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Khukuri House Bahadur
Combat Knife Review

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Khukuri House - Bahadur

During my knife collecting years I have amassed quite a few Kukri knives. More than two dozen actually. I did gave some of those away as presents, and I still have more than a dozen at home. Two of those(12" Ang Khola and 18" Ang Khola) are sitting in my garage, and serve as primary workhorse/heavy duty knives. Most of the chopping and hard work is done with those two in my backyard, not that I have a lot to do, but still, I get busy on occasion. All of my kukris were from Himalayan Imports, and I figured I might check The Kukri House offerings as well. They do offer very wide range of kukris. Except at the time I was already well stocked with all sorts of kukris, and after browsing their site for about two hours, I've picked the Bahadur, which is not really a kukri, but rather a large, recurved blade, heavy duty knife. Yes, I do have a lot more Fixed Blade Knives than kukris, but Bahadur was the one that caught my eye that day, so what can I say. Just bought it and have been using it occasionally since then.

General

- The Bahadur arrived in a box, usual cardboard shipping container, nothing fancy. Considering the price that was expected, and I think reasonable. Wrapping was secure. The knife itself was in the sheath. The sheath was the traditional, leather over wood type. It's a big, brute knife, no argument there. Unwrapping was followed by the usual inspection. I do not have too many complaints for 50$ knife. Well, there was about 5mm chip on the handle, closer to the butt, and that one was unexpected. I didn't return the knife, it's not exactly a sow piece, but a workhorse. I figured I'd fix the chip with some epoxy and black shoe polish, which worked just fine before on other kukri handles. Bahadur is a hand made piece, but its rough, mass made knife, forged using most basic tools. Therefore, the quality and precision are not what you'd find on an individual custom knife made by high end makers. The blade has mirror polish, and as far as its quality goes, very well made. Symmetrical, smooth, no defects anywhere. In short, aside from the chip in the handle, the only minor blemish I noticed was that the tang isn't flush with the handle, sticking out about 0.3-0.5mm at most. Other than that no issues with the knife, and overall I think it was what I'd expect from that type of a knife at 50$. And for the curious minded, Bahadur means courageous/brave in Nepali, and as one of my coworker told me that is a very popular name for the buys.

Blade

- Bahadur's blade measures about 228.60mm(9") on a straight line, obviously cutting edge is longer due to all the curves. Like I said Bahadur is a brute, 6mm thick blade spine is part of what makes it. At its widest, which is around the belly, the blade is 48mm wide. About the same as a typical 240-270mm Japanese Gyuto Knife. However, the blade geometry is more close to that of the kukri, in that the balance is tip heavy. Makes it a very efficient chopper, especially its size and weight. As mentioned above, the blade is highly polished, and that's more impressive knowing how it is done - stone and hand. For a rustic, hand made knife, the blade is really good. I got used to that style and finishing quality from Himalayan Import Kukris. I have great respect for Nepalese smiths making those knives, and their patience doing those finishes by hand. Ok, back to the knife. Out of the box edge sharpness was ok, but I could do a lot better. Hard use knives like that rarely come with razor sharp edges, and I don't expect them to, not that it'd hurt though :) Still, as usual I do thin down bevels even on hard use choppers, and put high polish convex edges on them. Works best for a chopper/hard use knives, unless you do a lot of twisting, which is negatively affecting any edge in any cutting application.

Sharpening Bahadur was relatively complicated compared to straight blades, due to its recurved blade. Still, the recurve(negative curve at the heel) isn't too bad, so I could use either mousepad and sandpaper or Japanese synthetic Whetstones standing on their side, which is narrow enough to fit well into that recurve. Belt grinder works fine as well. I listed all that, since I was using it for several years by now and had a chance to sharpen in in every which way. The steel used in Bahadur is listed as a spring steel. Typically, alloy used in Nepali kukris is AISI 5160 steel, or something similar, although nothing precludes AISI 1080 or 1095 or something else. I'm just assuming based on other data I have. I did try to find out more a while back, when I got the knife, but I never got precise answer. Spring steel it is. Works pretty good as a hard use chopper, may be I'll find out one day what it is exactly.

