Updated August 2022
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Buying guide for Best strap cutters

Having the right tool at the right time offers convenience, efficiency, and even safety. Strap cutters are just such tools, used in everyday industrial environments and in emergency situations. They are handheld tools that usually feature a relatively small blade embedded at the base of a hook. By hooking the tool to a strap and pulling, the blade cuts through the strap with ease.

Pocket-size strap cutters are useful in simple day-to-day situations, such as opening packages or removing wire or material around the house. Some strap cutters are made with emergency situations in mind, such as quickly removing a seatbelt. Others are designed for professionals working in manufacturing or specific industries.

Strap cutters vary in usage, size, cost, and convenience, depending on their desired function. They can be used as a basic tool for simple tasks or a preventative safety measure.

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MOLLE stands for Modular lightweight load-carrying equipment, a system used by many armed forces for carrying items and gear. Some strap cutters will designate whether they are MOLLE compatible or not.

Key considerations

Types of strap cutters

There are essentially two types of strap cutters, though the latter is less common for everyday situations and mainly used for specific targets.

  • Hooks: Most strap cutters are essentially bladed hooks. They work by grabbing a hold of the material and then pulling or sawing through. The strap will be “caught” by a blunt hook, which houses a blade at the base. When you pull, the blade meets the strap and cuts through the material. Hooks are also the safer option since most hooks have a slender opening small enough for a strap to go through but not big enough for a finger to be accidentally cut. Depending on the nature of both the blade and the strap, a yank might cut through a strap, although a more careful and controlled sawing motion may also be required.

  • Shears: Some cutters work as shears, requiring a fair amount of pressure from your grip and maybe even two hands. These are similar to bolt cutters or pliers, where you will hold the tool and squeeze the handles. Depending on the size of the blades and the material needed to be cut, cutting with shears may require more or less effort. As a result, these are not ideal for emergency situations and are best for construction or industrial environments where straps may be made of tougher, thicker materials.

Expert Tip
Never carry a strap cutter tool without a sheath. Blades are sharp and can cause unintentional cuts.
BestReviews Home Improvment and DIY Expert


Strap cutters can either be found as an independent tool or as part of a multitool. Strap cutters may be paired with knives, for example, and located at the base of the handle. A strap cutter that is part of a multitool may be smaller than desired and sometimes, but not always, less effective. A multitool may offer more convenience, but it also may be uncomfortable to use. 

An independent strap cutter is better for regular use and is likely designed with comfort in mind.


For use in emergency situations, the strap cutter should be lightweight and simple to use. Some strap cutters come with clips to attach to your belt or backpack, making them convenient and easy to carry. Others are best suited to stay where they may be needed in emergencies, such as in a car. For more frequent and utilitarian purposes, a larger, heavy-duty cutter will be more effective while being less streamlined and portable.

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Safety Tip
It may seem counterintuitive, but sharper blades are safer than dull blades. If an edge is dull, it requires more force to cut through a strap and may not catch an edge as easily, leading to accidents.



To keep your cutter both handy and protected, a sheath is a great thing to have. This will keep the blade from wearing down against any elements or being dulled by accidental encounters. A sheath will also allow for easy transport and storage. A sheath may come with an independent strap cutter or a multitool.

Glass breaker

A feature on many strap cutters, a glass breaker is essentially a pointed piece of metal that with force can break tempered glass. The glass breaker may be sharp, but a blunt or flat end is effective as well depending on the material from which it is made. Different materials will break glass more or less effectively. Glass cutters and seatbelt cutters are often paired together since both tools are useful in the event of a car accident.


If you’re getting a tool to use daily, you’ll want it to be conveniently located. A clip attaches the tool to your person, be it on your belt buckle, jacket, or backpack. The clip not only offers easy access, but it also keeps the more absent-minded of us from misplacing the tool.

Expert Tip
Strap cutters should be stored in your vehicle, camper, backpack, or toolbox.
BestReviews Home Improvement and DIY Expert


While most strap cutters feature a military or industrial look, some are more adventurous and stylish, coming in a wide array of colors. The handle is the most common customizable aspect of a strap cutter, with some models offering handles available in blue, yellow, orange, pink, or camouflage.

Emergency car accessories

Some multitool strap cutters are specifically geared for cars. In addition to a strap cutter and glass breaker, these tools may include a flashlight, tire pressure gauge, and sometimes even a compass.

Strap cutter prices

For the most part, the price of strap cutters will increase with size, durability, effectiveness, and additional tools.


For under $15, you’ll be able to find an array of pocket-sized independent strap cutters or multitools that can attach to a keychain or transport easily and comfortably. These may be weaker or harder to use than higher-priced strap cutters.


Between $15 and $35, multitools, knives, and strap cutters will be available in different sizes and for different functions.

Expert Tip
Most strap cutters are rust-proof, but if they do get rusty, clean them with CLR or vinegar and allow them to dry fully before storing them.
BestReviews Home Improvement and DIY Expert


For over $35, you’ll find a high-quality independent strap cutter or a durable knife with a strap cutter handle. This will come from reputable companies. You’ll also find much more elaborate multitools that incorporate a strap cutter, which may have much higher prices.


  • Hold the strap taut. For most effective and efficient cutting, be sure that the strap is held taut by a free non-cutting hand, preferably as close as comfortable to the desired spot of the cut. Once the blade catches, saw slightly back and forth and pull hard.

  • Get the one that fits. Finding the perfect fit isn’t just for clothes. If you feel comfortable holding and handling the cutter, you’ll be more effective at using it and avoid pain and wasted energy.

  • A serrated edge helps start a cut. Making the first cut and catching the material is usually the hardest part of cutting. A serrated blade can effectively make the first cut, and a strap cutter can easily do the rest.

  • Be prepared. If you are unsure whether you need a strap cutter, you may want to err on the side of caution. It is better to have a strap cutter stored away in a car for emergencies and not use it than need one when you don’t have it.
Strap Cutter
When looking around, strap cutters may also be referred to as rescue tools or seatbelt cutters. Some may also have built-in window punches or glass hammers.


Q. How do I sharpen the blade of my strap cutter?

A. Some strap cutters can be sharpened like any other knife or blade using a whetstone or similar item. However, since most strap cutters have smaller blades, they are made to be used and replaced. Keep in mind some retailers make replacement blades easier to find and install than others.

Expert Tip
Remember to leave these tools at home when traveling through an airport. They may be flagged by the TSA and confiscated. Leave them in the car.
BestReviews Home Improvement and DIY Expert

Q. Where are strap cutters made?

A. There are many consumers who wish to use tools from U.S. companies, particularly first responders. Some strap cutters are manufactured in China, although the United States and Germany have long-standing tool companies as well.

Q. How should I safely transport my strap cutter?

A. A sheath or clip is convenient for taking your strap cutter without putting yourself or others in danger. However, not all strap cutters come with these accessories, and finding a sheath that fits can be challenging. For day-to-day use, a clip is useful. For emergency situations, a sheath or cover is handy for storing your tool until it is needed.

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