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What's preferred for handles: horn or wood?


Mar 9, 2000
I guess the question says it all. On a picture, I think the black horn looks best. Is it as durable? Maybe wood looks better in person? I was hoping to get input from you khukuri veterans, as I'm new at this games. Thanks.
Ad it all comes down to personal preferences.
I prefer the wood since it gives a better grip and especially when wet.
Besides to me the wood grain has much more interest and color.
And wood holds up well over the years as the old WW II and older khukuris testify.
And the patina the wood gets also adds to it's beauty and it's also fun to put a nicer finish on the wood to see what kind of patterns are hidden underneath.:D

The horn is beautiful as well and often even the solid black has some grain lines in it from the natural growth of the buffalo, sort of a black on black color.
My favorite extra heavy duty 18"AK has horn handles and after much agonizeing I finally roughed up the smooth shiny finish.
There's little else that can scare the **** out of you than a khukuri that has flew out of your hand.
And strength isn't a factor either.:D
I'd have to say I prefer horn. It's just my opinion, but I think it's (usually) a classier material for the handle than wood. It's also my feeling that it's more durable and solid than most wood.

Hi, I'm kinda new here, hope you don't mind the reply, but I'll take a wood handle over horn any day if its a using knife. If I'm going camping or hiking I take a knife with a wood handle. Depending on the wood, it has a little more give before it finally cracks ruining your chances of using it until you fix it. And with horn, as was stated before, you always have the chance of a slippery handle if its polished and smooth. And after all, buffalo horn looks good polished so--why wouldn't you have it polished? For a wall hanger or a show-piece I would defintely take buffalo horn.
Asian Buffalo horn is very fiborous and extremely tough. It will crack, as we all know, from sudden changes in temp and humidity. The native woods, especially Saatisal, fits the above description exactly, except they won't stop a .458 Win. Mag. like the boss on a buff has been known to do. One of the reasons the wood "grips" better is the natural oil in the wood, and the oil or wax finishes we use to protect it. The hoof dressing I've been using on my horn (mostly mineral oil) gives the same grip texture as oiled, polished wood. Now, all I have to do is decide which one I like best. Maybe after I buy a few more horn handles:rolleyes:
Yea, I like the look of horn. But I don't like the idea of a two pound buzz saw flying out of my hands. Also, I read somewhere on here that the ghurkas may prefer wood because it soaks in the sweat and blood, thus lending to the spirit of the knife.
If you buy one of the wood ones, you can more easily (I think) fit it to you hand. Also, playing with different finishes is also something that you can do to customise and get to know your blades.

I just find the wood more fun.:) :p :)
Horn certainly looks much nicer, but it is far too smooth to provide as good a grip as that of a wood handle. Besides, I think it has a higher chance of cracking than wood.
I hate to agree with the NDN but I like woodmaybe my taste will change cause I'm using a horn BAS by Durba for now!
I like wood since it has a better grip. I am also more familar with how to care for it and wood's behavior. Most of my khukuri's are horn though.

Ten years ago everybody wanted horn. Today more people want wood than horn. Changing tastes and I also think people have learned that the wood will do as well as horn in all areas.
I can't explain it, but to have the spirit we khuk knuts desire it seems as if

1) It has to be a forged blade made by someone who puts part of himself into it ( and not made by the stock removal method ), and

2) It just seems to me that for the spirit to move through the handle properly it has to be a once living material to bridge the gap between the steel and your flesh. Metal handles leave me feeling creepy.

I can buy the idea that Ghorkas prefered wood to horn because it absorbed sweat and blood. Kinda - I'm not animistic, and don't believe a word of what was said above - until I pick up a khukuri.
I think that I have to go with the wood. I think it does give a better grip. And I most definitely agree with Rusty an HI Kukuri comes alive when you pick it up. Something that has to be experienced.
Uncle, you might want to suggest to Gelbu -
that when he goes to buy horn again, he look for the white-veined or reddish horn ( or whatever ) for those who grab at anything that's different.
As usual, I agree with Yvsa: "it all comes down to personal preferences.":)

I don't think you have to be afraid of either. Horn is definitely more water-resistant than wood, and wood can have a somewhat more grippy surface, but both work just fine by me. More people around here already know how to take care of wood than of horn, but I've had no problems with the horn. I leave them all out in the garage so they don't tend to undergo a lot of temp and humidity shock and I rub hooflex into the horn every now and then. I've had no cracking at all.

Now the leather can be a different story.:( I recently found a split in the leather of the one tooled scabbard that I have. Right across the face of a smiling sun about an inch from the mouth of the scabbard.:( The khukuri is the one khuk that I haven't had the heart to use, an 18" sirupati by Bura.

I also don't really know what I'd do with a sirupati. I'm more interested in "agricutural" uses than "martial" ones, so I was keeping the rig in mint condition in case I decided to sell it. I was always a bit unsure of that leather. I guess this means I'll have to keep it.:rolleyes:

But the horn handles are just fine. Get what you like and sooner or later you'll have some of both. I like both, myself. If you just keep buying (for "research" of course:p ) you'll have a chance to see that both are good.:D

I think that often the Khukri will chose what handle it wants. I really do love 'em all. I will admit I have a weakness for the gray striped horn. Truly striking :)