Best Electrician’s Knife

A good knife is never far away in the daily life of an electrician. We reviewed the best electrician’s knife on the market today in honor of electricians and for all the knife snobs like us.

Since we strip jackets from Romex, cut back insulation from large conductors, score drywall when necessary, and even open boxes, a decent knife is indispensable in the workday of an electrician.

We also have complete lists of electrician tools for apprentices and journeyman to master electricians.

Our Top 9 – Best Electrician Knife Picks

1. Klein Tools 44131 Folding Utility Knife
2. DeWalt Retractable Utility Knife
3. Klein Tools 44217 Pocket Knife
4. Milwaukee Fastback Utility Knife
5. Milwaukee Flip w/ Blade Storage
6. DeWalt DWHT10272 Folding Pocket Knife
7. Milwaukee 48-22-1985 Fastback Hawk Bill
8. Klein 44006 Hawk Bill Blade
9. SOG EL01-CP Pocket Knife


Best Electrician Knife Reviews


Klein Tools 44131 Folding Utility Knife

Quick Look

PROS

  • Blades stay sharp longer – triple-ground
  • Push button open & fold
  • Rubber-grip handle
  • Wire-stripping notch
  • Belt clip

CONS

  • Lock button sticks for some

Top Features

This Klein Folding Utility Knife comes from a well-known manufacturer of electrician’s tools as well as tools for other industries.

It combines features of a lock back knife with a utility knife. The opening action is smooth and the blade retention and release works great. A push-button lock keeps the knife folded or unfolded whenever you need it.

Since this knife uses standard utility blades, it’s simple to find and to stock up on extras.

Specifications

  • Weight: 4.3 oz.
  • Dimensions: 4.13 x 0.5 x 0.5 inches
  • Handle: aluminum with rubber grips
  • Blades: triple ground

DeWalt Retractable Utility Knife

Quick Look

PROS

  • Extra blade storage in handle
  • Retractable blade for various cutting lengths
  • Durable
  • Nicely weighted with an ergonomic feel

CONS

  • May need to read instructions before storing & using blades

Top Features

Since an electrician can’t be bothered with a poor performing knife, this hefty DeWalt will be a welcome addition to your pocket.

DeWalt is a top name in tools. Fun fact: it was founded in 1923 by the inventor of the radial arm saw. Many electricians use and value tools made by DeWalt and this knife is no exception.

Blades store in the handle so changing to a sharp one saves time and hassle on the job. It’s not particularly intuitive so you may need to read the included instructions. But once you have it figured out you’re ready to go. Keep in mind that you can store different types of blades that DeWalt makes for different needs and purposes on the job.

The rubber grip on both sides of the knife helps to keep this knife firmly in your hand. The angled handle is nice and gives the ability to use the correct amount of force. It’s weighted nicely and has a good ergonomic feel while handling.

Keep in mind that this is not a folding pocket knife but should still fit easily in your back pocket. If you’re looking for a folding utility knife, check out the Klein Tools 44131.

Some users of this DeWalt knife have reported difficulty changing blades, so it’s important to read the instructions on how to do it. In addition, one owner advises to “try backing off the center screw on the handle one half turn”.

Specifications

  • Weight: 7.2 oz.
  • Dimensions: 3.5 x 8.8 x 1 inches
  • Contains blade storage

Klein Tools 44217 Electricians Pocket Knife

Quick Look

PROS

  • Stainless steel blade
  • 3 wire-stripping notches
  • #2 Phillips driver
  • Aluminum handle
  • Pocket clip

CONS

  • No spring-assist open

Top Features

If you want a sharp knife right out of the box then this might be the knife for you. Made of 440A stainless steel and a fine edge drop point blade. For safety, a liner lock secures the open blade.

We like the added feature of a #2 Phillips driver that also has a liner lock and folds into the handle when not in use.

Three wire-stripping notches are built into the blade. Nice for when you’re in a pinch and don’t want to get up for those pesky trips to your tool bag.

