Folding tanto knife with a lanyard

The 7 Best Tanto Folding Knives for Self-Defense in 2022

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You can choose from a wide variety of tactical knives when you’re shopping. Pocket knives, folding knives, and fixed blade knives are available in various sizes and shapes. Beginners may be perplexed by the variety of blade shapes available.

When looking for your first tactical knife, it’s essential to research what kind of knife will work best for your specific needs. Folding knives are the most popular option to keep the blade in place when it’s closed.

2. SMITH & WESSON BORDER GUARD SWBG2TS FOLDING KNIFE

1. KERSHAW 1990 BRAWLER

3. COLUMBIA RIVER KNIFE AND TOOL’S M16-14SFG SPECIAL FORCES FOLDING KNIFE

1st Runner-Up

Best Overall

2st Runner-Up

1. Steel: 7Cr17
2. Blade: 4.375 in
3. Thickness: 0.15 in
4. Handle lenght: 5.50 in
5. Overall: 9.875 in
6. Weight: 8.90 oz

1. Steel: 8Cr13MoV
2. Blade: 3.25 in
3. Thickness: 0.12 in
4. Handle Lenght: 4.125 in
5. Overall: 7.125 in
6. Weight: 3.8 oz

1. Steel: 8Cr14MoV
2. Blade: 3.875 in
3. Thickness: 0.14 in
4. Handle Lenght: 5.375 in
5. Overall: 9.25 in
6. Weight: 5.90 oz

Basic Considerations

When shopping for a folding knife, the most important factors are the material, size, and weight. Keeping a folding knife light and compact is essential because it is typically worn on a belt or in a backpack. At the same time, it must be strong enough to withstand the rigors of everyday use.

The quality of the blade and handle should also be taken into account. Many materials are used to make the handles of today’s knives, including wood, steel, and composite fiber.

Concerning long-term usability, each material differs from the next. Forged from a single piece of metal, full-tang knives are typically the most durable. Handles made of wood can wear out over time, but they’re easy to replace. While lightweight and sturdy, composite fiber handles may not be the most comfortable to hold. 

It’s hard not to buy a knife online when there are so many options. However, when purchasing a knife, it is highly recommended that you hold it in your hand to get a sense of how it will fit and feel. Tactical knives should not exceed 5 to 7 ounces in weight.

A weight higher than that would make transportation and use more difficult. You can’t tell if a knife is too heavy for you until you hold it in your hand. When shopping for a tactical knife, don’t forget about the price.

How much are you willing to spend on your next knife? You can rest assured that you’re getting a high-quality product and a warranty with branded knives.

How To Select A Tanto Knife And Its Benefits

It all began in Japan, where the tanto knife was invented. Double- or single-sided daggers with a blade length of six to 12 inches are the most common forms of the tanto knife. They used to be made using a san mei construction and heat-treated to generate the distinctive “Hamon.”

Slashing and stabbing were the original functions of the Tanto blade knife, which the Japanese Samurai invented. To make the modern tanto knife more convenient, it retains many of the features of a traditional Japanese dagger.

Long daggers were initially used to fight with the original tanto blade knife. Even though traditional daggers for sword fighting are still available, the tanto blade folding knife is a smaller version of that.

With a trailing point, the modern tanto knife features a very different blade from its predecessor. The traditional Japanese tanto knife did not have a guard, although many modern tanto knives do.

The Heian Period in Japan saw the invention of the tanto knife as a lethal weapon. At this time, the samurai soldiers of the ruling Fujiwara family invented the tanto knife to defend against their enemies.

Later, the tanto blade progressed from practical to aesthetic, with different blade kinds, styles, and widths developed. However, the various conflicts in Japan did not benefit the ornamental knives because they were mass-produced for warriors.

Japan banned the use of blades after World War II. However, the tanto knife was revived in the 1960s and 1970s thanks to efforts in the United States and Europe.

To a large extent, the modern tanto knife’s widespread acceptance can be attributed to Cold Steel. The blade’s strength and durability, valuable points, and high-quality pommel earned its reputation. Several factors make a Tanto blade practical, usable, and long-lasting.

