Many children today are deprived the opportunity to learn how to handle a knife safely. This folding Opinel with a locking blade, rounded tip and affordable price provides a way for adults to assist younger users to safely learn correct knife handling techniques.
It is reckoned that an Opinel knife is sold every ten seconds. Their keen pricing has a lot to do with that. In addition, they are simple and reliable tools. Three Points of the Compass has looked before at the smaller knives offered by this French knife maker. Some of those are ideal cheap tools for backpacking and camping trips. The No.07 Mon Premier Opinel, or My First Opinel is a slightly larger tool that still, mostly, complies with UK knife law. The locking ‘Virobloc’ on My First Opinel can be easily removed (and replaced) if necessary. This removal then makes the knife compliant with UK knife law. Sadly, it also makes it less safe to use as there is then a risk of the blade closing on the fingers while the knife is in use.
The No.07 My First Opinel shown here comes with just five parts- a stainless steel blade, haft (handle), fixed ferrule, through which a rivet is passed, and a rotating locking ring called a Virobloc. The Virobloc was introduced by Opinel in 1955 and adapted in the ’90’s. It fulfills two functions, it locks the blade in the closed position, or can lock it in the open position.
There is little to go wrong with this simple tool though the beech wood can swell if wet and jam the blade closed until it dries out and can be freed off. The stainless steel blade resists corrosion and comes very sharp from new. The metal used for the blade is a modified Sandvik 12C27 stainless steel that has had chrome added to resist rusting. This does have a little carbon content of at least 0.40% which helps provide a great cutting edge. The blade hardness is 57-58 HRC. The rounded tip is similar to that found on some ‘children’s’ knives available from other manufacturers such as My First Victorinox and DofE Pocket Tool. This rounded tip reduces the chance of accidental, or even on purpose, risk of stabbing or jabbing with a piercing point. The blade is only 1.55mm in thickness across the spine and is easily opened by using the nail nick in the blade, it then remains open under friction until the Virobloc is turned and locks it.
|Length when closed||Width (the fishtail on each knife exaggerates this dimension)||Depth of handle||Blade length||Blade thickness||Weight|
|No.7 My First Opinel||100mm||25mm||19.5mm||74mm||1.55mm||27.7g|
Obviously the most notable feature about this knife is the round ended blunt tip to the blade. Intended to aid safe use by young people, this feature also makes this an excellent kitchen or food preparation item while on trail and when camping. The classic ‘butter blade’ is perfect for spreading peanut butter and the like. The sharp edge will cut salami, cheese and fruit with ease, the only thing you cannot do, is pierce a foodstuff.
Three Points of the Compass does like the smaller Opinels for backpacking use, however the larger handle found on the No.07 My First Opinel is reassuringly comfortable in the hand and not fiddly in the slightest. My hand is quite large, but by choking up on the blade I can fully grasp the handle. Some users will alter the handle shape, sanding the fishtail away and revarnishing afterward, but that feature does orientate the handle fairly well and can also, with practice, be used to open the blade with a sharp coup de savoyard
Opinel do also make some variants on this blunt ended knife, nothing too dramatic- a few different colours and finishes on the handles. There is also a rather nice slip case for it but it then begins to move out of the ‘cheap ‘n’ cheerful’ bracket.
No.07 My First Opinel is an extremely affordable introduction to knives. Despite it’s low price, it is a well made if simple design. There are better steels, better handles, better locks for that matter, on other knives, but this Opinel option is a perfectly acceptible knife for use on trail, for older as well as younger users. For those seeking a conventional tip to their blades, other offerings from the Opinel stable may be more to their liking.
Three Points of the Compass has looked at quite a few knives and multi-tools that may, or may not, be suitable for backpacking, day treks or Every Day Carry. Links to these, including the two Victorinox ‘children’s’ knives shown below, can be found here.