Testing and Rating Cut Resistant Gloves

The Best Cut-Resistant Gloves

If you wield sharp blades often, chances are, at some point, you’re going to get cut. No one loves wearing protective gloves, and maybe that’s why hand injuries are the second most common work-related injury in America (overexertion is the first). According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than a million emergency room visits come from hand injuries each year. That’s mostly among professionals, but if you’re an accident prone home cook, you might consider sparing yourself some pain (and medical bills) by protecting yourself.

The newest models of cut-resistant gloves are inexpensive, comfortable, and flexible. Manufacturers routinely put the following disclaimer on their products: “These gloves are cut and puncture RESISTANT, not cut and puncture PROOF.” Oh yeah? To see just how “cut-resistant” they are, we put some of the best gloves to the test by slicing, gouging, and chopping them. Guess what? We couldn’t cut through any of them. Short of dropping a guillotine on them, most home cooks would have a tough time slicing through the cut-resistant gloves on the market today. However, some gloves were a little less comfortable to work with or didn’t fit quite as well as others. See below for complete reviews and ratings.

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What Makes Them Cut Resistant?

Most are constructed with one of two different materials:

  1. UHWMPE (Ultra-High-Weight-Molecular-Polyethylene), which is marketed under brand names like Dyneema®, TenActiv™, and Spectra®.
  2. Para-aramid, the technical name for brands such as Kevlar®, XKS®, Aramex®, Rhino®, Metalguard®, Contender™, ATA®, Punkban™, or Armorcore®.

Some glove manufacturers add fiberglass or stainless steel to these materials to create proprietary blends with added cut resistance. As the maker of Superior Gloves says, “It’s like adding rebar to concrete.” Here are some of the material combinations you may come across: Foam Nitrile Coated Kevlar, Rubber Coated Kevlar, Kevlar PVC Dot Knit, Nitrile Durarmor, Knit Kevlar, Kevlar and Leather, Nitrile Coated Kevlar, Composite Filament, Dyneema Stainless Steel Mesh, and Spectra Fiber.

The most expensive gloves include stainless steel mesh. Steel offers maximum protection for meat and poultry workers who deal with sharp knives and heavy whirring blades every work day. Kevlar shows up a bit more often because it’s less expensive, more flexible, and still very cut resistant. Kevlar is the material used in most body armor, bullet proof vests, and other protective gear. Firefighter gear (PPE or Personal Protection Equipment) often includes Kevlar because this material is both cut-resistant AND heat resistant. (If you’re in the market for heat-resistant BBQ gloves, check out our reviews here.)

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Many manufacturers of cut-resistant gloves overlap several sheets of Kevlar reinforced with one or more of the other materials mentioned above. Kevlar-based cut-resistant gloves on the market are virtually identical, apart from brand name and price. When shopping, look past the brand names to the glove’s construction material, and then look for the best price.

A Note on Laboratory Testing

Manufacturers and various regulatory agencies test and rate cut-resistant gloves in several ways. The most popular are the EN388 (European) and ANSI (North American) tests. EN388 tests use a constant weight on a counter-rotating circular blade that is moved back and forth across a sample product by the test machine to see how long it takes to cut through the material. The ANSI test involves a fixed razor blade with three different weight/force levels that attempts to cut through the glove material, again with back and forth slicing.

In the EN388 tests, the top score is 4-5-4-4. The numbers correspond to the highest ratings for abrasion, blade cut resistance, tear resistance, and puncture resistance. Notice that blade cut resistance gets a top score of 5, which corresponds more closely with the American ANSI ratings. If you see an X in an EN388 rating (such as 45X4), the X represents no score and means that the glove was not rated for that particular test (in the case of 45X4, the glove was not rated for tear resistance). A zero (0) in the rating means the glove failed that particular test.

ANSI results are simpler and more direct: Only cut-resistance is tested with ratings from 1 to 5. However, some metal mesh gloves can be scored higher with a rating of 9. We are not sure how this happens.

