best utility knives

The Knife With A Job: The Best Utility Knives Reviewed

Today we are reviewing the top best utility knives for the everyday job. We are focused on the features, functions, durability and more.

As any enthusiastic DIY guy will tell you, a good utility knife is much more than just another pocketknife. Portable, versatile, and user-friendly, these knives can make almost any job easier. Whether handling work around the house, as a hunting or fishing accessory, or for a specific task at work, they come in a variety of designs.

What is a utility knife?

Fixed blade utility knives are exactly what the name implies. They feature a single blade attached to a handle. These are often used for industry specific tasks, such as the x-acto for crafts or heavy duty cutting blades for construction. Some models allow for the blades to be interchanged. Another example of fixed blade knives includes those used for hunting, fishing, and camping.

Folding and retractable utility knives can also be for indoor or outdoor use. Since the blade is concealed inside a case, this makes them lightweight and easy to carry. Some feature multiple tools alongside the blade, increasing the versatility of the knife and handling multiple tasks at once.

Top Best Utility Knives

ModelImageBrandEditorial
Rating
Price
Milwaukee Fastback IIMilwaukee4.9Shop now at Amazon.com
Stanley DynagripStanley4.8Shop now at Amazon.com
Bessey Quick ChangeBessey4.8Shop now at Amazon.com
Seber AutoloadSeber4.7Shop now at Amazon.com
Stanley FatMax BLACK+DECKER4.9Shop now at Amazon.com

Milwaukee 48-22-1902 Fastback II Flip Utility Knife

Milwaukee Fastback II Flip Utility Knife with Storage

Milwaukee tools have a reputation for both innovation and durability. The Fastback II Flip is no exception. With it’s ease in tool free blade changing feature and magnetic folding storage compartment, swapping blades is easier than ever. A built-in, curved gut hook allows for fast cutting and the wire stripper will handle up to 10 gauge wire. This combination utility knife is made of tough metal, designed to withstand the hard abuse of a job site.

The downside to the flip open feature is that it is designed for right handed people. Flipping open with the left hand can be more awkward. Nevertheless, it offers comfortable ergonomics, a lot of features, and rugged construction at a great price. This is undoubtedly one of the best utility knives out in the market.

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Stanley 10-779 Dynagrip Retractable Utility Knife

Stanley Dynagrip Retractable Utility Knife

Stanley is another reputable brand that has been around forever. The Dynagrip’s claim to fame is it’s slip resistant handles. Even while wearing gloves or in extreme weather conditions, the cushioned surface holds steady on straight and uneven angles. The type of blade is interchangeable to Stanley’s specific application blades. The knife has a lifetime warranty as an attestment to its durability.

This utility knife is a good mid range knife. It’s light enough to break down cardboard boxes, but heavy enough to cut plastic. It’s probably not the best choice for tougher jobs, such as shingles, without upgrading the blades. The release button for changing the blades can be tough to operate, but the handle does accommodate extras. The bright yellow color makes this medium use knife easy to spot in a tool box. This cute little knife can bag a position in your best utility knives list.

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Bessey Quick Change Folding Utility KnifeBessey Quick Change Folding Utility Knife with Wood Grain Handle

Bessey is best known for producing some of the highest quality steel products in the world. With that in mind, the Quick-Change Folding Utility Knife is as beautiful as it is functional. It folds to a mere 6.5 inches and opens with one hand. They patented blade changing system functions well and is very easy to operate. It will accept any generic blade from the hardware store. The steel case is heavy duty, with a decorative wood handle.

The cons to this knife are that it is very heavy for it’s small size. The blade locking mechanism can jiggle loose over time, so care should be taken when opening the blade. Despite the drawbacks, it is a solid knife that has a lot of flashes.

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Seber AL2450CP Autoload KnifeSeber Autoload Utility Knife

Olympia Tools are importers and distributors of contractor grade equipment in the US. The Seber Autoload Utility Knife has a neat feature that automatically loads a new blade. The extras are store inside the handle. It has an ergonomic design, with a thumb rest to assist with steady cutting and reduce hand fatigue. The Seber comes in a durable black metal case, with a carabineer clip and weighs a mere .8 ounces.

After a lot of wear, the quick release button can become loose on these knives, and the blade may jam. However, the product is backed by a warranty and Seber will gladly repair the knife. In addition, it’s rugged design more than makes up for the rare instances when this happens. The rough finish provides anti-slip grip, making this a great knife for multipurpose use.

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Stanley 10-819 Fatmax Aluminium Retractable KnifeStanley FatMax Retractable Utility Knife

Another great tool from a trusted manufacturer, the Stanley FatMax is a durable, hardworking utility knife in a lightweight aluminum housing. It will hold up to 15 FatMax blades at a time. It’s simple to change blades using the spring loaded swivel and a magnetic tip holds the blade in place. The extra wide grip on the handle is textured to prevent slippage. Blade depth is controlled using a big dial on the side, making the knife adjustable. It’s great for heavier projects, such as scoring metal and tough cutting applications.

The size might cause someone that prefers smaller knives to hesitate to buy it. The extra long nose and body make it around 10 inches in length. Despite it’s larger size, it isn’t overly heavy. The combination of durability and light weight make it an extremely tough knife to beat. The FatMax blades are carbide tipped and available for many different applications. A lot of people loves to call this the best utility knife for it’s performance.

Shop now at Amazon.com


What is the advantages of using a Utility knife?

