Best Bolt Cutters (2018 Edition) – The Top 5 Toughest
Whether you need to cut a steel chain, a bike lock, a metal fence or heavy-gauge wire, a no-nonsense set of bolt cutters will get the job done.
However, the fact you have reached this page means you are on the hunt for a new pair.
But which are the best bolt cutters you can buy in 2018?
And do you know the cutting limits of the set you are after? Or what the Brinell or Rockwell scales are about? Well don’t worry we will go into all this and more.
Below you will find the results of our top 5 bolt cutter review round up, which sets out our number 1 choices this year. Read on, and you will see the in depth review of each, plus a dedicated buyers guide.
We want to make sure you buy the right set of bolt cutters for your needs in 2018.
Bolt Cutters – Top 5 Picks
|TOP PICK36 INCH BOLT CUTTER:Neiko 00563A||50lbs to 4,000lbsHandle to Jaw.Cr-Mo Steel|
|TEKTON 342136-Inch Bolt Cutter||Length: 36"Jaw Capacity: 1/2"|
|Olympia Tools39-118 Power GripBolt Cutter18-Inch||Folding handledesign, CR-MOhardened-steel|
|TOP PICK8 INCH BOLT CUTTERKnipex 7101200 Lever Action||20 x Jaw to Handle Force1/4-inch Capacity|
|Capri Tools 40209Klinge Mini Bolt Cutter8", Blue/Black||Double HeatTreated ChromeMolybdenum10 Year Warranty|
- 1. TOP PICK 36 INCH: Neiko 00563A 36-Inch Heavy Duty Bolt Cutter
- 2. Tekton 3421 36-Inch Bolt Cutter
- 3. Olympia Tools 39-118 Power Grip Bolt Cutter, 18-Inch
- 4. TOP PICK 8 INCH: Knipex 7101200 8-Inch Lever Action Mini-Bolt Cutter
- 5. Capri Tools 40209 Klinge Mini Bolt Cutter, 8″
- The Sharpen-up Bolt Cutter Buyer’s Guide
Bolt Cutters Reviews
Our top pick heavy duty bolt cutters are the Neiko 00563A 36-inch. These really are an impressive set of bolt cutters that are built like the proverbial tank.
Build quality is top notch, with the heat treated hardened chrome-molybdenum alloy steel (one of the hardest tool metals available) jaws able to pierce through all manner of materials with ease.
The design of the lever-fulcrum is excellent. Precision engineered, the tool is able to convert 50 lbs of force at the handle (i.e your pressure as the user) to over 4000 lbs of pressure between the jaws. Formidable to say the least.
Beyond the physics it is important to realise just how bolt cutters such as these work. The material is not so much cut by the cutters, but crushed.
For that to work effectively the tool not only has to work efficiently to multiply the efforts of the user (which the Neiko does with huge effect), but the build quality of the jaw has to withstand that level of contact force.
When these two variables are at an optimum, you have a good set of bolt cutters on your hand. This is also why the Neiko received our top pick – You will find yourself crushing even the hardest of steel locks with out so much as a nick on the blade of your tool.
And on the subject of the blade, the classic compound design has been very well thought out. Set a precisely aligned angle, the blades deliver added leverage and require less effort as a result.
Versatility is good too, with the blade clearance easily adjusted with eccentric bolt.
And finally the all-important handle. Ergonomics is a term bandied about all to frequently these days, however in the case of the Neiko 36 inch bolt cutters – the marketing department are forgiven for including it in their spiel.
The handle features a cushioned non-slip rubber grip with added texture for greater control. Exerting force during the cut is very comfortable and the overall build quality exudes a robustness that you know will last.
The Pros of the Neiko 00563A 36-Inch Heavy Duty Bolt Cutter
- Every facet of the tool demonstrates strength and superior build quality
- The heat treated and precision aligned blades will take a beating
- Excellent fulcrum system that converts and multiplies your energy with formidable results
- Comfortable handle that feels good in the hand
- The trade off of the tools strength is that it is slightly heavy and unwieldy
- Some users have complained the tool is stiff to use upon arrival and a spray of WD40 is required
The two cons above do little to negate the fact that this is a superior set of bolt cutters. If you’re after a heavy duty set of 36 inch crushers – then look no further. The Neiko’s are the ones to buy.
2. Tekton 3421 36-Inch Bolt Cutter
Another set of 36 inch bolt cutters that are worthy of your time are these – the Tekton 3421s.
Like Neiko, the manufacturers have paid close attention to the fundamental requirements of a good crushing tool.
The drop forged and hardened alloy steel jaws pack a formidable punch, driven by the compound hinge delivery system.
While sheer poundage information is not available on these bad boys, the results do a lot of the talking.
Almost all of the weight is in the cutting head, and you will find yourself cutting through a wide range of heavy-duty materials with out so much as a squeak from the Tektons.
