Best Tanto Knives In 2019 (Top 5 Mini Katanas With Superior Quality)

Best Tanto Knives

If you are in a hurry and would like to know which tanto was the best, then I would recommend the Ka-Bar Black Tanto which was my top pick. The blade is made from 1095 Cro-Van steel and the handle from Kraton G.O

So you want to be the owner of a mini katana? Tanto knives have a unique appearance that also makes them very attractive for most people. There are hundreds of these knives that you can find online, but there is only one problem. If you do not know how to look for good quality tanto knives, then you might end up buying one who will break the moment enough force and pressure is applied to it.

The solution.

You need to look at the steel type and quality to find a blade that will keep its edge and will not bend or break. You also want a sturdy handle which will provide the grip you need. So here is what I found.

I am going to give you a list of up to five of the best tanto knives that you can find online. I will discuss features such as metal type, handle material and blade length. You will also find a beginners guide at the end where I will cover all the features in depth.

Best Product

The products below are the Ka-Bar Black tanto which is my top pick. The second product is the Tanto Lite which is budget friendly. The third product is the Leatherneck Tanto which is a little bit more expensive but of exceptional quality.

Top Pick

Ka-Bar Black Tanto

  • Editors Rating: 10/10
  • Metal Type: 1095 Cro-Van
  • Blade Length: 8″

Budget Friendly

Tanto Lite

  • Editors Rating: 8/10
  • Metal Type: 4116 stainless steel
  • Blade Length: 6″

Also Good

Leatherneck Tanto

  • Editors Rating: 9/10
  • Metal Type: D2 Tool Steel
  • Blade Length: 7″

#1 Ka-Bar Black Tanto (Top Pick)

Best for: The Ka-Bar Black Tanto will provide the best value for money because the blade is made from 1095 Cro-Van steel and the handle from Kraton G at a decent price.

  • Editors Rating: 10/10
  • Metal Type: 1095 Cro-Van
  • Blade Length: 8″

Let’s start with the blade of this knife. The blade alone is around 8” long and is made from 1095 Cro-Van steel which is commonly used in heavy-duty tools. The blade also has a black coating to protect it from corrosion and rust. A small section of the edge near the base of the blade will have a serrated edge. Let’s talk about the handle. The knife has a manmade handle made with Kraton G material. The handle will provide excellent grip and will fit comfortably in your hand. Along with the sword, you will also receive a plastic sheath combined with nylon which is also molle compatible.

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#2 Tanto Lite (Budget Friendly)

Best for: The Tanto Lite knife is ideal for people that want a high-quality knife which is not that expensive.

  • Editors Rating: 8/10
  • Metal Type: 4116 stainless steel
  • Blade Length: 6″

Just because this knife is budget friendly does not mean it is of low quality. The blade is 6” long and is made from 4116 stainless steel which is a German steel rich in Chromium. The blade offers medium to high wear resistance and is very hard. The handle is also made in two parts which consist of Polypropylene guard which make out the core of the handle and also the guard. The core is then covered with Kray-Ex which is almost like rubber. The handle will provide superior grip and is also non-slip when coming into contact with liquid. You will also get a Cordura sheath in which to keep the knife in.

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#3 Leatherneck Tanto

Best for: If you are willing to pay the hefty price tag for a superior tanto knife, then the Leatherneck Tanto is for you.

  • Editors Rating: 9/10
  • Metal Type: D2 Tool Steel
  • Blade Length: 7″

If you are genuinely into tanto blades and you are willing to pay for a very decent knife, then the Leatherneck Tanto will not disappoint. The blade itself is 7” long and is made from D2 tool steel which is very hard and tough. The blade also has a black powder coating that will add an extra layer of protection against rust, and it is also non-reflective. The knife also has a finger guard which will protect your fingers and prevent them from sliding onto the blade.

The handle is made from deeply checkered Kray-Ex that is a very sturdy material and is also non-slip. The end of the handle is also capped with a firm butt cap which can also be used as a hammer in emergency cases. You can also carry the knife in its Secure-Ex® sheath which also comes in the package. The sheath can be attached to a belt to make it easier to carry.

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#4 Perkin Tanto blade

Best for: If you are into Damascus blade and you would like tanto version of one, then the Perkin Tanto blade is for you.

  • Editors Rating: 8.5/10
  • Metal Type: Damascus
  • Blade Length: 7.8″

I have written an extensive article on Damascus blades and how they are made if you are interested. Damascus blades are made from several types of metals which represents the different patterns visible on the blade itself. All I know is that the blade is a 56-58 HRC on the Rockwell scale and that the blade is just under 8” long. It also has over 150 layers of steel which means it was folded several times to get this effect. What I like about this knife was its handle. The handle is made from walnut wood and is reinforced with a small and thin butt cap at the end of the handle. You will also get a handmade leather sheath where the color might vary between brown and black.

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#5 United Cutlery Honshu

Best for: If you are into long tanto blades, then you will love this one which has a blade length of more than 10” long.

