Finding the Best Kukri Machete
The kukri (or khukhuri) machete is a renowned cutting tool originating in the mountains of Nepal. Enjoying a mythical status in that country, this incredibly versatile machete has been used as a deadly weapon in times of war and as a reliable farm implement in times of peace.
The British Indian forces first felt its sting when they warred with Nepalese Gurkha troops, and the rest is history: the kukri is now the preferred hand to hand combat weapon of Gurkha regiments around the world. The kukri’s intricate and unique design make it one of the most sought out tools by survivalists and adventurers, but, unfortunately, it is also the reason why choosing the best kukri machete isn’t an easy job for a beginner.
Having done more than my fair share of research on an assortment of blades, knives and machetes, I’ve decided to compile this guide to assist you in selecting the ideal kukri machete for your personal use.
Best Kukri Machete Comparisons
Condor Tool and Knives
13-inch Carbon Steel
refund policy after inspection
SOG Specialty Knives & Tools
12-inch Steel Drop Point
Limited lifetime warranty
13-inch high carbon steel
Limited lifetime warranty
13-inch carbon steel
30 day repair /replacement policy
11-inch Steel 5160
Why get a Kukri?
Practical, tough construction
Kukri machetes have earned renown for their hardiness in combat situations - in fact, they have allegedly never ever been damaged in battle! There may be some credence to this somewhat mythical claim, because the kukri is indeed a tough machete:
- They can be quite thick in their construction (as much as a quarter inch in fact!).
- They are normally made from high carbon spring steel that gives them a durable edge while also lending reasonable flexibility.
- Many kukris have fullers along their blades that reduce its weight without affecting its strength, which makes the blade much easier to wield in the field, in spite of its rather stocky blade.
Both these construction characteristics render the kukri a near-impregnable weapon, and if it can survive in the heat of prolonged CQ battles, you can definitely count on it to help you do easier peacetime tasks such as clearing plant growth / chopping wood.
Aesthetically appealing and symbolic
Besides its practical benefits, I personally find its unique design to be very aesthetically appealing - compared to other machete. The fullers on its inwardly curved blade give it a menacing yet graceful aura that simply can’t be found in other machete types. This isn’t a surprise though, because this machete has long been used in religious ceremonies in Nepal, and has a history going back to ancient Greece!
Long story short, the kukri possesses power, mystique and heritage in ample amounts, both as a melee weapon and farming tool, making it a highly sought after possession among farmers, martial artists, soldiers, and art patrons and so on.
Parts of a Kukri Machete
Before proceeding further, it’s a smart idea to become familiar with the parts that make up a kukri – given its Asian origins, even an experienced knife collector may get surprised at some of the terms they come across:
This normally refers to the lower recurve sharpened portion of the machete.
This is the unsharpened upper edge; the blade is thickest here
This is the unsharpened part of the blade, right before it meets the handle.
Chakmak / chakma
The chakmak is a small sharpening tool accompanying traditional kukris.
This is the unsharpened blade section going into the machete's handle, normally secured via pins driven through the handle. A full tang refers to a tang that goes into the handle, and comes out of its back, and is secured using a butt cap - this is the strongest way to bind the blade with the handle.
Cho / kauri / kaura
This is a small notch close to the handle of the blade, which practically serves as a blood drip or a substitute guard, however, it has a number of other symbolic connections too.
This is the traditional name for the characteristic fuller(s) on along the blade's body. They are used to reduce the blade's weight without compromising its strength - a kukri machete can have no chirras at all, or multiple chirras, traditionally known as dui chirra (two fullers) or tin chirra (three fullers).
The karda is a small ‘utility' knife that comes with traditional kukris, and may be used for whittling / carving.
There is a lot more to the kukri machete than this list, but those are finer details which we can do without for now.
