The Popular American Tanto

The Bold, Strong, American Tanto Knife

So many of you may have heard of the Japanese tanto knife because they were very popularized in the Samurai culture. Many samurai swords used a tanto tip because of its effectiveness at piercing through armor. You may not have heard of the American though. The main reason that you haven’t heard of the American tanto is because a knife company pretty much high-jacked the name so that other manufacturers won’t use it.

cold steel voyager american tanto knife

knife description

The American Tanto is much different than the Japanese Tanto and was popularized by one of my favorite knife brands of all time, Cold Steel. The American Tanto, sometimes called the Westernized Tanto is a type of tanto that has two separately ground edges and a tip that comes up at an angle.


The Uses Of The American Tanto Knife

The American Tanto is mainly a consumer item. What I mean by that is while the blade would definitely do some damage in a fight, they are not specifically designed for fighting like the Japanese Tanto was. The American Tanto knife was made to sell more products because of how darn awesome they look. The entire appeal of the American Tanto is the cool design factor. If it weren’t for Cold Steel designing some of the most awesome knives that I have ever seen, then they would not have so much of my money.

cold steel recon tanto edge

knife description

Fortunately, Cold Steel and the brains that work there manage to keep me buying year after year because they have great products. Would I bring a Cold Steel tanto blade to a gun fight? No way. However, I would pick a Cold Steel tanto blade as an every day carry knife. However, I would love to see Cold Steel make an American Tanto short sword. I think that would be my ultimate dream sword.

Purpose And Use Of A Tanto Knife

Tanto Knives Are Great – But What Is Their Purpose?

Of course, tanto knives look awesome and have some great designs. However, what are those designs good for? What is a tanto blade’s main function and purpose. While a tanto blade may be good for many things, there must be an overall purpose. There is, let’s talk about it.

The Main Purpose Of A Tanto Blade

samurai sword with tanto tip

knife description

The main purpose of a tanto is to stab, pierce, and/or puncture. The triangular shaped tip was specifically designed to go through materials that other knife tips would be too weak to go through. The tanto tip was originally invented for war. The tanto is very effective on the battlefield because it can pierce through armor without the tip breaking off. However, many samurai swords aren’t only designed to stab, but they are designed to slash also.


Tanto Knives Versus Samurai Swords Usage

While a tanto folding knife may look like a miniature samurai sword, the curve in the belly of a samurai sword lends itself better to slashing than most tanto knives. Most tanto knives have straight blades without much curvature because they really aren’t designed to slash. Slashing is for a longer blade.

purpose of tanto knife

knife description

However, the tanto tip on both knives and swords are both relatively similar in shape. This is because the triangle is a simple shape with a great resistance to being compressed. In fact, if you look at the way a lot of dome houses are build, you will see that their architectural structure uses many triangles that are all intertwined together to make a structure that is strong overall. The tanto tip is a simplified version of this concept. Since the triangle is such a strong shape, it is only natural that knife makers would start making tips designed with a triangular tip for strength.

Top Knife Brands For Tanto Blades

The Best Brands For Tanto Knife Lovers

So, as you all well know if you have been reading the blog for any period of time, I am a huge Cold Steel fan. With that being said, I will try to be as non-biased as I can. But, while I may from time to time act as though Cold Steel is the God of all knife manufacturers, it is your money and your choice in the long run. There are many of great knife brands out there, but which are the ones that make the best tanto knives? Well, let’s get to it.


1. Cold Steel Knives

Alright, let’s get this one out of the way right out of the gate. Cold Steel is amazing and if you don’t already own a knife by them, make your first one a tanto. Cold Steel makes some of the finest blades available to this day. The thing that I really like about Cold Steel is that they always “overbuild” all of their knives. What do I mean by this? I mean that they make their knives as beefy and strong as possibly so that there is almost no way the knife will fail on you.

cold steel knife folder

knife description

I used to own quite a few knives by SOG, and the main issue that I have with SOG is that their locking systems are too weak. I have cut myself multiple times with the SOG Flash II, but other people seem to love that knife for some reason.


