Khukuries from Khukuri Palace

Le 17 septembre 2006, par James



A review of some Khukuries from Khukuri Palace shop in Nepal.

The Khukuri or Kukri is the traditional knife of Nepal. It serves every day for a multitude of tasks. Its aspect is unique and makes it easy to recognize, with it’s bent blade. The Kukri has been made famous through history from it’s use by the fierce and fearless British and Indians Gurkhas regiments.

In a previous article about the Chiruwa Angh Khola Khukuri from Himalayan Imports (Nepal khukuri), one of our readers pointed me to the khukuries from a Nepalese wholesale maker : Khukuri Knife, also known as Khukuri Palace for retail. Let’s call them Khukuri Palace.

Himalayan Imports being accepted in the occidental world as one of the best makers for quality, I thought it could be interesting to compare it to the khukuries made by Khukuri Palace.

So I ordered a few models. KhukuriKnife.com is a wholesaler, so if you order from them you must order a few, or order from the site of one of their retailers. I ordered from KhukuriKnife.com, explaining that I wanted to make a review. The service was absolutely excellent. After some delay, due to a mistake from me while transferring the money, and time to clear it, the 3 pieces I ordered arrived well packed and well insured, and travelled for less than 4 days.

JPEG - 53.4 ko
The KP khukuries
Here shown with a Jungle model on top, raw finished, cheap model. Below a ganjuwai model, and a chainpure with wooden scabbard.

Presentation

I ordered these 3 pieces :

  • A Jungle khukuri, an unfinished model made for use, unpolished 10 inches blade, buffalo horn handle, and extremely cheap, 24$. Very good first impression, good quality, good workmanship, but bottom of the line.
  • JPEG - 92.6 ko
    KP Ganjuwai
    It comes with nice tools : chakma, karda, awl, chisel tweezers, ear picker, tinder pouch, pencil.

A Ganjuwai khukuri, decorative scabbard, multitude of tools, like a chakma (burnisher), karda (knife), ear picker, awl, chisel, tweezers, pencil and a tinder. flint pouch. 50$, the top of the line. The knife is beautiful, shows superb craftsmanship, the 10 inches blade is polished with brass inserts, the handle is buffalo horn. 560 grammes for the knife, 780 grammes in total.

  • JPEG - 87.4 ko
    KP Chainpure
    Very small but still functional chakma and karda. Well built.

A wooden Scabbard Chainpure. It comes with a brass lining, and miniaturized, though absolutely functional chakma and karda. Polished 10 inches blade, wooden handle in the Chainpure style, light blade. 35$, the middle range. 640 grammes in total 450 for the knife.

The first impressions are excellent, the knives arrived very sharp, though the jungle model could have been sharper, there is no quality defect to be remarked, the workmanship is high.

These KP blades are lighter than the one I obtained from HI, also they show a traditional convex grind, where the HI have a thinner V grind. It is going to be extremely interesting to test them, because as far as I am concerned, I think that due to their weight and shapes, because they are lighter, because they have a point, they would certainly be of a better use in general to me, than the HI heavier and bigger models I own (they also make smaller ones). Something I can carry in my pack and use without raising eyebrows, or overweighting myself, a good compromise of weight, power, and discretion for the bushcrafter that is in me.

The handles of the KP are closer to the traditional size, and are made to fit an asian hand, therefore people with big hands may find them a bit small. I had for my part, no trouble with them, and found them very confortable. The middle ring of the handle is discrete and does not hurt the hand.

We are left with one thing to check : how do they behave ?

JPEG - 89.9 ko
HI Angh Khola
Another style. Note the different grinfd on the edge.

I decided to compare these knives with the Chiruwa Angh Khola Khukuri.

Testing

I started by testing the Jungle model.

I am sorry to report that I have no picture to show, but I would place the jungle model at the level of a machete, some RC 45, not more. As with all khukuries, the tempering on the blade is made central, and both the tip and back of the recurve are less tempered. On this model, they were really soft, so, yes, you get a usable knife, at a cheap price, but yes, it is somehow soft.

