Everything to Know About Kukri Machetes & Gurkha Knives

The Gurkha knife or kukri machete is a blade with a long and mysterious history dating back thousands of years. Knives and machetes have remained essential tools of survival for people across the globe, none more true than the story of the kukri machete. Whether you’re trekking through an unexplored wilderness or camping with friends at a local park, having a versatile, reliable blade is a must. Among the many versions of the machete out there, the kukri machete is easily one of the most celebrated. This machete offers many unique advantages over other blades that are worth exploring. 

The History of the Kukri Machete

The origin of the kukri machete remains hotly disputed among historians. With that said, many consider the blade to be one of the oldest in the world. While stories of the kukri machete date back to at least the 7th century, there is evidence that versions of this machete existed thousands of years ago, all the way back to the era of Alexander the Great (350 BC). 


In recent history, the kukri machete became a symbol of the legendary Nepalese Gurkha soldiers who bravely resisted British rule during the 19th century. Having earned the respect of the British Empire, Gurkha soldiers were invited to enlist in the army, and their support remains a significant part of the British military to this day. Gurkha knives quickly gained attention as they proved to be an outstanding utility tool in the field. Ever since, the Gurkha knife has become a fixture in the minds of people around the world representing respect, honor, and tradition.

Gurkhas continue to use the kukri machete even today for both practical and ceremonial purposes. The unusual shape of the kukri machete makes it suitable for a wide range of purposes. The kukri machete excels at slashing through overgrowth, digging, preparing game, or reshaping wood for construction. Aside from being a flexible tool, the Gurkha knife is visually appealing and elegantly crafted to make a lasting impression.

‌The kukri machete itself is notoriously difficult to forge, often drawing comparisons to the challenging process of creating katanas in ancient Japan. Traditionally, the metal is heated and carefully hammered into its basic defining shape. Next comes the painstaking shaping process in which the blade is honed to a sharp edge, reheated, and cooled with water. Finally, the blade handle is attached. The handle of a professionally crafted Gurkha knife is made from materials like hardwood or bone, sometimes beautifully decorated with inlays of gold or ivory. The scabbard of an antique Gurkha knife can be equally impressive as well. Some of the oldest kukri machetes that are in museums today feature intricate patterns etched into the scabbard’s surface alongside precious gems or other accents. 

The Kukri Machete vs. The Bowie Knife

Many have compared the kukri to America’s bowie knife, although there are several key differences. For one thing, the kukri’s blade is curved at an angle that makes it perfect for cutting through branches, vines, or bushes. Secondly, the kukri broadens out toward the end of the blade before reaching a fine point at the tip. This wider surface area gives the kukri machete superior chopping power to the bowie knife. With its distinctive appearance and weight, the kukri machete stands alone among any other blades available today.

Gurkha soldiers standing at attention during a kit inspection, brandishing their iconic knives.

How Kukri Machetes Are Used Today

‌The highly functional blade of the kukri machete lends itself to numerous applications. When it comes to multipurpose survival tools, other knives pale in comparison. A single kukri can potentially replace an entire bag of gear, as it fulfills the role of a hatchet, hunting knife, shovel, and even a can opener. Here are just a few of the tasks a kukri is capable of performing:

‌Digging: The wide blade of the kukri knife doubles as a shovel for digging holes or trenches. Whether you’re clearing a space for a fire pit or creating post holes to support a temporary structure, the kukri machete gets the job done.

Building: A kukri machete is an invaluable tool for building a shelter out in the wild. With its curved inner edge, this machete is perfect for removing bark from branches or shaving down pieces of wood into the ideal shape.

Cutting Firewood: Since kukri machetes are top-heavy, these blades can chop through wood with relative ease. Meanwhile, the sharper inner edge closer to the hilt is handy for more detailed work like removing smaller branches or making kindling.

Food Preparation: This machete is sharp enough to cut through stubborn materials like animal hide without much difficulty. Gutting and cleaning fish is also a task that puts up little resistance with the help of a kukri machete.

The many uses of the kukri machete make it an excellent multitool for virtually any environment. If you like to travel light or simply enjoy the convenience of having everything you need in one package, the kukri machete may be the perfect tool for you. Outdoor enthusiasts of all kind have relied on the Gurkha knife for centuries, including:

  • Hunters
  • Survivalists
  • Fisherman
  • Agriculturalists 
  • Campers/Hikers 

Find The Best Kukri Machete For You

If you’re looking for a quality kukri machete to be your constant companion on your next excursion, browse our wide selection of blades at Machete Specialist. We offer a huge range of machetes that are crafted by some of the biggest names in the industry. Our kukri machetes come in a variety of colors and designs with varying degrees of blade angle — we’re sure you’ll find one that fits your style and needs.