This investigation aimed to evaluate the efficiency of a range of different distal end cutters in cutting and holding the ends of orthodontic arch wires. Fourteen different types of distal end cutter were used to cut a range of orthodontic arch wires under standard conditions. The arch wires comprised nickel-titanium and stainless steel wires of different dimensions, as well as twist flex and coaxial wires. The number of times each wire was successfully cut and held by each cutter was recorded. Significant differences in performance between the cutters were noted, particularly in holding the cut distal ends. Small diameter nickel-titanium wires were significantly less well held than heavier grade or stainless steel wires. Twist flex and coaxial wires were less easily cut cleanly than nickel-titanium and plain stainless steel wires.