Opinel knives

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22 September 2015, 11:51 AM
Opinel knives
I've carried generally several knives at a time pretty much since I was old enough to be allowed to carry one. Over the years I've owned at least one of pretty much every known brand commonly carried, buck,browning, Kershaw the lot of em. In my humble opinion Opinel knives out of France are the best quality for the dollar going. No fancy about em, just a simple wooden handle knife with awesome steel n if used as a knife is supposed to be an awesome basicly cheap everyday carry. Anybody else ever own n use one? With just a touch of handle reshaping can look almost HC from a few feet away.
22 September 2015, 12:29 PM
Hmmm,never heard of 'em....

Beer is proof that God loves us,and wants us to be happy-B. Franklin
22 September 2015, 12:57 PM
Been using them for over 40 years. Cheap enough that I keep several around such as in the car, next to the bed, etc. Wouldn't be with out them.

Other than the ring they are real close to many folding knives of the period.

aka Chuck Burrows
23 September 2015, 06:03 AM
Loyalist Dave
The "modern" Opinel knives often have the lock for the blade, which is different from 18th century designs, but some of the Opinels, such as the Opinel #5 Carbon is a non-locking design, and works fine.

Another great knife is a Mora Classic with a super good carbon blade. I own several, and I rework the handles, and make leather sheaths for them. My patch knife is a Mora.

The great thing about both companies is you get a really good piece of steel, that can be kept super sharp, but you're not out-of-pocket a lot of money if you lose one in the woods.


It's not what you know, it's what you can prove
27 September 2015, 08:00 PM
Notchy Bob
I have never owned an Opinel, although I am familiar with them. I understand they typically have good steel, and they are a simple and practical design.

However, the design may not be as old as you might think. This website, Opinel History tells the full story, but in a nutshell, the basic knife dates to 1890, and the rotating locking mechanism, the "Virobloc," was invented in 1955.

For what it's worth...

Notchy Bob

"Should have kept the old ways just as much as I could, and the tradition that guarded us. Should have rode horses. Kept dogs."

from The Antelope Wife
01 October 2015, 02:49 PM
Notchy I've owned a box load of way more expensive knives but over the years consistency has always gone with the Opinels. Sharpen easy, hold the edge well, simple design with no bells or whistles. And cheap imports from China end up twice the price of an Opie. Carried on for 30 years before passing it down to a young friend(15). Gives me a good excuse to buy a new one hahaha
02 October 2015, 10:02 AM
Opinel's are good cheap knives. I got my twin boys Opinels when we were camping in he Adirondacks when they were 9 or 10 about 15 years ago.
I was never imprssed with the quality of the steel. I'm a woodcarver (since '73), carried knives since 1958 and am very particular.
The Mora's laminated steel lades are excellent for a few dollars more and I still use them almost daily. Doubt the laminated blades are period correct especially for the backwoods. Mora does make regular carbon blades.
Check out Ragweed Forge for the best pricing.
19 May 2016, 05:02 AM
Three Hawks
I bought my first dozen Opinels from a boutiqe camping gear outlet that went out of business about 50 years ago.Then went back and bought the remainder of their stock the next day. I saved out two which I still have and use, all the others became Christmas and birthday gifts. I have had a knife on my person since my seventh birthday, and the Opinels are about the best of the lot, price be da**ed. Simple, easy to clean, the lock works, cheap, easily sharpened and hold the edge as long as they're not used to cut stone. I've field dressed half a dozen coast blacktail deer and cleaned about a metric million trout and crappie with the one I've carried for fifty years. The last one is rattling around in my HBC Cassette pining for a new owner. It'll get one when my will is decoded and translated.

Three Hawks
21 May 2016, 02:05 PM
Loyalist Dave
Well for what it's worth, here is an 18th century repro Penny Knife and here is the Openel No.5 Carbon which is sans locking ring, and here is a French Folding Knife, and finally an 18th century Folding Knife with other than the flare at the base of the handle, I'm not sure where Opinel's innovation was to call their pattern w/o the lock ring the "birth" of their knife design?

I think the different elements of the No.5 can all be found to exist in knives of that period, and if one really wished, while taking off the Opinel label, one could remove the flare at the butt as well.

Oh and here's a good article on clasp knives showing 18th century no spring, spring, and locking types as well as blade shapes...


