The 10 Best Utility Knives of 2023

Find the best utility knives for all your at-home needs

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The Best Utility Knives

The Spruce / Alli Waataja

A utility knife can be used for cutting tape used to seal boxes, slicing through drywall, stripping wires, and countless other things. It's not a stretch to say that utility knives live up to their name. 

“Having a good utility knife is essential—I'd go as far as saying lifesaving,” says Karel Williams, a master plumber and contractor at Emergency Plumbing Squad. “A reliable and high-quality utility knife can improve efficiency, provide a safer cutting experience, and reduce the risk of accidents or injuries.” 

We researched the best utility knives, evaluating their type of blade and safety features.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall

Milwaukee Fastback Folding Utility Knife

Milwaukee Fastback Folding Utility Knife

The Home Depot

What We Like
  • Easy to open and hold during use

  • Stores five additional blades

  • Includes belt clip

What We Don’t Like
  • Can be tricky to figure out blade replacement

There are many reasons why we think this utility knife from Milwaukee is the best on the market: One of the many impressive features of this long-lasting knife is that it can be opened with a single hand, thanks to the press and flip mechanism. The knife has a metal construction, which makes it durable and reliable. 

We also love all of the helpful details that are built into the handle. With room for five more blades, you'll never have to worry about being without one when you need it. New blades can be installed without the use of any tools, but some users have found this to be a trickier process than they had anticipated. A wire stripper, capable of handling wire as thick as 10 gauge, is integrated into the handle.

The knife can be carried in a variety of ways, as it comes with both a lanyard hole and a belt clip. Overall, this utility knife is sturdy and adaptable, making it perfect for a wide variety of household tasks.

Price at time of publish: $15

Dimensions: 4.59 x 1.18 inches (folded), 6.87 x 1.18 inches (unfolded) | Type: Folding | Blade Storage: Yes

Best Budget

Pacific Handy Cutter S4R Safety Cutter

Pacific Handy Cutter S4R Safety Cutter


What We Like
  • Ergonomic design

  • Safety guard reduces injuries 

  • Tape splitting feature

What We Don’t Like
  • Only comes with a single blade

This budget-friendly option from Pacific puts safety first thanks to a guard that keeps hands and thumbs away from the blade while also guiding cuts. It also protects whatever is inside the boxes by stopping the blade from extending in too far. In addition to precise, controlled top cutting, it can also be used for shallow tray cuts and deep cuts, thanks to its three different blade depth positions.

If you don't want to use the blade to open packages, the utility knife includes a bladeless tape splitter that can cut through even the toughest tape, making it ideal for box opening. It's not as versatile as the other knives on this list, so if you need a utility knife that can also cut drywall, look elsewhere. It doesn't include any spare blades, but it can hold up to five in its storage compartment, and you can switch them out quickly and easily. 

The utility knife is built with comfort and ease of use in mind. The handle is comfortable to hold for extended periods of time, and it can be used with either hand. 

Price at time of publish: $10

Dimensions: 0.75 x 1.25 x 5.75 inches | Type: Retractable | Blade Storage: Yes

Best Folding

Stanley Folding Compact Utility Knife

Stanley Folding Compact Utility Knife


What We Like
  • Durable, solid design 

  • Easy to open and close

  • Push button for blade change

What We Don’t Like
  • No storage for blades

  • Does not come with extra blades

Folding models of utility knives, like this one from Stanley, make them much more manageable to bring along on the go. The blade doesn't move around like a cheap alternative, and the overall weight makes it feel more substantial. This knife is not only handy but also easy to use, thanks to its straightforward folding and unfolding design. You can easily open it with one hand. 

The knife's bright yellow color makes it easy to find in a toolbox or on the ground if it is accidentally dropped. This utility knife has a removable belt clip and folds down to a mere 4 inches when not in use, making it easy to stow away in small spaces. There's a liner lock on the knife, so it won't close on you while you're cutting. 

The knife's blades are easily interchangeable with the push of a button, but note that there is nowhere to store spares. 

