Purpose of a Tanto tip knife

Discussion in 'Blades' started by TheAnarchistFarmer, Nov 29, 2012.

  1. Hey knife makers/ experts, what's the point of a tanto tipped knife?

    I know a traditional Japanese tanto are really just re-sharpened broken swords, but I've never seen one with an american style " tanto" tip. Seems a bit hard to use for anything but stabbing...

    Thanks Monkeys.
  2. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    Tantō - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    I would be more likely to think the broken sword story is a myth, but it does describe the Shinogi style, which isn't a true tanto blade.

    As we can see, it was a gradual process which first developed the Tanto:

    Tantō with signature (Mei) of Kunimitsu. Complete aikuchi style koshirae (mountings) and bare blade.

    And this led up to recent history:

    There are actually MANY types of tanto:

    Tantō blade types

    • Shinogi: This is not a true tantō, for it is usually created when a longer sword has been broken or cut. Tantō are seldom made in this form.
    • Kanmuri-otoshi: These tantō had a single edge and a flat back. They had a shingoni that extended to the tip of the blade and a groove running halfway up the blade. It was very similar to the unokubi style tantō.
    • Kubikiri: Kubikiri are rare tantō with the sharpened blade on the inside curve rather than the outside. One interesting fact about kubikiri is that they have no point, making them difficult to use in battle and enshrouding the weapon in mystery. Kubikiri can be roughly translated to “head cutter”. According to one myth, they were carried by assistants into battle in order to remove the heads of the fallen enemies as trophies for the warriors to show off during the triumphant return from battle. There are other speculations existing about the kubikiri’s possible uses. Perhaps they were used by doctors or carried by high-ranking officials as a badge is worn today. They could also have been used for cutting charcoal or incense, or used as an artistic tool for pruning bonsai trees.[15]
    • Shobu: The shobu is a commonly found blade type that is very similar to the shinogi. It is sometimes found with a groove running halfway up the blade.
    • Kogarasamaru: The kogarasamaru is a very rare blade type that appears to be a branch of the shinogi blade type. The front third of the blade is double-edged.
    • Kissaki-moroha: The kissaki-moroha features an extremely long o-kissaki. This means that it is much longer than the one shaku length of the average tantō.
    • Unokubi: The unokubi is an uncommon tantō that features a single sharpened edge and a flat back. There is normally a short, wide groove extending to the midway point on the blade.
    • Hira: The hira is a tantō form with no shinogi and a mune. It is extremely common due to the simplicity of its design.
    • Hochogata: The hochogata is a tantō form that is commonly described as a short, wide, hira. The hochogata was one of the tantō forms that Masamune (an ancient sword smith whose name has become legend) favored.
    • Katakiriha: The katakiriha is a tantō form that has one side that is completely flat, while the other side turns at a sharp angle to create a chisel-shaped blade.
    • Moroha: The moroha is a rare, double bladed tantō type that has a diamond-shaped cross-section. The blade tapers to a point and contains a shinogi that runs to the point.
    • Yoroi toshi or yoroi doshi, tantō that have particularly thick cross-sections for armor-piercing duty.

    You asked, "What's the point?" --The history of the tanto blade took hundreds of years to culminate into what we popularly see in modern weaponry. There was no ONE, single reason for the creation of the tanto --it was numerous ideas and multiple applications added with time which shaped these blades. From armor piercing to religious beliefs and aesthetics, the tanto is a serious work of art. If you have ever used them, you will find more than one advantage to having a massively strong tip, full razor sharp cutting edge and point, and slashing power to rival any design. It is because of the colorful history of the tanto that it has inspired modern knife and sword makers to rejuvenate an ancient tradition --and what better way to do that than to continue watering the seed?

    And I am not a knife maker or an expert. Just wanted to clarify that.


