going to be a recommended choice.
A lot of consumers have purchased this set despite pink being the only available color. When you need a utility knife that fits your daily routine, this model turns into a comfortable solution.
- Combo pack comes with twine cutter, scissors and case
- Limited lifetime warranty
- Pink is the only color
Without a doubt this is the best design on the list, using a high tech metallic look from top to bottom. After extended use the design stays intact without any signs of quick wear or chipping.
Stainless steel SK5 blades
Holds six blades
Like all the other products on the list, the price is low. The value is in how well the design holds up through heavy use, and that is exactly where this product shines.
Looks aren’t something that consumers would associate with a utility knife. For a situation where looks do come into play, this is the best choice on the entire list.
- Quick blade change
- Anti-slip handle
- Blade isn’t as snug as it should be
10. Tape King Razor Set
A Full Pack
Twelve utility knives come in a pack, making this the lowest costing product on the entire list. That is tremendous value even if you only need half as many knives.
Available in 9mm or 18mm heavy duty
Safety lock tab
There is no doubting the value of this product, which is low priced. Per knife, it is the lowest costing product on the entire top ten.
This is the best way to get a lot without compromising on quality. It may not have the strongest blade, but there is still no beating the price of a twelve pack utility knife set.
- Small and compact
- One of the weakest blades on the list
Product Criteria For Evaluation
Our criteria for evaluation with utility knives followed a simple format that ranked the list by blade quality, handle quality, value, durability, locking mechanism and compatibility. Pricing was left out of the official criteria and we defaulted to including only low cost products in the top ten. Professional utility knives are a small part of the market (and consumer utility knives are also used at the professional level) so we concentrated on finding the best consumer grade products available.
Blade quality took into account the length of the blade, thickness and sharpness. Blades that had a reputation for coming out of the manufacturing process dull were considered problematic, leading to the entire utility knife being left off the list. This was the correct move since any extra blades could inherit the dullness problem. Longevity had a place with this criteria, with a few products lasting longer than others before needing a change. We ranked each accordingly, removing any extra utility knives from the list that didn’t have quality blades. There were a considerable amount of products cut since a lot of brands included generic blades with their sets.
Handle quality was more about the materials used to construct it rather than its extra features, which is covered later. Drops are an expected part of owning a tool, so if the product shattered to pieces from a few drops then it was not worthy of top ten inclusion. Utility knives are also thrown in boxes as loose tools, transported and expected to be in one piece when the user needs it. Toughness won this criteria, but it was also important to include comfort/grip quality. The better the handle, the more precise the cuts in any project that uses it. With this criteria, even the bulk packaged disposable products scored highly.
Value took the place of the price criteria as we took a long look at everything a product offered out of the box. We determined worth not by quantity, but overall quality in comparison to other utility knives on the list. It was a combination of all the current criteria with a strong emphasis on balance. The fewer weak areas they had (blade/handle/durability/etc.) the higher the product placed on the top ten. Compacting products this way helped out a lot when getting to the last few criteria’s on our list. It was also helpful in finding some standout products that had unique features like design, low weight and premium features.
Durability took into account the toughness of everything from the blade, right down to the build of the handle. Components needed to work well together, so even if they excelled in one area there were still problems when in use. We found this out with a model that had an A+ handle and average blade. Precision cuts were a pain when using, and the blades in the handle rattled around a bit too much. We removed some great choices from the list after holding them accountable for full product durability. This wasn’t surprising, and some of the bigger name brands failed to make the grade even with their ironclad warranty programs. Convenience wins out for the consumer, so having a low priced product that has high durability is more important than a longer warranty.
Using a sharp object with a bad locking mechanism is a recipe for disaster. Utility knives on our top ten had to pass a quick safety check. At this point all products were clear since they passed the previous criteria measuring durability, so we only had to reorder the list to favor the better locking mechanisms. User friendly locks were preferred, which is why the inclusion of the Slice 10514 Mini Cutter is a big deal. That was an all-around balanced product that was too good to leave off the list, but was very much an exception to the rule.
Our last criteria was compatibility based off of blade type. Not all products accept different blades, so this criteria was only scored based on the utility knives that had open compatibility. If this was a feature that the brand marketed, then we took it seriously. Variation in blade choice is based off of the compatibility of the original manufacturer, which in turn lets you select a higher number of brands when choosing a replacement blade. The higher the number, the more favorable we considered the product.
How Important Is A Utility Knife For The Common Toolbox?
A utility knife performs a very specific function which is why it is favored in most setups. You can make precision cuts and slices in seconds. Once the blade gets dull, you can swap it out for a new one for a small price. For any user that does work around the house, it is a necessary tool. Utility knives are even purchased by customers that do a lot of arts and crafts. With all of the situations where having one would be appropriate, every household should have at least one for emergency use- even if it isn’t in the toolbox.
