In 1890 Joseph Opinel was toiling in his workshop in the foothills of the French Alps when he debuted the Opinel pocket knife. Since then, not much has changed. The Opinel company now employs more than 150 employees who manufacture more than 5 million of these now iconic knives per year.

Opinel No. 8 The original size pocket knife.

The Opinel No. 8 is the original size of the knife with a 3.28" blade made of Swedish Sandvik 12C27 . This stainless steel includes added carbon which gives it an excellent combination of resistance to rust while still allowing the blade to be easily sharpened. The knife also uses the Opinel created "virobloc" safety ring that when you rotate it locks the blade into the open position. When closed, the virobloc keeps the blade safely stored within the knife handle without fear of accidental deployment.

The Opinel is incredibly light at just over an ounce and a half due to the varnished beech wood handle. This wooden handle is also what gives the Opinel its distinctive look and feel. While the Opinel No. 8 is the original size, it does comes in a variety of blade lengths each designated by a different number.

Number Blade Length Overall Length
Opinel No. 6 2.87" 6.5"
Opinel No. 7 3.07" 6.99"
Opinel No. 8 3.28" 7.59"
Opinel No. 9 3.51" 8.18"
Opinel No. 10 3.92" 9"
Opinel No. 12 4.82" 11.04"

Unsure of which one to get? We generally recommend the original size of the N0. 8. It's the perfect balance of size and utility. Having a three and a quarter inch blade is very useful, and with the ultralight weight, you won't even know it's in your pocket.

Opinel No. 8
Blade 3.25"
Length closed 4.25"
Weight 1.6 oz.
Blade material Sandvik 12C27
Handle material Beechwood
Locking ✔ Lock ring
Made in France
Price $17
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While the Opinel No. 8 is an iconic French pocket knife and relatively inexpensive to boot, it's not the only traditional knife that you can carry. Let's take a look at some amazing alternatives to the Opinel No. 8 pocket knife.

Mercator K55 Black Cat

What better alternative to the classic French knife than one from neighboring Germany? The Mercator K55 Black Cat was invented in 1867 and has remained pretty much the same since then. This German-made pocket knife comes with either a high carbon steel or stainless steel blade. The K55 is an all metal lock back knife. The handle is a single, folded piece of steel and unlike the Opinel is one of the slimmest pocket knives you can buy. In fact, while blade shapes are similar, the thickness of the K55 Black Cat when compared to the Opinel No. 8 is very noticeable. So while the Opinel is mostly wood, when closed, the K55 is 100% steel. The lock back mechanism is strong and keeps the blade locked open until you press the lock to release the blade.

Mercator K55: Made in Germany since 1867.

The 3.5" drop point blade is a classic profile and when closed the knife measures 4.25" in overall length. All K55s display the etched black cat logo that is filled in with gold paint. The Germans know how to make great knives and the K55 Black Cat is no exception and a worthy alternative to the French Opinel.

Mercator K55 Black Cat
Blade 3.5"
Length closed 4.25"
Weight 7.75 oz.
Blade material Carbon steel or stainless
Handle material Stainless steel
Locking ✔ Lock Back
Made in Solingen, Germany
Price $30
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Buck 110

Crossing the pond to the good old USA, we find the ubiquitous Buck 110. This is the iconic American pocket knife. The knife was created by Al Buck in 1963 and features a 3.75" blade. Unlike the Opinel No. 8, the Buck 110 locks open with a rear mounted flush locking lever. Pushing down on the lever will allow you to close the knife.

Buck 110: An American classic since 1963.

The Buck 110 is thin compared to the Opinel No. 8 but weighs a lot more. However, unlike the all wood Opinel, the Buck 110 comes in a variety of handle materials with the classic being brass and ebony wood. Built to last a lifetime, many of these Buck 110s are handed down from father to son over the generations. While more expensive than the Opinel No. 8, the Buck 110 is probably one of the prettiest and classiest knives you can own.

Buck 110 Folding Hunter
Blade 3.75"
Length closed 4 7/8"
Weight 7.2 oz.
Blade material 420HC stainless
Handle material Ebony / brass
Locking ✔ Lock back
Made in USA
Price $50
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Buck 110 Folding Hunter LT

A modern alternative to both the wooden handle Opinel and brass and wood Buck 110, is the Buck 110 Light Weight (LT). The Buck LT replaces wood and brass with modern, indestructible nylon. The blade is the same Buck 3.75" blade in 420HC stainless steel. But the nylon handle greatly reduces the weight and arguably may even last longer.