A tanto knife’s benefits include the following:

  • Strength:

A tanto knife has a higher level of durability than other blades. This is because the tanto knife blade has a high point and a flat grind. Even the most complex materials can be pierced with this tool because of its incredible strength. A tanto knife will last a long time and will not quickly wear out with regular use.

  • Blade point:

A chisel-like blade point distinguishes a tanto knife. Compared to other blade points, this one is more powerful and robust. A superb self-defense tool, even though this style isn’t suitable for usage in survival conditions.

  • Design:

The blade’s Japanese design lends it a sense of tradition and aesthetics. The tanto’s blade point and spine are perfectly aligned, evoking the precision of traditional Japanese craftsmanship.

  • Pommel:

The pommel of the tanto knife is made of steel and tapered. It is built to withstand the heaviest impacts while still delivering the best results. It doesn’t take a lot of force from a tanto knife to inflict a significant injury.

  • Ease of sharpening:

Thanks to its simple sharpening process, keeping your tanto blade razor-sharp is a breeze. Stones and ceramic rods can sharpen straight blades, while curved edges can be sharpened using a ceramic rod.

You might want to also check our best folding knives for self-defense article.

7 Best Tanto Folding Knives

1. KERSHAW 1990 BRAWLER

Kershaw Brawler Folding Pocket Knife (1990) with 3” Black-Oxide Finished High-Performance 8Cr13MoV Steel Blade; Black Glass-Filled Nylon Handle Scales with Reversible 4-Position Pocketclip; 3.9 oz

Established in 1974, Kershaw is a well-known knife manufacturer. Among Kershaw’s best-selling everyday carry knives, the 1990 Brawler was introduced in 2012. Despite its diminutive stature, the knife packs a powerful punch. It’s one of the best tanto folding knives.

With a seven-inch overall length and a weight of 3.8 ounces, this tanto liner lock knife is a pleasure to grip and handle. A textured fiber reinforced nylon handle scale with stonewashed liners is used.

This knife has a blade made of 8Cr13MoV steel, high-quality steel commonly used in Chinese budget knives. The blade is easy to sharpen and has good edge retention and resistance to corrosion. In addition, the blade is coated in black oxide.

The assisted opening makes deployment quick and easy, and the lock-up is solid with no blade play. Despite its lightweight, the liners and liner locks are strong enough. Instead of a traditional stop pin, the blade stops on this knife have a handy function. This tanto knife, which retails for $25, is of excellent value.

Conclusion: Kershaw’s Brawler is still a best-seller six years after its first release. In terms of quality budget tanto, the Brawler is an excellent choice.

Pros

  • Blade and handle quality is high.
  • The lock-up is solid and easy to open with assistance.
  • Excellent ability to maintain cutting edge sharpness
  • A comfortable grip is a plus.

Cons

  • Extended use of the blade
  • It makes the thumb feel a little rough.

Specifications

  • Steel: 8Cr13MoV
  • Blade: 3.25 in
  • Thickness: 0.12 in
  • Handle Length: 4.125 in
  • Overall: 7.125 in
  • Weight: 3.8 oz

2. Smith & Wesson’s Border Guard Folding Knife SWBG2TS

Smith & Wesson Border Guard SWBG2TS 10in High Carbon S.S. Folding Knife with 4.4in Serrated Tanto Blade and Aluminum Handle for Tactical, Survival and EDC , Black

This, one of the best tanto folding knives, Smith & Wesson’s Border Guard SWBG2TS Folding Knife, is a great all-purpose cutting tool for everyday usage. If you’re a survivalist, this is a great knife to have in your everyday carry.

There is a 4.4-inch blade on this knife, and it is 8.8 ounces in weight. It measures 10 inches overall. When folding a knife, it’s important to remember that this one isn’t tiny.

Its medium size makes it ideal for both light and heavy-duty cutting jobs. 7Cr17MoV high carbon black oxide galvanized steel is used to make the tanto blade. Trac-Tec inserts are included in the black aluminum handle.

A pocket clip and thumb knobs make this knife convenient to carry, while its solid construction also ensures dependability and smooth operation. Liner locks keep the knife’s blade from moving when it’s closed. Dual blood grooves, a glass break, and a strap cutter are also included. This is a fantastic tanto knife for the price of $25 or less.

