best electrician knife

Best Electrician Knife: Top 7 of 2024 (Pocket, Hawkbill & Wire Skinning)

Last updated on February 28th, 2024.

I don’t know how anyone can go through life without a good knife – let alone work on a job site.

A pocket knife is the one tool that every electrician will use on a daily basis. Choosing a good electrician knife will end up being a huge time saver.

The challenge lies in sifting through the market clutter. Many knives promise precision but fail at the basic task of cutting wire smoothly, which is essential for an electrician’s precision work.

So to help you separate the good from the junk – we’ve reviewed the Top 7 Electricians Knives of 2024.

If you want to jump straight into the top picks, the best electricians pocket knife is this 2-blade knife from Klein:

Klein Tools 1550-2 Electricians Knife, 2 Blade Pocket Knife, Steel, 2-1/2-Inch Blade
  • Standard spearpoint blade 2-1/2-Inch (64 mm) long
  • Screwdriver-tip blade 2-1/2-Inch (64 mm) long
  • Screwdriver-tip blade locks open

The best electricians hawkbill knife is the Klein hawkbill knife (great choice for a lineman):

Sale
Klein Tools 44218 Utility Knife, Lockback Electricians Knife and Folding Knife with Hawkbill Blade...
  • This folding utility knife features a heavy-duty hawkbill blade that is easily replaceable to eliminate the need for sharpening
  • Handle has rubberized grip and release lever for lockback mechanism
  • Replaceable blade is held securely by a captive screw

And if you have to make a single pick, go with this electricians utility knife from Milwaukee (great for wire skinning and stripping):

Milwaukee 48-22-1901 Fastback Press and Flip Utility Knife with Belt Clip and Onboard Wire Stripping
  • ONE-HANDED OPENING: A button onboard the ergonomically designed handle allows you to flip the blade out with ease. When you’re finished with the blade, press and hold the button, swing the blade into a closed position, and keep in your pocket
  • ONBOARD WIRE STRIPPING: A hook in the back of the unit can strip up to 10 gauge wire. You don’t even need to have the knife flipped out to get important work finished
  • TOOL-FREE BLADE CHANGING: Press a button near the blade, and you can slide it out for easy replacements

Types of Knife Blades You May See Working As An Electrician

There are a few different blade types electricians use in the trade.

electrician knife coping blade

 

Coping blade: A coping blade has a straight spine and blade, that creates parallel lines running to the point. The spine tapers toward the tip so a thin, sharp point is created. This blade is a good cutter at the tip and opens boxes well, skinning/stripping small wire or cables, and can make cuts in tight areas or curved cuts.


 

electrician knife sheepfoot

Sheepfoot slitting blade: The sheepfoot is similar to the coping blade in which the spine and edge run parallel from the handle. The difference between the two, however, is the drop from the spine to the tip. It has a rounded curve on the sheepfoot rather than an angle as on the coping blade. The blade also thins as it approaches the tip and makes it useful for detail work. This blade is  ideal for heavy-duty line work or stripping large gauge wire.

 


 

electrician knife spearpoint blade

Spearpoint blade: The spearpoint blade is a straight blade with a single sharpened edge. The top of the blade has a false edge near the tip and the top and bottom of the blade fall and rise equally to create a point at the equator of the blade. The variations on this blade consist mainly in the point, with some being more blunted as in traditional pocket knife examples, or sharper more pointed tips as in tactical knife examples.

 


electrician razor knife

 

Utility knife / Box cutter: A utility knife is a knife used for general or utility purposes within the construction and trade industries. The utility knife usually features retractable and/or replaceable blades made of either die-cast metal or molded plastic.

 


Important Things To Remember When Choosing a Knife

Knives are a personal thing. Everyone has their own unique taste and requirements when they look for tools, knives, gadgets, phones, etc. When you’re trying to find the best electrician knife, there are a few things you need to consider.

