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.
Favorite Opinels on Amazon
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.
My actual recommendation is to try several sizes. Give me a break, they're cheap as hell.
Olive wood handle, Bubinga wood handle on a long slim style Opinel, or a set of 10.
Olive wood adds a touch of style and stainless steel is a favorite of many.
The slim style Opinel is long and thin. This model retains the classic Beech handle.
Bubinga is a beautiful wood that adds to the price for this gorgeous slim Opinel.
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.
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?
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!
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 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
- More Opinel Garden Knives and Saws
Yes, Opinel makes folding pruning saws in two sizes and other gardeners tools, including the large #12 folding knife.
- Opinels You May Not Have Seen Yet
Check out the cheapest (and most beautiful) folding knives.
- OK You Have a Knife, How About a Spork?
Yes, a spoon, fork, and maybe a wrench or two, all in one handy utensil.
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?!
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