2. Benchmade Knives

Benchmade is a USA Quality brand. For the most part, their knives are made in the USA with quality and pride. They used to have some knives made in China, but the quality was sub-par for their price and I don’t believe they manufacture any knives overseas today.

benchmade tanto knife griptilian

knife description

The quality of their USA made knives is superb. Benchmade has really made a name for themselves in the knife community and some of their classic blades come with tanto tips. One of their classic best-selling knives is the Benchmade Griptilian, which looks absolutely gorgeous with a tanto edged tip.


3. Kershaw Knives

Kershaw has been really taking hold of the “budget blades” arena of knives. Most of their knives are under $50 and they really pack in a bang for your buck. While I may be a little tired of the same old beadblasted finish and black handle, they do provide excellent quality for a low price.

kershaw tanto folding knife

knife description

Kershaw also make some excellent knife designs and I do love some of their Wharncliffe style blades. However, as a tanto knife manufacturer, Kershaw makes some fine products. The Brawler is one of my personal favorites.


4. Columbia River Knife And Tool (CRKT)

CRKT is one of my personal favorite knife manufacturers. Some of the coolest blade designs I have ever seen have come out from CRKT. Microtech makes some excellently crafted blade designs, but when it comes to the tanto edge, CRKT blows Microtech out of the water.

crkt folding knife tanto

knife description

CRKT knows what their customers want and they have been giving it to them for decades now. My favorite tanto knife made by them has to be the Tighe Tac Two.


5. Gerber Knives

So Gerber is a tad bit different than the other knife manufacturers. Gerber was bought by Fiskars and most of their knives today are pretty close to junk. However their American Made knives are fantastic. Most of their knives are made overseas and the quality has really taken a hit from the big name brand that they used to be.

gerber folding knife

knife description

The quality is still out there with this brand, but you are going to need to pay the extra price to get it. Whatever you do when you buy your next Gerber knife, just don’t buy their Chinese stuff. The blade steel is so soft that my butter knives end up sharper after a weeks worth of use.

If you liked this post, then make sure to check out my post on Tanto Blade Advantages.


Tanto Blade Advantages

Advantages Of A Tanto Edged Blade

First of all, if you don’t know what a blade is, it is the cutting part of a knife or sword. It is designed in a special way to slash, stab, slice, chop, thrust, scrape, or cut. The tanto knife blade purpose is to stab, thrust, stab, slash, and cut. The original tanto knife was made as a weapon. There are many tanto blade advantages and disadvantages. The tanto knife may look great, but the question lingering on a lot of knife collector’s minds is – are they practical?


The Famous Cold Steel XL Tanto Knife

Cold Steel is the company that made tanto knives popular. Their tanto blade knives were inspired by the original Japanese tanto, famed by their design and craftsmanship.

tanto blade advantages cold steel

knife description

Cold Steel can be found at Cold Steel is important because they are the company that re-popularized the tanto knife. The tanto used to be a tip mainly used for war and defense, but thanks to Cold Steel marketing, the tanto tip is now a regular edge made by many knife manufacturers.

Tanto Blade Advantages

Strength At The Tip – The strength of the tanto tip comes from the triangular shape leading to the tip. The triangle is the strongest geometrical shape because of its resistance against compression from the maximum amount of angles in a simple footprint.

Easy Manufacturability – Because of the simplicity of the design, it is much easier for manufacturers to make tanto knives. The design also allows for a knife to be CNC’ed much more easily than a blade shape without as many straight lines in its shape.

pros and cons of tanto blade knives

knife description

Ability To Pierce – Probably the most important tanto blade advantage is the fact that a tanto edge was created to pierce. This goes back to the strength at the tip point. Because of that tip strength, when trying to pierce something, it is much easier since it has a lot more structure and strength to go through various materials.

Chisel Point Blade – Since there is a harsh angle on the tanto blade, it lends well to various tasks where a flat edge is needed. For instance, if you are out in the wilderness and get stung by a bee. It is much simpler to get the stinger out with a tanto tipped knife rather than a more round-bladed knife.

