There are several different types of safety knives available. The information below lays out the differences between
retractable vs. fixed-blade vs. breakaway knives.

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.

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.

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.

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.