Avoiding the Military Kukri Fake
some observations made by Andreas Volk
More and more faked kukris are hitting the market at the moment and going away for 100 Euros and more on auction
platforms while authentique kukris sometimes don't even reach 50 Euro.
While I was writing the original version of this post, 3 of these fakes are advertised on a german arms trading platform alone
(mind: Germany is a small market in regards to kukri collectors).
Seeing a fellow forumite over at SFI being ripped of recently by some shady arms dealer to me was a signal that it is about time
(and in that case even too late) to have a more detailed look on the most common type of "fake kukris".
What is a fake ?
This has been discussed a few times - but I want to make clear how I define "fake" in this post.
A horn handled, chromed, lion headed tourist kukri advertised as "WW2 bring back" to me is not a fake - it is
wrongly advertised - may that be intentional or unintentional - but the kukris still stays what it is: a tourist
piece from India.
To me a "kukri" becomes a fake when it has been "modified" to appear (and sell) as something more valueable then
it actually is. For example:
- adding false militray stamps and marks to the blade
- artificially aging a blade to make it look "antique"
- remounting a modern blade in an old handle and selling the whole thing as "antique"
So the modern replica of an MKII is not a fake, it is a replica. None of the companies producing one add any
governmental marks to it ... but at the very moment someone does, it becomes a fake to me. Before that it is just
a replica and replicas have any right to exist in their own segments of the market.
The good news is that the kukri market in itself is rather small. Otherwise we would see similar masses of fakes
than with nihon-to or sabres from the napoleonic era, etc.
But the militaria market is huge. Most Collectors of military equipment from the World Wars want at least one
marked kukri from that period. That is why military marked pieces with matching sheaths sometimes reach far
higher prices than significantly older victorian kukris - and that is why we see a lot of fakes in that area of the
In the following I'd like to focus on the four most common types of fakes - if you haven't read Jonathan's "Must
Read Article" on British pattern kukris here:
please do so before you proceed - I'll use terms from that article frequently without the indepth explanation
that Jonathan is giving.
1. The brass mounted WW1 stamped kukri in leather scabbard.
Overall picture of the most common fake
To my information these kukris are produced somewhere in India or even Pakistan as "replica of a historical
kukri". They can be bought for about 20 USD from various retailers and when sold as that, then everything is fine
(despite the fact that such a type of kukri never existed and they are mixed together from various designs).
The problem is that with a bit of sand paper they can get this "antique finish" and that some also come with a
brown "antique finished" scabbard - as shown in the picture above - right from the factory.
Get some false stamps on them and you have a kukri from 1917.
This "replica kukri" with MKII stamps from WW1 added is the most common kukri fake we see today.
It comes with two blade types (angled spine and round spine - please remember: neither the MKI nor the MKII have
an agled spine) and it has many details that tell that it is fake, but the easiest way to do so is á close look to the grip.
It is brass mounted, rivetted, with brass bands arround it and - in most cases - with a brass pommel cap.
Actually this design is based on two types of handles:
1. The "genuine" grip upon which researchers still argue if it occured during, shortly after or even slightly
before WW2. It is the grip of all "Genuine" stamped kukris I've seen so far and get's used since then on some
other models as well since into our days.
2. The MKIII grip design with its wide middle ring, thinner waist and the large rivets
top: Grip from a genuine stamped kukri (most likely post WW2), bottom: grip of a MKIII from WW2
So you can see that the actual design of the grip for this replica can't be related to WW1 at all. The grip of
a WW1 MKII looks entirely different. The grip has a curve in itself, not that much waist and two thin
middle rings - there also are no
"metal rings" in the MKII design.
grip of a 1918 stamped MKII from Cossipore arsenal
And then there is brass. I still need to see a brass mounted authentique MKI or MKII. From all informations I have
now there was no exception to the use of steel mounts.
I don't say that brass does not appear on military kukris - it does for example with some private purchase pieces.
But I'm quite confident to state: "Brass was not used to build bolsters of british pattern military kukris until the MKV".
If you find a brass mounted MKII blade it is either a fake or an old blade has been rehandled. In both cases:
Run don't walk away from that blade!
