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Razor Wire vs Barbed Wire

by Judy Knowler

Fencing is an important part of any farm setup. Whether you’re breeding livestock, deliniating property lines, or simply protecting your pets, you need a way to keep pastures and paddock areas enclosed.

There are two reasons to fence in your animals’ spaces: to keep them in and to keep others out. Many animal owners opt for wire fencing for their animals. This is because wire fencing is affordable, easy to install, requires minimal maintenance, and protects the animals while still offering enough give to prevent injury if an animal tries to charge the fence.

Animal owners can choose from a variety of wire fencing options for their enclosures, from welded or woven wire to electric fencing. Each of these options has its own specific purpose, and are best suited to different animals or different spaces.

Some individuals believe that two of the most secure forms of wire fencing — razor wire and barbed wire — can be used interchangeably, as they’re “basically the same.” However, there are some key differences between these wires, and those differences can make all the difference for your animals and your fence.

Razor Wire

Razor wire has been a popular form of wire fencing since the mid-twentieth century. Upon its discovery, razor wire was quickly adopted as an improved version of traditional barbed wire. The steel tape created small, razor-like edges at close intervals along the length of the wire. These sharp edges could do significant damage to anyone trying to get over the fence — and because they were so close together, it was nearly impossible to get past the wire without injury.

In the 1980s, razor wire received another upgrade. Instead of using steel tape for the entire wire, manufacturers now crimped a steel tape edge around a steel wire core. This made razor wire even more durable, and its popularity soared. Today, razor wire is primarily used for security fencing for warehouses or office buildings, but it is also used to prevent particularly stubborn livestock from escaping their pens.

Barbed Wire

Barbed wire has much older origins than razor wire. It was first developed in the 19th century as a way to keep livestock from roaming off a farmer’s property, and it is largely used for that same purpose today.

Most barbed wire is made from two wires, one central line and one smaller wire that’s wound around the central line at regular intervals. The ends of the smaller wire point outward, creating sharp “barbs” that can deter people or animals wanting to cross over the wires.

Today, barbed wire is considered an effective and low-cost way to keep livestock in their enclosures. Some organizations also use barbed wire for their security fencing, though razor wire does seem to be the more popular choice for corporate security purposes.

Main Differences Between Razor Wire and Barbed Wire

The clearest and most obvious difference between razor wire and barbed wire is the difference in their design. Barbed wire has far fewer sharp points than razor wire, which means that people or animals are much less likely to sustain serious injuries if they try to cross the fence.

Other differences include the following:


To install barbed wire, you only need a few fence posts and basic knowledge of how to install wire fencing. Razor wire fencing requires some professional expertise, as the wire is generally more dangerous to handle and more difficult to manipulate.


Both types of fencing are relatively easy to maintain. The steel tape and wire used to create these wires are generally very high quality and won’t corrode easily, so maintenance is typically limited to removing debris that might have become tangled in the fence.


Many people argue that razor wire has a more “modern” appearance due to the razor design and single-wire structure. In contrast, barbed wire design has changed little since the 19th century, which gives barbed wire fencing a more rustic appeal.


As we’ve already mentioned, barbed wire is considered one of the more affordable types of wire fencing. Razor wire does tend to be costlier than barbed wire due to the complexities of the manufacturing process.

Best Features of Razor and Barbed Wire

Ultimately, a comparison of razor wire vs. barbed wire will come down to your specific needs and preferences. Both of these wire types have benefits:

Razor Wire Features

  • Greater deterrent for trespassers
  • Modern, attractive design
  • Long service life with minimal maintenance

Barbed Wire Features

  • Easy to install and maintain
  • Effective deterrent for livestock
  • Low-cost fencing option

Contact us or find a dealer near you to see how we can help you select the ideal wire fencing for your next project.

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