Exploring Tanto Blade Knives For Preppers

Avatar Samantha Biggers  |  Updated: June 28, 2021
Exploring Tanto Blade Knives For Preppers

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The tanto blade was popularized by Cold Steel in the 1970s. It is based on Japanese design that has stood the test of time in terms of reliability and strength.

The tanto design makes it capable of high strength which means you can get through hard things with greater ease. The popularity of the tanto is apparent considering just how many major knifemakers have picked up on the design.

I have searched for some of the better examples of this design for you. I was pleasantly surprised just how good a knife you can get for your dollar. This is not a knife style where you must spend more than a $100 to get anything of reliable quality.

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Blade Length: 5.5″

Overall Length: 9.875″

Weight: 4.4 oz

Handle: 4 3/8″ Long Kray-Ex

Steel: Japanese AUS 8A Stainless

There is something to be said with going with the company that pioneered the design in the USA. Based on previous knife articles I have written at Backdoor Survival, I know that there are a lot of Cold Steel fans out there. This knife has a great handle. I really appreciate a knife that has a real non-slip grip and a big enough handle to accommodate larger hands. A hand guard helps you use this knife more safely when doing daily tasks.

The price means that you can afford to have a few of these knives and if you do happen to lose one or break one somehow, you are not out that much money. In terms of value and reputation, this is one of the better deals for a fixed blade tanto.

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Blade Length: 3″

Overall Length: 7.1″

Weight: 3.9 oz

Handle: 4.1″ Black Glass-Filled Nylon Handle Scales with Reversible 4-Position Pocket clip

Steel: Back-Oxide Finished High-Performance 8Cr13MoV Steel Blade

Kershaw is a consistently reliable brand that you can buy at a great price. The reversible four-position pocket clip helps make the knife very versatile to carry. The blade is Chinese steel, but reviewers seem to be happy with it. 8Cr13MoV steel has carbon in it, but it has less nickel in it than comparable knives. The idea is that less nickel helps the blade take and hold an edge better and not wear down so fast due to abrasion. The fast deployment system means you can have this knife out fast and open it single handed. 

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Blade Length: 8″

Overall Length: 12.8125″

Weight: 0.70 Lbs

Handle: 4.8125″ Kraton G

Steel: 1095 Cro-Van

Kabar is one of the more prominent names when it comes to survival knives, so it is no wonder that they have their own high-quality tanto blade survival knife. Those that are fans of the classic Marine Corp Kabar used by the USA Armed Forces will like this different take on a survival knife. The knife comes with a sturdy sheath that can be strapped to a bag or belt easily.

This knife is easy to sharpen and holds an edge well. For the money, it is a bargain and made to last. This is a bit of a large knife at over 12″ length. An 8″ blade is pretty formidable. On the other hand, this knife doesn’t weight that much despite the large blade, so this is a knife that could be used by a small person without making them feel like they were weighed down with a big knife.

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Blade Length: 2.125″

Overall Length: 5.13

Weight: 1.6 oz

Handle: About 3″ Hand contoured green, black Micarta scales, and a braided fob

Steel: 5Cr15Mov stainless steel

I chose this one because it kind of reminds me of the karambit that some like to wear concealed as a necklace.  When I was a little girl, I wore my lock back around my neck all the time.  It is hard for me to resist a knife produced by CRKT as well because my husband and I have found them to be so reliable. I plan on buying one of these very soon as a backup knife. It is a good choice if you want something minimal but doesn’t want to be totally unarmed.  Of course, it could also be used for some basic tasks like cutting paracord.

This knife would make a good gift for someone. I also want to point out that CKRT makes this knife necklace in a selection of other knife styles. You can choose from drop point, Bowie, Wharncliffe, keramin, and of course tanto.

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Blade Length: 6.75″

Overall Length: 11.75″

Weight: 11 oz

Handle: 5″ deeply checkered Griv-Ev

Steel: German D-2 Steel w/ Black Powder Finish

Cold Steel delivers quality with this tanto that comes in at under $60 currently. It is similar in style to the Ka-Bar Tanto shown previously, but it has a handle that is indented a lot. This may not be appealing to some people while others may find that they think their grip is improved. This is a pretty standard size for a fixed blade survival knife.
This knife has a solid steel hand guard that I really like. Getting cut out in the bush can be really serious, so I won’t fool with a knife that doesn’t take some safety into consideration in terms of design.
The cap at the end is not made of plastic like it is with so many knives of similar design. Cold Steel uses a solid steel end cap that can take a lot of abuse.

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Blade Length: 5 1/4″

Overall Length: 9 3/8″

Weight: 0.4 lbs

Handle: 4 1/8″ Kraton G

Steel: 1095 Cro-Van

I wanted to add in another Ka-Bar that is a bit shorter for those that value compactness in the knives they choose to carry. This blade is 2.75″ shorter than the previous Ka-Bar in this post. It is made to take a lot of abuse. I did read that some people felt that the factory edge is too dull for them so you may want to sharpen this knife when you get it.

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Blade Length: 4″

Overall Length: 9.375″

Weight: 5.2 oz

Handle: 5.375″ G-10 

Steel: S35VN Steel

I carry folders normally. A fixed blade knife is often too large and obvious for major carry, and it is more than I need. For every day carry a nice folder does the job well.

The handle design on this Cold Steel is outstanding. I love that it has a comfortable and sturdy handguard and a molded handled that ensures a nonslip grip.

A lock back design provides safety and reassurance when performing a variety of tasks.

