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Himalayan Imports 15" village Dhankuta khukuri

Feb 4, 1999
The folks at Himalayan Imports often go on expeditions to villages in Nepal and pick up the best khukuris they can find made by local "kamis"(men who make khukuris and other steel tools). While these are not made in-house by Himalayan Imports, they carry their lifetime warranty and are real tools meant to be used (as opposed to cheesy knock-offs intended for tourists).
The added bonus to the "villager" models is that these knives are sold at a price that is about 1/2 or so the regular price of an HI khukuri of the same size. I took advantage of a recent deal and received the khukuri yesterday, so here's a review.
The main reason a villager model goes for so much less is that the finish is usually rough. This Dhankuta (named after the town it comes from) is no exception. First, the measurements. This knife has a 5" handle made of black horn with a brass butt cap and "bolster". The blade is most likely 5160 carbon steel from a truck or automobile leaf spring. It is 10.5" long. Measured OAL appears to be 15.25". The blde is 7/16" thick and 3" wide at its widest point. Khukuris traditionally come with at least two utility knives called a chakma and a karda. One is a small knife that is sharpened and intended for small work the large knife can't handle, while the other is an unsharpened burnisher meant for steeling the edge in the field. Both have the same black horn handles with light grey streaking.
The entire package fits neatly into a wood sheath that is covered in black ox leather. The sheath is roughly made but it seems it will fit the purpose. It does a nice job of securely holding all three knives as compactly as possible.
The utility knives are interesting. The unsharpened one is VERY roughly done showing almost no finish work, and the blade is all bent up. It was probably forged with a mimimal amount of finish work. It is rather sloppily "epoxied" into the handle, and the joint looks like it could need some reinforcement from some real Western style epoxy. It has a 2" blade and is 4" OAL. At 180 degrees opposite, the sharpened utility knife has a 2.5" blade and 4.5" OAL. The blade is straight, sharp, and is almost mirror polished. The blade is set very well into the handle, too. The handle has been finished smoothly while the other was still rough. I would almost say they were made by two different people....
The khukuri itself has a few bends back and forth in the blade and th handle is on slightly off-center. It does not affect use at all, though. The blade is lumpy and bumpy, but pretty sharp and still carries all the original grind lines. It is ugly, and the spine isn't flat but rather bevelled, but it is a highly usable tool. This has the finish you'd expect from someone working with the types of tools village kamis own. Actually, this knife is ten times better than you would THINK if you saw those tools!

The edge is pretty straight and the choil bears the traditional much debated cutout. The handle is very well-finished but the endcap rattled loose a bit, which is easily fixed with epoxy. It represents no functional problem other than the fact that the poor kamis don't have epoxy.
This knife is a true chopper, like all khukuris. It demolished a hard seasoned 4X4 in my backyard and the edge is barely worn from it. VERY impressive. Performs better than a longer, heavier Cold Steel Gurkha Kukri that has the advantages of a flat grind and Western manufacturing! The village Dhankuta is VERY nicely balanced and is super tough. I LOVE it! The fit and finish are rough, but the handle is very smooth and a lot of care was taken to make it very comfortable to use. There is no vibration from heavy chopping, either, which is a nice plus.
The fact that a village kami can make a knife to begin with is amazing, given the circumstances, but the fact they can make a USABLE, durable, hardcore khukuri like this is further testament to their status as artisans and craftsman. I love the way this thing looks, and while it won't win any style points at the next big show, it is beautiful in that a guy could take it an turn an old car leaf spring into this wonderful, traditional tool. I would not hesitate to buy more khukuris from the HI village endeavors, and from what everyone is telling me, HI's in-house khukuris are ten times better, which leaves me excited and just a bit scared!

My Custom Kydex Sheath pagehttp://www.geocities.com/CollegePark/Lab/1298/knifehome.html
Palmer College of Chiropractic
On Two Wheels

What were the specific performance or handling characteristics that made you pick the Dhankuta over the Cold Steel Gurkha?

The first thing, Will, is that I preferred the balance of the HI Dhankuta over the Cold Steel. The HI feels slightly heavier than the CS WITH its sheath, but in the hand it seems lighter and more nimble. The shorter scale (probably two inches) and better balance make it feel more nimble and requires less use of the forearm muscles to keep its point straight. I was less fatigued using the HI than the Cold Steel for these reasons.
I also like the fact that the HI serves as a sort of wedge due to the grind. It has more blade with full thickness and therefore seems like it would be stronger in the long run. It also gets caught less often and to a lesser degree while still blowing massive chunks of wood off the test block. The hanlde is less comfy on the HI Dhankuta, but it has tons more character. I'd be happy to carry either in the field, but the HI is preferable because of better balance, more mass, more control, and simple looks!

My Custom Kydex Sheath pagehttp://www.geocities.com/CollegePark/Lab/1298/knifehome.html
Palmer College of Chiropractic
On Two Wheels
Thanks for the info Chiro75. I was not too bothered by the weight of my CS Gurkha but found it fatiguing due to vibration. By the way, a great review.