Furthermore, the strong, high-leverage tubular steel handles won’t twist or give under the load.
Comfort levels are again what you would expect. The soft rubber grips offer a great level of control and feel good in the hand.
The jaws are also adjustable and replaceable.
The Pros of the Tekton 3421 36-Inch Bolt Cutters
- Strong with highly efficient leverage system – these will cut through most materials with ease
- Heavy cutting head that only increases the robustness of the tool
- Comfortable handle
- Adjustable and replaceable parts for extended longevity
- That heavy cutting head can make this a difficult tool for some people to use (it is worth considering if you really need a 36 inch version if a small inch version will suffice for your needs)
- As with the Neikos, users have complained of a stiff fulcrum upon arrival
While lacking the finesse of the Neikos and the overall build quality isn’t as superior, the Tektons are still a very good option should you be on the look out for a new set of bolt cutters.
3. Olympia Tools 39-118 Power Grip Bolt Cutter, 18-Inch
The Olympia Tools 39-118 are a great set of bolt cutters that make our list for the best choice mid-sized option.
These 18″ compact bolt cutter feature durable CR-MO hardened-steel cutting heads that really do provide excellent results considering the overall size of the tool.
For extra portability, Olympia Tools have also come up with a patented folding handle system that allows the cutters to collapse down to a mere 11.75 inches, (easy enough to fit into a small tool bag.)
Leverage is what you would expect from an 18 set of bolt cutters and you will find yourself cutting through the likes of a 3/8″ bolt with no problem, (anything higher and you always have the option of handle extensions via sections of 1.5″ I.D. pipe).
The carefully aligned blades help increase the efficiency of the cutting action as does the handle. Olympia Tools have opted for an extra wide grip that reduces the pressure on the hands resulting in more comfortable use with less operator pressure required.
The Pros of Olympia Tools 39-118 Power Grip Bolt Cutter, 18-Inch
- The portability factor – the patent folding mechanism is a real innovation
- Strong cutters with a solid build quality
- Extra wide handles are not a gimmick, they really do provide greater user comfort
- These are a heavy set of cutters compared to other 18 inch options available.
Olympia Tools have done a great job on this 18 inch set of bolt cutters. Strong build quality using top notch materials, the added bonus of innovative details such as the foldable handles make this one of the best mid-sized cutters available. Highly recommended.
4. TOP PICK 8 INCH: Knipex 7101200 8-Inch Lever Action Mini-Bolt Cutter
Our top pick mini bolt cutters are the Knipex 8-Inch Lever Actions. And for very good reason too.
Utilising the lever action design mechanism, allows for the tool to punch well above its weight when it comes to tackling tough materials.
Bolts, nail and rivets up to 5.2 mm can be crushed with efficient ease. Furthermore, the superior lever ratio and low friction means the user exerts little pressure in order to achieve these clean results.
In fact the German owned Knipex claim that the lever action actually provides a cutting performance 20 times higher than the hand force applied, with 61% less effort required on the part of the operator.
To accommodate this high performance cutting action, the blade edges on the Knipex are induction hardened at approximately 64 HRC. The results speak for themselves. The tool is able to:
- Cut through soft wire up to 6.0 mm
- Cut through medium hard wire up to 5.2 mm
- Hard wire up to 4.0 mm
- And even high tensile piano wire up to 3.6 mm in diameter.
To assist further the tool sports a comfortable, well balanced handle. Furthermore, being an 8 inch mini-bolt cutter you have the benefit of the relatively lightweight construction, and better manoeuvrability when compared to larger sized cutters.
The Pros of the Knipex 7101200 8-Inch Lever Action Mini-Bolt Cutter
- Exceptional design quality – the efficiency lever action makes these an incredibly powerful bolt cutter for the size
- Nice balance, good handle, comfortable and easy to use
- Superior materials have been used so that this is a tool that will last
- More expensive than other 8 inch bolt cutter options available (however this is definitely a case of you get what you pay for).
The Knipex 7101200 8-Inch Lever Action Mini-Bolt Cutter’s are quite simply an excellent tool, and in our opinion the best 8 inch bolt cutters you can buy in 2018.
They are exceptionally well designed, taking a solid, no-nonsense approach to what you need in a pair of cutters.
5. Capri Tools 40209 Klinge Mini Bolt Cutter, 8″
The Capri Tools Klinge Mini Bolt Cutter makes our top 5 list for being a great 8 inch option at a competitive price.
While not quite up to the standards of our Knipex top pick in terms of build quality and performance, they are still well worth a look.
Portability is clearly the name of the game when dealing with mini-bolt cutters, however the tool still needs to back up that convenience with a reliable cutting action.
Thankfully, Capri have done their homework and manufactured a set of cutters that doesn’t disappoint.
