The Kukri knife is one of the most fearsome fighting knives on the planet. The formidable Nepalese Gurkhas have used the kukri on battlefields since the 19th century.
It is still standard issue for Gurkhas deployed in places like Afghanistan today. It wasn’t long before the kukri’s versatility as a combat and utility knife became noticed in the West.
Today, mainstream knife makers like Cold Steel, Boker, SOG and Schrade offer their own takes on this signature blade. How do these models stack up against an authentic kukri from Nepal, though? Are they just KLO’s (Kukri Like Objects) or worthy of being carried in our pack?
On this page, we’ll answer these question and find the best kukri knife for your particular budget.
The Best Kukris of 2017
|Gurkha Aeof Kukri - 11"||16" Total |
10 mm Spine
|5160 Carbon||$62.88||Read Our Review!|
|Ontario 6420 OKC Kukri||Total = 17"|
Blade = 12"
|1095 Carbon||$52.52||Read Our Review!|
|Ka-Bar 2-1249-9 Kukri||Total = 17"|
Blade = 11.5"
Weight = 1.7lb
|1085 Carbon||$48.99||Read Our Review!|
|Condor Heavy Duty Kukri||Total = 15"|
Blade = 10"
|1075 High Carbon||$79.48||Read Our Review!|
|Cold Steel Royal Kukri||Total = 20.75"|
Blade = 15.5"
|1055 Carbon Steel||$||Read Our Review!|
An Authentic Nepalese Kukri Knife
AEOF Kukri Review
If you’re searching for a kukri for self-defence then the Gurkha AEOF is the knife for you. It’s named “AEOF” as its issued to Gurkhas serving in Afghanistan’s “Enduring Operation Freedom”.
The AEOF Kukri has a razor sharp, 11” 5160 carbon steel blade and a great balance. As you can see, there’s a full-tang to make it tough and durable. It’s also got a really thick spine. The thickest parts are around 3/8 inch so it batons readily. At around 30 OZ, this knife is relatively heavy, which makes it great for chopping. When not used in combat it is used to chop bush and bone.
One of the great things about buying a traditional kukri is it comes with two small companion knives, the “Hakmak” and “Karda”. The “hakmak” is for sharpening the blade or striking a spark from a splint. The “karda” is a small paring knife for skinning small animals. The effectiveness of the sharpening knife is debatable. Still, it’s nice to have them included for free.
It also comes with a leather sheaf which has met with mixed reviews. Users are saying they find the sheath a bit too tight. I get the impression it will loosen up with use. One thing that doesn’t loosen up so well are the belt fastenings. The leather here is like rawhide so it’s hard to thread a belt through. Given the weight of the knife, some might find it too uncomfortable for belt carry anyway.
The hardwood handle has come in for a bit of criticism as well. Some are saying it’s too slippy and doesn’t offer enough grip. A simple solution for this is to wrap the handle in tape. Black 3M Scotch 2228, Rescue Tape or 3M 65 mill Self-Sealing Tape does the trick. This will help significantly improve the grip. It also adds a bit of shock absorbing and helps reduce blisters, too.
The AEOF Kukri would make a great gift. It comes with a certificate of authenticity and has “EGKH” stamped on the blade. You can buy directly from the EGKH website here for $105 (with shipping included). That’s a great price for an authentic kukri knife made the traditional way.
It always worth checking out the latest price on Amazon, too.
The Best Kukri Made in the USA
Ontario OKC Kukri Review
Ontario Knife Company are another blade manufacturer doing America proud. Quite simply they make great knives and the OKC kukri is no exception.
The blade is 11 5/8 inches from tip to base. It’s made from 1095 steel which Ontario give a great edge and heat-treatment too. This kukri should be able to pierce a car hood with absolutely no deformation of the blade.
The blade itself weighs 1 1/3 lbs (about 1.6lbs with the included sheath) and is ¼ of an inch thick.
The OKC Kukri is smaller than the average machete so it can fit in a backpack. It still clears brush as well as a machete. People also prefer them to hatchets when chopping firewood too. A well-made kukri is a very versatile blade. This one can be used to baton and whittle wood (by choking up on the blade), clear brush, cut bamboo, pry and even dig.
The sheath included with this kukri tends to get a lot of negative reviews. It has a “snap design” which helps facilitate a one-handed draw. This places wear and tear on the rivets and they may come loose with repeated drawings. Yet, the company does say the sheath is “Military Grade”. Some people just find it to be a bit on the flimsy side.
However, for the price you needn’t worry too much if you accidentally hit a rock or two.
The Best Small Kukri
Ka Bar Kukri Review
Ka Bar’s knives have been trusted by the US Marines for decades. So, it’s heartening to see they can make a damn good kukri knife too.
