When you think of khukuris, the gurkhas immediately spring to mind and so it is only natural that the service issue khukuris are such popular and sought after pieces. With this in mind we’ve taken the current service issue blade (the mk5) and split it into two different categories- the Modern and the Historical Service Issue.
The Modern military version’s primary issue is that it is produced by whichever of the larger houses is the lowest bidder for the contract. The lowest bidder as a result is usually the house which can either afford to lose the most money or has the most efficient production line. This is inevitably a producer of tourist style khukuris, because the market is so large and the style of khukuri is a lot simpler. As a result of this the Modern Service No.1 has a lot of the same issues that tourist knives have. Unreasonably thick at the spine, a thick, inefficient grind, a shape based more off ease of forging than any functional criteria of performance or balance.
The Historical version of this blade produced from the early 50’s into the late 80’s is an entirely different beast. Longer, broader, sharper, meaner in just about every way. The rat tail tang and polished buffalo handle remains unchanged and is an absolute classic, but the blade is drastically different. Coming in at 11.5″ long it has much more tip speed for superior chopping, brushwork and combat performance but actually comes in at approximately the same weight due to the much higher level of craft involved. The knife features a slimmer spine, steeper primary grind, and a large gentle fuller which all help to decrease cutting resistance and lower the overall weight. While the blade profile looks beefier than the Modern version, the distal taper and hollow forging gives the blade a wonderful refined and agile balance while the broader belly and extra length allows the blade serious controlled power once you put some energy behind a swing.
The combination of high speed and moderate power in such a compact, low weight khukuri makes for a very versatile, light-all-rounder. It thrives doing finer work around camp like carving and food prep as well as being fast and whippy enough to clear brush well despite its lower length. While there are more powerful choppers out there, the low weight and snappy nature of the knife allows it to work for very long periods of time with low fatigue. This all combines to make an indispensable camp knife, a fun but practical one-tool bushcraft/survival solution and a fast and exciting martial blade with great pedigree and history behind it. All this makes our 11.5″ HSI one of our most versatile khukuris and a beloved tool in the hands of those familiar or a fantastic entry point for those new to these blades and looking to see what they have to offer.
As with many of our other blades we offer this knife in a few alternate lengths for those looking to dial it in a little more to their needs. Our 9.5″ version trades out some chopping power for lighter weight, manoeuvrability and even greater control for finer work around camp. A great option as a pack knife while hiking, for a weight conscious bushcrafter who prioritises controllability or even for a martial artist looking for something fast and flickable with a lot of belly.
Looking for something with a big more power and chopping performance? Our Pensioner might be right up your alley.
Lengths and weights are as follows:
9.5″:6mm spine at bolster, 380g
11.5″:6mm spine at bolster, 475g (Historical, Optimal Length)
On this blade we offer a military dap as an option. This features a laceup frog as well as twin adjustable vertical loops. These can be fully undone to remove the blade from the sheath without undoing your belt. This is a more complex, more accurate historical option for this blade but lacks the capacity for horizontal carry that all our other sheaths have. For general use we prefer our standard dap between the two.
This knife has been used by Ghurkas in the dense jungles of the malayan emergency (1948-1960), in close combat skirmishes during the Borneo Confrontation (1962-1966), and in harsh survival situations during the Falklands war in 1982. In all of these varied theatres of war, this knife excelled and remained virtually unchanged for three decades. It is because of this stellar pedigree and its unique balance of versatility, power and resilience that many consider the HSI to be the Perfect Khukuri.
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.