This message has been edited. Last edited by: Loyalist Dave,

It's not what you know, it's what you can prove
18 January 2019, 12:22 PM
I have a carbon steel Opinel and I love it! The steel is excellent. It has developed a beautiful working patina and is practically rust proof, although I keep it oiled with sweet oil.
03 February 2019, 08:35 PM
Been using the Opinels about 10 years and like said before Good carbon steeL Very easy to sharpen and keep clean. I refinished the wood with truoil, better than their finish. Peashooterjoe

Keep your Watch and Powder dry..
04 February 2019, 11:01 AM
I have never even picked up an Opinel. Screw authenticity when there is a possibility the blade will close on my fingers. I didn't know it, but posts here indicate the ring rotates to provide a blade lock. Red Face That is good. I'll look for one to add to my collection/accumulation of knives. I think I have seen them at Walmart. Dunno if they are the real thing.
07 February 2019, 05:48 AM
Loyalist Dave
I'm not sure that a simple Case brand or Barlow brand folding knife with their slight tension on the blade when open and without a lock are that much more safe than the Opinel #5. Those style knives have been popular for more than a century at least. Granted a locking blade is safer, but I've had modern Case and Swiss Army pocket knives close on me when I did not want them to. Yet tens of thousands of them have been sold and continue to sell, as does the Opinel #5. You can always opt for a repro knife with tension on the blade "gentleman's knife"


It's not what you know, it's what you can prove
31 May 2019, 03:28 PM
I have two Opinel knives, one I picked up over 30 years ago for $4. They are one of those approximate old timey kinda sorta styles that are cheap as heck and actually of decent quality.

02 March 2020, 06:44 PM
I just got one from Amazon, a little more than $4 though. Mark
06 July 2020, 01:46 PM
I have carried an Opinel "Garden Knife" as my pocket knife for several years now. I LOVE it.

Basically, there is NOTHING readily available today that really resembles any kind of 18th century folding knife. Boy, have I looked. Sure, a handful of knifesmiths are making good Barlow type folding knives (NOT the familiar bag-shaped handle varieties, which came about around the middle of the 19th century), but they ain't cheap, being as a folding knife is far more complicated to make than a straight knife. There are also cheap Pakistani made versions of the so-called "soldier's knife", and these can look ok, but they're pretty crummy.

So, nothing really looks like an 18th century knife, but in a purely practical sense, a big single blade barlow knife of modern design does the same thing as any common spring-back folding knife of the 18th century. An Opinel, functionally speaking, does the job of the typical French friction folder of the 18th century (well, if you don't use the ring lock, that is.. Big Grin ).

Folding knives is somewhere where most of us simply HAVE to compromise on historical accuracy, since there is nothing available/affordable that is accurate.
06 July 2020, 04:30 PM
I have a knife of a design known as a "flipper". It's supposedly quite an old design.It would fit the into the friction folder category. Nowadays the one I have is made by Svord from New Zealand. They call it a "peasant"..does anyone know how old this design is?

Beer is proof that God loves us,and wants us to be happy-B. Franklin
06 July 2020, 07:28 PM
The Svord knife is not quite so historical as they claim. Well, it is...sort of. I have a photo of a German folding knife (all metal) that is supposed to be 1500's, as I recall, that has a fairly long "tang" that you would use to flip out the blade. But it's the only thing like it I have ever seen, and other than the purely mechanical aspect of it, it doesn't really resemble the Svord knife. (I have a couple of the Svord knives, and they're actually pretty large and ungainly. This type of knife is mostly intended for places like dreary olde England, where it is illegal to carry any kind of knife with any kind of locking blade. That even means an ordinary spring-back folding knife. This is a way around that.)

The French in the 18th century were producing enormous numbers of plain friction folding knives. Sold in Canada and traded with Indians and are found archaeologically everywhere the French ever were. These have a little extended tab (which acts as a blade stop when the knife is open), which one may be able to sort of flip open with their thumb. I've never handled one, so I don't know how well that would work. They are pretty cool, are super simple, and were made with all kinds of blade shapes. A few knife smiths are making these now. As an American colonial, I don't know that you would be likely to have one, but if you had any contact with the French or French allied Indians, you would definitely have run across them.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: Stophel,
07 July 2020, 11:34 AM
Thanks for the info, I have one of these for everyday use, and like it a lot.

Beer is proof that God loves us,and wants us to be happy-B. Franklin
11 July 2020, 05:26 AM
The nasty scar on my right forefinger (trigger finger) from using a non locking folding knife back in my teens has led me away from historical folders! Eeker