If you have ever done any research into the best knives for camping or generally for just being outdoors, you may have come across the Kukri knife. Kukri knives are highly regarded around the world and most outdoor enthusiasts and survivalists wouldn’t leave for a big trip without one.
The kukri knife has a long history dating back almost 2500 years and has its roots in ancient greek history. The shape and design are similar to that of the kopis, an ancient greek sword. However, the kukri has a lot of history in Nepal.
The kukri knife is the result of thousands of years of testing and improvement so it’s no surprise that this knife is one of the most versatile and popular on the market.
The difficulty lays with picking the best knife for you. In reality, there are a lot of high-quality kukri knives and many more low quality. In this guide we will look at the top 10 kukri knives you can buy.
Picking which one suits you best comes down to a few factors, most importantly how you are going to use it. In our buyer’s guide below, we will discuss the most important things to consider when buying your own kukri knife.
Ka-bar is one of the most highly regarded Kukri knife brands. And it’s clear to see why. This particular model comes in at a length of 8.5 inches long making it a little shorter than most others on this list. However, this actually makes the knife easier to handle and lighter than other kukri knives. Being more portable, this knife lends itself to long hikes and camping trips.
This american made kukri does not compromise with build quality either. The 1095 cro-van steel holds a sharp edge while remaining strong and durable. Just don’t go hacking at rocks and this will last you a long time.
This is a full tang knife, so the blade extends into the handle. The blade has a great thickness which balances weight and strength. Not too thick that it weighs a ton and not too thin that it feels flimsy. Ka-bar includes a polyester sheath that has a small pouch suitable for storing a small whetstone for sharpening.
This knife is designed to be a combination of a hatchet and a large knife. This design choice means you can perform a wide range of tasks. Perfect for any survival situation. This modern knife packs a punch and is perfect in any survival pack.
Don’t be put off by this being made in the USA, it matches the Nepalese knives performance. If you are looking for an all-round knife, at a decent price, then this is the knife for you.
The second knife on this list is another KA-BAR which really shows the quality that this brand can produce time and time again. Aesthetically this isn’t the most elegant knife. But what this life lacks in aesthetics it makes up for in performance. This large kukri knife really does the hard work for you. Using its weighty blade you can clear brush with ease. Gravity certainly helps work as a force multiplier and sometimes your hand is just along for the ride. The total length for this knife is 18.75” and the blade length is 13.25”. So that should give you some idea of what I mean.
Ka-bar has made a high performance, heavy-duty knife with this model. It does lack a little fine control but that is to be expected for a knife of this size. The handle is really my only issue. It’s smooth and I would have preferred that it came grooved. The last thing you want is your hands getting wet or sweaty and dropping the knife whilst swinging at some brush. This knife comes with the standard Ka-Bar polyester sheath.
The building materials are of high quality. As with all Ka-Bar that use their renowned 1095 cro-van steel, the blade holds a sharp edge. The sharpness from the factory is perfectly fine but i would top it up if you are planning on going out for a longer session. The overall quality matches that of $300 blades.
EGKH, Ex-Gurkha Kukri House, is a reputable kukri brand that specialized in designing and manufacturing authentic kukri from Nepal. This particular hand-forged kukri is designed with a 10-inch blade making it the perfect length for a versatile kukri knife.
This Nepali made kukri does not compromise with build quality either. The 5160 steel which is used in car spings is extremely durable and the blade holds an edge well. This is a full tang knife, so the balde extends the full length of the knife, into the handle. This blade is one of the thickest on this list.
The Rosewood handle is just shy of 5 inches, making this kukri measure 15 inches in length. This knife is designed to be a combination of a hatchet and a large knife. This lends itself to more heavy-duty tasks, campsite preparations, chopping wood, climbing trees, and hunting.
Also included, like most Nepali Kukri are 2 smaller knives, the Karda which is an extremely sharp knife for skinning animals and carving woods. And a Chakmak which is blunt and used for sharpening.
GK & CO Kukri House is one of the most well-known kukri knives brands. Having its factory in the heart of Nepal, home to the Gurkha. For GK & CO Kukri knives are an art form and are not something to mass-produce. The care and years of design and engineering make these some of the most durable kukri knives on the market.