Utility knives have several advantages over regular ones. Since they are smaller and more compact, carrying one from place to place is much easier. The blades themselves typically are made of heavier duty carbon steel, designed to hold up under heavy cutting applications. This feature also keeps the knives sharper than other types of blades. The addition of other tools increases the functionality, making it a good choice for almost any project imaginable.

The History of Utility Knives

The ancestor to the modern utility knife dates back nearly a half a million years ago. Early man made carved tools out of rock or bone for the purpose of making it easier to cut things.These early tools were strictly utilitarian, mostly for hunting and food preparation.

Man’s fascination with knives continued, with some being considered status symbols. In Yemen, it was considered taboo for a man to be without his knife. The 19th century saw the introduction of steel blade and utility type knives, such as the trench knife, were created for military use as well. Once the back-spring was invented, utility knives, such as the Boy Scout knife and the Swiss Army knife, became popular in the United States.

Types of Utility Knives

There are several types of utility knives available on the market. We are going to shed some light on these types of utility knives.

Straight, fixed blade utility knives

Straight, fixed blade utility knives are a basic staple in anyone’s toolbox. They are designed to offer precision cutting, whether it’s simply opening boxes quickly or cutting thick carpet in a straight line. Like any other knife, they can be as simple or fancy as the user desires. Some feature rubber grips to prevent slipping, while others have decorative elements worked into the handles. They are also available with storage compartments built into the handle for storing extra blades.

A common trait they all share is a tough steel blade honed for precision and very sharp. There is no need to resharpen the blades after use, as most come with replaceable components. Some offer a long “nose” or other safety feature design to fix the blade in place and deploy by the use of a thumb latch on the side. Another popular design is one that uses an auto-loading chain of blades interlocked together. When the top blade is worn, the user can simply snap it off and push the new blade up into place.

Folding utility knives

A deviation from the basic design, folding utility knives are built much the same way. The primary difference is that they are heavier and more compact. The joint mechanism allows for the knife to be folded into the handle, much like a pocketknife. They can be clipped onto a tool belt or carried in a pocket safely. The blades on these models have to be replaced individually. Most operate with one hand, freeing the other hand for other things.

Multi-purpose utility knife

Combining the best of both worlds, the multipurpose utility knife has other tools built in. The main blade will usually fold and have “press and flip” one-handed operation. Special cutting hooks are sometimes built into the body, meaning the blade doesn’t have to be deployed. When cutting sheet material, the hook has a circular blade which grabs on and cuts across the surface. It’s not as precise as the straight blade but makes rough cuts quickly.

Double sided cutting edge utility knife

Another nice feature is a double sided cutting edge, so the knife can cut regardless of which way the blade is facing. Other tools, such as wire strippers, are built in using a different blade design that is form fitted to the wire shape and gauge. These are good for eliminating the need to carry extra cutting tools for one job. Since they also fold neatly, they can be carried in a pocket without worrying about injury.

Types of Blades

Regardless of the type of utility knife, the blade quality has a huge impact in tool effectiveness. The material that the blade is constructed from is almost always steel. Some are carbide steel, meaning it is twice as tough as regular steel. It also lasts 5 times longer. Others have a titanium coating over the steel, increasing durability even further.

The type of blade material needed depends greatly on the material being cut. Regular steel blades are fine for paper, cardboard, and other sheet materials. They are also the cheapest and tend to break the easiest. Steel blades that are die-cast will be stronger but are still considered general purpose blades. They are bendable and will need to be often replaced.

Carbide, being tougher and stronger, is ideal for carpet fitters or dry liners. Flooring, roofing, and insulation are also suitable materials. It will cut almost any hard surface, even repeatedly, without breaking. Titanium dipped blades are among the most expensive, The main advantage is the durability, even over carbide, and the sharpness of the blade. These tend to last a very long time and are suitable for any application where a utility knife is appropriate and are completely shatterproof. Only the edge is dipped in titanium, so the blade body remains flexible.

The manufacturer matters as well. Some utility knives are made to accept any type of generic blade, while others need to be from the same manufacturer. For example, Lennox designs their titanium blades with four deep grooves, which allows the blade to extend further and will only fit in their handle Other companies, such as Stanley, will have a chart for determining which blade goes with which knife. In addition, different shapes are also available. A curved blade acts as a gut hook, easily cutting thin material such as plastic sheeting or floor coverings.

How To Choose The Best Utility Knife

Choosing the right utility knife depends on the intended use. As a starting point, consider how the tool will be carried. In a tool box or belt, a fixed or retractable blade is generally preferred. It can safely be stored and carried in this manner. For non-professionals or those who like to carry a utility knife in their pocket, the folding types are more convenient. While the weight will vary, all of them will offer a more compact form with blades that can be retracted quickly.

The next feature to consider is the purpose of the utility knife. The heavier the frame is, the more durable the knife will be. For light weight projects, a standard knife with regular steel blades will probably get the job done. For those that carry their knife around, one with other tools is likely to be the handiest. These knives tend to be used for whatever project the user encounters and will likely have many applications. One with a decorative element on the handle is also great for this type of person. For those that put their utility knives to work on a daily basis, quality is going to be the key issue. Look for rugged, anti-slip handles and carbide or titanium tips. These will hold up to repeated, hard use over time.

Conclusion

Without question, the utility knife is the basic workhorse of any toolkit. With a huge selection of different styles and designs, choosing the right one come down to personal preference. Whether for style and convenience or durability and function, there is a utility knife for every taste. Choose any of these best utility knives and make a better use of it.

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