Bowie Knife vs. Kukri Knife – What’s Your Fighting Knife?

A fighting knife should be a big part of your bug out preparations. But it is pretty easy to slip into a knife addiction, so then the question becomes what do I carry.

A fighting knife should be a big part of your bug out preparations. But it is pretty easy to slip into a knife addiction, so then the question becomes what do I carry.

This is not a knife snob article. I am a big fan of cheap knives, and I don’t consider them really that inferior. To some degree, a knife is a knife is a knife. The point of this article isn’t cost or quality. My question is what style of knife or short sword is best for a survival situation. On one person you can carry a big knife and a little knife, and maybe an even bigger knife on your back, but coupled with a battle rifle, a pistol, ammo and supplies, a lot of blades sticking out of your form isn’t going to be a net positive. You have to choose, and choose well.

All three of these Bowie Knives were bought for under $30 with shipping from either Ebay or BudK.

All three of these Bowie Knives were bought for under $30 with shipping from either Ebay or BudK.

The Bowie Knife

The “Bowie” knife is about as American as you can get in a fighting knife. It was the invention of the famous pioneer Jim Bowie who eventually died in the siege of the Alamo. The legend and culture of Bowie Knife grew out of a bar fight following a famous duel. Bowie survived the fight, which had turned into a gunfight (called the “Sandbar Fight“), with only the use of his belt knife, despite being shot several times. That actual knife was something like a butcher knife, and not the Bowie Knife design we think of today. But the legend was born and with it, going on two centuries of fighting knife culture. The “Bowie Knife” as a design evolved into some basic features, including a clipped point, a false partial second edge on the back, and a metal handguard. The Bowie Knife concept has been carried into knife designs since the early 1800s, and has led to inspire mainstream and custom knifemakers for generations.

The Rambo knife is a modern Bowie. In fact nearly every fixed blade fighting knife you’ll find in the American market will be some version of a Bowie. On Ebay you can find very usable Bowie Knives for $20-$30Bowies on the knife sight BudK for similar money, and a little more for nicer stuff. I am kind of a knife junkie and in re-researching for this article I was able to buy some gorgeous Damascus pattern steel Bowie style knives on Ebay for well under $100 including shipping. Is it “real” Damascus? Who cares they are pretty!

Bottom line. If you don’t have a good, solid belt fighting knife, there is very little excuse to not have one a week from now, regardless of your budget.

The top one is my Ontario Hell's Belle. I like the belt button sheath, the coffin shaped handle, and the overall weight and balance.

The top one is my Ontario Hell’s Belle. I like the belt button sheath, the coffin shaped handle, and the overall weight and balance. The bottom is my Kukri from Nepal. It is a tough choice which to grab to stick in my belt.

My favorite Bowie, and one I have carried for many years, is from Ontario Knife. It is from their Bagwell Bowie collection, called the Hell’s Belle. It was maybe $189 when I bought it ten years ago, and it is one of the more expensive knives I have ever bought. Ontario appears to be not make that knife anymore, which is kind of a shame. What I like about the Hell’s Belle is that it comes with a belt button sheath, not a loop, so you can stick it in your belt at an angle. It hides nicely under a jacket. The coffin style also handle gives you a much firmer grip than straight handled knives, and the overall feel of the knife is very wieldly.
The Kukri has no handguard, but the blade is so thick that it almost feels like a very controllable hatchet. Few Bowie's have that kind of heft.

The Kukri has no handguard, but the blade is so thick that it almost feels like a very controllable hatchet. Few Bowie’s have that kind of heft. The two on the left are Kukris, at over 1/4″ thick. The two on the right are the thicker cheap Ebay Bowie and my Hell’s Belle.

The Kukri

When you think about the reasons for how the Bowie is designed, you have to ask yourself if the most popular knife design is actually the best when it comes to a fighting knife. The balance point of a Bowie is generally near the handguard. This makes it very fast for a large knife, and you can stab and slash with a Bowie very effectively. It presupposes that you are fighting an opponent who also has a blade, so the handguard can deflect a slashing strike without injury. Though many people will argue that a small knife is “all you need” in a real knife fight, the traditional Bowie is the king of the big knives.

But! …should it be? In a real survival fight for your life, when you have been overrun and your guns are out of bullets, is the Bowie your best choice? I’m not sure.

The Kukri flies right in the face of everything Bowie. Originating in Nepal, the Kukri knife came to fame shortly before the Bowie, in the early 1800s, in the Ghurka war of 1812. In modern times it is probably most recognized as the preferred blade of Alice from the Resident Evil movies. She carries two on her back, and she is quite good with them. Interestingly, the Kukri was also featured in the original Bram Stoker’s Dracula, in 1897, as was the Bowie. They appear in the same scene, but the Kukri does the damage.

Perhaps the best modern reference to the Kukri is Alice in the Resident Evil movies. She rocks two of them.

Perhaps the best modern reference to the Kukri is Alice in the Resident Evil movies. She rocks two of them.

Overall the Kukri doesn’t get the media attention and exposure like that of the Bowie, but it has crept into knife culture nonetheless. I have always been a fan of the big bent knife, and over the last decade or so the knife market has been invaded by a number of what I would call bastard Kukri imitators. These knives have the curved teardrop blade shape of a Kukri, but not the customary thickness and weight, which is part of what makes a Kukri a Kukri.
Be careful to stay away from imitations thinking that they are a real Kukri. The top knife is heavy because of its size, and it is a full tang, but it still isn't a Kukri. The bottom is a United Cutlery and little more than a way too light  curved machete.

Be careful to stay away from imitations thinking that they are a real Kukri. The top knife is heavy because of its size, and it is a full tang, but it still isn’t a Kukri. The bottom is a United Cutlery and little more than a way too light curved machete.

Generally twice the approximately one pound weight of a heavy Bowie, the lumbering Kukri is a crushing, destructive blade. When a Kukri is razor sharp, the downward cutting power of the front heavy blade is a force to be reckoned with, and one that is not easily stopped. To me, if I am fighting for my life with only a blade in hand, I want a weapon that will strike down in one blow, and of all the wieldly fighting knives, I have always felt that the real Kukri is the king. The Indian Ghurka Regiment is still armed with the Kukri to this day, and you may remember the story from 2010 of a retired Ghurka soldier who still liked to carry his Kukri. Bishnu Shrestha took on a band of 40 men trying to rob his train, armed only with his Kukri knife.

The downside to the Kukri is if you miss. Over-committing a heavy weapon on a miss can leave you vulnerable for a counter strike. Therefore, try to avoid knife fights! Because unless you have trained yourself to knife fight, most likely you won’t have the moves to use a lighter knife effectively. Though I do tend to carry my Bowie much more than my Kukri, I just have a gut feeling that if I was in a real knife fight for my life, I’d rather have the Kukri. If I hit, I want the knife to do some damage, break bones, really ruin the day of whoever was stupid enough to go up against an old fat guy with a Kukri. Stabbing is probably the most lethal of knife fighting strikes, but it is a lot easier to have your blade deflected stabbing forward than it is to block or parry the wide swinging arc of a crushing Kurki.

You don’t have to spend big money on a Kukri from Nepal to get an real example of what makes the knife so effective. I bought one on Ebay for about $30 with shipping and it is a full tang, 3 lb. monster. The only thing is that it isn’t sharpened hardly at all, so you’ll need to use a grinding wheel on it before getting it cleaned up sharp with a stone. BudK has the same knife right now for $19.95, plus shipping. I will embed the video from BudK here in the article.

I bought my primary Kukri from Nepal. There are dozens of sellers on Ebay selling from Nepal and the knives all seem to be about the same, with slightly different looks. I can personally vouch for Ex-Ghurka selling on Ebay. They are not the cheapest, but there stuff is for the most part very clean and well made. A quality Kukri with handmade wood and leather belt sheath and the two extra little utility knives will be under $100 with shipping. Right now the dollar is very strong and there are knife sellers from Pakistan and China that have severely cut their online prices, so shop well!

Beware of the bastard Kukris that I mentioned above. They are made by Cold Steel, United Cutlery, Kabar and many other well recognized US brands. You can tell a bastard Kukri by its sheath more than anything. A real Kukri comes with a wood and leather handmade sheath. A bastard comes with either a canvas sheath, or a regular stitched leather sheath. The big difference in the bastard Kukris is weight. They are much lighter because the blades are very thing, and I feel like they are just Kukri looking machetes, and in fact they are often sold with the name machete. A real Kukri has a blade that is about a 1/4″ thick at the base. It is a serious piece of metal.

These are the two short swords mentioned in the article. The top one is 3 lbs. and has that giant hand guard, which is itself a hammering weapon. The bottom is my long Kukri, and not my first choice in a hand to hand combat weapon.

These are the two short swords mentioned in the article. The top one is 3 lbs. and has that giant hand guard, which is itself a hammering weapon. The bottom is my long Kukri, and not my first choice in a hand to hand combat weapon.

