If you have a stubborn lock that you’ve lost the key to, you may be thinking that your only hope is to call a locksmith. However, that can be an expensive house visit that can leave you out hundreds of dollars. If you’re looking to cut through fencing or padlocks for a fraction of the price, getting your own bolt cutter can save you hundreds of dollars, and increase the number of tasks you can do yourself around the house.
Of course, if you’ve never owned one of these great tools, it can be hard to tell which model is right for you when shopping online. We’re here to make the shopping experience simpler, and our curated reviews of the best bolt cutters of 2020 are designed to walk you through the good and the bad so that you can find the model which is right for you.
We’ve also included a buyer’s guide, which covers everything you need to know about these tools before you buy so that you can make sure you’re getting a great deal.
|Neiko 00563A |
|Cr-Mo steel jaws||4.8/5|
|Knipex 7101200 8-Inch||Stainless Steel||4.6/5|
|Drop forged chrome molybdenum steel||4.5/5|
|Alltrade 831718 18"||Chrome vanadium steel||4.2/5|
|GreatNeck BC30 30 Inch||Alloy Steel||4.0/5|
The Neiko 00563A Heavy Duty Bolt Cutter is the model you’ll want to get if you want bolt-cutters that can get the job done at a price that won’t leave you cringing. This model comes with chrome-molybdenum steel cutters that are tough enough to get through fences and padlocks without an issue, and that holds up well to light- and medium-duty use over time. This model also comes with good non-slip handles. With those, you won’t have to worry as much about your cutters slipping while in use, and you’ll be able to transfer more of your power directly into the tool, making for quicker and easier cuts.
Plus, this model is designed with a high-power fulcrum. That multiplies the power you deliver through the handles as much as 80 times before it reaches the blades. If that sounds like a lot, it’s because it is, and it means you’ll be able to quickly dismantle most problems. The one downside to this model is that it weighs nearly 13 pounds, which is on the heavy side, but that’s to be expected when you’re getting performance this good. Overall, this purchase will leave most people very happy with their buy.
The Knipex 7101200 8-Inch bolt cutters are great for people who are looking for a model that will excel in cutting wire, without taking up too much space. If you’re looking for a pair of mini bolt cutters to throw in a toolbox or tool belt, then you can’t go wrong with these, which are just eight inches long, and weigh less than a pound. They also come with plastic-coated handles, which help reduce corrosion and help you get a good grip on a tool. This model also comes with a lever-action design, which increases your power and offsets the handle lengths. Plus, the blades are induction-hardened, so they’ll hold their edge better than many cutter blades on the market today.
They’re made from chrome-vanadium steel, which is one of the best materials for tools you can find. It’s extremely durable, but it also naturally resists corrosion better than raw steel, so this is a tool you can trust to last for years, if not decades. Keep in mind that these cutters are meant for cutting wires, so they’ll struggle with padlocks, which are significantly harder. But, if you need a lightweight tool for cutting wire, you’ll love these.
The WORKPRO W017004A Bolt Cutter provides a good mix of cutting performance and price. This model comes with chrome-molybdenum blades, which are very hard and very strong, and should hold up well to most kinds of use. This model comes with comfort grips that also add friction. With those, you’ll be able to keep good control of the tool, but also will be able to transfer more of your power directly into the tool. Plus, this model comes with a powder-coated finish. That allows for a good level of corrosion resistance at a low price.
Speaking of low prices, this model retails for less than half of what you would have to shell out to get the top two models on our list. If you’re looking for great performance at a price that can’t be beaten, then you’ll be very happy with this tool. Unfortunately, it does have mixed results when cutting padlocks. Some of that is likely due to the relatively short handles, thought the blades seem to sometimes be at fault. However, if you’re going to be cutting wire and small padlocks, you should be able to make good use of this model, which is a great deal.
The Alltrade 831718 Bolt Cutter – 18″ comes with some nice features, but ultimately doesn’t provide enough value to rise higher than fourth on our list. The one unique this model has going for it is that it comes with blades that can be resharpened, which is somewhat rare among bolt cutters. That means you can theoretically extend the life of these bolt cutters to far beyond what you’d get with other similar models. Plus, this model comes with a high-power fulcrum design, which maximizes the amount of your power which gets sent to the blades and makes most jobs far easier. It also has a powder-coated finish, which resists corrosion, looks great, and will help extend the life of this tool.
