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The 10 Best Wire Strippers for Any Electrical Job

If you do a lot of electrical projects, you should have a good wire stripper stocked in your tool bag. Wire strippers look similar to pliers and are used to remove the protective coating material from wires. This is a common task involved in doing wiring repairs or other electrical projects. The best wire strippers can also cut wires and cables, crimp wiring, and cut screws. To emphasize this multitasking nature, you will often see individual models referred to as a “wire stripper and cutter.”

Best Wire Strippers

    The Expert: I’ve been involved with construction, maintenance, and home renovation for more than 30 years from both a personal and professional standpoint. I owned a maintenance and construction business with my husband for nearly 20 years. I love much about my home—a fixer-upper built in the 1800s that’s located in a rural mountain region of Pennsylvania—but it involves a lot of maintenance and upkeep, so I am always on the lookout for tools or equipment that can make DIY projects easier. I’ve owned and used a variety of wire strippers for a range of common wiring repair jobs.

    How to Choose the Best Wire Stripper for You

    Type: The two main types of wire strippers are:

    • Gauged: Sometimes called a manual wire stripper, this type has different notches that correspond to common wire gauges, so you just need to select the correct hole to fit the wire you’re working on.
    • Automatic: Also called a self-adjusting wire stripper, this tool automatically conforms to the needed size when you insert the wire.

      Gauge sizes: Wire size refers to a wire’s diameter, which is often measured according to the American Wire Gauge (AWG) measurement system. AWG sizes range from 0000 to 40. It can be confusing, because the thinner the wire, the larger the AWG number. Wire can be solid or stranded; the stranded wires have a larger diameter. The most common gauges of wire in residential settings are between 6 and 14 AWG, but you might be working with gauges outside of that range, depending on the jobs and setting involved. Make sure to select a wire stripper that can accommodate the wire sizes you’ll need, and keep in mind that wire strippers can have different gauge ranges for stripping, cutting, and crimping.

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      Safety criteria: Look for VDE certification that indicates a wire stripper has met essential safety standards. The VDE Testing and Certification Institute tests and certifies electrical tools and equipment and is considered the global authority in this area. Typically, wire strippers will be VDE-certified and approved for up to 1,000 volts.

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How We Evaluated These Wire Strippers

In evaluating a range of wire strippers, I drew on my experience in using a variety of these tools. I consulted manufacturer listings to get key specs and considered the style, construction, and gauge range. Klein Tools is considered by many trade professionals to be the go-to gold standard for wire strippers. They make a variety of models, several of which I recommend below. Lastly, I studied hundreds of customer reviews on Amazon and Home Depot. After considering all that information, these 10 models earned my recommendation as the best wire strippers available now.

Best Overall

Klein Tools Solid and Stranded Copper Wire Stripper and Cutter

  • Serrated design for bending wire
  • Comfort-grip curved handles
  • Gauge size range not as wide as some models

Key Specs

  • Model: 11055
  • Type: Gauged
  • Stripping Gauge Sizes: 10–18 AWG (solid wire), 12­–20 AWG (stranded wire)

This stripper is a popular choice among the Klein Tools line, thanks in part to the serrated nose that grips wires snugly to make the stripping process easy and efficient. The coil spring allows it to open quickly, and the curved handles are designed for user comfort.

Best Automatic Wire Stripper

Irwin Self-Adjusting Wire Stripper

  • Lifetime warranty
  • Easily strips and crimps a range of wire sizes
  • Might not grip smaller wires as well

Key Specs

  • Model: ‎2078300
  • Type: Automatic
  • Stripping Gauge Size: 10–24 AWG

A popular choice for its ergonomic, comfortable design and the value it delivers for the price, this tool strips and crimps wire of a range of sizes spanning the most common gauge numbers. The self-adjusting function allows it to easily tailor its grip to accommodate wires of a range of sizes. Some Amazon users noted that it seemed to grip better with larger wires.

Best Value Automatic Wire Stripper

Tacklife Wire Stripper

  • Nonslip rubber handle
  • Versatile
  • Not as sturdy as pricier options

Key Specs

  • Model: MWS02
  • Type: Automatic
  • Stripping Gauge Size: 10–24 AWG

Considering the relatively low price, this wire stripper delivers surprising versatility, with its ability to strip, cut, and crimp. It is made from heat-treated, high-quality steel designed for strength and durability. The rubber handle is comfortable and helps prevent slipping.

Most Affordable

Dowell Wire Stripper

  • Inexpensive
  • Comfort grip handle
  • Cutting function not as good as some more expensive models

Key Specs

  • Model: 54939
  • Type: Gauged
  • Stripping Gauge Size: 10–22 AWG

You would have trouble finding a more affordable wire stripper than this Dowell model, which seems surprisingly durable for the price. It offers simple, smooth operation and a comfortable handle. The safety lock keeps it securely closed when not in use. However, some Amazon users were disappointed in the cutting capabilities.

