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Utility Knives vs. Box Cutters: Choose the Best Knife for Everyday Carry 

Utility Knives vs. Box Cutters: Choose the Best Knife for Everyday Carry 

Over the years, there has been a rise in everyday carry (EDC) items, especially with the evolution of technology. Nowadays, it’s not uncommon to carry a slew of compact things on your person. There’s a reason an emergency is called an emergency—you never know what can happen in a day. Preparation is key. 

Everyday carry, or EDC, is a category of gear that consists of “essential items,” such as cell phones, watches, flashlights, and knives. Utility knives and box cutters can fall into the EDC sphere. Both tools share common ground while also differing in some ways. Let’s dive into what box cutters and utility knives are, and which is the best for everyday carry. 

What Is a Utility Knife?

A utility knife is a hand tool that cuts through a myriad of materials. It’s great for both industrial and household tasks. Utility knives boast thicker handles, usually aluminum, titanium, carbon steel, glass-filled nylon, and stainless steel. As for utility knife blades, common materials include carbon steel, zirconium oxide, and stainless steel.


There are three types of blade control options for utility knives. Manual retraction enables the user to lock the blade in two positions: exposed and retracted. Using the auto-retractable option, the blade can remain exposed if the user is holding a slider. Lastly, knives with the smart-retracting mechanism self-retract when the edge loses contact with its cutting material. Utility knives like these are pretty safe because of that.

Features to Look for 

When you’re on the hunt for a quality utility knife, there are particular features you should consider. Firstly, you want a utility knife that’s both safe and effective. A resilient yet safe-to-the-touch blade is preferable. 


For example, zirconium oxide is a terrific utility knife blade material. It’s an advanced ceramic that weathers the elements much longer than traditional steel. Zirconium oxide doesn’t rust, which means fewer blade changes. Additionally, it’s much gentler on fingers than traditional steel, and it can slice a wide variety of materials because of its hardness. 


Secondly, a utility knife should have a durable handle. Glass-filled nylon is a perfect choice. It’s not only sturdy, but it sits comfortably in your hand. An awkward-to-hold utility knife can potentially lead to injuries, such as repetitive strain injuries (RSI). This term describes the pain and damage caused by repetitive movement and overuse. RSI affects the muscles, tendons, nerves, and ligaments, primarily in the upper and lower arms. 

What Is a Box Cutter?

A box cutter is a compact tool, one mainly used to cut boxes. But, in reality, it’s versatile. It usually cuts thinner materials like plastic film or corrugated packaging. Like the utility knife, box cutters sport thick handles, generally made from the same substances. 


Box cutters also typically have less blade exposure than utility knives. You can find two types of blade control options for box cutters: manual retraction and auto-retractable. Similar to utility knives, manual-retracting box cutters and auto-retractable box cutters have sliders that enable these control options. 

Features to Look for

As you’re weighing your box cutter options, consider investing in one that has a protective, ergonomic J-hook handle. This handle type keeps your fingers safe while you work. A non-slip grip gives you the added benefit of extra comfort and safety. 


In addition, think about buying a box cutter with as little blade exposure as possible. That doesn’t mean it’s an ineffective blade. Less exposure just ensures your protection from potential cuts and lacerations. 

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Sometimes switching blades in a box cutter requires unnecessary tools and extra steps. But you can find one that doesn’t need all the bells and whistles to change blades. Not only will it lessen your risk of injuries, but it decreases your downtime. Your workflow can continue uninterrupted. 

Which One Is the Best for Everyday Carry?

While both tools are beneficial in their own ways, utility knives are better for everyday carry, mainly due to their versatility. Like box cutters, they’re compact and can be stowed easily. But utility knives have more blade control options, which increases your level of safety if you need to use your tool on the spot. 


It’s important to remember that utility knives and box cutters, for the most part, perform the same functions and can be composed of the same materials. 


Utility knives may be better for everyday carry, but it’s vital to find the tool that works best for you and the types of tasks you regularly encounter in your daily life. As long as you purchase a solid utility knife or box cutter with a safe, effective blade and a sturdy, protective handle, you’ll be good to go. 


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