The Angkhola (back-valley), so named after the gorgeous use of fullers in it’s construction has gained a reputation in recent years as being a hugely powerful chopper and perhaps one of the toughest knives in the world. Only so much of this reputation is justified though, with the majority of this being based off the marketing efforts of Himalyan Imports while promoting their Chiruwa (full tang) Angkhola. While that knife they produce is undoubtedly very tough, it has less to do with the style of khukuri and its fullers and has more to do with the fact that it is made with spine thicknesses of a centimetre or more and very thick grind geometry. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with this, it’s a far cry from the traditional angkhola which rarely reached 8mm maximum spine thickness and differs greatly from the original intended function and feel in hand.
Strictly speaking the fullers or Chirra that run along the side of the blade are designed to reduce weight and make a knife more agile in hand compared to the traditional blade pattern without sacrificing durability or strength. Typically the fullering is most prominent near the middle and front of the blade, helping to keep the balance closer to the handle while retaining a broad, deep biting profile. It is for this reason that angkhola style khukuris were usually lighter and more nimble on average than their unfullered counterparts and were seen on higher ranking military khukuris as well as in the hands of powerful and well respected civilians.
In relation to this later point, one major function of the fullers was to show off the prowess of the Blacksmith as the hammering and grinding of these fullers is one of the most time consuming and difficult processes a Blacksmith can encounter, which in turn displayed the taste and power of the wielder. As a result of this, there are historical examples of khukuris being made with one, two or even three fullers, called Ek, Dui and Tin Chirra khukuris respectively. In recent years this trend has gotten a little bit out of hand, with 5 or even 7 fullered blades coming out of some khukuri houses. Functionally speaking, the design with the best ratio of weight reduction to rigidity is the Ek Chirra. Some very broad, thin blades may find better rigidty from a dui or tin chirra, though generally there is increased weight for diminishing rigidity gains occuring with more fullers. By the time you get to 5 fullers you’re more or less looking at no functional benefit whatsoever, and operating purely based on style. At 7 fullers there’s not much style left in the knife whatsoever.
Instead of just adding fullers to a stock pattern, our Ek, Dui and Tin Chirra Angkhola are all based off individual historical patterns.
The Tin Chirra Angkhola is the most standard of the bunch, a broad villager style Budhuna (fish head) pattern with a curved Hanshee style spine. This is the bulkiest pattern of the three, with the thickest edge bevel making it a great option for a hard hitting rough use chopper. It also packs the most visual impact- something that’s made them very popular with collectors.
The Dui Chirra version of this knife use an angkhola pattern which was issued to WW2 ghurkas engaging in jungle fighting in Burma. Slightly leaner than the tin chirra with less bulk up front and a leaner edge bevel, this hands over a bit of brute force for a less fatiguing chopper that’s a touch more versatile. The fullering is more subtle than the tin chirra but still very eye catching, making it a great option for those looking for the balance between maximum performance and visual impact.
The Ek Chirra version is based off a more slender single fullered khukuri with a very broad belly which saw service in Gallipoli during WW1. The deep and broad fullering across the full belly of this khukuri makes for the lightest and snappiest of the three. Don’t be fooled by the lighter weight though! The very broad belly and leaner bevel still gives it a lot of performance when chopping but the lower weight makes it easier to get up to speed for brush clearing and similar tasks. Of all three, this has received the biggest following in bushcraft circles as an all rounder and an all day workhorse. It would also likely be the pick of the bunch for martial applications.
We offer this blade style in quite a wide range of sizes all with varying spine thicknesses and tapers to maximise their performance for their general range of use. The 13″ option is the historical length and makes for an ideal all rounder khukuri. Fast enough to adapt to brush clearing, plenty of chopping power and not so clumsy that it can’t be used for carving and fine work. The 13″ also has a mix of speed and power that helps it to work well as a martial khukuri.
The 11″ option is a more compact and lightweight option that trades a bit of chopping power for more controllability and ease of use for finer work around camp. A great option for weight conscious hikers and bushcrafter/survival types or even for a fast and highly controllable martial tool.
The 15″ is too big to be convenient for a lot of common bushcraft and carving techniques but makes up for it with exceptional chopping performance, particularly against solid targets like saplings, thick branches and logs. This will be more fatiguing for extended use and light brush clearing, though may suit larger users well.
Finally the 17″ is in full dedicated chopper “sword shaped axe”. Expect a blisteringly powerful and uncompromising chopper against solid targets, but with increased fatigue from extended use/brush clearing for all but the largest users.
11″: 7mm spine at bolster, 540g
13″: (Historical Length) 7mm spine at bolster, 630g
15″: 6mm spine at bolster, 680g
17″: 6mm spine at bolster, 800g
+150g for full tang, all blade lengths come with a 5.5″ handle.
All in all, the Angkhola is one of the most gorgeous knives Nepal has to offer. All of the time and effort put into the forging offers a refined feel in hand unlike anything else that makes it an absolute joy to use. While other khukuris attain beauty through engraving and gold inlays and ornamentation, the stunning fullers of the Angkhola give it an understated charm and beauty that exists to serve a purpose. That relationship between form and function that an angkhola portrays is something we’re deeply proud of at Kailash Blades and we hope you appreciate it as much as we do.
Before Purchase, please read through our Options Info page as well as Warranty and Factory Seconds for information on all the different options and grind types we offer and how they affect the level of warranty you’ll receive.