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Kukri or machete?

Which is better for clearing trails? Which one is a better survival tool? What size/weight should i get? Please help! Thanks
May 2, 1999
Size/weight varies according to individual taste, there are traditional measurements for various edged weapons/tools, but there is usualy quite a bit of leeway. I prefer larger knives.

Kukris are good for when you have a lot of hard stuff to cut,, like thick limbs.

Machetes are good when you have soft stuff to cut, like vines and vegetation.

Both can clear a trail and both make formidable weapons, if you know how to use them.

I really like kukris, but I think I'd take a machete as it fits well with my environment and is easier to swing for extended periods of time.

They are also easier to sharpen.

Either a machete or a kukri will serve you well, if you know what you want to do with it and how you will accomplish that goal.

A kukri's profile with a machete's thinness is hte worst of both worlds.
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I've had a similar question in comparison of the CS LTC Kukri and a quality machete. I would like to get whichever would be the most useful tool for chopping firewood while backpacking (75%) while also being useful for bushwacking briars (25%) off the beaten trail. I thought that a handaxe (or hatchet) and a long machete would be the solution, but I don't want to carry all of the heavy hardware around. I find that the mediocre quality machetese (US & SA production) that I've used don't keep an edge long enough for extended bushwacking, but the reach is better than a 12" kukri would be. They don't chop wood over 2-3" to make them worth considering. ALSO, how about those chainsaw blades with a ring on each end. Anyone ever use one on logs? ALSO, concerning sharpening, someone makes a field sharpener that is a ceramic V type stone housed within a plastic finger guard. You hold the knife spine down on a stable surface and run this sharpener along the length of the blade. Wish I could remember who makes it and what magazine mentioned it in a review last month. Looked perfect for sharpening anything like a kukri. Anybody ever use it?
Again, spend 15 bucks on an Ontario 18" machete and a few more dollars on a flat diamond hone and it will serve you well. I've used the pocket chainsaws before, they work pretty good.

[This message has been edited by JeffRandall (edited 14 August 1999).]
I've been pondering some of the same, and have read that the Ontario machetes and CS kukris tend to break when worked hard, along with other more exotic blades. The good khukuris seem to take a licking and keep on ticking, and I hope to be able to purchase one or more here shortly. My needs are really humble compared to the 'real work' that some of you do with such tools, but I've still managed to start a crack in my thin, tempered 24in 'corn knive' just doing stuff around the yard, and helping with civic efforts to control ivy.
Thanks Jeff, I'll check out thier web site. I'm still mighty curious about the Cold Steel LTC Kukri. Never owned any CS Carbon V blades and always wondered how their high carbon steel in that radical recurve would cut in the applications I mentioned? Do the Ontario machetes have enough carbon in their blades to keep some teeth in the edge after moderate use? I know that those pocket chain saws cut both ways, but do you know of any reason that a regular one way chain would not work if I tied a handle to each end?

ps: Its my first time in a knife forum and this one is awesome!

"But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip; and he that hath no sword let him sell his garment and buy one." Luke 22:36 & John 3:18
One of the Cold Steel LTC Kukri's we took down to the jungle broke lengthwise on the first good whack. Cold Steel replaced it promptly after we got back.

I like a Kukri except for re-sharpening. They make excellent hook-and-pull tools when canoeing in the heavy wooden dugouts. Some of the logs in the tribuatries will be submerged just under water level. You can sling a Kukri in and it holds good to pull yourself over the log.

The only problem I've ever had with a machete is cutting 'pressure wood.' The thin blade will get stuck sometimes in wood that tends to pinch the blade. As far as edge holding, personally the Ontario does well, but the cheaper machetes tend to screw up and bend quickly. - Jeff

Randall's Adventure & Training

The plusses and minusses have already been spoken to, but let me take another take on it.

Machete is great for brush clearing, and bushwhacking smaller limbs that it can get through in one chop. If you go with an 18" machete, your hand will be well away from the thorn bushes and poison oak you're cutting out of the way. The kukri, which will be much heavier, will do better for heavier chopping.

You say you're clearing trails -- are you cutting out big limbs and the like (favors kukri), or bushwhacking through brush and smaller limbs and you're content to go over or around bigger ones (favors machete).