Measuring the length of a Kukri Machete
Gauging length of a machete can be tricky for rookie owners, since it has a curved blade. Know that the overall length is measured in a straight line from the buttcap; the handle is measured from buttcap to the bottom center of where the blade meets the handle; the blade length is measured in a straight line from where the metal meets the handle, to the blade’s tip.
These separate measurements can sometimes add up to a value different from the overall length, but now you know why.
Choosing the right Kukri Machete
Selecting the right kukri machete is about knowing the situation you’ll be using it in:
If the primary reason for purchasing a kukri is combat, I’d advise you to get one made out of high carbon spring steel (the traditionally used material). Depending on the kind of melees you’re expecting to get into, go for a weapon with two or three fullers - remember, the greater the number of fullers, the lesser the weapon’s weight.
As far as the length of the blade goes, a shorter blade (less than 12“) is suited to situations involving swift movements and quick reflexes; a longer blade (more than 12“), will do for situations requiring more brute strength than tact.
Chopping / cutting
If you need the machete for simple chopping and cutting, again, go for high carbon spring steel. If you’ll be using to do some heavy duty culling, I’d advise you to get a blade without any fullers - but if it’s simply grass and brush cutting you need it for, a two fuller blade will do just fine, without taking as much of a toll on your stamina.
I’d recommend that you go for as long a blade length as can be comfortably managed, since it means you can clear a greater area of bush / chop thicker wood.
If the kukri machete is to serve a symbolic / aesthetic purpose - you may want to look for a traditional kami or a native Nepalese producer that can provide you with a traditional kukri machete with special parts like the cho, aunlo bal and handle rings.
Other features, such as the material used for construction, the number of fullers, and the length, will be up to your discretion in this case.
A couple of myths to dispel
Due to its rich and interesting history, you may come across some quirky myths about the kukri machete:
According to one, the kukri draws blood each time it is drawn from its sheath. This is simply not true, but has perhaps become popular because most wielders draw the blade incorrectly by wrapping their fingers around the base of the scabbard as they pull the blade out of it: the lower, sharper portion of the blade runs across their fingers, resulting in severe cuts and bleeding. The correct method is to hold the sheath / scabbard in such a manner that no part of your hand or fingers comes in contact with the lower portion of the blade as the machete is drawn.
Another one claims that the kukri’s cho/kauri is a sighting device which can be employed to target prey after which the machete can be tossed at it like a boomerang. I couldn’t understand how this would work, given what I knew about the cho, so I decided to try it out for myself to sate my curiosity, and nearly succeeded in killing a stray cat that came in the path of machete’s trajectory (no pun intended): let me assure you – a kukri machete is nothing like boomerang.
Top 5 Kukri Machete Reviews
Condor Tool and Knives Kukri Machete 13-Inch Carbon Steel Blade
- Blade Length | Thickness (inches): 13.25 | 0.177
- Blade Material: 1075 high carbon steel w/ epoxy black leather coating
- Handle type: Wooden
- Special Features:Lanyard hole,Hefty blade end,leather sheath
- Warranty:Replacement/refund policy after inspection
Made from 1075 high carbon steel and sporting a 13.25’’ blade, this sturdy kukri machete from Condor is made to chop through thick, hard wood and dense plant growth. The high carbon steel ensures excellent edge retention, although you will need to sharpen the blade out-of-the-box, since it’s a bit dull.
The extra thick blade enhances the power of the wielder’s blows, making small work of the thickest of logs. On the downside, it does make the weapon a bit cumbersome to wield for extended durations.
The walnut handle, enclosing a full tang, ensures that the blade stays firmly in place, regardless of the heavy wear it has to endure in the field. It also has a lanyard hole through which you can run some 550 to go around your wrist, for extra safety – a valuable feature, given how wooden handles don’t offer the best grip in the field. The leather sheath is durable and good-looking, and even has a belt to go around your waist, although the weapon can be a bit difficult to put into it because of its curved blade profile.
