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Thread: updates to British military pattern kukri article

  1. #1

    updates to British military pattern kukri article

    Hello chaps!

    Had a few hours spare this afternoon/evening so updated & corrected the 20th century British military pattern kukri article as it had a couple of glaring errors, due to past mistaken interpritations of Wilkinson sword documents by myself & some misinformation that I accepted without enough research at the time, about the current British issue kukri.

    Also changed a couple of photos & added a few more minor details.

    Many thinks to Robert Wilkinson Latham for sharing much original Wilkinson sword paperwork with me amongst other things.Which helped unravel the mystery a little more.

    Further updates will be added but time is a little short on occasion.


    Article to follow... Perhaps you could use this to replace the last version Andreas?

    Many thanks.

  2. #2
    The 20th Century British Military Pattern Gurkha Issue Kukri.

    Perhaps this little article will help answear some of the most frequant questians I see & hear about the main British Gurkha military pattern kukri.

    Here are the 4 Mark patterns. In number order Mk.1 at top. {2 mark IIIs are shown one bieng the rare Wilkinson sword version.}

    Many kukris have been used by the Nepali Gurkhas of the British army, with small purchases, orders & even on occasion manufacture by various, units, regiments, & of course many many private purchases by individual officers & men.

    Many traditional kukris are seen in photos from WW1 & WW2 and these can be either early or more unofficial{non pattern.} kukri or private purchase or even family heirloom kukri, as according to the Brigade of Gurkhas most Gurkhas returned from thir first leave with a traditional kukri rather than a military issue variant. Judging from photos many still carried issue pattern kukri though. Of course at that time their leave was more often in India rather than Nepal so many private purchase Indian made kukri were also carried. Historical Family hierloom kukris from Gurkha forebears were sometimes even brought along by the new recruits, but according to various testimonies from WW2 veterans, those that did would often only use those as their weapons while using the issue kukri for utility work.

    Here are two regimentaly marked kukri to the 2/8 th Gurkha rifles from WW1 era. The top one was favoured by many Gurkhas & it was still carried in ww2 by many of them. I have seen authenticated versions carried by the 6th,8th & 10 Gurkha regiments.

    But carefull x10 magnification by an experienced researcher is needed to authenticate these marks as original as over the last couple of years fakes of these "Regimental" kukri have been coming onto the market on occasion from 2 main sources, most sadly the new marks have been added on some occasions to genuine old kukri.

    But despite the many kukri carried there have only ever been 4 military pattern number kukris in official British Gurkha issue.


    The First official numbered British Indian Gurkha military kukri the mk.1 was in production by 1903 up until 1915.

    It was a break from the traditional hidden partial tangs to a full length rat tail tang culminating in turn nut similar in design to a rifle stock recessed into the walnut butt. This system is seen in 19th century Afghan army kukri & many historical swords.

    The identifying mk.1 nuts..

    Many of them are unmarked although some later 1915 models carry manufactures armoury stamp Co. For Cossipore Armoury. Often FW marks on the spine occur which are the inspection & or issue marks from Fort William in Calcutta, The rarer QA & RP inspection marks also show up for Rawlpindi & Queta respectivly. Some pieces carry more than one inspection or issue mark. Many of these kukri were subcontracted to local civilian workshops. One of which was E.Boota Singh &sons, based at Rawlpindi.

    The Co 1915 models seem to be heavy & clumsy although well made, I have often wondered if that last batch of Co. kukris was the nail in the coffin for that design as a military piece.

    There weights vary from 24oz to 33 oz {On those I have examined.} Blade lengths typicaly in the 13 1/4 to 14 inch range.

    Although all mk.1s are rare most are short handled.As always variants do occur the lighter weight longer handled one is a one of the rarer variants. It may be a private purchase or regimentaly produced piece as it bears no inspection marks but it still comes with the rarest Official issue mk.I scabbard, equipped with pockets loops & buttons.


    The mk.2 was in production by 1915 & was to stay in manufacture for the British army until at least 1944 so certainly they ran into production figures of many thousands.

    All the issue pieces have steel bolster & buttcap, brass was a restricted metal only to be used wear superior. {Such as arguably rivet surrounds & chapes.} Private purchase pieces may have brass fittings as do the many fake Co. 1917 35 marked kukri,with 2 brass rings round the grip.

    The issue mk.II kukri has been produced by many manufactures & armories over the years.

    Commercial private purchase version production continued after the war & fakes & replicas are still made today.

    There weights can vary from 21oz to 28oz .{On those I have examined.} WW2 era issue ones tend to be heavier most of the time than WW1 era pieces.

    The 3 WW1 manufactures most often seen are {with years of production runs that I know off so far.}

    CO. 1915,1916, 1917, 1918, 1919, The predominant maker by far, made at Cossipore arsenal more famous for its artilary pieces.

    DHW 1918, 1919

    GDB & Co. 1917, 1918

    Rarer manufactures include,

    E.Boota Singh &sons, {Rawlpindi} 1917

    AS & Sons Ltd. A model of which only one very high quality piece is known dating from 1916.

