Whether you’re into camping, like to do small handy jobs around the house, or just want to cut apples at work, a pocket knife will come in handy more times than not. But you want to make sure you’re buying a top-rated piece. Then this Opinel knife review is right what you are looking for.
We’ve put together some information to help you make sure you’re getting the best possible starter pocket knife.
Opinel Knife: Pros & Cons
Opinel Knife Review: What is a Pocket Knife?
A pocket knife is a knife with a blade that can be folded into the handle and is small enough to fit into the average pocket. Pocket knives can have a single blade, multiple blades, or include other tools along with the knife blade(s).
Many pocket knives are considered a form of multi-tool and can include things like screwdrivers, scissors, pliers, wrenches, and bottle openers. These types of multi-tools are based around the blade components. Other multi-tools, however, may be based around other components, like pliers.
Why Carry a Pocket Knife?
Throughout the day, you’re likely to discover at least one or more times when a pocket knife would come in handy.
Opening packages in the mail, for example, can be significantly easier with a pocket knife on hand. Cutting a rope, opening a cardboard box, cutting something free, or any number of other things that a sharp point or blade would help will also be sufficiently dealt with by a decent pocket knife.
The Pocket Knife in History
Pocket knives have been around a long time. In fact, the first pocket knife on record is from the early Iron Age (700-1 BCE). This first pocket knife had a bone handle and was found in Austria. It dates to somewhere between 600 and 500 BCE. Other ancient knives have been found in Spain, dating back to the pre-Roman era.
The next era of pocket knives came about during the Roman Empire. These knives were the first form of folding knife. Known as friction folders, these folding knives used friction, instead of locks or springs like we use now, to keep the knives closed. Moderate pressure from the thumb kept them open while in use.
In the 2nd Century, the Romans created their own precursors to the Swiss Army knife. These knives had additional tools that included things like spoons, forks, spatulas, and picks. It is believed these kinds of knives probably belonged to people who traveled a lot.
The Vikings had their own versions of folding knives in the 800s. These used clasps to close, rather than friction.
In the 1600s, the pistol grip Gully knife that came about, probably for hand to hand combat and fighting.
The first time that pocket knives were available and affordable to common folk, though, wasn’t until the 1650s when the peasant or penny knife came around.
The first butterfly knife was developed in the 1710s, by the French, though folks in the Philippines will argue that they had the first butterfly knife. Either way, these knives with two handles into which the blade fits, is a fascinating variety of knife that is traditionally believed to have been developed for utility use, and self-defense.
The famous switchblade knife first appeared in the 1750s, in Sheffield, England.
The first Swiss army knife later named such during World War II, appeared in 1891. This knife had four tools including the blade, a reamer, can opener, and screwdriver. And, yes, it was designed for the Swiss army, which resulted in its name.
Since those early days, pocket knives have advanced significantly. They’ve grown safer to carry and use, and have a wide variety of styles and options.
The common slip-joint knives on this Opinel knife review include:
Opinel No 08 Studio Black Stainless Steel Folding Everyday Carry...
- Simple, sturdy, efficient and easy to use, this essential tool remains unchanged since 1890 but is unmatched in its...
- Opinel's stainless steel blades are made of Sandvik 12C27 modified stainless steel. It is anti-corrosive thanks to the...
- Thanks to its high tannin content, the oak wood handle is extremely resistant to insects and fungi. It has a...
- Barlow knife
- Camper knife
- Canoe knife
- Congress knife
- Peanut knife
- Okapi knife
- Sodbuster knife
- Stockman knife
- Elephant’s toenail knife
- Laguiole knife
- Sunfish knife
- Whittler knife
- Trapper knife
- Lady Leg knife
- Dogbone knife
- Marlin Spike knife
- Hawkbill knife
- Dog Leg knife
- Sowbelly knife
- Muskrat knife
- Melon Tester
- Cotton Sampler
There are also a number of other styles of knives, including multi-tool knives, like the Swiss Army knife, tactical folding knives, lock blade knives, and a variety of miscellaneous designs, like the Japanese Higonokami.
How to Choose the Right Pocket Knife
With the plethora of options and styles, choosing the right pocket knife could get pretty tricky. We’ve pulled together some information to help you narrow down the list. First, we’ll talk about how to choose, then, we’ll talk about some of the best brands. Finally, we’ll give our own take on a brand in our own Opinel knife review.
Choosing Your Pocket Knife
1. Know Knife Laws in Your Area
The first, and potentially most important step, is looking into the laws in your area of possession and carrying of a knife. While pocket knives are considered by most of us as a tool, some laws will view any kind of knife as a concealed weapon. You don’t want to risk your freedom or money because of carrying a tool.
Be sure that your knife meets any requirements of the law. This may include the size of the blade, the style of the knife, or other factors. Read the laws thoroughly to avoid missing any information that could lead to trouble.
2. Determine How You’ll Be Using the Pocket Knife
After knowing the laws for carrying a knife, the next most important thing to understand is how you’ll be using your new pocket knife.
