The 10 Best Bolt Cutters

Updated April 21, 2018 by Brett Dvoretz

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We spent 42 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. A tough job needs an extra-tough tool. These bolt cutters will slice through thick wires, threaded rods, bolts, locks, chains and more, utilizing up to 16,000 pounds of crushing pressure. Whether you are looking for raw power, the convenience of foldability, or even a compact one-handed option, our selection has you covered. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best bolt cutter on Amazon.

10. Tradespro 831714

You might suspect that the Tradespro 831714 aren't the highest quality because of the low price tag, but they're actually surprisingly well-built. They are a great choice for DIY enthusiasts or anyone who simply can't afford anything else.
  • start off stiff but ease up quickly
  • best for small jobs
  • jaws should open wider
Brand Tradespro
Model 831714
Weight 2.1 pounds
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

9. Knipex Lever Action

The Knipex Lever Action are best for nails, wires, and small bolts, as they aren't the most heavy-duty option. They are built of high-quality materials, though, and as long as they are used properly, they will work well and for a long time.
  • cutting edges are induction-hardened
  • won't rust in damp conditions
  • require significant hand strength
Brand KNIPEX Tools
Model 7101200
Weight 12.3 ounces
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

8. Neiko 00563A

The Neiko 00563A make use of a smartly engineered lever fulcrum that can convert just 50 pounds of force at the handles to 4,000 pounds of cutting force at the jaws. They feature two eccentric bolts that adjust the blade's clearance for versatility.
  • textured nonslip grips
  • too heavy for some users
  • edges are susceptible to damage
Brand Neiko
Model 00563A
Weight 12.9 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

7. Workpro W017005A

The Workpro W017005A have drop forged chrome molybdenum steel jaws, which means they are strong, corrosion resistant, and retain an edge well, even after multiple cuts. Whether you need to slice through thin cable or a thick chain, these are up to the task.
  • available in four sizes
  • thick grips sit securely in the hand
  • good quality for the price
Brand WorkPro
Model W017005A
Weight 3.6 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

6. GreatNeck BC30

The GreatNeck BC30 can power through almost anything, whether it's a Master lock or some saplings. The manufacturer has been making hand tools for nearly a century, so you can be sure the limited lifetime warranty isn't an empty promise.
  • bright red handles are easy to spot
  • made of forged s2 steel
  • two-and-a-half-foot reach
Brand Great Neck
Model BC30
Weight 9.8 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

4. Fiskars PowerGear

The Fiskars PowerGear are available in four sizes, ranging from 14 to 36 inches, so there is a pair to fit every need. As with every other tool from this brand, they are extremely well-made and should have no problem standing up to daily use for years.
  • geared to enhance your leverage
  • retain their edge well
  • backed by a lifetime warranty
Brand Fiskars
Model 740320-1001
Weight 23 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

3. ToughBuilt Compact

The ToughBuilt Compact have a smart design that allows them to fold down to half their size when not in use, so they are easy to store. That might be especially useful for a contractor who has to carry them around from one site to another, but anyone can appreciate it.
  • collapse and unfold in seconds
  • rubber-coated handles
  • premium steel construction
Brand ToughBuilt
Model TB-BC-01001A
Weight 2.6 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

2. Capri Tools Klinge Mini

Not many 8-inch models can achieve the same amount of force as the Capri Tools Klinge Mini. They easily slice through just about anything you need them to, and are designed for one-handed use, so you'll be able to shear and stabilize at the same time.
  • small enough to fit in a toolbox
  • nicely contoured grips
  • double heat-treated blades
Brand Capri Tools
Model 40209
Weight 11.2 ounces
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

1. Klein Tools 63RBCHD

We'll be the first to admit the Klein Tools 63RBCHD might be overkill for the average user. Their ratcheting mechanism and 31-inch handles provide all the leverage you need to swiftly cut through up to 1/2", grade 5 bolts with ease.
  • spring-loaded bolt retention hook
  • slice right through guy wire
  • open and close smoothly
Brand Klein Tools
Model 63RBCHD
Weight 12.1 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

Bolt Cutters: A Perfect Application Of Force

Before we get to the topic at hand, the bolt cutter, let us first discuss an underlying principle without which this mighty tool would not even exist.