    RFI {Rifle Factory Ishapore.} are also known to have made a small high quality batch in 1927.

    In WW2 well known manufactures include.

    ATD, {Army Traders Dharan} 1942, 1943, 1944,

    M or MIL, {Military industries Ltd.} 1941, 1942,

    Pioneer, {Calcutta} 1942,1943,1944

    Queera Bros. 1942,1943, 1944

    JNB 1941, 1942, 1943, 1944

    One variant mk.2 often called the M.43 after the manufactures stamp found on it is identifiable by the mark, & sunken rivets combined with an integrally welded tang , bolster join, but as these 2 later features can be found on other mk.2s the mark is the real key. {Although some occasionally appear to have escaped marking.}

    Some people refer to this as a separate model in my opinion it is just a particular manufacturers interpretation of the design as none of the differences sited only occur on m.43s other than the stamp.]

    I have an early m.43 which has the original style handle of the early mk.2s, which helps show its ancestry.

    There has been suggestions in the past that the M.43 mark proves manufacture by the English firm, Broadway Engineering Co. Ltd. who appear on lists as the user of the m.43 markbut to date research shows the company was just contracted to make small component parts for machine guns etc. & were not caple of all the manufacturing processes used in the manufacture of the m.43

    It seems most likley to me have examined many of them that M43 was the mk.2 as manufactured by Military industries Ltd possibly based in Lahore.

    Here 3 mk. 2s a typical Co. made 1917 , at top, a Queeta Bros. mk.2 in the middle, and a m.43 at the bottom.

    Heers typical Co. & m.43 stamps.


  3. #3
    The mk.3 kukri came into being in Febuary 1943 according to Indian sources & was certainly in mass production by 1944. It is sometimes mistakenly referred to as the K.45 design based on the date stamp present on some examples made in 1945.

    It is still commonly issued kukri to the Indian armed forces along with other smaller varieties.

    Literally millions of these have have been made, but the only Genuine military pieces are those that were actually purchased by the military forces. The others are just commercial copys even if made by the same companys.

    It was designed for easy & fast production & was made by many companies.

    Including. {With years of production runs that I have seen to date.}

    Mil, 1945

    WSC {Windlass steel Crafts} 1944, 1945,

    CMW {Calcutta}, produced very high quality specimens that have many easily recognizable manufacturer & army inspection stamps.1944, 1945

    Many MK.III were not maker clearly marked, or were badly stamped. But most genuine WW2 issue pieces do bear minute army inspection marks.

    Other manufactures include Chowdri & DKW who both produced during 1945 at least but most likely for the Indian army after Independence as well.

    Many of these kukris have been made to the present day & it has been used by many Indian army Gorkha units as well as commercially exported in lower quality versions to the USA & Europe for over 50 years.

    It weights from 19 oz to 26 oz. {On those I have examined.}

    1944 & 45 versions of the CMW mk.III kukri & detail of manufacturers stamp & army inspection marks.

    The rarest of these & in many ways the highest quality, {Other than the use of an perishable English timber for the grips.}

    Originaly mistakenly named the as the the mk.4 kukri & previously listed as the rarest official kukri pattern model to ever exist,

    Dispite many refinements & subtle differences. The intial mk.4 designation identification was the 4th refinement of Wilkinsons plans & drawings & not the offcial issue pattern number. Which remained the mk.3 throughout untill given NATO stock number 1095-99-962-0535.

    It was designed in 1949/50 by Wilkinson Sword Company. It appears the British army wanted to buy British despite the much higher cost rather than keep purchasing from The Indian kukri factories/ Government.

    WSC confirmed to me that only 1400 were ever made, {possibly 1402 including the prototype pattern cupboard & Wilkinson own museam models which they kept..}

    A very small number for an army production run. Less than 10/% of serving Gurkhas would have been issued with them.

    They where a very high quality hand forged production by some of the worlds leading sword smiths & cutlers. With some unusual minor features not seen on other models. } & presumably the cost of having them made by WSC resulted in no further orders for this know sought after model.

    They seem to have been mainly issued in the Far East, particularly Malaya & Singapore. A large number went to the Gurkha signals.

    What happened to them is sometimes regarded as a mystery , I have heard many unsubstantiated stories, but it seems to me the simple truth is they most where never brought back out of Malaya ever again they were used to destruction in the longest jungle campaign fought by the Gurkha in there their long & bloody history.

    A couple of years never mind 10 or 15 years in the Borneo jungle would rust & rot most equipment beyond recognition. According to some army sources canvas jungle boots & webbing would be rotting within 2 weeks.

    Hence I think the rarity of the mk.3 Wilkinson sword kukri. Not many were made, Then in that extreme environment handles eventually warped or rotted & Loosened the unless cleaned & oiled every day the steel rusted.

    Which with the quality of workmanship that went into them & place in history it seems rather a shame that Wilkinsons used a perishable localy grown timber on these.

