Classic counterfeit ‘1917 Mk.II Gurkha kukri’

In the world of antique kukris, as in the world of many other antiques, all is not always what it seems! Original WW1-era kukris are highly sought-after and, as a result, fakes are not uncommon.

Counterfeit '1917 WW1 Mk.II' kukri

Counterfeit ‘1917 WW1 Mk.II’ kukri

There are five marks of official British military-issue kukris, and their approximate dates are shown below. As can be seen, there is some overlap:

  • Mk.I 1903-1915
  • Mk.II 1915-1943
  • Mk. III 1943-1980s
  • Mk. IV 1951
  • Mk. V Late 1950s-present
'Contemporary' military-style sheath, front

‘Contemporary, 1917’ military-style sheath, front

The ‘WW1’ kukri I was offered was stamped with typical markings:

  • ‘Co’ for Cossipore Arsenal,
  • ‘IG’ either side of a broad arrow for Indian Government,
  • ‘II’ for Mark II
  • a date of 1917
  • inspector’s number 37

The shape of the blade, long (13.5″) and full-bellied, is basically correct for a Mk.II and the kukri feels good in the hand even though it is relatively heavy at 781g/28oz. The concept of ‘life’ in a blade is hard to explain but, in comparison, my modern, commercial kukri has no ‘life’ and, although an excellent working tool, feels dead in the hand.

'Contemporary' military-style sheath, rear

‘Contemporary, 1917’ military-style sheath, rear

The grip of the kukri is full tang (i.e. the metal of the blade extends back the full width and length of the handle) with two wooden ‘scales’ riveted to the tang to form the Grip. The bolster and the end cap of the handle are brass, and there are brass rings pinned to the handle either side of the ‘finger ring’.

Counterfeit '1917' Cossipore Arsenal military acceptance stamps

Counterfeit ‘1917’ Cossipore Arsenal military acceptance stamps

The best online resource I have found for kukri information is IKHRS and posting photos of the ‘WW1’ kukri resulted in my being gently informed that it was a classic fake.

If you are interested in military kukris, there are two articles you should read:

Brass half-rings on grip

Brass half-rings on grip

What identified my kukri as a fake?

  • A 1917-dated kukri would be a Mk.II, but no military-issue kukri until the Mk.V had a brass bolster in front of the handle.
  • No Mk.II military-issue kukri has a brass grip cap.
  • No military-issue kukri has the brass ‘half rings’ on the grip.
Full tang grip

Full tang grip

Few situations are all bad, and the upside to discovering that my potential acquisition was counterfeit was that at least it was deliberately made as a counterfeit, and it wasn’t a genuine, unstamped 1917 kukri with false marking applied. In addition, it handles well and will be a fine working tool. I am tempted to find another fake Mk.II and to fit a different design of handle. We’ll see.

MK.III-type rivets on alleged Mk.II kukri

MK.III-type rivets on alleged Mk.II kukri

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About Nigel

Retired law firm project manager based in Jersey, British Channel Islands. When he isn't shooting clay pigeons, he's polishing his collection of kukris or digging his vegetable patch.
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