Choosing the best tanto knife is all about getting a knife that closely matches your needs. A knife that you’re comfortable with is 100 times more effective than a knife that’s rated the best. We’ll help you choose the right tanto knife for you by showing you 7 of the best tanto knives on the market.
You’ll find some tanto knives on a budget, some that pride themselves on their synthetic design, and some premium models. By the end of our guide, you’ll know exactly what to look for, and where to find it. You’ll be ready and confident to choose the best tanto knife you can rely on and even bet your life on. Let’s get into the guide!
Top 7 Best Tanto Knife Reviews in 2023
There are a lot of knives on the market that make outrageous and unrealistic claims they can never live up to. It’s easy to find knives that make world-class claims – but it’s not so easy to find the best tanto knives with world-class performance.
We’ll look at what’s unique about each of the knives we’ve picked, and what you need to know about them. You find out what we did and didn’t like about each of them – building a realistic expectation of how they’ll perform practically. Let’s dive into our 7 best tanto knife reviews!
KA-BAR KA1245-BRK Tanto Knife
Here’s a 100% synthetic fixed tanto blade. It’s made in the USA and is designed to mimic popular Asian style tanto blades. It has extreme puncturing and piercing power while remaining lightweight and highly durable. The tip has some extra thickness and can handle repeated puncturing of tough materials. It’s a subtle blade that comes in at around 8” in total length.
You’ll be able to take this blade along with you on outdoor trips or when you need the added protection. The edge angles at 20-degrees, so it’s relatively easy to sharpen and holds its edge well. The slightly softer HRC56 steel gives the blade extra resistance to shattering and chipping during tough use.
- 100% synthetic design is lightweight and sleek
- Good edge retention despite using softer steel
- The serrated section near the handle is useful for cutting rope and cable ties
- Quick and easy to sharpen on the go
- The powdered metal grip isn’t as easy-to-hold as we’d have liked
- The sheath isn’t designed well
CRKT Minimalist Tanto Neck Knife
If you’re looking for a compact but capable best tanto knife for self-defense or advanced utility – this might be the knife for you. It’s not packing a long blade, but what it lacks in length, it makes up for in strength. Excusing the cheesy rhyming, this is an exceptional EDC neck knife. It’s short enough to be legal in most places and has the piercing power of far more expensive knives.
Despite the lightweight and compact design, this CRKT knife is surprisingly easy to hold. There are 3 carefully crafted circular finger molds in the handle. These let you get an unflinching grip on the knife when you need it. I would have liked the tip to be a little close to the centerline of the blade, but this won’t have a huge impact on performance.
You’re also getting a glass-reinforced sheath that does a fantastic job of robustly protecting the handle and blade while traveling. Overall, this is possibly the best tanto EDC knife if you’re looking for something powerful yet discreet.
- Ultra-lightweight and powerful for its size
- Ergonomic grip is one of the easiest among neck knives to hold with larger hands
- Legal to carry in most places
- Super-discreet and easy to clean and maintain
- No thumb ridge to help slow your thumb’s sliding down the spine of the blade
- The blade is a little short for extensive self-defense and protective use
Grand Way Japanese Tanto Knife
Due to their square and straight lines, tanto knives are often seen as non-glamorous and plain. However, this Grand Way tanto is nothing if not glamorous. Aside from being an absolute looker, this knife does everything a tanto is supposed to do and looks good while hacking and piercing.
This mirror-polished knife with a 150mm mirror polished, full tang blade is exceptionally pretty. It comes with flawless construction, golden accents, and a meticulously wrapped paracord handle. Additionally, a tough Cordura fabric sheath and a survival ebook make it the best tanto knife for gifting.
The Grand Way knife doesn’t always come very sharp out of the box, however, the clean edges make it easy to sharpen by yourself. The paracord wrapped handle gives you some extra grip, and you can unwrap it and put it to use when you need it. Paracord wrapped handles as these can sometimes unravel, so I’d suggest you try wrapping it again yourself.
If you’d like to reinforce it a bit more, run the handle over a lit lighter quickly so the rope melts just enough to stick to each other but not enough to deform. However, despite the shortcomings, you’d be hard-pressed to find another knife to take the place of the best tanto fixed blade knife.
- 440C stainless steel blade
- Comes with a serviceable sheath and a survival ebook
- Full tang fixed blade construction
- The beautiful mirror finish on the blade
- Paracord wrapped, comfortable handle
- Doesn’t come too sharp out of the box
Kershaw Shuffle II Folding Pocket Knife
Due to their fantastic piercing power, tanto knives are certainly the best choice for utility work and keeping on your person all the time. In that regard, the Kershaw Shuffle II with a tanto tip is a small yet powerful contender to be considered the best tanto EDC knife. Unfolded and sitting on your palm, this folded edc knife looks like a miniature tank. That’s because it’s built to look and act like a powerhouse.
The handle is glass-filled nylon and has a grippy texture. The blade also has an attractive matte Blackwash finish. The tanto blade is constructed from 8Cr13MoV stainless steel with carbon and a little less nickel than usual. This gives this Kershaw EDC superior edge retention and hardness. When it comes to heavy-duty day-to-day work, you can certainly count on this tanto knife.
- Small and light enough for daily carry
- Really sturdy for its size
- Can be used as a bottle opener and flat head screwdriver
- Comes sharp out of the box
- The blade hasn’t got any noticeable wobble
- The opening of the blade is a little stiff and awkward
Honshu United Cutlery Tanto Knife
Here’s a massive blade with more than 10” of hard, sharp, stainless steel. It’s full tang and has a gorgeous groove down the side of the blade. You’re getting good thickness on a long blade, without having to sacrifice too much handling. It’s lightweight enough to comfortably use in either hand and has the cutting power of many higher-end hunting knives.