One thing I always ask people -- and don't take this personally -- is have you actually done this activity, and precisely know your needs? Whenever someone says they'll be doing lots of chopping, I wonder if they've gone into the intended area and seen if there's already plenty of wood laying on the ground or not.

I'm no expert, but everything I'm about to relate is from first hand experience.
Machetes do tend to be "softer" and will bend and not hold an edge very long. Keep in mind I'm talikng of the generic machete found at Wal-Mart, Home Depot and the like. (I've used many of these and the best one was a $3 job I picked up at Wal-Mart about 12 years ago.... chopped like hell, even hard woods). I've never experienced an Ontario Machete.
My personal favorite is the LTC Kukri by Cold Steel. I see that it gets very little favor in this thread. Keep in mind that the design of the kukri and the machete dictate a specific technique when cutting or chopping and the LTC is no exception. I have to say that people who have used the LTC and disliked it must not be using the proper technique. With the LTC, you get the best of both worlds- Kukri meets bolo with the profile of a machete... a great chopping and clearing tool when used correctly. I have used one extensively over the past month to clear a couple of acres... everything ranging from briars and vines to trees 3"-4" in diameter. The only problem I encountered was when I chipped the blade on a brick. I dremmelled it down and resharpened it and it is still going strong. The traditional kukris I have found to be too thick bladed and that hinders their chopping ability, though the weight does add some. It's a give and take relationship. The thinness of the LTC I must also admit does tend to "hang" sometimes, but that can be a plus if you read Randall's post above about using one as a handle to pull one's self with.
The thickness will limit the splitting and penetration but the thinness will hang. Your final choice will boil down to personal preference but I favor the LTC because it delivers the best of all worlds.

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When I took a mission trip to Haiti, I bought a Brazilian made Machete. Haitians use machetes for everything from war to cultivating soil. The machete I have is tough and hardy with what looks like a soft high carbon steel blade. I'm not sure how to sharpen it. Looks to big for my sharpmaker
Specificaly why I don't like the LTC is because the forward-curving blade is best suited for chopping. Weight and thickness, with proper bevel that is, aid dramiticaly in chopping. A stiff blade is necessary for a chopping blade to bite deeply, as it will otherwise have a tendency to bend.

As mentioned, he thin profile of the machete, which is best suited to slashing, has a tendency to bind when chopping. I have found way the weight is distributed in that knife wears me out more quickly than a standard machete when chopping through grass, vines, and light brush.

If this knife works for you, that's fine. I'm just saying that it isn't anything that I want, given what I want to do with a tool in this class.
I`m suprised none of the die hard khukuri guys have chimed in yet. It should be pointed out that khukuris range in size and thickness from letter opener size to that of a 2 handed sword so sweeping statements about them are very hard to make. A Suripati with it`s long thin blade and light,fast handling characteristics should do anything a typical machette can plus handle heavy stuff if need be. Check out the HI forum for pics etc.,I believe GH has a similar model as well. That being said I love my 18" Ontario machette ,it`s served me well for many years. For the $15 or so I payed for it`s an amazing tool but it does have it`s limitations though. To my way of thinking the LTC Kukri and CS Ghurka light with their 1/8" blades share some of it`s problems such as getting wedged in larger woods and being poor for splitting. Given the money and the choice I`d go for an appropriate real Khukuri from HI or GH. Sharpening is a snap,just use a diamond rod. Marcus
I have a CS LTC that I bought some years ago.
I also have one of the 'good' older Collins machetes.I have it a lot longer than the LTC.
It hangs on the wall.

I have several of the H.I. kuhkuris' and I think they are a good all around tool.Depending on where you live and what you are doing with them.I accept what compromises I might have to make with them,but they serve me well for what I do_One in particular.

I have used the LTC for cutting small cane 1/4" to 3/4" and willow and such to 2".
I have found it to be the tool of choice for clearing tall (10') weeds up to 2 1/2". It is short enough to swing in a limited area and I prefer the weight forward design over a machete.
If I ever have to clear anymore of these weeds I will try my favorite H.I. model,but if it doesn't work as well I will use the CS LTC.
I just happen to like the way Kuhks kut over machetes though.


The civilized man sleeps behind locked doors in the city while the naked savage sleeps (with a knife) in a open hut in the jungle.
I would like to mention that not all machetes are alike either.

I recently bought a couple Barteaux machetes, and while I have not used them hard yet, they show promise.

