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ibb01.jpgEveryone has need of a utility blade at home or at the office for one use or another.  Irwin’s new ProTouch Retractable Blade Knife is aimed at that kind of total all-purpose utility. Coupled with 6 of Irwin’s “Unbreakable” Bi-Metal blade system, the ProTouch makes for a handy addition to the toolbox.

Other than the beefy appearance and rubber grip — the one that gives it the ProTouch name — the ProTouch looks a lot like any other of its competitors.  However, like many other things in life, it’s the inside that counts. The ProTouch puts a new twist on the half-split blade change design by adding a spring loaded hinge and pushbutton lock. The knife splits in half, hinging at the rear.  A spring located on the inner right portion of the case pushes the case open at the release of the button lock on the side of the knife.

Upon opening, the kinfe reveals a storage area and access to the inner workings. You can, however, load the knife through the front opening as well.  The blade is neatly secured into the magnetic slot which holds it firmly with two clips that prevent sliding.  To close the knife, press the halves back together and push the button lock back into place.

Like many other utility knives the ProTouch has a blade storage area in the rear portion of the handle.  The blades are held in place by a metal clip and a small stop on both ends to prevent the spare blades from wandering into places they’re not supposed to go, which we find a great deal more desirable than the old school “throw them in and hope for the best” approach.

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In use, we found that the angle of the blade applies more cutting force where it’s needed and makes for a very clean quick cut, even through thick material.  It seems as if it’s just easier to cut with this particular knife.  The locking mutli-position slider on the top of the blade is easy to use and feels firm.  When gripping the blade, even in a gloved hand, the knife feels comfortable and easy to control.

ibb02.jpgWe enjoyed the ProTouch, and found that it delivers a good solid feel and a few welcome surprises under the hood.  We’re still putting the Blue Blades to the test and intend to report back to you soon with our experiences.  We can tell you in the short run that they cut at least as well as other blades we’ve used, and we’ll know more about durability as time marches on.

Considering that you receive quite a number of blades with the knife as well, the $11 asking price is well worth the investment.  We’re happy to add one to our ‘kit.

Pricing on the street is often as low as $9 according to our research.

The ProTouch Retractable Knife [Irwin]
Street Pricing [Froogle]


4 Responses to Hands On: Irwin ProTouch Retractable Blade Knife

  1. Keith says:

    I usually buy Stanley knives so I thought I would give this one a try. At first it works well – until you use it. I do a lot of drywall and the mechanism does not work as soon as a little dust gets inside. The blade also seems to come out when cutting thick drywall. This is not safe. I’ll stick with my old Stanley.

  2. Brock says:

    I bought one of these bad boys several years ago when I was installing siding. As Keith said, it worked well at first, but debris sticking to the blade caused problems and the blades had a tendency to come out when cutting thick material (bad, very bad). The feel and ‘utility’ of the knife kept it in my bags until a couple of months ago when I tried the ‘Fat Max’ locking retractable utility knife.


    The Fat Max is wicked awesome, retracts, locks, similar blade storage to the Irwin (though slightly less accessible) a great feel and the blades stay put, even when it’s not locked (NO, I don’t work for Stanley). This tool rocks. Oh, I should mention that I only use the Irwin Bi-metal blades, they’re by far the best blades I’ve ever used in any utility knife.

    Keep up the good work, this sight kicks Adz.

  3. AggieMike says:

    I like my Stanley 99. I always have it in my toolbox. One screw holds it together and it has blade storage in the rear. The parts are simple to fix or replace too.

  4. Elisamuel says:

    How can i open this tool? to inset the blade!

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