In this article, we'll explore the history of Opinel pocket knives, the various sizes that are available, and in particular, how to choose a knife based on its intended uses and the size of your hand.

Extremely functional and easy to carry, the Opinel is the quintessential French pocket knife. Over the years, it has been sold in several versions and sizes, all the while remaining true to its original, unique, and timeless design.


The history of Opinel pocket knives: from N°01 to N°13...

In 1890, Joseph Opinel made the very first Opinel knife. Originally, the knife came in only one size. But in 1897, Joseph decided to make his small pocket knife in 12 different sizes (N°01 to N°12). His goal was to offer knives that were suitable for both small and large hands, as well as various different uses. In around 1935, the production of Opinel knives N°01 and N°11 was halted due to poor sales. The N°01 was considered too small, while the N°11 offered little in the way of advantages compared to N°10 and N°12.

In the 1970s, the Opinel factory made extremely large knives for the displays of shop windows. Quickly, however, these decorations became a hit amongst the public. The company, therefore, decided to add them to the collection and manufacture them in large quantities for consumers. Knife N°13 (the "Giant" knife), measuring 50 cm in length with the blade open, was born.

Discover the complete history of the brand.

Presentation of Opinel pocket knives

Today, the Opinel knife comes in 11 different sizes, from N°02 to N°13. They are made with stainless steel or carbon steel blades, and handles in several types of wood and colors. 

Couteau de poche Opinel taille lame inox carbone


Discover our pocket knives with a carbon steel blade here.

Choosing a pocket knife based on hand size and intended uses

The two most important criteria when choosing a pocket knife are comfort and functionality. 

The N°08 pocket knife is the brand's iconic knife. Functional and versatile, it is suitable for many different uses and all hand sizes. 

Couteau de poche Opinel taille manche

The N°09 and N°10 pocket knives are perfect for people with large hands. The N°12 may also be suitable as it is made with a larger handle.
The N°08, N°09, N°10, and N°12 pocket knives are ideal for frequent use and everyday tasks such as DIY, cooking, and gardening. Thanks to their large size, these knives are easier to hold and maneuver.
For smaller hands, we recommend the N°06 and N°07 pocket knives. These knives are made with small handles and take up very little space. They are perfect for the occasional task, such as DIY.
The N°13 knife is really too big to carry around. However, it can be used for barbecues or as a decoration in the kitchen.
For children, we offer two pocket knives designed especially for their little hands:  the N°07 Mon Premier Opinel and the N°07 Outdoor Junior.

The small N°02 and N°04 pocket knives are also made as key rings. They can be attached to the keys of your home or car, and are useful for occasional small tasks such as opening the mail.

Now you know how to choose a pocket knife that will meet all your needs and fit perfectly in your hand!

Photos credits: Thierry Vallier, Aurélie Jeannette