Out the box, this knife came with impressive sharpness. After the usual sharpening and testing, the performance lived up to its heritage. This particular knife is made from high-grade carbon steel which runs the full 16.5 inches of this knife in a full tang design.
The blade length is 11 inches and the remaining 5.5 inches of handle is handcrafted from dark rosewood. 2 smaller knives are also included with this knife. The knife fits snuggly into the water buffalo leather sheath which is also covered with softwood. This is an impressively put crafted knife. And it’s clear to see why. These knives are made by the Kami and Biswakarma castes who inherit the art of kukri-making and pass down to the next generation.
This knife is designed both for combat, the traditional weapon of the Gurkhas, and for bushcraft and camping. The wood grip and full tang design make chopping wood with this kukri relatively easy. Not only can this chop, its finer detailed work, and carving are surprising for a larger knife. The 11-inch blade does seem to be the perfect, sweet spot for knives of this design.
If you are looking for a kukri knife which will keep its edge well, be used for a variety of tasks from bushcraft, cleaning brush, chopping wood, and carving. This may well be the knife for you.
Cold Steel are another brand who have become a leader in not just kukri knives, but axes, arrowheads and just about every outdoor tool. Cold steel has got a lot of budget options and offers a great value kukri. Cold Steel produces their kukri knives in the USA just like KA-BAR.
This was another knife that came sharp out the box, which is surprising given the below $50 price point. The 15.5 inch blade is made from tough and durable 1055 Carbon Steel which is much better than the 1095 steel which some companies use. The 1055 is softer and therefore less brittle and less likely for the blade to break. The last thing you want when you are in a survival or camping situation. The knife is coated with a black, baked on anti-rust matte finish for added corrosion resistance. But this does add a little more difficulty with cleaning. Just make sure to use an oiled cloth to remove any dirt and debri after you are finished with the knife.
The handle makes up the remaining 5 inches and is much better than the riveted handles a lot of companies use. The lanyard hole is another welcomed feature that most knives will include these days. Totaling 20 inches this knife definitely finds itself on the longer side of chopping knives. For this you get a nice which is relatively well balanced. Not too heavy considering the size of the blade and great at chopping wood and clearing crush.
What you don’t get is a knife you can use for carving or bushwork that requires fine control. This is for clearing your campsite and smacking through the jungle. And for the price I don’t think you could find a better budget kukri knife. This knife includes a durable Cor-Ex plastic sheath which is nothing to write home about. A very basic sheath, but for this price you can’t complain.
Schrade is known for producing high quality kukri knives in every price range. Having a history in both English and german engineering, this American knife brand is one of the oldest on the market and has been improved on for over 100 years.
This blade is a full tang design and manufactured from 3cr13 steel which if you know your steels, is perfect for knives. It has good hardness, sharp edge retention, very durable, and resistant to rusting and corrosion. All of this plus it’s easy to sharpen and is relatively cheap. This is why this knife manages to pack so much performance into a kukri in the sub $50 price point.
Designed for chopping and more arduous tasks, the 13.3 inch blade is on the longer side of versatile kukris. But this budget kukri machete has the classic curved shape which allows for maximum chopping power and makes it much faster to wind up a swing.
The handle is designed from the patented Schrade Safe-T-Grip handle and makes up the remaining 6 inches or so, totaling just shy of 20 inches. Which means it’s comfortable to use and easy to grip firmly. I would attach a lanyard through the lanyard hole for extra security. The sheath is another Schrade classic, made from durable polyester and includes a shoulder pouch, shoulder strap, leg strap and belt loop making it easy to attach to any location which feels most comfortable.
Overall a really high-quality kukri which is what we have come to expect from Schrade. And to get this quality and the added extras for around $50 is an incredible value which makes this my pick for the best budget kukri knife.
GKH-Nepal are the self-proclaimed finest and largest producers of traditional kukri knives in the world. The pedigree is not up for debate though, manufacturing and supplying various armed forces, police and governments around the world. Each knife is handcrafted by Kami and it takes up to a full day for each kami to make a single blade.
The 12-inch cutting edge of the blade sits on a dark, not black, rosewood handle which is a choice you will often see in handmade kukris manufactured in nepal. The blade runs the full 17 inches in a full tang design. The edge came very sharp out the box and extremely well polished.
