This post was previously published HERE on MSO. I have now owned this knife for over a year and it continues to perform well.
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 for around $22.00 and hoped for the best.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
For around $22.00 – the Cold Steel GI Tanto is a great deal.