Klein Katapult Wire Stripper/Cutter Is Nice But Completely Unnecessary

Klein Katapult Wire Stripper
Klein Katapult Wire Stripper. via Amazon

Stripping wire gets repetitive and boring when you're stringing a line of electrical outlets or recessed lights.  You wish for automation.  Then, in your next visit to the home improvement store, automation rears its head in the form of the Klein Katapult Wire Stripper and Cutter.  Can this help?  

I found it fun to use, helpful in some contexts, but largely unnecessary.  Here's why.

Buy From Amazon - Klein Katapult Wire Stripper/Cutter

What It Is

  • Klein Tools 11063W 8-22 AWG Katapult Wire Stripper 
  • Strips the plastic coating from electrical wires from 22 gauge up to 8 gauge (This is a wire stripper, not cable ripper).
  • Important distinction to note:  it cuts 8-20 gauge solid copper wire, but only 10-22 braided copper wire.
  • The "automation" it promises:  cuts the plastic coating and then, almost immediately, slides the coating off of the copper wire.
  • Costs about 3X more than Klein's smaller, lighter, and cheaper manual stripper.
  • Wire cutter built in, separate from the stripping area.

How To Use It

The Katapult has a learning curve, though a short one.  If you would prefer not to read Klein's tiny instructions on the clamshell package, follow this:

  1. Wire Gauge.  Determine your wire gauge.  Romex brand and all plastic-coated NM wiring has the wire gauge printed on it, such as, "12/3."  This means your wire gauge is #12.
  2. Position.  Hold the wire with the cut end facing you.
  1. Place In Tool.  The Katapult cutting head's default position is open.  Place the wire onto the half-circle notch that matches your wire gauge (when the tool is pressed, the top blade descends to form a full circle).
  2. Check Wire.  Make sure that the wire is sticking out no more than 1" from the tool.
  1. Press.  Carefully squeeze the tool, making sure that the wire stays in the notch.
  2. Automation!  The tool will cinch and cut the wire casing.  At the same time, the grabber in back will slide the unneeded casing off of the copper wire.

What It's Best For

Electricians and other pros rave about the Klein Katapult.  For them, this speeds up multiple wiring tasks.

For homeowners who may have a weak grip or wrists, Katapult will give you a bit more leverage over other manual strippers.

It's best for working with new wire straight off of the coil, or old wire that you have cut back to expose a fresh and straight section.

Why It Is Good But Not Great

Small, Invisible Numbers

Wire gauge numbers are difficult to read.  Besides the issue of them being too small--I will attribute that one to aging--gauge numbers are visible only when you hold the stripper at a certain angle to the light.  

Need To Check Front and Side

Once you get the wire notched into place, then you need to turn the tool to the side to make sure that wire is protruding far enough--but not too far.  Unlike the cheaper manual strippers, which have considerable wiggle room, Klein Katapult will simply not strip more than 1" of wire.

All Conditions Must Be Perfect

Katapult's "automation" needs to have conditions perfect in order to force the casing off.  If the wire is anything less than perfectly straight, the added friction makes it even more difficult for the auto-slider to do its job.  

So, you're either dealing with new and straight wire or old wire that you have cut back to expose a straight section.  Sometimes, you cannot afford to cut back wire, though, and that's where the cheaper manual strippers come into play.  With enough wiggling and rotating, it's possible to strip less-than-perfect wires with the cheaper models.

Worthless Wire Cutter

The wire cutter is hard to operate.  With a hard squeeze, you can snap off a #12 or #14 wire.  Compared to the (powerful) cutter on Klein's Side-Cutting Pliers or even the (far less powerful) cutter on the cheap wire stripper, Katapult's is fairly worthless.

Heavy, Bulky

Finally, it's heavy.  At 12.64 ounces, it's nothing like a hammer, cordless drill, or saw.  But it's heavy enough that you may not want yet another thing to carry on your tool belt or pocket.