[Morris] did not delay notwithstanding this, for as Jonathan, with desperate energy, attacked one end of the chest, attempting to prize off the lid with his great Kukri knife, he attacked the other frantically with his bowie. Under the efforts of both men the lid began to yield. The nails drew with a screeching sound, and the top of the box was thrown back.By this time the gypsies, seeing themselves covered by the Winchesters, and at the mercy of Lord Godalming and Dr. Seward, had given in and made no further resistance. The sun was almost down on the mountain tops, and the shadows of the whole group fell upon the snow. I saw the Count lying within the box upon the earth, some of which the rude falling from the cart had scattered over him. He was deathly pale, just like a waxen image, and the red eyes glared with the horrible vindictive look which I knew so well.As I looked, the eyes saw the sinking sun, and the look of hate in them turned to triumph.But, on the instant, came the sweep and flash of Jonathan's great knife. I shrieked as I saw it shear through the throat. Whilst at the same moment Mr. Morris's bowie knife plunged into the heart.It was like a miracle, but before our very eyes, and almost in the drawing of a breath, the whole body crumbled into dust and passed from our sight.I shall be glad as long as I live that even in that moment of final dissolution, there was in the face a look of peace, such as I never could have imagined might have rested there. – Dracula, Bram Stoker (emphasis added)
Give Stoker his due. The man knew his blades. Forget wooden stakes and silver bullets, a khukri and a bowie will make short work of the undead. Which is better? I, of course, prefer both.
Still, a man can’t carry a full load of steel all the time, so if I am out and about in broad daylight, when the only threat is zombies, I have to decide which to best balance the handgun on my weapons’ belt.
The khukri pictured above is a cheap Chinese version, stamped out of soft steel. I got it specifically for use as a general purpose, multi-purpose tool. The thing about a khukri is not the steel, it’s the shape, being axe-like in, we might say, kinetic geometric. When you need to take off a limb – wooden or otherwise, or take down a sprout, we agree with Arnold: “Get to the choppah!” I can quickly hack my way through a sumac or sassafras thicket, trim up a shooting lane for the deer stand, or split a rain-soaked chunk to get at the dry interior for a campfire. A couple of days ago, I dug half a dozen hills of sweet potatoes with that khukri – something I would not do with the $100 custom version – unless it was necessary.
Then, too, as we all know, in the hands of one of, for example, the Queen’s own Gurkhas, the khukri is a most formidable close-quarters weapon. I have read somewhere that the Germans in World War I called the American Marines “Devil Dogs”. They called the Gurkhas “Devils”. The typical Gurkha khukri has less belly and thus a slimmer, more forward profile than my chunky utility blade. They are still extraordinary choppers, but the traditional shape appears to add to the thrusting potential. I can’t imagine a blade better designed for slashing attacks or for trapping techniques. I have never seen a Gurkha in action with a khukri, but it is probably more of a pure power attack with not a lot of finesse. Facing one would be something akin to trying to defending against a chainsaw, or maybe a lawnmower coming at you bottom-side first.
The traditional khukri form allows an attacker to deliver a penetrating strike to an opponent’s vitals from an off-center position. Picture two right-handed fighters facing one another squarely. If the wielder of the khukri could move to his left as the adversaries close, he could side-arm the point of his blade toward the opponent’s torso. The point would also be leading in an over-hand chop.
The advantage of the khukri in such a situation is that the wielder does not have to rely on foot work to make a thrust effective. Watch a sword fight or fencing and you will see that, as with boxing, the swordsman strikes in extension off his back foot. But swinging a khukri, a person does not have to be in a classic swordsman’s stance. Like a tomahawk, the khukri is being driven primarily from the shoulder and elbow with some hip flex or heel raise. The closest you can get to that with a straight knife blade is with a reverse grip, which limits time and range.
So far it sounds like the khukri wins out. The bowie, however, can do one thing the khukri cannot – back cut. The sharpened top of the bowie’s clip point is not there just to enhance penetration, though it does that admirably. Notice that the top edge is concave. It is the khukri’s shape in miniature and in reverse. Sharpened correctly, the point of bowie is like a needle with razors attached. Take a bowie in a hammer grip, thrust straight forward, rotate the hand so it is palm up, push to the outside and/or pull back. Inside or underneath an opponent’s guard, the blade has ripped across if not penetrated and opened the vitals or the belly. Against the guard, the blade has a chance to slice a defender’s arm, hand, thumb, snag the other weapon, etc. The bowie is also excellent in an aggressive and classic slash/thrust sequence that can break through a guard or force the opponent to retreat.
The pictured Ontario Marine Combat version is not as radically “bowie” as some. It’s about as good as you get with a moderate seven-inch blade. In my opinion, a longer, somewhat wider blade with a slightly deeper concavity of the secondary edge – as long as the tip stays a little above midline of the blade – is a better pure fighting configuration. The Marine Combat is, though, a good and useful knife that I would not be unhappy with in self-defense situation. In fact, it is and has been for around twenty years, the knife I often keep at hand when traveling. When I was doing contract work in Kansas City back in the mid-90s, it was the only weapon I bothered to keep with me, leaving the firearms and other blades with my wife. The Ontario rode between the seat and the console in the truck during the day and was next to my Bible in the apartment at night. It’s a good knife and a lot more expensive to buy these days.
In conclusion, as I said, I like both blade types. For zombies, I prefer the khukri as a back up to my firearm, but for creatures you can’t see in a mirror, use the khukri for beheading and put the bowie through its heart.