The Kirpan is often translated as a “Sikh Ceremonial Dagger”, but it is a whole lot more than that. It does have a lot of spiritual significance, but it is also meant to be practical and usable, if the need arises. As something a Sikh is supposed to carry on their person at all times, the Kirpan should be a high quality shastar, not the mass produced sheet of metal cut into a Kirpan shape that we often see today.
Allow me to introduce Khalsa Armory. Started by a young Singh from the Fresno area, KA describes itself as “A Knife & Arms company founded on 3 solid values. Q.U.A. ; Our products will show Quality, Uniqueness & Affordability!“. Today I will evaluate how well this statement holds up under closer scrutiny. I had the opportunity to check out the KA stall at the Yuba City Nagar Kirtan and take home a few pieces to test out. Let me briefly describe the 4 test models I got to spend time with and then I can discuss what I thought of them.
DK-2 – KA’s original flagship product ( the DK-1) wasn’t available when I got the review units, so I’m taking a look at the DK-2, which is the next closest thing. The main difference here is that that the DK-1 is a solid 1 piece Kirpan in which the handle is made of the same metal as the blade. The DK-2 has micarta grips on the sides of the handle which makes it lighter in weight and lower in price.
DK-3 – The DK-3 is a slimmed down version of the DK-1, where the handle has been cut down in width. So overall the Kirpan is lighter, and has a slimmer profile. The blade also has a tapered curve towards the back edge, which gives it a really cool sleek look. However, the slimmer handle doesn’t feel as nice in the hand due to its sharper edges.
DK-4 – A smaller sized Kirpan, the DK-4 is a single piece design, similar to a Taksali or traditional Kirpan with the smaller rounder handle. Sort of like a mini DK-1, it has a nice feel in the hand and nice blade as well.
DK-5 – Another smaller model, the DK-5 sports a small but beautiful wood-like handle. It is harder to hold on to if you were actually cutting something, but it can be carried daily or kept on the person, since the handle isn’t too top heavy. The blade is nice and sharp and features a beautiful design.
Photo Credit: Ikonkar Kaur Jan 2014.
There is no doubt as to the quality of these Kirpans. The workmanship that went into them is apparent as soon as you pick one up. They are very well made, and the subtle design elements really show the creator’s attention to detail. I’ve seen Khalsa Armory get to where it is today so I know that it went through a few iterations before they released this design as their standard. I’m confident that these Kirpans will last, and I’m sure they could take on any task thrown at them. The Damascus blade is made from different layers of steel folded together, resulting in a very strong and sharp Kirpan. They are definitely better quality than the mass produced Indian or Chinese “Kirpans”. Although not as fancy or complex as some others, the kydex sheaths do a great job of protecting the blade. The Kirpan won’t fall out or get stuck in one – it takes just the right amount of pull to slide it out.
I would say that these Kirpans are relatively affordable. While they are much more expensive than the average cheap Kirpans from India, they are also significantly better in terms of quality. In my opinion, the price difference is worth it – I would rather depend on a KA Kirpan than one of those. The Kirpans from Khalsa Armory are much closer to the price range of Taksali Kirpans (outside of India). However, in comparison to most other fancy artisan Kirpans (such as Khalsa Kirpans) they are much cheaper by far. A quick round at Yuba City Nagar Kirtan will show you how expensive nice fancy Kirpans can get, and KA ends up on the affordable side of the spectrum. It is important to note, however, that these do have simple sheaths as opposed to the intricately designed scabbards of some more expensive Kirpans, which may be engraved, embedded with previous stones or covered with expensive materials such as silver or gold.
These Kirpans are definitely unique. The single piece design and curve of the blades is different from both the traditional Kirpans we see and western knives as well. I would put the design somewhere in between – its like a western style blade with a Kirpan-like curve. The Damascus mixture of metal layers isn’t seen often these days and the swirly design is beautiful. Each Kirpan has a unique pattern, and the intricate etchings, cuts and patterned handles give these Kirpans their own personality. The blade covers also make these Kirpans stand out from others, since we never really see Kirpans with tactical sheaths. The handle shape is also different from many other Kirpans, as is the feel, size and weight.
Khalsa Armory Kirpans are really really nice. Their blades are relatively sharp and much stronger than typical Kirpan blades. Whereas traditional Kirpan blades are thick at the back edge and gradually taper off into the blade, these blades are thick for about half the width of the blade, after which they slowly slope down to a sharp edge. Depending on the material, this added thickness plus the pattern and curve of the blade can make it harder to cut something. But the blade also has enough strength to push all the way through a tough material. I found them to be just a little sharper than my fairly well sharpened Taksali style kirpan. I personally wouldn’t wear any of these as my daily Kirpan because the blade is made of a mix of metals rather than Sarbloh (or what we call Sarbloh today), and because they are quite heavy. The top heavy design means they will tilt forward a lot in the Gatra. The sheath also has its pros and cons – being wider and flatter means sharper edges and an awkward Gatra fit, but they are also flatter against your body and there is no protruding tip (less damage to clothes and hard to poke yourself). All of that being said, I would definitely wear this Kirpan over the top – it not only makes for a beautiful display piece but it is a usable Shastar as well.
At the end of the day, Khalsa Armory Kirpans offer a beautiful design combined with solid quality at a fair price. I would definitely recommend these to anyone interested, whether its for a collection or to wear. They make a lot of other cool stuff including carbon fiber and titanium Shastars, and I’m always looking forward to their future products. For a limited time they are offering FREE SHIPPING with the coupon code “KAVSK”!
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