  1. Size
  2. Handling
  3. Fixed or closed blade

The two major things that I look for when choosing a new knife are:

  1. Size – When searching for a knife, size does matter. I’m not trying to carry around a Crocodile Dundee Bowie knife while trying to pull wire and bend conduit. A pocket knife needs fit easily in the palm of my hand and are easy to handle. I hate knives where I’m constantly fiddling with how I’m holding it to get the best angle for the task at hand.
  2. Accessibility – This might be the most important requirement for me. When I need a knife, I need it right now. Not 6 seconds later after digging around in my pants pocket. To me, accessibility means quick draw. Which narrows my requirements down to knives with clips. I usually carry my knife either clipped inside my right front pocket or my right back pocket next to my wallet. Since I’m right-handed, this works best for me.

You may choose to carry it elsewhere, but as I said before, these two locations work best for me. Remember, a pocket knife should be sized and designed to slip in your pants pocket for easy access and to help you increase your productivity.

Disappearing Knives: A pocket knife can walk away from you. When you loan it to a co-worker, friend, or wife, you might as well be giving it away. When you’re busy doing work and someone asks to borrow it tell them nope. Unless they have a box in front of you and you can open it for them –  Don’t let them borrow your knife!

Maintain a strict rule: your knife stays in your hand or pocket, nowhere else. This habit is your best defense against the all-too-common mystery of a missing knife, saving you time and frustration.

Pick Your Price: Setting a budget is crucial; decide your spending limit ahead of time. I find that staying under $50 is sensible. It‘s tough to justify the angst of misplacing an overly expensive tool, especially when options above $200 exist.

Despite how careful you are with your knife, life happens and things break or walk away. If you find a good deal, think about picking up two and keeping one in your toolbox.


Best Electrician Knife For Specialty Use

Klein Hawkbill Knife

The Klein Tools Hawkbill Blade is an ideal tool for stripping large gauge wire with thick insulation. If you’re working as an apprentice electrician or lineman working with large gauge wire, this knife can make your life much easier.

The advantage of using the hawkbill (sometimes called a Sheepfoot) is the hook prevents accidental slipping as you’re scoring and cutting the insulation. It’s designed to remove insulation easily and keep you safe.

Sale
Klein Tools 44218 Utility Knife, Lockback Electricians Knife and Folding Knife with Hawkbill Blade...
  • This folding utility knife features a heavy-duty hawkbill blade that is easily replaceable to eliminate the need for sharpening
  • Handle has rubberized grip and release lever for lockback mechanism
  • Replaceable blade is held securely by a captive screw

Blade: The blade length is just over 2.5 inches and is made of AUS 8 stainless steel, which has been hardened to 58-59 RC. The RC stands for Rockwell Scale which measures the hardness of different types of metals.

The 58-59 rating falls within the RC very hard steel HRC 55–66 range. This range is where you would find chisels and quality knife blades. The blade comes sharpened from the factory and will hold its edge for a good length of time. As with any knife under continuous use, it will need to be sharpened occasionally.

Just like the name suggests, this knife blade locks into place. The release is quite common among locking blades – pushing down with your thumb unlocks the blade, perfect for one-handed operation.

Features and Specs

  • Dimension: 7 x 4.5 x 0.7 inches
  • Blade length: 2.625 inches
  • Blade is AUS8 stainless hardened to 58-59 Rc.
  • Premium quality blade offers superior edge holding.
  • Reversible thumb stud allows for easy one-handed opening.
  • Pocket clip: No

The handle is made of an impact-resistant nylon resin and has a rubber insert. This helps keep the blade from jarring loose if you drop it or it gets run over by a forklift. Also, the reversible thumb stub is great for lefty’s – we all know they have it harder than the rest of us.

Customer Reviews and Score: The Klein Tools Hawkbill blade has over 250 reviews with an average rating of 4.7 out 5 stars from Amazon. The only drawback to this knife is it doesn’t include a belt clip and as one reviewer put it, “could cost about $10 less ten dollars less in my opinion.” In my opinion, an extra $10 to save time and frustration for years to come is worth it.

Conclusion: For apprentice electricians or linemen who frequently splice cables, the hawkbill knife is a game-changer. Its design ensures consistent, clean cuts, reducing the time spent fixing wire imperfections. Plus, its durable, single-blade design eliminates the hassle of constant blade replacements, embodying Klein Tools’ commitment to quality. This knife is a standout choice for specialized electrical work.