Buck 110 LT: The 21st Century Buck.

If you like the Buck 110 but want to save weight or freshen up the look of this classic then then Buck 110 LT is a better alternative. It is also costs less than the original Buck 110.

Buck 110 LT
Blade 3.75"
Length closed 4 7/8"
Weight 3.2 oz.
Blade material 420HC stainless
Handle material Nylon
Locking ✔ Lock back
Made in USA
Price $32
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CASE Hammerhead

Another American classic pocket knife is the Case Hammerhead made by the Case Knife Company in Pennsylvania. The 3.5" blade is made of stainless steel which, as the name suggests, means it's safe to use in wet environments without fear of rust. The Case Hammerhead also uses a brass and polymer handle with a rear mounted locking lever.

Case Hammerhead: Another American classic.

The Case Hammerhead is more expensive than the Opinel but is arguably more elegant with its polished brass rivets. Priced at $74, the Case Hammerhead is designed to give you years of service.

CASE Hammerhead
Blade 3.5"
Length closed 5"
Weight 9.5 oz.
Blade material Tru-Sharp
Handle material Polymer
Locking ✔ Lock Back
Made in USA
Price $74
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Victorinox Swiss Army One-Hand Sentinel

From Victorinox comes the famous Swiss Army line of pocket knives. While most Swiss Army knifes contain a multitude of tools, the Sentinel only holds a single blade. The 3" blade comes in both plain and serrated versions and is opened using a generous thumb hole. In fact, unlike the Opinel, the Victorinox Sentinel can be opened one handed. (Correction: Victorinox could not resist adding a few "extras" and in the hard polymer handle you will find a pair of tweezers and a tooth pick!)

Victorinox Sentinel: The blade only Swiss Army knife.

The Sentinel uses a liner mounted lock that you push out of the way to close the knife. This keeps the blade positively open until you disengage the lock. Made in Switzerland, the Sentinel is a solid knife that is at home both in the city opening boxes and mail as well as the countryside sawing through wood and branches.

Victorinox Sentinel
Blade 3.2"
Length closed 4.375"
Weight 2.6 oz.
Blade material Swiss stainless
Handle material Polymer
Locking ✔ Liner lock
Made in Switzerland
Price $35
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SOG Traction EDC

The SOG Traction EDC is the most tactical looking lock back knife on this list and some would say the polar opposite of the traditional Opinel No. 8. Like most tactical knives, the SOG Traction has a thumb stud mounted on the blade to allow one handed opening. One nice feature of the SOG Traction is that it is available in both a clip point or tanto style profile. Both blade versions are 3.5" in length. The Traction uses lightweight glass-reinforced nylon to construct the two piece handle which gives it both durability and lightness.

SOG Traction: A tactical lock back knife.

The styling of the Traction is completely different from the wooden Opinel and represents the most modern version of the traditional lock back pocket knife.

SOG Traction
Blade 3.5"
Length closed 4.2"
Weight 2.3 oz.
Blade material 5Cr13MoV
Handle material GRN
Locking ✔ Lock Back
Made in China
Price $27
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Cold Steel Lucky One Gentleman's Pocket Knife

This last alternative is the smallest on the list. Made by Cold Steel, the Lucky One is an elegant version of the classic gentleman's knife. Constructed from carbon fiber scales, it deploys a 2.6" blade made from premium CPM-S35VN steel. The knife uses a traditional slip joint so there is no lever to push or ring to turn to open or close the blade. One advantage of this construction is that the Lucky One weighs less than one ounce, which is lighter than even the Opinel No. 8.

Cold Steel: Gentleman's knife with high tech finishes. 

If you need a small, go anywhere slip joint, but prefer the more modern materials of premium steel and carbon fiber, the Lucky One may just be what punches your ticket. It's also made in Italy which explains why the Lucky One exudes pure class.

Cold Steel Lucky One
Blade 2.625"
Length closed 3.25"
Weight 0.9 oz.
Blade material CPM-S35VN
Handle material Carbon fiber
Locking ✘ Slipjoint
Made in Italy
Price $68
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The Opinel No. 8 is a highly recognizable knife with a classic design. However, it is not for everyone. But as you can see from this list there are plenty of amazing alternatives if you want a traditional pocketknife that is built to last a lifetime.

What do you think? Did we miss a great alternative or one of your favorites? Please let us know by leaving a comment below.