For the other models, I decided to compare them with my HI Chiruwa.

JPEG - 91.4 ko
3 khukuries in sheaths
Top : KP Ganjuwai Middle : KP Chainpure Bottom : HI Angh Khola

The comparison will mainly consider edge holding and usefulness, as the knives have different weights.

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3 khukuries, bare blades
Top : KP Ganjuwai Middle : KP Chainpure Bottom : HI Angh Khola

Let’s first compare them a bit. The heavier is the Chiruwa, followed by the Ganjuwai, and the Chainpure. The edge on the belly of the HI Chiruwa is around 58-60 HRC, hard and resistant. The edge on the belly of the Ganjuwai must be around 50-55, and it is just a bit lower for the Chainpure, and the tip and back have some tempering, although low.

JPEG - 131.9 ko
3 khukuries
Yes, they are all nice looking.

All the 3 blades show the traditional khukuries attributes, shape of the spin, and v forges blades with rather hollow sides, as well as the traditional notch or hole at the base of the blade. the Chiruwa has a rather straight "grind" on the edge, and the Ganjuwai and Chainpure are rather convex and a bit more obtuse.

JPEG - 100.3 ko
KP Ganjuwai
A nice and light khukuri

During Chopping tests, the results match the previsions : The heavier HI Chiruwa shows great power and penetration in both a pine plank, and a pine branch. The tinner edge, and greater weight are certainly accountable for this result. It is a good blade, it can replace a hatchet, the edge holding is excellent, as it owns one of the hardest edges I have met on a HI [1], but it cannot be made sharp again with the burnisher.

JPEG - 104.2 ko
HI Angh Khola
Heavier and powerful.

The KP Ganjuwai is a blade I like a lot. Once understood how it works, it can get 90 % of the results of the heavier Chiruwa while chopping. It just need to be used with a wider angle to make the v notch in the branch. The edge holding is good, and can be brought back quickly using the chakma burnisher, the tip is pointy, and can be used for a variety of tasks. In addition the tools are excellent, usable and tempered and you can use them for real. I touched a bit the tools, in order to make the awl and the chisel sharper. A good tool for bushcrafter and wilderness amateurs. The handle mount dampens the vibrations, and at the end, it is a very good khukuri.

JPEG - 105.2 ko
KP Chainpure
The lighter khukuri.

The KP Chainpure is also a good blade. Being lighter, it is however a bit less efficient, but nothing dramatic. The scabbard makes it a very secure big blade to carry, as it is reinforced in brass. The edge holding is a bit softer than the Ganjuwai’s, but again, the small chakma can be used. The pointy tip is also good.

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3 khukuries
The weights are extremely different.

I did not overdo the edges, just got into banging different types of woods at different speeds until I could feel and see a difference on different parts of the edges. So no nail cutting rock or concrete cutting here, we are talking about normal conditions.

There are many different options for one to choose a knife. There was a time, I was considering that hard edges were better, but I have come to like softer edges. Softer edges do not chip, they can be maintained with a burnisher, or a stone found on the ground. They can be hammered back to place if needed, and will still work if done so. Knives with softer edges do not break For hard use, finaly the steel’s hardness is not as important than it’s resistance, and the speed and tools it will take to bring it back to a sharp state. In this. I differ with the current race knives amateurs have for edge hardness, where they prefer an edge that lasts longer, but needs specialized equipment and more time to be sharp again to something that gets dull faster, but is sharp again in a matter of seconds.

The edge of the Jungle model was mostly too soft to my taste on the tip, though quite OK on the belly, as I said, the level of a machete. For the price it is sold, even counting transport and diverse taxes, it is a good deal, and will certainly replace a machete. It is not mine anymore, one of my friends got in love with it, and I gave it to him.