If you want a spring-assisted open, you might want to pass on this knife.

Specifications

  • Overall Length: 9.85 x 4 x 1.25 inches
  • Length Closed: 4.7 inches
  • Weight: 5.3 oz.
  • Blade Length: 3.375 inches
  • Blade Material: 440A stainless steel
  • Sharpenable: Yes
  • Handle: ergonomic
  • Warranty: Limited

Milwaukee Fastback Utility Knife

Quick Look

PROS

  • Locks in 2 positions
  • Wire Stripper
  • Gut Hook
  • All-metal body
  • Comfortable handle
  • Belt Clip

CONS

  • You’ll need to buy one for each of your friends

Top Features

Right off the bat, the Milwaukee Red color makes this knife easy to find. Two knives to a package – for a backup or one for home use.

Since it folds for storage you don’t have to worry about cutting yourself when digging it out of your bag or pocket. The all-metal body keeps this knife slim but durable, which is what you want on the job site.

Opens with a flick of the wrist and locks solidly in place. One comment on this knife stood out to me, “it is the fastest ‘snap-open’ knife you can own.”

Some of my favorite features are that this utility knife opens and locks in two positions: 45-degree angle and fully open as a standard knife. And there’s an onboard wire-stripping tool for up to 12 gauge wire. I appreciate that because you can use it in a pinch without making an extra trip to grab your wire stripper.

Changing the blade is simple without the need for tools. And we actually like that there’s no blade storage in the handle giving this knife a slimmer profile. The handle is ergonomic to boot making it comfortable in the hand and gives better control.

I also like that you can use the gut hook blade even when the utility knife is closed. That should come in handy to make fast wire cuts, as well as quick cuts to twine or string.

Last but not least, a simple but important feature is the wire frame belt clip. Most electricians appreciate this to keep their EDC knife close by in their pocket or clipped to their belt.

Specifications

  • Dimensions: approx. 5″ X 1-3/8″ X 19/32″ (belt clip adds 3/16″)

Milwaukee Fastback Flip w/ Blade Storage

Quick Look

PROS

  • 4 Blade Storage in the Handle
  • 2-Position Blade Lock
  • One hand open
  • Wire Stripper
  • Gut Hook
  • Belt Clip
  • Lanyard hole

CONS

  • Not the best for left-handed folks

Top Features

In the world of electricians and their knives, we find the Milwaukee Fastback with extra blade storage to be a cut above the rest.

Four extra blades store magnetically in the handle and can be changed quickly and effortlessly without the need for tools. It never seems to fail that you need a sharp blade in the middle of the job. That makes the extra 4-blades stored in the handle a welcome bonus.

Even better, you have the ability to lock the blade open in two positions: full-open or open at approximately 30 degrees. It has a great grip with an indentation for your forefinger. The ergonomic design makes it quite comfortable in the hand.

Another fast feature of this Fastback is the one-handed flip and release opening. One of the fastest and easiest on the market.

Again, the gut hook is mighty useful if you need to make a quick wire (or similar) cut without even opening the knife.

As an electrician, the integrated wire stripper is there for you in a pinch so you don’t have to dig out a dedicated tool for small jobs.

The belt clip is great to keep this as your EDC knife on your person. You could also you the lanyard hole if that suits you better.

You’ll get good wear out of this Fastback utility knife thanks to the all-metal design.

One downside noted by a number of users is that left-handed folks might have some trouble due to the placement of the buttons. Of course, if you’re a true lefty like me, you may have gotten used to life being that way.

Specifications

  • Length: 6.75 inches
  • Weight: 6.1 oz.

