‘What have I gotten myself into?’ was my immediate reaction when I brandished the CRKT Clever Girl Kukri for the first time.
As I waved it around my kitchen, I pondered the life choices that had brought not just one, but two of these blades into my possession. A week earlier, after looking over the specs on CRKT’s website, I reached out to see if they’d be interested in a review.
Then, due to a FedEx error, I received a second copy of the same knife. So, there I stood, dual-wielding behind my counter, dreaming up ways to put this pair of blades to the test.
Two weeks and a few sessions’ worth of abuse later, I think I finally understand these strange and interesting tools.
CRKT Clever Girl Kukri Review
The Elephant in the Room
First, let’s talk about the T-word — “tactical” — which I kind of have a problem with it. More often than not, it’s marketing jargon aimed at buyers who see knives as weapons rather than practical, real-world tools. This irks me because when I’m headed out to the woods or yard, I’m looking to work, not play soldier.
But this blade gets a bit of a pass. Why? Because the designer, Austin McGlaun, actually served in the military. According to CRKT’s website, McGlaun was “inspired to find new ways to tackle laborious camp chores” while stationed at Fort Polk.
It’s part of the company’s Forged by War program, of which I’ve previously reviewed the excellent CRKT Siwi.
This is the second fixed-blade iteration of the Clever Girl. While the original is a more straightforward knife, the Kukri’s graceful curve adds 3-plus inches and more than doubles the weight. All told, this knife measures 13.25 inches and clocks in at 14.2 ounces.
The blade itself is made of SK-5 steel, which is known for its toughness. It’ll hold an edge too, with slightly more longevity than 1095 high carbon.
Still, rust resistance isn’t exactly SK-5’s forte. That’s where CRKT’s black powder coating comes into play. Through woodcutting abuse and kitchen chores, it managed to shield the blades from any noticeable damage.
Carry and Ergonomics
Now on to the handle. The user interface is made up of two slabs of hardened G10, sandwiched on either side of the full tang. These provide a solid grip and are generally comfortable in the hand. They’re also water-resistant and more suited to accidental impacts than something like leather or wood.
Still, I’d recommend pairing the Clever Girl Kukri with some gloves. Because of the rigid nature of the material, the shock from your strikes will reverberate through your hand and up your arm.
Even with the benefit of some padding, I did develop a blood blister while paring some small branches from downed tree limbs. (I’m hesitant to place too much blame on the knife, however, as I was attempting some things that perhaps it’s not suited for.)
But we’ll get back to that. First, a few words about the sheath. It’s a glass-reinforced nylon affair, with an integrated belt loop and a lanyard option for drop-leg carry. The top of its enclosure is open, allowing you to slide out the blade in an almost diagonal fashion.
Drawing is easy, though getting it back into place while on the hip requires a bit of practice. Overall, however, it’s a solid system.
Testing the CRKT Clever Girl Kukri
By definition, a kukri is meant for impact. That’s why I was somewhat perplexed by this knife’s limitations while breaking down yard debris. While the Clever Girl Kukri is larger than its siblings, its lack of weight shows when compared with similar blades of this style.
I was able to split several limbs, but a few more ounces or inches would have made the process significantly easier. Make no mistake, the Clever Girl will power through small branches and sticks. But if you’re tackling anything wider than your thumb, you’re going to be at it for a bit.
What surprised me most, however, was this knife’s absolute mastery in the kitchen. With a blade that’s almost one-fifth of an inch thick, you’d expect it to destroy vegetables instead of slice them.
But, due to the tallness of its edge bevel, I was able to carve thin slices from onions and mushrooms so naturally that it was almost scary. I actually laughed as I was making my supper. Heck, the Clever Girl does a better job with meal prep than most of the folding knives I’ve used.
It’s here that the knife’s multi-role ability finally shined through.
CRKT Clever Girl Kukri: Conclusion
In the end, I don’t know that I’ve ever been so surprised by a knife. The Clever Girl isn’t the weightiest kukri in the world, so it’ll be relegated to small and medium-sized brush. But after you’re done making a mess in the yard, it’ll be more than ready to carve out a meal — you know, just wash it first.
As a fan of versatile tools, I can definitely respect what CRKT and designer Austin McGlaun have done here. If your interest lies at the intersection of survival and wilderness cookery, the Clever Girl Kukri may be a welcome companion at the crossroad.