Katanas & Short Swords

I went to a Renaissance fair the other day and stumbled upon a Damascus knife maker who specializes in what I would call short swords. At 3 lbs., 25″ long with an 18″ blade 3/16ths thick, the sword I ended up buying is like a Thor’s hammer of swordlike blades. And though I kinda wish I got the pointier version, the handle and hand guard on this sword were much more fit for battle than any of the others in his selection. The merits of any sword are dubious. In the Civil War, even the officers would drop their swords before going into battle. Swords get caught on stuff and are always in the way, and their benefit in hand to hand combat is questionable. Nonetheless, this shortsword is a beast and I think I would decide to carry it in a survival situation. I won’t get into what constitutes “real” and “fake” Damascus here. This guy uses a hammer press to compress his layers, though they may be welded as well.

I compare that sword to my long Panawal Sirupate Kukri, which has a 20″ blade and is 27″ overall, and my “fighting” Katana, which was handmade in China and is Damascus steel like the short sword. The Katana has a 27″ blade and is 40″ overall. Both the long Kukri and the Katana weigh 2 lbs., 6 ounces, not quite the weight of the short sword, and all three blades have a very different feel.

My fear of carrying the Katana has always been that it will catch on things in a tactical situation. Even on your back, a Katana sticks out, and though it gives you much more reach in a sword fight, who gets in sword fights? Even in a survival world? The chances of you encountering another dude with a Katana who is up for a sword fight are slim and none. Most likely, if it ever came to it, you’d be fighting someone with a smaller knife, an axe, a pipe, or some other weapon. The extra length of the Katana isn’t enough of an advantage for me to risk it catching on things.

My "good" katana is this Damascus sword that is just like the one in Kill Bill. I love it, but it sticks out when you carry it.

My “good” katana is this Damascus sword that is just like the one in Kill Bill. I love it, but it sticks out when you carry it. It was sold to me as a battle capable blade, whatever that means.

The long Kukri isn’t the right tool for the job either. I find it so front heavy that it wants to come out of your hand when you swing it. The ideal Kukri blade length is 13-14″ for me. This was the original WWII British (Indian) Ghurka blade size, and I think it is the proper weighting for a good chopping weight. I love the look of the long Kukri, but they are used ceremonially in India, not as an actual blade carried for battle.

Fighting Blades vs. Ornamental Blades

My Katana looks just like the one in the movie Kill Bill, but I bought it as a “fighting blade.” This seemingly would signify that it is made to be battered in battle without breaking. Custom swordmakers (including the short sword dude I bought from), will tell you that they are selling you a “fighting grade” blade, as opposed to what they would consider ornamental or collector blades. The difference between a “fighting blade” and an ornamental blade is nonetheless a mystery to me. I have dozens of belt knives for which I paid anyway from $5 to $200 for, and I doubt that many of them would break if I stabbed it into an attacker’s chest. And again, I’m not planning to sword fight with anyone, nor do I figure I’ll be striking shields or armor with my Bowie Knife, Kukri, or any other blade I might rely upon for my survival.

There is clearly a difference in a blade that was made for fighting and a blade that was made just to hit a specific price point, but if the knife has a full tang, or even a well done rat tail tang, I have met very few knives I don’t like, or that I felt would fall apart. There are tons of swords on Ebay and BudK for $20, and none of them are worth buying, because they blades are thin and floppy, but would they break? The same thing with the 3 sword Katana sets you see for $60 or so. They are all junk, but will the handles actually fall off if you put stress on them? I don’t know. But if you want a “fighting” sword in the sense that it will have ample weight and quality, plan to spend $125-$200 or so, and don’t be afraid to buy from small sellers with good feedback on Ebay, or the specials on BudK (no they are not an advertiser).

While putting together the links for this article I scored this Damascus pattern Bowie on Ebay for $50 plus $15 shipping from Pakistan.  Don't worry about what the knife forums say about Pakistan Damascus being

While putting together the links for this article I scored this Damascus Bowie on Ebay for $50 plus $15 shipping from Pakistan. Don’t worry about what the knife forums say about Pakistan Damascus being “fake.” Do they use acid to accentuate the layers? Yes. Could there be a solid core on the knife with a veneer? Yes. Who cares! They are gorgeous! Not that right now is a great time to make offers on Ebay. The dollar is very strong and this was originally $99.

Ultimately, with blades you do get what you pay for, but only up to a point. A good Bowie can be had for $30 easy, and even less for that one specific Kukri that needs to be sharpened. But beyond $200 there is very little advantage to spending more on a blade from a specific maker. I like Damascus because I feel that it is more forgiving due to the layers of hammered steel, but you do pay a little more for it. Thankfully, knives are like guns. You almost never throw them away, and when you buy a nice knife, the next thing you want to do is buy another nice knife.

What is Your Fighting Knife?

This question isn’t for the knife snobs or the armchair commandos. If your first answer to the “what is your fighting knife” question is “my $1,500 custom boutique blade that I had to wait 16 months to receive,” you are most likely a knife snob. If your first answer was “I don’t need anything but a 3″ skinning knife to flay the lot of you and serve you for dinner,” you’re an armchair commando. The reality is that most of us don’t see any value in paying more than $100 for a knife, or $200 for a really really nice knife. And as for the armchair commandos, there are of course people who have trained and who are very dangerous with any blade, but you probably ain’t that, like the rest of us.

When I set out to think about this article, I realized that there are very few different types of bladed weapons that are unique and that can be carried on the person. Big, little, heavy, light, pointy, curved, long, short, hand guard, no hand guard, rubber handle, wood or stag handle. To some degree a knife is a knife is a knife and it all come down to what you like. As an example, I have an imitation WWII Ka-Bar that I got from BudK for $7.99 and I regularly carry and use it. I also have a $150 boutique “pig sticker” with no handguard made from a file, and I hate it. Blades are a passion for many people, and a matter of preference for all of us. I bought 8 knives just re-researching this article! What’s your take on the fighting knife?

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  • Don from CT April 21, 2020, 7:27 pm

    Wow. I am not a knife fighting expert unlike the 200 commenters here. Wow.

    Clay – thanks for the article.

    Stay safe.

  • Ronald Dunne December 21, 2018, 2:39 pm

    Like yourself and others here I have a selection of knives, many of them so-called “fighting knives” and Ive carried most of them at one time or another. Am an Old Geezer so Ive been around the block a few times in my life. I would have to say that my most likely “Out the door goin to a fight” knife would be a humble Indian Army Gurkha kukri made during ww2… It is solid, sharp and has a 12 inch blade- just right for me.. it will both stab and deliver a nasty strike.. Ive gotten a lot of use out of this particular knife on my travels and camping trips… Then there is a Carbon5 Trailmaster Ive had since the mid-’80s and used extensively. It would be hard to leave that one behind if the game was afoot..

  • Kyle VanZandt August 7, 2017, 9:20 pm

    Great article, thanks!

  • Jay Barker July 29, 2017, 1:08 pm

    I still have the C.I.-514 I got in ‘ ’67… Even though it’s 50 years old and looks it, it still makes people go “Whoa, that’s some knife!”

  • Ava June 5, 2017, 12:10 am

    It\’s great.
    Thank you so much!

  • Michael Waters May 5, 2017, 10:14 pm

    I make a few knives . Mostly Nessmuk style skinning knives from old saw mill blades. Although mine are more pointy. I always wanted a large Bowie. So I made my own from a piece of spring steel from an old mule drawn implement. It is thick and heavy but the weight is centered at the hand guard.. the blade is 10″ long and the guard is made of an old ferries rasp. It is full tang with rams horn scales .. it is very old school looking .. this is a brutal knife.. it will chop through tree limbs and hold an edge .. any way I’m out about $30 and I wouldn’t take 2grand for it .. make your own and make what your u want .. and my grandpa and his dad rode that mule drawn implement, so it’s got a little history!

  • jjkarn April 18, 2017, 12:10 pm

    My fighting knife is a Randall #14. It is a Bowie-style fighter with a 7.5″ blade. I bought it back in the early 1980s while stationed at Ft. Bragg. They still make it, although the price has more than doubled (likely due to the rate of inflation). (
    Although I have been trained to knife fight, and the 14 would be my first choice in a knife fight, I like this knife primarily because it also does multiple other things well. I have used it to cut brush and saplings for a survival shelter and to dig a hole for a solar still in a survival training class, I have used it to field-dress and skin game, and for general utility cutting, and it stays razor sharp. I will very likely never use this knife in a fight (the odds are getting significantly less at my age), but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a dozen other ways it could possibly save my life.

