I don’t want to plan for the worst-case scenarios, but in 2021, how do you not plan ahead?
As a long-time prepper, one of the biggest issues that always surrounds this mindset is self-defense. Kukri knives are one of the best self-defense tools and pieces of hunting gear that any prepper can own. If you know anything about knives, you know that the kukri is among the top tier
The best kukri will be your go-to self-defense weapon, your ultimate utility tool, and act as an intimidation tactic to ensure potential assailants stay away from you during SHTF situations.
Kukris were initially developed in Nepal before they extended to anywhere else, but we do encounter some designs from Iraq and Taiwan in this list as well. We’ve compared kukri against one another and looked at base material, weight, blade length, and more to bring you the best of the best.
Best Kukri – Reviews & Buying guide for 2021
Best Overall: Genuine Gurkha Hand Forged Kukri Blade
You want something genuine, you want something powerful, you want the best kukri knife available, and that’s what GK&CO has done. This authentically designed kukri knife is actually handmade by vishwakarmas, which are born to be kukri makers in Nepal.
Yeah, you’re getting handmade, hand crafted knives that beat anything you can get off an assembly line. These Nepalanese craftsmen do this for their entire lives, and make a fantastic knife that you can be proud to wield.
There are so many grades of steel out there that it can ge ta bit dizzying when you’re trying to decide what works best for your needs. When it comes to knives and utility tools, you can’t go wrong with carbon steel.
Designed to prevent against corrosion, carbon steel provides a bit of forgiveness if you aren’t keen on how to handle it right away. Carbon steel also holds onto its edge for longer than other steel.
Materials matter, but the tang matters just as much. EGKH made this blade with a true full tang that runs all the way through the handle (we’ll cover the unsightly rivets in a minute).
This allows for more force with no repercussions. If you’ve ever had a cheap steak knife break on you where the blade detaches from the handle, then you know why full tang throughout that handle is important.
The handle is made out of a few exotic elements. First, you have rosewood on top of a layer of pinewood, which looks fantastic when your kukri is inside of the canvas and water buffalo leather sheath.
The only thing that doesn’t make sense is the whitemetal rivets, because this is a full tang blade, which eliminates the point. The handle feels sturdy on its own, and it’s kept onto the blade with a specialized metal-friendly glue.
This kukri is designed for right-handed orientation, but because the blade doesn’t lean one way or the other, you’re okay to use it in your left as well. As far as we can find, there’s no warranty on this knife whatsoever.
While you might get a response from EGKH, they tend to sell through third parties and don’t have a lot of communication with their customers. We took this into consideration when ranking this kukri, but the craftsmanship speaks for itself.
It’s a solid, affordable blade that’s built out of excellent materials. It’s definitely worth the cost (and then some), even if EGKH isn’t behind you in the end. For utility, self-defense and more, this kukri provides.
- Type: Authentic Iraqui operation design
- Size: 10” blade
- Weight: 1.8 lbs
Runner Up: KA-BAR Kukri Knife
Now this is a brand we’ve all heard about, we all admire their products, but now you get to put their reputation to the test with an ultra-affordable kukri.
This thing makes you feel like Rambo when it’s in your hands, ready to fletch and scale like nobody’s business. The surprising thing is that despite its lengthy 11.5” blade, it’s one of the lightest knives on this list.
This could be classified as the best kukri machete thanks to that length and the rugged design of the handle.
You get a fish tail hilt that helps shape the finger inlay perfectly. With the notch just below the base of the blade, your index finger rests comfortable, while your other fingers get a full hold of the slats in the handle.
KA-BAR made this knife out of highly durable carbon steel, emphasis on the carbon.
You’ll notice the black blade is powder coated to give it that illustrious, smooth finish across the entire thing. Because of how deep the carbon runs through the blade, you’ll keep that nice black finish even when it comes time to sharpen the edge.
This is technically a kukri, but it does have a few questionable features. The drop point in the center of the knife is very fluid, so there isn’t that linear, angular difference like we see in most kukris.
On top of that, there isn’t a kauri in the base of the blade in a traditional sense. The blade doesn’t start for about 1.2”, so it technically has that notch we expect in most kukri, but it’s pushing it.
You’ve held knives before, and you know what a full tang feels like. There’s a catch here: KA-BAR made this with a full tang, but it’s narrow. It’s kind of a loophole.
The carbon steel narrows down to create a thinner full tang. From our experience, and this may be thanks to the handle design, you don’t really have to worry about breakage or sacrificing leverage for any reason.
The sheath you receive isn’t all too great. You’ll notice that the synthetic material won’t endure much wear and tear at first, but the fixings won’t hold up for all too long.