    It is still one of the holy Grails for serious collectors of Military kukri.


    Some time during the late 1950s to early 1960s the ”new” mk.4 kukri was introduced. {previosly mistakenly reffered to as mk5 kukri.} {Which nowadays also has 12 digit NATO service number}

    Often called the BAS {British Army Standard} or BSI {British service issue.} By kukri aficionados These are manufacturer’s terms & seem to bear no relation to any British military designation.

    The issue model is generally made in Nepal rather than India.

    This shorter much lighter kukri was introduced a few years after every Gurkha had been issued with the British SLR copy of the Belgian FAL automatic rifle, or the Sterling submachine gun. One assumes that by which point the powers that be thought a smaller lighter camping style of kukri was acceptable .Rather than the earlier longer more sidearm battle worthy style kukris. But in some ways that makes sense as it It does occur very occasionly but its extreemly rare for Gurkhas to use kukris as weapons anymore. {Air support & fully automatic guns are the preferance.}

    This model is made by several Nepali firms nearly all of which claim to supply The British Army & most have done on occasion..

    In a way it seems irrelevant which of them do as the current versions of it manufactured most seem to be low quality. No different than the average modern tourist kukri.

    The lowest bidder wins the army contract each year so for many years Lalit of khukri house has been one of the main supplies as the size of his business presumably allows him to undercut the competition. Of course he was also a Gurkha for many years & maintains his contacts within, the British army, the Gukhas & at the officer training school Sandhurst.

    Hundreds of thousands have been made, but the only Genuine military pieces are those that were actually purchased by the military forces. The others are just commercial copys even if made by the same companys.

    The higher quality versions of this kukri I have seen, were made by kamis employed the British army themselves working at Dharan army base. They are normally marked "Ordep Nepal" with a date stamp. {Generally from the 1980s.} With superior fit & finish, they have a superior feel to the ones marketed today that I have handled.

    They were made in 2 grades, the high quality ceremonial, with plastic scabbard, & the utility versions.

    Interestingly Ive found most other Manufactures ceremonial models are lower quality chrome plaited blade items.

    Many minor variants exist in size & weight & even blade shape due to the number of manufacturers & many years of production when multiplied by the 2 required versions.

    Blade Lengths of 10 inch to 11 inch are common & generally the older they are the longer they are. It is possible a few were even longer in the 1960s judging from old photos.

    The ceremonial versian should still be a reliable & useable kukri as its still worn for Guard duty at Buckingham palace & Windsor castle. Etc.

    2 Dharan army base made mk.5 kukri, Both weigh between 16oz & 17oz

    Issue standard. left.

    Ceremonial. right, {with plastic shaeth & belt.]

    Typical marks found on the Base made kukris.


    I welcome any further information & photos to evidence opinions emailed to me at please include kukri in title. To enable further updating of this article.

    Enjoy your kukris!


    Photos & information on this page can be freely used elsewhere for discusian, other than written or commercial publication or websites as long as following statement included.

    “Text & photos copyright, Spiral JRS Feb. 2009.”

    Alternative spellings include.. Khukri, Khukuri. Kookerie. Gurka. Goorkha. etc.etc.

  4. #4
    Thanks for the update. Your article is a great resource and I can't wait to see what else you have up your sleeve!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Southern Germany, squeezed between black forest and Swabian Alps

    Top notch !

    Good Morning Jonathan!
    Thank you so much for providing this update - great work as always !
    That took a bit more than just few hours in the afternoon .... so thanks a lot for taking the time to improve the knowledge of everybody.

    I'll update your existing article with this version during the afternoon !!!
    Thanks a lot

    As lo, the boy looked upon the beauty of the forward curved blade, and beauty stayed his hands
    and from that day forward, he was financially doomed.

    King Kukri, 2005

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Southern Germany, squeezed between black forest and Swabian Alps

    Article updated

    As I had feared I did not find the time to update the article immediately, but it is now.
    Jonathan: Please check for yourself - I allowed myself some editing on the headlines, but of course left the wording and the pictures unchanged.

    My main question would be on The "Kukri Formerly known as MKIV":
    If I recall correctly wasn't there a construction blueprint that was said to bear a "IV" which lead to the classification as MKIV?
    So is this no longer valid or do we face "competing" terminologies here ?

    Thanks a lot in advance

    As lo, the boy looked upon the beauty of the forward curved blade, and beauty stayed his hands
    and from that day forward, he was financially doomed.

    King Kukri, 2005

  7. #7
    Hi Andreas, Thats great thankyou.

    Yes indeed it is competing teminologies as it seems Wilkinsons numbered each design drawing by there own coding rather than the offcial military designation, they drew several very slight varients all essentialy still mk.3s The fact that purchase orders & or plans for mk.3s in both UK & India carry or were adapted to carry the NATO coding show the true designation pedigree.

    The Wilkinson was a very posh mk.3 British pattern kukri.



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