If you’re curious to know more, Superior Glove, a Canadian glove manufacturer, has a 28-page document downloadable on their website (Definitive Guide to Hand Protection) that details laboratory testing methods and materials used in the manufacture of their gloves. This document provides a huge amount of information about cut, abrasion, and puncture resistant gloves in general.

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Real World Testing Criteria

Lab tests are fantastic but we wanted to find out how these gloves performed in the real world, in our hands while cutting food with sharp knives. We began by devising a way to test cut and puncture resistance without removing any of our own digits or necessitating a trip to the local ER.

To simulate the consistency and flexibility of a human hand, we used partially frozen hot dogs (the fingers) and a partially frozen piece of pork belly (the palm). Partially freezing them made them more like human muscles, flexible enough to be positioned and bent but not quite as soft as a raw hot dog.

We inserted the dogs and pork belly into some thin disposable nitrile gloves (so thin you could cut them with a spoon), which served to both maintain the shape of our faux hand and easily reveal any punctures and cuts made during the tests.

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We tested the gloves for cut and puncture resistance in several places (fingers, palm, and back of the hand). We tested grip in dry, wet, and greasy conditions. And we assessed comfort, fit, and dexterity.

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For the cut resistance test, we had one of our sharpest knives, a Victorinox scimitar, professionally sharpened. We then attempted to cut the faux hand gloves two ways: first with normal blade pressure as the knife was drawn across the hot dog fingers and pork belly palm (as well as the back of the “hand”) multiple times. Next, we attached several magnetic weights to the knives and tried to cut the gloves again with the additional weight and a relatively consistent pressure on each pass. Finally, we used our faux hand to hold a tomato as we sliced it on a sharp mandolin. To our surprise, every glove passed the cut resistance test with flying colors. There was not a single slice mark on any gloves despite our attempts at increasing pressure.

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To check puncture resistance, we performed another test: we stabbed each finger three times with moderate pressure. We then dropped the scimitar’s knife point down from a height of one foot directly onto the fingers, the palm, and the back of the glove. Despite these efforts to ruin the gloves, all of them passed and none lost a hot dog finger or sustained a gash or puncture. Only one glove showed a small indentation in the material from the puncture test, and that was actually a steel mesh glove.

Grip tests were up next. We donned the gloves and tried to cut slices from a cooked roast, first by wetting the knife handle with water to make it slightly slippery, and then by lubricating the knife handle with vegetable oil to simulate the fat and grease that tends to migrate to knife handles when cutting meat. Some gloves did okay; others were a bit slippery.

As for the comfort tests, a few models were a slightly small for those with large hands, even though they were labeled as XL. Nonetheless, all of the gloves were pretty easy to get into and out of, didn’t seem to limit dexterity drastically, and were comfortable, if a tad warm, to wear.

Reviews and Ratings

We tested seven different gloves, each one rated at level 5, the highest EN388 and ANSI rating. Most of the gloves performed extremely well as you can see by the Gold and Silver medals below. You really can’t go wrong with any of the gloves here, but check out the full review for details. You may also pick up some insights from members of our Pitmaster Club, who weighed in with their experience, as quoted in the sidebar.