At 1.25 lbs it gives the comfortable feeling of holding a large wood-handled hammer. The weight also lets you use it like a hatchet to cut through thick branches as well. It really is a heavy-duty workhorse!
This is a full-tang piece and the balance point is closer to the edge of the blade. This allows the blade to do most of the work and not your arm. It makes short work of most light clearing work such as tree and brush trimming. It can also be used for splitting wood, clearing bamboo, and cutting meat on fishing trips.
In fact, the shorter length of the KA Ba Kukri is an advantage if you’re going backpacking and need a machete. It’s a lot easier to carry then the longer machete. The included belt sheath makes it accessible quickly which you can’t always do with a Machete.
Ka Bar is an “All American” company so it’s slightly disappointing that this blade is made in Taiwan. Many people incorrectly lump “Taiwan Made” into “China Made”. You’ll see upon further inspection the quality levels are quite different. For example, many Spyderco blades are also made in Taiwan and are great pieces of kit.
Be careful with this Ka Bar Kukri as it is razor sharp out of the box. The shape and weight will also take a bit of getting used to. It’s important to note that you can’t hold it with a clenched fist. You need to grasp it like you would a doorknob or shaking a child’s hand. It doesn’t come with a lanyard. Putting one on will help prevent it coming out of your hand. This blade is really sharp so that would be disastrous!
Check out the Ka Bar Kukri current price on Amazon as you can often get a great deal
The Kuri Alan Uses from “Alone”
Condor Heavy-Duty Kukri Review
The Condor Heavy Duty Kukri is an excellent blade in terms of fit, finish, and materials. It found fame recently as the knife Alan Kay selected on the T.V Show “Alone”.
This Kukri is made from 1095 carbon steel with a rockwell hardness of 54-55. This allows it to be sharpened easily but not chip when chopping. The convex grind also prevents the kukri from sticking.
At 1.8lb the Condor is definitely a “Heavy Duty Kukri”. It outweighs Cold Steel’s kukri by some margin. It also has a full-tang and a thick, 8mm spine. It’d be almost impossible to break this blade through normal use. You can use a heavy log to hammer on the spine without any problems.
Condor is one of the few companies that provide a great sheath with their knives. The sheath provided with this kukri is made from nice thick leather and fits well. The only drawback with this kukri is the handle. Some people find it to be a bit too smooth and fat.
If you’re in the market for a well-made, rugged chopper, the Condor Kukri more than fits the bill. The weight and heft might not make it suitable for self-defense purposes.
The Condor Kukri is a great knife to either hang on the wall or put to some serious field work. For just under $100 on the Condor Website it’s good value for both purposes.
You can also check out the current Amazon price and compare the two.
The Best Kukri for the Money
Cold Steel Royal Kukri Review
With their “Royal Kukri”, Cold Steel has mated two of the world most revered blades. The Nepalese Kukri and the Latin-American Machete. Is this a match made in heaven or just pure perversion, though?
Cold Steel do lose a lot of love with their “Mall Ninja” offerings. And I’m not sure I’d pay over $150 for their Kraton Handle Kukri. After all, you can get a kukri shipped from Nepal for that. But at this price, the Cold Steel Royal Machete has little downside.
With the “Royal Kukri” Cold Steel have improved upon their popular “Kukri Machete” design. “The Royal” is also a touch longer at 20.75″. It also has a more aggressive curve for chopping and a more ergonomic handle. The balance point has also changed slightly to provide increased thrusting and piercing power.
One interesting feature of the Royal Kukri is the addition of a finger guard. The traditional kukri designs don’t have this. Yet, it makes sense as they’ve changed the design to allow thrusting. It’ll also provide protection if an incoming blade started slides off towards your fingers.
At around 3/16” of an inch thick, the blade is the same thickness as an average window pane. This makes it ample for most bush craft. If you’re looking to do some chopping and splitting a thinner blade might not be for you.
There are reports of users saying the blade is not evenly sharp out of the box. However, this can be easily fixed with a bit of stone time. As you’ll save on initial outlay with this kukri, you could also invest in a belt-sander to keep it hair-shaving sharp.
All in all. the Cold Steel kukri could well be the best kukri for the money right now.
Kukri Knife Trainer
And finally, we mentioned in our “Tips for Choosing A Self Defense Knife” that it was a good idea to choose a model that has a trainer.
It makes sense to become as familiar as possible with something that could save your life – ahead of time! Also, if you practice with “live blades” you’ll have to go extremely slowly with a great deal of caution.
Put simply – you can’t afford to make mistakes. And making mistakes is a big part of learning and improving any craft.
So it’s great to you can pick up a Cold Steel Trainer pretty cheaply!
If you ‘re specifically looking to clear brush, you can find our page on the best machetes of 2016 here.