As this is made in Taiwan instead of Nepal, you’re going to see some craftsmanship differences compared to authentic kukri. If having one of these elongated utility blades is what you care about, authenticity doesn’t matter so long as it’s made right. KA-BAR is your go-between.
- Type: Taiwanese
- Size: 11.5” blade
- Weight: 1.7 lbs
Alternative: EGKH Genuine Bushcraft Kukri
The best kukri knives mean the top-of-the-line, ultra utility, self-defense kukri that make anyone and everyone feel like a total badass.
We’ve seen some quality craftsmanship here, but outside of being utilitous, many of the kukri designs come pretty standard. Wooden hilt, basic colored steel, and while there’s nothing wrong with those, it’s not exciting like it could be.
Just look at the kukri itself. It’s absolutely breathtaking when you gaze at the handcrafted hilt, leather strip running through the handle, and that iconic notch that looks like it jumped straight out of a history book.
Everything about the aesthetics of this blade scream authenticity, including the carved metallic ring that grips around the center. The rivets here aren’t super necessary, though. You’ll notice the full tang blade comes down and widens out, giving you ultimate control over the rosewood handle at all times.
The blade itself is nice, but there’s a reason it didn’t top the charts on this list. It doesn’t come super sharp, but it does have the potential if you sharpen it correctly.
Made out of #5160 carbon steel, similar to other blades on this list, it has this shiny metallic look to it that’s maintained by the polish and high carbon content. Make no mistake: you do have to sharpen this right out of the box before it’s useful in a self-defense or utility situation.
Included with your purchase, you get a stellar case that hosts a metal tip to preserve the life of your blade’s tip while it’s sheathed. The case alone could retail for a fair price, so having it included (along with more items that we’ll mention shortly) is a steal.
Last but not least, you have a yellow stand that comes with your kukri if you want to put it on display. The sheath goes along the back of it and rests nicely as a backdrop to the actual kukri, but the stand itself comes off a bit cheap.
It’s built light, and while the kukri itself is only 1.8 pounds, it feels like it’s going to topple over at any second when resting on this stand. It’s a nice added touch, but nothing that I would jump for.
In this package, you also get two small utility knives with the same handle design and blade material. Well, mostly similar—you’ll notice that the secondary utility knife has a small striking pommel along the bottom of the extended hilt.
This can be used in niche situations, such as breaking a car window in the event of a flood or sliding off of a bridge into the water while driving. These knives provide excellent value, and work into the cost without causing a fuss.
- Type: Nepalanese
- Size: 12” blade
- Weight: 1.8 lbs
Alternative: GK&CO. Kukri House Authentic Nepalanese Kukri
You can go for the best kukri for the money, or you can beef it up by a couple bucks to get something mightier, fiercer, and much more intimidating. This authentic Nepalanese kukri comes with a ridiculous 12” blade with a full tang that runs all the way down the handle.
We like full tang knives. In fact, we don’t recommend that you rely on any knife that isn’t full tang.
You can see where the tang runs through the bottom of the hilt as it widens at the base, and when you’re holding this knife, you can feel it. One thing that people don’t think about is their COG, or center of gravity, when buying any kind of knife.
Your COG is important because it can dictate or affect how you handle your knife. With a full tang, you get a good weight balance throughout the knife, but this is where your handle really comes into play.
The widened base serves two purposes: creating a more comfortable grip that doesn’t punish you if your hand slips down slightly, and adding the extra weight to the handle to balance everything out.
But there’s more to this kukri than just the handle. Like you’ll find with many other manufacturers and brands out there, you’re going to get two small utility knives with your purchase. You also end up with a medium-quality sheath here, with a metal tip on the end to help preserve the integrity of the blade tip.
This is a big blade, yet somehow GK&CO was able to keep the weight to a flat two pounds which is pretty impressive.
While the base of the hilt does offers striking pommel, I don’t recommend using this as a hammer as some people might suggest. Instead, it should be used as a window breaker or in niche, utilitous situations.
The notch on this kukri is perfect, the blade itself is made out of high quality carbon steel to retain that sharp edge, and handling it makes you feel like a badass.
GK&CO ships this to you as sharp as possible, so you shouldn’t need to do much out of the box to ge tit ready for your next hunting trip, or to stow in your survivalists arsenal.
- Type: Nepalanese
- Size: 12” blade
- Weight: 2.0 lbs
Best Kukri For The Money: Authentic Nepalanese Gurkha Kukri Knife
Last but not least on our list is a 10” authentically designed kukri. Initially, you get a warrior vibe just from looking at this thing, and that’s for a reason.