  • Jimmy March 14, 2017, 11:13 am

    *Purist aneurysm intensifies*

  • Mark Quintard February 23, 2017, 1:50 am

    My favorite is my Qama (a Georgian long knife/short sword) I bought it on Kult of Athena for under $100.00. It is very reminiscent of a Roman Gladius and is best used with a very similar style, i.e. thrust to the belly. BTW – The difference of a fighting knife as opposed to a decorative knife is the steel, which is crucial when talking about a blade that’s longer than 9″ or so – your blade cannot be to brittle or it will break, and the type of tang. I prefer a full tang (the steel of the blade continues to the end of the hilt) although there are ways of affixing the blade to the hilt that don’t necessarily call for a full tang (as with many Kukris, in fact).

  • Big Dick Tubigg January 13, 2017, 8:34 pm

    I carry a 14th century Samarai in my waist belt and am all the rage.

  • Rich K. November 11, 2016, 8:21 am

    I collect blades of various kinds, and use some of the ones I collect. I have a Gurkha issue kukri I bought many years ago, and I prefer it to a hatchet when I am camping for splitting kindling as well as light chopping (for bigger logs, a bow-saw works much faster and with much less effort!). I own a 450 year old Japanese wakizashi, the shorter of the two swords Samurai carried. Doesn’t have a lot of collector value. It can’t be attributed to any particular “school” of swordsmiths, is unsigned, and has a couple of forging blisters (known as “fukure” in Nihon-to collector’s terminology) that show where the layers of steel did not fully bond on those areas. They do not, however, compromise its utilty as a weapon (again, in collector terminology they are called “non fatal flaws”). It is 21-5/8″ long – large for most swords of this type, not too far short of a katana. Most likely, it was one of the many thousands of blades known as “tabagatana” (“bundled swords”) or “kazu-uchi-mono” (“things made in dozens”) that were churned out by smiths of varying skill levels for ashigaru (low-ranking samurai footsoldiers) during the Sengoku Jidai (Warring States Period), which ended in the late 1500’s. After all this time, it is still a formidable weapon, though out of respect for its age I wouldn’t want to use it except in an absolute last-ditch situation. My favorite long blade is a replica of a late medieval/early renaissance period German weapon known as a Grosse Messer (“big knife”). It has a 21-1/2″ blade, broad and slightly curved, and shaped like an oversized Bowie knife. It was made for me by a very skilled hobbyist, who made it as an experiment in techniques. The steel came from an antique hay knife, and is well tempered. The handle scales are elk antler. It has a sword-like cross guard, with a projection (known as a “nagel”, or nail, as many originals were nail-shaped; mine is sort of fish-tail shaped) over my knuckles at right angles to the guard. The leather-covered wood scabbard has integral sheaths for two smaller knives (an “eating knife” meant for cutting meat or other kitchen tasks, and a smaller utility knife), plus a sort of combination tool known as a “pricker”, which can be used as an awl and also as a sharpening steel. The sword is superbly balanced, despite the thickness and width of the blade, and I would not hesitate to use it for defense if it came down to blade fighting.

  • Jack November 3, 2016, 8:11 pm

    My fighting knife is the one in hand, but if I had to chose a knife it would be the Cold Steel Gurka Kukri in SK-5 (the san mai is waaaay too expensive to do anything with). Most times, it’s on my person or within easy reach, as I use it frequently for work in place of a machete. Unobtrusive (TOTALLY NOT INCONSPICUOUS BTW, but unlike a full sized machete, it really doesn’t get in my way), quick to draw, punches above its weight class, loads of other applications (i.e. draw knife, hammer, nail trimmer, toothpick, razor, ), and I’m intimately familiar with how it handles. The author makes several good arguments for both knives, but consider that the kukri can be used in capacities similar to the bowie, if you have a well-balanced one. Not only will it generally outreach a bowie, on average kukris are longer blades (minimally, but with blades every bit helps), a proper kukri can stab just as easily as a bowie and with a flick of the wrist can inflict grievous wounds. It is a knife, not an ax. Just because the kukri can hit harder, doesn’t mean you should. A full powered blow is an invitation to get flayed, if you miss.

  • Wally Gauna October 26, 2016, 2:54 am

    i feel good

  • Stephen August 31, 2016, 12:55 pm

    Isay the following seriously, but in a light hearted spirit. The way you self describe it seems apparent you don’t consider yourself a fighter. The information in this post is great and I appreciate your work. That said, Your bowie vs kukri argument is discredited with three words, “wide swinging arc”. If you are making wide swinging arcs you 1) don’t know how to fight in these styles, and 2) would already be dead. Have fun and take a few classes, but here is a tip, like chess, always control the middle. Going for a wide swinging arc, just like throwing a haymaker punch, opens you up, and you would probably get stabbed by the bowie person before you finished going back for that swing, before you started your forward motions. I grant you that pulling your knife should send most people in unarmed countries running from their foul course, but if they were to engage I would assume a) they are trained, so you’re f’ed, or b) they are desperate &/or high (a bad situation). So, please take this for what it was worth. Thanks again for the info, and have fun.

  • David Nolen August 31, 2016, 10:02 am

    My father witnessed Pearl Harbor as a 17yo Air Force Draftsman. His last assignment was a loader for the Enola Gray in 1945. He carried a Cattaraugus 225Q while stationed on Tinian Island. Not sure how he acquired it, but I remember he would always carry it when hunting or taking the family out to target practice. He made his peace with God 29 July 1992.
    My sister gave this to me in 1995, after receiving a box of his personal items from his 2nd wives family. The sheath was missing, it’s 6inch blade stained, with a few rust spots, the point rounded and the handle was a bit loose. So far I have cleaned the blade with steel wool and some honing oil. There is pitting from the rust in a couple of spots, and it would seem that someone tried to sharpen it with a grinder, missed a few times , and thankfully gave up before any real damage was done.
    I am using a Smith’s Sharpening Kit and have a nice sharp edge. I went to the local swap meet and found a thin leather sheath for $2, finding that you get what you pay for. The 2nd time I sheathed the knife, it left a half inch slice along the top rivet. Live and learn…

  • James Bergman June 13, 2016, 9:29 am

    I am a knife novice. At least I didn’t know that the Bowie knife was made popular because David Bowie brought a knife to a gun fight and won. The other guy must have been an exceptionally poor shot. Anyway, thanks for your tips. I really like the tips you have for how much to spend on a knife. It really just comes down to the quality I want, which is nice, however, I do agree that it is better to get something good than cheap. A good knife should last a while.

    • Jambo June 25, 2016, 4:23 am

      David Bowie. LOL.

      • Renato June 25, 2016, 11:07 am

        David Bowie’s wife actually has a tattoo of a Bowie knife on her leg.
        Interesting little fact.:-)

      • Renato March 21, 2019, 8:11 pm

        He must have sung ‘under pressure’ whe engaging into the fight.

    • The Real David Bowie July 5, 2016, 1:11 pm

      “Ground control to Major Tom, commencing count down engines on…” – David Bowie

    • Ian August 12, 2016, 5:52 am

      Or he could’ve got the jump on him
      Also the khukuri is more than a mere weapon it is a jack of all trades that can do many things well

      • Likydsplit May 1, 2017, 2:58 pm

        “…Bowie brought a knife to a gun fight and won. The other guy must have been an exceptionally poor shot.”
        As I recall, Jim Bowie DID indeed get shot more than once in that famous Sandbar Fight. The fact that he survived those wounds + at least one or two stab wounds, and still managed to defeat his opponent with his knife is what indeed made him famous.

    • Ralph September 6, 2016, 7:20 pm

      I am not a big man 5’9″ 185lbs so I tend to carry what is normal for me. I carry a Marine style fighting knife from Ontario but I like the Kukri style because I can carry it in the small of my back with the handle horizontal for easy grab and the blade comes out with the sharp edge towards the attacker for a gut slice or a neck slice even if I strike his arm either right or left it is badly cut and bleeds a lot. If I strike his head it won’t be a mortal wound but it will bleed profusely which is a good thing. I was taught a long time ago to fight this way and see no real reason to change. Some of you may think that it would leave me without a backward motion but let me explain when I come out fighting I am fighting for my life and not in a show and tell demonstration, so I spin completely around and side step one step. Now I can change the knife to a forward cutting edge or before I spin around I can strike a backward thrust and bury the knife into the attackers chest. This way of fighting has become so natural for me and has saved my life in times past in actual combat against an armed trained enemy. What ever you decide you must practice and become very good at it. When it comes to a knife fight it is no time for amateurs to learn how.

  • Scott M. March 26, 2016, 10:12 pm

    Gross motor skill, instinctive swinging, better one shot stop and family can run it.

    • Renato June 25, 2016, 11:11 am

      Everything and in most cases depends on the situation.
      When ‘the other’ blocks the Kukhuri with a chair, the Bowie might be the better choice ,for you can stab past a sturdy chair more easy then chop through it.
      That’s also why the Roman legionairs preferred the stab over the chop.Faster more direct. They had their shields to block and dived under or aside to stick the opponent on their Gladius.

