Kabar Combat Kukri Review

Kabar Combat Kukri Review

Being an outdoor enthusiast, camping, trailing and related activities are always on my weekend bucket list. Together with my friends, we occasionally head out into the forest for some adrenaline-filled fun. One thing I never forget to bring along is a solid blade that completes my outdoor experience. To give you a run-down of a recently tested tool, I present my Kabar Combat Kukri review.

For easier mobility, the machete helps in clearing branches, vines, and bushes. Besides, it is a good companion that assures a safe trip. You can chop branches, make kindling for the fire, or sharpen a steak. If you are a hunter, you may even process your catch, and cleave meat off the bone for barbecue.

Spending a night in the woods requires preparation, and I feel more confident with a multi-purpose tool, which I can use as a weapon for just about any situation. For these reasons, I prefer machetes over anything else.

KABAR Combat Kukri Summary

Quality

Strong steel. Weather-proof, tough Kraton G handle.

Durability

Tough 1095 Cro-Van steel. Thick but lightweight.

Sharpness

Very sharp out of the box. Hard steel that stays sharp.

Ergonomics

Light and portable. Good handling and balance.

Applicability

Poor chopper, mediocre for heavy yardwork.

Price

Very affordable blade at top quality, designed by Condor.

Pros

  • Resilient, durable materials.
  • Good balance between tough and hard steel.
  • Battle-ready, sharp, full-tang. 
  • Ergonomic handle and professional sheath.
  • Nice quality to cost ratio.
  • Portable and lightweight.

Cons

  • Very short. More of a knife than a machete.
  • Too light for chopping wood.
  • Rat-tang, not full-tang.

Overall rating:  4.0 / 5

KABAR used amazing materials to create this product. Tough, hard steel that can keep a sharp edge complements the highly resistant plastic handle. Too bad this blade is small and not full-tang. Good survival knife, but not a very good survival machete.

The Kukri Knife

If you are an outdoors person, you might be familiar with kukris – the legendary Gurkha’s weapons. The Kabar Combat Kukri is a modernized version of the historical Nepalese blade.

That said, it offers the best of both worlds: tradition and performance. Keep in mind, it is a weapon and a no-nonsense survival machete!

Kabar, as a manufacturer, is a well-established and reputable brand in the US. They make hunting gear, outdoor and camping tools, survival equipment. As far as I know, they produce this kukri knife in Olean, New York.

KABAR Combat Kukri review
Click the image for more product details and latest price. Image from Kabar.

This machete is comparatively the size of a traditional Nepalese kukri. It is smaller than most machetes, but it can certainly hold its own. Small kukris are designed for self-defense and martial arts, hence the name “combat kukri”. This knife is a juvenile in the kukri world, so don’t expect to bring down trees and make a hut.

Besides, its light-weight design makes it convenient to carry. It’s one of the reasons I prefer machetes over hatchets, despite being similar in performance – as far as outdoors survival goes.

Feature Specifications

If you are detail-oriented like me, you will enjoy consuming this section. Here is a feature spec list for the Kabar Combat knife:

  • General: Fixed blade, full-tang, sharp and battle-ready.
  • Material Blade: 1095 Cro-Van Steel
  • Material Handle: Kraton G
  • Material Sheath: Cordura & Leather
  • Color & Finish: Black Mat
  • Blade & Edge: Flat-grind, 20-degree angle
  • Steel Hardness: 56-58
  • Material Pommel: 12GA Commercial Grd Carbon Steel
  • Length Overall: 13.4″ (34 cm) 
  • Length Blade: 8″ (20.3 cm)
  • Length Handle: 5.4″ (13.7 cm)
  • Thickness Blade: 0.165″ (42 mm)
  • Weight: 0.9 lbs (408 gr)

Kabar Combat Kukri Review

Now that we are familiar with kukris and Kabar, let’s go into the specifics. What does this survival tool have to offer? I spent two days camping, using only this blade for rudimentary work. So, I have a good understanding of how it stacks against other models I played with in the past.

A chilling, down-to-earth comparison between different kinds of kukri models, knives and machete. May you find the video helpful in figuring out which kind of blade you need.

Ergonomic Handle

If you ever held a Kabar knife before, then you must be familiar with the grip. They favor a solid, thick handle to counterbalance the weight of the blade. That’s always good for handling and control.

This machete’s handle is made from a strong synthetic rubber commonly known as Kraton G – a heat-resistant, weatherproof elastomer. It feels grippy, it has high friction and a rubbery black texture. As a guy with soft hands, prone to calluses, I like that!

The designers attached a heavy metallic pommel (butt cap), at the end of the handle. It is powdered-black, scratch-resistant and it looks sturdy. Useful for breaking stuff, smashing walnuts, and so on! If you can make a machete-hammer combo, why not? The fewer tools I have to carry, the better. Plus, the heavy cap counter-balances the front-heavy blade.

The kukri also features a small oval guard, something you rarely see on traditional models. One thing I noticed about older Nepalese handles is they are thick at the pommel, but they become narrower towards the blade. So, if you thrust it through a hard target, your hand might slide onto the blade. That would result in a nasty cut! Well, in the case of the Kabar Combat kukri, that shouldn’t be a worry! The guard is there to protect your fingers.

I feel confident about the grip: Good balance, strong adherent rubbery texture, and a decent guard.