The base of the hilt is what’s known as a rat’s tail (handle design, not to be confused with half-tang blades), which widens to make sure that as your grip intensifies, you can’t accidentally slide your hand down the knife and drop it or lose control over it.
This works in utility situations as well as self-defense, and adds a nice element to the kukri.
Is it the best kukri survival knife out there?
No, but it’s damn close. Designed and crafted by Nepalanese artisans, GK&CO guarantees authenticity straight out of Nepal, and delivers on that promise with these gorgeous knives that could only look this way if they were handcrafted.
For the blade itself, you get a 10” carbon steel construction (#5160 grade, which is what they use in shocks on Ram 1500s), and a full tang to bring that steel all the way down through the hilt.
With some full tang knives – not just kukris, but knives, machetes, and blades in general – you run into a vibration problem in the handle. As you strike, it creates an uneasy feeling that can loosen your grip.
These handles are forged to the full tang so well that you barely feel anything apart from the actual blade making contact, and that’s a detail that shouldn’t go overlooked.
On that rat’s tail hilt, you get a bronze striking pommel to use in situations such as car crashes or being trapped, where you can simply break a window with little force required. Bronze doesn’t necessarily age well, but considering that you’re not going to use the pommel for much else, it will serve its purpose in a pinch.
Included in your purchase, you get two small utility knives. These come in handy for lightweight fletching (arrows, shaving wood to pass the time), and can be used to scale fish.
While they’re not the most durable utility knives out there, they’re decent enough. If you want to keep them in good use, you’ll have to sharpen them fairly regularly.
This is another manufacturer that doesn’t provide a warranty, so you are basing your purchase off of the good faith of our review after testing this kukri.
Because of import and export laws, many of these manufacturers don’t have to provide a warranty by law, but it would still be nice to have that peace of mind.
- Type: Nepalanese
- Size: 10” blade
- Weight: 1.4 lbs
Best Kukri Buying Guide and FAQ
What to Look for in a Kukri Knife
While the general theme of kukri knives are the same, they are built differently.
Find out what you need to know about selecting the perfect kukri for your needs right here.
- Length: The blade length is absolutely relative to your decision. Your state may have very strict laws on what you’re allowed to carry for knives. Now, these laws usually pertain to on-hand knives like switchblades that you carry in your pocket. Hunting knives may be different, so if you have to designate your kukri as being used for hunting purposes, then do so.
- Material: We want Damascus steel, high carbon steel, and any other durable, long-lasting material that retains a razor’s edge and holds up to the test of time. If you aren’t able to rely on the material, then you aren’t able to rely on the blade.
- Handle Traction: Most handles for kukri knives are made with excellent grip and traction in mind, but not all are created equal. Understanding how to hold a kukri knife is the first step, so that you can properly identify if the handle is holding up to your standards. Keep in mind that if the full tang blade of your kukri is good, that’s perfect: you can replace the handle in the future so long as it’s worth doing to your knife.
What is a Kukri?
Kukri is a form of knife. There are hundreds of different names for knives as they originate from different cultures, parts of the world, and their designs may have been crafted over a millennium ago, yet they still provide utility for us today.
We differentiate different knives through these names, and kukri are among some of the oldest.
A kukri is a curved knife with a long handle. The handle – which usually holds the bottom half of the full tang of the blade – is curved to help with the flow of the curved metal.
The first third of the knife goes out straight, then takes a 40° angle dive and extends for the remaining two thirds of the knife, stopping at a sharp point. For the blade itself, it curves in a more fluid manner until it reaches the notch in the bottom of the blade, before curving back and aligning with the handle.
We made the best survival kukri list because these are unique, self-defense weapons that have been seen throughout history. The Gurkha War, the Battle of Nalapani, the Nepalese-Tibetan War, and so many more events in history.
A kukri knife can be used for self-defense, but thanks to the unique design of the blade, they can also be used for utility.
You could carve a DIY bow and arrow with a kukri, use it to remove wet bark from tinder before burning it, clean scales from fish or other game kills, and so many more uses. As such, it’s become one of the go-to knife types for survivalists and preppers all around the world.
Is a Kukri a Dagger?
It’s up for debate, but when we really look at it and tear the facts apart, a kukri is classified as a knife: not a dagger or a sword (even though sometimes it can feel like a miniature sword in your hands).
Even the best kukri on the market will adhere to a few simple truths that differentiate it from a dagger or sword.
With a sword or dagger, the balance is in the metal of the blade. Knives are seen as an extension of who you are, because the heaviest point is either in the handle, or the balance is 50/50 from the blade and the handle.
Swords are notoriously heavier in the actual blade, which helps with momentum when you swing it, causing critical damage. Daggers share this in a less extreme form, but they’re also designed with a specific and lethal length.