      • Scott M. June 26, 2016, 8:17 am

        Fingers holding on to chair’s make for nice targets!
        Please note there are point’s on those kukri’s. ; )

        • Renato March 21, 2019, 8:15 pm

          Reading back my own comment.
          You’re right.
          Kukri’s have a point that is perfectly fine for stabbing as well.

          And also spot on , on striking the fingers holding the chair.

  • Brian Ross February 3, 2016, 1:14 pm

    My choice would be khukri.
    I had a BKT original Machax which lived in my car and rode along on hikes and kayaks. I had to replace it after it developed legs – ironically in my shooting range parking lot. It served well for chopping, preparing food ( with a choked grip near pointy end), as a draw knife and a hammer.
    The new replacement doesn’t have the heft of the original; probably 1/16″ thinner. Weight matters! I’ll be using the current production as a template to re-create the first one.
    As for fighting, the only serious training I ever done was for woodsman competition. With a proper drawing cut, the Machax will halve a 2×4 in two strokes.

  • Mark Wolfson January 23, 2016, 3:00 am

    Randall Confederate Bowie knife, the best I have ever seen. Nun said.

    • Dave Hicks March 28, 2016, 10:24 pm

      Agreed ! Classic AMERICAN Bowie I carry a 9 inch Bear &Son made in the USA Those Kukris Knifes the are just plain clumsy, unless you’re chopping corn stalks. If your in a knife fight you want that bowie blade.

  • ump October 19, 2015, 12:46 pm

    The author of this article has obviously never seen any kukri that wasn’t a piece of tourist junk. A real fighting kukri does NOT weigh 3lbs! If you look at a classic British Service Issue kukri then a 12 inch blade model is around 550-600g. The cheap kukris like the ones the author owns are heavy because they haven’t been given the distal taper a kukri intended for use has – which means that they’re too thick to cut properly as well as being poorly balanced. If you want a properly balanced kukri then try out a Tora or one of the Cold Steel models.

    • Scott M. April 3, 2016, 8:39 am

      A classic British Service Issue Kukri is a one size fits most.
      500-600 gr. Kukri is midrange.
      There is a very credible on line store in Nepal that will make suggestions
      (based on)
      your size and strength.
      I Thank the Author for this article!

  • Rocky September 8, 2015, 1:01 pm

    I, finally, got a US Air Force ‘survival knife’, recently. I own an after market Kabar, as well as a large Bowie and even an Arkansas toothpick, (Bud K Knives) amongst my small ‘collection’. The AF survival knife has about a 5″ blade, instead of the 7″ Kabar, the 13-1/2″ Bowie, or the 15″ of the Arkansas toothpick. I also own a British Commando knife, with a 7″ blade. Of all of them, for carrying purposes, I far prefer the AF knife. It is shaped like a smaller version of the Kabar, comes in a leather belt sheath with a metal squared off tip and a sharpening stone, in a pouch for the purpose on the sheath.
    In the State where I currently reside, there is no legal limit on knives’ blades, expect for whatever certain, various, municipalities may have legislated, so one must be careful were one wears a knife that can be seen, by the public. Once when riding into the big city near where I live, I was wearing a knife with a 6″ blade, whilst riding my H-D motorcycle and I saw a city cop’s head snap around at the obvious sight of my sheathed knife, in full view, but as I was getting on the Expressway and still running out of State plates, he let it slide and allowed me to continue on my way, unmolested. Where I once worked, 50 miles south of there, out in the County, fellow coworkers oftimes carried full sized Kabars sheathed on their belts, while at work.
    note; I always carry a spring assisted opening, pocket clip knife, no matter whatever else I carry along with it. Sometimes two. Even though I never leave the house without at least one firearm (usually two) and adequate ammo for each, you never know when you’ll need a blade, or for what purposes. Even if it’s only to open your paycheck, or to sharpen your pencil, or cut a rope or plastic wire tie (I’ve had two friends slash and stab themselves, respectively, in the legs whilst cutting wire ties, on the job, over the years).
    I have to concur with the adage that a smaller knife is better in a fight, than a larger, heavier one. Especially the Bowie and Kukri preferred by the author. They’re only good if those wielding them can manage to connect with a swing, as if they miss, the guy with the lighter knife will get inside and gut them.

    • Renato June 25, 2016, 11:19 am

      The Bowie is already a short design for combat.
      The Spartan Xiphos had a 12 to 18 inch blade at the times of the Greco-Persian wars.
      Which was considered short.
      In one account an Athenian asked a Spartan why his sword was so short and after a short pause he replied, “It’s long enough to reach your heart”.
      These men lived and died by the sword. You can count on the fact that they knew which size was perfect for man to man battle.
      Spears were their first and main weapon , for obvious reasons.
      You use your rifle first and pistol second as well..

  • Bob September 7, 2015, 3:46 pm

    .I have carried a knife since I was 9, I’m 78 now. The knife you can keep sharp, can re-sharpen easily, and fits your hands best is the one to carry. Select size based on the task at hand.
    I have a question: Can anyone suggest a way to open up the sheath for a KUKRI? I have one of those that was made in India and has a certificate of authenticity. The wood slabs inside the sheath bind the blade. Takes 2-3 minutes to get it out. I can cut the stitches that hold the leather together to get the wood out, but I’ll never be able to duplicate the stitching. Should I just make a new sheath and keep the old for display or just cut it and make it work?

    • Roman June 17, 2016, 10:39 am

      Hi Bob,
      You didn’t mention what type of leather the sheath is made from. Cowhide, Horsehide etc all have different properties. Regardless, if it’s a well made sheath don’t cut anything! Here is a technique that should work….. Using water, mink oil or some other light penetrating oil similar to what you might use on a good quality baseball glove get the area that’s too tight saturated. Before doing this carve a block of wood in the shape of the part of the handle that’s sticking but about .5 to .75 inches larger with enough length to hold on. Once the leather is saturated jam that wood block into the sheath and work it around checking the fit of the knife once in a while. Once the knife skids in and out easily leave the block in the sheath until it dries. If you used water the leather will stiffen up around the block. If you used oil it will remain softer and you may need to repeat periodically. Also with oil, the untouched leather will be lighter so you may want to do the whole sheath for cosmetic reasons but work out only the problem area. Good luck.

  • Bob September 7, 2015, 1:56 pm

    Good article. Just a quick question. I have one of those “original kukri” knives with the authenticator papers etc. The blade sticks and binds in the sheath that is covered by some kind of leather with a brass tip and slabs of wood inside. How do you get to the wood to “relieve” the binding without cutting the fancy sewing on the back side? Should I just make a new sheath and keep the original for display? Thanks for any suggestions. As for the original quest of the article – I, personally, think that whatever takes a really good edge and is the most comfortable in YOUR hand, is what you should carry/use. I am 78 and have carried a knife, if some kind, since I was 9.

    • Administrator September 7, 2015, 3:13 pm

      Try some graphite powder.

    • Ben November 28, 2016, 10:47 am

      Hi Bob
      Your sheath is fine. This is actually a safety function in original Kukri knives. If you move your knife forward I the sheath (towards the back of the knife) the knife will unlock and Come out easy. When you put the knife back into the sheath push it towads the cutting edge, then it will lock in again.

      Have fun!

  • Dave August 7, 2015, 11:29 pm

    As for the question bowtie or kukri for a knife fight things to consider for self defense. One in self defense you are attacked reaction time is key, how fast can you draw your blade with one hand while defending yourself with the other have a sheath without buttons or clasp. This in mind bowtie has more options for fast pulling. Second is surprise having a short sword on your hip for all to see means that’s gone bowtie or kukri, I prefer my 4in 7in overall fixed blade that pulls out the sheath with no more than a pull on the lanyard string. Small and conselded. 3 what feels most comfortable and familiar is going to be most valuable in a life and death situation. But to your question bowtie or kukri both slash well, bowtie stabs better, kukri chops better. As a carpenter chopping motion suits me better so kukri for me.

  • jony gun February 16, 2015, 9:13 am

    The very best fighting kukri made to date: ColdSteel Choas Kukri…

  • Michael January 13, 2015, 6:24 pm

    My own EDC is a CRKT M16 Black, CRKT Bear Claw (small, concealed in my safety boot), Spyderco Civilian, and a Leatherman EOD. Its a pricey setup, but SOOO worthwhile.

    • ALEC MOFFAT January 17, 2015, 6:45 pm

      Like Michael, my EDC is a CRKT, a M16-14Z
      It has acquited itself nicely twice.

  • Reggie January 4, 2015, 7:07 pm

    I enjoyed the knife article and had never heard of the website BudK, browsing that website for the last couple days also saw some interesting knives. I was looking at knives that were to be coming soon. They have a German youth knife with a swastika on it. Sorry but swastikas and knowing what they stand for, BudK won’t be where I’m shopping!!

