American Tanto - Blade Geometry

American Tanto Info


The American Tanto, sometimes called the Americanized or Westernized Tanto, is a newer blade format that was popularized in the 80's by American knife company Cold Steel. In fact, the American Tanto pattern is probably what put Cold Steel on the map, and made them as popular as they are today. The tip shape differs quite greatly from a traditional Japanese tanto blade, and as such, deserves it's own separate entry.

American tantos are claimed to be designed with the purpose of strengthening the tip of the blade, in practice this is not necessarily the case. On an American tanto, the blade edge consists of two separate edges, and has an angular tip creating a secondary point that can be quite useful for things like opening boxes. The original American Tanto as Cold Steel made it consists of a hollow ground main edge, with the tip edge sabre ground for more strength. In this case, the tip would have more strength than if it were hollow ground, but the only reason is the different type of grind. This creates a cool looking blade grind combination that is the signature look of the American Tanto.

Spyderco's Bob Lum Tanto folder does have increased tip strength as the angled front edge is not really sharp, but a sort of dull convexed grind. Again, the reason for the stronger tip simply comes from the ability to have two separate types of primary grinds. In the case of the Emerson CQC-6 Chisel ground tanto, or the Benchmade Stryker Tanto, the tip offers no real additional strength.

Being that this is a somewhat modified design, the American tanto comes in many different shapes and forms, with the spine of the blade sometimes straight, and sometimes curving down like a drop point. The primary characteristic of the American tanto, however, is the secondary point with essentially two blade edges.

In the examples below, you can see that the Strider SnG is essentially a single full flat ground blade with a secondary point, rather than two separate primary grinds like the other examples. The SnG in this case would not benefit from having a strengthened tip that is sometimes associated with an American Tanto.

American Tanto Examples