A tanto blade offers many advantages as a tactical knife. They’re relatively short and have a thick spine.
This means they can be used for high-stress applications like armor piercing, prying and even be used as a wedge for hammering.
The 45-degree means you can get a lot of power out of stabs without worrying about the blade snapping off.
Their widespread use by Special Forces and law enforcement pays testament to their longevity and effectiveness. This has given rise to a wide range of high-quality models offered by the top manufacturers in the industry.
Here is our list and reviews of the best fixed tanto blades in 2019. Scroll down to find the reviews, videos and more!
The 5 Best Fixed Tanto Blades for 2019
|Benchmade - Protagonist 167||4.54" Blade|
|Cold Steel 3V Recon Tanto||7" Blade|
|$$$$$||Read Our Review!|
|Ka-Bar Tanto Knife||8" Blade|
1095 CV Steel
|$$||Read Our Review!|
|Gerber Prodigy Tanto||Full Tang|
|$||Read Our Review!|
|Buck Intrepid XL||Full Tang|
420 HC Steel
|$$||Read Our Review!|
Benchmade Protagonist Tanto Knife
We start our reviews off with a new release from Benchmade – The Protagonist Tanto!
The protagonist is a full-tang combat tanto targeted towards Military & LEO use. It’s an incredibly practical fixed blade knife for EDC as it’s fast, light and has numerous carry options.
To give you an idea, total length is 9.12″ in total with a 4.5″ blade. That makes it about the same length as the “Bushcrafter” – which is 7.72 oz!
Smaller is Sometimes Better!
If you’re worried about a shorter fixed blade knife for self defense purposes – don’t be.
Sure, a longer knife will give you greater range and be more intimidating. But is it really more practical – especially in tight corners.
Research into stab wound fatalities is also really surprising. It found that the ideal blade length was just 7cm! So there are times when smaller is better 😉
Benchmade has used their tried and trusted 154cm steel with this blade. 154cm is a great stainless steel for field use. It holds an edge well and is relatively easy to sharpen quickly. Benchmade really knows what they’re doing with 154cm too as it’s a staple on most of their offerings.
The 4.5″ handle is made of a textured rubber polymer which makes it very grippy. The contours of the handle mean you can use the blade in a hammer grip or a conventional grip.
There’s a finger guard which really locks your hand around the handle when stabbing. This will prevent your hand from slipping up the blade and getting cut.
The contour of the handle also means you can do some finer work with the blade such as bushcraft and food processing. There’s a generous amount of jimping on the spine of the blade to help and allow you to make controlled pinch cuts.
A Great Sheath System
Like any decent tactical fixed blade, the Protagonist comes with lots of carry options. The ambidextrous sheath system that it comes with is fantastic! So there’s no need to waste money on another sheath like you have to with many other production blades.
The sheath material is a light-weight, plastic injection mold. It adds about 2 oz to the total weight so it’s nice and light. There are 8 lashing points so you can attach it to your MOLLE gear.
A nylon backing is also included so you can belt carry as well. Still, Benchmade has targeted it more to be an “attach knife”.
There is a partially serrated version if you work in and around the water and need to cut rope, paracord, ties, etc, etc.
The only thing I don’t like about the Protagonist is there is no glass breaker as with the Nimvarus. However, Benchmade has targeted it at a slightly lower price point so I can live with that.
Cold Steel 3V Recon Tanto Fixed Blade
The 3V Recon Tanto is widely used by both Special Forces and law enforcement officers, especially SWAT teams.
This is a knife that many professional soldiers are willing to stake their lives on. It’s been field tested over many years and has been deployed to various active war zones such as Afghanistan and Iraq. It has even been standard issue for Navy Seal candidates during their arduous B.U.D.S training.
Its ultra-durable, full tang design includes a hardened, rubber-like handle. The handle is both shaped and textured to ensure maximum grip.
This knife won’t accidentally slip out of your hands at the wrong moment. It also has a unique fastening apparatus that will prevent the handle from ever moving on the tang.
The blade is constructed from very hard CPM-3V tool steel. This is among the hardest steels available for practical use and is employed so that the blade can repeatedly penetrate armor without deforming or losing its edge.
Cold Steel actually tests these knives by repeatedly penetrating 55-gallon steel drums. That’s some serious abuse!
The Recon Tanto is also available in impressive VG 1 “San Mae III” steel in this model, too.
Check out their video of their impressive Recon Tanto in action:
One drawback to using such a hard steel type is that the knife is a little harder to sharpen. But this is not a hunting tool, it’s a tactical weapon.
As a first or second line defensive weapon, there are few better fixed blade knives than the Cold Steel Recon Tanto 3v.
- Full Tang
- CPM-3V High Carbon Steel
- Incredibly Durable
- Used by military special forces and LEO
- Secure ex sheath
- Harder to sharpen
Ka-Bar Black 1245 Tanto Knife
Ka-bar has supplied the military with combat knives for decades. Their 1245 Tanto is considered by many to be the best “Combat Tanto” on the market. But just what makes this fighting tanto so revered?
Well, its 8″ blade is made of high quality 1095 Cro-Van steel. This is a carbon steel that can hold an edge under heavy use but is also easily sharpened.
It is an attack and defense knife, and the thick tanto blade gives it immense piercing power. It’s a widely used favorite among the military and law enforcement personnel.