    • Bill January 8, 2015, 8:11 pm

      Yah, those Germans were dirty rotten murders… nothing like the Americans that wiped out several Indian nations to take over their lands. Swastika bad, American flag perfect!

  • roger January 3, 2015, 1:44 pm

    I would prefer a good tomahawk over a knife if it came down to fighting with blades. Just my 2cents.

  • Russ January 2, 2015, 8:22 pm

    Khukri or Bowie?

    I have 2 Khukris (search these to see and price)
    1. I am ELI (Missionary)
    2. 13” Scourge (Apocalypse)

    And 1 KA-BAR—–>

    • Russ again January 2, 2015, 8:51 pm

      Those Khukris are mainly for survival, and the Eli has a removable handle, so it can be affixed to a staff for spear use.
      The Ka-Bar is for fighting.
      But with either one of my Khukri blades in hand, I can come down in defense on any man or beast and stop them. I have no doubt.
      They are heavy blades made to lop off ox heads with a single strike for religious sacrifices

  • Al Joy December 31, 2014, 11:30 pm

    Fighting knives are great for show, but if a knife is needed for defense you need a knife you can explain why you are carrying, otherwise you are liable to be tagged as the aggressor, and the mugger that attracted you will explain he was just on his way to bible study when YOU tried to kill him with your evil looking built for killing knife.
    Your defense knife should be something you can justify as being needed for your work. Your chances of having to explain why you are carrying a “concealed weapon” are much greater than your chances of ever having to use it. You can get a permit to carry a gun, they don’t issue permits to carry knives. Leave your knife home and carry a gun.
    As the saying goes: “If you find yourself in a fair fight, your tactics suck”

    • Pat January 1, 2015, 9:29 pm

      If alone, I would employ my carry knife as a slasher, mainly, while RUNNING like hell away from the situation (rule #1 of a knife fight…don’t get in one). You go for the hands as they are reaching at you, and face if closer. Stabbing (which increases the chance of killing) is mainly an offensive move, used by soldiers, or those who have to get into a life or death struggle because loved ones are with them, so they cannot run away (in which case, stab and slash like a madman, but be prepared to get bloody…his and YOURS).

    • UncleNat November 14, 2017, 12:15 pm

      Totally agree. That’s why my go-to is a machete. Good for cutting vines, chopping wood, digging holes, and decapitating zombies.

  • Bobby December 31, 2014, 6:36 pm

    I’ll use the PRO-TOOLS Woodsman’s Pal, with leather grip and hand guard! MADE IN THE USA!

  • Dale Johnston December 31, 2014, 4:27 pm

    I collect knives and various edged weapons. I have a number of various designs of both Bowie and Kukri. One knife that I am never without is a Swiss Army Knife. For everyday carry – yes, I bring knives to gun fights, along with a gun – I carry a Bod Dozier Agent (which is a small ‘bowie’ style) that fits in a Kydex sheath. That sheath rides on the belt and even if you forget and take off your jacket, vest, whatever, it is hardly ever noticed, plus it is not so large as to alarm anyone.

  • Rocky December 31, 2014, 11:50 am

    The author failed to mention two of the most infamous modern fighting knives (to my mind) from the last century, ie; the Marine K-Bar knife and the British Commando knife, both of which I own. It’s a toss up, to me, as to which is a better fighting knife. They were both created as such and deployed during more than a few wars, around the world.
    Unfortunately, many States have laws on the books regarding allowable knife lengths, for carry purposes. Other States which have no such laws, have town, cities and municipalities with such laws on the books. For instance, in Texas carrying a Bowie knife is illegal (Yes Texas, who would have ever believed it? They also forbid Open Carry of handguns !!!)
    Switchblade knives are almost universally illegal, but the new ‘assisted opening knives’ are allowed, almost everywhere. I’ve found them to be actually faster opening than many switchblades, in most circumstances, but such are beyond the scope of this article and thus this comment.

    • Pat January 1, 2015, 9:16 pm

      I suppose most militaries (certainly the U.S.) would go with something like the K-Bar over the Commando, mainly due to the utility of the K-Bar and its shape, to do mundane tasks (I guess these knives are called fighter/utility). As an example of the fighting/utility concept, I recently purchased a Chaos Trench knife from Cold Steel. WW1 trench knives were great for close in (shorter than arms reach) skirmishes against heavily clothed and equipped opponents. While the Chaos would wreak havoc with the protective knuckle guard and double edge blade, the thing is heavy and poorly shaped for utility and survival tasks (compared to a K-Bar) that a soldier would see, day to day. I mean, how many soldiers REALLY would be involved in a bad breath distance fight with the enemy while using a trench knife? You are SO right about knife laws being INSANE.

  • Dustin December 31, 2014, 9:46 am

    7-9″ blade full tang kabar or traditional bowie. Big enough for a knife fight, heavy enough to do emergency wood chopping, small enough for camp chores and cleaning game, and light enough you won’t leave it behind. Love the Kukri, but it is decidedly a chopping blade and has less utility in camp than a bowie style, not to mention weight. I have a Kukri several bowie style in different sizes, and a few dozen pocket and other style knives. They range from $5-400 with the more expensive a wakizashi katana (medium sword). Of all the knives and short swords I have weeded it down to a small multi tool (pliers, can opener, saw, small blade, awl, and screw driver), my 7″ blade kabar with compressed leather handle (best grip I’ve tried over wood, metal, g10, or other synthetic, for fit feel and control) with a strike pommel for hammering, and if the need is there a light quality machete can be used for more serious chopping and is a decent fighting weapon itself. All knives can be had for about $100. This is tried and proven no frill set up with movement for personal taste. You can perform just about any survival task with the first two knives and the machete would make life easy. The multi tool lacks any fighting use but last ditch it has a blade impact with the pliers out or use as a weighted punch, but it pays dividends in utility where a folder or straight blade wont. The kabar will never steer you wrong. Faster and more control than most knives and still very capable of camp chores. My #1 go to knife for hunting and camping. I always literally always take my kabar in the field even just for short hikes.

  • Pat December 31, 2014, 12:39 am

    Non firearm weapons (not including ballistic forms, such as bow, slingshot, pepper spray, etc…) generally fall into three categories: 1; concealable. 2; carry on person (hanging on belt, like a sidearm). 3; full size weapons that one sees on a battlefield or in front of an important doorway. Full size weapons are generally pole arms or pole weapons like poleaxe, halberd, long bladed spear, sword with huge handle, etc…No, katana and long swords are SIDEARMS and NOT the primary weapon, like pole arms, which have vast reach, power, and leverage advantage over them. The carry on person weapons are sabers, katana and long sword (mentioned earlier), and basically anything with a blade over 18″ or so and weighing over 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 pounds. I think the bowie is king in the concealable realm (look on Bill Bagwell and James Keating as to some of the reasons why). The environment will dictate your choice. A ko-katana (19-21″blade with normal sized handle) is a GREAT choice for the bedroom if you want one but mainly two handed ability, and a cutlass or foot soldiers saber are good for one handed use (you get added protection of hand guard). These things can block a baseball bat or machete (what crooks would probably have on them if non firearm), and will immediately incapacitate if the bad guy has a gun (which you should have, and must assume they may have).

  • Devin December 30, 2014, 1:36 pm

    I have a collection of Kukris! They are rock solid. They are cheap. They throw pretty well due to their balanced design, and there is not much organic material on earth that they won’t cleave through after a couple of whacks! Make sure you have 5 in your kit.
    If my gun ever jams, I am grabbing the Kukri!

    • Scott M. March 28, 2016, 8:17 am


  • Chad December 29, 2014, 12:07 am

    The kukri is an amazing blade for survival not necessarily combat. The KA-Bar is my personal favorite of the kukri machetes. Super practical for clearing brush.

  • Chad December 29, 2014, 12:06 am

    The kukri is an amazing blade for survival not necessarily combat. The KA-Bar is my personal favorite of the kukri machetes. Super practical for clearing brush.

  • Ronnie Vance December 22, 2014, 12:17 pm

    I have a Windlass Steelcraft Ulfberht Viking sword that sleeps by the front door. They also make the Gurka’s Kukri for the Indian army. My night stand knife is a first edition Cold Steel Tanto. I have a couple of Bowies but I want to get one custom made to my specs, as this is the real spirit of the Bowie.

  • Dave Hicks November 30, 2014, 3:24 pm

    Yes you must have a knife or two, but I like American bowie knives Don/t bring a knife to a gun fight I carry extra ammo, I’m to old to fight with out my Colt 45 auto

  • Mahatma Muhjesbude November 30, 2014, 9:45 am

    Okay, well, i don’t consider myself a ‘knife’ expert even though I’ve taught combat CQB knife fighting and i’ve done competitive fencing and have a lot of training with traditional martial arts swords, so i’ve always searched for the answer myself posed by this interesting article.

