Are you on the hunt for a new Kukri Knife? If so, you’re in the right place.
The Nepalese Kukri Knife is one blade design that stands out for its versatility and unique profile.
It’s equal parts sword and chopping blade.
That’s why a quality Tactical Kukri Knife may be my new favorite blade option yet.
So, if you’re looking to add a larger blade to your survival gear – it’s time you learned more about the Kukri.
Today, we’ll be discussing the following topics:
- What Is A Kukri Knife Anyways?
- The Most Important Kukri Knife Features To Look For
- 7 Best Kukri Knives On The Market Today (with video reviews)
**Note: If you just want our top recommendations, feel free to SKIP AHEAD HERE.
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What Is A Kukri Knife Anyways?
The Kukri knife originated in northern India and Nepal, among the Gurkhas people. And while you may see the blades called Kukri, Khukri, or Kukkri, the actual original Nepali name is Khukuri.
Traditionally, a Kukri was used by ancient farmers and other laborers. But it has long been associated with:
- The Nepalese Army
- The Royal Gurkha Rifles of the British Army
- And all Gurkha soldiers serving around the world
In fact, the blade is so well-recognized many refer to the Kukri as a “Gurkha blade” or “Gurkha knife.”
Knife & Blade Design
The Kukri knife has a heavy blade with a distinct forward curve design. These unique features make it ideal for use in a chopping motion.
This forward curve moves the center of mass in line with (or even ahead of) the handle. This design allows for a remarkable momentum build-up and a better slicing power to carry through a target.
This design gives the Kukri a destructive ability superior to other similarly sized knives.
In utility situations, this results in better chopping action than even a machete. And in combat, it inflicts deep, fatal wounds and can even break bones.
It also decreases the wrist angle during the swing. This reduced wrist angle also helps to reduce fatigue and increase the stability of the user’s grip.
All these unique features are essential to why the Kukri is such a widely used tool today.
In addition to the forward curve of the blade, the Kukri features a “recurve” blade design. A recurve design starts with a narrow blade profile near the handle. And then it widens into a deep belly before tapering to the point.
This design forces the center of mass farther from the handle. Again, it further increases swing momentum and providing a more devastating blow.
Like other knives designed for chopping and heavy use, most Tactical Kukri’s are rock-solid in their design.
Now, most Kukri’s have a partial, hidden tang, but military models often feature a full tang. But a full tang design escalates both the weight and cost of the knife. However, it also boosts overall strength dramatically.
Now, there are significant local variations in size and blade thickness. However, in general, the blade is about 1/4″ thick at the handle and tapers out to the tip.
Knife lengths of 16″-18″ overall are typical for utility models. But ceremonial versions are often longer to accommodate decoration.
With such a sturdy build, the handle of a Kukri needs to provide a firm and secure grip to prevent slipping.
You’ll generally find traditional Kukri with handles carved from hardwood or water buffalo horn. But commercial versions use metal, rubber, or other modern synthetic material. These synthetic fabrics have more durability and attachment options.
Most Kukri’s feature a flared base to prevent the hand from slipping off the end. This safety flare is especially vital during heavy chopping or combat slicing cuts.
Many Kukri knives also feature metal bolsters that also provide additional durability, and a metal butt cap can act as a club or improvised hammer.
Military model sheaths are often MOLLE-compatible. MOLLE provides you the ability to add a wide range of small tools to the outside of the sheath.
It’s a nice bonus feature, depending on how you plan to carry your Kukri Knife.
Here’s an excellent video that goes into even more details and the history of the Kukri Knife:
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The Most Important Kukri Features To Look For
There are many features to keep an eye out for when buying a solid utility blade like a Kukri Knife.
Determining which of these features you prefer will help zero in on the right knife for your needs.
Kukri’s come in a range of blade angles, which has a dramatic effect on the handling of the knife.
A Kukri with a steeply angled spine (i.e., more “hooked”) will chop brush and thick items best. A straighter design is better suited for preparing food and other delicate tasks around camp.
A longer blade will swing with more momentum but is not as agile.
However, shorter models will suffer from weaker chopping performance. But it will be more maneuverable as a combat weapon.
Another factor affecting the swing and cutting force is the total weight of the blade. This factor can play a huge role in handling.
A heftier blade will swing more slowly, but with superior momentum.
A lighter blade can accelerate fast but has less momentum for chopping.
The choice of materials is one of the most central decisions in purchasing a knife. There are generally 2 blade material options in knife making: Stainless Steel Vs Carbon Steel.
Each of these materials has its benefits, so it’s worth considering both of them.
1 – Stainless Steel
Stainless steel contains a higher percentage of chromium and vanadium. This molecular structure makes it corrosion resistant. But, unfortunately, it also makes it less durable than other steel alloys.
And less durability translates into more chipping and breakage.
Also, stainless steel is a hard metal. And hard metals can hold a sharp edge well, but it’s trying to sharpen hard metals without specialized tools.
Overall, stainless steel is hard to recommend except for special situations.
So, unless corrosion is a more significant threat than other forms of damage, you should get a carbon steel blade.
2 – High Carbon Steel
Unlike stainless steel, high-carbon steel (as you can probably guess) contains a higher percentage of carbon. Carbon makes the steel very strong and durable.
On the other hand, it’s more susceptible to corrosion. So blade upkeep should include keeping it clean, dry, and lightly oiled after each use.
High carbon steel is also softer than stainless steel. Soft metals result in more blade edge maintenance. But, at the same time, you can achieve razor-sharp edges with any quality sharpening stone and some practice.