As far as folding knives go, the Smith & Wesson Border Guard SWBG2TS is one of the best I’ve tested so far: With this knife, you won’t have to spend an arm and a leg on a high-quality knife.

Pros

  • Rugged construction
  • Strong and durable
  • Steel blade and aluminum handle with sharpness
  • Affordability

Cons

  • A tad on the heavy side
  • Does not arrive sharp

Specifications

  • Steel: 7Cr17
  • Blade: 4.375 in
  • Thickness: 0.15 in
  • Handle length: 5.50 in
  • Overall: 9.875 in
  • Weight: 8.90 oz

Check out our recommended Emerson knives article.

3. Special Forces Folding Knife M16-14SFG by COLUMBIA RIVER KNIFE AND TOOLS

CRKT M16-14SFG EDC Folding Pocket Knife: Special Forces Everyday Carry, Black Serrated Edge Blade, Tanto, Automated Liner Safety, Dual Hilt, G10 Handle, 4-Position Pocket Clip

It is well-known that the Columbia River Knife and Tool Company manufactures a wide range of knives and other useful tools. If you’re looking for the best tanto folding knives, this is the one for you.

The M16 series has been a massive success for the company and has been named one of Blade Magazine’s Top 10 Tactical Folders of the Decade. This utility knife from the series has a 3.875-inch Tanto blade and a full-size handle with a butt pommel.

Non-reflective tactical black covers the entire knife. In addition, the blade’s titanium nitride coating provides additional corrosion protection. A pair of thumb studs enabling one-handed opening and closing are also included.

Automated liner safety secures the blade by inserting a pin between the locking liner and the handle. When the knife is closed, the pin serves as an additional layer of security to ensure that the blade does not move.

It’s simple to deploy and secure. It’s necessary to open and close the knife by pulling the red-buttoned safety lever and sliding the locking liner over. The blade is made of high-quality 8Cr14MoV stainless steel, and the handle is made of black G10 scales with friction grooves in the stainless steel liners.

Conclusion: This is a decent knife with a few drawbacks. However, it’s under $40 and has a solid build suitable for daily use.

Pros

  • Sturdy construction is a plus
  • The auto-locking feature is now more effective.
  • Good to look at, pleasant to touch
  • There is a good grip on the scales

Cons

  • Serrations are prone to be nicked.
  • Jimping is aggressive
  • No flipper insight

Specifications

  • Steel: 8Cr14MoV
  • Blade: 3.875 in
  • Thickness: 0.14 in
  • Handle Length: 5.375 in
  • Overall: 9.25 in
  • Weight: 5.90 oz

4. BENCHMADE – MINI OSBORNE

Benchmade - 945BK-1 mini Osborne Knife, Reverse Tanto Blade, Plain Edge, Black/Blue Baselayer G10 Handle

The Benchmade 940 Osborne and a few modifications of this model have been among the most popular designs produced by the Oregon knife company for the past two decades. However, when it comes to knives to carry every day, the 940, with its characteristic “reverse tanto” blade design, would take a prominent spot towards the front of the display if there were such a thing. A timeless classic, it is widely regarded as the best Benchmade design of all time by numerous experts.

This is a smaller version of the original Osborne that, for many of us, is now the right size to carry around as our EDC blade. The 940 Osborne has a 3.4-inch blade and measures 7.9 inches in overall length when fully open. That’s one of the best Tanto folding knives

The new 945 is just an inch shorter than the previous model, measuring 634 inches in total length. And, at 2.92 inches, the blade of the 945 falls within the magical 3-inch boundary. As a result, it is legal in almost every jurisdiction.

The 945 is a small, non-threatening, and highly portable knife. However, when opened, it is only slightly larger than the size of a four-finger knife. The most notable feature of this blade is that it has a huge flat area to work with and a rapid curve to a respectable point, making it quite versatile. Overall, this reasonably well-designed blade form may be used for various jobs. Following a thorough break-in period, it features the standard Benchmade Axis lock and thumb opening that is swift, snappy, and secures well. No, everything has been done exceptionally well.

