Harbor Freight is taking on the venerable Milwaukee Fastback folding utility knife with a Doyle utility knife of their own.
Harbor Freight describes the new Doyle utility style knife as a professional flip utility knife.
The Doyle utility knife is designed for fast one-handed operation, and also features a built-in cord or wire cutting recess.
Like the Milwaukee FastBack knife the Doyle seems to be inspired by, the new Harbor Freight knife folds closed into a compact package for easy carrying.
Carrying options include a lanyard loop and wide wire pocket clip.
Blade changes look to be quick and easy, with a release button.
As with Milwaukee’s more compact FastBack knives, this Harbor Freight Doyle doesn’t look to have built-in blade storage.
There’s that cord and wire cutting notch, which you can use when the knife is folded closed.
Buy Now via Harbor Freight
Compare: Milwaukee w/ Blade Storage via Home Depot ($15)
Compare: Milwaukee w/ Blade Storage via Acme Tools
Compare: Milwaukee Compact via Home Depot ($9)
Compare: Milwaukee Fastback via Home Depot ($12)
A couple of brands have already tried copying Milwaukee’s widely successful FastBack folding utility knife design.
With this new Doyle “professional” knife, Harbor Freight says you “save 33%” compared to the Milwaukee 480-22-1502.
Milwaukee has 3 main styles of FastBack utility knife:
- Compact ($9)
- Standard ($12)
- Blade Storage ($15)
This new Doyle utility knife does NOT look to have internal spare blade storage, so why is Harbor Freight using Milwaukee’s most expensive and more featured utility knife as the “comparison” model?
I suppose $10 compared to $15 sounds more impressive than $10 vs. $12?
Ignoring that potentially misleading comparison, the new Doyle utility knife looks more refined than I would have expected.
Here’s Harbor Freight’s Gordon folding utility knife. The new Doyle knife does look more professional, I’ll give it that, but time will tell as to whether it holds up well to demanding use.
Milwaukee has been making FastBack utility knives for quite a few years now, and I have lost track as to how many generations of designs there have been, with each release benefiting from years and years of iteration and feedback that can only come from extensive field use.
The Doyle piques my interest, but $12 for a refined Milwaukee, or $10 for a first-time effort from Harbor Freight?
The Doyle knife is made with cast aluminum construction, which could potentially make it lighter than the Milwaukee.
It will be interesting to see how well the Doyle actually compares to Milwaukee’s FastBack knives in use.
With such a narrow price difference, is there enough incentive for anyone to choose this over Milwaukee’s offerings? Or will most buyers simple pick it up at Harbor Freight store locations as impulse buys when they come across it?
I’ve never gotten the hype of the fastbacks, but I see most utility knives as a reinventing the wheel sort of market. Olfa and fiskar stand out to me, and I’ve had a love of the old DeWalt auto-loader for awhile, but everything is pretty middle of the road as knives/box cutters go.
Milwaukee/TTi did a good job with the FastBacks of bringing together all the desireable features of a compact folding untility knife in a slew of models. The hype was mostly the advertising and how hard they push their stuff generally, but they do seem to have dragged the market into offering a better selection and higher quality than what was previously available.
As much as I like the ol’ classic Stanley 99E and cheap non-retractable utility knifes for grab-it-and-use-it stuff, a compact and lightweight folder is pretty useful.
I picked up a used Fastback from a contactor I used to work with a lot, it was at the bottom of his truck toolbox and covered in spilled chemicals and he didn’t want to bother with cleaning it. I quickly came to love it and it’s been EDC ever since – about 5 years now. At the time I had been using the DeWalt uni-body model with quick change and blade storage which I was very fond of on jobs. I still have it and use it for work sometimes, but generally use the Milwaukee.
This year there were a couple weeks where I thought I had lost my original one and bought a new one, only to find the old one a week later. So as much as I am intrigued by the HF model, I don’t think I’ll ever find a reason to pick one up – the two Milwaukees might last me the rest of my (working) life.
It’s funny that you mention Milwaukee pushing their products and advertising a lot – anecdotally I don’t think I’ve seen one bit of advertisement for the Fastback or anything similar from them in the last 10 years.
Doyle looks identical to Menard’s Masterforce.
As far as the harbor freight one… When Home Depot and Milwaukee do the Christmas bundling, you can get the genuine thing really cheap, something like two of them and 50 blades for 15 bucks. I will just keep doing that
Koko The Talking Ape
Nice to see a post on a Saturday!
“The Doyle knife is made with cast aluminum construction, which could potentially make it lighter than the Milwaukee.”
A magnet won’t stick to my standard Fastback. Is it made of zinc or something?
The Compact is made of plastic with steel liners.
Thanks! I picked up the pace this week, and wanted to keep the momentum going.
I don’t know? Milwaukee simply says it’s all-metal.
I was more thinking aloud. Most FastBacks are light, but I don’t think they’re aluminum.
“All metal” sounds like seeing “all meat” on a burger advertisement- I assume if it were a metal worth fighting for they’d call it out.
