Kailash Kukri - Pensioner vs Mutiny Vs Ek Chirra

Dec 20, 2023
Hi! I have decided I want to buy one of Kailashs kukris, but the question is which one? The use will be as a general camping tool - some brush clearing, a fair bit of chopping and batoning, and a good blade for the end of the world collection :) I have read many of Andrews informative posts here, and my summaries of the best options:

The 11.5" HSI (600g) is a great all rounder - good for camp work and some brush clearing if needed.

The 13" pensioner (600g) is like the HSI on steroids and is a slightly better chopper.

The 13" MK1 (700g) is an even better chopper but sacrifices a bit of liveliness.
From what I've read so far I prefer the sound of the pensioner - a great all rounder with good brush clearing and chopping power.

The 13" ANGKHOLA EK CHIRRA (600g) I've read is like the pensioner but more sturdy, as it can be full tang. I like the sound of it being sturdier, but not if it sacrifices too much speed. However, it's the same weight and length, so how do the two compare? I'm guessing the full tang might affect the balance a bit more towards the handle?

One more blade to throw into the mix: I don't know where the 14" mutiny (445g) sits here. I read it's very similar to the pensioner but the blade looks thinner and it's lighter, so I'm guessing it leans more towards speed and brush clearing?

So the pensioner and the mutiny are both all rounders - the pensioner leans towards chopping, and the mutiny leans towards bush clearing... and the ek chirra sits.... Closer to the pensioner, but it's stronger at full tang? From the conclusion it sounds like the full tang ek chirra is preferred, unless there is a significant difference in the feel of the blade that we can't tell from the weight, which then might move towards the pensioner. I'd love to hear if my assumptions are correct, and what others opinions and thoughts are here!
Hey there Joe!
It can be really tricky to pick between khukuris at times. If we had all original designs we could work hard to eliminate overlap and ensure that the ideal role for every blade was very clear but when you throw in historical replicas, custom blade lengths etc into the mix it can get a bit messy.

I would say that for the kind of work you're describing you'll probably be best served by a performance grind- they are really quite tough and can handle a lot. A standard grind could also be good if you need insurance for overswings into gravel, rocks or cutting near steel fences etc but it won't cut quite as nicely.

Over the years a little "Performance User" family has formed naturally- these are the blades which offer the best cutting performance of our blades, majoring in respective fields but with a bit of versatility. Despite feeling quite different in hand, these blades all have great handling feedback and are fun blades to wield in their own ways. This family contains the Mutiny (performance martial/brush clearing), Pensioner (performance all rounder) and Mk1 (performance chopper). These blades are not super specialised- the mutiny will still chop really well. The mk1 will still fight. They do stand out in certain fields though.

The HSI and ek chirra are great blades also but don't quite pack in the cutting performance due to the style of bevel that they employ. Even with identical performance or standard edge geometry the extra beef of these blades will be outcut by the smooth gentle convex that this performance family employs- they're just a step above in this way. With this said the HSI has historical and military appeal that sets it apart as well as offering a higher value proposition and good moderate size. The ek chirra is a great comparatively lightweight blade that can handle the tasks of a medium to hard duty workhorse- think a camp all rounder that also helps break apart a deer carcass. These blades do tend to make a bit more sense with a standard grind- it's a bit more of a cohesive a package I feel.

Full tang: Unless you need to dig holes or pry things quite hard we tend to recommend against it. The added weight and impacts to POB/feel is significant, particularly on lighter 13" blades and those smaller than 13". For regular chopping and hacking tasks rat tail has proven more than strong enough over the years.

For your needs i would probably recommend the mk1 or the pensioner. The mk1 is a heftier lad and can be tiring for thin flexible stuff. However the weight really pays off when its time to chop, split and even large work days getting through finger sized branches- it chomps through them with very low effort. The pensioner is notably less powerful getting through logs and branches than the mk1 but is snappier and more controllable for thinner stuff, camp tasks, carving etc. Just a handier blade in general. It also carries better with the lower weight which is worth considering if you'll be hiking with it. We've also recently had some good feedback on some custom slightly beefed up 620g pensioners if you'd like to dip a toe between the pair.

These recommendations are just my opinions though and I'm sure some other forum members will chime in with their experiences!
People use these blades in a lot of different environments and situations and what's worked well for them may well work well for you.

Take care,
Andrew and the team at Kailash
Hi Andrew, I was hoping to get a reply from you as your answers are always so informative :) it's tricky to choose without being able to feel the blade in your hand so the more info the better!

Your answer makes sense - so it's between the pensioner and the MK1 then as I would definitely prefer the performance aspect.

When you say the slightly heftier pensioner - that does sound good, would I just order a pensioner and then make a note about the slight heft increase? Would that incur an extra fee?