It’s currently selling for a great price on Amazon.

Milwaukee Fastback Flip Open Utility Knife

electrician utility knife milwaukee fastback

This thing is a beast of a utility knife. The Milwaukee Electric FASTBACK Knife with storage is very effective, compact enough to carry in your pocket, and well-designed metal bode. Typical to all FASTBACK Knives from Milwaukee it promotes a one-handed “press and flips” operation for quick applications.

It also houses an extra blade within the handle that opens for easy removal. The extra blade is held inside by magnets and doesn’t require any tools to release the blade.

Blade: Standard utility blade feature – it ships with 2.  The gut hook on the handle helps you slice through plastic banding with ease. Also featured is the handy section to strip wire up to #10 gauge. Always a helpful feature that any electrician would be happy to use in a pinch.

Features and Specs

  • Length: 7.25 inches
  • Weight: 7 ounces
  • Easy blade change – no tools required
  • Utility blade: Standard
  • Wire stripper: Up to #10 AWG
  • Gut hook
  • Pocket clip: Yes – wire-form clip 
  • All Metal Body

Customer Reviews and Score:  The FASTBACK utility knife is has a score of 4.6 out of 5 stars on Amazon. The cons are complaints about the pocket clip breaking as well as being designed for right-handed people. However, as one customer stated, “It’s a great tool all around. Nothing wobbles, it just feels like a quality tool. I’ve ended up using the “cable” cutting feature more than I had anticipated and it’s been great. I now carry this tool with me all the time.”

Conclusion: The triple cutting features of the FASTBACK Utility Knife is ideal for any electrician who’s looking to increase productivity. This knife is something more substantial than a utility razor blade, it’s not expensive, and durable for any job site. It’s an excellent choice for wire skinning and stripping.

It’s currently selling cheap on Amazon.


Best Electrician Knife For Everyday Carry

Milwaukee FASTBACK Folding Flip Pocket Knife

milwaukee electrician knifejpg

This is the ideal pocket knife for day to day use. It features a one-handed press-and-flip operation which helps you to open the knife faster – right when you need it. The large wire clip on the side has strong tension for maximum hold but still makes it easy to slide the knife inside your jeans pocket with the clip on the outside – versus having to use a case.

Blade: I couldn’t find the manufacturer’s listing for which grade of stainless steel is used in the blade. However, the FASTBACK’s smooth drop-point blade is designed for controlled piercing and smooth general-purpose cutting. It has a fine edge with

Features and Specs

  • Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Blade length: 2.825 inches
  • Knife length: 4.5 inches
  • Pocket clip: Yes – wire

milwaukee electrician knife 2

If you’re a lefty then this may not be the knife for you. The push-button is located to serve right-handed uses, unfortunately leaving you guys high and dry.

Customer Reviews and Score: 4.6 out of 5 and 262 reviews

Conclusion: The Milwaukee FASTBACK Folding Flip Pocket Knife was made for someone who uses a knife every day. You can slice your way to maximize productivity on the job site with the push button-quick flip. No more two-handed, awkward fiddling with the knife to get the blade open. The slim, lightweight body takes up less space but still stands up to everyday abuse.

It’s currently selling for a great price on Amazon.


Klein Tools 2-Blade Spearpoint Pocket Knife

electrician knife kleinThis 2 blade Klein pocket knife is a great electrician’s knife for general cutting, wire stripping, and a screwdriver tip for opening hinged panels or junction boxes. The handy screwdriver-tip and easy to sharpen blade makes for quick work on any issue that pops up.

Blades: This knife only has two blades – one for cutting and one with a screwdriver tip. Both blades measure 2.5 inches long and with a closed length of 3.75 inches.

Both blades are made from carbon steel – a mixture of iron and carbon. This means that it can rust. However, if you keep it out of the rain or wipe it off when it gets wet you shouldn’t have any issues.

Another good point of carbon steel is that it’s resistant to use and wear – much more than a stainless steel blade. You’ll still have to sharpen it, just not as often as stainless.

If you’re into a stainless steel knife Klein also offers this pocket knife in stainless (1550-42) as well.