The stamp on these fakes is the next important feature to look at. Below a correct WW1 MKII stamp:
So to explain what that stamp actually means:
CO - the maker, Cossipore Arsenal in India
I arrow G - the indian governmental mark with the british broad arrow
II - MK II (the model number)
1918 - the year
5 inspection number
Now looking at the fake MKII stamp one can see that it is far smaller than the original stamp. but all the elements are there.
stamp on the most common type of MKII WW1 fake
According to this stamp we are looking at a MKII, made by Cossipore in 1917, with the inspection number 37.
But keeping the size aside, I still need to see an MKII WW1 stamp that is 90 degrees to the blade.
Attention: Some WW2 MKII stamps are at 90 degrees, as well as the M43 stamp! - but the vast majority of fakes
I've seen so far are WW1.
Luckily the fraudsters at the moment only seem to have a limited set of numbers. which leads that only a limited
variety of combinations.
Suspicious are MKIIs from 1916 or 1917 with inspection numbers: 37, 35, 43
What makes picking a fake stamp from a real one so complicated are two factors:
- the fraudsters are getting better; I recently saw one of these brass pieces with a CO stamp that was extremely
close to the size and form of the original letters and numbers - stamped 1916, inspection Number 35.
- original stamping wasn't that well "organized". So the 1918 stamped piece above is an ideal example. For
another authentique stamps please see here:
odd but correct stamp from 1916
This one is far spread accross the blade (not everything in front of the kauri as it should be), the arrow is
unusally small and the II for MKII is either missing or has worn off.
Nevertheless The "Co" is the correct one, the arrow (even though small) in "one piece" - to me a correct stamp;
odd but authentique.
So my advice in regards to stamping is: Ask! Use the various fora or pm the regulars on these fora
Some fora do allow the dicussion of online auctions (if certain criteria are met) - make use of this.
2. The MKIII handled MKII
The second most common MKII fake is this "bolster less" piece, that is why I call it the MKIII handled MKII -
as the MKIII was the first design without a bolster.
picture of bolster-less MKII fake with closeup of grip
Actually I'm the proud owner of this fake. I fell into the trap in my earlier collecting days, wondering why the
grip was so clumsy.
The ugly grip is the main characteristic of this piece. The double middle ring of the MKII is just hinted (actually
just a line scratched into a massive middle ring) and again: if you have an MKII stamped kukri and no bolster,
it either was rehandled or it isn't an MKII.
The majority of these examples come with a "sort of shoulder" in the spine. It isn't completely round like an MKII
should be but neither does not show a real angle as an MKIII would (did I use the word "ugly" already ?)
My piece also comes with a british broad arrow on the grip - as if to emphasis the small stamp. I've seen the
broad arrow on scabbards if military inspected and of course on blades. I've never seen it on the handle
of an authentique kukri.
faked Co Stamp on my MKII with MKIII grip
The fake stamps used are actually identical to the brass mounted fakes - so I suppose that the same "fraud workshop"
is behind these.
This kukri also comes in a version that is harder to spot. The spine is round and the grip is a bit more slender
with an actually nice looking waist.
Picture of the overall shape of the 2nd version on top, detail of the spine below - please compare with my piece,
with courtesy of araldis
This is the deluxe edition of this fake and I owe a german collector I only know as "araldis" my thanks for getting
me the pictures of his fake. Yet the main criteria "no bolster" is as well obvious.
Please also note the extremely small and very sloppy done kauri on both examples.
This is as well was stamped 1916, 43 - actually it looks as if the same thamps that faked my example were used.
Those fakes come in different scabbards, some of them tourist grade scabbards covered with clothing (preferably
washed green or brown) but I also saw camouflage and a not to bad repro of an MKII scabbard.
3. The stamped tourist / MKV
While 1. and 2. are MKII fakes, the 3rd most common fraud is to take one of the many tourist models that is either
identical with the MKV or shows some resemblance, get it some age and maybe a few faked stamps and then sell it as
authentique WW2 military bring back.
The piece below was sold to its owner as "service No1 from WW2".
modern kukri, altered to resemble a WW2 piece, overall picture and detail of stamps, with the courtesy of Kristof Verjans
To my understanding "service No1" is synonymous to the MKV - but as it can be seen this is an MKIII repro. What
it has in common with the MKV are the brass mounts and the full grip (here made of wood instead of horn).
One can see actually multiple attempts to make this look more "WW2 military".