Price at time of publish: $7

Dimensions: 0.90 x 4 inches | Type: Folding | Blade Storage: No

Best Heavy Duty

Dewalt Retractable Utility Knife

Dewalt Retractable Utility Knife


What We Like
  • Comfortable to hold

  • Offers on-board blade storage 

  • Retracts smoothly and easily 

What We Don’t Like
  • Large size means it may not fit in a pocket

  • Swapping out blades is tricky

At just over 9 inches in length, this heavy duty retractable utility knife from DeWalt is the longest option on our list. It’s larger than previous models and feels sturdy in your hand. This retractable utility knife is perfect if you don't like folding knives because of its smooth mechanism for extending and retracting the blade and its multiple predetermined stopping points.

You might not notice at first, but this knife has a sealed compartment that can hold all five of its blades safely and securely. It can be accessed by pressing the button located next to the lanyard loops. Most reviewers have praised this utility knife's rubberized grips for making it simple to hold and comfortable to use for extended periods of time. Though convenient in many ways, its bulky design means it's better off in a toolbox than in a person's pocket.   

Price at time of publish: $20

Dimensions: 9.2 x 1.1 inches | Type: Retractable | Blade Storage: Yes

Best EDC

Gerber Gear EAB Lite Pocket Knife

Gerber EAB Lite Pocket Knife


What We Like
  • Small and lightweight

  • Easy to hold and use

  • Can be used as a money clip

What We Don’t Like
  • Tools required to swap out blades

  • Useful for everyday tasks but less ideal for big projects

Along with their wallet, keys, and phone, some people take their EDC utility knife with them when they leave the house. EDC stands for "everyday carry," and it means you'll want a knife that is small enough to fit in a pocket or purse and is lightweight without sacrificing functionality. This lightweight pocket knife from Gerber, weighing in at around 0.14 pounds, fits the bill. 

Although it's less than 3 inches in length, it packs a powerful punch. It's comfortable in the hand thanks to the finger grooves. The built-in handle can be used as a money clip or to clip the utility knife on your belt. But remember, if you use this EDC as a money clip, you'll need to take out the cash before you can use the knife.

This Gerber knife comes with a heavy duty, replaceable blade that sits securely (no wobbles!) and makes sharp, straight cuts. When the blade becomes dull, you can replace it with a regular one. One minor drawback is that the blade needs to be replaced by hand using a screwdriver. Even though the blade is sharp and durable, this knife is too small for cutting through an entire room's carpet or other major home improvement tasks. 

Price at time of publish: $13

Dimensions: 2.85 x 0.25 inches | Type: Folding | Blade Storage: No

Best for Drywall

Irwin Drywall Utility Knife

Irwin Drywall Utility Knife


What We Like
  • Tool-free blade changeout

  • Ideal design for cutting drywall

  • Holds 10 extra blades

What We Don’t Like
  • Less ideal for non-drywall projects

There’s a reason a drywall knife has a fixed (not retractable) blade: After a day of working with drywall, the dust will clog up the retraction mechanism, rendering it ineffective. For this reason, the blade on this drywall utility knife from Irwin is fixed. 

The sharp blade makes it easy to cut through drywall with clean cuts. And, since the blade has a snap blade on both ends, you’ll be able to take advantage of four new tips before changing out the blade completely. The knife can store up to ten replacement blades, and switching them out is quick, easy, and doesn't require any special equipment. 

While this fixed blade can be used for other projects—such as trimming roofing tile or opening boxes—it’s most ideal for drywall, given its slim nose, which allows it to make the accurate cuts that a larger option might not allow. A retractable utility knife can be used for some tasks with drywall, such as tapering drywall edges for super smooth joints.

Price at time of publish: $21

Dimensions: 9.10 x 1 Inches | Type: Fixed | Blade Storage: Yes

Best for Professionals

Olfa 18mm Ratchet-Lock Utility Knife

Olfa 18mm Ratchet-Lock Utility Knife


What We Like
  • Budget friendly

  • Ergonomic handle

  • Easily replaced blades

What We Don’t Like
  • Not ideal for lefties

  • Using lock feature can eat up time

If you're a professional, you need a tool that's simple to use and built to last. That is exactly why Williams turns to this utility knife from Olfa. It comes with a “durable, ergonomic handle,” he notes. 

The lock mechanism that holds the blade in place is also noteworthy, as it allows the user to customize the blade's length. Olfa’s utility knife is versatile, too. You can use it to open boxes, cut vinyl flooring, and more.

This utility knife also comes with a lifetime warranty. Keep in mind that the lock mechanism's location in the middle of the tool's handle could make it awkward to use if you're left-handed.