Features and Specs:

  • Weight: 4 ounces
  • Dimensions: 7.1 x 4.5 x 0.4″
  • Length closed: 3.75″
  • Spearpoint blade – 2.5″
  • Screwdriver-tip blade – 2.5″
  • Spearpoint blade does not lock open
  • Screwdriver-tip blade locks open
  • Pocket clip: No

One thing to note is the handle is not made of wood – its a wood grain plastic. So if you were expecting a 100% vintage style electrician knife I would say you have it, minus the real wood.  

Klein offers a lifetime warranty on material defects. You will need to request a WRA or Warranty Request Authorization using this link

Customer Reviews and Score: The Klein Tools Spearpoint 2-Blade Pocket Knife has 29 reviews with an average rating of 4.5 out 5 stars from Amazon. Two negative points the knife had was the knife could be hard to open and the loop attached to the handle. The blade being too hard to open could be a number of different things. Maybe the knife they had before was easier to open or it was a defective product. You never know.

As for the loop on the handle, from what I read the reviewers that didn’t like it cut it off. Personally I see the loop as a selling point. Not only does it help fish the knife out of your pocket, you could tie a small lanyard on it for easy removal from a tool pouch.  

Conclusion: As I said before, this is a top knife for any electrician. It’s great for general cutting, wire stripping, and opening equipment panels or boxes. Despite the negatives I pointed out, this is a simple knife that has more than one function and good usability.

It’s currently selling for quite cheap on Amazon. Personally, that’s in my mid-range for what I’d be willing to spend on a new knife.


Spyderco Tenacious G-10 Handle Folding Plain Edge Knife

Spyderco Tenacious Folding Utility Pocket Knife with 3.39" Stainless Steel Blade and Durable...
  • Game Changer: Being tenacious means you are persistent and cohesive. It's being tough and tireless in achieving your best performance; all worthy descriptive words for a hard-use knife
  • Superior Blade Steel: The 3.39" 8Cr13Mov stainless blade is leaf-shaped and ground flat from spine to cutting edge for non-stop cutting performance.
  • A Secure Grip: It has a black G-10 laminate handle, Ergonomically milled with prolonged fatigue-free cutting in mind.

The Tenacious by Spyderco is a mid-sized plain edge knife that has a black G-10 laminate handle, designed with user-friendly cutting in mind. Behind the laminate, handles are steel liners that help increase the handle’s strength without introducing extra weight and thickness.

Blade: The Tenacious has an 8CR13MOV stainless blade that looks similar to teardrop in shape. The spine of the blade is ground flat all the way to the cutting edge for increased handling cutting performance. Instead of having thumb stud, the Tenacious utilizes an oversized round hole to set your thumb against to help flick open the blade.

The spine is also textured which allows you to position your thumb for slip-proof confidence when cutting open boxes or for precision work.

Features and Specs:

  • Made in USA or Imported
  • Blade length: 3.75 inches
  • Blade steel: 8CR13MOV
  • Weight: 4oz (115g)
  • Handle material: G-10

The knife also features a Walker Linerlock (with jumped liner). To unlock the blade you simply push the lock away from the blade. Another cool feature is the 4-way pocket clip which lets you set your carry preference: tip-up/tip-down left-hand/right-hand.

Customer Reviews and Score: The Spyderco Tenacious G-10 racked up a solid 4.6 out of 5 stars with over 1,600 reviews! However, with solid reviews like that, there were some dissatisfied customers. Most of the poor reviews I read had to do with the blade edge rolling or the locking mechanism not working correctly. However, as one user put it, “I see this blade nearly every single day and put it to use whenever I can. It’s my go-to blade.”

Conclusion: This is the kind of knife you will actually use and not worry about beating up. Out of the box, the Tenacious has ZERO blade play in either direction and even after using it all day long, it will still lock uptight waiting for its next mission.

Although a bit pricer than other options, this knife is a solid piece of kit and will last you a lifetime. It’s currently available to buy on Amazon.


Case Cutlery 161 Trapper Pocket Knife

best electrician knife case 161

The #161 Case Trapper Pocket Knife has been a favorite of farmers and other working men since W. R. Case and Sons Cutlery started production in the 1920s. The Case brand of jack-knife is made entirely in the U.S. which is important to a lot of knife owners.

