Review: Stanley FatMax Utility Knives

Short Version: One of these Stanley FatMax Utility Knifes impresses, one does not. One is solid and one is dangerous. One is useful, one is not. One will break, one should last.

The Stanley FatMax Retractable Utility Knife

Do not buy this utility knife. It’s cheaply constructed, has a clumsy blade changing mechanism, and will not hold up overtime. Seriously, it’s a bad utility knife and there is no way I can recommend it. 

Half of the utility knife is made out of plastic. The extra blade holder has this flip-up action that feels like it will break in a matter of months. It tends to pop open moments after it supposably closed about 50% of the time showing how its cheapness.

The so-called blade cleaners on the front are just pieces of plastic glued on; my pants have served me well as a blade cleaner for years.

Strangely enough, the blade lock doesn’t seem to work. The blade moves just fine if the lock is engaged or not. The only reason it’s there seem to be so Stanley can advertise it as a safety feature.

Worst of all though, the blade is changed by sliding the button all the way forward and blindly inserting another blade until it locks into place. I have not found a consistent way for the blade to lock. Most times it takes 20-25 seconds of wiggling before the sharp razor blade finds the right place. 

I can only assume that this utility knife was designed by lab geeks and marketing folk that have never actually used utility knife before. A utility knife should be something that you can depend. It shouldn’t be fancy or prone to breaking with unnecessary parts.

Take the utility knife I own made by Stanley. It’s a fix blade model with three parts in the entire knife: two pieces of metal make up the body and a plastic button that unlocks the knife allowing for blade changing. That’s it. My knife has served me well for years and I expect it to last until I eventually lose it or I die. This FatMax Utility knife might feature an soft touch grip, pop-up blade dispenser, and a blade wiper, but who cares. It’s a utility knife!

Do not buy this knife. There are plenty of better sliding-blade options available.

Stanley FatMax 9mm Snap Off Knife

This is one, huge snap off knife and I can dig it unlike it’s FatMax counterpart reviewed above. Sure, it’s made mostly out of plastic, but it’s very solid and well constructed. Even though the two knifes are about the same size, this snap off version easily weighs five times as much.

The knife works just like all snap off models have for years. Users slide up the blade and snap off dull sections when needed. There is even a holder for 6 extra blades, so chances are, owners will probably lose the tool before they ever have to buy blades. 

Just like the above FatMax model, this one also has a non-functioning lock button. Maybe I’m using it wrong as it doesn’t seem to do anything. I can move the blades with the slider even if the lock is supposedly engaged and likewise, the blades cannot be forced in manually when the lock is in the unlock position. 

I like this knife. It does what it’s suppose to well. The blades are tough. The knife is solid and it feels good in the hand. There isn’t anything cheap about it. If you need a large sliding blade knife, buy this one.

Side note/rant

I like classic Stanley tools and my workshop is filled with them. However, the tool manufacturer, along with other American tool brands, seem to be introducing cheap tools. The first Stanley FatMax reviewed is a prime example.

I understand that the brand is trying to drum up sales with new products that can be marketed better. That knife is flashy and has a lot of buzz words: ergonomic, soft touch, FatMax branding. Who the hell cares? Make quality products and consumers will come back. Make cheap products that break and consumers will look elsewhere next time.