The Best Kukri Machete
The Kukri machete, or the kukhuri as it is known in Nepalese, is a unique blade that originated in the Himalayas as both a farming tool and an implement of war. The sharply inward curve of the blade, which leaves the edge of the blade at a nearly 90-degree angle to your hand, differentiates this tool from a traditional machete and offers numerous advantages in combat and for cutting your way through a jungle or forest. For this reason, it is a preferred blade among Preppers as an alternative or supplement to a traditional Bowie knife. Check out some of the best Kukri blades available today - including the famous Kukri House blade!
The History of the Kukri Machete
The shape of the Kukri is unmistakable and clearly unique from the traditional straight machete. The blade is bowed sharply inward just above the handle, although the angle of the bow varies between different styles of the blade, and the tip of the blade features a gentle recurve. The shape of the blade makes them especially useful for chopping – they were originally used for chopping wood and cutting through dense jungle as much as for combat – although there are also a number of traditional Kukris that are overly large and designed primarily for ceremonial purposes.
Besides its shape, what sets the Kukri apart from other machetes is its durability. As Nepalese myth would have it, the Kukri blade has never been broken during combat – and modern Kukris are nearly as durable since the blade itself is typically made from high-carbon spring steel and can be as much as a quarter-inch thick in particularly heavy styles. Kukri blades also usually include fullers that help reduce the weight of the blade, making it easier to wield in combat, without compromising the structural integrity of the knife.
The largest difference among modern Kukris is the length of the blade – the length of Kukri largely determines its best use. Short blades, less than about 12 inches in length, are the easiest to wield in hand-to-hand combat as a self-defense tool because they are lightweight and easy to maneuver. Kukris longer than 12 inches can be used for combat, but they are much better for bringing an overwhelming amount of force in a single blow than for dexterous movement of the knife edge. If you are primarily in need of a machete for chopping wood or clearing a path through a densely forested area, the longer a Kukri blade you can confidently handle the better – more blade will allow you to clear a greater area in less time.
Of course, Kukris also vary in aesthetics and comfort. The handle is a major point of differentiation, since some modern Kukris use a traditional wooden handle while others incorporate Kraton rubber. In addition, preppers in particular might appreciate that some Kukris are designed with a small sawing face on the back of the blade, which can allow the machete to perform double duty when used for chopping wood. Finding the right Kukri requires not only planning for what you’ll primarily use it for, but also ensuring that it feels comfortable and balanced in your hand.
Kukri Machete Reviews
GKH Nepal Authentic Gurkha Knife (Kukri House)
This Kukri blade from the renowned Kukri House blade makers is designed to mirror the traditional Gurkha combat knife used by the Gurkha detachments of the British Army during World War II. In addition to carrying tradition, this blade carries a huge amount of force for combat. The 12” blade is made from high carbon spring steel and is 3/8” thick, rendering it nearly unbreakable as the Gurkha blades are known for. The relatively short length of the knife makes it best for use in combat – while it can hold its own in chopping wood, cutting through any sizable amount of wood will take a significantly long time.
The handle of the blade is 5.5” long and made of carved rosewood, which not only provides comfort but also adds to the aesthetics of the blade. The downside to the polished wood is that it can be relatively slippery if your hands sweat, although there is a lanyard hole so that you can strap the knife to your wrist for stability.
The blade comes with not only a sheath, but also two smaller knives known as the Karda – a sharp knife – and the Chakmak – a blunt blade that have their own pouches within the sheath for safekeeping. Note, however, that carrying these additional blades will add weight without adding a huge amount of utility.
For the modest price, this Kukri from Cold Steel packs a significant amount of power and is one of the more durable blades on the market. Like most Kukris, the blade is constructed from high carbon spring steel and the 2.8 mm blade thickness, combined with the slightly long 13” edge length, provides a nice balance to the blade. More important, the length allows the blade to distribute impact force along its edge more evenly so that it does not get notched as much as shorter, thinner blades. The longer blade and stability make this blade ideal as a compromise between combat and chopping wood, although it will not excel at either as more purpose-specific blades would.
The main downside to this Kukri is the handle, which is made of polypropylene and can become quite slippery when your hand gets sweaty and cause blistering. The handle can be wrapped at the end to tie a lanyard to add stability (through the hole). On the plus, the handle does do an excellent job of dampening vibrations so that your hand won’t tire quickly when chopping wood in a survival situation.
The blade comes with a high-quality sheath, which is an added bonus for Kukris in this price range.
This Ontario knife rivals the Ka-Bar 2-1249-9 as the best Kukri for the money. Like the Ka-Bar blade, this Kukri is 12” in length and 3/16” thick along the spine, and both are made of high carbon spring steel. The Ontario knife carries a slight edge in combat thanks to the slightly more exaggerated curvature of the blade, which contributes to an overall more balanced knife when wielding it. This is especially helpful when fighting because it means that you can make multiple cuts in rapid succession, which is difficult with a blade that is even slightly out of balance.