  • Editors Rating: 9/10
  • Metal Type: 440 Stainless Steel
  • Blade Length: 10.75″

This United Cutlery Honshu knife has the longest blade of all the other tanto knives mentioned in this list. The blade is a whopping 10.75” long and is also made from 440 stainless steel which is high in carbon to give you a durable and robust blade. It also has a blood groove running down near the spine of the blade. It also offers superior grip with its rubber handle. Right between the handle and blade, there is a stainless steel handle to protect your fingers. Along with the knife, you will also get a leather sheath to store it in.

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Tanto Blade Beginners Guide

What is a tanto knife

When choosing a tanto, make sure to choose one that is made from a steel that is not brittle or will not bend once enough force is applied to it. You also want a knife which will hold an edge where you do not need to sharpen it every week. A good quality handle is also a must because the blade will be useful if it breaks.

What is a Tanto blade?

Let’s start with the name. Tanto in Japanese means “short blade” and was a standard weapon used alongside the famous katana. The tanto blade can also be seen as a “mini” katana because of its shape. These knives have a length that can range from 6” up to 13” in length. The tip of the tanto blade is firm and reinforced which makes it a handy weapon for stabbing.

The tip of the blade has a triangular shape which adds to the reinforcement. The only problem I have with tanto blades is that it is challenging to sharpen them. You will need to sharpen the tip and belly of the blade separately.

How durable is the blade?

The strength of the blade is directly correlated to the material it is made from. In this review, there are five types of metals used which include the following:

  • 1095 Cro-Van. This metal is a stainless steel type which is commonly used in heavy-duty tools. It is high in Carbon which makes it very durable and robust. It will also keep an edge for a longer time. The only problem with this metal is that it rusts easily. To prevent it from rusting, you need to coat the blade. The Ka-Bar Black Tanto is a knife made from this steel.
  • 4116 Stainless Steel. Some people consider this metal to be of budget stainless steel. It is high in Carbon which gives it a durable edge which means it will stay sharp for a more extended period. It also contains Chromium which provides it with some resistance against rust. A knife that is made from this steel is the Tanto Lite.
  • D2 Tool Steel. This steel is high in both Carbon and Chromium which makes it sturdy and gives it protection against corrosion. It also contains Molybdenum and Vanadium. This steel also has a very high wear resistance which makes it ideal for holding a sharp edge for prolonged periods. The Leatherneck Tanto uses this superior steel.
  • Damascus. Damascus is not a type of steel but a combination of different kinds of steel. The most common modern method used to make Damascus blades is through pattern welding where they stack various slabs of steel on each other, heat treat it and then fold the block to give it more layers. Most of the time, they will mix low carbon steel with high carbon steel to provide it with flexibility along with strength. You can also read this article on Damascus knives to learn more. If you are interested in a Tanto Damascus blade, then I would recommend the Perkin Tanto blade.
  • 440 Stainless Steel. This stainless steel is one of the more common types of steel used today in knife making. The 440 steel has some resistance against corrosion, rust and other chemical compounds. It has high impact resistance and is also very hard. The knife that uses this metal is the United Cutlery Honshu.

How will the handle perform?

For tanto knives, you want to make use of a handle which will not break upon impact, will help resist some of the shock and which also provides the best grip possible.

  • Kraton G. This material can also be referred to as Kraton G polymers. They are the next generation of styrenic block copolymers which have resistance against UV light, high temperatures and is an excellent material used to make knife handles because of its structural stability. The handle of the Ka-Bar Black Tanto is made from this material.
  • Polypropylene. Polypropylene is a thermoplastic polymer which is a type of plastic. It provides elasticity and Toughness which makes for great knife handles. It will retain its shape very well and also provides insulation against electricity. The knife that uses this material is the Tanto Lite.
  • Walnut wood. Walnut wood not only looks authentic but it also a durable material that you can use as a handle. The Perkin Tanto blade uses a wooden walnut handle, and it goes great along with the Damascus steel.

What is the right blade length?

The tanto blades that I have reviewed have a length that ranges from 6” up to just under 11”. For me, the length is not that big of a deal, but I know that some people prefer shorter or longer blades. The knife with the shortest blade is the Tanto Lite which is 6” in length. The knife with the longest blade is the United Cutlery Honshu which is 10.75″ in length.

Tanto Knife Comparison

Product Name Metal TypeBlade LengthEditors Rating
1. Ka-Bar Black Tanto (Top Pick)1095 Cro-Van
8″10/10
2. Tanto Lite (Budget Friendly)4116 stainless steel6″8/10
3. Leatherneck TantoD2 Tool Steel7″9/10
4. Perkin Tanto bladeDamascus7.8″8.5/10
5. United Cutlery Honshu440 Stainless Steel10.75″9/10

Conclusion

If you are still a bit confused and you do not know which one to choose, then take a look at the comparison table above, and the beginners guide where I will cover everything you need to make an informed decision on whether to buy the knife or not.

If you could choose a knife which one would it be? Leave a comment below and share with us your answer.

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