You can use a kukri for dozens of tasks that have nothing to do with combat or intimidation. A dagger serves no utility; it is strictly for self-defense and/or intimidation.
Swords are the same. Because kukri serve so many purposes, they aren’t specifically seen as weapons, but as tools.
I don’t know who coined the term “double-edged sword,” because all swords are double-edged (otherwise they’re collection pieces). A kukri, just like a knife, only possesses one sharpened side.
A dagger is sharp on both sides, just like swords are, because they’re designed to cause as much damage as possible without having to right your blade during combat or self-defense.
Is a Kukri a Good Survival Knife?
You can get the best kukri for bushcraft or keep things inexpensive and get the best budget kukri—they’re both going to be insanely useful in survival situations.
Not only do they provide excellent utility with the blade’s edge, but they’re intimidating. In the event that you run into a potential assailant during a true end-of-the-world situation, a gunshot is going to give you away.
A kukri is threatening enough that it might stave off potential attackers, because nobody who carries a medieval-looking curved miniature sword doesn’t know how to use it.
This guide is dedicated to kukri (in case you couldn’t tell), but there is one area that they lack. For a survival knife, you generally want to have multiple gadgets built into the hilt, like a compass or a paracord grip.
Kukri are straightforward: what you see is what you get. There’s no room for hidden compartments or five-in-one functionality: it’s a knife at the end of the day. If you’re packing light and trying to ensure everything is multifunctional, a kukri might not be the best fit.
In survival, we want dependability. Kukri are almost always full tang (be sure to check before you buy one), meaning they’re not going to snag from the handle and leave you bladeless.
That’s something you want. On top of that, the usual high carbon steel construction won’t fail you even after weeks (dare I say, months) in the wilderness.
What Makes it Different from Survival Knives?
When we think of survival knives, we think of the big league: bowie knives. These monstrous knives are hailed as some of the most brutal blades we can get our hands on, but they’re very straightforward. Straight handle, hand guard, straight blade.
Kukri are unique. There are no other knives shaped like them, and they were made this way for a specific reason. These are the reasons that they are nothing like standard knives or tactical knives.
- Curved Blade: The curvature of the blade itself is sharpened, not merely for theatrics. While many knives have shorter blades, they generally have less of the blade end of the knife utilized for sharpness. Yes, we need the notch for a reason, but a lot of knives simply miss the mark.
- Tip to Notch: Kukri are sharpened from the tip all the way down to the notch. Many standard knives or survival knives will still have a dull area above the notch (if they have them at all).
- Designed For Slashing: Slashing has a higher chance of causing real damage than stabbing. When you stab, it’s an outward motion that leaves your arm vulnerable, and only has a small area of impact and error. A slash covers a much wider area, and kukri are specifically designed for it. Based on the way the blade is angled, you can’t stab someone even if you wanted to. This makes it more threatening for self-defense.
What is the Notch ns a Kukri Knife?
We refer to it as a notch now, but it’s actually called a cho, kauri, or cauda. These are designed for two purposes, one of which is a little more gruesome than the other.
If you don’t know what a choil is, it’s the small indented section at the bottom of a blade (where it meets the handle) that you can place your finger. It’s technically part of the knife, but it’s not sharpened, and is generally comfortable for your finger to rest on to some extent.
A kukri notch can be used as a choil for your finger to rest on during use. It helps stabilize your placement, your swing, and whatever else you’re doing while the kukri is in your hands.
But it also serves another purpose. Remember that kukri have been around for a long time and were initially used in war, so the cauda of a kukri is actually designed to stop blood from running down the edge of the blade and coating the handle.
Blood is thick and slippery, so when it coats a handle where you’re supposed to have grip and traction, you lose all dexterity. The knife could slip out of your hands and fall, which would leave you defenseless.
Blood would run into the cauda, disrupting the flow that would bring it down to the hilt. If you aimed the kukri downward after, all pooled blood would then run back down the edge of the blade in most scenarios, and drip from the tip of the blade. A cauda or notch is basically a runoff for blood.
Equipping Yourself for the Long Haul
If you’re going to defend yourself, you need to do it right. In endgame scenarios where you don’t know what tomorrow will look like, it pays to be the one carrying the bigger stick. Kukri are lightweight, sharp as a tack, and their daunting appearance is enough to ward off assailants.
Useful as a hunting tool for cleaning fish, killing prey, and as a utility tool for cutting down traps and through fishing lines, you’ll find that your kuki works best when it’s hanging by your side.
We’ve found the very best kukri on the market so that you don’t have to, all that’s left to do is pick your favorite, see how it fits into your plans, and get prepared.