Choosing the correct safety knife is a crucial decision that hinges on understanding the distinctions between retractable, fixed-blade, and breakaway knives. Each type serves specific purposes, and this comprehensive guide delves into the unique features and advantages of each. Retractable knives prove to be versatile choices for general or everyday use, allowing quick adjustments in sharpness and cutting depth. Fixed-blade knives, on the other hand, excel in heavy-duty cutting jobs with securely locked blades offering stability and versatility. Breakaway-blade knives, housed in brightly colored casings, feature segmented blades ideal for tasks constantly dulling blades. Explore additional specialized blades tailored for specific tasks, such as carpet cutting or crafting, and personalize your utility knife further with features like self-retraction, folding fixed-blades, efficient blade changes, hang holes, and string-cutting capabilities. This guide empowers you to make an informed decision, ensuring your safety knife aligns with the unique requirements of your work environment.

Retractable knives are a good choice for general or everyday use.

  • Easy to quickly adjust the sharpness and cutting depth of the blades.
  • Blades can be fully retracted into the handle when not in use.
  • Some knives have a thumb-operated slider that lets the blade slide all the way out and then lock into place.
  • More advanced knives allow you to lock the blade into multiple positions.
  • Knife bodies may be straight or ergonomically curved to fit your hand.
Martor safety knifeMartor safety knife

Fixed-blade knives are ideal for heavy-duty cutting jobs.

  • Blades are securely locked into place.
  • Offers greater stability for tough jobs.
  • Accepts a wider variety of blades for more versatile use.
  • Hand sizes and widths vary.
Fixed blade knife with sheathFixed blade knife with sheath

Breakaway-blade knives are usually housed in a brightly colored plastic casing and feature segmented blades that can be broken off in sections to provide a fresh, sharp edge whenever you need it.

  • Ideal for tasks that constantly dull or otherwise affect blades.
  • Best used for light- and medium-duty cutting tasks.
  • Blades usually have between 8 and 13 segments.
  • Do not accept different blades for specialized tasks.
  • Break off blade tips as soon as they become dull.
Stanley Quick-Point Snap-Off KnifeStanley Quick-Point Snap-Off Knife


Blade Types

There are a number of other specialized blades in addition to standard utility blades, which are designed for different tasks including carpet, hobby and craft, hook and linoleum knives.

Personalize your utility knife to your needs by choosing from features such as self-retraction, hang holes, and safety shields.


  • Folding fixed-blade: Knives fold up so they are not exposed and are easier to fit in your pocket or tool pouch.
  • Self-retraction: Requires you to keep a button depressed while you are cutting. Once you release the button, the blade automatically retracts helping to prevent accidents.
  • Blade changes: Blades stored internally are easy to change quickly and efficiently. Use guides or magnets to keep blades in place since loose blades can dull over time.
  • Hang hole: A hole at the end of a utility knife makes it easy to hang on a nail or run a lanyard through for easy access.
  • String-cutting feature: A small slit in the body of the knife located just behind the head of the blade, ideal for sliding strings and twine through for quick, easy cuts.

Shop our selection of safety knives.