Durable Design

Klein Tools Klein-Kurve Heavy-Duty Wire Stripper

  • Durable construction
  • Versatile functions

Key Specs

  • Model: K12055SEN
  • Type: Gauged
  • Stripping Gauge Size: 10–18 AWG (solid wire), 12–20 AWG (stranded wire)

This forged steel wire stripper delivers the quality and performance you expect from Klein Tools, along with versatile, handy capabilities, like screw and bolt shearing. It has a decent gauge range and can cut or bend up to three wires simultaneously. The blades are induction hardened to make them extra strong.

Easy-to-Read Markings

Milwaukee 7-1/8-inch Wire Stripper/Cutter

  • Can cut through #6 and #8 bolts
  • Corrosion-resistant blades
  • On the smaller side compared to some models

Key Specs

  • Model: 48-22-6109
  • Type: Gauged
  • Stripping Gauge Size: 10–18 AWG (solid wire), 12­–20 AWG (stranded wire)

This Milwaukee wire stripper is lightweight yet durable enough to get the job done and hold up to heavy use. The etched markings are large, easy to read, and won’t fade. The curved blades let you achieve clean cuts even through thick wires. Home Depot customer reviews praised this tool’s reliable durability.

Best Lightweight Wire Stripper

Capri Tools Precision Wire Stripper

  • Wide range of gauge sizes
  • Reverts to default position for smooth, quick operation
  • Not multifunctional, as it only strips wire

Key Specs

  • Model: 20010
  • Type: Gauged
  • Stripping Gauge Size: 8–20 AWG (solid wire), 10­–22 AWG (stranded wire)

This lightweight wire stripper from Capri Tools has a cast alloy chassis designed to balance durability and weight. The tension-loaded recoil spring means it automatically bounces back to the default position so you can zip through stripping tasks quickly. The precisely cut holes ensure you can strip wires without damage.

Versatile and Budget-Friendly

Knoweasy Automatic Wire Stripper and Cutter

  • Inexpensive
  • Simple operation for stripping and cutting

Key Specs

  • Model: ‎N/A
  • Type: Automatic
  • Stripping Gauge Size: 14–24 AWG

This wire stripper offers a respectable gauge range capacity that should accommodate most common jobs. The automatic stripping design leaves little room for mistakes or confusion. There’s a pressure adjustment knob that lets you tweak the pulling tension depending on the wire thickness so that you don’t damage your wire.

Includes a Bolt Cutter

Irwin Multi-Tool Stripper / Crimper / Cutter

  • Inexpensive
  • Comfortable grip
  • Some Amazon users felt operation could be smoother

Key Specs

  • Model: 2078309
  • Type: Gauged
  • Stripping Gauge Size: 10–22 AWG

The Multi-Tool delivers similar quality and performance to the other Irwin model we recommend but at a lower price, due to the lack of a self-adjusting mechanism. The textured handles make for a comfortable and secure grip. Amazon users also noted that it performs well at cutting screws.

High-Quality and Efficient Operation

Klein Tools Katapult Wire Stripper and Cutter

  • Reliable, durable construction
  • Smooth, efficient operation
  • Some Amazon users felt it didn’t work quite as well on the smallest wires

Key Specs

  • Model: 11063W
  • Type: Gauged
  • Stripping Gauge Size: 8–20 AWG (solid wire), 10–22 AWG (stranded wire)

Another option from Klein Tools, this wire stripper can remove up to a one-inch section of the insulation (jacket) layer in one single, efficient step. Finely cut stripping holes ensure a precise, clean cut without damage to the wire.

Important Safety Tips from Expert Bobbi Dempsey

PM: Electrical projects pose a particular safety hazard. What are the best safety practices to follow?

B.D.: It should go without saying that you shouldn’t attempt any kind of electrical work unless you are sure you know what you’re doing. This isn’t a situation where you can just wing it. Working around electricity is dangerous, and every step needs to be handled carefully and with extreme caution. If you aren’t confident in your skills in this area, hire a professional electrician. And obviously it is imperative that you triple-check to make sure any wiring you handle isn’t live and make sure that all connected power has been turned off. A non-contact voltage detector, like this one from Klein Tools that I really like, is a great tool for detecting electrical current. You should also use relevant protective safety gear such as googles and insulated gloves.

PM: Can you use another tool in place of a wire stripper? Why or why not?

B.D.: Old-school electricians often used heavy-duty linesman pliers to cut and strip wire. However, I’m always in favor of using tools that were specifically designed to perform a particular task, and wire strippers are made with the distinct characteristics needed to safely and efficiently strip and cut wires.

PM: What’s one must-have feature or criteria you have when shopping for wire strippers?

B.D.: I look for quality construction and tend to go with a brand I trust. Most professionals will tell you it is worth spending the money to invest in a better, high-quality wire stripper. For one thing, electrical safety is one area where you don’t want to cut corners. Plus, lower-quality wire strippers often don’t last very long and might also have imprecise or inaccurate measurements that can cause you to damage or waste wires.

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