Knife Review: Cold Steel GI Tanto

A couple months ago I bought the Cold Steel GI Tanto knife. I had been looking at this knife for quite some time as other Cold Steel offerings I have owned were quality items. Due to the low cost of the GI Tanto I kept my distance….until recently. I ordered one from Amazon and hoped for the best.

gitanto

The Knife: Once it arrived I opened the box and initial impressions were pretty good. I liked the black coating on the 7″ blade and the sheath was absolutely outstanding. The blade is full tang and is made from 1055 carbon steel. The knife “snaps” into the Kydex-like sheath (called Secure-Ex) very securely and has continued to do so ever since. Overall weight is 10.6 ounces, which is very close to full-sized USMC Ka-Bar. On the negative side the blade was not very sharp at all and the handle – to me – is too slick. It did not take long for me to improve the edge substantially using a set of ceramic sticks. As far as the handle goes – I left as is.

How does it perform? Over the last several weeks I have been able to use the Cold Steel GI Tanto and so far am very happy with it. A few days ago I took a few pictures and figured I would use them to describe some of my experiences:

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The GI Tanto is not a small knife – though it is not a machete either. It contains a 7″ blade and with the 5″ handle this a total length of 12″ inches. It was a joy to carry on my hip.

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Chopping on the dead tree above it was easy to create a small pile of wood chips. I would have preferred a handle that provided a better grip. No doubt it can be modified but as of right now I have left it stock. The knife provided enough heft that it felt pretty good wacking at that tree. Now – it was not as comfortable as my Buck Hoodlum but for a knife this size it was good.

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how to bug in

I used the Cold Steel GI Tanto to do a little bit of feathering. I found with the sharpened blade it was not difficult to control the cut. With the tanto-style blade it is easy to use the point for more detailed digging, cuts, and carvings.

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Batoning with the GI Tanto is where it really shined. I used it to split several pieces of wood down to many smaller pieces, much as  would if I was trying to get a fire going or feeding a rocket stove.

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Depending upon the density of the wood the Tanto was able to slice through the wood with ease as I hit the rear spine to get it started and the end of the blade to drive it down. Worked very well no doubt in part to the sharp blade.

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When batoning and feathering I continued to wish for a handle that provided a better grip. Possibly I will remove the current handle and wrap with paracord or buy some Micarta material and shape to fit. DO NOT misunderstand – it is certainly not unusable but it could be better. 

Summary: Beyond the grip  (and it is really not that bad) I really have nothing to complain about. I like the size and once it was sharpened it has held its edge extremely well. I am growing more and more fond of non-stainless blades as experience is telling me they hold their edge better than the softer stainless. The coating on the blade has also held up and the sheath continues to work extremely well.

The Cold Steel GI Tanto is a great deal.

Recommended.

Rourke

 


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15 Comments

  1. I bought one of those a couple of years ago and have love it the only draw back is the screws at the attachment point they tend to loosen up some

  2. Try using some Glock gun grip tape. I used it on the handle of one on my knifes and after a year of use it is still working well.

  3. Good review! This knife has been on my to-get list for awhile now. You cannot beat that price!
    I am glad to see it being used in an outdoors setting. I believe most people would see the black finish and tanto blade, and think ‘combat knife’.

  4. When I was in RVN I carried a Solingen Bowie that has a 6 1/4″ blade. It originally had a Staghorn handle that eventually came loose. I removed them and custom made a oak handle which I pinned and epoxied to the tang. I used an epoxy black paint and then used the glock grip tape and loved the feel of it. My nephew now carries it in Afghanistan and uses it daily. He loves it and plans on passing it down to his son. The tape works well and if it gets damaged it can easily be replaced.

  5. Just to clarify, this is NOT the Cold Steel Recon Tanto, but the GI Tanto. The Recon Tanto by Cold Steel is significantly different. The Recon Tanto, while more expensive than the GI Tanto, is still very economical and an excellent blade!!!!

    • Right on andbbmo – I used to have the Recon Tanto and had that on my mind when I started the article. I corrected the title.

      Thanks – Rourke

  6. I was actually thinking of the old school original Recon Tanto when I first saw the article heading, but the enclosed pictures straightened out that line of thought.

    In any case, great review on one of the best budget combat/survival knives available. Cannot think of another comparable blade, in this price range.

  7. Would someone explain to me of what earthly use is the Tanto shaped blade? I’m dead serious – not trying to be a smart alec. I’ve been using knives for near 60 years and sharpening them for nearly that long and I’ve yet to figure it out. I traded for one and wound up significantly reshaping it.

  8. Three reasons I can think of:
    1. Looks cool. When Cold Steel started the tanto fad, nothing else looks like it.
    2. Soft body armor penetration.
    3. Leaves a lot of steel near the tip, for greater strength overall.
    4. (out of 3) It looks cool.

    I’d like to see CS make this bad boy with a bowie profile, at the same price point. They already make a version with a smatchet blade profile.
    That would be the cat’s pajamas!

  9. Good comments about the Glock tape. Skateboard tape or any other friction tape in the grip “fullers” also works pretty good. Whatever you’ve got. Re: tanto blades – I find the straight edges and acute, straight points very useful when carving/shaping wood – making things for use around camp. But a wharncliffe profile works about as well, too.

  10. Once in a while even a blind hog will find an acorn. Which is the way it usually is with these cheapo knives. However, for the same price I bought a Meyerco folding knife with a tanto point and 50% serrated blade. The wretched thing is built like an Abrams tank and so far has proven to be indestructible. I’ve hacked at this, that, and the other, including cutting heavy copper wire and opening tin cans. The edge has reached the point of needing a rough diamond stone, but the thing is still as tight as the day I bought it a year ago. I need to find a steel drum to really see what it’s made of–if I can pierce and cut that, then we’re in business. I’m not much on looks, as long as something stupid like “Zombie Killer” or a Deaths Head is not anywhere on the knife. Only idiots and people with too much money and time on their hands by that crap. And it’s a ready made: “Gotcha” if you should ever have to use it for serious social purposes. “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, look at how blood thirsty he really is. His knife features this Skull and Crossbones or Bio-Hazard marker on it.” Ah yes, let us not make things easy for the Honorable District Attorney. And it’s good to see that there are some low priced knives that do perform better than one would think.

  11. I saw an impressive video on one of these Cold Steel Tanto blades, but after reading the comments above, I am not sure which one. Thanks for pointing out there are different models. I considered buying myself whichever model was listed on MSO as potential Christmas gift. I ordered the Schrade SCHF9 instead.

  12. I BOUGHT MINE ON AMAZON
    AND I GOT IT FOR $19.00 AND CHANGE
    AND AFTER RECEIVING THE KNIFE AND SEEING THE QUALITY OF THIS COLD STEEL KNIFE
    A REORDER ANOTHER G. I. TANGO BLADE
    FOR THE VERY SAME PRICE UNDER $20.00 DOLLARS
    I HAVE OVER A DOZEN. Different COLD STEEL KNIFES
    AND I HAVE ALWAYS ALWAYS BEEN MORE THAN HAPPY WITH THE QUALITY OF COLD STEEL
    I HAVE BOUGHT KNIFES AT THERE TIMES THE PRICE
    AND THE QUALITY WASN’T NEARLY AS GOOD AS COLD STEEL
    WHEN YOU BUY COLD STEEL YOU GET YOUR MONEY WORTHAND THEN SOME
    SO I WILL BE BUYING MORE COLD STEEL KNIFES
    NOT ONLY BECAUSE OF THE PRICE
    BUT MOSTLY FOR THE QUALITY AND DEPENDABILITY

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