Large, sharp, and curved. You might not know what it’s called or where it comes from, but one look tells you it’s to be respected. The kukri (pronounced “cook-ree” and often spelled khukuri or kukuri) is a large knife designed for slashing in the field — and defending one’s life on the battlefield.

These blades are somewhat similar to machetes, but feature a distinct forward-facing curvature, often accompanied by a kink in the blade’s spine. This distinctive shape provides added chopping leverage, and makes the kukri ideal for clearing thick brush, breaking down firewood, or even felling small trees. Think of it as a tool that’s halfway between a machete and a hatchet, and you’ll begin to understand why the kukri is an excellent multipurpose blade for survivalists.

Kukri tests 1

However, the kukri is also much more than a simple utilitarian knife. Its design dates back thousands of years, and is intertwined with the history of Nepal. The kukri was used by farmers in this small Asian nation wedged between India and China to harvest crops and slaughter animals — but it also doubled as a weapon for combat.

Traditional Nepalese kukris often feature ornamental design elements.

Nepalese soldiers, known as Gurkhas, used kukris to resist the British East India Company in the 1800s, often running headlong into battle with their curved blades held high. The Gurkha motto, “better to die than be a coward,” explains this spirit of extreme fearlessness.

As a result, the kukri became infamous in the Western world. This reputation would continue throughout WWI and WWII, as Gurkha soldiers later serving alongside the British military continued to use their kukris in trench warfare, devastating their enemies in close combat. Even today, all Gurkha troops in Nepal are issued two kukris: one for ceremonial use, and the other for duty use. This blade has proven itself in battle for centuries, and is certainly not to be taken lightly.

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For more testing information and videos of each Kukri in action, refer to our Kukri Tests article.

5.11 Tactical Kold Khukri

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Overall Length
17 inches

Blade Length
10.86 inches

Blade Width
2.5 inches

Blade Thickness
0.24 inches

Handle Material
Fiberglass reinforced nylon (FRN) scales

Weight
1.54 pounds

Blade Material
AUS-8 stainless steel

Additional Features
Sharpened spikes on spine, striking pommel

MSRP
$160

URL
www.511tactical.com

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Notes
Let’s address the elephant in the room: this kukri is ostentatious, with a lime green handle, sharp “Dorsal Fang” spikes, and zombie skull emblem. Depending on your tastes, this styling may be a good thing or a bad thing.

The arched, tanto-style blade is extremely sharp out of the box, and chops surprisingly well. However, it tapers down to only 1 inch wide just before the handle, and with the decorative holes drilled into this section of the blade, we worry that this could be a structural weakness. Also, the tanto grind line results in a point on the belly of the blade that takes the brunt of chopping impacts — the edge on this point began to deform and roll over after only a few chops into solid wood.

AUS-8 stainless steel seems like a strange choice for a chopping tool, as it may not hold its edge for as long as high-carbon steel. However, it does resist rust and corrosion, and the fine grain makes it razor-sharp for delicate tasks.

We wouldn’t deem this 5.11 kukri a display piece, but it’s certainly not as practical for daily use as some of the other kukris we tested.

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Pros:

  • Unique look with spikes and vibrant green handle scales
  • Long forefinger guard ensures your hand won’t
    slip forward.

Cons:

  • Tanto grind causes added stress on one part of the blade edge.
  • Hard, square-edged handle and sharp spikes are clearly designed more for looks than functionality.

Cold Steel Chaos Kukri

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Overall Length
18.5 inches

Blade Length
12.5 inches

Blade Width
2.63 inches

Blade Thickness
0.17 inches

Handle Thickness
0.75 inch

Handle Material
6061 aluminum

Weight
1.75 pounds

Blade Material
SK-5 carbon steel

Additional Features
D-ring knuckle guards, striking pommel

MSRP
$130

URL
www.coldsteel.com

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Notes
Cold Steel offers a variety of different kukris, ranging from a low of $35 to a high of $700. The Chaos Kukri is one of their mid-level models, a modern interpretation of the classic weapon. It features an all-black finish, durable carbon steel construction, and unique D-ring handle.

