Clip vs tanto?

Apr 19, 2000
Visual appeal(to some) aside...
What are the pros & cons when deciding between tanto & regular clip points?
Happy Easter! Have a good weekend!

[This message has been edited by Doverce (edited 04-21-2000).]
The clip is a better utilitarian blade while the tanto offers better strenth in the area of the tip of the blade. A tanto is considered a better defensive knife by some and an abomination by others. Between the two, I'd take the clip.
My main concern w/tanto blades is sharpening the secondary edge near the tip. But that may be my own personal problem.

Tanto blades in Japan traditionally had more upcurve instead of the squared-off design of the American tanto. I prefer clip points for most uses, but tantos have their own appeal as well, but for general use a clip point is way more versatile.
Clip point is more penetrative and tanto point is stronger and more break resistant. Essentially blade's tip can't be penetrative and strong in the same time. It can be penetrative or strong.
In the Middle Ages Japanese warriors never had a whole-forged body armor. Their armor always was made up of soft basis reinforced with metallic elements. The philosophy of tanto tip is to penetrate if it hits the soft part of armor and to do not break if it hits the hard metallic part.
I agree with James, traditional Japanese tanto is more rounded with less pronounced secondary tip. Look onto Keith Derkatz (Katz Knives) tantos - they are much closer to traditional Japanesse than most "americanized" tantos with straight lines and pronounced angle between fore-edge and main edge.
However don't confuse with tantos primitive, one-side ground chisels like Emerson's CQC-7. And don't allow to feed you a line that they are "extremely strong"

Sergiusz Mitin
Lodz, Poland
I remember reading that the traditional Japanese Tanto was extremely thick to facilitate the armor piercing qualities. You know, more weight(beef) to help drive thru armor. Thickness was upwards of 3/8" on some of these knives, if I remember correctly.

I myself am a reformed "Americanized" tantoholic.
I much prefer a clip if it came down to having to choose between the two because the clip is more utilitarian overall and can easily perform "defensive" duties.
Now, I have a couple of the more rounded tip type tantos and they do well as working type knives. Chisel ground and angular point type tantos have not worked well for me as working/utility knives.

The individualist without strategy who takes opponents lightly will inevitably become the captive of others.
Sun Tzu
I've always found a clip / drop point more usefull for general everyday work. Thus I must have my clip or drop point folder on me. However I like the American Tanto, both looks wise and how durable it is. I keep a Cold Steel Recon Tanto in the truck. After all, I never know when I'll have to shove it through someone's hood or car door. (I also keep a tamohack, drill, saw, torch, very big and full tool box, [I'm sure I'm forgeting something], and err... ok so my truck is a workshop on wheels, sue me.)
Every blade profile has it's purpose. I like the look of American Tantos- but the are limited in their usefulness. These days I want something versatile, which all but rules out Tantos.
The tanto tip is a great scraper. You can stick the tanto point into places were you might not get your hand into. For general cutting such as boxes, the secondary bevel can be used to penetrate just as the point on a clip would be. By using the secondary bevel I have cut heavy rubber and plastic that gave my clip point trouble. As everyone has mentioned the tanto point is stronger since there is more metal to support it.

I don’t understand why the tanto is considered mainly as a weapon. The clip will stab much easier, since there is less metal at the tip, and will cut much better because the blade is more curved. Even a clip point will likely stab into a car door O.K.

I still can't figure out why so many people prefer clip points to modified American Tantos. While I agree that the original Japanese Tanto stye blade leaves much to be desired, I think the modified American designs are far more useful and practical in actual use than clip points, or any other style, for that matter.

Clip points are considerably harder to sharpen,and especially much harder to get a REALLY sharp point on.

My remarks are confined to the double sided version tantos. Personally, I don't like chisel grinds for their sharpness and ease of control in one direction only, plus I think they look cheap as well as unbalanced.

I have a number of clip points, some of which I have the same knife with American tantos, and find I USE the American tantos much more.


TWO "points", one at the tip for puncturing, one at the "break" for scoring.
Two straight edges are much easier to sharpen evenly than the curved portion of a clip point, even if it has a straight portion.
A straight edge is much easier to control than a curved one, which tends to "bite" into the material being cut at an increasing rate as the belly goes through it. Yet the combination of a short and a long straight edge allows close fine work using the short front edge, or heavy work, using a pulling, slicing action on the longer main rear straight edge
Much more strength at and near the point, where heavy scoring and/or cutting will be done.
Much easier to make a SHARP point, much in the same way a chisel grind is easier to make very sharp by having to do only one angle.

Among others, I have:
BM Auto-Stryker.

All of these have modified American Tanto blades. The Mini-SOCOM also comes in a clip point, and I have one, which I find much less useful than the Tanto.

Bottom line I think, is how the maker designs the blade overall and balances the knife. For example, the Auto-Stryker and Mini-SOCOM both have a tanto style bottom, with a drop point top, which considering the width of the blades, I think is excellent.
The HALO III has a perfectly straight top, but a narrow blade and a wide angle at the "break" with a long point.

All 3 have a swedge that starts behind the "break", and continues to near the handle. This leave a "bulb" of metal behind the point and over the "break"on the top of the blade. It provides point strength and blade front strength, where most of the cutting will be done, yet retains excellent balance.

I often carry my M-UDT, which has a clip point blade, for it's compact size, light weight and for smaller jobs. I also usually carry my HALO III. Ironically, I tend to use the HALO III much more than the M-UDT, even for small jobs, simply because it works better. If only the Mini-SOCOM tanto was as small as the M-UDT, I'd carry it with the HALOIII, but it's bigger and heavier, and I don't want 2 heavy knives.

I note also that the part I tend to use the most on my clip points is the belly, which is the hardest part to sharpen evenly.

If you want to ruin your own temper, try to sharpen my favorite defensive blade style, the stiletto or spear point. Trying to get a balanced, evenly sharp edge full length on both sides without offsetting the point for anyone but a skilled knife sharpener is an exercise in futility. You WILL use bad language in the attempt, even with sharpening aids.Trying to get an even bevel on both sides of both edges full length is maddening!

I know, I know, I'm in the minority, but this is my opinion.


[This message has been edited by StarPD (edited 04-29-2000).]

[This message has been edited by StarPD (edited 04-29-2000).]
StarPD, your comments fully support my experience with my only tanto, the Stryker
(in M2). I alternate-carry the Stryker with several other blade styles, and find the tanto to be extremely usefull for utility tasks. While I'm not sure I definitely prefer
it over other blades, you certainly present a
compelling argument on its' behalf.