Tempered high carbon steel, a version of bandsaw steel, a durable handle and a good thickness.

They can be found at:


Marion David Poff aka Eye, one can msg me at mdpoff@hotmail.com If I fail to check back with this thread and you want some info, email me.

Check out my review of the Kasper AFCK, thougths on the AFCK and interview of Bob Kasper. http://www.geocities.com/Yosemite/Meadows/1770/kasperafck.html


I have an old gun & knife show cheapie kuhkri I got back in the mid '80's for less than $20.00 & I've had great luck with it- chopping & hacking various & sundry on camping trips & doing yard work, but it has gotten most use splitting kindling for the fireplace- pretty boring & domestic, but it does a great job- one bad experience however- I took it on a long day-hike (yes it was heavy & I didn't need to cut firewood) & I tried to hack some briars- even though the blade was as sharp as I was able to make it w/ a carbide sharpener- the recurve blade simply grabbed a mess of briars & drew them directly across my legs. I was wearing cut-off BDU shorts & I got nice & tangled & pretty well cut up & I really wished I'd carried a machete instead. I'll never try THAT again! Each has its special attributes- pretty much an "apples & oranges" question
If you want the best of both worlds go with a 20inch Sirupati. It's got plenty of blade for trail clearing and the balance is good enough that one could swing it for quite awhile without getting over fatigued. Cliff Stamp has commented it works well in that roll.

As well, it still has the kukri shape and is 3/8 of an inch thick so it will handle heavy chopping. In fact it will outchop most 10inch bladed choppers like the Trailmaster I would bet. People just don't look at it as a chopper too often because it is often compared to an Ang Khola or such at the same time and the AK is the best chopper out there.

Plus its differentially tempered so you are going to have even more toughness.

Lastly, it comes with a sharpener and smaller blade in the same sheath so you have just about everything covered.

If someone wanted a blade that could do it all I would reccomend the Sirupati to them without hesitation.

thanks and take care
Along that line of thinking, for a long time I've been thinking about CS's "light" version of their Gurkha kukri. Like a machete, it's only 1/8" thick spine, so it isn't all that heavy. Like a kukri, it's got that belly to enhance chopping ability.

So, guessing based on the geometry, the plusses and minusses:

+ light, like a machete, and easy to swing for brush clearing and 1/8" thickness guarantees good performance in brush.

- will still wedge if you try to do hard chopping, due to thin 1/8" profile. So it's still not a hard chopper.

+ BUT, if most of your chopping is de-limbing, then the kukri shape should increase the diameter of limb you can sever with one cut.

So, what I'm saying is, you get machete properties, but also increase the size of limb you can cut off with just one cut. That is a very important property -- remember the machete will often wedge if it does not make it through with a single cut, so increasing the single-cut diameter is important.

Anyway, it seems like no one talks about the Gurkha light, because it's too light for kukri fans, but too weird-looking for machete fans. Maybe this *is* a case of best-of-both-worlds, though...

Hey, Joe...
(where you going with that gun in your hand...?) Sorry.... had to say it...

It's for the exact reasons you mentioned that I prefer the LTC as the best of all worlds. I tend to favor the LTC over the Ghurka Light model because it is heavier and has the bolo like shape and more weight forward.

Joe and Orion: i bought a cold steel light kukri and it broke on the first chop (and only on a small thin pear sapling). don't know if this is a problem but i have heard that the blade might be too thin for the curve? mine broke right up by the kraton handle. CS has been no help whatsoever with this; instead (since April) i have Cutlery Shoppe working on it. they're going to ship me a gurkha kukri (the heavier kukri CS sells); i shipped to them the light kukri CS sent me cause CS wouldn't budge either way. they wouldn't give me the GK and charge me more, thus making more of a profit for themselves and they wouldn't let me use the credit for the light kukri for something else even though they admitted there was a flaw in heat treatment. it seems as though if you buy a CS item you're going to get very limited customer service even when they admit fault. the GK is the last item i'll ever buy from CS. but you might want to opt for a light kukri from somewhere else; i didn't want one after the ease of breakage and the lack of support.
I either have or have tried most of the Machetes available, including Collins (old & new) Ontarios, Barteaux and others. But, I have to say that the Martindales made in Birmingham, England are going away, hands down the best of the lot!!! The only drawback is: the only place I know where to get them is in Jamaica.