Best Utility Knives That Are More Than Box Cutters

Justin Mastin Frost 02.18.21

Hobby knives are a little blunt in the rankings, but not today. A hobby knife is really a kind of drawer knife – a knife that sits in your drawer of junk or that you have on your belt at work when you deliver or receive. The typical answer is usually a product from an unbranded company or a device designed to fit disposable razor blades. This is all well and good, but we decided to take another look at the category and instead look for compact blades (with a blade length of 1-2 inches) that last, rather than having to replace the razor blades with regular blades.


1. Kaiser Lundquist locking knife

One of the few knives designed by Justin Lundquist for Kizer knives. The sturdy 2 inch sheep blade of this compact folding knife is an excellent, high quality utility knife. The blade is made of satin 154CM steel, and the G-10 sheath material has grooves to improve the overall grip.

Plus/Plus/Plus blade shape, hooks for easy opening and handles for easy holding.

Cons/ The lake is more expensive than some of our alternatives.

All in all, a smart purchase that will last a long time if you don’t mind spending a little extra money.

2. Kershaw Sinkiewicz Pub Friction Lock Knife

The Kershaw Sinkevich Pub is a more economical offering with a unique center hinge design. When closed, the back serves as a carabiner to attach it to your belt loop, keychain or backpack, depending on what you need. In addition to the blade, the fixed end of the pub can also be used as a bottle opener or slotted screwdriver, making this hobby knife extra practical. Again, a sheep-like blade is used, this time with an effective length of 1.625 inches.

Easy to use for professionals and budgets, with practical benefits.

Cons: friction closure, no lining or framing, scales only on one side.

Bottom Line / This is one of the best budget purchases on our list.

3. Gerber Keychain Knife

With this Gerber keychain, this is the shortest knife we could find in the package, and we have no problem recommending it. So, a keychain that hides discreetly in your pocket, this utility knife has the smallest 1-inch dancing knife we’ve ever seen – perfect for cutting boxes, opening packages, etc. A small knob on one side makes it easy to open, but you can also rely on the nailhead on the back of the blade. Interestingly, this knife also has a pocket clip that is almost the same size as the knife when folded. If you want, you can remove the key ring with a few screws and use it as a compact clip-on holder.

Ultra-compact key ring and folding tanto blade.

H/keys are more dangerous to grind than others.

In short, for $18 you can hardly go wrong.

4. TOPS knife Bagdad box cutter

The Bagdad Box Knife from TOPS Knives is made by Americans and is often carried by American soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. This heavy-duty pointed blade is 2.25 inches long (4.875 inches total) and comes with a Kydex sheath and clip for easy carrying.

Pro/Tough as Nails, and a bit more than its counterparts on this list.

Opposites in a sheath can be a bit awkward to get the job done (for some).

Bottom Line/American made goodness that is durable and easy to maintain.

5. Fox Mini CA Linerlock KnifeCarambit Knife

The Mini-KA is a unique offering with a repeating hawk knife shape similar in size to the Gerber pictured above. On the other hand, the blade is slightly more useful depending on the task at hand, and it has a liner lock for added security. A ring on the back makes it easy to attach it to your keychain. If blue is not your taste, the Mini-KA is also available in a range of complementary colours, as well as an option with sheepskin top, known as the Mini-TA.

Plus/Practical blade shape for cutting and light utility work, available in various colors and blade shapes.

The shape of the counter blade may seem a bit aggressive to some.

Low-end/high-end mini milling machine.

6. Bestech Tulip Frame Lock Knife Case

As far as the best hobby knives go, this Bestech is our favorite. At $126 for a 1.5-inch blade, it’s a hefty price, but it comes with the construction specs of a reputable manufacturer. The Tulip is a titanium vane that runs on ceramic bearings. The Kiridashi blade is made of strong and durable Bohler M390 steel. That means he’ll be at the advantage longer than everyone else on this list, but in a trade it will hurt a little more to weigh him down. Add a milled pocket clip and you have a high quality EDC style construction in a very compact package.

Plus/ceramic bearings, M390 steel and milled pocket loading clamp.

Cons/M390 means it will be a bit difficult to sharpen.

In short, the quality is excellent, but you have to pay for it.

7. Pocket money clipwith fixed blade

This little guy was unusual enough to be on our list – he heard me. Just as Gerber and others do a good job of turning it into a keychain, this little shell from Schrad turns into a money clip so you can carry it with you day after day without wondering where you leave your pocket knife in the house. At about 3.5 inches long, it can hold no more than a card wallet.

It’s easy to forget you have it with you.

Steel grade 8Cr13MoV.

In short, a funky alternative to wear every day.

8. Spyderco PochyFrame Lock Knife

Can you get crazier than Pochy? Not really. This is a new version of Spyderco that can’t be described other than as cute and quirky, but on paper it still meets the requirements of a good utility knife with a little extra character. Pochi is a titanium frame with a CPM-S45VN steel blade. To anchor the pup even more firmly, the little blue tab at the end gives Pochi his tail, which can be raised. It’s weird, weird, but it’s Spyderco, so it deserves a place on this list.

Professional design and reliable craftsmanship.

Disadvantages: An awkward design (yes) and a high price.

Bottom Line/ Not a bad buy if you like funny (and quirky) parents.

Sharpen or replace

This issue is essentially why we are here. Yes, a disposable razor blade can cut through cardboard and tape all day long, but if you use it for anything, the blades will crumble, break or wear out quickly. We admit it’s hard to justify spending $50 or $100 on some of these options when you occasionally spend $10 on a knife blade and $10 on a stack of blades. But, as with any instrument, longevity plays an important role. Our blade options are quite durable (with the exception of a few super budget options), so they can be touched up to extend their life. We’ve also made sure that the medium steel blades don’t sharpen the shine on your buttocks.

What to wear and when to wear it.

As with any story about knives, we recommend checking local and state laws before adding a knife to your arsenal, but when it comes to items with a 2-inch blade, you should be safe just about anywhere. As you go through this list, you will also notice some differences in the design of each knife. We wanted to offer a range of options to suit people with different usage situations. If you are just looking for a well-made but discreet product for everyday use, we have what you need. But we also wanted more discreet options for people who work in a warehouse or office, where things like the KA mini scissors or the Baghdad box might be a little confusing. After all, the right knife for you is the one that cuts what needs to be cut, but in the same breath let’s avoid going to HR if we can, shall we?

About the author

Justin Mastin-Frost.

As a new knife expert, Justin Mastin-Frost brings a wealth of knowledge to a very specific niche site. Although not much into hunting and outdoor fishing, Justin is very knowledgeable about the world of engineering and manufacturing and is also an avid knife collector. With a background in auto and motorcycle racing and watchmaking (an eclectic mix, we know), he quickly built the knowledge base of the category. In addition to the overall design of the knife, he knows that the devil is in the details – ergonomics, steel grade and hardness, bearing material and other important elements will play a role in the evaluation of each knife presented, as well as its value and intended use for the purpose. Whether you are looking for a large field knife for stripping or a small pocket knife for everyday use, he will do his best to point you in the right direction.

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frequently asked questions

Who makes the best hobby knife?

Best Utility Knives Reviews 2021 | Professional Tools Reviews

What can I use instead of a carpet knife?

A rectangular dodo or a smaller yojimbo would be ideal.

Is a hobby knife the same as a box cutter?

One of the most popular types of hobby knives in the workplace is the retractable or folding hobby knife (also known as Stanley knife, cutter, X-Acto knife, or other names). This type of general purpose knife is designed as a multi-purpose cutting tool for use in various crafts.

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