A simple machine is, in the simplest terms, a mechanical device that creates or directs force. Simple machines create what is sometimes called a "mechanical advantage" but what is more commonly referred to as leverage. The term simple machine is almost always used to refer to one or more of the six devices defined during the Renaissance era. They are the lever, the pulley, the wheel and axle, the wedge, the inclined plane, and the screw.

If you examine almost any item with moving parts, from a computer to a cruise ship to a carousel, you will find multiple examples of simple machines within. Likewise you will find simple machines being used -- though often in advanced applications employing multiple examples at once -- in industries ranging from construction to manufacturing to medicine and beyond.

Now let's focus on one particular simple machine, the lever. A rigid lever can be used to generate great amounts of force to an object located a short distance from a fulcrum when much lesser force is applied at a greater distance from the fulcrum. If you have ever used a jack to raise a car before a tire change, you have seen this device at its finest, lifting a vehicle weighing many thousands of pounds with the strength of your own arms.

Given the right circumstances, a lever can theoretically generate enough force to lift any object. Levers can also be used to generate enough force for you to chop through solid steel with your arms alone, provided that the simple machine in question is being used in the form of a pair of bolt cutters.

The Bolt Cutter As An Everyday Tool

A typical bolt cutter can generate around 4,000 pounds of pressure in the hands of a reasonably able bodied person. That means they can easily chop through almost any material that will be found around the house or on a construction site, making them a great asset for the carpenter, electrician, plumber, or the DIY enthusiast looking to cut through anything from nails to wiring to chain link fencing to many types of pipe and even through sheet metal and rebar.

While bolt cutters are hardly precision tools (a pair might bend and crimp a pipe before severing it, for example) they are great for the rough and ready work of demolition that often precedes renovations or new construction. If you have to remove a section of concrete supported by rebar, for example, a sledgehammer (or jackhammer) will only take care of half of the project; a powerful bolt cutter can remove the iron bars. And if you need to cut away nails, screws or, of course, bolts, you can use a good pair of bolt cutters to make multiple cuts with minimal strain to your arms or hands. The leverage inherent in good bolt cutters will always be appreciated.

Don't forget that just because a bolt cutter was designed for use chopping metal, it can still be used to cut through other materials. A handheld bolt cutter (some options are small enough to be operated with one hand) can make amazingly swift work of the branches and brambles you need to prune, for example. They can also easily cut through dowels, zip ties, thick rope, and much more.

The Bolt Cutter For Law Enforcement Or Emergency Work

There are a few specialty bolt cutters available that cost many hundreds of dollars, but that can generate many thousands of pounds of force. Keeping in mind that about 4,000 pounds of force is an average figure for most bolt cutters, it is astonishing to realize that some hydraulic style cutters can generate as much as 16,000 pounds of cutting force using nothing more than a person's arm strength.

Such amazing cutting power is certainly excessive if you are simply trying to remove a lock whose combination has been forgotten or if you are snipping away excess fencing material, but there are multiple situations in which such power is of the utmost importance. If you are tasked with quick entry into a property to execute a warrant, for example, you and your fellow law enforcement professionals can't afford to waste a second, as every delay can put your team in danger and/or risk giving a suspect the advantage he or she needs to make an escape.

So too can a powerful pair of bolt cutters allow for quicker and easier access to a building that firefighters need to enter in order to fight a blaze or that paramedics need to get into before they can assist a sick or injured individual. If a lock stands in the way of a police officer or a first responder, it's important to have the best, most powerful tool available to get that lock removed. Bolt cutters can also help these types of professionals cut through fencing, chains, security cages over windows, and much more.

And for the repossession professional who has the legal right to tow away vehicles or other property that is being unlawfully held, a great pair of bolt cutters is an essential tool of the trade.

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Last updated on April 21, 2018 by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as behind the computer screen, Brett can either be found hacking furiously away at the keyboard or perhaps enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He hopes to one day become a modern day renaissance man.

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