Can It Cut Through Thick Materials?
Drywall is a common material where utility knives are perfect in their execution. The material is thick, tough and requires finesse when handling. Sharpness is key here, so once you mark a line on thick materials the goal is to follow it as closely as possible. There are electric tools that can do a similar job, but they aren’t always appropriate for the situation. One situation in particular is in a tight area where the length of a small hand tool is necessary. With a utility knife, you get a lighter tool that can get in tight areas at a moment’s notice.
What Shouldn’t You Use A Utility Knife For?
The quickness of a utility knife has led to it being used for the wrong tasks. Getting a nail out of a wall with a utility knife is usually a bad idea. To add to the list, cutting a wire, meat, using it in place of a Philips, cutting some fabric, cutting metal and a couple of other things come to mind. Even the thickest blade on a utility knife isn’t meant to have pressure added to it. The main functions are still cutting and slicing, so when strength is necessary it is better to use the appropriate tool.
Why Is Making More Than One Pass Important?
Thick materials will sometimes require more than one pass. This can be for various reasons, but isn’t always associated with the blade being dull. Sometimes the material is just so thick that it needs a couple of passes to completely take. When you’re working and moving fast, it’s a mistake waiting to happen when doing one pass on a thick material. And if this is a constant problem even when the material isn’t thick, then your blade may be too dull for the job. Switch dull blades out immediately to keep from damaging the utility knife.
How Long Do Blades Last?
The length of usability varies from person to person, since it is tied to how much the blade is used. Buyers that go through a lot of blades per week are usually on intense projects where the blade sees daily use. You can also be unlucky enough to get dull blades directly from the manufacturer, something that isn’t too uncommon with bulk products. When used for the first time, test the blade out and make sure that it is as sharp as the brand claims. This test will keep you from having to play a guessing game on the quality of new blades that you need to use immediately.
Will Unused Blades Go Dull?
No, not usually. Unused blades won’t go dull from not being used when they’re stored properly. This answer can change depending on how they are stored. If introduced to an environment where they can rust, then you’ll have bigger problems than dull blades. A lot of utility knives store their extra blades in the handle, so it is doubtful that the extras will rust unless they are submersed in water. Dullness from unused blades usually comes from a bad batch, which is not related to their time sitting unused. Testing the sharpness of the blades once will let you know whether or not you got a bad set.
What Is The Best Type Of Blade?
There are three types of blades, each with their own strengths and weaknesses; retractable, fixed-blade and breakaway. Retractable are generally the most used type, and also the most customizable. Fixed-blade is uncommon with utility knives, and in some circles crosses over into the territory of competing tools. They are made for heavy duty cutting so lack the customization of the other types. Breakawa-blades are the weakest of the bunch but great for speed cutting since they can be broken off when the edge becomes dull. For light cutting and sluicing they are the best value you’ll get per dollar. Users will have to make a decision about what works best for their project since there are strengths and weaknesses with each.
Is There A Difference Between Low Cost vs. High Cost?
Most utility knives are low cost, with the only high cost choices being the heavy duty options. That is the only main difference, and it has nothing to do with brand recognition or superiority in features. Fixed-blade utility knives are common in this range and are favored by professionals in multiple industries. It’s not uncommon to see the high cost versions show up at the consumer level. But since there are no industry restrictions on tool type in your own home, it makes more sense to use a stronger fixed-blade tool rather than the fixed-blade utility knife variant.
Are Throwaway Utility Knives Superior?
Yes, especially when you need a specific amount for workers or need it for a one time job. Disposable utility knives are disposable alternatives that are a couple of dollars cheaper and take the hassle out of changing the blade when it gets dull. They can be purchased in bulk packs and are great for home or professional use. When you don’t want to bother with the specifics of assembly, blade changing or complex locking mechanisms, then disposable utility knives are the way to go. The only downside is that they won’t be as heavy duty as the regular options. So special grip options or comfort handles won’t show up as part of the features when getting these models.
Why Are Thin Blades Bad?
Thin blades affect the way you cut material, with the worst case scenario being described as ‘flexing’. When a blade flexes, it messes up your rhythm and leads to a bad cut. So that single pass on a thin piece of material becomes a three pass. Having a thin blade is a big waste of time, and has little benefits if your main need is cutting and slicing. Utility knife blades are already thin enough on average, so going below that threshold introduces a lot of problems that aren’t worth the hassle. If using different blades is possible with your current set, then it is a preferable option to using a flimsy one.
If A Blade Flexes Should It Be Changed?