Nocry cut resistant food grade gloves
With a mix of food-grade ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene, glass fiber, and Spandex, the NoCry Food Grade Cut Resistant Gloves are touted as “stronger than leather.” The fingers and palm are overlaid with a slip-resistant microdot technology. They are food safe, hand and machine washable, and be drip dried. read more
Hex Armor Food Service Gloves
The Hexarmor (Ansi 5) Food Service 10-302 Cut Resistant Gloves has a good-fitting cuff. There are vulnerable areas however. Light in weight, the glove is made with 82% high performance polyethylene, 10% plastic and 8% spandex, enhanced with a layer of highly cut-resistant SuperFabric over primary knife strike areas. read more
Victorinox UltraShield Gloves
Strong and comfortable, the Victorinox Cutlery (454X) Ultrashield Cut Resistant Glove works well but looks different from other cut resistant gloves. This glove has no noticeable pattern of fibers or shields yet it is rated at ANSI cut level 7, making it significantly safer than many other cut resistant glove brands. read more
Victorinox steel mesh glove
Victorinox (Ansi 9) Saf.T.Gard Stainless Steel Mesh Glove is an excellent glove for protecting against knife cuts, though it will conduct electricity and will not withstand the force of power driven blades, saws and tools. This glove earned ANSI’s highest level of cut and puncture protection (9). read more
Cleanpower Cut Proof Steel Mesh Butcher Glove
The Cleanpower Safety Cut Proof Stainless Steel Metal Mesh Butcher Glove is constructed from woven stainless steel wire mesh and comes with a white cotton glove for comfort and cleanliness. It’s cut and stab resistant, ambidextrous, and has a high protection grade of 5. It is also adjustable for a variety of sizes. read more
OXO Cut Resistant Gloves
The OXO cut resistant glove is similar to Kaffyad and NoCry gloves in quality and performance as detailed in our review of the glove. All three appear and feel like slight variations of the same material. Only available in S, M and L sizes, this glove is ambidextrous, hand and machine washable, and can be drip dried. read more
Kaffyad Cut Resistant Gloves
Made with 13GPE/glass fiber cores, the Kaffyad (Ansi 5) Cut Resistant Gloves are extremely light and, like most, ambidextrous. The elastic cuff provides a snug fit snugly and helps prevent buckling, puckering and bulging.The Kaffyad cut resistant glove is available in S/M and M/L sizes. Hand and machine washable. read more

An assortment of cut resistant gloves

Rick Browne, Ph.B.

Rick Browne oversaw product testing, reviews, and ratings for AmazingRibs.com. A renowned TV cooking show host, photojournalist, and author of 16 barbecue books, he was the creator, host, and executive producer of public television's popular "Barbecue America" TV series that aired on more than 230 stations.

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Many pros say there’s no substitute for proper knife technique, but many say they are finger savers.

Cut-resistant gloves protect your hands but they are not universally loved. For some real world perspective, we turned to members of our Pitmaster Club, many of whom are full-time butchers and avid BBQ competitors. Some feel that cuts can be avoided by careful attention and good knife technique. Others note that the gloves prevent you from “feeling” what you are doing during butchery. But many members confessed that it makes sense to wear cut-resistant gloves if you spend a fair amount of time wielding sharp knives, scissors, cleavers, graters, peelers, or mandolins, especially in food prep where these tools often become slippery, wet or greasy. In that case, it’s almost guaranteed that someday, sometime, you are going to get cut.

Here’s what they had to say:

"I worked in a meat market in the past and used steel gloves. Everyone did. When you’re cutting meat all day, you will eventually make a mistake, and these saved me plenty of band-aids." sos2979

"I have a pair of NoCry cut resistant gloves that I bought from Amazon to use with my Wicked Edge knife sharpening system. They work pretty well. I was getting small cuts on my fingers when getting too close to the blade when I was sharpening my knives." vandy

"I'm required to wear a cut glove at work... I hear y'all on proper cutting technique, but that goes with proper boards, proper knife sharpening, proper knives for the job, proper placement of your board, proper non-slip boards on the proper surface, etc. I’m sorry, but you guys are kidding yourselves about the usefulness of a glove. I HATE wearing the glove but with any kind of volume it is certainly safer and not as bad as people think. I DO NOT wear one at home, even though I sometimes should. And I wear one glove under and one over. Proper knife technique involves more than just cutting. I get lazy too." HouseHomey

"With a knife (wearing these gloves) is not as important, but with small/odd shaped objects on a mandolin slicer, it’s essential." Polarbear777

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