This is not one of the cheapest Cold Steel knives but still comes in at a reasonable cost for a quality knife. The handle features G-10 construction for a lightweight yet strong knife for every day carry. It is ambidextrous and has a reversible pocket clip.

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Blade Length: 13″

Overall Length: 25″

Weight: 19 oz

Handle: 6 3/8″ polypropylene handle

Steel: 1055 Carbon Steel with Black Baked-On Anti Rust Matte Finish

I couldn’t help but add in a tanto style machete to this list. There are plenty of people that keep a machete around, but most of us have a more classic style. This is an affordable way to see if you might prefer the tanto style for some tasks.

The blade is high carbon steel, so it is easy to sharpen. The anti-rust coating makes it more suitable for heavy outdoor use under damp conditions. I think anyone that likes a machete could appreciate this version for what it is. No, I would not expect a machete in this price range to last for decades, but I bet it gives you a lot more use than what you pay for it.

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Blade Length: 3.8″

Overall Length: 8.6 oz

Weight: 5.7 oz

Handle: textured G-10 handle

Steel:  7Cr17MoV stainless steel

Gerber is a decent budget brand. I realize that they have started producing more less expensive knives, but I have never had any major issues with the older Gerber knives we have. Time will tell how the new ones hold up. I do have to say that they appear to be popular still and that says something in such a competitive knife market. It really seems like there are more styles and manufacturers than ever competing for profits.

The Gerber Serrated Edge Tanto has a big blade at nearly 4″. A lot of the tantos I have suggested are smooth so for fans of serration; this is a decent choice for everyday carry.  The knife can be opened fast. When it is open 10 degrees, a spring kicks in, so it offers fast one-handed deployment without being an actual switchblade.

A stainless steel blade makes is suitable for heavy outdoor use in hot, wet, or even salty conditions.

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Blade Length: 3.7″

Overall Length: 8.7″

Weight: 3.9 oz

Handle: 5.2″ Glass reinforced nylon with rubber inlays

Steel: Black titanium nitride coated AUS-8 stainless steel blade

SOG has a lot of fans. This interesting take on the tanto blade offers a rugged design and extra features such as a cord cutter and a glass breaker. Since this is spring assisted, it is an option for those that have a harder time opening some knives.  The handle is heavily textured for a nice grip.

This is an excellent knife for keeping close in the car or everyday carry. This could get you out of a bad situation in your car if you need to break glass to get out or cut a seat belt.

It is a mouthful to describe the blade of this knife. According to SOG, the knife has a cryo-hardened black titanium nitride coated blade. This is supposed to allow for superb strength and durability without weighing the knife down a lot. A lanyard hole allows you to attach it to whatever you want.

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Blade Length: 3.614″

Overall Length: 8.375″

Weight: 4.8 oz

Handle: Glass-reinforced nylon

Steel: 8CR14MoV, 58-60 HRC

This CRKT tanto is basic, but that makes it good for every day carry. I like the handle shape and design and would have no problems trusting this knife out in the bush. It has an easy to open one-handed flipper and a locking mechanism that keeps things safe when you are doing your tasks.

This knife is a little heavier than some, but it is made to be very solid. The designer used to be a watchmaker so you can imagine the precision that went into designing this knife.

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Blade Length: 3.5″

Overall Length: 8″

Weight: 0.3 lbs

Handle:  glass filled nylon handle

Steel: AUS 8 Stainless Steel

This liner locking folder caught my eye because while it is a tanto tip, the tip is steeper and there is a lot more of a sharp point than with a standard tanto. This unique blade shape has its appeal for those that really want some major piercing power. It has movable clip and is designed for everyday use.

The stainless steel blade will hold an edge well, but like any stainless, you will need to dedicate more time when sharpening time comes around. Personally, I like stainless because we live in such a humid environment and the salt from sweat or doing meat curing tasks, takes its toll on any knife that is carbon-based steel.

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Blade Length: 4.7″

Overall Length: 10.2″

Weight:  12 oz

Handle: G-10 

Steel: 1.4116 German cutlery steel.

This knife has a very tactical look and feel. The paracord makes it easy to attach and carry right out of the box. A comfortable yet functional handguard is a nice touch in a knife that is made to withstand every day use and abuse out in the bush. This is a heavy knife compared to a lot on this list, but some people enjoy a little more heft when it comes to a blade.

Puma makes a lot of different knives in a wide range of styles. The fact that they are able to make so many and do it well amazes me. There are plenty of companies that excel at a few designs but no matter where your Puma is made, it is going to be exceptional for the money you pay.

Knife Laws

As always, check your local laws if you are unsure what types of knives are legal to carry. Some places may have restrictions on blade length. People don’t usually get into trouble much for just carrying a knife with a blade a little bit too long because the only way anyone checks if you are in trouble for something else. Knives can be considered concealed weapons if they meet some conditions too.

To the ladies:

A lot of every day carry knives have clips that do not work well with a lot of women’s pants and the materials that some of our clothing is made from. Women’s jeans often have ridiculous pockets that result in the clip and knife-twisting out and then dropping. I had this happen to me when reviewing the Boker Kalashnikov Knife, and it took me a while to find my knife.  Just be careful when you first get a knife and see what works for you because I would hate for you to buy a nice knife and then lose it because of what you are wearing. I often just stick mine in my pocket without using the clip if I don’t trust that it will stay.

What is your favorite tanto blade? Have you carried any of these on the list for any length of time?

Samantha Biggers can be reached at samantha@backdoorsurvival.com. When not contributing to Backdoor Survival she is working on her personal website or the farm and vineyard with her husband.

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