Also when you say the mk1 is heftier - how much of a difference are we talking in how it feels vs how it chops, is it significantly slower? Would this weight increase be less pronounced with a stronger person? Maybe a 13" mk1 as a chopper, then a 15.5" mutiny or a sirupate down the road as a trail clearer might be the way!
Hey there Joe- if you wanted a beefed up pensioner you could leave a note then email me at customdesign@kailashblades.com. We'd work out the goal weight and tapers then it'd cost an additional 12 usd. We'd invoice out for this separately.

The mk1 is 120g heavier- a 20% increase on the pensioner and the mk1 and pensioner have similar handle weights so that's all in the blade. the mk1 is slower to get up to speed which isn't really an issue when chopping large stationary targets like logs and branches- you can recruit more muscle groups in your body and do a slower more powerful chop very easily with low effort. Once it is sped up though it is harder to stop or make change direction- this is what makes it trickier for lighter brush clearing. Trying to reduce speed so you don't overswing/fatigue but still trying to get enough speed in the swing to snip through thin stuff. Keeping the blade very sharp reduces this issue dramatically. Being a stronger individual helps a lot but in a survival situation it will require more calories for that kind of work vs a lighter blade. With this in mind it is not a clunky or unmanageable blade at all- just a more powerful and commanding blade. If you are mostly doing hard chopping then it will save a lot of energy in these tasks vs a lighter or more nimble knife.

The combo of a 13" mk1 and a Mutiny covers a big chunk of outdoors tasks really well. I would probably suggest the 14" vs the 15.5" in this instance as the 15.5" trades off some agility for chopping power and overlaps a little moe with the mk1. Alternatively a 16" sirupate (potentially given a mutiny style grind) could give the added length and tip speed for real snippy brush clearing without stepping on the mk1s toes.

Take care,
Andrew and the team at Kailash
Of course if you are an old fart like me and notice that all the handguns you used to shoot have gained weight over the years and are now much heavier, you might want to go with the 11.5 HSI which Andrew wisely suggested for me. I had my heart set on a MK1, and probably would have enjoyed that also, but something lighter can be easier to use when you are retired and not what you used to be. I don't know of any other maker who gives as much good advice as Andrew does here at Kailash. We are pretty lucky to have him. I'd have to say he has the patience of a Saint, after dealing with me and all my questions and pestering. Thanks again, Andrew.

Another option, which I have not forgotten, was a lighter, thinner MK1 if you are in love with that shape but want one a bit easier to manage. So many choices.
100% agree - reading all of Andrews posts and advice that he has given to others, is simply astonishing and one of the key reasons I want to buy a Kailash blade.

Are you saying grizzly, you got a MK1 but lighter? I am guessing this is basically a heavier pensioner?

After reading what Andrew said about the performance models, I'm now deciding between a pensioner and a mk1, or even a hybrid between the two. I tend to chop and baton a bit more than brush work, and am definitely a fair few years before retirement, so I'm currently leaning towards an MK1 or a hybrid between the pensioner and the MK1. I'm probably splitting hairs at this point and can't go wrong with either option :)
Talk with Andrew. He said a MK1 could be made leaner and meaner; a little thinner than the specified 8mm, dropping a little weight as well as having the sides thinned more and choosing a lighter handle. It would add a bit to the changes. I was very tempted, but instead went with his original suggestion for me of the 11.5 HSI and at the last minute added a 9" Mini instead. I think the video of the Englishman with that MK1 was a huge selling point for me. I also liked its lines. So many choices. I thought I'd save on shipping by ordering two. I was torn between the 9" Mini, which was the size I originally wanted (a 9.5 HSI might have been better, since I was replacing a 7.5" 8mm Cold Steel Recon Scout), the leaner and meaner MK1 or one of the Bowies.

I am one who likes having a guard added. Not traditional at all and must change the balance for someone very familiar with how to use a Khukuri, but I am just more comfortable with one. My only regret was that I didn't ask for one on the HSI like I'd originally intended. But, for chopping, and slashing, one is not needed. The reason I miss one is that I ordered the leather handle on the HSI and there are no rings to add to securing your grip. Add to that some arthritis in the hand and a grip that is maybe 1/4 or more weaker than it used to be, and that leather for me is not as secure as I'd like. For a younger person, it might not matter, since many really like the stacked leather.

That Pensioner though, is a really nice looking compromise. I think if I ordered another, right now it would be a 14" Sirupate with micarta. My HSI has the performance grind. I did have one overswing in brush that hit some concrete. It put a small ^ up near the tip. After a few sharpenings it is only evident on paper slicing and will soon go away. Maybe a std grind would have prevented that, maybe being a little harder might have also. I really don't know.

I guess I really need a 13" or 14" Khukuri sticking in that wood on the bottom photo.