There are certain items in a garage, toolbox, shop, home, and work truck that should always be handy. At the top of that selective list is a utility knife. Years ago, the standard retractable knife was supplemented with the more compact folding utility knife. Manufacturers are counting on you seeing the smaller, yet still functional knife as a must-have item, but with so many to choose from, how do you pick one? This month, we tackle that very question and provide you with the results of an exhaustive test process that included examining cutting ability, ergonomics, features, value, ease of changing the blades, and overall build quality. During our testing, each utility knife was subjected to the same bevy of tests, and once we had completed tallying the points, only one knife claimed victory.
1. Sheffield Quickchange Lockback Knife
We picked up the Sheffield Quickchange after stopping in at Autozone and seeing what types of utility knives they carried. Its $14.99 price was the highest of the group, and quite honestly we didn't know much about the Sheffield tool line, not giving it much consideration. Once we opened the package however, we instantly became fans of the rubber handle, ingenious blade storage, belt clip, solid blade grip, and easy blade changes. Featuring a lockback safety device, the Sheffield felt great when cutting into 5/16-inch-thick particleboard. Our favorite feature of this knife was its thumb rest on top of the blade, which made the knife both comfortable and safe. This was definitely a dark horse, but the numbers don't lie.
2. Milwaukee Fastback Utility Knife
Going into the test, the Milwaukee Fastback was our initial favorite, as it looked good, felt solid, and was feature-packed. After the tests were concluded, the knife fell short of first-place, but still performed admirably. At $14.97, it was one of the most expensive knives in our group, yet during the particleboard cut test, the blade was wobbly and felt as if it was separating from the aluminum handle. What it lacked in rugged cutting performance it made up for with features, such as simple blade change, one-hand opening, wire stripper, integrated gut hook, and pocket clip. The knife package also included five additional blades, and was the only knife that locked both closed and open, for the ultimate in safety.
3. Pittsburgh Folding Locking Back Utility Knife
After going online and reading some reviews for this knife, we were concerned about the blade grip, however, during our testing the Pittsburgh knife handled every challenge we threw at it without fail. The absolute value leader, Pittsburgh even includes five replacement blades for a knife totaling less than $6.00. Features include a simple blade change system, aluminum handle, and belt clip, though the top of the clip does protrude out further than we'd like. Overall, the least expensive knife in our test proved to pack quite a big punch.