Price at time of publish: $10

Dimensions: 6 x 1.25 x 0.5 inches | Type: Retractable | Blade Storage: No (but uses snap-off blades)

Best Retractable

Lenox Tools Utility Knife, Quick-Change, Retractable

Lenox Tools Utility Knife, Quick-Change, Retractable


What We Like
  • Easy to change blades

  • Comfortable grip

  • Stores extra blades

What We Don’t Like
  • Parts may be prone to breaking

  • Tends to break if dropped

With its white handle and gold details, this Lenox utility knife has an appealing look. But that doesn’t detract from the tool’s functionality. It’s made with titanium-coated steel, which means it’ll resist wear and tear as well as rust. The utility knife is comfortable to hold, and the slightly curved grip makes it easy for you to control your movements. 

Take advantage of the three titanium-edged steel blades it comes with. The knife also stores up to five blades, which are easily switched out with a quick-blade release.

Price at time of publish: $24

Dimensions: Not specified | Type: Retractable | Blade Storage: Yes

Best Snap-Off

Milwaukee 48-22-1961 18mm Snap Off Knife

Milwaukee 48-22-1961 18mm Snap Off Knife

The Home Depot

What We Like
  • Sturdy, durable, and long-lasting 

  • Easy-to-use snap-off feature

  • Comfortable to hold and use

What We Don’t Like
  • Adjusting the knob can be tricky

  • Does not come with extra blades

A snap-off blade, which features segments that can be easily snapped off to reveal a fresh, sharp edge, is one way to keep the blade of your utility knife in tip-top shape at all times. For people who use their knives frequently, this is a huge time saver because it only takes seconds (as opposed to the minutes it can take to replace a blade). If a snap-off blade makes sense for your tasks, check out this option from Milwaukee. The eight-pointed micro-carbide blade on this snap-off knife is twice as durable and fifty percent as sharp as a regular blade.  

It offers a sturdy metal lock to keep the blade in place. When compared to other retractable utility knives (and especially those with a plastic lock), this one has received rave reviews for its longevity and durability. This versatile knife is comfortable in the hand and ideal for cutting cardboard boxes and other common household items. You can confidently keep this option in your toolkit for future endeavors. 

Price at time of publish: $20

Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 1.5 inches | Type: Retractable | Blade Storage: No

Best Multipurpose

Gerber Prybrid Utility Multi-Tool

Gerber Prybrid Utility Multi-Tool


What We Like
  • Small and lightweight

  • Comes with 8 tools

  • Sturdy and well designed

What We Don’t Like
  • No pocket clip

  • Slide mechanism can get stuck

An all-purpose utility knife that does more than just cut may be exactly what you're looking for in certain circumstances. Enter the Gerber Prybrid Utility Multi-Tool. It’s a full-sized utility knife that can be put to a variety of uses. In addition to the knife, it has a bottle opener, a notch for cutting cords, a wire stripper, a nail puller, two drivers, and a pry bar. 

About the size of a car fob, it comes with a hole pre-drilled for a lanyard, so you can put it on your keychain if you like. While it does include a lanyard, some reviewers wish it also had a pocket clip. Reviewers also point out that the locking mechanism sometimes malfunctions or becomes jammed. But if you need quick access to eight different tools, this utility knife is a fantastic choice.

Price at time of publish: $30

Dimensions: 4.25 x 1.25 inches | Type: Retractable | Blade Storage: No

Final Verdict

Our top pick, the Milwaukee Fastback Folding Utility Knife, opens quickly and stores extra blades, so you’re never stuck hacking away with a dull one. Plus, it’s easy to store thanks to a lanyard loop and belt clip. For an everyday option that can fit in your pocket and travel with you always, we love the Gerber EAB Lite Pocket Knife, which is lightweight and also doubles as a money clip.

What to Look for in a Utility Knife

Blade Type  

Both fixed and retractable blades have their merits, so select a blade based on your planned use of the knife. 

“Fixed-blade knives are more durable and suitable for heavy-duty tasks, while retractable-blade knives offer better safety features and are more appropriate for lighter tasks,” says Karel Williams, master plumber and contractor at Emergency Plumbing Squad. You’ll want to opt for a fixed-blade utility knife, such as the Irwin Drywall Utility Knife, if you’re dealing with drywall, for instance. But for other less heavy-duty tasks, you might opt for a retractable blade, like the Lenox Tools Utility Knife, Quick-Change, Retractable, which is ergonomically designed and made from long-lasting materials. 