Handle

- The handle on the Bahadur is black horn. Although, if you are shopping for Bahadur after 2012 or 2013, then most likely the handle will be Indian Rosewood, because horn is becoming more difficult to obtain, apparently due to the restrictions, etc. Frankly, I have no idea what rare animals those horns come from, always thought it was something as mundane as bull or a sheep, but what do I know. Anyway, the handle slabs are attached to the tang using two pins and the lanyard tube also server as one more fastener. I already mentioned the tang protruding a bit. It won't really get in a way when working, unless you start moving your hand around the handle in a tight grip. I did smooth it down later on, using a belt grinder, took about 10 minutes. The chip I filled in with a mix of epoxy and black shoe wax, since the horn was black. Other than that, Bahadur's handle is quite good. Proportional with the blade. Comfortable after all the small fixes, even during prolonged hard cutting and chopping. Reasonably secure for all the grip variations I have used it in. I didn't try to use it with wet or oily hands, but for bare hand or with gloves it was pretty good.

Usage

- Bahadur is a big knife, with a really thick blade, so that defines its use to a significant degree. Sure it can cut an apple in a half, but peeling an apple or a potato with is no joy, and I did try both, just for the kicks. Given Bahadur's blade geometry, it has a good potential as a slicer. With a sharp edge it indeed slices well, as long as the medium isn't too thick. For thick mediums 6mm thick blade does present a problem. Bahadur did Ok on the cardboard, at least for couple hundred inches, but generally speaking cutting through the hundreds of inches of cardboard with a knife that weight half a kilo isn't exactly a good idea.

I did the usual set of mixed material test cutting as well, especially it was clear from the beginning that Bahadur wasn't gonna be my cardboard cutter. PVC tubing and rubber sheaths were both easy, neither was thick enough to get hindered by 6mm thick spine. As for the wiring, I just chopped though, I didn't have to be as delicate as with thin edged folders, the mass and speed combined with size and geometry makes that easy. No edge damage. I've skipped dedicated wood whittling test, since the next task was chopping and trimming branches.

Bahadur does a lot better with hard use tasks and again, because of its forward heavy blade geometry it's a good chopper. I've started with small, who knows what kind of saplings, which keep appearing in the backyard every year. Although, I am not so sure if 1"-2" thing in diameter is still a sapling. Chopped saplings down, then chopped them into about 15" long pieces. Continued with the Lemon tree, which also manages to grow a ton of extra branches every year. Although, the lemon tree is soft, those unidentified saplings were tougher. Overall, I was swinging Bahadur for about an hour and a half straight. Chopping test wasn't really planned that long, but that day things were piled up and prolonged usage tests are always valuable, not that I have to do that much more than once or twice a year. I did have dry wood, which I also chopped. Dry wood was mainly for handle comfort assessment, since the recoil is the strongest. As I said above handle comfort was pretty good. All in all, an axe would be better for doing all that, but for one, I collect knives, not axes. Second, axes don't double as knives all that well(although Busse PH Paul's Hatchet and Swamp Rat Paul's Hatchet do cut quite well), while large knives can do reasonable job with chopping and cutting. In short, Bahadur is quite good for both, medium/hard cutting and chopping. Edge holding ability on abrasive medium like cardboard which requires high wear resistance is average at best, but well before you get to edge holding issues on cardboard, you will get tired pushing heavy, thick blade through the cardboard. For hard use razor sharpness becomes less important vs. being able to keep the edge undamaged i.e. avoid rolling and chipping. In other words, what the knife lacks in sharpness it has to make up in size and sheer force applied to the medium.

Conclusions

- All in all, I am quite positive about Bahadur given its price/quality/performance ratio. For 50$(Update 2015 - well, its closer to 60$ now) it is a bargain. You get a beast, which can dish out and take a lot of damage. Sure that chip on the handle wasn't a plus, but things happened and fix was easier than dealing with shipping back and forth. Properly sharpened Bahadur is a good slicer, until you cut very think items, when blade thickness becomes issue, and even then, soft mediums pike proteins won't pose a problem, harder, sticky materials will be a concern. In which case either chop, or pick another tool, more suitable. Maintenance is easy, it's not a pretentious knife, main concern will be keeping rust way from it. Non stainless steel, so make sure it's always cleaned and dry before putting it down. And I don't mean long term storage only, during normal use, if the knife gets wet, especially with something salty or acidic, wipe it dry even if you are taking 15 min break, don't underestimate what moisture and especially acids can do to non stain resistant alloys. Needless to say, be even more cautions if you live in humid environments.

Specifications:

  • Blade - 228.60mm(9")
  • Thickness - 6.00mm
  • Width - 48.00mm
  • OAL - 360.00mm(14.17")
  • Steel - 5160 steel at 58HRC
  • Handle - Horn
  • Weight - 497.50g(16.82oz)
  • Acquired - 06/2007 Price - 50.00$

Last updated - 02/13/15