Although slightly more expensive than other competitors, I’d recommend it as the best kukri machete for the money, given how it excels at chopping wood (or bone in brute strength combat!) without quickly losing its edge.
- High carbon steel is durable in the field.
- Extra heft makes for powerful swings.
- High quality leather sheath with waist belt.
- Handle doesn’t provide the best grip.
SOG Specialty Knives & Tools MC11-N SOGfari Kukri Machete
- Blade Length | Thickness (inches): 12 | 1/8th
- Blade Material: 3CR13 high carbon steel with hard cased black finish
- Handle type: Textured Kraton rubber
- Special Features:Synthetic sheath, lanyard holes
- Warranty:Limited lifetime warranty
The SOGfari Kukri Machete, with its 3CR13 high carbon steel straight edge and its lightweight 1/8’’ thick spine, makes for a well-balanced cutting and slashing self-defense weapon, that can be used over and over again without tiring out.
Unfortunately, the 3CR13 high carbon steel doesn’t go well with the relatively thin spine, as far as heavy duty chopping and cutting go – you’ll need to be careful with what you use it one in the field, or you may end up with a notched tip. The SOGfari earns points for the utilitarian saw knife on its back edge though, which enhances its usability in the field.
Another good feature is the kukri’s ergonomic Kraton handle that makes for an excellent grip and combined with the lanyard holes, makes the weapon quite easy to wield. The sheath is good quality for its synthetic origins, but nothing to write home about.
This kukri machete is definitely worth a look if you need a cheap option for lightweight chopping / cutting / self-defense.
- Lighter construction suits repetitive, moderate chopping / slashing applications.
- Saw blade on back edge enhances utility.
- Kraton handle is quite ergonomic.
- Low cost.
- Thin spine makes the blade brittle, so not recommended for heavy duty applications.
Schrade SCHKM1 Large Full Tang Fixed Blade Kukri Machete
- Blade Length | Thickness (inches): 13.5 | 1/8th
- Blade Material: 3CR13 high carbon steel w/ black powder coating
- Handle type: Safe-T-Grip
- Special Features:Sheath, knife sharpener,fire starter, lanyard hole
- Warranty:Limited lifetime warranty
The SCHKM1 is another kukri machete designed for lightweight use that you may want to consider. Bearing a 3CR13 high carbon steel construction, and a 1/8’’ thickness, the blade cuts through small brush and chops up moderately thick wood like butter.
The blade is 13.5’’ long in total – 12’’ inches are sharp and ready to slice and dice, but the remaining 1.5’’ (between the handle and the sharpened part) serve as a safety of sorts, in case you accidentally slide your hand over the handle. The blade is also coated with a tough black powder finish to prevent scratching, but its effectiveness can only be gauged after extended usage.
The unique Schrade Safe-T-Grip handle provides a nice grip and reasonable protection from accidental hand sliding, and also bears a lanyard hole for a 550 loop for the wielder’s wrist. The manufacturer also throws in a diamond sharpener and a ferro rod, as well as a nylon sheath – that’s a lot of value at a very competitive price range.
Unfortunately, while this makes for an excellent machete overall, the comparatively thin spine doesn’t lend itself for the kind of heavy duty chopping / slicing you’d expect from a kukri machete, which is why I’d only recommend it to you if you were on a tight budget and didn’t have any intention to chop up thick wood / bone.
- Relatively lighter build makes it suitable for moderate, continuous chopping work.
- Ergonomic Safe-T-Grip handle.
- Complimentary knife sharpener / fire starter / nylon sheath.
- Low cost.
- Blade not thick enough for conventional kukri machete applications.