Despite this, the durability and ease of sharpening make high carbon steel the better choice for most.
This advice goes for most heavy-use blades, a Kukri being in that category as well.
Full Tang vs. Other Designs
A traditional Kukri uses a partial or stick tang. However, the full tang design is gaining popularity due to the increased durability.
In a full tang knife, the steel of the blade extends all the way through the handle at full thickness.
This extra thickness eliminates any weakness where the handle attaches to the blade. The result is a more robust connection and a more reliable tool.
In a chopping blade such as a Kukri, the thickness of the blade imparts both weight and durability.
Many Kukri blades are over 1/4″ thick at the spine – that’s very substantial blade thickness.
Here’s a quality video sharing all the benefits of carrying a Kukri for Wilderness Survival:
7 Best Kukri Knives On The Market Today
This Condor Kukri features a 10″ blade and a nearly 6″ handle. This blade is a little on the small side but well-constructed and made of quality materials.
It doesn’t arrive as sharp as possible, so be sure to have a good quality knife sharpening stone ready.
It weighs in at nearly 2lbs. So it does have a good bit of momentum, and the flared handle helps keep all that momentum under control!
- Uses quality high carbon steel
- Very compact for agile combat
- Includes a good leather sheath
- Wood handles can split in heavy use
- No metal bolsters or butt cap
It weighs in at just over 1lb, which means it would be a little light for chopping as well.
Several people have noted that the sheath isn’t the best, but it appears newer models are much improved.
- Suitable for kitchen chores (butchering, light chopping, etc.)
- Black finish helps with corrosion on the blade
- Sheath quality is lacking
- Older models have a welded tang; this is a possible source of cracking
No knife list can be truly complete without *something* from Ka-Bar.
This version of their combat knife is a specialized version of a tactical Kukri design.
At under 14″ long overall, it’s not a knife for clearing brush or cracking coconuts. Instead, its design is perfect for survival and combat, especially since it has an epoxy coated high carbon blade.
The shallow angle and lighter weight combine to make this a maneuverable blade as well.
Unfortunately, as with other blades on the market, the sheath doesn’t appear to fit too well for many people.
- Built for combat
- Good quality steel
- The epoxy coating helps reduce corrosion
- Poor quality sheath
- Not suitable for chopping
The EGKH WWI Kukri is on the high end of the knife price range. But it’s a recreation of an early model carried by Gurkha troops in Burma during WW1.
It is a very classic looking Kukri with a rosewood handle and traditional styling.
It also comes with a sheath containing an additional small knife (karda) and a sharpening tool (chakmak).
And, at over 1/3″ thick at the spine and nearly 2lbs, this is a BURLY build.
- Includes a quality sheath with additional tools
- Well-built and balanced
- Heavy for chopping
- Will need some regular care and maintenance
A more utility option, the CRKT KUK is an excellent option for a tool that will see hard use.
Unlike many Kukri models, the KUK has an extended drop point. This drop point makes it possible to do more precise work with the tip of the blade, but it also makes it slightly more prone to damage.
Now, the thermoplastic handle isn’t pretty (just saying). But it’s durable and provides an excellent grip, which wins in the end anyway.
- Good length
- Pointed tip for precise work
- Lightweight won’t chop well
- Quality control on factory sharpening isn’t great
The Condor K-Tact kukri is a solid knife in a 15″ length.
It’s sturdy enough for chopping and batoning, but still light enough that it’s not a burden in your hand or on your tactical belt.
The Micarta handles are grippy and corrosion-free, while the stainless butt cap is great for pounding in stakes (or cracking nuts and shells).
- Micarta, Kydex, and other corrosion-resistant materials
- Sharp from the factory
- Deep blade angle makes for efficient chopping
- Quality control on the sheath isn’t always great
The Cold Steel 97KMPS kukri is a steal at the price this was listed at when this article was published.
The full tang provides durability and solid chopping, while the anti-corrosion blade treatment helps keep the rust down in wet conditions.
At 18″, it’s a large knife and chops well, but the medium blade angle means it’s also suitable for kitchen and household tasks.
- Good size, weight, and balance
- The handle is durable, though a little smooth
- There are two versions of this blade (one of which seems to have lesser quality steel and poor factory QC)
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Here’s a wrap-up list of all the Kukri Knives found in the above review section:
- Condor Tool & Knives Heavy Duty Kukri
- Ontario 6420 OKC Kukri
- Ka-Bar Combat Kukri
- EGKH WW1 Bushcraft Kukri
- CRKT KUK Kukri
If you ask someone to “draw a knife,” the one that’s drawn will change dramatically depending on where you are in the world.
Most places have a “classic” blade type that looms large in the cultural identity of the people. These iconic blades are born from a combination of necessity and culture.
- For example, in North America, the Bowie knife was THE knife of choice on the early Western Frontier.
- And those who travel south of the US/Mexico border will find the Machete in use to this day.
- European countries feature far more swords sized blades. The reason being, their prevalence in military conflicts in the pre-industrial age. Back when horse-mounted combat was a dominant strategic advantage, hence, from the steppes of Asia perfected the Curved Scimitar.
- Japan’s revered Katana supported close-quarters combat.
- And the longer blades of China’s armies were made for fighting opponents in formation.
But the traditional knife of the Nepalese Army is the Kukri, and it’s a wise choice for both utility and survival.
It’s great for chopping, for camp chores, and combat.
So if you’re looking for something between a survival knife and a survival machete, the Kukri is your best bet. It’s a blade that packs a seriously fatal punch for such a compact weapon.
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