    Here’s my ‘cut’ on the topic. It all Depends.

    Unlike the moronic 9mm v. .45 moron debate of intrinsic superiority, however, there definitely is a difference in edged weapons applicability depending upon usage. generally speaking.

    The bottom line first is that the all around all purpose best general fighting blade would be the time honored Roman Gladius–(from which the term Gladiator evolved) and it’s improved knock-offs like the Quama, like Richard above mentioned. This was the sharp compact puppy that literally conquered the world. Almost every other ‘short sword’ like weapon evolved in form and function from this basic tried and true weapon.

    In the right hands (they are nothing more than a branch chopping machete if you are not skillfully trained, however) they are quite formidable against man or other beasts.

    Smaller, lighter Bowies and their cousins were a natural evolution of the short sword and proved their worth in hand to hand combat, and other routine daily living tasks too big for the smaller hunting/skinning knives, and were more of a supplementary companion to the firearm at that point in history, rather than a primary weapon.

    But choosing a fighting knife if you know nothing about edged weapon combat is rather like choosing a firearm before you ever fired a gun. You probably should get a book on short sword/machete fighting–Philipino martial arts include this–and go out and whack a few branches to see how it feels. The three levels of knife fighting are very different. Small dagger/combat folders fighting is very different from Bowie/machete work which is very different from saber/katana long sword combat. All of which evolved for specific needs.

    In the jungle i carried a rather heavy non military issue machete i took off a dead enemy soldier. It was obviously some sort of extra large commercial butcher knife that made quite a good short sword at around 18 inches and longer two handed grip. I still have it and it still would function very well as a brush clearer AND a good fighting weapon. I could easily take your arm off with one swipe with it. Never had to use it in actual combat but the one time we really were down to ‘hand to hand’ due to no ammo left, i opted for the AR with a bayonet attached Again. even though my arm was quite ‘conditioned’ to swinging and chopping at bamboo and such with the machete, I just never had any training back then with a ‘short sword’, but i was damn good at bayonet training, so that’s what i felt more comfortable with, in a very UNcomfortable situation, LOL!

    If you learn and practice a few moves with it, almost any of the above mentioned short swords will work to a great advantage against anyone of any size with only a smaller hunting life. , Some of the nice handy ones sold as ‘machetes’ these days are really good also as survival saws/axes , and the price isn’t that bad. Some go beyond the typical Bowie or Gurkha. There are so many out there, however. it’s hard to make a choice without feeling it and trying it, for serious self defense work. Grip is almost important as it is with a pistol. If it doesn’t ‘feel’ right, when you start thrusting and slashing and impacting, you could injure your wrist, or drop it.

    As the article says, longer swords had a specific purpose usually for engaging enemy on horseback until spears and arrows took over that job, and even shorter gladius/machete length can become cumbersome under most modern applications especially since you are already likely in bad a deteriorating situation. if you have to resort to knife fighting instead of your firearm or perimeter defense.

    In ‘skilled’ hands, the main advantage of a longer blade beyond the point of around 12 inches which can be considered the beginning of a short sword, is to keep your opponent at distance with long thrusts allowing you to ‘control’ the action..

    But if you’re a really well practiced martial artist/knife fighter, you can do almost as well with a regular CQB K-BAR size/style blade of around six to 9 inches, Which would be much less ‘complicated’ on your person in a maximum load bearing situation.

    I personally prefer to carry a modern version of a wwI trench dagger because as a puncher i like the built in brass knuckles in as a hand guard–if i was geared up with full armament, Ballistic vest, etc. But i do like some of these very deadly combat weapons passing off so-called survival machetes so i keep one of those in each of my vehicles. Not the longest one, but the shorter one from Gerber. From my skill perspective, it’s a very fast wielding, comfortable weapon. AND like this one, some actually can cut wood with a decent saw top. This one has a large grip section that’s optimal for sword ‘fighting’ but the blade, although advantageously light is still a little too spring steel flexible for my taste. It is not rust proof either. If they made one of stainless just a little heavier at the outside half this would be hard to beat for fighting. But for 12 bucks it’s hard to complain, either! It has a nice full cover nylon sheath, also. And just the other day at Menards building supply i saw another brand in their camping section that really looked interesting. For all practical purposes it indeed, was a real short sword! in the disguise of a machete. So that’s probably a good start to check into besides what the others here recommend. It’s hard to go wrong for the price. For everyday carry i have a 3.5 inch very fast opening tactical lockback.

    I also agree with the article’s implication that just because it’s from China doesn’t mean it’s that bad. They came a long way these days in knife making. And i’m not talking about the cheap Samurai replications. I picked up a 10 blade stainless steel modern style heavy blade Bowie at Tractor Supply with a sheath for 10 bucks! Nicely crafted with heavy riveted solid wood handle, polished and likely virtually indestructible impressed even a hard to impress person like myself.

    So unlike guns, at least making choices for a decent quality suitable fighting knife for all practical purposes won’t be that expensive.

    • Pat December 31, 2014, 1:15 am

      Now, I certainly would not want to meet a cranky old dude on the wrong side of a Gladius at the end of a dark hallway, but I think that there are better choices. You see, it was the shield, and fellow Roman legionnaire on each side of the individual soldier (as well as tactics) that made the difference. The Gladius is just a strange shaped double edged sword with around 20″ blade and a goofy handle without the shield (and fellow soldiers moving as one, on all sides of you), but I will admit it is a very good choice. I would choose a ko-katana (19-21″ blade length but same handle as regular katana) if I wanted two handed ability, or choose a cutlass or infantry saber (because they included a hand guard) for one handed use.

  • Richard Johnston November 26, 2014, 12:31 pm

    I read your remarks but not the replies on purpose, because…. well, anybody who loves knives just loves them. I agree that “a knife is a knife” theory, unless you are gonna work it Hard, and the Kukhri is excellent there. The Bowie is another Great Knife Style and I have Several styles in my collection. But, IMHO, if you want a knife that might fit you bill, let me offer two choices, both from Atlanta Cutlery/Museum Replicas (sister companies)… the Confederate D-Ring Bowie, and the Kindjhal. Without losing track, not sure of the Bowie size, but I know it is over 12 inches, and with a built in hand guard/knuckle duster. I Do own a Kindjhal, full tang and 18 inch blade, slightly curved at the end and double edged. I could also throw in the Qama, which is like a Roman Short sword, but they have a new Cobra Steel Qama that is half the price (advertised as a “machete” so …). It might be worth the effort to look at them. Hope this helps with your search for the “best” knife.

  • Will Dryder November 25, 2014, 10:52 pm

    The main differences between Ornamental or “fighting/combat” (should be referenced to as “functional”) swords is the steel/manufacturing process and whether it has a Full Tang. Issued Kabar stayed in the hooch, carried a origional Swiss Army for light work and Philipino jungle bolo. Blade was made from a leaf spring and handle was water buffalo horn. Cut everything and held a great edge. Some REMF confiscated it when I departed for CONUS.
    EDC Blade is Spyderco Police 1/2 serrated C07. In the apocalypse locker is a CRKT Hisshou. If you don’t know what the Hisshou is and your reading this far, look it up. You can find them for under $200. Buy it. Your great great grand kids will still use it a hundred years from now.

    • Administrator November 26, 2014, 7:01 am

      Why to people insist on explaining things they have no right explaining? Has the internet drained that much humility from the world? Full tang is an American invention and has nothing to do with historic high end swordmaking. There are some manufacturing and tempering differences between a high and low quality blade, but the differences are out there as to what they are.

  • Jackpine November 24, 2014, 7:32 pm

    Couple of observations.
    Native-made kukri’s aren’t always full tang, that would not be traditional.
    Kukri’s excel at one thing only: chopping power. That’s not the pinnacle of knife-fighting technique, it’s Lowest Common Denominator.
    The best, most workmanlike knife I’ve ever owned is the Puma White Hunter. Not cheap, $470 MSRP these days. Is it worth it? Totally subjective.

    • Administrator November 24, 2014, 7:47 pm

      Full tang is an American invention. Rat tail tang is traditional knifemaking.

      • Rob November 22, 2016, 11:46 am

        Full tang knives date back to the bronze age long before America “invented” them. Americans have a preference for full tang knives but are a far cry from the originators of the style. Even the different forms of full tang (through tang, threaded tangs, and scale tangs) can all be shown to have ancient origins. This is coming from a history buff with a degree who is proud of his american heritage. Love America, but we didn’t invent that.

