The smallest knife in Cold Steel’s tanto series, the Master Tanto with a six-inch blade of VG-1 San Mai III high carbon stainless steel, varies only a little from the classic tanto in visual terms. In materials, there’s a considerable difference between Cold Steel’s model and the classic backup blade of the Japanese samurai.
In style, the major difference is the finger guard, forged in the bolster of this full tang knife to fit American hands. This makes good practical sense if you plan to drive the angled point of this heavy knife through anything substantial, like steel drums or car doors.
The flattened oval handle also departs from the simplistic build of the traditional tanto, including a pommel appropriate for smashing car windows by pressure or by impact. That’s a handy feature quickly becoming standard, as more people learn how to make quick exits from autos in a crisis situation. Alternatively, the knife is heavy enough to do real point-of-impact damage with the handle alone without fear of damaging the knife.
The Kraton grip has practical texture and a good look — it’s easy to get past the feeling that this is an artificial product because it works so well. The main point of argument about the Master Tanto from Cold Steel is the weight. This knife is 11-1/2 inches long and 9-1/2 ounces heavy. That’s a little heavy for a modern hunter, and the blade style which works so well for piercing armor doesn’t lend itself well to every type of ordinary work. It’s more knife than most people will need, and it’s a little too specialized for some, but there’s no question it does what Cold Steel says it will do. Punch holes and smash things without worrying you’ll snap this survival quality blade. It lasts.