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    Rowan McDirk
    Rowan McDirk

    Knife review: Cold Steel Gurkha Kukri Plus SK-5 carbon steel

    1. Specifications

    Blade Length: 12″ 30,5 cm
    Overall Length: 17″ 43,2 cm
    Steel: SK-5 Carbon Steel
    Weight: 22.9 oz 0,65 kg
    Blade Thickness: 5/16″ 1,27 cm
    Handle: 5″ Long. Kraton™ 12,7 cm
    Sheath: Secure-Ex® Sheath

    2. Official Product Description

    The Kukri blade, with its markedly downward curved blade, has long been identified with the Gurkhas of Nepal, the mercenaries who have used this blade for over 150 years in the service of the British Empire.
    The Cold Steel Gurkha Kukri was inspired by Cold Steel President, Lynn C. Thompson’s close association with Dr. Maung Gyi, chief instructor of the American Bando Association, and a renowned martial artist with wide-ranging knowledge and skills. Under Dr. Gyi’s tutelage, Lynn gained insight into the full potential of the Kukri and learned it was not just a chopping tool but a piercing, slashing, and smashing tool as well. Smashing techniques allow the Kukri to function as a hammer or mallet.
    With Dr. Gyi’s input, Thompson designed a longer, narrower point for the Gurkha Kukri with more distal tapering to the spine. This resulted in a thinner, sharper point which can be deeply driven into thick, tough materials with minimal effort.
    Finally a masterfully designed Kraton handle was added to maximize the blade’s potential. Perfectly contoured and deeply checkered, it offers a superb non-slip grip and cushions the hand from the shock of usage.
    Each Gurkha Kukri is supplied with a Secure-Ex® sheath to protect the blade and allow you to wear it safely and securely on your side always ready to defend you and your loved ones.

    3. Why did you get it?

    Bill Bagwell says in one of his articles that there are only two good blades, a bowie and a kukri. I have to agree. The chopping power of a kukri is renowned and it can, like a bowie, be used for a multitude of tasks.
    I had gotten a traditional Kukri by the Kukhuri House and wasn’t impressed by it. I wanted to compare it to a Cold Steel Gurkha Kukri.

    4. What do you like about it?

    It has a carbon steel blade which takes an edge easily and keeps it well. The edge is flat ground opposed to the saber grind on a traditional kukri. It chops and cuts better due to this grind but is still strong enough due to this thickness.

    It has a finger or hand guard which makes it safer to use and is the only thing that lacks on a traditional kukri. I think adding a cross guard to the kukri perfects the weapon. I know that the Finnish say that a real man doesn’t need a finger guard, but I like my fingers too much. The integral guard is as thick as the back of the blade.
    For a battle I think this a huge plus, if the weapon of your adversary slides down your blade you won’t loose your fingers.
    For a user, it protect the hands when stabbing and can protect your hand, when it would otherwise hit the target.

    First I’ll talk about the sheath. It has some markings on it that say “Danger, do not grip here” and “grip here, take extreme caution”. For me gripping the back of a sheath when pulling out a blade is a logical thing, but I have seen otherwise. So the markings might be useful to some. If you would grip the sheath on the place where the guard is, you would slice your finger to the bone

    I like the Secure Ex sheaths for a Kukri, they prevent the blade from going through a usual leather sheath and cut the user, the blade is locked by the sheath and strap and can’t fall out. The lock is very good, if I put my thumb on the sheath I can push it out, I have other Secure Ex sheaths that are too tight.

    I am a big fan of the velcro/push button belt loop that can be opened so you don’t have to take of your belt. I can take of the belt loop and carry the sheath in my belt, like I do with my bowie knives.
    A downside of the sheath is, if you aren’t careful when putting the blade back in or pulling it out, you can dull your knife when it touches the Secure Ex. It can be pulled and put in without dulling the blade with some practice.
    Another downside is that the sheath scratches the blade a bit. For me this kukri will be a user so I don’t care. If you want to keep it a safe queen, don’t put it in the sheath.

    5. What dont you like about it? How could it be improved?

    The Kray Ex handle is too rough for chopping for long duration with my bare hands. I prefer to wear gloves when using. Putting my thumb on the top of the handle next to the blade seems to make the cuts more controlled and less tiresome on the wrist. This can be remedied by sanding the texture of the handle with an abrasive so it gets smoother.
    Due to the blade shape it is hard to sharpen on a stone.
    For the moment I am using a diamond and a ceramic rod to sharpen with the method described on this page:


    The technique works well, with good rods I can get the blade to shaving sharp. It does take more work than sharpening a regular blade on a stone.

    6. How did you hear about it?

    I noticed in the Cold Steel catalog and wanted one as soon as I saw it.

    7. Where did you get it?

    Buying Cold Steel in Europe is extremely expensive. I asked a US friend to buy one and send it to me.

    8. How did it help you in the past? (Personal experience of using it)

    I tested the Cold Steel Gurkha Kukri Plus against a discontinued Cold Steel LTC Kukri and a Kukhuri House Operation Iraqi Freedom KuKri:
    I wanted to know which Kukri performed best and did some tests.

