If you are completely disconnected from the pocketknife community then you might still have heard of Opinel knives. The French brand has become pretty widely known. They have gardening tools, table knives, kitchen knives, and folding pocket knives. The folding knives have a unique ring lock system instead of what is common on most folding pocket knives, which have a back lock or liner lock.
To test out this knife, I didn’t just run it through a bunch of tests. That’s been done all over the internet.
I did this knife testing differently. I got my first Opinel from my wife a few years ago with my name inscribed in the blade. We decided that one is going to become an heirloom, so then she got me a new one that she said, “is supposed to be used.”
And use it I did.
I’ve had this bad boy: an Opinel no. 6 with a walnut wood handle and stainless-steel blade, for a little over 2 years now. I carry it regularly when I’m not flying that is. It’s held up exceptionally well too.
I have tried a few other pocketknives throughout the years, but the beauty and simplistic design of the Opinel is just too good for me to switch away from.
With it coming it at just under $20, I agree with Popular Mechanics awarding it the Best Budget Knife award.
The ring lock system used by Opinel for their folding knives is one of the easiest locking mechanisms I’ve ever seen.
It’s simple, but they keep it because it works so well.
I’ve got older pocket knives that have had the locking mechanism quit working overtime because it gets worn down. The ring lock is completely fail-proof. The only way it won’t work is if you forget to lock it.
To operate the ring lock, simply twist the ring at the top of the knife. It will only twist one direction to lock and the opposite direction to unlock. It can be used to lock the blade open or closed if you have curious people that somehow get a hold of it.
The Opinel handle can come in Beechwood, Walnut wood, Oak, or Olivewood. I have the Walnut and Olivewood handles. The Olive is the heirloom I don’t carry. The Walnut is in my daily cycle of carrying.
Even after 2 years of carrying in my pocket with keys and other items, I stuff in there, the handle shows no signs of wear.
The handles are completely smooth and very lightweight. This makes them almost impossible to feel in your pocket. This can be good or bad depending on your preference.
If you so wish, you can order a knife with colored beechwood handles: blue, red, green, brown, or black.
Opinel offers 2 flavors for the blade type: carbon steel or stainless.
My wife, who has had her Opinel going on 12 years now, and I both have stainless. It doesn’t get as sharp as carbon steel, but it holds its edge much better. It’s harder steel so it’s harder to sharpen, but also harder to dull.
Carbon steel has a higher carbon content to the steel and is a little softer. This makes sharpening easier, but it is inversely, easier to dull.
The stainless on both our knives, mine gets much more use than hers, is still stainless and shiny. I have only ever had to sharpen them once. All I really have to do, even after using them to open a bunch of boxes from moving, is touch them up on a sharpening steel.
My father-in-law has carbon steel and he sharpens his knife roughly once a month. He then touches it up on sharpening steel once a week.
I know some people just loving sharpening and caring for knives in their free time. I’m one of them…
However, I don’t want to do this because it is the only way to keep the knives sharp and usable.
I prefer harder steels for that reason. I don’t mind putting a lot of work into getting the knife-sharp once then just maintaining it from then on out.
Because this pocketknife is so cheap and has proven it can stand the test of time to both hard use and light use, I recommend everyone have one.
The only downside is that it is made in France…unlike Shield Republic gear that’s made in America.