The Best Wire Strippers – Complete Buying Guide & Reviews

When it comes to running electrical wire, having the best wire strippers at your disposal is going to boost both your confidence and workflow efficiency. Obviously, one of the most essential elements of any craftsman’s job is to get the job done right the first time, as to avoid further complications and painstaking patch-up jobs. This is especially true for potentially dangerous jobs, like running electrical wire.

From stripping to feeding to crimping, every step must be done properly. This ensures maximum safety for the life of the installation.

Here we will give a quick and easy breakdown of the best wire strippers on the market. Whether you are a regular DIY-er or a master electrician, we have all of the right options for your needs right here.

Quick Overview: Our Best Wire Stripper Choices

Klein Tools 1003 Wire Stripper-Cutter-Stranded and Solid Wire

For light, quick wire work, Klein Tools is the go-to pick for the best wire strippers. The low-weight and compact size allow you to really get into tight spaces with fine wire. An easy-to-set screw allows for rapid adjustment for different gauge needs. For greater efficiency on multiple stripping jobs, we recommend the spring version, which is only slightly higher in cost.

Things We Like:

  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Light and Compact
  • Convenient bending/looping hole
  • Can cut, strip, bend, and loop 12 to 26 AWG wire, solid or stranded
  • Set screw adjusted slide stop for efficient stripping jobs
  • Available in spring and non-spring versions

Things We Don’t Like:

  • Non-spring loaded edition is slower
  • May not be as sharp as other models

IRWIN VISE-GRIP 2078300 Self-Adjusting Wire Stripper, 8”

Irwin always makes quality products, and this self-adjusting wire stripper is no exception. Efficient and versatile, it adjusts to meet almost any job you can throw at it. Less time spent resetting the tool between wires means less time on the job, and that means bringing the project in on time.

Things We Like:

  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Swivel knob for micro-adjustments for 20 AWG and smaller
  • Built-in adjustable stopper allows control of core strip length
  • Crimps 10 to 22 AWG, insulated or non-insulated

Things We Don’t Like:

  • A bit pricier than other models
  • Tougher to set and get a proper bite on some wires

Hakko. CHP CSP-30-1 Wire Stripper, 30-20 Gauge Maximum Cutting Capacity (Limited Edition)

Working with small wires is a more painstaking, tedious process. Luckily, Hakko has you covered. Their gauged strippers come with pre-sized notches, all the way down to 30 AWG. Because of this, there’s no adjustment necessary. With cutting and plier capabilities, there’s no need to set the tool down and pick up another between stripping jobs. This is a multi-tool option.

Things We Like:

  • Serrated plier heads
  • It is a multi-use tool, combining wire stripper, shears, and pliers
  • Durable heat-treated steel
  • Great for stripping smaller wire, from 20 to 30 AWG
  • Non-glare finish, very stylish

Things We Don’t Like:

  • Gauge indicators are difficult to read
  • Not as durable as other models

Southwire Tools and Equipment SA822 8-22 AWG SOL & 10-24 AWG STR Automatic Wire Strippe

On the opposite end of Hakko’s smaller gauge stripper is Southwire Tools SA822 gauged automatic stripper. On larger gauges, it’s easy to experience hand fatigue after just a few wires. Southwire reduces a good deal of the strain while leaving one hand free to manipulate the larger wire.

It’s spring-loaded jaws automatically return to an open position after each cut. This provides a degree of efficiency lacking from non-auto models. And that means a streamlined workflow. May not be ideal for frequent use on larger or multiple projects. But for quick, smaller jobs, this gauged automatic is easily among the best wire strippers out there.

Things We Like:

  • Limited 2-year Warranty
  • Removes up to 1″ jacket layer in a single step
  • Jaws grip, strip and return to an open position in one squeeze
  • Single-hand stripping
  • Automatic feature reduces hand fatigue

Things We Don’t Like:

  • It being automatic, it’s going to cost you a little more
  • Requires more precision when setting

IRWIN VISE-GRIP Multi-Tool Wire Stripper/Crimper/Cutter, 2078309

Sometimes, versatility is the most desirable trait among the best wire strippers. For that, look no further than Irwin’s combination stripper/crimper/cutter. With a capacity to handle a wide range of large to small gauges, it’s a go-to for a lot of different projects.

And there’s no need to reach for a crimper after prepping your wire—this one crimps too. Plus, it has a strong grip for looping or pulling your wire into place. Need bolts or screws trimmed at the terminal? This will cut those as well while leaving behind a solid lead thread.

While not the best for fine work, it’s great for big jobs with multiple runs and one of our favorite options when it comes to needing a multi-tool for your electrical work.