Cold Steel Kukri Plus Machete with Sheath, Black
- Blade Length | Thickness (inches): 13 | 7/64th
- Blade Material: 1055 carbon steel with black baked on anti-rust matte finish
- Handle type: Polypropylene
- Special Features: Cor-ex sheath
- Warranty:30 day repair /replacement policy
With its 1055 carbon steel composition, 2.8mm blade thickness, and 13’’ blade length this machete is a force to be reckoned with in most combat and survival situations. The extra inch on the blade means better distribution of power along the edge as it comes into contact with the target, which in turn means that it won’t get damaged because of moderately intense usage, like the other two thin carbon steel kukris reviewed above. The black baked-on anti-rust finish on the blade is an added bonus, keeping the carbon steel from rusting rapidly.
While the lighter weight, along with its relatively improved durability, make it a good choice for most survival and combat scenarios, just remember that it won’t compare with a traditional kukri machete with a thick spine and made from high carbon spring steel.
The polypropylene handle makes the weapon safe to wield, but is a bit awkward and can cause callouses if used continuously for long. The handle bears a lanyard hole though, through which some 550 cord can be wound to go around the wielder’s wrist, for extra safety.
- Better durability for a thin spine blade.
- 13’’ blade length improves power distribution and clears larger swath of bush.
- Low cost.
- Still not durable enough for prolonged heavy duty use.
- Handle is a bit awkward.
Genuine Gurkha Kukri - 11" Authentic AEOF Gurkha Afghan Issue Brown Sheath Khukuri
- Blade Length | Thickness (inches): 11 | 3/8th
- Blade Material: Steel 5160 or Car Spring high carbon steel
- Handle type: Dark rosewood handle
- Special Features: Cotton wood and buffalo leather scabbard
- Warranty: not applicable
For those interested in an ultra-serious kukri machete - it doesn’t get better than this: the AEOF Genuine Gurkha Kukri is the standard issue kukri for Royal Gurkha Regiment of the British Army in service in Afghanistan!
Incorporating a traditional 11“long, 3/8“thick dui chirra (double fullered) semi-polished blade, composed of high grade carbon steel (Car Spring or Steel 5160), and water tempered to create a sharp, tough edge, this kukri machete is a tour-de-force that can chop and slice its way through thick bone / wood / plant growth, without breaking a sweat.
The same cannot be said for the wielder though, since while this kukri machete can be compared to an ax or hatchet in terms of its sheer chopping prowess, it is heavy enough to leave you tired after moderately long use (in spite of its fullered design!). The blade goes into an elegantly carved, polished rosewood handle and ends in a full-tang.
It comes with a stylish wood and leather sheath, which isn’t really practical since it offers little retention: this can be dangerous if it slides down from the blade while you’re holding it. Other than that, the chakma and karda it comes with complete its traditional appeal, while also being relevant tools for the outdoorsman.
I realize that the price may be inaccessible to more than a few consumers, but compared to what other genuine Gurkha kukri machetes cost, it’s a right bargain; this, combined with its powerful performance and authentic construction make it the best kukri style machete out there in my opinion, and anyone looking for a definitive kukri machete should definitely consider this one.
- Hand-crafted for traditional heavy duty kukri applications.
- High carbon steel construction and thick spine make for a durable edge.
- Comes with leather sheath and customary karda and chakma tools.
- Competitively priced compared to other handcrafted kukris machetes.
- Too heavy to be used for extended periods of time.
- Sheath isn’t very practically designed.
Kukri machetes have been associated with bloody combat and tough farm work ever since their invention in Nepal, and as such are intended to be durable, heavy duty tools. That’s why, if you’re going to opt for a kukri machete, I’d advise you to choose one that has is as thick and weighty as possible, without causing you discomfort – ultimately, it’s what a kukri machete is supposed to be.
By these standards, the Condor Tool and Knives Kukri Machete 13-Inch Carbon Steel Blade is what I’d recommend to individuals who want a balanced utility tool that still manages to fit the bill as a true kukri machete – but if you want to go all out, the Genuine Gurkha Kukri - 11" Authentic AEOF Gurkha Afghan Issue Brown Sheath Khukuri is the best kukri machete for you, by virtue of its hand crafted and beefy design.