Tanto Blade Uses – Advantages & Disadvantages

Tanto Blade Uses

There is several different knife blade designs and each has their own uses.  In this article, I want to look at tanto blade uses.  Not only their uses but also the advantages and disadvantages of this blade design.

What Is A Tanto Blade?

Tanto blades are a type of knife originally used in feudal Japan. Tanto is Japanese for short blade and they were used by the famous Samurai class as a secondary weapon of defense and assassination.

The design of Tanto knives has become a little more decorative over the years, however there are still highly functional versions as well, so much so that they have made their way to North America. Many designs of Tanto knives have been used as tactical weapons by various different armed forces.

The Tanto Blade Design

This tradition Japanese short sword or dagger is generally between 6 and 12 inches in length. And they all have two bevels, a shorter more vertical one at the front, and a longer and straight bevel that goes to the hilt. It was originally designed to have both a single edge and double edged version.

The more modern designs, especially those made in the U.S.A are generally of the single edge variety as they are preferred by most over the double edged Tanto blades. Most Tanto blades today are made in the design made popular by Cold Steel.  You can see this design in several of the common edc knives today.

Different Tanto Blade Styles

There are various different Tanto blades designs, over one dozen at least. Here are a few of the most common as well as some of the rarest designs known.

  • The Shinogi: This is the most common short blade design in terms of geometry but it is actually a rare Tanto design type, usually only made when longer swords are broken; it is a single edge blade.
  • The Hira: This is actually the most common Tanto blades style where a triangular cross section is created because the edge bevels reach from the back to the edges without any flat points in between. The design is very simple which makes it the most common type; it is a single edge design.
  • Kanmuri-Otoshi: These blades have a long and wide groove running half way up the blade from front to back, and the balk half of the blade is generally kept unsharpened on the second edge; it is a double edge version and is not very common.
  • Moroha: This is a very rare double edge Tanto blade. The blade tapers off to a long point and has a diamond shape cross section.
  • Kubikiri: This is the rarest of all Tanto blade types because it is very curved and only has the inside of the curve sharpened. It also does not have a sharpened point, making it quite inadequate for battle. However Kubikiri does translate into “head cutter”, which is quite self-explanatory.


There are several advantages to using a tonto blade. First of all, the increased amount of metal at the front as well as the beveled tip allow for increased penetration in self-defense or even offensive tactical situations. These blades are primarily designed for combat situations and have the primary objective of penetration in mind.


There are a few disadvantages to Tanto blades. The biggest disadvantage is the fact that there are two primary bevels to deal with, making sharpening quite difficult. There is also the problem that there is no belly on the blade and two flat edges. Depending on what you are cutting they can be difficult to slice something with. That being said, they aren’t designed with slicing as their primary function, unless of course it is the Kubikiri or “head cutter”!


  • Great at piercing
  • Stronger tip
  • Unique design & look


  • Hard to Sharpen
  • Not great slicers

As you can see there are several tanto blade uses.  It's unique look and style makes it a popular choice among several designs when choosing the best knife.  It seems to be a love it or hate it blade design.  Which side are you on?