DEWALT DWHT10272 Folding Pocket Knife

Quick Look

PROS

  • Combo Blade: Serrated and Straight Edge
  • Grip is lightweight and comfortable
  • Tanto Tip
  • Belt Cllip

CONS

  • No spring-assist opening
  • Clip can cause problems

Top Features

This well-built, all-purpose pocket knife will be a nice fit for day to day jobs of an electrician. Whether in your tool belt or pocket, you’ll find yourself reaching for this all-purpose knife from DeWalt. Many people have called this their “beater knife”.

Even with gloves on, you should be able to open one-handed. The combo serrated and straight edge comes in handy for different job situations. The tanto tip is the icing on the cake. Many reviewers like to use this as their beater knife. Comes sharp, has a nice weight and is strong.

The clip can cause problems for some.

We feel the cost of this EDC knife is a good value for most.


Milwaukee 48-22-1985 Fastback Hawk Bill

Quick Look

PROS

  • Strip wire without slippage
  • Pointed Tip for a clean puncture
  • Liner locked
  • Heavy-Duty

CONS

  • Belt Clip could be more sturdy

Top Features

If you want to strip large gauge wire or cables, then a Hawk Bill knife will serve you nicely. These are designed to give you a clean puncture into the material you want to cut thanks to the pointed tip. For electricians, slicing into cable insulation is faster and easier. The curved blade then wraps nicely around the circumference of larger wire while skinning.

A hawkbill blade is safer for pull cuts. Once you get the knack of the right angle to attack the wire, I’m not sure you’ll want to go back to a utility knife.

You’ll be glad to hear that it has a smooth one-handed, push-button, flick-of-the-wrist opening. It then has a liner lock to securely keep the knife in the open position.

You get that great Milwaukee handle that is secure in the hand.

The blade comes “razor-sharp” and is easy to sharpen again when the need arises.


Klein 44006 Hawk Bill Blade

Quick Look

PROS

  • Very sharp, strong AUS-8 stainless steel
  • Corrosion-resistant handle
  • One-handed opening
  • Lightweight
  • Slim profile
  • Belt Clip

CONS

  • Pricey

Top Features

Right off the bat, you get a knife made by a family-owned and operated company that’s been around since 1857. That’s pretty significant. You don’t get to stay in business that long if you’re not doing something right.

Sharp blades are safer than dull blades. Thankfully, this knife comes super sharp straight out of the box.

If you’ve never used a hawkbill knife, you’ll find that they give you more control and slip less when skinning wire compared to a utility knife.

A slim profile makes this knife ideal to slide in and out of your pocket with ease. It weighs in at only 1.3 oz (37 g). Not to mention that the included belt clip is completely removable if you prefer to handle your knife without one.

The handle is silver anodized-aluminum which, as mentioned in the “pros” is corrosion resistant.

One thing that every electrician wants, and this knife delivers, is easy one-handed opening. There is a reversible thumb stud for the job. We probably don’t even have to mention that the blade locks in the open position, but we added that here just in case you were wondering.

The overall length of this Klein hawkbill knife is 6.625” (16.8 cm). The blade length is 2.625” (6.7 cm), and when fully closed it measures 3.875” (9.8 cm).

Sure, the cost is steeper on this knife, but the value in the sharp, AUS8 stainless-steel blade may be worth the investment for you.


SOG EL01-CP Pocket Knife

Quick Look

PROS

  • 3.4″ AUS-8 steel blade
  • Wire stripper bar in handle
  • Built-in UTP stripper
  • Strong glass-reinforced nylon handle

CONS

  • Pocket clip could be made better

Top Features

As you can see, the 3.4 AUS8 stainless steel blade comes with a sweet laser-etched custom design. But don’t let it’s pretty looks fool you. It has a rugged glass-reinforced nylon handle to boot. We especially like the one-hand reversible open with liner lock because, let’s face it, we electricians don’t have time for two-handed opens.

And, when the need for piercing is upon you, the clip-point design helps get the job done. The design helps draw the tip toward the center of the blade for better piercing-style cuts.

We think the three integrated wire strippers in the handle are convenient when you don’t need to reach for a dedicated tool. Stripper bar covers wire sizes 12-24 and you get a spring-loaded UPT/wire stripper in the back.