- Will you be carrying the knife for protection?
- Is your knife only for everyday tasks?
- Do you hike a lot and need a knife for the backwoods?
- Is your knife going to just be used while in the woods?
- Will you be using your knife for hunting or fishing?
- Do you think you’ll be getting handy with your pocket knife while at home?
3. Study Knife Blade Types, Materials and Shapes
Every knife is a little different. The shape of the blade, the material the blade or handle is made from, or the precise weight of the knife as a whole can all affect how you work with the knife.
Be sure to study up on the different materials, and how they are used differently. Learn what different shapes and types of blades are used for, and think through your own reasons for owning a pocket knife.
Some of the materials knife blades that can be made from include:
- Alloy steel
- Tool steel
- Chrome steel
- Semi-stainless steel
- Aluminum oxide ceramic
- Stainless steel
- Carbon steel
- Zirconium oxide ceramic
- Stellite and talonite
- Copper beryllium
- Damascus steel
Knife handles come in a variety of materials as well and will affect how the knife will handle. The weight and texture, in particular, will affect the way a knife feels in your hand, but the shape will also have a significant impact on the usability of a given knife for an individual as well.
- Bone or antler
- Stainless steel
- Sheep horn
- Mother of pearl
- Buffalo horn
You may find knives that use the tang of the knife, as well, without an actual handle. These would be called skeleton handles.
4. Start Simply
Your first pocket knife doesn’t need to be some impressive $500 knife. You can start with a simple, easy-to-use model in the $20 to $30 range.
You may be tempted to go all out and get the big knife that you saw in some movie, but unless you know for sure you’ll like the handling and weight of the knife, you might waste a lot of money on the expensive choice that isn’t right for you.
5. Return Your Knife, If Necessary
If you find that the knife you purchased doesn’t handle well, there’s no reason to keep it. Return it and trade it in for a knife that handles better, has a better blade, or doesn’t weight as much.
There’s no shame in learning to handle a knife properly. And part of that learning is gaining the knowledge of what works best for you.
5. Upgrade Your Blade
Finally, after you’ve used a lower priced pocket knife for a while, or several perhaps, you will have a better understanding of the type(s) of knives that you enjoy working with.
Once you’ve gotten a better grasp on these preferences, you’d be ready to upgrade your knife to a higher quality piece that will require a bit more investment.
Top Brands of Pocket Knives
Some of the best brands of pocket knives, as rated by professionals and heavily experienced users include these brands on this Opinel knife review, in no particular order.
- SOG Knives
- Buck Knives
- Opinel Knives
- Bear & Son
- Cold Steel
A Brief History of the Opinel Knife Company
Opinel knives have been around since the late 1800s when Joseph Opinel made his first peasant knife. This knife was designed for the working-class man to use anywhere. It proved popular with the local farmers and peasant winemakers of his area in Savoie, France.
In 1897, Opinel offered a series of 12 knives, numbered 1 through 12, as models of varying types and sizes. A few years later, Opinel opened his first factory and manufactured a machine to mass produce his knife components.
The Opinel knife is considered an exceptionally beautiful product. In fact, the knives were featured as one of the 100 most beautiful products in the world in 1985 in the exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
An Opinel Knife Review
As we’ve scoured the internet for reviews, we’ve found these consistent positive and negative Opinel knife reviews.
Positive Opinel Knife Review
On Amazon, users give the Opinel knife 4.5 out of 5 stars, or 5 out of 5 stars, depending on the model. Users on eBay gave the knives 4.9 out of 5 stars, and users on Knife Center gave an overall rating of 4 out of 5 stars or higher.
Most users love the look and feel of the handle. The weight, the texture, the overall feel of the handle makes the knife a pleasure to use, as well as to look at. The ergonomic fit of the handle, in particular, receives a significant amount of the praise for these inexpensive knives.
Many users state that the knife blade keeps its edge well, meaning that it stays sharp for a long time.
A lot of users declare the Opinel their favorite “every day carry” knife, and swear by its size, weight, and ease of use.
Negative Opinel Knife Review
While nearly everyone seems to love the Opinel, there is always a negative Opinel knife review, even for the most amazing products. The negative complaints we found included:
- Generic complaints about the thinness of the blade.
- Generic complaints that some wished for a bigger “heft” – a heavier feeling handle.
- Some said the action of the Opinel is a bit stiff, even after being lubricated.
- A few complained that the blades came with burrs on them as if they had been shipped before the company had finished the knife off.
- A few complained of the blades having slight bends in the middle. Most did not have this complaint, however, so it seems to be isolated to a few.
- A few users stated that the lock on the knife was a bit loose.
- Some complained that they found the blade prone to rusting.
Our Opinel Knife Review
Overall, we’d have to recommend the Opinel brand of knives. Each size and style varies some and has different positives, and maybe a few negatives. The majority of Opinel knife review from real users, well over 2,000 users at that, implies that the knives are great utility knives.
Different needs will call for different models, though, so we recommend looking closely at the different options to see what will best fit your need.