The Condor Kukri Machete up for review (available here) is an excellent option for a large, affordable, fixed blade knife that’s perfect for heavy-duty chopping, hacking vines and shrubbery, cutting wood, batoning and clearing trails. It makes short work of tall brush, easily lops off limbs for firewood, and sharpens up quickly to a razor edge.
I reviewed the Condor Heavy Duty Kukri a while back and came away very satisfied with everything that model had to offer. Like the HD Kukri, this model is also made in El Salvador with premium build materials, including high-carbon steel, thick genuine leather, and a gorgeous hardwood handle. This stout blade can take plenty of abuse without bending, breaking or chipping.
Let’s take a closer look at what makes the Condor Kukri machete such an ideal choice for outdoorsmen who need a reliable machete to bring along in the woods and on the trail.
The Blade Specs: Shape, Steel, and Edge Grind
The Condor Kukri Machete features a 13-inch 1075 high-carbon steel blade (18.5-inches overall length from blade tip to handle butt), giving it an excellent mix of sharpness, durability and edge retention. A blade that’s right at home hacking through thick brush, splitting stovewood, and just generally chopping down anything that stands in your way. It was very sharp from the get go. Not perfectly razor sharp, but had a workable edge that required no additional sharpening out of the box and was ready for use right away.
This is a kukri/machete hybrid, so the blade is a bit thicker than typical machetes (3/16 of an inch). There is absolutely no flex in the blade at all, which depending on your needs could be either a positive or a negative. The added thickness greatly improves the chopping power while only slightly reducing the blades slicing ability when dealing with long grasses and dense thickets. It does drastically increase the weight though (weighs in at approximately 1.5 pounds), which will make you fatigued quicker than a thinner and more lightweight machete. It features a full-tang, so you don’t need to worry about being gentle if you happen to hit a hard knot or tough spot.
The semi-scandi/convex grind on the Condor Kukri machete is easy to sharpen, either at home or in the field, and it can easily be restored to shaving-sharp with a few moments on a whetstone. Unlike a hollow ground blade, the edge of this machete isn’t prone to rolling or chipping when you use it for heavy-duty work. The blade is protected with a durable black powder coating in order to inhibit rust and cut down on maintenance. This is a necessity. As great as the 1075 steel is performance wise, it would rust on you in a heart beat without the powder coating if you aren’t vigilant with maintenance.
You have probably noticed from the pictures a small hole near the tip of the blade. Condor calls this the “Eye of the Condor”. I think it’s more of a design trait, similar to the “Spyder Hole” found on all Spyderco knives (though it also functions as a method of blade deployment for their folders). I guess it could be used as a nail puller in a pinch, but it’s mostly just for show.
With a traditional kukri shape, this machete hyrbid concentrates the entire energy of your swing onto one small area, which means you’ll spend less time and effort getting the job done. The kukri curve is also excellent for taking down saplings and thick undergrowth, since the swept blade naturally tends to catch and hold the wood, rather than bouncing off. That all adds up to an ideal blade shape that works well with brush up to 6” in diameter. The size and shape of the blade makes for an excellent drawknife. It can very easily debark, shave, and shape logs to create flat faceted boards or rounded billets. Plenty of surface area on the spine of the blade makes for easy batoning when processing and splitting firewood and since the blade is 13″ long you can split some fairly large sized logs. Much more efficient and practical than typical survival knives that only have a 5-6″ blade.
Handle Material and Ergonomics
Condor chose a hardwood handle scale (Guatemalan Walnut) to accent their kukri machete, and it looks absolutely beautiful. It’s lightly rubbed with stain and a finishing oil in order to provide a finish which resists slipping and maintains an attractive appearance even after months of hard use. The handle is accented with brass pins which run through the tang of the blade in order to provide a completely secure anchoring point, ensuring that the handle of the Condor Kukri machete isn’t in any danger of cracking or breaking off. A large, tubed lanyard hole (brass lined) is located near the rear of the handle to provide extra security should you lose your grip midswing. I do have a complaint about this. Notice I said “near” the rear of the handle. Well not near enough, as your grip will most likely cover the lanyard hole due to its placement. Very impractical. Just another half an inch or so back would have mitigated this problem.
The handle ergonomics are simple but well done, with a nice wide pommel/handle swell to prevent the knife from being accidentally dropped or thrown during use. The taper works well for an average to large hand, and the smooth finish won’t cause blisters or give off splinters. The brass rivets are entirely smooth, with a flush fit that prevents them from catching painfully on your palm. The Condor Kukri machete has excellent ergonomics throughout, with surprisingly good balance for such a front-heavy knife. The only thing of note that could be a problem is the overall size of the handle. It’s big and fat. Seriously, if you have smaller sized hands the Condor Kukri Machete may not be a good fit.
Sheath Quality, Carry Options, and Features
The Condor Kukri machete includes a machine-stitched leather sheath with two swivelling secure snaps for retention that hold the machete very tightly in place. It can be operated quickly with one hand, so this kukri is easy to get to in a hurry. The sheath is made of relatively stiff and thick leather, which is a great choice for this blade shape as a cheap nylon version probably wouldn’t last long after constant drawing and sheathing. It has an attractive and elegant grain pattern with the perfect amount of supple give, so it doesn’t feel at all cheap or plastic. A belt loop is included as the main carry option and it works well. Should fit fine on most normal belt sizes. Even swivels, which provides better mobility and makes the machete very comfortable to carry and easier to draw compared to other large knives.
Because of the design of the sheath, this big blade is suitable only for right-hand carry, although the handle itself is comfortably ambidextrous. It hangs lower than many knives due to its size, and you can expect it to fall about mid-thigh level. Due to the kukri blade shape, Condor went with a “split” style sheath opposed to a normal/straight insertion method to prevent the blade from cutting into the leather when being inserted and removed.
Anyone who prefers to carry their knives behind their back might be a bit disappointed, as the length of this blade makes it impractical to sit down easily when carried behind, but not a huge deal. That’s really all there is to it. A very basic designed sheath with no MOLLE compatibility, storage pouches, and a lack of tie down points. All in all an ultra durable, high quality sheath that is perfectly functional and built to last, though slightly lacking in features. I love it nonetheless and that’s saying a lot as I’m usually not a big fan of non-kydex sheaths.
Final Verdict On the Condor Kukri Machete
Anyone who prefers to use a big, thick knife is going to absolutely love the Condor Kukri machete. There’s no other “machete” on the market that’s this rugged and well-crafted at a comparable price. It might not be the best blade to take with you for utility work, and it’s too big for everyday carry; this large kukri inspired machete wasn’t designed for that. If you just want a light machete for clearing brush, vines, and thickets look elsewhere. The Condor Kukri Machete is a heavy-duty chopper that can easily baton firewood or hack through limbs, and every part of its build from the tip to the handle is perfectly made for those tasks.
I really like how well it functions as a drawknife, even though that isn’t the tools main purpose. You can certainly find better drawknives, but they are specifically designed for just that one tasks and aren’t good for much else. If you’re headed out into the brush and you have to cut your own trail, clear a campsite, and build your own survival shelter there are very few blades that can do those jobs as well as the Condor Kukri Machete at this price point. Great value for the money to be found in this hyrbid blade. The steel choice is very tough with good edge retention, the handle is comfortable if not a bit too large, and the sheath, though lacking in advanced features and carry options, is made from premium materials with high quality stitching. I highly recommend the Condor Kukri Machete.