Another big difference between the traditional kukris and the Kabar Combat knife is the shape of the handle. This model has a straight, convex shaft with a small bulge in the middle. The grip feels natural, smooth. It is a big improvement over the traditional banana-shaped handles that go against the basic principles of ergonomics. Nonetheless, I still appreciate traditional Nepalese blades – just not for practical purposes.

Steel Blade

Whenever I glance at a knife or a sword, the blade instantly draws my attention. I put more emphasis on the blade than on anything else. So, in my Kabar Combat kukri review, I will point out its pluses and minuses.

As far as survival knives and tools go, here is what I am looking for: a thick, strong blade that can take a beating. You cannot chop wood and make kindling with a weak, blunt edge! 

Even though I like the blade, it’s a poor chopper because of its small size and lightweight. But it performs well given its size.

This Kabar kukri features a full-tang 1095 Cro-Van steel blade. This strong carbon steel preserves its edge incredibly well. It is a decent choice, with a hardness rating between 56 – 58 (on the Rockwell scale). Granted, it is not tool / spring steel, but for a short, thick machete – it is well-suited.

Cro-Van 1095 is basically carbon-steel 1095, with a small amount of chromium and vanadium – to make it tougher. Such hard steel tends to be vulnerable, so it may chip, but the edge doesn’t dull. So, we mix in additional elements and metals (in small amounts) to make the molecular structure stronger, more stable. It decreases the risk of cracking.

Cutting power of KABAR kukris
Image from KABAR.

Honestly, this machete didn’t come out of the box memorably sharp. However, with a few licks across the sharpening stone, I could shave my leg with it! I know people might be turned off by the thought of having to sharpen a blade, right after buying it.

I received it moderately sharp, I could work at my domestic chores. But with 1095 Cro-Van, I felt I could take it a little further! Most machetes are battle-ready and sharp. But if you are one of those people who only want razor-sharp cutters, then you will need to do it yourself.

I am anxious about sharpening expensive swords, especially katanas, and I’m not good at it. Better visit the local knife store than risk damaging the edge! There is nothing more disheartening than an uneven, distorted edge. Kukris and machetes are less likely to deform, even if you are moderately skilled at using the stone.

If you are courageous and you like to experiment, then there is no reason you shouldn’t learn a new skill. I heard some people suggesting that convex grinds sharpeners are the most effective. Convex grinds are popular if you are looking for that hollow-grind, razor-sharp edge. In my opinion, flat-grinds are safer for the knife, with a lower risk of chipping – even though they cannot make razor-sharp blades. 

This machete’s blade is a beat! It offers a clean cut, a decent chop, a light graze – it truly is a priceless tool. Cro-Van 1095 is sharp, and it maintains the edge for a long time, because of the high carbon content. Some might object to having an overly hard blade, out of fear that it might break or chip – I am one of those people! But this is a Cro-Van machete, with thick bulky design. It is less prone to the kind of damage that a long nimble sword like a katana might be vulnerable to.

This kukri can easily absorb daily abuse and heavy workload, with no damage. Just don’t try to break rocks or cut pipes.

Sheath

The Kabar Combat kukri review is not complete until we gloss over all three components of the machete: blade, handle and sheath. One of the reasons that I like this product is the simplicity of design. Here is an overall first impression:

Generally, the traditional kukri sheath is shaped like a banana to match the inwardly curved geometry of the blade.

But Kabar broke the pattern, by designing a straight, classic, dark Velcro sheath. It seems counter-intuitive, but at least you can slide the kukri knife in and out with ease. I prefer the straight sheath over the curved one.

The sheath has two straps, an upper and a lower one. These straps help secure the blade in place, so it doesn’t slide out.

The high strap keeps the knife sheathed, the low strap stabilizes it in the sheath, so it doesn’t play while strapped. I didn’t see the need for the second one. It adds too much overhead when drawing the kukri because you must unstrap both. The sheath design isn’t creative, but it feels solid and it nicely holds the blade in.

User Opinions

My appreciation is certainly subjective. However, it is important to see what other people think about this combat knife.

I never write a review without external opinions, and the Kabar Combat Kukri is no exception. Below are some thoughts from other users and buyers.

Some customers did complain about sharpness, while others were impressed with the “super-sharp” edge. So, either these models don’t align, or as I suspect, people have wide-ranging expectations and they don’t really judge sharpness objectively. A machete should never be as sharp as a katana.

Everyone seemed pleased with the simple, black, military design. They enjoyed the look and feel of the knife. So Kabar scores points on the aesthetics side. It reminds me of black ops military knives.

Positive words about the steel as well… The Cro-Van 1095 holds well in practice. I did not find negative criticisms about some lack of durability or toughness. Nobody said that their edge chipped, or something like that. That’s always my biggest fear, especially with hard steels.

My impression after gathering user feed: This is a solid, well-made kukri, whose grip leaves little room for error. It looks amazing and it stays sharp, because of the 1095 enriched steel! There are many positive and critical thoughts on this blade. However, it is a great value for the buck. Check out other buyers’ opinions.

My Final Thoughts

The Kabar Combat Kukri is without a doubt one of the good outdoor knives on the market today. It is short but flexible and sharp. If you love engaging in activities outside your comfort zone, then check out this machete. It is worth your money, and it won’t let you down! Feel free to check out some of our other reviews.

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