Tanto Blade Disadvantages

Not The Smoothest Cutting – Since there is that sharp angle near the tip of the blade, when you are cutting a more difficult material it can be annoying at times. Sometimes, while you are cutting, you hit the hard notch and you move the blade upruptly and slip.

kershaw tanto folding knife

knife description

Sharpening – Some think that tanto blades are really easy to sharpen. That is because they haven’t sharpened one before. Logically, it would seem like a tanto blade is easy to sharpen. You’d think that because there are only two angles to sharpen that the job would be a simple one. However, to evenly sharpen a tanto knife is much more difficult than you would think. There still usually is a slight curve in the belly of the blade that you still have to follow. Sharpening is definitely not one of the tanto blade advantages. It is much more of a disadvantage if anything.


Tanto knives are some cool looking blades that have many practical uses. They are also, in my opinion, some of the coolest looking knives ever made. The angles on the blade really make it look quite awesome. However, even though they look awesome tanto blades make some really great every day carry knives.

History Of Tanto Blade Knives

History Of Tanto Knives

The first tanto blades in history came out between the years 794 and 1185 and resembled crudely made weapons without artistic qualities. The first tantos were very practical blades that were created because of need.
Things changed in 1185 to 1333 though, as much higher quality and more artistic versions of a tanto edge started to be made. Then, from 1336 to 1573 the blade was made to win fights because there were quite a few fights in this period of time.

ancient tanto blade

The artistic quality declined in this period. The tanto was designed for mass production. The blades were also made much thinner because then the manufacturer could make even more blades. Today, most tanto blades are so well manufactured that you can use them easily as every day carry knives.

The Japanese Tanto Knife

The original japanese versions of the tanto knife are iconic. In Japanese history, the tanto knife has a rich history. It dates all the way back to the 10th century. The Japanese originally created the knife for optimal stabbing and slashing. The traditional tanto knife that the Japanese used was a fixed blade tanto.

japanese tanto knife edge

Japanese tanto knives were mainly known for the length of their blade, which usually varied between six and twelve inches and looked like a dagger. However, much like other nations and their tanto blades, due to all of the fighting in Japan, mass production of tanto knives compromised their blade qualities and artistic design.

Cold Steel Tanto Knives

cold steel recon fixed blade tanto knife

knife description

An originally very small knife brand modernized the tanto knife. Cold Steel really helped make tanto blades as popular as they are today. Cold Steel tanto knives put a very sleek look to the once crude version of the tanto edge. They gave the tanto knife blade purpose. They also added a specialized locking system to become almost as strong as a fixed blade. They also made some really cool tanto dart knives. Cold Steel still makes some of the best tanto knives.

Tanto Blade Knife Sizes

Different Sizes Of Tanto Blade Knives

Tanto knives come in all different shapes and sizes. Some sizes are better for different uses than others. There is no absolutely perfect knives because are so many uses for a knife. While tanto blades do lend themselves better for a stabbing or piercing role, many medium sized tanto blades are perfect for every day carry. I have listed some different sizes of tanto knives below and what their pros and cons are.

Small Tanto Knife

stat gear pocket samurai small tanto knife

knife description

A small tanto knife has a blade of 2.5″ or less. Small tanto knives make great every day carry blades. They are small enough to tuck into your pocket and forget you even have it on you. They aren’t the best for heavier cutting tasks though, and that is their main drawback.

Medium Tanto Knife

medium sized tanto knife

knife description

A medium sized tanto knife has a blade length of 2.5″ to 4″ and is a great versatile blade. The longer length allows for greater cutting ability. The small form factor allows for a great every day carry knife that won’t weight you down.

Large Tanto Knife

large sized tanto knife

knife description

A large sized tanto knife has a blade length of 4″ to 6″ of solid steel. A large tanto knife is where the fun really starts to get going. Not only do large tanto knives tend to look impressive, but they also look a whole lot scarier too.

XL Tanto Knife

extra large sized tanto blade

knife description

The XL (Extra Large) sized tanto knife has a blade length of 6″ or over. This, to me, is where a knife starts to get a bit too big. You can’t carry a blade much over 6″ comfortably in your pocket in my opinion.

If you liked this post, perhaps you would also like the History Of Tanto Blades.

Best Folding Tanto Knives Of 2017

The Best Tanto Knives Of 2017

Let’s get down to brass tacks. I think tanto knives are awesome, so do you. That makes two of us. So, how did I personally decide that some tanto knives were way more awesome than others? Simple, I used them and found out that some are better than most. So lets get down to it, the top 5 tanto blades of 2017!