The reinforced aluminum handle is actually quite comfortable. Its D-ring guard, combined with the tapered striking pommel, makes hammering and smashing objects easy, and protects your knuckles effectively. However, the handle’s hard metal construction transfers a lot of impact force into the user’s hand.

Of all the kukri sheaths in our test, the Chaos Kukri’s Secure-Ex sheath was our favorite by far. It feels solid, has great retention, and doesn’t rattle at all. However, you’ll definitely want to run some paracord through it as a thigh strap, to prevent it from flopping against your leg with each step.

Overall, we liked the Chaos Kukri. Aside from wishing the handle had a little more padding, we had a hard time finding many faults with this design.

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Pros:

  • Hefty aluminum handle gives the blade nice balance and protects the user’s knuckles.
  • Secure-Ex sheath is sturdy and has excellent retention.

Cons:

  • Aluminum handle doesn’t provide any cushioning for impact force.
  • Sheath sits very low on the leg and tends to flop around unless you rig up a paracord thigh strap.

Gerber Gator Kukri Machete

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Overall Length
19 inches

Blade Length
12 inches

Blade Width
2.63 inches

Blade Thickness
0.12 inches

Handle Thickness
0.88 inch

Handle Material
Hard nylon with Gator rubber overmold

Weight
0.9 pounds

Blade Material
1050 carbon steel

Additional Features
Wrist lanyard

MSRP
$55

URL
www.gerbergear.com

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Notes
The Gator Kukri Machete reveals its true purpose with its name — this blade is more of a kukri-inspired machete than a pure kukri. While the blade’s belly has a characteristic upswept curve, its spine lacks the distinct kink present on many traditional kukris. This results in a tool that’s great for slashing through brush, but not as well suited for heavy chopping tasks.

This kukri’s thin blade makes it light and easy to maneuver with precision. However, it wasn’t particularly sharp out of the box, struggling to cleanly slice through paper and plastic. We also noticed that the blade’s black finish is thin, scratching easily.

If you’re looking for an affordable blade for clearing brush and occasional chopping, the Gator isn’t a bad choice.

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Pros:

  • Lightweight and well balanced, the Gator Kukri feels agile like a machete.
  • Comfortable handle with textured rubber overmold.

Cons:

  • The blade was rather dull out of the box, and its black finish scratches easily.
  • Poor sheath retention can result in the kukri sliding several inches out of its sheath, exposing about an inch of sharpened blade.

Lansky Kukri

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Overall Length
19 inches

Blade Length
13 inches

Blade Width
2.5 inches

Blade Thickness
0.12 inches

Handle Thickness
0.87 inch

Handle Material
Hard nylon

Weight
1.3 pounds

Blade Material
1050 carbon steel

Additional Features
Wrist lanyard

MSRP
$41

URL
www.lansky.com

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Notes
Much like the Gerber Gator, the Lansky Kukri seems to be closer to a machete than a true kukri. It also lacks the distinct downward kink in its spine, and the blade is quite thin at only 0.12 inch. However, compared to the Gerber, the Lansky has a more substantial weight, giving it slightly more momentum for chopping.

Five oval holes in the blade cause a satisfying ringing sound as the blade impacts wood. There’s also a noticeable swage along the front of the blade’s spine, tapering the point into a spear-like profile for improved piercing.

The hard nylon handle is ergonomically shaped and has plenty of texture, but would be much more comfortable with a rubberized coating. We liked the inclusion of lanyard grommets on the nylon sheath, but the sheath’s thin Velcro retention loop is nothing to write home about.

The Lansky Kukri didn’t have any glaring flaws, but also wasn’t particularly outstanding in any regard. However, its affordable price and durable carbon-steel construction make it a good entry-level option.

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Pros:

  • Excellent for light slashing and piercing thanks to the thin blade and tapered spear point shape.
  • Affordable price

Cons:

  • The hard, plasticky handle material isn’t ideal. A rubberized coating would have helped considerably.

