10 Best Utility Knives of 2021 – Reviews & Buyer’s Guide
It’s easy to underestimate the humble utility knife. Most handymen have these things hanging around their toolboxes and garages. And when you need such a knife, you might be tempted to grab the first one you see.
However, the truth is that any utility knife you have is probably old and ineffective. And in recent years, different innovations in engineering and design have created a new kind of utility knife that is easier to use and more comfortable to hold.
There’s just one problem: how can you tell a good utility knife from a bad one? Fortunately, this is where we come in! Our reviews will walk you through some of the best knives on the market while our buyer’s guide will provide all the answers you’ve ever needed about utility knives.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
|Best Overall||Internet's Best 10102 Premium Utility Knife||
|Best Value||CRAFTSMAN CMHT10382 Utility Knife||
|Premium Choice||Stanley FMHT10288 Retractable Knife||
|WORKPRO W011009A Folding Utility Knife||
|Sheffield 12113 Ultimate Lock Back Utility Knife||
The 10 Best Utility Knives – Reviews 2021
1. Internet’s Best 10102 Premium Utility Knife – Best Overall
Normally, we’d be skeptical about a tool that claims to be the “best.” In this case, though, we have to hand it to them: The Internet’s Best 10102 Premium Utility Knife lives up to its name and is our pick for best overall knife.
What do we like so much about this knife? The rubber grip helps make it both durable and ergonomic, while the three different blade lengths provides a lot of versatility. The quick release function makes it easy to swap out the blades, and this kit comes with two knives and five extra blades for convenience.
There are really only two drawbacks to these utility knives. The first is that the quick release button is inconveniently located, meaning you might accidentally release the blade. And the second is that the thumb slide doesn’t move quite as smoothly as we would have liked.
2. CRAFTSMAN CMHT10382 Utility Knife – Best Value
It’s great to buy whatever blade you want. However, some handymen are shopping on a strict budget. If you’re on the lookout for best utility knives for the money, then we recommend the CRAFTSMAN CMHT10382 Utility Knife.
You can’t beat the price, which is doubly impressive considering that you get two knives. You get three different positions for the retractable blade, and three spare blades that you can conveniently tuck away into the handle’s hidden storage area. Finally, your entire purchase is backed by a full lifetime warranty.
So, what keeps this from being our pick for best overall knife? Some users report that one or more knives may come with no blades installed. On top of that, these knives are less durable than some of the alternative choices.
3. Stanley FMHT10288 Retractable Knife – Premium Choice
A good utility knife is the cornerstone of all your tools. Because of this, you may want to buy the best possible cornerstone on the market. If you’re looking for the best premium choice utility knife, we recommend the Stanley FMHT10288 Retractable Knife.
What makes this a “premium” choice? First of all, the soft grip makes this knife comfortable to hold while reducing the odds of slipping. Blade change is fast and easy, thanks in part to the blade storage area in the handle that comes with five spare blades. The slider is both magnetic and exposed, making both blade changing and debris removal quite easy. Finally, you get four different blade positions.
So, why is this blade not our number one choice? It’s a little longer and heavier than we’d prefer. On top of that, the blade pops out more easily than we would have liked.
4. WORKPRO W011009A Folding Utility Knife
Most handymen aren’t specialists. Instead, we pride ourselves on being able to take on a variety of different tasks. If you need a knife with a similar variety, you might like the WORKPRO W011009A Folding Utility Knife.
The anti-slip ABS grip helps promote safety, and the back lock design helps keep the blade in place. The quick-change function is handy, and the design is lightweight enough to make the knife portable and easy to use. Finally, you get the peace of mind that comes from a solid one-year warranty.
What should you know before buying this knife? Some users report issues with the back lock design, which causes the blade to move around too much. On top of that, it’s harder to change the blades than you might think.
5. Sheffield 12113 Ultimate Lock Back Utility Knife
The Sheffield 12113 Ultimate Lock Back Utility Knife prides itself on having the “ultimate” design. While we don’t agree with that assessment, this ended up being a very solid utility knife.
The quick-change blade mechanism is pretty handy, and the lock back release holds the blade in place as if it were a pocket knife. The relatively small exposed cutting edge helps keep you safe, while the textured aluminum grip makes the whole thing very easy to hold.
However, no utility knife is perfect. The lack of a place to store extra blades is disappointing, and the fact that the blade does not retract can make it difficult to store and maintain this tool.
6. OLFA 5003 L-1 Ratchet-Lock Utility Knife
The OLFA 5003 L-1 Ratchet-Lock Utility Knife leads the charge into the back half of our list. And this is only fitting because it’s not quite as dependable as the knives that came before.
