During my late youth I hung out with some really great friends. One of our local adventurous pastimes was bushwhacking in the local park and connected woods. These were very thick, unexplored and mostly ignored by the local populace. The streams running through them also connected to a local drain culvert for run off so it was a bit of overland travel as well as what youth today would call urban exploration. You could be out all day and never leave the canopy walking for miles all around town wherever the local creeks reached. It was the ultimate test of gear and self… for a broke 16 year old.
We would gear up with a pack with some essentials, strap on whatever cutlery we had handy and go. Rambo type hollow handles were all the rage then. I carried an Ontario pilot’s survival knife but my friend’s choice of adventuring blade ware was way different. One of the best they used was a beast of a kukri my friends had acquired. Either their brother in the service overseas had picked it up or they had got it at a surplus store, its origins lost in the mists of time. It made a statement to say the least.
I always teased them for carrying such a huge piece of steel. They only wore monsters. Very thick and very traditional in make, materials and design. One brother stayed with his tried and true Gil Hibben Rambo III knife he had nick named ‘De Jesus‘ , the other used the big kukri with the wood and hide sheath that you had to stick though your belt buccaneer style. Those knives could do anything you wanted to try with them. I had rarely seen a knife that reminded me of the kukri we used during our forays, until now.
I am no longer a ‘big knife’ devotee, but something spoke to me about the Heavy Duty Kukri from Condor Tool & Knife designed by Joe Flowers. I had to get one to test. I asked Joe via email about his intentions for the knife’s design to which he replied:
“The size is meant to be a heavy but compact version of a normal Kukri. It has the heft and penetration power of a larger Kukri, but still fits inside a day pack. This was important as Kukri’s are multi-use tools.”
Stat wise the Heavy Kukri (Stock Number: CTK255-10HC) would impress anyone. The knife blade portion is 10 inches long, the knife itself 14½ overall. The blade is 5/16” thick (almost a third of an inch!) with the knife weighing in at 1.8 lbs. The steel is 1075 High Carbon Steel heat treated to 56-58 Rockwell. The edge is hand finished and razor sharp. There is a slight distal taper from the ‘hump’ of the blade. South American Hardwood slab handles are generous and well pinned with brass rods and a brass tube lanyard hole that will easily take paracord with room to spare. A good lanyard hole is lacking on most traditional models of Kukri I have seen so this allows for some lanyard based grip exploration if one is so inclined. There is no metal butt plate on this knife but it is full tang and feels very solid. There is a very small notch near the blade base. This is traditionally the Cho, a ritually symbolic addition to most Nepalese kukri though some say it has practical aspects as well. Here it is kept very small to minimize any expense in manufacturing and so as not to impede the performance of the kukri. I like the nod to tradition with an equal nod to practicality. The Cho makes a great striker for a fire steel after roughing the notch up a bit as well.
The sheath is black leather with a swiveling belt loop and a snap closure. Belt carry is now a secure option, although a baldric or pack carry might not be a bad idea. Wish I would have had that when I was younger.
As a field test I split a couple of thin slats off a maple log to make some handle scales for a hobby project. Any knife can be beaten through a log one way or the other but I was trying for more regular and finessed results. I needed the slats to be near the same thickness. The Kukri was easy to set and steady. With only moderate batoning it went right though the seasoned maple with no hang ups. In less time than it took to tell it I had my handle slabs. I do not think I could have done as good on the fly with an ax or hawk strike, though I am sure there are skilled Woods Monkeys who could. The generous handle and the fulcrum bend of balance in the blade made any sticking in the wood only a momentary thing. I for one would not worry about using this knife for heavy duty tasks.
I also whittled a seasoned log for kindling to use for a fire. The inner curve at the base of the blade excelled for fine work and if the material was too hard the blade was up for a heavy chop to get things started. The adventurous design of this knife holds true to its cultural origins.
The MSRP for the knife is $79.95. It is worth every penny. If you’re a ‘big blade ‘kind of guy this knife will be right up your alley performance wise. If you have shied away from the monster sized steel in the past the compact and robust build of the Condor is a little easier to handle and worth exploring. For most Woods Monkey readers exploring is what it’s all about.
“Like” the Monkey on Facebook while you’re at it too!
Check out more discussions on the Woodsmonkey Forum: