When compared to the vast majority of knife designs, the kukri knife is exceptionally unique. This unique design gives it an advantage over other knives, but it can also be confusing to know what you’re supposed to use your kukri knife to do and what tasks it can handle.
Kukri knives are incredibly versatile and can take on nearly any task that involves cutting. Initially designed for combat, kukri knives are used today for both utility and tactical purposes. You can use your kukri knife for clearing brush, self-defense, food prep, woodworking, and many other jobs.
There really are no limits to what you can use your kukri knife to do. Its primary purpose is to cut things with its slightly curved blade, and you can utilize this functionality for a wide variety of jobs and tasks.
Let’s take a more in-depth look at the two primary purposes that kukri knives serve, as well as eleven specific ways you can use your kukri knife.
What are Kukri Knives Used For?
Kukri knives are very versatile and non-specialized knives. Of course, there are specific tasks that they perform exceptionally well, but you can basically use a kukri knife for nearly any job that requires a cutting blade.
When thinking about all of the tasks that a kukri knife can complete, you can break them into two basic categories: utility and tactical purposes. Let’s take a closer look at each of these major groups.
Most people primarily use their kukri knife for utilitarian purposes. They are just the most common type of tasks that you’ll find on a daily basis and will likely make up the majority of the jobs you use your kukri knife to complete.
There are many ways to define what qualifies as using your kukri knife for “utility purposes,” but it basically means any type of practical job that isn’t self-defense or tactical in nature.
Household chores, clearing out brush from the backyard, survival tasks, food preparation, and many more jobs fall into the utility purpose category.
If you’re a knife enthusiast or hobbyist like me, you’ll likely only ever use your kukri knife for utility purposes. Unless you carry your kukri around with you wherever you go, you live in a rough area, or you are just in the wrong place at the wrong time, you’ll never really have any other use for your kukri other than utilitarian tasks.
The other major way you can use your kukri knife is for tactical purposes. For most people, they’ll likely never actually have to use their kukri knife for tactical purposes, but it’s an option nonetheless.
Much like utility purposes, the exact definition of tactical purposes is a little muddy, but it’s basically any task related to combat or using your blade as a weapon.
Kukri knives are not usually categorized as tactical knives, but they can handle tactical tasks and jobs pretty well regardless. For a full explanation of what tactical knives are, make sure to check out my article on what makes a knife tactical.
Most people won’t be in defensive or combative situations with their kukri knife often, so using their blade for tactical purposes is pretty rare. But if the need arises, kukri knives are pretty darn good at tactical maneuvers if used correctly.
11 Ways You Can Use Your Kukri Knife
Kukri knives are practical and versatile blades that can take on nearly any task you come across, but sometimes, knowing what you’re supposed to use your kukri knife for can be challenging. That’s why I’ve taken a bunch of time to compile a list of ways you can use your kukri knife in order to answer the question: what are kukri knives good for?
There are many more ways to use a kukri knife than those listed below, so use the list to jump-start you into thinking of creative and practical ways to use your kukri knife to improve or speed up tasks. Anyways, enough chit-chat; let’s just get right into the list of ways you can use your kukri knife!
1. Shelter Building
A shelter of some sort is one of the core essentials that you need to survive just about anywhere in the world. Whether you are camping, in a survival situation, or building a fort in the backyard, a kukri knife is a great tool to help you construct a shelter.
Kukri knives are very robust and strong. You can effectively and safely use them to split wood, gather raw materials, sharpen sticks, and do other tasks necessary for shelter construction.
The slightly curved blade of a kukri knife is perfect for harvesting grass or ferns that you can use to waterproof your shelter. For the structural elements of building a shelter, you can use a kukri knife to split wood, carve wooden holding pins, shape wooden beams, and so much more.
Nearly every aspect of kukri knives is ideal for every stage of building a shelter, so it’s an excellent tool to have on the job. If there is a task that needs to be done to build a shelter, chances are, your kukri knife can handle it just fine.
2. Clearing Brush
Another task that a kukri knife can handle exceptionally well is clearing brush. Clearing brush is a surprisingly practical task that you’ll find yourself using more than you expected, especially if you like to go camping or spend a lot of time in the outdoors.
Clearing an area to camp or pathing a new path in the woods is surprisingly easy with a sharp kukri knife. Most undergrowth and brush will be relatively easy to take out with a kukri knife and a little bit of power behind your swings.
Even if you aren’t tromping around in the forest a lot, clearing brush can come in handy if you have an overgrown garden, an unkept hedge, or really any sort of overgrown and dense greenery. You may not notice all of the overgrown plants around your house, but once you start looking, you can usually find some.
You can effectively use your kukri knife much like you would a machete and clear brush and overgrown greenery out of your way quite quickly, no matter your situation.
3. Chopping Firewood
While a kukri knife is technically a knife (it’s even in the name!), they are so robust and sturdy that they often have no problem chopping small firewood. Don’t go out there and start hammering your kukri knife against a giant log, but they can take on reasonably sized pieces of wood with ease.
Chopping firewood is an essential task whenever you are in a survival situation, camping, cooking using a campfire, practicing bushcraft skills, spending time out in the woods, or innumerable other scenarios.
Quickly being able to make small, well-cut firewood is excellent because it allows you to focus on other things that may need your attention.
While not as good as a well-sharpened hatchet or ax, a kukri knife is much better than nothing and can competently chop reasonably sized firewood. Make sure to check out my article on how sharp you should keep your hatchet if you’re interested in how to get the most out of your chopping tool.
4. Animal Processing
While it may take a little bit of practice and isn’t ideal for most people used to using a traditional skinning knife, you can use a kukri knife to skin and process game animals if you would like.
A kukri knife’s unique design and blade shape make it an excellent animal processing tool, but it’s far different from the design of traditional hunting knives.
Kukri knives check most of the boxes regarding what you would typically want in a good skinning knife. Simply put, a good skinning knife should be lightweight, slender, and have an extremely sharp blade. Kukri knives check all of these boxes and many more. For a complete list of elements to look for in a skinning knife, check out my article on the subject.
Overall, while kukri knives don’t typically fit into the general stereotype of what a hunting knife should look like, they do work well for the task if you know what you’re doing and are comfortable using the unique blade design.
5. Food Preparation
Food preparation and cooking is one of those things where people are EXTREMELY picky about what knives they use to do the job. While kukri knives don’t traditionally fit the description of a kitchen or cooking knife, they work well and get the job done.
It’s quite interesting how kukri knives are capable and good at completing many tasks, but because they don’t fit into what traditional knives or knives specialized for a particular job look like, they are often ignored.
Kukri knives are great for food preparation when you’re out of the kitchen on a camping trip or other outdoor adventure. The unique blade design of a kukri knife allows for precise chopping and more intense cuts or slices. Any type of food preparation cutting you need to do, a kukri knife is more than able to handle it.
Kukri knives are overall just super versatile blades that can take on a wide range of tasks, and food preparation and cooking is another thing on their long list of possible jobs they can accomplish.
Typically, most people who know anything about knives will tell you NEVER to use your knife blade to dig or move dirt. The dirt can corrode and scratch your knife blade, and there could be rocks and other hard materials buried in the soil that could break or chip your knife.
While all of these warnings are extremely valid for most of the knives you’ll ever encounter, kukri knives are one of the unique exceptions. By no means are kukri knives invincible and unable to succumb to the dangers of diffing with a knife, but they are far more durable and capable than most knives.
Kukri knives have been used and improved upon a lot since their inception many centuries ago in Nepal. Their blades are incredibly durable and shaped perfectly for many uses, including digging and moving small amounts of dirt.
While I wouldn’t use your kukri knife to dig often or for a long time, kukri knives are more than capable of digging and are actually quite adept for the task. If you need to dig out a campfire or dig up wild onions, a kukri knife is a good tool for the job.
Kukri knives are often used primarily for utility purposes nowadays, but they are also more than capable of being used as self-defense weapons.