However, this model can cut through 1/4-inch padlocks, at best, and that requires a lot of strength. If you’re looking to cut something thicker, you’ll want to invest in a model with longer handles. This model also has substandard grips, which quickly fall apart. While the tool remains useable, this is a bad oversight that gives the tool a cheap feel. Overall, this model isn’t too expensive, but you can get better value for the price.
The GreatNeck BC30 Bolt Cutters, 30 Inch are an unspectacular pair of bolt cutters, but they do come with some plusses that could make them the right choice for some people. The best thing about this model is that it comes with 30-inch handles at a price that won’t make you want to skip the transaction altogether. While it’s not a deal to write home about, these are priced in a way that makes them very competitive, though there are cheaper alternatives on our list.
This model also comes with a limited lifetime warranty, which is a good thing. This line ships with a greater-than-expected share of quality control issues. Some model ship with the jaws out of alignment, which makes the tool useless. This model also suffers from chipping problems with many padlocks, which makes them a poor choice for that application, despite their long handles. Since that’s what most people will want to do with a tool of this size, there is a big disconnect between what these tools should be able to do and what they can do. Overall, they’re not a terrible deal for the price, but you shouldn’t expect them to last forever.
We hope that you’ve started to understand what makes for great bolt cutters and what features leave something to be desired just from reading our reviews. However, if you’re looking for a more in-depth explanation of what makes bolt cutters tick, make sure you check out this buyer’s guide. In it, we cover the things you need to know to make a great decision, making this a great resource for those who haven’t owned a pair before, and want to make sure that they’re getting great value for their money.
Handle length is one of the most important things to consider when shopping for a bolt cutter. The longer the handle, the more power you’ll be able to produce without actually working any harder. Consequently, if you’re going to be doing serious bolt-cutting, you’re going to need a model with handles that are at least 30-inches long to reliably and easily get through padlocks.
With wire fencing, you can make do with much less, but keep in mind that longer handles make for an easier time, no matter what material you’re trying to cut through.
The materials from which the blades are made have a big impact on their performance. You’ll probably want to avoid bolt cutters that use raw steel, as they’ll have poor durability due to their low hardness relative to most modern metals. Instead, blades made from chrome-vanadium and chrome- molybdenum are harder formulations are a good choice since they’re naturally harder.
Since they’re made with chrome, they also naturally resist corrosion better than raw steel, making them a great all-around choice. While you’ll see some models labeled as having “carbon steel,” that’s advertising jargon that doesn’t necessarily mean a lot, so you’ll need to look for more information before buying.
Weight is the final thing you should consider before you buy. There’s no right or wrong weight to buy. Instead, it’s important that you get a tool that will be right for how you’re going to use it. If you’re going to be carrying it around all day, it makes sense to invest in a lighter tool, unless you know you’re going to need heavy-duty cutting power.
Unfortunately, more cutting power almost always means more weight, so that’s something to keep an eye on while you’re making your decision.
The Neiko 00563A Heavy Duty Bolt Cutter is our favorite pair of bolt cutters, due to its non-slip handles, high-power fulcrum, and high-quality materials. In second is the Knipex 7101200 8-Inch bolt cutters, which had plastic-coated handles, induction-hardened edges, and a great lever-action design, but don’t have the power most people need for cutting padlocks. The WORKPRO W017004A Bolt Cutter comes with comfortable grips, a powered-coated finish, and a great price that makes it the best overall value for the money on our list. The Alltrade 831718 Bolt Cutter – 18″ comes with resharpenable blades, which is something of a rarity, but they struggle with padlocks and have poor handle covers, making them best for people who are looking to cut fencing and other wires. In the last place is the GreatNeck BC30 Bolt Cutters, 30 Inch which has long handles at a reasonable price but suffers from a variety of quality control problems that make them unreliable.
Hopefully, our reviews and buyer’s guide have taught you everything you need to know about bolt cutters and have helped you find the model that’s right for you at a price you can’t help but love.
Hi there! My name is Adam and I write for HealthyHandyman. I have a great passion for writing about everything related to tools, home improvement, and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either fishing, playing the guitar, or spending quality time with my beloved wife. You'll also often find me in my workshop working on some new project!