Things We Like:

  • Induction hardened cutting edge means it stays sharper long
  • Will crimp both insulated and non-insulated terminals
  • Pliers-type nose allows for pulling and looping in wires
  • Bolt cutter will cut bolts to size while leaving a great lead thread

Things We Don’t Like:

  • As said before, not the best tool for fine wiring jobs
  • Not the fastest stripper on the market, may require more time to loosen

Features That Matter

Pairing Tools

Like the installations they serve, the number one concern in choosing among the best wire strippers is safety. First and foremost, this means having the right grip. And jobs requiring wire strippers often require a combination of tools. So, the importance of this factor extends to things like the screwdrivers, pliers, etc. you’ll use on the job. (See our article, “The Best Multi-Tool For The Money — Reviews and Comparisons”, for great pairing options for your wire strippers.)

Cables: Cuts and Crimps, Gauges and Grips

The next thing to consider is what kind of wire you’ll be cutting, and how you’ll be manipulating it. Is it small gauge, single strand wire with thin insulation? Or are you working with a larger gauge solid wire that you’ll be feeding into terminals? Maybe it’s a coaxial cable, and you’re looking to crimp connectors onto your cut ends.

Most jobs requiring wire strippers are electrical in nature. So, we’ve geared our recommendations toward this fact. But if you’re looking for the best wire strippers for another type of tasks, no need to worry.

Non-electrical wire cutting jobs require the same basic tools. For instance, let’s say you’re looking for the best wire strippers to use in crafting jewelry. Your needs will still come down to the type of wire you’ll be cutting and manipulating.

Let’s outline the basic parameters we’ll be looking at for determining the best wire strippers for your job:

Type Of Grip

However, for wire strippers, the best grip is not just about preventing slippage while handling the tool. Not surprisingly, electrical wire applications are the most common use for wire strippers. So, it’s not hard to find a particular type of wire stripper with the proper grip. But it’s vital not to mistake simple rubber grips for the insulated type. When in doubt, ask the seller or manufacturer about the safety specs of the tool in question.

The price difference between the two is negligible. So, even if you don’t need insulated grips, it’s worth it to purchase wire strippers with them. Besides, you never know when a future electrical job might pop up.

Type Of Wire

Key to picking the right tool out of the best wire strippers is an understanding what type of wire or cable you’ll be cutting.

There are over 20 different types of electrical cable in common use.

There’s bare wire without insulation. There’s solid or stranded, sheathed and unsheathed. And those sheaths come in both metallic and nonmetallic versions. Then, there are the gauges to consider, and how many runs of a certain gauge in a given cable. Thicker cable generally requires a larger tool. But often, thicker cable is comprised of different materials. Coaxial, for example, actually has a very thin wire at its core. But that wire is surrounded by three different types of material, each with its own strength and thickness.

Your Typical Usage

Will you be bending the cable to feed it through terminals or pipe, or otherwise manipulating it? Then, you’ll need to consider a wire stripper that doubles as pliers. Certain jobs requiring fine work with thin wires may call for needle-nose plier ends.

Feeder cables may need the sure grasp of a vise-grip. And how and to what you’ll be connecting the cable or wire is just as important. There are different types of terminals and connectors. So, pliers that are too bulky, too small, or the wrong shape can put a bottleneck in your workflow.

There are wire strippers to fit all of this needs, though they tend to be geared toward particular tasks. Some tools, however, can do multiple jobs. Knowing your specific needs going in will save you future headaches. After all, it’s never fun to find you have to order another tool in the middle of a time-sensitive project.

(See our article on the “Best Utility Knife For The Money — Reviews and Comparisons” for options where wire stripping is a limited concern.)

How Long Will It Last?

Finally, there’s the question of durability. Cutting cable or wire puts strain and wear on any wire stripper, no matter how good the quality. Factors like the adjustability of the cutting surfaces or the ability to sharpen them can be the difference between a long-term investment and frequent purchases.

For small or infrequent jobs, however, a basic but quality tool at a reasonable price will generally do fine. And if you’re doing a very small job and not planning to do more, you may even consider a good utility knife.

Knowing the materials you’ll be working with and how they’ll be handled will help you home in on the best wire strippers for the job.

Final Thoughts

Doing electrical work is no time for cutting corners. Whether for the workmanship or the tools to achieve it, safety and quality must carry on well-beyond the last wire connected. Having the right know-how in task and equipment is crucial to achieving this.

Take into consideration whether your task at hand will require a multi-tool or something a little more basic and specialized in stripping wire. When it comes to a well-rounded, efficient, and speedy wire stripper, our top choice for the best wire stripper is the Klein Tools 1003 Wire Stripper.

About Gus Donaldson

I built houses for over 30 years and recently retired. I've made lots of mistakes and hopefully teach you not to make the same ones. I still love to build and have a garage workshop that I use for hobby projects like the walnut bookshelf I made for my wife. I like to write and let people know that working with your hands and tools does not need to be intimidating.

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