    Other tantō

    • Kaiken tantō: The kuaiken (also kwaiken or futokoro-gatana) is a generally short tantō that is commonly carried in aikuchi or shirasaya mounts. It was useful for self-defense indoors where the long katana and intermediate wakizashi were inconvenient. Women carried them in the obi for self-defense and rarely for jigai (suicide). A woman received a kaiken as part of her wedding gifts.
    • Fan Tantō: The fan tantō is a common tantō with a blade entirely concealed within a fan-shaped scabbard. The blade was usually low quality, as this tantō was not designed to be a display piece, but rather a concealable dagger useful for self-defense.
    • Yari Tantō: Japanese spearheads were often altered so that it became possible to mount them as tantō. Unlike most blades, yari tantō had triangular cross-sections.
    • Ken tanto: This is also not truly a tantō, though it is often used and thought of as one. Ken were often used for Buddhist rituals, and could be made from yari (Japanese spearheads) that were broken or cut shorter. They were often given as offerings from sword smiths when they visited a temple. The hilt of the ken tantō may be found made with a vajra (double thunderbolt related to Buddhism).[citation needed]
    • Modern tantō: Modern tactical knives have been made by knife makers Bob Lum, Phill Hartsfield, Ernest Emerson, Allen Elishewitz, Bob Terzuola, Strider Knives, Benchmade, Spyderco, Severtech, Ka-Bar, SOG Knives, and Cold Steel.[16] These "American Tantō" designs feature a thick spine on the blade that goes from the tang to the tip for increased tip strength.[17] The handle shape may be altered slightly to provide better ergonomics.[14]
  3. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    very thorough answer.
  4. HK_User

    HK_User A Productive Monkey is a Happy Monkey

    Do a little test and you may understand why the blade is as it is.

    I have added and listed the Dirk as an example since it serves for a fair example to compare use and end results of blade action and use.

    Stab a dirk style blade into an item that resembles bone, like a pork rib. Now move the dirk sideways rapidly as if trying to twist it from the Bone > If truly stuck you will more than likely snap off the point. Do the same with a Tanto and you will find that the point is less likely to stick and if it does then the point will receive less damage if any.

    Both Dirks and Tantos are close in stabbing blades.

    The styles came about from the fighting style and intended targets. Dirks are for soft targets or to slide between plates of steel armor. Thus a very fine point. Tantos are for soft targets or to be used against "organic" armor so the need to survive an imbedded thrust is more important on the Tanto.

    American Bowies are a whole different game, faster and more deadly than Dirk or Tanto.

    Believe what you like but I have seen ancient Tanto Blades in OSAKA Castle shaped as warfare dictated and they have chaged little if any over the centuries.

  5. Excellent answers, thank you. Very much. I suppose my problem was thinking of it as solely in a utilitarian sense (as I use knives, camping, skinning etc.) rather than in a tactical sense. Now that I realize this I feel rather stupid. However, I think I'll be picking one up anyway as I think the strong/non sticking tip will actually have a lot of utilitarian use.

    For instance, butchering (as opposed to skinning) medium sized game among other things.

    Any suggestions for a good, full tang, durable tanto tipped knife? I'm fine paying good money for a good knife.
  6. HK_User

    HK_User A Productive Monkey is a Happy Monkey

    Edged tools are some of the most diverse hand made tools in the world. Speciality is the norm and yet utility is most common.

    "Any suggestions for a good, full tang, durable tanto tipped knife? I'm fine paying good money for a good knife."
    You may be better off purchasing a stock item and then convert it to your needs.

    In my case I have a PUMA that was an excellent skinnner but limited, the tip was too likly to break and the upper edge shape was not as goood as a Bowie for the up swept movment needed for self defense. In this I found that a camp knife/skinnner was not a good carry knife so I converted it to a knife that fit my needs. Good as a small fighter but not so large as to concern the law, large enough to handle and small enough to still be a good skinner and handy around camp or home

    Pictures later today.
  7. gunbunny

    gunbunny Never Trust A Bunny

    Thanks, HK, you got me thinking.