The blade is made from high-grade Carbon Steel 5160 which is flexible and durable, but in my opinion not as high quality as 1095. This is a beautifully crafted knife that is suitable for a lot of heavy-duty work on campsites and in the wilderness in general.
This is not a knife you would choose to use for carving but is perfect to clear brush and chop wood. However, GKH includes 2 smaller knives, the Karda which is an extremely sharp knife for skinning animals and carving woods. And a Chakmak which is blunt and used for sharpening.
This next kukri is imported from Nepal and manufactured by R&T Trading Co. This knife is not a lightweight kukri when you consider the blade size is only 8 inches. You might think it is a negative, but it really depends on how you mean to sue the knife.
This should be considered a chopper, used for clearing brush, around the campsite or even in your garden for clearing small trees. If used like a hatchet or machete, the weight helps generate more power behind your swings.
The rawhide sheath is actually a nice looking sheath. However, it might not be the most practical compared to the plastic and nylon sheaths other companies provide. But this is common from Nepali blades. The leather is also a little firm and needs to be oiled and taken care of if you want it to last.
R&T Trading Co. includes 2 smaller knives, the Karda which is an extremely sharp knife for skinning animals and carving woods. And a Chakmak which is blunt and used for sharpening.
Condor is another fantastic brand that has its roots in Germany. Having been operational since the last 1700s. You aren’t in business that long making poor products. For this reason you can feel confident you are getting a quality kukri.
This is a nice, weighty 1075 high carbon steel blade. It is a little heavier than most kukri this length, with a thicker blade which is capable of severing thick branches. Whist this was not the sharpest out the box on this list, it holds an edge fairly well once you have sharpened it. This knife is a great length, 10 inches is a great spot for a versatile kukri. And this is a very well balanced, versatile tool which can be used for a veriety of tasks. This is a full tang design so the blade runs into the handle.
This is one of the few kukri that can be used as a weighty chopper, performing the jobs of a machete or hatchet, and do some finer details like a smaller blade. Great for chopping off branches a few inches thick but you will have to have some skill to effectively use this for finer bushcraft. The spine of the knife is great, perfect for using to light a fire with a ferro rod.
One of the most important factors when chosing which kukri knife is right for you, is the buidling materials, most importantly the steel for the balde. Blade sharpness and durability depend on using steels soft enough to be sharpened and not brittle but strong enough to handle the tasks of a hatchet or machete.
Cheaper companies will use chinese steels like 8Cr13MoV and some use more expensive steels like 1055, 1075 and 1095 High Carbon Steel. The Kukri knives on this list are all made from qualty steel from either the US or Nepal.
Sheaths are important for transporting knives safely, ensuring you don’t drop or lose them and important for keeping your knife in arms reach, ready to be used in an instant.
Factors like, the number of attachment points, the sheath material, and the design is all important. Even the aesthetics may be an important factor for you.
A good kukri sheath must hold the knife in place, have enough attachment points for you to firmly attach the knife to your belt or bag, and not be made from a material which isn’t durable.
Materials range from nylon to plastic, to leather. In reality, they all have a place, as long as the design takes advantage of the materials. You can also, always buy another sheath if you are not happy with the one provided.
Knives come in two different designs. Full tang and half tang. Full tang is when the blade runs full length of the knife, through the handle. Half tang is when the blade does not continue into the handle.
Full tang provides more strength, especially for survival knives which are going to be going through some brutal tasks. So if you are looking for a chopper, then this is very important. On smaller knives which are used for finer detailing work, then it doesn’t matter so much.
Handle design boils down to comfort and grip. A good handle should not tire your hand out and ideally provides enough grip that if your hand is tired, it wont come flying out when you swing.
If you arent satisfied with the grip, you can attach a lanyard to provide some extra support.
In survival situations, bigger isn’t always better. The length of the Kukri blade is directly tied into what you are going to be using it for.
Blades lengths 10 inches and longer are great for chopping wood and small trees and batoning.
Blades shorter than this are much better suited to carving and more precision, finer detailed work. Short knives are also much easier to light fires with when using a Ferro rod.
In my opinion the most versatile length and by far my favorite is in the 8-12 inch lengths.
Kukri blades are: utilitarian, battle-ready, and traditional. With history in Nepal and with the gurkha’s, these knives are great all-rounders.