Back in the 80’s a knife company exploded on the scene of what is now called the “Tactical Bladeware” market. The company was cold Steel and their first product was called the “Tanto”. Based on Japanese blade designs, the Tanto was a real game changer in the US, a country that grew up on European blade styles.
The blade of the #Tanto is 3/8” thick, and due to the blade geometry that thickness is preserved almost to the very tip. Cold Steel #Coldsteel president Lynn Thompson issued an amazing challenge to the factory knife makers to present a knife that would out perform their Tanto for toughness. Thompson released videos showing the cutting power of the 6” blade and jaw tightening sequences of him driving the point into various blocks of wood and snapping the point out sideways. The Tanto always came through unscathed.
Overnight the Tanto became THE tacti-cool knife to own, rivaled only by the Benchmade Bali-song butterfly knives, and I ordered mine as soon as I could scrape up the formidable $200 asking price of the day.
The day it arrived, I drew it from its sheath the absolute breathless anticipation of Arthur drawing Excalibur, and over the next 15 years or so, the only time I wasn’t wearing that knife was… impossible to remember because I always had it on me. It was packed in my checked luggage when I traveled. If I was in a suit, the Tanto was comfortably tucked away out of sight. It was my Every Day Carry #EDC for self-defense before the Texas legislature extracted their collective craniums from their nethers, and recognized the God-given right to self-defense all creatures possess.
For some reason I can’t fathom, I put my Tanto on the shelf when I got my CHL and it stayed on that shelf until recently when I needed a knife, and I picked it up. The brass guard is dull, as is the “skull crusher” pommel. The Krayton grip is worn almost smooth, and the beat up sheath needs some new thread in several places.
I wore my Tanto all day while tending chores in the yard. It was like I had never put it aside, and I’m ashamed I did. I love Cold Steel knives, and own many, but the original Tanto still can’t be beat. You can still buy a Tanto from Cold Steel. The modern versions are a bit fancier than the original, but I have no doubt they will perform every bit as well.