Some users have indicated that the clip could be improved.

If you’re still on the fence, keep in mind that all “SOG products are guaranteed against defects in workmanship and materials for the life of the original purchaser”.

Specifications

  • Blade Length: 3.4 x 0.12 inches
  • Overall Length: 7.5 inches
  • Weight: 3.3 oz.
  • Steel: AUS 8
  • Edge: Straight
  • HRC: 57-58
  • Finish: Satin
  • Handle: Glass-reinforced nylon (GRN)

Buyer’s Guide: What to Look for in the Best Knives for Electricians

An everyday carry knife is highly personal. Whether you prefer a pocketknife, utility knife, hawkbill, etc., keep the following in mind when picking your best electrician’s knife.

Safety

I use my knife every day, most of the day. It’s also the reason for the many scars on my hands and forearms. Make sure you have a sharp blade. Believe it or not, it’s the dull ones that do all the personal damage.

I like individual single blades with 2 cutting edges. I can easily turn the blade around when one edge gets dull. I also keep a lot of extra blades handy.

Choose Knife Blade Type

In the world of knives, you’ll find considerable variety of blade types. We give you the lowdown on a few knife blade types that are popular in the electrical field.

  • Hawkbill: both the cutting edge and spine curve inward on the hawkbill blade. This will give you good control when cutting wire. Also does a good job of cutting boxes. On the downside, the curve can make it more difficult to pull off other tasks
  • Sheepsfoot: A sheepsfoot blade has no sharp point. You’ll find that the straight cutting edge with an unsharpened curved back gives you plenty of control. You’ll have more safety without a sharp point, but the downside is a lack of versatility.
  • Clip Point: Popular on pocket knives. It has one sharpened side with plenty of cutting edge (belly). The back edge is unsharpened and curves to form a sharp tip that’s good for piercing.
  • Drop Point: Similar to the clip point with a tip that is less sharp. The back unsharpened side runs in a slow curve creating a lowered point giving you good control and a stronger tip (although as mentioned earlier, it will be less sharp.)
  • Tanto Point: A strong knife with the blade coming to a very sharp tip. The Belly of the knife is usually shorter.
  • Utility: Used for a vast array of jobs in the trades and across many general tasks. It’s also commonly called a Stanley knife or boxcutter. Many times they have a retractable blade, a segmented snap-off blade, or a folding blade.

Functionality

I personally use a utility knife the most, but I also keep a pocket knife on me.

My pocket knife has to have a clip so I can keep it close to the top of my pocket without moving around.

It may stay put in my pocket for days without being touched, but when I need a knife it’s there. I use it for moments when I need a quick cut and don’t have my tools on me.

The fewer moving parts the better for me. That being said, I still use a retractable blade type of knife for a majority of my work as an electrician. Frankly, it’s annoying when it gets dirty and the mechanisms inside don’t want to cooperate. That’s when I grab a can of WD-40 for the rescue.

Ultimately, you have to decide for yourself how you work best. You might want to try different styles to see what you prefer.

Conclusion

My ultimate recommendation for the best electrician knife has to be the DeWalt Retractable Utility Knife. Since the blade slides safely back into the handle with one simple hand movement, there are no worries with getting cut the next time you reach for it.

Furthermore, you can use various cutting lengths depending on individual preference and the job at hand.

Grip control on the handle helps to keep it firm in the hand, not to mention extra blade storage in the handle to save time.

It’s fairly priced to boot.

A close second is the SOG EL01-CP Pocket Knife. Made with AUS8 steel it’s going to be tough and durable. Plus the wire-stripper multi-tool is a boon for electricians. SOG gave this knife a glass-reinforced nylon handle making it almost indestructible.

Actually, you really can’t go wrong with any of the knives on our list. They are all reasonably priced so feel free to try 2 or 3 to see what type works best for you!

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