Ka-Bar is well known for making useful, durable and affordable blades. Their fighting knives are good enough for the US armed forces, and their Khukuri “Kukri” machete is no less a solid and serviceable product. If you are in the market for a great Khukuri but lack the funds for a top-end brand such a Himalayan Imports Khukuri, give the Ka-Bar a good look.
The Taiwanese-built 11.5″ blade is made from uniform 1085 carbon steel, and is cut with a 20-degree hollow grind making it a breeze to sharpen. At 1.7 lbs, it is heavy enough for serious chopping duty, and is very well-balanced. The blade is also coated with a non-reflective finish that is both durable, and does a good job at retaining lubricant. The Kraton-G handle has a good-sized tang, and is very durable and weather resistant.
The hollow grind is a point of contention for me. On one hand, it makes the knife easy to sharpen and can be made very sharp with relatively little effort. On the other hand, the lack of edge support makes the edge somewhat weak. In other words, with rough use it will not stay sharp for very long. I believe that for a working knife, it is best to have a convex grind, or at least a flat grind to provide better support for the blade while chopping hard materials. Also, the Kraton-G handle could use a rougher texture for better grip. It can get a bit slippery when you sweat. And of course, the cheap-o sheath (though it serves it’s purpose) leaves much to be desired.
Regardless of some of the weaknesses, it is hard to beat the Ka-Bar Khukuri “Kukri” machete at this price point. It is a great tool for general utility use. And if all else fails, it would make a formidable weapon. With a freshly sharpened blade, a solid strike with the “sweet spot” would easily sever a limb or deliver other devastating mortal trauma to a would-be attacker. In this respect, the Khukuri design is not a true machete. It is derived from ancient battlefield weapons that were built to kill. Therefore, it may not the best choice for clearing your way through a dense jungle. It is made for lopping off limbs… be it the limbs of a tree, or a man. And in that task, it works like a charm. Ka-Bar Knives