1. Kershaw Link A/O (Assisted Opening) Tanto

kershaw link tanto knife

knife description

This knife is absolutely fantastic. The Kershaw Link has been a knife that I have kept around in my every day carry rotation for quite a while. The reason is that even though it is a tanto knife, the angle on the sweep of the blade really lends itself well to every day tasks. Cutting an apple with this knife is one of the most delightful experiences you can have with your pants on. The grip is also something I love. When I am in the kitchen doing a task where my hands get wet, the Link never seems to slip out of my hands. It is a fantastic knife, but only for those that are into medium sized tanto blades.

2. Ka-Bar ZK-Kharon Tanto Folder Knife

kabar tanto blade

knife description

The Zombie Killer Knife of tantos. This big guy comes out of the box razor sharp. I was slicing paper into thin reams as I first started using the knife. I now carry this knife in my main every day carry rotation. I really like the simplicity and lightweight of the knife. I also like the little biohazard imprint on the knife. However, I wish the pocket clip was a little deeper carry. The problem is that a lot of the knife sticks out when you have it in your pocket. I wish Ka-Bar would move the clip to the back of the knife so that we could carry it a little deeper. But, overall a great knife.

3. SOG Flash II Tanto

sog flash II tanto version

knife description

This awesome assisted knife has made a lot of money for the SOG brand. The Flash II is one of their big sellers. The SOG Flash II has a blade length of 3.5″ and is very lightweight. It has an incredibly ergonomic handle that just settles nicely without the blade wiggling much. The only real thing to be weary of is that the locking system is not the strongest. So, if you plan on stabbing into a lot of car doors for some random reason in the near future, well then perhaps pick a different knife. I have personally sliced my hands a few times from being a little too rough with this blade.

4. Cold Steel Recon 1 Tanto

cold steel recon 1 tanto knife

knife description

This knife is a classic. The Recon 1 is like the Buck 110. If you haven’t owned a knife made by Cold Steel, then it is time to change that. Cold Steel really steps it up with the Recon 1, especially the tanto version. This knife was built to last. The Tri-Ad lock makes any folding knife suddenly feel like a fixed blade because the lock up is so solid. This knife is the opposite of the SOG Flash II. With the Flash II you get a lightweight and fast action blade. With the Recon 1 you get a solid, heavy knife that can take a beating. The Recon 1 is for folks that want to buy a knife that will last a lifetime.

5. Kershaw Blur Tanto

kershaw blur tanto knife

knife description

Last, but certainly not least goes to the Kershaw Blur Tanto. The Blur is one of Kershaw’s best selling knives. I do really like the knife, but I wish that they would redesign the handle. The blade is great, it slices well and does most tasks with ease. However, the big rounded handle that the Blur sports just isn’t comfortable in my hand. I know some out there in the knife community swear by this knife, but I just like it, not love it. I am putting the Blur on the list because people with large hands will like it a lot more than I did. My hands fit into a pair of large sized gloves, but the Blur just simply has too big of a handle for my hands. The Blur is a phenomenal knife otherwise, with the exception of the overly large handle.

And there you have it. These are my top 5 recommendations for the Best Tanto Knife of 2017. Tanto knives will remain to be awesome because of the way they are designed, but I am looking forward to another year of Tanto Insanity coming from the large manufacturers. Cold Steel and Kershaw need to keep it up, their newest line of tanto blades are looking awesome!



Hello And Welcome

Hello and welcome to the site!

This website is about everything to do with tanto edged knives. We discuss the history behind tanto blade knives, the reason tanto edges are so awesome, and great products that are sporting that beautiful tanto blade. Most of the time, this is a no BS kind of site, which means that I get right down to the point. My name is Taylor and I am the proud owner and writer for Tanto Blade Knives. I am happy to welcome you to the site, below are some articles that you might be interested in.

Starter Articles For Your Enjoyment

History Of Tanto Blade Knives

Tanto Blade Advantages And Disadvantages

The Top 5 Tanto Folding Knives Of 2017

Different Sizes Of Tanto Knives

If you know anything that you would like me to write about, please post in the comments below. Thanks again for visiting!