If you want to knife that’s designed for piercing or boning on your hunts, this might be a perfect choice. You won’t have to worry about wearing out the tips on your other knives or ruining their edges. With the high-quality, over-molded handle that’s easy to wield, you’re getting one of the best tanto knives for hunting and outdoor utility.
- Massive 10”+ blade is made from high-grade stainless steel
- Full-tang blade with a balanced and weighty feel
- Included a stunning black leather sheath
- Expertly balanced blade
- A heavy and bulky knife that needs to be carefully secured
- Tang tapers a bit too much under the grip
edcfans EDC Knife with Tanto Blade
While it’s no secret that I prefer fixed blade knives when it comes to the tanto style, this edcfans knife is a great option for everyday use. The clean lines, subtle design, and no-nonsense features make it the best tanto folding knife on this list. The 3.54-inch blade is made of D2 steel, with a G10 handle to fold into.
I love the construction of the handle, it’s unobtrusive and easy to hold, not to mention textured and lightweight. The knife almost looks like a pen when folded and clipped to a pocket. This flipper knife does have a loose ball bearing, though. So you need to check and get some modifications done if you want the opening act to be faster or slower.
Tanto knife reviews from users also claim that the clip can also be a little stiff, and the blade isn’t sturdy enough for heavy-duty work. Keep all these in mind before you purchase this EDC with a tanto blade.
- Subtle, clean design
- The handle is exceptionally easy to grip
- Very lightweight knife
- The opening pivot and ball bearing might need some tinkering
Gerber Paraframe Tanto Knife
A knife with a blade small enough to carry legally, be useful in everyday tasks, and also sport a beautiful tanto point: this Gerber knife is definitely what comes to mind. To top it off, it’s also the best budget tanto knife on my list. You don’t always need to lug around a blade the size of your palm to get your job done.
This knife is as short and thin as my pinky, and yet it can take care of so much work! Don’t go cutting bones or hardwood with it, the blade will chip. That aside, the design is small and smooth enough that it slips in a tight pocket and becomes unnoticeable. The black finish helps too.
The distinct frame design means it’s lighter than a set of keys! It’s really a top-rated tanto knife in terms of portability. This knife does seem too small for some people’s hands though, and some people had trouble with the opening act. The closing mechanism, in particular, seems to give some users a hard time.
- Small and unobtrusive design
- Beautiful dark finish
- Paraframe means it’s extremely light
- Comes very sharp out of the box
- Very affordable
- Opening and closing operation can be quite a hassle
Why You Should Choose a Tanto Knife
There is no “objectively” perfect knife on the market – it’s all about choosing the knife that’s right for you. What works best for you could be a nightmare for me, and vice versa.
We’re going to cover a few ways in which a tanto knife offers a distinct advantage over other knife types so that you can decide if it aligns with how you plan on using the knife. Like all other knife types on the market, tanto knives have their strengths and weaknesses. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Prying and Piercing
Tanto knives have exceptionally strong tips and are very resilient when it comes to resisting lateral force and twisting. These knives are perfect for utility work like prying open boxes and doing cutting and piercing that involves putting the knife in awkward angles.
Tanto blades have excellent piercing power, especially when compared to other knives similar in size. This gives you a huge advantage over pocket knives for rougher utility work – especially if the tanto knife is full-tang.
Multi-Use Tanto Tip
Tanto tips have a unique shape that makes them quite versatile for both indoor and outdoor use. The flat side of the tip (the angled part) can be used as a chisel or scraper. You can hit or hammer on the butt of the handle to split pieces of wood, strip bark off a tree, scrape dirt off a surface, and much more! The sharp point of the tip is also great for detailing and intricate cutting/slicing.
The thicker blade and tip designed for improved puncturing makes this knife an excellent choice for self-defense and EDC protection. The blade’s design and shape suit various grip styles without losing much functionality. Tanto knives with tougher steel are even better here as they can hold a wicked-sharp cutting edge – making them even more intimidating.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q: When Should I Choose a Tanto Blade Over Other Types of Blades?
A: Tanto blades are widely regarded as being better at piercing thanks to their thicker tips. These knives hold up with repeated piercing of tough materials. Most other types of knives would buckle or bend with this kind of use. If you’re interested in a tactical carry or defensive knife, a tanto blade is probably the better choice.
Q: How Do I Sharpen a Tanto Blade?
A: You’ll go about this the same way you do with a normal knife. Make sure you have the right equipment and a high-quality whetstone. You’ll need an angled honing rod if your tanto blade has a serrated portion. Make sure you pay special attention to the second edge of the tanto shape. You don’t want to round the point where the blade changes angles. Repeat this process for the tip too, as you want that as sharp and pointed as possible.
Q: Are Folding Tanto Knives as Effective as Fixed Tanto Knives?
A: In my experience, no. That being said, this depends on how you use the knife and the quality of the knife. If you’ve got a high-end folding knife with a tanto blade (with an excellent blade lock and snappy action) then you’ll get the same performance as a fixed blade tanto knife. You probably won’t get the same long term durability, but it will be close enough.
Well done for taking the time to make sure you get the perfect knife for you. You should have a clear idea of what you need in your next tanto knife, and where to find it. We encourage you to take some time to back over the knives you took an interest in. Check to see how they match your needs and planned uses. Once you’re ready, go ahead and order your next knife! You’ll feel the confidence and power with the best tanto knife in your hands – good luck!