    A friend and I did some tests with our knives quite a while back. He used his Cold Steel Recon Tanto, I used a Sheffield made Fairbairn Sykes Commando Knife. We rolled up newspaper, a lot of it, wetted it and were barely able to stuff it into an orange newspaper delivery bag. We had plenty of those.

    My friend was able to exact long and nasty cuts with a slashing style using his Tanto, and some decent penetrating stabbing thrusts. When it was my turn, I was able to only get shallow penetration with a slashing cut- but buried the knife to the hilt when I stabbed with it- and buried it with relative ease!

    Some may disagree with our testing medium, but I wasn't about to go out and buy $200 worth of beef (early 90's value fiat) and slash away. The high density of the course pulp suited our needs as for what we were doing- testing our knives against eachother's using the same medium for fairness. I always knew a double edged blade would be far better at penetration, but I was only taking into account soft, biological material (read, people or animals).

    All of the arts that I trained in up to that point were usually thrust centered (fencing), and not slashing (Iaido). This was long before the internet, and the types of training you got where only what you read, could afford, and could find locally.

    Not to say that I don't like Tanto's, I just thought that my double edged knives were superior to them in the context of my training. I never once thought about the tip of the blade braking off when I thrust it into a bone. I was only thinking about holding onto the handle the correct way so my hand would not jump the guard and injure me as well.

    That being said, I still love the aesthetics of the FS style blade. Some day, I will lathe a blank out of solid AUS-8, in one piece from tip to pommel. Another friend of mine has a relative that is willing to grind and sharpen it to a final edge for me. BUT before that ever happens, I carry a Gerber Prodigy because it is a completely utilitarian blade, handles basic chores well, and is rather inexpensive for the quality of the knife.
    Brokor likes this.
  8. HK_User

    HK_User A Productive Monkey is a Happy Monkey

    Field Testing is one of the "real things" we all must do. No matter how long or where you served in the Mil the NOW Time is a lot different .

    Resuppply? Catch as catch can in the future will be the name of that game.

    Injured? Calling a Medic or Corpman when you're all alone on a hill side with a broken ankle won't get you much but a sore throat.

    Picked the wrong knife or weapon? Sorry, too late, you're dead.

    Carried that "dependable" revolver for 6 days in an open top holster while working and never cleaned it? Sorry but when needed it was "tied up" with dust and blown dirt, you're dead.

    You don't have to be a battle hardened grunt to survive but you sure need to use your gear and continue to learn.

    Knives? Love them and use them but do it best you can in a continued test of what works.

    Around my place I always carry a Cell Phone and a knife.

    Working on the place, away from the house, I always carry a shoulder pouch that will see me through 24 hours of minor injury, thirst, bowel movement or altercation with a traspasser.

    Camping in groups is great, working alone with cattle or machinery will ruin your whole day with one mis step but this is what few practice when they prep.

    You're alone now, no air drops, no medivacs no nothing.
  9. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    When it comes to modern American tanto designs, I always go with Cold Steel.

    Even some of the very best knife makers have a tough time matching the quality level and toughness of Cold Steel. I KNOW this from experience, not second hand. And, in my experience, any person claiming to have had "nothing but bad things" out of Cold Steel products always ended up buying cheap Chinese knock-offs without knowing it. Some of the imitation Cold Steel knives LOOK great, have the logo and box, and SEEM like the real thing, but they aren't. link --

    Counterfeit Cold Steel Knives

    Here is the (known) image gallery of counterfeit knives selling as "Cold Steel":

    Counterfeit Gallery

    Ever buy one of these?

    ALWAYS buy from a reputable source: And Ebay is NOT one of those places, unless you actually have solid reason to believe they are selling the real thing. If it's a really good deal that seems too good to be true --it probably is. For the money, Cold Steel cannot be beaten...not even by Chinese counterfeiters.
  10. HK_User

    HK_User A Productive Monkey is a Happy Monkey

    Puma Skinner as it sets today.

    Puma Skinner with Tanto Mod..JPG
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