There were a few features that we really liked. For example, the scored blades help keep things nice and sharp over time. The ratcheting blade control helps give you plenty of control when it comes to cutting edge length. Finally, the entire knife is pleasantly slim and easy to handle–great if you will be working for a while.
There are some drawbacks with this knife, though. The cutting edge isn’t as long as we would like, and you need special tools to help change blades. Finally, you need two hands to use this knife, whereas many other knives on the list can be operated using only one hand.
7. Klein Tools 44133 Heavy Duty Utility Knife
Once upon a time, the Klein Tools 44133 Heavy Duty Utility Knife would have been one of our primary recommendations. But now this knife has plenty of competition, and it has become another “middle of the road” option for aspiring handymen.
First, the good stuff: the grips are very convenient, and the ability to use it with one hand makes operation quite easy. And its ability to strip wires gives it a versatility that you just won’t find with most utility knives.
So far, so good…so what holds this knife back? The fact that it only has two blade positions is fairly limiting. And the blade control mechanism is less reliable than we’d like. Finally, at ten inches long, the blade is too big for many traditional tasks requiring a utility knife.
8. Fiskars 770030-1001 Pro Utility Knife
As we get closer to the bottom of our reviews, you’re going to see knives with more drawbacks than advantages. Sadly, that is the perfect description of the Fiskars 770030-1001 Pro Utility Knife.
There are a couple of primary qualities that we really liked about this knife. For example, the ergonomic design makes it comfortable to hold. And the dual locking system helps prevent accidental blade release. Unfortunately, this is the end of the knife’s good qualities.
What did we not like? The thumb press blade button is hard to get used to, and components like the blade snap off tool fall out quite easily. Finally, the lack of incorporated blade storage in the knife is very disappointing.
9. IRWIN 2082300 Hi-Vis Retractable Utility Knife
At first glance, the vibrant orange IRWIN 2082300 Hi-Vis Retractable Utility Knife may look like a solid and dependable utility knife. Unfortunately, this knife gets more disappointing the longer you use it.
There are a few things to like about this knife. For example, the interior blade storage is convenient, and the cutting angle and three different blade positions makes it easy to use. But there are several drawbacks you need to be aware of.
However, it can be a little difficult getting this retractable blade to come out. And the blades wear out fairly easily. Finally, it’s difficult to remove any replacement blades from the interior storage area without cutting yourself.
10. DEWALT DWHT10295 Premium Utility Knife
When it comes to tools, DEWALT is one of the most trusted names in the business. Unfortunately, the DEWALT DWHT10295 Premium Utility Knife most definitely doesn’t make the cut.
As usual, there are a few things we liked. The angled design helps to give you a better cut, and the grip is both ergonomic and secure. And unlike some other options, you can operate the knife using only one hand.
Why is it so far down on our list, then? It’s very difficult to replace the blade, and doing it the wrong way can actually cause damage. There is no storage for spare blades, and the blade control mechanism is prone to breaks and jams. Finally, the whole thing is made from disappointingly low-quality materials.
Our reviews gave a closer look at some of the best utility knives on the market. However, it’s difficult to select the knife that works best for you and your needs. In order to make the best decision, you may still need answers to some of your most burning questions.
That’s why we put together our comprehensive buyer’s guide. It should help provide all of the information you need about the wide world of utility knives. By the time you finish this guide, you’ll be ready to “pull the trigger” to buy the perfect knife!
Back to Basics
As we said before, utility knives are some of the most basic tools you can own. With that being said, some blades are fancier than others. If you want a truly basic utility knife, that means one with a fixed blade.
What is a “fixed” utility knife? As the name implies, this is a knife where the blade stays fixed into a single position. And these types of knives have their own set of advantages and disadvantages that they bring to the table.
The biggest disadvantage of the fixed blade knife is that it is more dangerous. There is no way to retract the blade, and its constant exposure increases the risk of accidents during use.
However, the fixed blade design almost always holds the blade in place more firmly than retractable blades (which have an annoying tendency to wiggle around). This is why most handymen keep fixed blade knives around for difficult tasks such as cutting materials such as wooden shingles or linoleum. These knives also offer more precision control that you may want for particularly delicate work.
If you want the dependability of a fixed blade knife but with added safety features, you should look into folding utility knives. Rather than retract, these knives feature blades that you fold back into the handle. This offers the stability of a standard fixed blade, but you can safely carry these knives in your pocket without worrying about the exposed blade.