        • Rob November 22, 2016, 12:08 pm

          Slight amendment to the former statement. Threaded tangs were not common until recently but examples can still be found that date back hundreds of years. Reason being that threading was not a practical option until iron metallurgy allowed for threading to be functionally strong enough to hold. Even then, the cost in machining didn’t make this a cost effective option until modern times. Furthermore I think you need to define what you mean by full tang. The conventional definition of the term is the the tang (I.e. billet of steel the knife/sword is constructed from) runs the full legnth of the weapon and this encompasses all of the styles mentioned in the former statement. Either way, all of these designs predate the US and the through tang with pinned pommel was the standard method of sword product for over 1000 years. Scale tang was an extremely common method of bronze sword production to offset the weakness of the metal and the list goes on.

  • Mr James November 24, 2014, 6:52 pm

    I have always been fascinated by sharpened metal implement’s. As a child I saw the film “The Iron Mistress” on a late night TV show I believe a “Alan Ladd” film loosely bases on the bowie knife. I believe that story triggered a need in me to always carry a Knife small or large and the Boy Scouts. Many years later I’ve noticed a huge knife design change I believe brought on by the C&C or CAD milling processes, with crazy shapes being cut and sharpened to create a huge subculture of knife making and makers. I personally haven’t poked a blade into a Human in anger or defense though the thought has presented it self but I’ve cleaned and butchered both Fish and Mammal many times and dissected cadavers in med school using sharpened steel’s and ceramics even tested stone implements I have made. My fondness with cutting effectively never has been satisfied. As I still buy cutting and stabbing implement’s, along with giving away some of the cutters I find excellent as well as sub standard one’s. I guess I’m not a collector as I have yet found the best Knife or Sticker but If I Do Ill certainly share it with Guns America.

    • PcTripper November 25, 2014, 5:02 pm

      I’ve actually held the Bowie knife from the movie! I’ve also held what some believes is the true Bowie knife supposedly found by a native Indian outside the fort in Texas, it was very old, damascus and had an unusual way to mate the stock with the guard and grip. It looked like it was well made but in the style of a superior working tool.

  • PcTripper November 24, 2014, 4:05 pm

    As a life long martial artist who has trained with the best martial artists in the last 35 years I will offer a short comment: The knife is not the weapon, you are the weapon! Thinking about knives is great but your training will make the grestest difference in that 2 tenths of a second decision you will have to make. And it will take a lot of training. Use your environment. If you have the time, wrap a jacket around your forearm because you may be cut, even if you win. Fighting is skill and knowledge/science. Find the best instructor near you and start training. Do not think that skill on the rifle range will translate much advantage to the bar or alley fight.

  • Lars November 24, 2014, 9:54 am

    I keep a nice little Cold Steel tanto in my truck, and it’s my go-to knife for hiking. But when the SHTF, it will be time to move to the little Chinese tanto short sword for EDC. The 13″ blade is short, like a bowie or kukri, so it is usable in CQC. I’ve never liked bowies much and have loved kukris since my Dad brought one home for me from VietNam (well, on leave in Thailand) in the ’60s. It’s a little 8-incher. Knives are great for silent work, where a single gunshot would get you noticed and killed. When I can’t protect myself with my pistol, rifle, or shotgun, knives will always be there as strong backups.

  • Phil November 24, 2014, 9:10 am

    I am with you. If I ever had to fight for my life, I want my Kukri in my hand. There is just not another knife that inspires so much confidence in me.

    • Scott M. March 28, 2016, 9:08 am

      Offense is the best defense!
      A tactic used by the Berserker of yesteryear.
      Axe and Kukri are terror weapon’s.
      Everyone knows that if you connect parts are going to fall off.
      (Military Sabre six cutting drill) Improvised to the Kukri is worth looking at.

  • Charles L Bloss Jr November 24, 2014, 8:32 am

    I collect bowie knives. My favorite is one I just bought. A Cold Steel Laredo Bowie, with a kydex sheath. This is carbon steel, so it must be kept well oiled. This bowie is more like a short sword, it is huge. The best fighting knife I have ever owned, for a fixed blade knife.

    • Pat December 31, 2014, 1:00 am

      If you like that (great knife, by the way), check out the Natchez (also form Cold Steel), which I believe to be the finest production fighting bowie on the market. The thing is fast, and could probably cut your hand off at the wrist. It wont chop as well as a kukri (though it chops good enough), though the balance, speed, back cut ability, and (very importantly) stabbing ability, leave the kukri in the dust.

  • flintman50 November 24, 2014, 7:55 am

    Hard to beat the old the old Blackjack Anaconda 1….1/3 hatchet,1/3 bowieand 1/3just “BA”

  • Terry landenberger November 24, 2014, 7:54 am

    I am a 72 year old retired person and now making knives as a hobby. I have two knives that I might mention, one being a sub-hilt that might be real handy in a knife fight. The “trigger guard hilt” would be kind of handy pulling the knife from a body and gives a good grip when slashing. I made mine out of 1/4″ thick O-1 tool steel and has a 7 inch blade full tang with micarta for a handle. As for as breaking, it won’t , if properly heat treated. It is not cheap however and it is for sale, just drop me a email at cost $350. Homemade leather sheath included. The other one is a 15 inch 1/4″ thick blade that is similar to the sand bar bowie, looks more like a large butcher knife with no guard, just a oak or walnut handle with three rivets holding it on the full tang. I donot have one of those on hand but could make one for $400, also with a hand stitched sheath.. If interested I’ll send a photo. thanks, terry landenberger,

  • Terry landenberger November 24, 2014, 7:50 am

    I am a 72 year old retired person and now making knives as a hobby. I have two knives that I might mention, one being a sub-hilt that might be real handy in a knife fight. The “trigger guard hilt” would be kind of handy pulling the knife from a body and gives a good grip when slashing. I made mine out of 1/4″ thick O-1 tool steel and has a 7 inch blade full tang with micarta for a handle. As for as breaking, it won’t , if properly heat treated. It is not cheap however and it is for sale, just drop me a email at cost $350. Homemade leather sheath included.

  • praharin November 24, 2014, 3:48 am

    I really don’t get the condescending attitude. I’ve been in shitty situations where shooting was the only option (military service, nothing special). I’ve been in situations where I needed a knife to perform various tasks in order to preserve life and limb. I’ve learned a few things along the way. A nice knife is a luxury item, like a nice gun. You seem opposed to spending more than $200 on a good knife. I can appreciate that. I EDC a small fixed blade “everyday”, and it cost me nearly that much (along with a Victorinox). I also EDC a S&W Shield. It cost me nearly double that. Would you care to guess which I use more? Well, I’m not leaving a trail of envelopes with 9mm holes in them if you haven’t figured it out. My little Daniel Winkler Neck Knife isn’t flashy. It’s made of simple carbon steel, not the stainless-super-steel du jour. It doesn’t look expensive, and the majority of people seeing it (not many) don’t have any idea it’s worth, and I don’t want them to. It’s value to me is far more than its price tag. I’ve had “fighting” knives from a bunch of big names in the industry. Most have gone by the wayside, because something about the design didn’t work for me. I’m picky. I’ll admit that the Winkler name justifies the cost for me. I wouldn’t have been happy spending the extra money from a Chinese manufacturer. But coming from a certified Master Bladesmith (an earned title, not an empty promise) means something to me. It means I know I’m getting a good product. I don’t have to worry about it, because Mr. Winkler has his stuff together. His time is valuable, and I’m willing to pay a bit of a premium to know his hard earned skill was at work on my knife.

    What this is leading to is, GA Admin, is the final questions. If spending more than $200 on a knife is out of line (the number is arbitrary, others set the limit at $50 or $500 or anything other amount) then is spending more than $400 on a carry handgun out of line, because the Shield goes for about that much? In times of peace, there are very few bad situations that this little handgun wouldn’t get you out of. Anything more is just “Gun-snobbery, right?

    Your line in the sand is yours, and yours alone. Some may make their line adjacent to it, and others near or far from it. Isn’t it more important that each of us find the tool that works for us, within our budget parameters, and makes us each content?

    • Administrator November 24, 2014, 7:13 am

      There is gun snobbery, yes. H&K. But at a different pricepoint. A handgun takes engineering, machinery and moving parts.

      • Mark N. November 25, 2014, 2:12 am

        Swords do not have moving parts (although folding knives do), but they have a great deal of engineering in the steel as well as in the design of the blade–about 4000 years worth. A sword is ot a flat piece of steel with a sharpened edge or two and a point at the far end. Rather, they taper in cross section from the hilt to the point. The shape of the point, the width of the blade, the composition of the steels in blades made with layered blades, all are engineered by blades smiths. A katana, for example, is not just a folded steel blade, it is in actuality a sandwich of hard steel (for sharpness) on the outside with a soft flexible steel in the core for resilience. The curve of the sword is the result of quenching the blade, not by hammering it into that shape. Tempering is critical to a proper sword, and if it is done wrong, the blade will not sharpen or will shatter. he balance point and the point of percussion are critical to the performance of a sword, and these things do not happen by mere chance. Short swords were developed for infantry, long swords for cavalry, wide swords for cutting against mostly unarmored opponents, narrow stiff swords for mailed or armored opponents. Even the fullers on blades serve a purpose–no they are not blood gutters–they are there to lighten the blade and increase its rigidity (like an I-beam). Good swords start at around $500 to $1000, great swords cost $10,000 and up. Paul Champagne is probably one of the top master swordsmiths in the country, and if I were to hazard a guess (I have never seen one of his swords for sale) they start at around $20000–and worth every nickle.