When it comes to chopping wood, the Ontario Kukri is much better than most other Kukris in this price range, but falls slightly behind the Ka-Bar because the thickness of the spine does not taper to the tip as it does on the Ka-Bar blade. However, this same disadvantage turns to an advantage when splitting firewood, since the extra thickness at the tip of the blade will protect it from notching or catching on the wood.
The only detail that Ontario missed with this knife is the sheath, which is hardly as durable as the Kukri itself and will likely need to be replaced over the course of the knife’s lifespan.
This Kukri knife from Ka-Bar is designed specifically for combat, bearing the shortest blade length of any Kukri in our review at only 8.5”. The blade is made of epoxy powder-coated 1095 cro-van steel, a style of blade steel found more frequently on Bowie knives than on Kukri knives. The spine is 3/16”, on par with the thick and durable Kukris used for chopping, so you can be sure that it will stand up to a beating in combat. However, this thickness also makes the blade relatively heavy for its size at nearly one pound.
The small size that is unique to this Kukri also confers several other advantages. First, the blade is small enough that, even within the sheath, it could be concealed inside a jacket or pack. Second, there are no balance issues as are prominent on longer blades, and the Kukri can be sliced back and forth in rapid succession in combat. Overall, the curved design of the Kukri and the small size of this blade makes it a great alternative to a Bowie knife with the added ability to use it for small chopping jobs, similar to those you would use a hatchet for, in a survival situation.
The handle on this Kukri is both modern and as high-quality as the rest of the blade, constructed from Kraton G to prevent your hand from slipping. The blade also comes with a polyester sheath that does not have any durability issues.
This Kukri blade from Ka-Bar takes its overall design from the traditional Kukri, but makes a few significant changes that make it lighter. The blade is 11.5” in length and made from 1085 steel rather, while the spine of the blade is only 3/16” thick.
If you are looking to cut through more pliable plants like large weeds, the blade performs admirably – and of course the short length and light weight make it exceptionally dangerous as a combat knife.
The handle on this knife is made from Kraton G, which provides a relatively strong grip even in sweaty conditions and is easy to wield without getting blisters. The sheath that comes with this knife is one of its best features. Made from Cordura nylon, the sheath is at least as durable as the knife itself and offers numerous possible carry positions thanks to the multiple attachment points.
The 1085 steel is not coated and is far more prone to rust than the steel found in other Kukri blades. In addition, taken together, these blade specifications mean that the edge is not nearly as durable as the thick Gurkha-style knives and will notch far more easily if it is used for heavy-duty work like chopping wood.
This inexpensive Kukri from SOG is a great introductory blade to find out if the Kukri style is for you, but don’t expect the same lifespan from this blade that you would from a more expensive traditional Gurkha knife. At 12” long, this blade is an exceptionally lightweight 15 ounces – the trade-off being that the spine of the blade is only 1/8” thick and the blade is constructed from relatively fragile 3CR13 high carbon steel. While the blade is perfect for self-defense because of the swift slashing movements you can make, it is relatively useless as a machete unless you are willing to risk severely notching the tip of the blade.
One advantage to this blade, particularly for survival situations, is the saw blade constructed into the spine of the knife. This somewhat makes up for the lack of chopping utility since you can saw your way through small pieces of wood – although this takes significantly longer than simply chopping with a more powerful Kukri or machete.
The handle on this Kukri is made from Kraton G, which holds its grip well even when wet with sweat. In addition, there is a lanyard hole on the handle so you can wrap your wrist for even more stability. The sheath that comes with the knife is of okay quality – it will last for the lifetime of this knife, but not as long as a more durable Kukri.
This inexpensive Kukri from Schrade is long enough for use as a true machete, in contrast to many of the shorter Kukris that are designed primarily for combat or as a compromise between purposes. At 13.3” long, the 3CR13 carbon steel blade remains a relatively light 23 ounces, in part thanks to holes drilled in the blade along its center to help with balance. However, a major disadvantage to this blade is that the spine is only 1/8” thick, which compromises the strength and durability of the blade when being used for heavy-duty chopping. That said, the cost of the knife is low enough that replacing it is not a significant issue if it is damaged from chopping wood or bone.
The handle on this knife is made from Safe-T-Grip, a relatively sticky material that provides a firm grip without slipping. However, even in the case that your hand does slip, the first 1.5” of the blade is dull and not meant as a cutting surface, so you have some measure of safety. The handle also has a lanyard hole so you can wrap your wrist for security.
The blade comes with a nylon sheath, which will last at least as long as the knife but is otherwise not particularly durable itself. It also comes with a ferro rod and striker plate, which is helpful if you need to use this knife in a survival situation.
The Kukri Machete is GREAT for Preppers!
The traditional Nepalese Kukri blade has seen a resurgence among preppers thanks to its ability to be used as both a combat weapon and an essential survival tool. While there are short and light versions of Kukri blades available, the best blades are those with a thick, durable construction and good balance throughout the blade so that you can use it for the widest possible variety of tasks. These seven Kukris fall across a range of purposes and constructions so that you can begin to find the Kukri that works best for you.