Conclusion: If you enjoy the full-sized Osborne, we are confident that you will enjoy this as well. If your applications are more tactical or require heavy construction, this blade may be preferable to some of the more delicate blades we have reviewed here. However, if you spend the majority of your days attempting to open boxes or blister packages, this is not the knife for you.

Pros

  • High-quality materials are used throughout.
  • A well-thought-out and expertly executed design

Cons

  • A utility knife rather than a heavy-duty knife
  • The product’s consistency can be a little off.

Specifications

  • Steel: CPM-S30V
  • Blade: 2.92
  • Thickness: 0.104
  • Handle Thickness: 0.425
  • Overall: 7.87 in
  • Weight: 2.19oz

Learn more about the best Zero Tolerance knives by clicking here.

5. KIZER BEGLEITER TANTO FOLDING KNIFE

Kizer Begleiter Pocket Folding Knife, Tanto Blade with Carbon Fiber Handle - Ki4458T3

When his many disciples have gone up into the high high-end, experimenting with baroque stylings and highwire feats of machining capability, or down into realistic budget territory, supplying superb steel at high costs, Kizer has remained amid the spectrum. A combination of price-consciousness and intelligence, beautiful designs, value, and subtle flare, as well as a coveted designer pedigree, are found in their collection. Kizer knives may not be visually appealing or entertaining, but they are frequently dependable, thoughtfully designed, well-made, and very durable.

The Begleiter is a standout when it comes to well-built dependability and intelligent design. It weighs 3.8 ounces, with a blade length of 3.5 inches and an overall length of 8.125 inches; the Begleiter is an excellent choice for everyday carry. It was manufactured in China and arrived perfectly fitted and finished.

Even though the Begleiter’s blade is a mid-sized drop point, it doesn’t appear to be as long as it is. The blade stock of the Begleiter is broader and stouter than you’d expect from looking at pictures of it. It has flat ground, yet it is not unduly thin behind the edge, and it is a capable and long-lasting slicer. The handle, like the blade, is less thin in person than it appears in photographs, and the letterboxing on the handles adds a sense of depth to the grip by adding dimension. Those ecstatic liners are bright and smooth, and the chamfering gives them the appearance of being almost crowned. Although there is only one finger groove, it is well-proportioned, and the finger guard/pivot region does not force your hand back so much that it feels like you are losing control of the blade.

Thumb studs and phosphor bronze washers are high-quality components. This configuration, combined with precise detent tuning, ensures that the Begleiter’s blade snaps into place when you toss it open – and you will be clicking it open: a gradual roll available is also an option.

Pros

  • Convenient and compact
  • It is lightweight and long-lasting.
  • A blade made of high-quality steel.

Cons

  • It is prohibitively expensive.

Specifications

  • Steel: VG-10
  • Blade: 3.5 in
  • Thickness: 0.12 in
  • Handle: 4.875 in
  • Overall: 8.17 in
  • Weight: 2.93 oz

6. SCHRADE SCHA3BS FOLDING KNIFE

Schrade SCHA3BS 7.3in High Carbon S.S. Assisted Opening Folding Knife with 2.9in Tanto Blade and Aluminum Handle for Outdoor Survival, Tactical and EDC

This budget-friendly knife is equipped with the dual-patented, aided opening mechanism that has become common on Schrade knives over the years. When it comes to single-handed opening mechanisms, this assisted opening mechanism is the easiest and smoothest to use on any knife.

The knife features a blade made of stainless steel that is 2.8 inches in length and has an overall length of 7.1 inches. A partially serrated tanto blade with an ambidextrous thumb plate, black aluminum grip with rubber insert, and safety lock are all features of this blade. There’s also a liner lock, and a pocket clip carries method to keep your belongings safe.

Conclusion: If you don’t mind using a large, heavy knife, this one is well worth the money. It provides reasonable quality and performance for the price of $40.

Pros

  • Reasonably priced
  • Deployment is smooth and straightforward.
  • A safe locking mechanism is provided.
  • A blade made of high-quality steel.

Cons

  • The weight is a little on the heavy side.

Specifications

  • Steel: 4034
  • Blade: 3.00 in
  • Thickness: 0.12 in
  • Handle: 4.375 in
  • Overall: 7.375 in
  • Weight: 5.23 oz

Check out our selection of the highly-rated Smith & Wesson knives article here.

