Blade Shape

Introduction: Tanto Blade Shape

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7 min read
Cold Steel Knife with Tanto Blade

When it comes to knives, the blade shape plays a pivotal role in determining the knife's functionality. One such blade shape that has been gaining popularity in recent times is the Tanto blade. This article provides a detailed guide on the Tanto blade, its history, characteristics, benefits and drawbacks for Everyday Carry (EDC), and how it compares with other blade shapes.

History and Origin of Tanto Blade

The Tanto blade is a Japanese-inspired design, tracing its roots back to the daggers used by the Samurai warriors in feudal Japan. Originally, Tanto blades were designed with a high point and a flat grind, primarily used for stabbing and piercing.

Over time, the Tanto blade has undergone significant evolution. Its design was modernized in the 1980s by the American cutlery company, Cold Steel, which popularized the Tanto blade in the West. The modern Tanto, often referred to as the “American Tanto”, features a sharp angled tip, resembling a chisel, and is known for its strength and durability.

Key Characteristics of Tanto Blade

The Tanto blade is characterized by its strong, angular design. It has two straight edges that meet at an angle, rather than a curve, forming a high point. This design gives the blade an extremely strong tip, capable of piercing through hard materials.

While the traditional Tanto blade lacks a belly, making slicing tasks somewhat challenging, some modern Tanto blades incorporate a slight belly for additional versatility. The back (unsharpened edge) of the blade, also known as the spine, is generally straight but can sometimes have a slight curve.

Böker Plus Tantodashi - Tanto Neckknife

Benefits of Tanto Blade for EDC

Tanto blades offer several advantages for EDC, making them a popular choice among knife enthusiasts.

  • Durability & Longevity: The Tanto blade is known for its robustness. Its strong point and thick spine contribute to its superior durability, making it resistant to breakage and wear over time.
  • Versatility: Despite its traditional design for piercing and stabbing, modern Tanto blades can handle a variety of tasks. A slight belly added to some designs further enhances the blade’s versatility.
  • Ease of Maintenance: Tanto blades are relatively easy to sharpen owing to their straight edges. All you need is a sharpening stone, and you can easily maintain the blade’s edge, even in the field.

Disadvantages of Tanto Blade for EDC

Despite their strengths, Tanto blades do have certain limitations when it comes to EDC.

  • Limitations in Use: The lack of a significant belly on a Tanto blade can make slicing tasks more challenging compared to other blade shapes.
  • Maintenance Challenges: While the straight edges of a Tanto blade make it relatively easy to sharpen, the angular point can be somewhat tricky to maintain, especially for beginners.
  • Cost: High-quality Tanto blades, especially those made with premium materials, can be more expensive than other blade shapes.

Comparison with Related Blade Shapes

The Tanto blade is often compared to other blade shapes such as the Drop Point and the Sheepsfoot, each having its unique characteristics.

  • Tanto vs. Drop Point: The Drop Point blade has a convex curve from the spine to the tip, providing a larger belly for slicing tasks. While the Drop Point may not have the Tanto’s piercing strength, it offers better versatility for EDC tasks.
  • Tanto vs. Sheepsfoot: The Sheepsfoot blade has a straight edge and a curved spine, resulting in a blade shape ideal for slicing and chopping, but not for piercing. The Tanto blade, with its strong point, excels in piercing tasks but lacks the Sheepsfoot’s slicing efficiency.

Expert and User Opinions

Knife experts often praise the Tanto blade for its robust design and exceptional piercing ability. Everyday users appreciate the Tanto’s durability and its ease of maintenance, especially when sharpening in the field.


In conclusion, the Tanto blade is a strong and durable blade shape specifically tailored for piercing and stabbing tasks. While it may not be the best choice for slicing due to its lack of a prominent belly, its strength and durability make it a reliable choice for EDC, especially when durability and piercing ability are paramount. Whether you are a fan of its angular aesthetics, appreciate its historical roots, or value its functionality, the Tanto blade offers a unique blend of style and performance.