Best Pocket Knives

Old Fashioned French Pocket Knives

Classic in design, simple in operation, and remarkably inexpensive, the Opinel folding knife was invented in 1890 and is still manufactured in France.

The Opinel has been featured in museums for its classic design and remains a family business.

The big surprise? The price!

The French have known and loved Opinels for more than a century.

The only design change was the addition of the unique locking ring in the 1950s. But what a design change! The locking ring turns the Opinel folding knife into a regular picnic knife and makes it as safe as any knife. The ring also keeps the knife locked shut, in your pocket or in your pic-a-nic basket, as Yogi would say. Put enough pressure on when you lock it and a kid could have trouble opening. But my philosophy is to train kids on knives, starting with safety. The Opinel may have been your first knife, if you are French, and now American kids can now start out cheap, too. Give a kid a knife, and give a kid power to whittle, cut string, prune trees -- am I really going to inform you of all the good things a sharp knife can do? Bottom line: unlike regular pocket knives, the Opinel won't close on your hand when you use the locking ring.

It's a bit hard to describe how the Opinel locking ring operates. It takes just a simple twist of the collar to rotate the slot the blade moves through. The collar now locks the blade open.

Cheap Enough to Own an Instant Collection

Everything about Opinels is old fashioned, including the price

As a long-time fan of Swiss Army knives, I was completely unaware of these beautiful French pocketknives. Opinel offers a full range of sizes, from the tiny to the oversized.

The Opinel #8 seems to be the most popular. With a blade that is 3 and 5/16ths inches, and just over 4.25 when folded, the #8 makes an excellent pocketknife.

The Opinel #6 is 3 and 5/8ths inches long when folded and a decent pocketknife size, but a little small for my taste.

The Opinel #10 is a full 9 inches long when unfolded and a full handful -- a bit large for a city pocketknife but will fit in your pocket. The #10 is the size of a sheath knife when unfolded, and a serviceable tool for farm or garden.

Opinel also makes the #12 which is huge, a real knife. At the other end of the spectrum, Opinel manufactures several tiny folding knives.

All Opinels #6 and larger come with a locking ring that keeps the blade open or closed. Hard to explain in words, the locking ring operates with a simple twist of a collar at the base of the blade. The locking ring was invented in 1955 and upgraded in 1995 to keep the Opinel closed along with keeping it open.

Opinel offers carbon steel blades

The classic Opinel folding knife is made of carbon steel, NOT stainless steel. Why would anyone want a folding knife that can rust? Carbon steel has characteristics that many favor over stainless steel. Carbon steel takes a edge better and is easier to sharpen. Many tools, including wood chisels and gouges, are made of carbon steel instead of stainless steel.

Even with oiling and care, carbon steel blade of the Opinel develops a dark "patina" of discoloration. And carbon steel will rust. It's a personal preference, and several Opinels are made in stainless steel, but many Opinel owners opt for carbon steel.

Beechwood handles are remarkably light

The wooden handles both beautiful and functional. Because the tang of the Opinel does not extend into the handle, it is remarkably light. But the blade's attachment to the handle is a 360 degree collar and very strong and substantial.

The blades come very sharp, right from the factory. When giving a knife as a gift, "sell" it for a penny. That guarantees the recipient will never get cut. Superstition? Maybe, but it works. You tell me why.

Cons: The backs of the blades are very square and a bit edgy. Nothing a bit of wear or sanding with emory cloth won't solve. As mentioned below, the hinge and locking ring of my #6 were a bit stiff.

The Best Opinel is a Matter for Debate

What is the best Opinel for you?

My story: I bought a #6, a #8, and a #10 Opinel. I have to say I'm happy with all of them!

The #6 is a bit small and the hinge is stiff. The locking ring is a bit difficult to operate. But it's a great little pocketknife.

The #8 is clearly a classic. I can see why the #8 tends to be the favorite size. It's about the size of a kitchen paring knife with a slightly larger handle. My prediction, the vast majority of people will be happiest with the #8,

The #10 Opinel is a real knife. Small enough to fold and fit in one's pocket, but the size of a serrated kitchen knife although much stronger. The #10 would be my pick for a picnic knife or a campsite kitchen knife.