The edge of the Khukuri Palace’s Ganjuwai and Chainpure models are good, and perfectly usable in the long term. I own two Himalayan Imports models, and one of them shows just the same tempering than the Khukuri Palace Ganjuwai model. Good to me, just good for a khukuri, not too soft and not too hard, but on the soft side rather than the hard side.

The Ganduwai model is simply great, I love it, I love it’s gadgets, it’s weight, it’s look, it’s efficiency and the way it handles. The Chainpure is also a nice blade, light, secure and fast, but maybe a less good chopper, but then what can be expected from such a light weight ?.

Steel

I do not know the exact steel used, but I did some personal research : it does spark mildly under the wheel, enough to make me suppose something between 0.4 and 0.7 percent carbon, most probably arround 0.6 percent. KP was calling it "reinforced railways track steel", or "highly graded carbon steel", hard to tell what it is exactely, as the steel used for rails ranges between 0.4 carbon at the lowest and 0.76 percent for the hard wearing quality [2]. Railways track steels contain generally carbon and manganese [3] in order to increase toughness and resistance to abrasion, and are kept generally in a perlitic structure in order to be better work hardened. This explaining that, could explain why a khukuri made of that steel may effectively be better and more effectively brought back to sharpness using a burnisher than by grinding, as the steel may effectively be more receptive to work hardening [4]. Surely a quality spring steel like found in (some) cars and trucks suspensions would make better blades, but this steel is is not too bad as it is right now either, specially if we are talking about the higher grades of railways tracks.

Sharpening

I had the pleasure of sharpening these blades, I used the chakma in the field, they work well, at home I dit this using a tungstene sharpener, and it does a good job (as well as shows the repartition of hardness on the edge). The final test is the japanese stone, an the steel reacts well to the stone, as soft steels get a burr that is difficult to get rid of, and it was not the case. Both tests showing that there is some temper all over the length of the edge, though more feable at the tip and back of the recurve, as expected. The edge came very sharp with the stone and seems to stay this way for a reasonable amount of time.

Conclusion

Well, I think it was worth to try the Khukuri Palace khukuries. I found two knives that I really appreciate, and intend to use a lot. They come cheap, but are not "cheap". They are of excellent factory, right size, right weight. I think there is a small difference between the cheaper models and the higher range models in terms of quality, other than purely visual, as my impression over the Jungle model, is that it was a bit too soft on the tip and back of recurve for my likings. Compared to Himalayan Imports models, they may be quenched and tempered softer [5], but they will do the job they are intended to do very well, for a fraction of the price. Khukuri Palace is therefore a maker to account with for quality khukuries, but people that like hard edges [6] may be slightly disappointed, but these knives are made to be used, no doubt about that, and they will stand to hard use, no doubt either. One must remember however that hand made tools do not show the consistency of industrial productions, and that no maker [7] can grant a 100 % consistent final product, so my comparisons and conclusions must be read with care.

JPEG - 53.4 ko
The KP khukuries
Here shown with a Jungle model on top, raw finished, cheap model. Below a ganjuwai model, and a chainpure with wooden scabbard.

Post-Scriptum :

Please do not play with big bladed knives without reading Handling and working with knives, big blades, axes and hatchets. first.

V 1.0 finalized.
20/09/2006 V1.1 added steel research.
21/09/2006 V1.2 added sharpening.

Notes :

[1] though it did not show much better than the Ganjuwai

[2] following documented US standards, difficult to guess what are the Nepalese standards.

[3] between 0.70 and 1.10 percent, plus 0.07 to 0.20 percent of silicon and impurities.

[4] which effectively does not grant it performs better or equivallent to a classical spring steel for cutting tools, and also a quenched steel presents a martensitic structure, not a perlitic structure.

[5] even for this brand, it depends from kami to kami (the kami is the blacksmith).

[6] As I know it is often the case with knives amateurs

[7] Just to make short the upcoming comments from HI afficionados, I have held also a few Himalayan Imports that were on the softer side.

par James

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