“Depending on the user's specific needs, either type of knife can serve as a reliable and valuable tool,” Williams says. 

Then, there are folding knives. “[This] is lightweight and easy to carry,” points out Matt DiBara, CEO of both The Contractor Consultants and DiBara Masonry, and founder of The Undercover Contractor. 


Design flaws can lead to discomfort while using the utility knife—or worse, accidents. “A utility knife is a tool that you may end up using for long periods at a time, so make sure you choose a knife that has a grip that is comfortable and makes for easy use,” DiBara says.  

Think about how the handle is designed and what material is used when considering options. Consider whether or not it will fit nicely in your hand. 

“Handles made from materials such as rubber or plastic offer better grip and reduce the chances of slips and accidents. At the same time, a contoured design can alleviate hand fatigue during prolonged use,” Williams notes. The contoured design of the Olfa 18mm Ratchet-Lock Utility Knife—Williams’ recommended utility knife—is ideal for holding over long periods of time without developing an ache in your hand or cramps in your fingers. 


When thinking about the ergonomics of the knife, you will want to examine the handle and consider the material it is made of. But there’s more to it than that. You’ll also want to consider the blade: Most are made from carbon steel, DiBara says, which allows the blades to be incredibly sharp. 

“You will also want to ensure the body of the knife is made up of heavy duty materials, as it may otherwise fall apart,” DiBara adds. If durability is a high priority, we recommend the Stanley 4 in. Folding Compact Utility Knife, which reviewers laud for its indestructible nature. 

Blade Storage 

 “A dull blade can increase the risk of accidents,” Williams says. But it can be all too easy to convince yourself to delay changing out the blade if you need to walk to your toolbox in another room to snag a fresh blade or if you need a screwdriver to swap out the blades. 

If you only intend to use your utility knife occasionally, these considerations become less important. If you use your knife frequently, you might want to think about where you keep the blades. Some utility knives provide onboard storage for several blades. Furthermore, consider how simple it is to switch out the blade, and how inconvenient it will be if you need a special tool to do so. 

Our top pick, the Milwaukee Fastback Folding Utility Knife, stores five fresh blades, and you can change the blade without tools. Another option if you want to ensure an always sharp blade: a snap-off blade, such as the Milwaukee 48-22-1961 18mm Snap Off Knife. 

Safety Features 

A utility knife that can make its way through carpets, drywall, wires, and stubbornly sealed boxes can do significant damage to fingers and hands. “When using a utility knife, always prioritize safety,” Williams says. 

Opt for a blade with safety features such as a lock and retractable blades, and cut away from your body, not toward it. 

  • What are utility knives used for?

    Utility knives can be used for so many tasks. Some that top Williams’ list: “cutting materials like drywall, carpet, and insulation, opening boxes, trimming excess materials, performing detailed cuts in various applications.” You can also use utility knives for craft and art projects and even to cut plexiglass.

  • What is the best length for a utility knife?

    There’s no ideal length, Williams says. It truly depends on what you’ll be using the knife for. “A blade length of 2-3 inches is common for most utility knives, providing enough cutting power for various tasks without being too cumbersome,” he says. 

  • What is the best material for a utility knife?

    There are a few different materials to consider: First, there's the blade, which should be sharp and durable. Williams recommends looking for high-quality stainless steel or carbon steel blades. 

    For the handle, you’ll want “a comfortable and secure handle material like rubber or plastic,” Williams says. 

    Finally, there’s the body of the knife. Here, you’ll want an option that’s “made up of heavy duty materials, as it may otherwise fall apart,” DiBara says.

Why Trust The Spruce?

This article was written by Madeleine Burry, who has written product reviews for The Spruce since 2019. For this roundup, Burry thoroughly researched products available in stores and online, carefully evaluating each model's design, features, and ability to safely cut a variety of materials. Additional input was given by Karel Williams, master plumber and contractor at Emergency Plumbing Squad, Matt DiBara, CEO of both The Contractor Consultants and DiBara Masonry, and founder of The Undercover Contractor.

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