The four digit soldier number actually does not look too bad - I've seen worse and more clumsy work. I'm not
aware if "four digit soldier numbers" were still in use during WW2, but please have a look at the british
broad arrow. This was stamped in using 3 hits with chissel or something - but the "real broad arrow" is always
punched in as whole.
The next is the pitting - again a chissel or another pointy tool was used to hit the blade again and again -
unfortunately a few hits missed and also hit the bolster, which shows what was tried here.
If the pitting is to "similar" (read: same depth of pitting, equally distributed, all spots of similar size, etc.)
then there is a good chance that the pitting is artificial.
Here a military strap arround the tourist type scabbard to emphasis its military use - and a recent tourist grade
kukri becomes a bring back from WW2 .....
I've seen tourist MKV (which - if my info is correct - are identical to those issued) with crudely carved in
soldier numbers and sold as WW2 as well.
Here we need again keep in mind that the MKV was put into service long after WW2. If it looks like the MKV in
Jonathans article (black horn handle, brass mounts, less than 12 inch blades ...) it is not from WW2.
4. The "authentique fake"
There is a forth and very hard to spot fake out there that is upsetting me since some time now. A certain ebay seller
whom I will not name is actually specialized in this type of fraud - and as he is obviously reading the forums
I appeal to him to think twice about what he is doing.
He actually is using authentique, unstamped kukris from the era in question (WW2 or even earlier) and is putting
fake military stamps (from prominent makers, gurkha units, etc.) on them.
By doing this an actual authentique kukri is soiled with the foul taste of a fake - and at least to me
becomes worthless - I'd never bid on such a piece - no matter how well it would fit its timescale.
So keeping in mind how many bidders he looses compared to those he manages to deceive, I doubt that overall his
gain is remarkably high ... and he destroys a kukri ... think about it !!
Those 4 are the most common types of kukri fakes I became aware of so far - I guess there are plenty more.
Please do not hestitate to report a "strange sighting", either by replying to this post or starting a new one.
That is what this forum is for - and if possible post before you make the buy !
I'm aware that sharing such info is a two edged sword - as there is a good chance that the fraudsters read
it as well and will change strategy.
Nevertheless I take the position that not talking about the features of fakes serves the fraudsters even more
and that as much info as possible is the best protection against being ripped off.
And for certain they can't change all the fakes that are circeling the market already.
I didn't come up with that all by myself - actually I owe this information to many learned and committed researchers
and all those who share there kukri with us.
Which makes the "Thank you list" a bit long ......
So instead of listing all the individuals I'm certainly indepted to, I'd like to thank all of you who post their kukris and
add to the various fora. It is you who give all the small details to tell a fake from a real piece !
I learn something from every kukri that is shown here - no matter how beaten down or simple it may look.
Actually when looking at fakes the details of low end production kukris are of special interest. As the
fraudsters are looking for maximum margins they usually take mass produced pieces that are easy to come by for
a small money. So if features of such pieces are found again on a "piece with history" alarm sirenes should
Nevertheless there are two people that deserve a direct mention. These are Kristof Verjans
from Belgium and
a german collector I unfortunately only know by his online identity named araldis
I'd like to express my thanks for granting me permission to use pictures of their fakes to help others avoiding
getting ripped off as well.
Gents, it is easy to post pictures of a neat, breath taking, pre 1900 kothimora and collect the congratulations and the
envy of fellow collectors.
It takes a completely different attitude to admit that one has been ripped off and instead hiding away (or even
reselling) the fake, to step up and point it out, so that others can protect themselves against the loss of money and
Kristof, Araldis: I bow to you !
The pictures underlined with the words "with courtesy of araldis" and "with courtesy of Kristof Verjans" are
the private property of these Gentlemen and are used in this post with their kind permission.
They are copyrightened and reproduction or reuse is prohibited.
For the rest of the info including pictures and text please feel free to spread, reuse, etc.
I make no copyright claims. The more people know about the fakes the better.
Just one plea: If you use parts of the info, please add a link to the original thread on SFI (swordforum International)
in your refferences when doing so:
I hope you found some of the info given here useful.
I'd like to aplogize for taking that long to post this info. Getting everything in the right order and actually finding
the time to write it up took far longer than I thought.
best of luck with your next kukri purchase