  • Jack Moskovita November 24, 2014, 3:46 am

    The weapon of choice for me is my Cold Steel Gladius:

    I have a few other weapons too 😉

  • Chuck B. November 22, 2014, 7:09 pm

    There are many more styles of knives that have been used effectively over time; the Scramasax, the Ballock knife, the Tanto, Warnclif blades,, and many more, all of which have strengths and weaknesses in various unique combinations. Knives, and their design/purposes have always been interesting to me.
    The best guide I’ve ever found to differentiate between a “short sword” and a “long dagger” came from a Chinese reference I stumbled across once: If the blade is longer than your forearm, it’s a sword; if not, it’s a dagger. I’ve found this rule – of – thumb (rule of arm?) to be quite handy – and pretty accurate, too.

  • Mark N. November 22, 2014, 1:38 am

    A whole bunch of stuff here. First, and each state is of course different, it is illegal in California to conceal carry a fixed bladed knife. Second, if you are in a knife fight, you have done a bunch of things wrong. Never get in a knife fight if you can possibly avoid it. You will get cut. Bring a gun instead. And if not a gun, then a sword. Knife is the last line of defense other than your fists and feet. Third, there is a huge difference between a really good knife and a really good sword. A good knife is usually very hard (for sharpness), and therefore brittle and easy to break. Most swords are softer and flexible, specifically so they don’t break when you hit your opponent’s shield/armor/sword. They flex/bend instead. Obviously, even a short sword has a great deal more reach than a knife, and if used properly, can be used to block or deflect attacks, while knives are mostly useless in defense. Different swords are designed for different purposes. Viking swords are wide and flat designed for slashing, and are weak as a stabbing weapon. An 1860 pattern U.S. Cavalry light saber is devastating in both roles. Epees, poniards, and the Patton Cavalry saber are all designed for stabbing, not cutting. Pakistani blades are worthless. Chinese swords are almost all made of stainless steel, which is more brittle that “spring” steel, and rarely have full tangs. Full tangs are important as they prevent the blade from breaking in your hand. Avoid them as defensive weapons. Knock off Kukris are useless, but the real ones from India or Nepal are a devastating and extremely well made weapons, essentially indestructible, and brilliant CQB weapons. Also very effective is a Roman gladius (or the similar artillery swords of the 19th century), with a blade length of about 20″. Forget about buying $200 “real” swords–they do not exist. Real swords, meaning swords made with the proper materials, the proper blade profiles, and the proper balance start at about $600 and go into the tens of thousands for hand made swords forged by master smiths. Real swords pierce flesh “like butta.” Fakes don’t.

    • Pat December 31, 2014, 12:52 am

      You (of course) cant get genuine antique Samurai swords or European long swords for $200, but you can get VERY functional reproductions from Cold Steel, Windlass, and other companies. Heck, Cold Steel has a Cutlass Machete that is almost identical in size and weight to the original U.S. 1917 naval cutlass (modeled after Dutch “Klewang”) for under $30. Good steel that is well tempered can do serious damage.

  • wade osborne November 20, 2014, 3:00 pm

    I never bring a knife to a gunfight.
    My go to weapon is a Kimber Tactical LE 45 ACP.
    and a few others

    • Frank Garza November 24, 2014, 11:34 am

      Not everyone can have handgun handy for a confrontation.

      I have heard the argument of “knife to a gun fight” in my many years as a martial arts instructor and licensed armed security officer. And if someone believes they can quickly deploy a handgun against a person with a knife or any other non-firearm weapon, they don’t live in the world I live in. That is why I do empty hand training in addition to my firearms practice.

      It’s not too hard to teach someone to be lethal with a knife, not to mention that knives are relatively inexpensive. Whereas not everyone can afford a firearm and the permit. The 21 foot rule has humbled many a law enforcement officer. I know, I’ve done some of the humbling.

      By the way, a taser is fantastic tool, but like a firearm, not everyone can own one. And I have taken a “3 second taser ride” and hope to never repeat that experience again (reserve Deputy training).

      So in my humble opinion, learn some basic knife self-defense to give you time to possibly deploy your firearm or at least escape without getting too badly hurt.

      • Dave Emery December 31, 2014, 7:01 pm

        Close up: Attack a gun, run from a knife. For survival purposes only a knife is more important than a gun, hands down.

    • JWG November 24, 2014, 6:36 pm

      I own both a khukri and an assortment of bowie and other knives. Right now an old USAF survival knife lives in my toolbox for late workdays in gun unfriendly locations. Most of these are close quarters locations around equipment and new indoor construction. The USAF knife draws quick and is handy to use in a fist in close quarters, whereas my khukri needs an arc to get a good cut in. Outdoors, that arc becomes a lot more feasible, and more destructive.

    • Dan Sullivan November 25, 2014, 8:55 pm

      Unless you train to pull, present and fire your weapon constantly from a easily accessible holster then within 25 to 35 feet a perp can produce a edged weapon, while closing and start stabbing you. Should the individual know enough to turn the sharp edge up and strike with quick upward strokes you will die with you hand on your holster wrapped around the handle of your weapon. Only a trained operator who has the correct equipment can arrogantly assume the possession of a handgun is sufficient and then he would be wrong.

  • MatKep November 20, 2014, 7:45 am

    Blade thickness and steel type (without being too snobby) are very important when matching a knife to a purpose. That being said, my 4 go-to knifes are as follows:

    Survival/Fighting: SOG Seal Pup Elite
    Basic Survival: Ka-Bar BK10
    EDC fixed: ESSE Izula
    EDC folder: Spyderco Delica

    • mtman2 November 24, 2014, 9:59 pm

      Well firearms have their place and uses, but when one needs a knife for whatever purposes the gun is of NO use;
      tho when one needs a hatchet or an axe a knife is of little use. Tho a Kukri is a semi cross of large knife and hatchet.

      Various bladed tools should be carried at all times for real uses if your one that works oudoors(I do Sustainable Forestry Management); survival use is then a daily possibility.
      However a Cold Steel Bushman and fitted staff that can be instantly formed into a spear is superior for many reasons one would deduce themselves. A new rake handle at any hardware store, straight grained Ash w/steel end cover is perfect. A staff alone is a fearsome weapon and handy item by itself, but the steel end fitted with a hardened rod(or lag) gives further durability and versatility.
      That staff is a seriously useful tool but with the Bushman quickly attached is capable of taking down any large game when thrown as a spear(learned skill) or as a thrusting weapon reaching 8+ft in a split second in skilled hands ~!

      • Pat December 31, 2014, 12:42 am

        Great idea.

      • mtman2 December 31, 2014, 4:05 pm

        To clarify the 8′ reach, that’s with the end of the handle still in your hand. Once you throw a spear- it’s gone;
        but holding it as a Matador does that much reach is very effective as King Xerxes of Persia found out at Thermopylae against the 300.
        Also handled well the very butt end of the handle thrust forward can break a skull, sternum, arm or knock the wind out of a 300-lb man for nonlethal use as fighting staff(Robin Hood style)

        The Bushman stays in it’s sheath on your belt like any fixed blade knife; but can be pulled out and jammed on the steel enclosed end of the Ash rake handle in a second or two and jammed tight. I doesn’t hurt to have two Bushman, one for practice that will be damaged and dulled but one for the trail or ‘bug’ out. Having both out on the trail is smart as the knockabout unit can still be for that; they are lightweight ~!

        • Pat January 1, 2015, 7:54 pm

          Yup. Never take a sword (sidearm) to a spear, or better yet, a pole arm (longer double edged spear heads, halberds, bill hooks, that may be a bit heavier than a spear) fight.

    • Frank February 5, 2015, 12:57 pm

      Fake Damascus knives are shit as are Bowies uder $20. You get what you pay for. I bought my authentic Damascus bowie for $600.00 from a friend that sells them for $1500.00 I would not put my life on the line for a $20.00 knife. Calling it a SOG Seal Pup Elite, Super Delux Extra Special type A does NOT make it a good knife. Acid etching is fake sort of like a chick with a boob job.

      • Renato May 15, 2020, 8:28 pm

        You don’t need fancy expensive knives to kill people.
        That’s dumb shit.
        Go look at south American countries what is happening there.
        Cheapo knives kill plenty of people. Sadly.
        All this crap about expensive knives.
        Fantasy.. that’s what it is.
        Like a Rolex watch. You don’t need that to know the time.
        A cheap 2 dollar watch will show it just as good.
        Reality… That’s what it is about

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