Ontario Knife Company Kukri

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Overall Length
16.7 inches

Blade Length
12.1 inches

Blade Width
2.25 inches

Blade Thickness
0.25 inches

Handle Thickness
1.06 inches

Handle Material
Kraton

Weight
1.23 pounds

Blade Material
1095 carbon steel

Additional Features
None

MSRP
$95

URL
www.ontarioknife.com

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Notes
Unlike some of the other blades we tested, the OKC model features a very traditional kukri shape, with a strongly curved blade and kinked spine. As a result, this kukri chops beautifully, even into solid wood.

The 1095-carbon-steel blade is well-balanced and was quite sharp out of the box. The rubberized Kraton handle is grippy, and we appreciate the sculpted finger guards at its front and rear.

However, the Ontario sheath was one of our least favorites, as it relies on a single snap along the spine for retention. The upside of this is that it’s easy to draw the blade, but the downside is that we had a hard time trusting it to stay in place. The sheath’s nylon material is quite thin, and we were disappointed by the shoelace trying to pass as a thigh strap. We would have at least expected some paracord at the $95 price point — then again, we can justify some of the added expense, as this kukri is made in the USA.

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Pros:

  • Superbly balanced and nicely shaped for heavy-duty chopping.
  • Made in the USA.

Cons:

  • Subpar sheath, with thin nylon construction, weak retention, and a wimpy shoelace for a thigh strap

Schrade Large Kukri Machete

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Overall Length
19.7 inches

Blade Length
13.3 inches

Blade Width
2.38 inches

Blade Thickness
0.16 inches

Handle Thickness
1 inch

Handle Material
Safe-T Grip

Weight
1.44 pounds

Blade Material
3Cr13 stainless steel

Additional Features
Removable sheath pouch with diamond sharpener and ferro rod, shoulder sling

MSRP
$56

URL
www.schrade.com

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Notes
This is the Schrade Large Kukri Machete — the company also offers a smaller version that’s about 5 inches shorter. The Schrade is yet another hybrid of machete and kukri elements, but it actually chops quite well thanks to a thick blade and substantial weight. It’s also the longest kukri we tested, with great reach.

We really liked the handle on this one, with its contoured shape and rubberized Safe-T Grip material. That said, the best part of this kukri might be its sheath, since it offers many useful features: a storage pouch with diamond sharpener and ferro rod, a belt loop, two thigh straps, and a shoulder sling. However, the thigh straps max out at exactly 22 inches in circumference, and may not fit some above-average builds comfortably.

The Schrade kukri offers excellent value, with an affordable price and lots of added features.

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Pros:

  • Field sharpener and ferro rod with striker are both extremely useful for survival situations.
  • Grippy, nicely contoured handle.

Cons:

  • Affordable 3Cr13 stainless steel held up reasonably well in our testing, but has questionable long-term durability and edge retention compared to carbon steel.
  • Sheath thigh straps are barely long enough for an average build.

SOG SOGfari Kukri Machete

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Overall Length
18 inches

Blade Length
12 inches

Blade Width
2.88 inches

Blade Thickness
0.1 inch

Handle Thickness
0.75 inch

Handle Material
Kraton

Weight
0.94 pound

Blade Material
3Cr13 stainless steel

Additional Features
Saw teeth, striking pommel

MSRP
$35

URL
www.sogknives.com

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Notes
The SOG kukri will set you back only $35, making it attractive to entry-level users. However, the 3Cr13-stainless steel blade is thin and its edge chips easily. In fact, after only 10 chops into a piece of solid lumber, the blade edge was visibly chipped and deformed. After 30 chops, it was practically jagged near the tip. Also, the flat of the blade has visible pitting, indicating imperfections in the metal.

The nylon sheath is decent for the price, and we liked its secure three-part retention system. However, it lacks a thigh strap and doesn’t offer any way to add your own. This results in flopping around if you jog or run. Saw teeth along the spine of the blade work relatively well, but it’s hard to build up a rhythm while gripping the handle upside-down with one hand.