The Versatility of Retractable Blades
While there is a time and place for fixed utility knives, most handymen prefer retractable blades. And that’s because such knives offer a lot of versatility for any homeowner or DIY enthusiast.
Retractable knives allow you to bring the blade out, typically with a button or slider, whenever you want. And like fixed utility knives, retractable blades have unique pros and cons that you should be aware of before making your purchase.
The biggest “pro” of these blades is their enhanced safety. By retracting the blade when you’re not using it, you can seriously reduce the chances of any major injury. As an added bonus, certain blades let you retract as much of the blade as you need for certain tasks, allowing you to customize blade length to the job at hand.
The only real “con” of these blades comes from the spring that helps bring the blade out. This spring causes blades to move back and forth while you work. This is why many handymen prefer the fixed utility knife when they need a really stable blade to handle the biggest challenges.
The Potential (and Danger) of Breakaway Blades
What do you do when your utility knife blade is too dull? The simplest answer is to replace the old blade with a newer and sharper blade. But if you want a more versatile option, you may want to check out breakaway blades.
They are called “breakaway” blades because when the edge gets too dull, you can grab a pair of pliers and snap the blade off to access a fresh blade beneath the old one. This can be more convenient than reaching for a standard replacement blade, but these breakaway blades pose additional risk to the user.
Why? Simple: the breakaway blade may snap off during intense use. This can pose a serious danger to the material you are working with, not to mention your own body! That’s why we recommend only using breakaway blades for smaller tasks which are less likely to prematurely snap your blade off.
The Importance of the Handle
With utility knives, it is only natural for you to focus on the blade itself. But if you want to invest in a really great utility knife, it is equally important to pay attention to the handle.
For example, if you want the handle to stand the test of time, you’ll want materials such as fiberglass or metal. While this can make the knife more expensive, what is the point of buying a cheaper knife if you’ll need to turn right around and replace it?
If you’re really concerned about the ergonomics of the handle, then you should buy a retractable knife instead of a fixed blade knife. That’s because the design of retractable knives lets manufacturers create handle shapes that maximize comfort. But with fixed blades, the only real option is a very straight handle.
Another handle consideration involves changing the blade. If you want to make this process easy and intuitive, look for blades that have a quick-change mechanism. That may sound like a small detail, but it will save you a lot of time in the coming years.
In our reviews, we focused on some knives that had storage for extra blades built directly into the handle. This is a very convenient feature, especially when you plan to work for long periods of time. But this is ultimately nothing more than a time-saver and should not be your most important consideration when it comes to buying a new blade.
One thing is clear: from comfort to convenience to performance, the handle of your utility knife plays the most important role in your enjoyment of your purchase.
Now you have read both our in-depth product reviews and our comprehensive buyer’s guide. Between the two, you should have all the answers you need about finding the best utility knife. Now, it’s our turn to answer the big question: which utility knives were the big winners in our review roundup?
In terms of the best overall pick, we have to go with the Internet’s Best 10102 Premium Utility Knife. It offers handy features and reliable performance. And despite the crazy name, we must agree: this really is the “internet’s best” utility knife.
What if you’re shopping on more of a budget? In that case, we recommend the CRAFTSMAN CMHT10382 Utility Knife. It’s our favorite kind of “budget” knife–one that blends right in with some of the best knives on the market!
Are these two utility knives the best for your needs, though? Only you can answer that question. In the meantime, we here at Healthy Handyman look forward to helping you find the right tools to bring your dream projects to life.
And whether it’s a dream project or a simple repair job, having a great utility knife around is a major game-changer.
- Top 5 Utility-Knife Blades on the market: an overview
- We also have a page specifically dedicated to reviewing folding utility-knife models (found here)
- A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
- The 10 Best Utility Knives – Reviews 2021
- 1. Internet’s Best 10102 Premium Utility Knife – Best Overall
- 2. CRAFTSMAN CMHT10382 Utility Knife – Best Value
- 3. Stanley FMHT10288 Retractable Knife – Premium Choice
- 4. WORKPRO W011009A Folding Utility Knife
- 5. Sheffield 12113 Ultimate Lock Back Utility Knife
- 6. OLFA 5003 L-1 Ratchet-Lock Utility Knife
- 7. Klein Tools 44133 Heavy Duty Utility Knife
- 8. Fiskars 770030-1001 Pro Utility Knife
- 9. IRWIN 2082300 Hi-Vis Retractable Utility Knife
- 10. DEWALT DWHT10295 Premium Utility Knife
- Buyer’s Guide