“All metal” isn’t anything like your burger analogy because the liners are steel the scales are aluminum the screws are a different kind of steel etc do you really think that they should have to list every single kind of metal in the knife on the front of the packaging?
I’m pretty sure the handles on the FastBacks are aluminum alloy, and even the blade holders are aluminum as well. That’s why they’re so lightweight.
The other brands of folding utility knives I have with steel handles/steel blade holders are HEA-VY, enough to make your jeans sag when clipped into a pocket.
Is the Doyle’s handles just two pieces of solid aluminum? That could be kinda nice.
The Doyle looks good, but as a true competitor for the Milwaukee… not so sure. I could definitely see it being worth the money if it works as good as it looks, but if you have time to shop around it would be hard to take the gamble.
I know I kinda care about such things In general but do most EDC knife users also care about the brand of their knives? Even utility type one?
A lot of people get married to their brands and preferences – they like what they like.
It’s kind of like razor blades or deodorant. Maybe once in a while people will try a new brand or style, but it seems most have brand loyalty.
Of course people who carry everyday care about the brand of their equipment because they care about the level of quality of their equipment and branding is generally a quick and efficient way to convey levels of quality. Gerber is going to be higher quality than Ozark trail if you carry a gerber and you know anything about knives you’re going to be more confident in your tool than if you carried something that simply said China. You’d be even more confident if you carried a Benchmade over that Gerber because that brand stands for a higher level of quality.
$8 with a coupon makes it a decent “me too” item if you’re already in the store for something else. That said, the general rule of thumb with Harbor Freight is be extra careful if it’s an item that could potentially harm you if it malfunctions.
….that should be a general rule of thumb for ANYTHING, no matter the seller.
I work in shipping I use a box cutter constantly while I do have a heavy metal stanley cutter. I have a fastback compact and I love it so much I bought a spare
I quit buying anything from harbor freight unless it’s a tool I plan on using once then throwing away.
Now I buy only kobalt/husky/dewault/milwaukee/etc. No more trips to HF to exchange a tool that broke mid-job, my work quality is better, and on the rare occasion a milwaukee power tool breaks, I print out a free shipping label, drop it off at FedEx, and have a brand new replacement in about a week, no charge.
I’m a commercial electrician and I have a kobalt, a fastback compact, and a heart compact folding utility knife. I use and abuse my knives far beyond what a box cutter was ever meant to do on a daily basisand I would never go back to another style I will say the heart is starting to loosen up on me but the kobalt and the Milwaukee are Rock solid. My fastback compact was something like $8 or $9 but even if you get the other models for the difference of $2 to $5 no one should ever have any reason to get this knock off.
I make my living in a large part with the tools I use as well. I’ve realized that a good indicator of how professional a person is, is their tools. If a contractor shows up to show your house to build an addition and their truck is filled with Pittsburgh/Chicago/Boise Tool brand Harbor Freight crap, be concerned.
We had a few “lead carpenters”. These were the guys we’d assign to oversee the work of our crews and for hands-on work on jobs where our craftsmanship would likely show to its advantage – things like custom built-ins or staircases with hand-crafted trim. When we hired on a new person or promoted someone for these positions – they’d receive their choice of a Lie-Nielsen block pane as both a welcome gift and a sort of reminder of the level of craftsmanship we expected from them.
I mistyped “block pane” – might just as well have been back pain – but was meant to be block plane – as in the LN 60-1/2 and 102 – or discontinued 9-1/2g or 103
Koko The Talking Ape
Off topic I know, but how the the LN block planes compare to the Veritas standard block planes? I’m too poor to afford either, but someday!
They are both excellent products – purchase/use perhaps a matter of personal preference. Here are links to 2 reviews:
Not this style knife – but International Tool will give you free shipping on any other item if you purchase a Milwaukee snap-off blade knife:
I’ve never tried the Milwaukee snap-off knives – but do like the ones from Olfa
the HF Gordon folding knife pictured in the article is my go-to knife. I have tried most of the options–although not the milwaukee fastback. I love the instant blade changes and it looks like this new model has the same feature.
I step into an HF maybe once a year when I need something specific (yesterday I needed a cheap compass saw for carving a giant pumpkin I grew the year). Well, I also walked out with this new Doyle utility knife. I’m new to this style of utility knife but am very happy with it. My area of tool knowledge is fine woodworking (Festool, Lee Valley/Veritas, Benchcrafted, Ashley Iles, etc…) but overall this knife has a nice balance, good paint finish, and feels tight. No wiggle or looseness. The hinge has what looks like a brass bushing and it opens very smoothly – Press the lock button and it swings open freely, temporarily press the lock button and release and give a light flick and it will open fully as well. One handed open/close is nice. The blade is held secure. Regardless of what you compare it to or accuse it of being a knock off or copy, the price paid for the tool acquired is appropriate. I do not have the Milwaukee, but aside from spare blade capacity, I don’t see any appreciable room for improvement on the Doyle. Well done Harbor Freight.