This depends on whether it is due to the blade being weak or the material being too hard. There are plenty of materials that will bend a good blade, so users shouldn’t immediately look to swap them out before investigating. If the current blade and the backup flex during the same session, then they are either too weak or the material is too strong. Be wary of the thickness since that will determine how much a blade can take when buying utility knives. Too much flexing is a danger even when you have a foolproof lock mechanism.
How Hard Is It To Clean?
If you can assemble and unassembled a utility knife, then cleaning it isn’t a problem at all. You don’t even have to make a schedule to clean it unless it gets really dirty. It’s best to clean your utility knife when changing the blade. Doing it this way makes cleaning second nature and not out of the way. A cloth is all you need to clean everything, so nothing complex is required for maintenance. You don’t even need to invest in oils or cleaning products unless the handle has really been through some tough times.
Are There Any Dangers To Using Utility Knives?
Using a utility knife in a way that forces pressure on the blade can lead to injury. Blades breaking is nothing new, but it also isn’t something that will happen suddenly. This is why it’s important to pay attention when a blade is flexing more than it should. Using a dull blade too much can also lead to injury, and is one of the main reasons people put too much pressure on their blade. In short, using a utility knife for its intended purpose will keep you in the safe zone. Checking up on the status of your used blades is also another great way to stay in the safe zone.
When Is Low Or High Weight Beneficial?
Consumers that suffer from arthritis will get better precision from a low weight utility knife. Low weight isn’t always an indicator of a weak blade. Utility knives in this category are also great to carry in your pockets, with the smallest being able to fit in a front shirt pocket. When space is limited, a lightweight utility knife is a lifesaver. Utility knives heavier in weight have a reputation for having stronger blades, but their major strength is having better locking mechanisms. The extra weight is also helpful for the durability of the handle, with many of the top tier products having extra comfort features. It is also more likely for heavy utility knives to have more storage space for extra blades in their handles.
Can Anyone Assemble The Product?
If rating the assembly process on a scale of 1-10, then it would fall firmly on a 1. But what many describe as easy can turn out to be hard for other consumers. The included instructions on all products do an admirable job explaining how to change the blades of the utility knife. It’s uncommon for a brand to not include clear instructions. In the rare case instructions are unclear, there are plenty of online resources that show similar methods for utility knife assembly. Snap off blades types and disposable utility knives are perfect for the consumer that has no interest in assembling their product.
Will Any Razor Work As A Replacement?
Not all utility knives accept different kinds of blades. Retractable blades are more likely to have the highest customization options. That makes them the best choice if you want to use an assortment of different blades. Buyers that favor one blade brand over another are more likely to benefit from retractable blades. The only downside is that the cost of a refill will be more, but not by much. Consumers that cut a lot of different materials will always have options if they choose a utility knife that accepts different blades.
Are All Handles Used As Blade Holders?
Some brands do it, some don’t. The convenience of having extra blades in the handle is a feature that is hard to do without. Buyers that purchase disposable utility knives don’t need this feature and it won’t factor into their buying decision. There are also no issues with safety by having backup blades in the handle. They are secure, even when the utility knife is dropped. Larger handles typically hold up to five blades in addition to the one being used. When looking at the professional grade utility knives, that number can almost double in size.
Why is The Handle Important?
The accuracy of a cut is not measured by the sharpness of the blade, but the quality of the handle. A handle needs to be comfortable and have a non-slip grip in order to be effective. Handles can also hold extra blades when you need to make a quick swap. And lastly, a good handle will protect the entire utility knife from damage, even when it is not closed. It is the most expensive part of the product and balances out all of the pros and cons of the knife.
How To Make The Best Decision
A couple of things comes to mind, but the priority will always come down to blade quality, locking mechanics and comfort. Comfort is going to be just by the materials used for the handle. Some knives just work better when resistance is applied, while others tend to be a pain when you add pressure to them. The basics always come down to slicing and cutting, so there won’t be a lot of instance where you need to add too much pressure to your utility knife. Using a different tool is necessary if you want to do more than simple slicing and cutting. No matter how long you’re doing the current task, wielding the knife should be comfortable.
Locking mechanics can’t be overlooked and guarantee the safety of the user. Bad mechanics will make the blade slip back into the handle or even rattle around while in use. Every brand has a different type of locking mechanism that keeps everything in check. If the blade is secure while using then you’re good to go, but be wary of locking mechanisms that work too well. That means watching out for locks that make it difficult to change blades. Blade quality is the last thing to consider, and with a general agreement that being too thin is a bad thing. Even with the basic functions of a utility knife not needing blade girth, having that extra bit of durability will keep it from flexing while you’re cutting or slicing.