The double heat-treated CrMo blades cut through materials with a satisfying ease, with the high power ratio to handle leverage meaning little effort is required on the part of the user.
The tool also features sharp steel jaws that only add to the efficiency of the cutting action.
The sturdy metal handles are covered with a comfortable silicone grip making the Capris a really nice tool to use.
The Pros of the Capri Tools 40209 Klinge Mini Bolt Cutter, 8″
- Well made with satisfyingly efficient cutting action
- Comfortable to use
- Sharp non serrated steel jaws for a cleaner cut
- The jaw opening width could be larger as currently the size of a bolt or nail you can crush is limited.
Overall the Capri Tools 40209 Klinge Mini Bolt Cutters are a really good option for those on a budget. They are strong and reliable set of cutters that come highly recommended.
The Sharpen-up Bolt Cutter Buyer’s Guide
What to look for when buying the best bolt cutters
What are your intended uses?
Many people fail to realise that not one set of bolt cutters will be perfect for all jobs. Before you go about buying your new tool, you should stop to think about what you intend to use it for.
It could be that you will mostly be using the cutters to cut through wire that is only millimeters thick.
Alternatively it may be that you will be cutting through the padlocks or thick chains on a regular basis.
Or maybe you need a pair of bolt cutters to have on your boat. They will be there in case you need to cut rigging in an emergency?
Whatever the end result, your choice of bolt cutters will be very much dependent on what you need them for.
Essentially you should choose a set of cutters that have the capacity to handle the jobs you want to perform.
Taking this further, it is actually a good idea to buy a set that are little stronger than what you need, that way you know they will always be up to the task in hand.
So what are the Brinell and Rockwell scales?
The small print provided with a set of bolt cutters should give you the maximum hardness of the material that the tool can cut.
The hardness of a material is worked out using special machines that test how far an indenter (in tests this is a small hard object used to produce an indentation) can penetrate them.
Compact Bolt Cutters – 205mm (8″) and 350mm (14″)
A compact set of bolt cutters will normally be designed to be used on soft and medium hard materials (Brinell 300/Rockwell C31). Examples of this would be threaded rods and wires with a diameter of 6mm (1/4″).
However, higher quality bolt cutters of this size may have hardened steel jaws, or mechanisms in place to tackle harder materials up to Brinell 455/Rockwell C48. This would allow for the cutting of bolts and chains up to a maximum of 3.6mm (1/8″) in diameter.
Medium Sized Bolt Cutters – 450mm (18″) and 600mm (24″)
While medium sized bolt cutters will make short work of the materials you can cut with smaller sized tools, the fact there is the increased leverage of their longer arms means wider materials can be tackled.
You will normally find bolt cutters of this size able to cut through soft and medium hard materials of Brinell 300/Rockwell C31 up to 11mm (7/16″). Harder materials of Brinell 455/Rockwell C48 can be cut of dimensions up to 9.5mm (3/8″) in diameter.
Large Bolt Cutters – 750mm (30″) – 1.2m (48″) bolt cutters
Now we get to the heavy duty bolt cutters. Tools of this size are able to take on hard materials of up to Brinell 455/Rockwell C48.
Examples of this would be steel rods, copper cables and alloy steel chains. The diameter you might expect to cut could be as much as 10mm (3/8″) or 11mm (7/16″) due to the increased handle leverage and tougher blade structure.
Important Note: The above recommendations are prepared as a guide only. Models of bolt cutter vary greatly in quality meaning you should look to the manufacturers comments to get a true indication as to the types of the material a specific tool can cut.
Quality of Steel
Following on from our caveat described above, the quality of the steel used on the blades of your chosen tool will impact its performance (and hardness of material you can expect to cut).
For best results, look out for forged steel blades with hardened steel edges.
Look to user reviews to see how well the blades hold an edge. You will need consistently sharp blades if you wish your bolt cutters to work at their optimum level.
It is also helpful if the blades are made from a type of steel that you can easily sharpen yourself.
A comfortable yet durable handle is all-important when it comes to bolt cutters. They need to be easy on the hand, and in the case of heavy duty models strong and long enough to provide the leverage that you need to make the cut.
With the right design you can even execute quick and easy cuts with just one hand.
When preparing to buy your next set of bolt cutters ensure they have a comfortable, non-slip handle made from durable materials.
Steel handles with plastic grips are the most common, however more expensive tools may come with aluminium handles.
Weight of the handle
The weight of the handle is also a variable you should bare in mind when shopping for bolt cutters.
For shorter handled bolt cutters a heavy bulky design (made from tubular steel for example) will add to the overall force you can hope to exert during the cutting action. Weight in this instance is a good thing.
However, when using a longer handled pair of bolt cutters, the leverage gained is what will do the work for you. A more lightweight design (made from aluminium or fibre glass) would therefore be advised.