My recommendation for you

The classic #8 Opinel folding knife is my recommendation if you get (or give) only one Opinel.

Opinel No8 Carbon Pocket Knife
Opinel No8 Carbon Pocket Knife

My actual recommendation is to try several sizes. Give me a break, they're cheap as hell.


More Opinels

Olive wood handle, Bubinga wood handle on a long slim style Opinel, or a set of 10.

Opinel N Degree08 Olivewood Handle Boxed Stainless Steel Knife, 8.5 cm Blade
Opinel N Degree08 Olivewood Handle Boxed Stainless Steel Knife, 8.5 cm Blade

Olive wood adds a touch of style and stainless steel is a favorite of many.

Opinel N Degree10 Beechwood Handle Boxed Slim Knife, 10 cm Blade
Opinel N Degree10 Beechwood Handle Boxed Slim Knife, 10 cm Blade

The slim style Opinel is long and thin. This model retains the classic Beech handle.

Opinel N Degree15 Bubinga Handle Boxed Slim Knife, 15 cm Blade
Opinel N Degree15 Bubinga Handle Boxed Slim Knife, 15 cm Blade

Bubinga is a beautiful wood that adds to the price for this gorgeous slim Opinel.

OPINEL 10 Piece Collectors Knife Set . Made In France
OPINEL 10 Piece Collectors Knife Set . Made In France

The cost per knife is quite reasonable, and the wooden case will please the true collector.


Opinel Corkscrew Picnic Knife

After ordering a few Opinels, including the #10 which is a very nice size for a kitchen knife, I decided to try the Opinel corkscrew knife. It instantly became my favorite!

It's a big #10 and the corkscrew model comes only in stainless steel, with a handle in gorgeous oak wood, which is a bit heavier and tougher than beech. The description says beech, but I know my woods and the one I received has an oak handle. It looks darker than my other Opinels which are beech. I suspect they use oak for a stronger base for the corkscrew.

This picnic basket, pocket or kitchen tool is a work of art!

The corkscrew opens with a satisfying click and does not interfere in the least with the function of the knife.

The knife is an Opinel #10 folding knife and opens from 5 1/8th inches folded to 9-inches open. Take my word for it: this corkscrew knife is a classic. Comes in a great gift box.

Opinel N Degree10 Corkscrew Wine & Cheese Knife, 10 cm Blade
Opinel N Degree10 Corkscrew Wine & Cheese Knife, 10 cm Blade

This French folding knife has all you need to prepare a loaf of bread and a bottle of wine. Do you need more to make life sweet? Of course, a loved one with whom to share the bon vin et pain. Beloved one not included.


Do You Like the Large Opinel #10 but Prefer Stainless Over Carbon Steel?

The Opinel #10 is a full 9 inches long when unfolded.

Get it here in stainless steel.

Opinel #10 in STAINLESS steelPRICE CHECK

Looking for another kind of pocket knife?

You might be interested in a Swiss Army knife

Check out this article on the Great Swiss Army Knife Debate and what might be the perfect Swiss Army knife for you.

And here is a link to even more Opinal folding knives. Perhaps you can guess that I'm into them?

Swiss Army Farmer the Best Pocket Knife? Some Owners Seem to Think So. - Care to discover WHY The Farmer is so popular? Click the photo!

Swiss Army Farmer Pocket Knife
Swiss Army Farmer Pocket Knife

The popularity of this genuine Victorinox Swiss Army pocket knife is due in part to a classic design and multiple tools, including:

Large bladeReamerCan opener with small screwdriverBottle opener with large screwdriverWire stripperWood sawKey ring

The Farmer measures 3.66 by 0.55 by 0.87 inches (W x H x D), weighs 3 ounces, and carries a lifetime warranty.

Care to discover why The Farmer is so popular? Click the photo!

Shun Higo Nokami Personal Folding Stainless-Steel Steak KnifeCHECK PRICE

Here's a pocket knife for the steak lover. Razor sharp and apparently welcome in restaurants. Fancy restaurants cost so much, may be useful to defend your food!

