In June, we took a survey to learn which pocket knives our readers believe should never be discontinued. Respondents were asked to name as many or as few pocket knife models as they wanted, and no brands or blades were off-limits. 404 respondents named a total of 268 models and the average respondent named 4.1 pocket knives. 25 out of 404 respondents said the Opinel No. 8 should never be discontinued.
Company founder Joseph Opinel came from a line of blacksmiths, and in the late nineteenth century his family owned a small workshop in Gevoudaz, France. Opinel worked on a folding knife design in his spare time and by 1897, the standard Opinel knife line including the Opinel No. 8 had been more or less established. Over its 100+ year history, the Opinel No. 8 found its way into the hands of prominent people including Pablo Picasso, who used the knife for sculpting. But the knife isn’t just for the rich and famous. The simple construction and spare design makes the Opinel No. 8 an extremely affordable option that can be enjoyed by many. The Opinel No. 8 remains the de facto pocket knife of the French people.
The biggest change to the Opinel design during its long existence was the addition of the Virobloc lock in 1955. Invented by Joseph Opinel’s son Marcel, the Virobloc is a rotating collar around the pivot of the knife. It can be turned to lock the Opinel in either the open or the closed positions. It is a very simple, but surprisingly effective lock, and gives this lightweight, elegant knife additional strength. Perhaps this is why the Opinel No. 8 has become so popular with outdoorsmen and survivalists in recent years.
The number on an Opinel knife denotes the blade’s approximate size in centimeters. With a blade length of 3.25″, the Opinel No. 8 is by far the most popular model, available with either XC90 carbon or 12C27N stainless steel. The Opinel No. 8 Outdoor is a more modern variant, with polymer handles, a combination edge, and a safety whistle built into the handle. The traditional handle material for the No. 8 is beechwood, but there are other woods and materials available.
Visit KnifeNews tomorrow to find out which model is #18 on our list of the Top 25 Pocket Knives that are Indispensable.
Knife featured in image: Opinel No. 8
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