It’s not only a versatile tool for use around the house, but it’s also a knife that has a long tradition of providing the working man with a tool he can count on daily.

Blade: This knife has two blades – the clip and spey. Both are typically utilized for skinning animals and games. Talk about multi-purpose on the job site! If you find yourself in a death stare with a squirrel, you’ll be pleased to know that you can have it easily skinned and on a pit during your lunch break. Neither blade has a locking mechanism.

The knife blades are made of chrome vanadium (CV) which is a special formula of alloyed cutlery steel known for its ease of re-sharpening. A CV blade requires your care to keep it looking sharp. A thin film of oil should be kept on the blade to maintain the steel finish and prevent rust. A quick touch-up will bring back a chrome vanadium blade’s original sharp edge.

Features and Specs:

  • Made in U.S.A.
  • Knife length: 4.125 inches
  • Clip blade length: 3.25 inches
  • Spey blade length: 3.25 inches
  • Blade steel: Chrome vanadium
  • Handle: Durable yellow Delrin
  • Limited lifetime warranty

The grip panels are yellow Delrin, a type of thermoplastic used in the most demanding applications where the ultimate in toughness combined with high strength, creep, and fatigue resistance are required.

Customer Reviews and Score: The Case Cutlery Trapper 161 boasts a solid 4. out of 5 stars with 200 reviews. The worst reviewers stated that the knife rusts. But like I said before, this knife takes a bit of oil to keep the blade shiny, pristine, and rust-free. If you are willing to do the additional maintenance, they hold an edge better and some claim it’s sharper than other generic knives on the market.

Conclusion: The Case Cutlery is a great knife worth every cent. It’s the perfect knife for all occasions, especially if you’re an outdoorsman.  Remember, this is not a cheaply Made in China knife!

It’s currently selling on Amazon for a great price.

Gerber LST Knife – Fine Edge

gerber lst electrician knife

I have had really good luck with Gerber knives in the past and if you want a sharp, small, lightweight pocket knife that you won’t realize is in your pocket, the Gerber LST is the one to buy.

The LST holds an edge well and sharpens quickly when needed.  Since this knife doesn’t come with a pocket clip, it’s either in your tool pouch, toolbox, or pocket. What I really like about this knife is that it doesn’t make a big bulge in the pocket when you carry it.

Blade: The LST blade is a common drop point design made of 420 HC stainless steel. The HC stands for “high carbon” and it can be brought to a higher hardness than 420 and should not be mistaken for it. Buck Knives stopped using a higher grade 440 stainless because of user complaints of sharpening and now exclusively uses 420HC.

Features and Specs:

  • Overall Open Length: 6.1″
  • Blade Length: 2.63″
  • Closed Length: 3.61″
  • Weight: 1.2 oz.
  • Lock Mechanism: Lock-back
  • Blade Style: Drop Point
  • Blade Material: 420HC Stainless Steel
  • Blade Type: Fine
  • Handle Material Glass-filled nylon

Customer Reviews and Score:

The Gerber LST boasts a solid 4.8 out of 5 stars with 123 reviews from Amazon. One complaint was that the blade is worn down too fast (it was the only review I could find with this problem). Another complaint was the size of the knife. If you’re looking for a military spec-op type of knife then you may want to pass on this particular one. It’s barely over 3.5 inches in length, which for some people is a no go. Personally, the size works for me. Since it doesn’t come with a clip, when I go out I don’t want it the outline of a knife in my pocket.

Conclusion:

The Gerber LST is super versatile. It’s small size and sharp blade make it ideal for tradesmen, hunters, military, and outdoor situations. It’s currently selling for a great price on Amazon

Have you found a better knife that you think should make this list? Leave a comment so we can all take a look.

About Thomas Hawkins

I run Electrician Apprentice Headquarters, a one-stop-shop for learning how to become a licensed electrician in the USA. I'm a licensed Master Electrician with over 20 years experience working in the Mining & Construction industries. Why do I do it? Well, because even plumbers need heroes.

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