Schrade SS102 Sampler Knife 4 11/16" Length, YellowCHECK PRICE

The sampler knife's long, slim blade is a favorite among orchardists. You go around your orchard and sample fruit. If you don't have the orchard yet, you could start getting ready.

Do You Know a Gardener? - Are You Looking for a Unique Gift for this Gardener?

I happen to be a gardener and I love getting gardening tools as much as (being honest, more than) gardening work.

Check out this sweet, totally French-style Opinel gardener's FOLDING knife set.

Three Opinel gardener's knivesCHECK PRICE

The gardener gets 3 useful tools in this Opinel gift set:

Garden Knife with a 3 1/4-inch blade (4 1/4 inches closed)Pruning Knife with 3 1/4-inch hawkbill blade (4 1/2 inches closed)Saw with 4 3/4-inch blade (6 1/2 inches closed)

These Opinels are NOT carbon steel. All three have stainless blades.

More details:

Each tool has the distinctive Opinel locking safety ring.Each has a varnished wood handle (that looks like oak to me) Each handle has a lanyard hole, to accommodate a thong, if you're into thongs (and who isn't?).Bonus: Nylon and leather belt sheath with shoulder strap to hold all items (I see this being useful in the shed, because these are folding picket tools).The items are bulk packed, which I don't understand.I have a confession.I don't have this Opinel gardener's set (yet) and don't know what "bulk packed" means. But I know Opinel. Every knife of their brand is functional and beautiful.If there's a Santa, and I know there is because I've seen his sleigh from my spacecraft, THIS set is what I want him to bring me.I don't want to have to wait until my birthday, but this Opinel gardener's set would make a great birthday present.Further disclosure: The pruning knife is a new one for me. Of course I've heard of "beating swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks." But I've never owned a pruning hook.I have owned and used a brushhook. A "hawkbill blade" really works. The curve keeps the blade in contact with the branch or stem being cut. The gardener recipient will recognize the usefulness of this feature.Will the gardener who receives this gift love you more? I guarantee it!

best cheap pocket knife
best cheap pocket knife

Best High Tech Pocket Knife?

Some Prefer High Tech Multi-Tools

The Opinel traditional French farmer's locking pocket knife has some modern competition.

The Gerber Needlenose Multi-Plier 600 packs a toolbox into a pocket knife.

Stainless steel with a black oxide coating, the Gerber locking multi-tool pocket knife includes the company's patented pliers with one-handed opening. Backed by a limited lifetime warranty, the Gerber Needlenose Multi-Plier 600 features 14 fully locking components:

Needlenose pliersRegular knife bladeSerrated edge knifePhilips driverSmall flat driverMedium flat driverLarge flat driverRulerBottle openerCan openerFileWire cuttersWire crimper

The Gerber Needlenose Multi-Plier 600 has been awarded multiple 5-star reviews, and listed in the top 5 bestselling pocketknives on Amazon.

Best High Tech Pocket KnifeCHECK PRICE

What size is your favorite Opinel and which would you recommend for a friend? Have you modified your Opinel? Be honest, had you even heard of these great folding knives?!

More by this Author

What do you think of the Opinel folding knife? 55 comments

WriterJanis2 profile image

WriterJanis2 4 years ago

NIce review. :-)

AShotgunGold 4 years ago

Opinel knives have a legendary international reputation. among sailors, outdoorsmen, adventurers, cooks and chefs, campers, picnickers, and even artists. It is said that Pablo Picasso used an Opinel to carve his sculptures! Many French cooks say that the Opinel is the one item that never leaves their pocket. In 1985 the Victoria and Albert Museum in London selected the Opinel as part of an exhibit celebrating the â100 most beautiful products in the world.â The blades are very sharp and one thing I like about the carbon-steel blade is that it makes a very good spark when used against flint. Every outdoorsman should appreciate the ability to start a fire in a pinch. I love my Opinels!

bilafond lm profile image

bilafond lm 4 years ago

A good lens. I have a good collection of knives and daggers. The oldest I have World War 1 Bayonets and one as old as 1901.

