Ever since its arrival, the Opinel No. 6 has been a mainstay of our Everyday Carry. We’ve opened it, closed it, and turned it over in our palms far more times than were necessary. Through nights on the town and hikes in the wilderness, it’s displayed a trait so seldom seen that it’s often forgotten – friendliness. But beyond its winning attitude, this little knife packs some serious credentials. Here’s how it stacked up in our four categories.
First impressions mean a lot, and the Opinel No. 6 makes a good one. Out of the box, it may be the most beautiful knife we’ve ever encountered. That’s not an adjective we’d normally pair with a pocket cutting tool, but it fits. This comes largely due to the non-tactical nature of the Opinel. It’s not designed to serve in a police or military capacity, as demonstrated by its simple lock and beechwood handle.
Its thin blade is crafted from carbon steel (thus the name “Carbone”), allowing it to take and hold a sharper edge than you’d get from a similarly priced stainless folder. The classic shape and long cutting belly should provide a knife that’s just as capable as it is gorgeous. And before you ask, the answer is “Yes” – This knife will absolutely rust if you don’t take care of it. But with a quick wipe after use and an occasional application of cleaning oil, you should be able to avoid any such issues. The carbon construction also means that this knife will acquire a unique patina with regular use. For us, that’s a huge plus in the Form department.
Moving down the body, we come to the locking collar. Known in Opinel literature as the “Virobloc”, this shiny metal ring bears the stamps “N 06” and “Made in France” on its rotating surface. We also believe this portion of the knife to be carbon steel, so be sure to hit it with an occasional oiling.
The varnished beechwood handle perfectly complements the elegance of the blade. The brand name and origin are again printed here, though we suspect the paint will wear after enough time in the hand or pocket. It’s got a nice grain, and we’re interested to see how it will age.
Let’s talk size for a moment. Closed, the knife measures just 3 5/8”. With a blade length of 2 14/16”, that brings its overall open span to 6 ½”. The Opinel No. 6 is also the smallest version of the popular knife to bear the Virobloc collar. Even with this option, it weighs in at an astonishingly low 1.2 ounces. All of these factors make it an incredibly comfortable knife to carry.
5 stars out of 5
Alright, we know it’s a looker. But how does it perform as a tool?
After our initial ogling was complete, the second thing we noticed about the Opinel was how sharp it was. It shaved off several lengths of paper without the slightest hesitation, giving us a healthy respect for its keen edge. As such, we haven’t had occasion to run it through the sharpener. We’ll report back once that’s come about. For now, the No. 6 is a first rate slicer.
The operation of the Virobloc collar is simple and straightforward – Rotate the metal ring until the gap lines up with the blade, open the knife, and spin the collar so that the gap moves past the point of closure. After the blade is closed, the ring can be rotated back to keep it from opening in your pocket. Overall, it’s an effective way to keep the cutting edge in place. We wouldn’t trust it to hold up under heavy pressure, but that’s not really what this knife was designed for.
Most of the Opinel No. 6’s life will be spent either in the pocket of a pair of dress pants or in a belt sheath on a trek through the wilderness. And while equally at home in both locations, one of our favorite qualities of this knife is its nonthreatening appearance. It is very obviously not a tactical tool. As such, it shouldn’t draw stiff looks or raised eyebrows when deployed at a formal dinner or office party. While this is largely a question of form, it also speaks to the knife’s function. You’re not limited to the trees or trail while carrying this knife. Because of its classic design and warm materials, it can serve its purpose in places where other knives would cause discomfort or unwanted attention. If anything, the Opinel No. 6 could prove as an effective conversation starter.
One last thing on function. While we’ve addressed it obliquely, allow us to state the obvious – This is not a heavy duty knife. It’s not going to stand up to the hardships required of a ruggedly designed tool. But for food prep, office work, or other tasks requiring minimal effort and a razor edge, the Opinel No. 6 will be a worthy and classy companion.
4.5 stars out of 5
Our Opinel No. 6 will be carried more often than not. On work days, it will rest in an organizer or sheath as part of our EDC pack. On evenings and weekends, it will ride in a belt sheath or in the pocket of a pair of khakis. This is a testament to the wonderful, accessible nature of the Opinel. It’s such an attractive little knife that one can’t help but enjoy its company.
As mentioned, these knives are known for their tendency to acquire a unique patina. There are folks who try to speed up the process with lemon juice, mustard, or other substances. Frankly, we don’t see the point when regular use will serve the same function. And isn’t that more fun than spreading food products across your blade?
5 stars out of 5
If you’re not looking for a knife with tactical features, Opinel makes the most attractive bargain blades in the business. We paid less than $12 for ours, and it’s one of the best deals we’ve come across. Unlike other cheap or faux luxury items, this knife provides genuine tradition and old world credibility. No one is going to look down on your Opinel as a knock off. Those that do so obviously prize cost above utility, a state which we find hard to justify. There are times when paying more gets you more. In the case of the Opinel No. 6, you pay a little for exactly what you need.
5 stars out of 5
Available in a wide range of sizes (Such as the popular Opinel No. 8)
X90 Carbon Steel construction (Stainless steel available)
Where to Buy
Amazon (Averaging 4.6 out of 5 Stars over 307 customer reviews as of 10/14/16)
Amazon w/ Leather Sheath (Averaging 4.5 out of 5 Stars over 55 customer reviews as of 10/14/16)
Opinel USA (Customization options available)