As you know Milwaukee Tools recently launched its line of hand tools, which so far all have been very cool. Along with their recent new product launch is the Fastback Utility knife. We know, there are hundreds of them all ready out there. What makes this one so special? Well we thought the same thing when we fist heard about the knife. But as soon as we got our hand on this, our minds changed.
Before we did get our hands on this knife, we spent some time reading some reviews and looking at user feedback. For the most part we found most of it positive. We also found some negative feedback such as no on board blade storage and the quick blade change system is to close to the blade making it easy for the blade to fall out when working. Now if this is just another utility knife, then we feel these are valid beefs with this knife, but one thing you have to remember is this is not designed to be just another utility knife.
The knife is very light weighing only 5 oz. The width of the body is 5/16″ which makes this a very thin body design. When the blade is folded into the closed position it is only 5″ long. When the blade is fully extended it is about 7-1/4″ long. Over all the knife is compact and well balanced. As you probably saw by the pictures, there are some interesting features of this knife, but before we get there we wanted to point a couple of items out. First this knife can be opened with one hand by pressing the release button and flicking your wrist. This is a cool feature. Say you have something in one hand, you can get the tool from your side with the integrated belt clip, push the button, flick your wrist and your set to go. When the knife is fully opened Milwaukee created this design so the user can have their index finger snug on the bottom and your three fingers resting nicely on the back part of the knife. On the top of the knife there is a nice small decline where you can put your thumb and have maximum control of the knife. Its a little hard to explain, but if you look at the first picture above, you should be able to see what we are talking about.
OK lets get into some of the cool features we mentioned above. First when the knife is closed you can see a little notch and the blade showing, this is called the Gut Hook which allows the user to cut wire without having to open the blade, pretty cool. But it doesn't stop there. When the blade is open Milwaukee designed a nice little wire stripper to strip wire up to 10 gauge wire. Also when the blade is open, there is a small black push button that lets the user change blades in a snap, which this knife comes with five blades.
OK hopefully by now you can see who this knife is designed for. It cuts wire when closed using the Gut Hook, it has wire strippers built in the knife, maybe an electrician? Sounds good to us. So now that you know this is designed for an electrician, lets go back to the cons that people have been talking about. The first is the on board storage. Yes we are accustom to having on board blade storage with our utility knives. Before we got this knife we even thought, how could Milwaukee not build in a storage system. But actually testing the knife, this is no longer a complaint of ours. A thinner, lighter knife with the gut hook makes a lot more sense. When your just cutting wire, your blades will last a lot longer and you will not have to change them as often as say a contractor who lays carpet.
The second con we saw a lot was where Milwaukee decided to place the button for the blade change system. Some people talked about how they had problems when cutting into deep material, sometimes the button would get pushed in and the blade would pop out. We could see this happening on certain types of applications, even though the blade has a nice tight fit. Most of the time an electrician will not have this problem as they will be cutting some wire and cutting open some lighting boxes or other items along that line.
If this is Milwaukee's idea of new hand tools, all we can say is bring it on. This is a great utility knife for any electrician to have in their arsenal. Now we are not saying this three in one tool will replace anything in your tool line up, but it will replace your current utility knife. The one handed open feature makes it perfect so you can still hold onto your wire with one hand and have easy access to your knife with the other. The gut hook and wire stripper are cool ideas that Milwaukee integrated into this tool. If you are an electrician, this is a must as your next utility knife.
We always like to hear back from our readers on their experience with these tools – good or bad. Do you have experience with these tools? How has the long term use been? What applications have you used the tool for? Is this a DIY or professional grade tool? Let us and other readers know.