In this Pocket Preps, we take a closer look at recurve blades, a...
In This Article
As much as we love working on the printed version of RECOIL OFFGRID magazine, we also recognize that there are certain things that print publications just can't do as well as the web. Video content is one advantage of our internet presence—although a few magazines have tried embedding video screens into their pages, current technology makes this effort expensive and ungainly. The other big advantage of the web is that it gives us the freedom to write as much as we'd like to about a topic. There's no cost-per-page limitation to worry about in the digital space.
So, given these two advantages, we're going to take the opportunity to share some extra content that we couldn't fit into the latest edition of our magazine—Issue #14, which goes on sale June 10th. In that issue, we compiled a buyer's guide all about the specialized blades known as kukris. The full buyer's guide is titled “Ahead of the Curve”, and it shares our thoughts on each of nine blades we tested.
If you arrived here from the link in our print article, welcome to OFFGRIDweb.com! We hope you enjoy this bonus content, and encourage you to have a look around our site. There are tons of other product reviews and buyer's guides to be found on our Gear page, or you can bookmark our home page for the latest urban survival and preparedness news each day.
For those who haven't read our kukri buyer's guide article yet, we've included the introduction below, so you can understand the bonus content we'll be sharing here. However, if you want to see our complete reviews of the nine blades seen here, pick up a copy of the magazine or click here to read the buyer's guide online.
“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 …and feared. 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.
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.
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.”
To read the complete specs, pros, and cons of each blade, pick up a copy of RECOIL OFFGRID Issue #14.
As we work on each of our buyer's guides for the magazine, we always make a point to thoroughly test each item we review. Obviously, this is a necessary step to understand the ins and outs of each product—but we'd be lying if we said it wasn't a lot of fun, too. We get to come up with creative ways to test the products in our guides, and then incorporate the results of this testing into our articles.
In the case of these kukris, we wanted to test for toughness and durability by chopping some solid wood, so we set up two testing stations. First, we chopped down vertically into a flat wood board, in an axe-like motion. We continued hacking away until the blade made it all the way through the board. This test examined how each blade fared as a brute-force tool for breaking down lumber.
Next, we placed a 1.5-inch wooden dowel vertically in the ground, and supported it with some cinder blocks. Since kukris are typically used in a diagonal slashing motion, this is how we tested the angular chopping abilities of each blade. After both these tests, we inspected the blade edge for dulling or other damage, and checked the finish for chips and scratches that may have occurred. We also sliced through paper to see how sharp each kukri had remained.
Finally, we decided to have some fun on camera, and make use of the slow-motion feature on our smartphones. We filled some empty plastic water bottles with tap water, and added a few drops of red food coloring for flair. Then we suspended these bottles in the air at chest height, and slashed through them like liquid-filled pinatas (minus the blindfold, of course). Not only did this look cool on film, it also showed how cleanly each blade sliced through the target, and how easy each was to use accurately.
Scroll down to check out our video clips of the nine kukris in action, and read more of our thoughts on the blades' performance.
The Kold Khukri from 5.11 Tactical is certainly the flashiest design of the bunch. The tanto grind wasn't optimal for either of our wood-chopping tests, but it sliced through the water bottle with little resistance.
The Chaos Kukri from Cold Steel has a hefty weight and lots of reach. This made it a good choice for heavy chopping, and we barely even felt the bottle as we sliced it in two.
The Gerber Gator Kukri did relatively well when chopping through the wood plank and dowel, but its edge wasn't as sharp as we had hoped. This made it the only kukri that didn't slice easily through the water bottle. We figured this may have been a fluke, so we reset and tried the test again. Both times, it failed to cut through the plastic cleanly.
The Lansky Kukri features a compound bevel, which allowed it to chop and slice with ease. However, the hard nylon handle left us wanting a pair of padded gloves after a few chops.
Ontario Knife Company's Kukri exhibited excellent balance and control. Its strongly curved blade made quick work of the wood, and it split the water bottle easily.
The Large Kukri Machete from Schrade offers a long reach and lots of leverage. We were pleased with its performance across the board.
The SOGfari Kukri Machete was light and easy to swing, but the blade edge showed some serious wear after we were done testing it. This blade will likely need frequent maintenance to stay sharp.
We didn't know what to expect with the small TOPS Bushcrafter Kukuri, but it surprised us. Its heavy weight helped it chop surprisingly well, and it slashed the water bottle cleanly (although we did have to step a little closer to our target).
The Zombie Tools Vakra kukri went through the water bottle so cleanly, we barely felt the impact. It also made quick work of the wood in our other tests. The biggest drawback we can see with this one is the price.