7. RECON 1 TANTO KNIFE MADE OF COLD STEEL

Cold Steel Recon 1 Series Tactical Folding Knife with Tri-Ad Lock and Pocket Clip - Made with Premium CPM-S35VN Steel, Tanto Plain Edge

It was Cold Steel, in the 1970s and 1980s, that made the tanto knife popular all over the world. This knife is famous with military and law enforcement officers and everyday individuals who appreciate a well-made, dependable weapon like this. These knives are made to last. They are thin, light, and razor-sharp, and they are equipped with a Tri-Ad lock to keep your fingers safe. The knife is 9 inches long and weighs only 5 ounces, making it a lightweight option.

Conclusion: You should have this classic knife in your collection if you enjoy owning folding knives from well-known manufacturers. It provides fantastic value for money while also providing excellent performance.

Pros

  • Razor-sharp precision
  • Excellent value for money
  • Tough and long-lasting

Cons

  • The blade lock isn’t completely secure.

Specifications

  • Steel: CTS-XHP
  • Blade: 4.00 in
  • Thickness: 0.14 in
  • Closed: 5.375 in
  • Overall: 9.375 in
  • Weight: 5.30 oz

FAQS

Why Should You Consider Purchasing a Tanto Knife?

When the Samurai fought in close quarters, they employed their tanto blades, and Cold Steel created a tanto blade identical to this in fixed-blade designs for tactical use in the same way. The form has recently acquired appeal as an everyday carry item, and you’re just as likely to see a little, 2.5-inch folding tanto on the street as you are to see a tactical tanto in a tactical situation.

That broad tip is one of the primary advantages of this relatively new breed of smaller tantos, which also has the same advantages as larger ones. Tanto knives have a complete form, making them helpful in puncturing and piercing tasks. The Samurai prized the ability to poke through armor. Still, you might find it useful in other situations, such as getting into plastic clamshell packaging or adding an extra hole to your leather belt. While some criticize the tanto form for being awkward in slicing duties, a well-made knife may nonetheless do such chores – and do it in flair.

The tanto fashion trend, after all, is a product of the form’s most apparent distinguishing characteristic: its shape. Plain and simple, that angular blade is a visual treat to see. The functionality of a pocket knife that you plan to carry every day should be obvious, but it should also be attractive enough that you’ll want to keep it in your pocket. In addition, having a flashy object to show off to your buddies is also acceptable.

What is the best way to sharpen my Tanto knife?

The sharpening of a Tanto blade is the same for other types of ordinary knives. Use a high-quality Whetstone and proceed with caution when honing the second edge of the tanto blade. If your tanto blade has some serrations, you should invest in an angled honing rod to sharpen it.

Which is better: a folding tanto knife or a fixed tanto knife?

It is entirely up to the individual user’s taste. When purchasing a combat knife, a customer may have specific expectations that must be met. The winner of the race is the one who completes the most number of preferences.

For a tanto blade, what is the ideal blade length?

Tanto blades range in length from 6 inches to 11 inches on average. If you are confident in your ability to operate with long swords, go ahead and try it. However, most people choose tanto knives since they are tiny and easier to conceal when it comes to combat knives. Simply be sure that you are purchasing a high-quality and long-lasting blade.

What does the blade of a reverse tanto look like?

The top of the spine of a reverse tanto is angled, giving it the name. It features a curved edge as well as a bit of belly.

What are the applications of Tanto knives?

Tanto blades have a solid edge with a firm tip shape. They are very effective. Tanto knives were traditionally used to pierce armor, a typical application. A razor-sharp blade is an ideal tool for puncturing strong materials without causing them to fracture.

Are Tanto knives effective weapons of self-defense?

Slashing with a long curved blade will be effective in a fight situation. Tanto swords are sharp enough to be utilized for self-defense during a battle, but carrying such a long blade is challenging.

FINAL THOUGHTS

In addition to being traditional and practical, tanto knives are also aesthetically pleasing to hold in one’s hand. If you’re a knife collector or a survivalist, a tanto should be on your must-have list.

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