    The Kukris I used are the SK5 Gurkha Kukri Plus(full flat grind, 5/16″), Carbon V LTC Kukri (full flat grind 3/16″) and spring? steel Kukhuri House Operation Iraqi Freedom Kukri(sabre grind 2/5″).

    The LTC still had it’s shaving sharp factory edge, the Plus and Nepalese both had a paper cutting edge.(I’m still working on sharpening a kukri).

    First of all I used all three to chop through a fresh 4 inches thick willow branch. The Nepalese took 36 chops, the Plus 26 and the LTC 21.

    Then I took another branch and chopped ten times with each Kukri.

    The LTC chopped deepest, I chopped a bit wider with the Plus but I think I removed about the same amount of wood. The Nepalese was the worst chopper.

    Then I tried the same with on a piece of dried (French) oak. 10 Chops with each Kukri.

    The results were about the same.
    The LTC did best, then the Plus and the Nepalese was last again.

    When chopping both wet and dry wood, the LTC chopped deeper but was also stuck almost every time. Pushing the handle down freed it without effort. I didn’t have any problems with the other two kukris getting stuck in the wood.

    Next I batoned some wood. The LTC is to thin, it didn’t do well. The edge of the Nepalese is to thick, it didn’t cut in the wood well, though the blade was thick enough to baton through if you took the time to get the blade in. The Plus did best, the blade cut immediately in the wood and went through it like through butter.
    This is the biggest on I batoned, it is very hard wood (Golden Rain)

    Then I made feathersticks.

    As you can see, the LTC did best, closely followed by the Plus. The Nepalese did not so good, it worked but it took a lot of trouble to get some small feathers.

    I tried to throw sparks with a fire steel.

    The Nepalese and the Plus didn’t do well. The angle wasn’t sharp enough. The LTC performed very well, even with the black coating on the blade. Though it performed best it is still hard to use such a large blade on a fire steel and get the sparks where you want them. I’ll leave the striker on the fire steel and use that instead of the Kukri.

    I have done cutting and stabbing test on plastic bottles.

    The LTC and Gurkha Kukri Plus cut perfectly. The Nepalese ripped through the bottle.

    I wanted to add the classic Kukri tools, a small knife and a sharpening steel/firesteel.
    I thought a while on what small Cold Steel knife to couple with the Gurkha Kukri Plus.
    The Mini Pendleton Hunter is a perfect knife to replace the karda, very small and light, yet enough handle for fine work. Hollow grind, good edge retention. Vg1 stainless steel, good for food prep. Both Secure-Ex sheaths made it very easy to attach the sheaths to each other.

    I got a rifle magazine pouch at an arms fair and used this to put in some survival supplies.
    First of all the diamond rod knife sharpener and ceramic rod. I can get an paper cutting edge on the kukri with these rods and a piece of leather to strop. I’m going to attach a strip of leather to the side of the kukri sheath for stropping.
    A small eraser to clean the diamond and ceramic rod.
    The diamond rod can be taken out of the shell/pipe it is in. The pipe can be used to blow on the coal the get a fire starting or higher. Takes a lot less breath then blowing with just your mouth.
    Second the fire steel, the back of the Kukri Plus is not perfect to throw sparks with a ferro rod, the back of the Mini Pendleton Hunter is sharp, it throws a lot of sparks.
    Next some fire starting materials. Two pieces of fatwood, a tin with homemade dubbin, cotton wool with this dubbin and a wick. The eraser could be used as a fire starter too. It should be possible to start fire in any condition with these. I could still add a small lighter.
    Last a bit of rope, this is waxed leather sewing rope, very strong for it’s thickness.
    I think of adding a quart zip loc bag with water purification tablets.

    I put a tartar patina on my Kukri Plus to protest against rust

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    Thanks for the review Rowan!

    Rowan McDirk
    Rowan McDirk

    I’m trying to upload the pictures.
    Edit, it took a while but I found out how to do it, enjoy.

    Profile photo of 74

    Great review and nice pick.


    It has a finger or hand guard which makes it safer to use and is the only thing that lacks on a traditional kukri. I think adding a cross guard to the kukri perfects the weapon. I know that the Finnish say that a real man doesn’t need a finger guard, but I like my fingers too much.

    Awesome review and great tests! This really sold me on the Cold Steel Kukri. Thanks for mentioning the problems with the handle when using it for longer periods of time. This would have been my question to ask. I will definitely sand it down.

    Your whole setup rocks. I do not like wearing neck knives but adding a smaller one to the big chopper makes sense.

    Alea iacta est ("The die has been cast")


    Thanks for your review, I’ve just bought the Cold Steel Royal Kukri Machete and I’m keen to play with it once it arrives  – it is very similar to yours, but the design is adjusted a little to make it a better fighting knife, and it is blacked to make it non-reflective.

    Profile photo of cpa23@cox.net

    Cold Steel Kukri-Not impressed as the steel is questionable.
    I own one and first time out the edge rolled over. Had to bench grind it out.
    Wrote to Cold Steel about it-No response or offer of replacement.
    “Caveat emptor” on this one.

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