We occasionally get readers criticizing us for not writing about enough affordable gear, but we truly believe in the adage, “You get what you pay for.” While it’s inexpensive, the SOGfari Kukri’s durability is seriously flawed. If you buy this kukri, bring a sharpener, because you’ll need to use it frequently — which is a shame, because we like most other fixed blades that SOG produces.

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Pros:

  • Very inexpensive, at only 1/8 the price of the most expensive kukri we tested.
  • Snap, zip, and Velcro sheath components provide good retention.

Cons:

  • Extremely thin 0.1-inch 3Cr13 blade, which chipped almost immediately.
  • Obvious metallurgic imperfections and pitting visible on the flat of the blade.

TOPS Knives Bushcrafter Kukuri 7.0

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Overall Length
14 inches

Blade Length
7.75 inches

Blade Width
2.25 inches

Blade Thickness
0.25 inch

Handle Thickness
0.67 inch

Handle Material
Black linen Micarta scales

Weight
1.39 pounds

Blade Material
1095 carbon steel

Additional Features
Striking pommel, storage pouch on sheath, whistle

MSRP
$260

URL
www.topsknives.com

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Notes
The first thing you’ll notice about the TOPS Bushcrafter Kukuri is its size. At only 14 inches long, it’s much shorter than the other models we tested. On the other hand, its heavy weight and thick blade make it feel bulky. It has a traditional kukri shape, with a strongly curved blade belly.

The TOPS kukri actually surprised us — despite its small size, it had no problem hacking through lumber. It suffers heavily in the piercing department due to the thick blade and obtuse grind, but it can handle delicate carving and slicing tasks much better than any of the other kukris we tested.

If you’re looking for a fixed-blade survival knife that can double as a chopping implement, and you don’t mind the heavy weight of this small knife, the TOPS Bushcrafter will serve you well.

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Pros:

  • Nice MOLLE-compatible sheath, with a hard inner lining and an accessory pocket for other small tools.
  • Made in the USA.

Cons:

  • More of a large kukri-shaped knife than a true kukri, but it chops surprisingly well.
  • Very heavy and thick for its size.

Zombie Tools Vakra

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Overall Length
19 inches

Blade Length
12 inches

Blade Width
2.25 inches

Blade Thickness
0.25 inch

Handle Thickness
1 inch

Handle Material
T-6 aluminum scales wrapped in black leather

Weight
1.94 pound

Blade Material
5160 spring steel

Additional Material
Striking pommel

MSRP
$280

URL
www.zombietools.net

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Notes
Zombie Tools is a relatively small operation, compared to some of the other big-name manufacturers in this buyer’s guide. This means the guys at Zombie Tools forge every blade by hand at their HQ in Missoula, Montana. It also means you’ll pay a high price, and may have to wait up to seven weeks to receive your order.

This is the only kukri in our guide to use 5160 spring steel, which is extremely tough, flexible, and durable, arguably even more so than the workhorse 1095 carbon steel. In our testing, it chopped through lumber with ease, and the blade remained quite sharp afterward. The leather-wrapped handle is surprisingly comfortable and easy to control.

We wish the Vakra’s kydex sheath had a tighter fit, since the retention is quite loose, and the blade tends to rattle around inside. This can be adjusted at home with a heat gun and some light pressure, so it’s not really a deal-breaker.

The Zombie Tools name may have you thinking this is just a horror movie prop, but we found it’s a very worthy blade that can stand up to real-world survival use — as long as you’re willing to pay the high price.

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Pros:

  • We love the aggressive shape and dark, blotchy acid-etched appearance.
  • Built from ultra-tough 5160 spring steel, which matches the Nepalese tradition of using truck leaf springs to forge kukris. Made in the USA.

Cons:

  • Made to order. So, if you want one, expect to wait almost two months.
  • Kydex sheath has poor retention, and the blade rattles loudly inside as you walk.
  • Heaviest and most expensive of the bunch.

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