There’s an interesting discussion as to whether the Ka-bar Tanto is full-tang or not. In actuality, it’s a modified rat-tail (partial) tang. Similar to the Ka-Bar USMC (which we reviewed here), the tang is pressed into the pommel.
This process widens the end of the tang so the pommel is held more securely. This makes for a better-balanced knife with a comfortable grip. Even with gloves or under wet conditions, this Ka-bar will stay securely in your hand.
The handle itself is constructed of Kraton G. This is an advanced synthetic rubber. As you can see, it is grooved, textured and shaped for maximum grip. It also features a large pommel and cross guard. These are absolutely essential to prevent cuts when stabbing.
The Ka Bar 1245 Tanto also comes with a sheath that can be attached to a belt or even a Molle unit, with a little inventiveness.
Be warned, the sheath does have a button that can leave a scratch mark on the blade. This is a superficial problem but we hope it will be resolved by Ka-Bar in future iterations. A plus point is you can use the sheath for the Ka-Bar USMC as well.
Another big plus is the Ka-Bar Tanto is made in NY, USA. When you receive yours, be sure to check the stamp on the side of the blade.
Remember to check your knife carry laws in your local area. If you live somewhere like California an 8″ fixed blade is legal to carry if not concealed. If you live somewhere like Boston the length makes it illegal to carry. So please bear this in mind. Doesn’t mean you can’t have it for home defense though 😉
For the price, the Ka Bar Tanto is an excellent piece of weaponry which might just save your life.
- Combat Tanto
- 1095 Cro-Van steel blade
- Kraton G handle
- Belt attachable sheath
- Made in the USA
- Sheath leaves scratch marks
Gerber Prodigy Tanto Survival Knife
If you’re looking for a Tactical Tanto that is silent, comfortable to carry and easy to get to in a hurry – the Gerber Prodigy Tanto is it!
The Gerber Prodigy is equally at home as an urban carry or for military deployments. With a full-tang, 4.75″ blade and 9.75″ in total, it’s big enough for combat and small enough to deploy in tight spaces. At just 7.35 oz, it’s also light enough to carry comfortably for an extended period of time.
The wickedly sharp tanto blade is made from tough 420 HC stainless steel. This is a hard steel which will hold an edge well but also sharpen up easily. The Prodigy has a subdued black oxide finish so it’s corrosion resistant and also won’t flash reflected light.
The handle sits atop a full tang and has a TacHide grip. This is textured, contoured and grooved for solid gripping. TacHide is a synthetic, rubber-like polymer that is ultra-durable, flame resistant and performs well across all environments and temperatures.
The Prodigy also comes with a really great camouflaged nylon sheath. It can be attached to a belt, Molle vest or carried alone. You can adjust it to carry the knife anywhere – even the small of your back. Apart from the versatile carry options the sheath provides, there’s absolute silence when you draw the knife.
A good sheath can make or break a knife, and I’m really impressed with the work Gerber have done here – especially at this low price.
Another thing I particularly love about this knife is you can hammer with the reinforced pommel. Gerber says it for breaking windows and such, but it also makes a nice blunt trauma weapon should the need arise.
One possible complaint is the partially serrated blade. Many users prefer a cross-guard-to-tip mirror finish edge on their blades. But this is a survival knife.
While a 2-inch portion of a 5-inch blade will never be an adequate replacement for a saw, if it’s all you have it’s better than nothing. And in my experience, the minimal serration won’t significantly reduce the blade’s slicing power.
The Gerber Prodigy is a combat tanto that you’ll barely notice you’re carrying. For its low price, it could well be the best fighting tanto for the money – especially when its made in the U.S.A!
- 420 HC steel blade
- Military Spec
- TacHide handle
- Great sheath
- Made in the USA
Buck Intrepid XL Review
It still fulfills the hunting and survival roles admirably. But the emphasis was placed on things like piercing capability, overall robustness, and suitability for combat.
In practice, this means the full tang Intrepid XL can take vicious abuse. Prying, hammering, and penetrating steel are all in a day’s work for the Intrepid. But it’s also right at home skinning, cleaning or whittling too.
The knife measures 10.5” in total length and has a 5.5” tanto blade. Blade steel is Buck’s staple 420 HC steel. Buck like this steel because it takes an edge and holds it well. You’ll also get a fair amount of blade stability as it’s a softer grade of steel (than say 440c) so it will bend rather than break.
(BTW – If you’re looking for something with a higher grade steel, check out the Matt Would Go Seal Knife).
The textured nylon handle is not rubbery like some tac knives but nonetheless provides a firm grip. There is also a prominent cross guard to ensure even violent impacts won’t jar the knife from your grasp.
The Intrepid XL also comes with a nylon sheath. It can be attached to a belt, carried alone or attached to a tactical vest using the Molle-compatible webbing interface.
You can see an excellent video test of the Intrepid XL (in a blizzard!) below:
The downside to this tactical tanto is that its size makes it hard to conceal and carry. It is just too large to be for normal summer clothing or fatigues. However, winter apparel will provide enough bulk to conceal it nicely. It’s also a great knife for home defense.
Overall, this is yet another fantastic product from Buck Knives. Buck also offer a “Forever Warranty” with lifetime replacements and repairs too.
When you consider that all Buck products are made right here in the USA, the price for the Buck Intrepid XL makes it a really great deal.
- Military Full Tang Tanto
- 420 HC steel
- Textured nylon handle
- Molle compatible nylon sheath
- Made in USA
- Difficult to conceal
Be sure to check out our page on The Best Pocket Tantos too!