AstroGremlin profile image

AstroGremlin 4 years ago Author

@AShotgunGold: Wow, thanks for the long comment! Yes, Opinels have been recognized for the beauty of their design. They come in a number of exotic woods and several designs, including slim, and sizes, up to a gigantic machete-sized tool.

AstroGremlin profile image

AstroGremlin 4 years ago Author

@bilafond lm: The Opinel is a favorite for collecting and even modifying, partly because it's so inexpensive and the handle so easy to personalize.

anonymous 4 years ago


HenkWillemse profile image

HenkWillemse 4 years ago

I really like this Opinel Folding Knife, looks like a pocket knife to add to my collection.

tonybonura profile image

tonybonura 4 years ago from Tickfaw, Louisiana

I was not aware of these knives. Very interesting. I'm a bit of a blade freak and will look into getting one or more.


anonymous 4 years ago

These look very useful and functional!

flinnie lm profile image

flinnie lm 4 years ago from Alabama USA

I do like the one with the corkscrew.

AstroGremlin profile image

AstroGremlin 4 years ago Author

@flinnie lm: The Opinel corkscrew knife nicer than it looks, if that makes any sense. It comes in a surprisingly nice transparent container that seems to whisper "thoughtful gift."

AstroGremlin profile image

AstroGremlin 4 years ago Author

@anonymous: They are very light, too, because the handle is all wood.

AstroGremlin profile image

AstroGremlin 4 years ago Author

@tonybonura: You seem like the kind of guy who can put an edge on a tool, but every one of these knives I bought came razor sharp.

Joan Haines profile image

Joan Haines 4 years ago

The corkscrew knife looks perfect for picnics!

AstroGremlin profile image

AstroGremlin 4 years ago Author

@Joan Haines: Hey thanks so much for the blessing and yes, just holding it in your hand you feel ready to take on any delicious French wine, crusty baguette or summer sausage!

AShotgunGold 4 years ago

I hope the word about Opinel knives continues to spread. I was shocked when I recently tried to sell some extra Opinel knives I have on the Internet and found very little interest in them. People need to know what a great deal Opinel knives represent. Light weight and versatility at a great price.

JoshK47 4 years ago

Great resource! I'd certainly not mind having one!

AstroGremlin profile image

AstroGremlin 4 years ago Author

@AShotgunGold: They have a following among guys who like to mod the Opinel. They change the handles and even the blades. The price is low enough to experiment on several.

AstroGremlin profile image

AstroGremlin 4 years ago Author

@JoshK47: I bought a couple and liked them so much I bought some more. They are so cheap, especially the ones with free shipping.

vineliner57 profile image

vineliner57 4 years ago from Bloomington, IN

I like the corkscrew knife. Looks perfect for opening wine bottles.

AstroGremlin profile image

AstroGremlin 4 years ago Author

@vineliner57: A nice feature of the corkscrew knife is the box -- it's classy. It only cardboard and plastic, but very nicely done. Makes the Opinel corkscrew knife a very presentable present.

D_L_Harbin 4 years ago

My son has quite a collection of these. Great lens.

AstroGremlin profile image

AstroGremlin 4 years ago Author

@D_L_Harbin: I didn't set out to be a collector, but I have several now. It seems to be a common occurrence. One fellow keeps a few around just to give away.

Loganor profile image

Loganor 4 years ago

I admit I have never heard of these - they are pretty cool.

Rosetta Slone profile image

Rosetta Slone 4 years ago from Under a coconut tree

We live in France and buy our Opinels at the corner store. My husband has several in different colours, they're so useful!

AstroGremlin profile image

AstroGremlin 4 years ago Author

@Rosetta Slone: Stores don't seem to carry them in the U.S. Probably too inexpensive to make much of a profit.

Virginia Allain profile image

Virginia Allain 4 years ago from Central Florida

My hubby may need a new pocket knife for Christmas. He keeps losing his to the airport people when he forgets to remove it from his pocket.