In Nepal, kukri knives are standard-issue to Gurkha warriors who use them for utilitarian purposes as well as in combat. Kukri knives have a long and rich history, and much of that history is rooted in weapons design and combat traditions.
With the proper training and enough practice, you can use a kukri knife as a self-defense tool very skillfully. If you’re interested in learning how to hold and use a knife for self-defense, check out my article on the subject here.
The entire design of a kukri knife is perfect for combat situations. The blade of a kukri knife is quite long (depending on the particular kukri knife you have, their blades can be anywhere between 6 to 15+ inches), which gives them a good range of reach.
The kukri knife blade’s unique design acts as a sort of wedge when used to slice or cut. The blade’s curve lets it dig deeper into its target and, consequently, deal more damage.
8. Survival Tasks
Out of all the ways you could use a knife, survival situations and tasks are some of the most extreme circumstances you’ll likely ever use your knife in. Using a kukri knife to practice survival skills is extremely useful, and kukri knives are perfect for the job.
There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of various survival tasks that you could use a knife to help complete. Because of the diverse list of possible ways you could use a knife to practice survival tasks, a survival knife needs to be very sturdy, practical, and agile.
Kukri knives are incredibly sturdy, practical, agile, and so much more. They make lovely survival knives and can help you complete survival tasks with ease.
Kukri knives are super versatile and can handle nearly any type of task or job that could possibly come up in a survival situation or while training for one. For a full breakdown of why kukri knives make great survival knives, make sure to check out my article on the subject by clicking here.
9. Household Chores
The vast majority of people reading this will not be in an actual survival or self-defense situation very often, if ever. You can look at many of the possible uses of kukri knives listed above and feel a little overwhelmed or like you will never be able to use your kukri knife, but that is simply not the case.
You can use your kukri knife quite effectively to complete many household chores and seemingly mundane everyday tasks.
You can do everything from slicing open an apple for a quick snack to cutting open a package from the mail with your kukri knife. Nearly any job that pops up while you’re doing repairs on your residence or simply living there can be handled with the versatile blade of a kukri knife.
There are nearly no limits to how you can use your kukri knife to accomplish chores that pop up at random times. Unplanned and utterly spontaneous tasks that just show up out of nowhere are the times when you’ll really appreciate carrying your kukri knife around with you.
Whittling and woodworking are extremely common pastimes and tasks that you can complete with a kukri knife. Whether you are doing woodworking recreationally or in a survival situation, a kukri knife is a fantastic tool for the job.
Sitting on your porch or patio and carving a piece of wood is a pastime enjoyed by MANY people. Kukri knives can sometimes be a little too large and unwieldy if you haven’t practiced with them, but if you dedicate a little time to becoming familiar with your kukri knife, carving with it becomes quite enjoyable and easy.
Kukri knives really shine when it comes to woodworking in a more spontaneous and rough situation, such as while out in the woods camping or in a survival scenario. Quickly fashioning a rough hunting spear or tent stake from a piece of wood is just the sort of job that a kukri knife can handle with ease.
You can use a kukri knife to carve wood in various situations. While it may take some practice to become familiar with the curved blade, using a kukri knife for carving and woodworking can be very effective once you have it down.
11. Batoning Wood
Batoning wood with a knife is a quite controversial topic in the outdoor community because of the potential harm that it can do to your blade. While I would advocate for you to only baton when it is absolutely necessary and to do it sparingly, using a kukri knife to baton is likely better than nearly any other type of knife.
Kukri knives are made and designed to be extremely durable, so using them to baton occasionally usually won’t cause any lasting harm. However, always exercise caution and try your best to avoid bringing with your knife if at all possible.
Batoning with your kukri knife is one of those tasks that you should try to avoid if possible, but it is there if you need it. To learn how to baton correctly, make sure you read this article that I wrote on the subject.
Below are a few of the most popular and best kukri knives out there, so feel free to check them out if you are interested in getting a kukri knife for the first time or just adding to your collection!