Opinel make some fine knives. They’ve been making knives in a similar style to this one for years, mostly wooden-handled, and mostly described as ‘peasant knives’. They’re the kind of knife that the middle aged Frenchman would have in his pocket as he strolls around his grandfathers’ estate, walking the dogs, checking fences and peeling apples in the dappled autumn sunshine.
I like them. They’re a timeless simple design, they’re well made, and they come in a variety of sizes and blade shapes to suit every need. And then, somewhat strangely, Opinel have decided to make this thing, which has a plastic handle, wire stripping notches on the blade, and two screwdriver bits – one Phillips and one slot.
The plastic handle I’m fine with – it takes this knife from being a cherished thing to pass on to your firstborn when they reach twelve, to being more of a utilitarian tool. A little less special and a little more robust. The sort of thing you’d happily chuck in your toolbox and use when you needed something more sturdy than a Stanley knife.
So what’s with the screwdriver bits? If it’s in my toolbox, so are my screwdrivers. If it’s for carrying around my country estate, for starters it’s not very special, and where are these screws that might need tightening up? I’m really not sure who this knife is for.
Like all Opinel knives, there’s a ring at the hinge end of the handle, which is rotated to lock the blade in both open and closed positions. It’s not going to open in your pocket. It’s not going to close unexpectedly on your fingers while you’re using it. It’s a simple, proven and effective method. It’s also illegal to carry in the UK without good reason, so be careful where you take it.
The blade is a fine stainless steel, at a useful 7.5cm, or 3 inch length (6cm/2.5 inches sharp length). It had a small wire burr on the edge when new, but two strokes up a steel and it was good.
I really, really like Opinel knives. They come in all sorts of sizes and blade types, and there is one out there to suit you perfectly. This particular Opinel knife I feel doesn’t really suit anyone at all, unless they happen to be fixing computers in an orchard. It’s not a DIY tool. It’s not a special cherished pocket knife. I don’t get it.
However, here are the details:
The screwdriver bits are surprisingly well retained. They don’t come out of their slot casually, and I don’t think they’ll get lost. They don’t even make the handle feel uncomfortable to use. They slot nicely into the magnetised hex socket at the base of the knife.
I don’t think the plastic socket is going to stand up to heavy use though, and I suspect the socket may become loose over time.
The blade is lovely. It’s solid, a good size, and a useful shape. The handle feels rugged and will last well, and the blade locking ring mechanism has been tried and tested for years. The ring feels a little stiff when new, but I think it’ll loosen up a little bit with use.
By all means, buy an Opinel knife. I just don’t know why you’d want to buy this particular one.