AstroGremlin profile image

AstroGremlin 4 years ago Author

@Virginia Allain: Isn't that wild? The TSA are singlehandedly responsible for 90% of the market for pocketknives, nail clippers, etc.

johnsja 4 years ago

A good Christmas gift for a fisherman.

AstroGremlin profile image

AstroGremlin 4 years ago Author

@johnsja: Opinel has some very nice filet knives, some with handles of fancy woods.

sukkran trichy profile image

sukkran trichy 4 years ago from Trichy/Tamil Nadu

a unique knife collection. one in the intro is my favorite.

AstroGremlin profile image

AstroGremlin 4 years ago Author

@sukkran trichy: The #8 size is the most popular, but I like the larger # 10 and #12 very much.

Chris-H LM profile image

Chris-H LM 4 years ago

Nice collection. I'll have to pass this lens on to my son since he loves to collect knives. I appreciate you pointing out the advantages of carbon steel over stainless steel.

anonymous 3 years ago

My very first pocket knife was an Opinel! Same one as in your intro photo, loved that thing.

AstroGremlin profile image

AstroGremlin 3 years ago Author

@Chris-H LM: Both kinds of steel have their fans but there's a reason Opinel keeps making the carbon version.

AstroGremlin profile image

AstroGremlin 3 years ago Author

@anonymous: I had never seen one until a few months ago. They are so darned inexpensive, now I have several.

anonymous 3 years ago

The Picnic basket knife is so cool! Great for Wine Baskets.

anonymous 3 years ago

This is great, thank you for your sharing, I really like them. :)

pretyfunky profile image

pretyfunky 3 years ago

unique knife collection

norma-holt profile image

norma-holt 3 years ago

There is a ban on carrying knives in Australia since the gun laws were introduced. These look lovely but when one thinks about it why do your need to have one? Sometimes a small knife is handy. Blessed.

JoshK47 3 years ago

Popping back in with blessings for this highly informative lens!

mecheshier 3 years ago

Great display and examples of knives. Thank you

mecheshier 3 years ago

@norma-holt: Hi

I used to work in the field in my younger days as a firefighter and stand examiner (survey on trees including type and age, vegetation, wildlife, etc) A knife was an essential tool for many things. A basic knife just doesn't cut it. As well, we camped on the job-site often. When living in the woods you need a good knife.

kimark421 profile image

kimark421 3 years ago

Great lens. Very cool knives!

applejacking 3 years ago

smart and practical camping gear.

cmadden 3 years ago

Hadn't heard of the Opinel before.

CoolFool83 profile image

CoolFool83 3 years ago

Really nice collection of pocket knives.

jcalbon lm profile image

jcalbon lm 3 years ago

What a great collection of pocket knives! Which reminds me, I'm not sure where mine is... Probably should see if I can find it--they're really handy to have.

anonymous 3 years ago

Its new to me and I find the look of it and the name both attractive and would make a nice gift with Father's Day coming up soon and it sounds like the 8 or 10 would be good choices and since they're so reasonable, why not both! :)

Cynthia Haltom profile image

Cynthia Haltom 3 years ago from Diamondhead

I know my husband would love to own one he is the king of pocket knives he has a different one in every pair of pants he owns.

AstroGremlin profile image

AstroGremlin 3 years ago Author

@Cynthia Haltom: Wow, that could be a lot. How many pairs of pants does he own?

zeptra 3 years ago

wow looks amazing, thank you for share

Lynn Klobuchar profile image

Lynn Klobuchar 2 years ago from Minneapolis, Minnesota

I would love the gardener's set. Alas Amazon reports it out of stock. Impressive review. Thanks for gathering it together.

AstroGremlin profile image

AstroGremlin 2 years ago Author

@Lynn Klobuchar: Thanks for the heads-up. That packaging of the three tools may have not generated enough revenue to continue on Amazon. Opinel may change it's manufacturing priorities, over time, too. That wouldn't surprise me. If you dig a weird wood or style, today may be the day to get it from Opinel's distributors.

Faye Rutledge profile image

Faye Rutledge 2 years ago from Concord VA

I'd never heard of these, but it looks like a nice knife!

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