Support BladeForums! Paid memberships don't see ads! With the demise of the Cold Steel Forums, I am attempting to recreate the History threads that I had done over there. First up is the Tantos. Hopefully this can be made into a sticky. History of Cold Steel Tantos This will focus on the “classic” CS Tantos, from the beginning until they discontinued the Made in Japan knives in about 2016. This will not include the 3V Nightfall Series Tantos or Taiwan San Mai Tantos, or other tanto models like the newer Recon Tanto, Kobun, and Oyabun. My plan is to paste in all the text, and then populate the pics, so bear with me. Hoping to include more pics this time. Most of the pics are from knives I either own or bought and resold. Some of the pictures are not great, as the CS Forums site had size limits, and I wasn’t going to take all new pics…I may replace some here and there as I go. I am also adding more detailed text descriptions of the markings, instead of just relying on the pix. That way if the pix are lost there is still something to go by. Please note that in some places I use the word “logo”, like COLD STEEL logo, or TANTO logo. This means they use the actual Cold Steel logo font, rather than a regular font. For everything else I use upper/lower case letters to indicate what the marking says, but the fonts and size may vary. The info presented is based on what I’ve learned over years of collecting and research. I can’t guarantee that it is all 100% complete and accurate, and I welcome any additional info and corrections. Can also check out this Hattori site with additional info on TM's and Tantos (thanks KenHash!): http://hattoricollector.com ==================================================================================================== First up is the Original Tanto from the early 80’s Until recently, this was thought to be the CS equivalent of a unicorn. Sure, we had the magazine ad from the early 80’s that shows it (and a Mini version), along with the Urban Series, but no one had actually seen one. That all changed when forum member The Whip found and bought one at a show in April 2018 (and special thanks to The Whip for the photos). It has a pinned micarta handle and no guard. Period: 1981 to 1983? Cold Steel started in 1981, and the 2006 catalog says it’s the 25th anniversary of the Tanto, so the 1981 start makes sense. But not sure when the design changed to the more familiar brass/Kraton version. I have a catalog that I was told is from 1984 (it is not marked) and it has the brass/Kraton version, so I am guessing this original version only lasted a few years. Blade Steel: Uddeholm Stainless (don’t know anything about this, or what it is similar to) Blade Length: 6" (Mini version is 3 1/2”) Blade Markings: None Sheath: Black leather “pouch” style with 2 sets of slits on the back to pass a belt through, allowing it to be carried at 2 different heights. No retention strap. ==================================================================================================== Tanto with Brass fittings - #13A Period: 1984? – 1991. I have a catalog that I was told is from 1984 (it is not marked) and it has the brass/Kraton version, so they at least go back to 1984. This version lasted until 1991 and then the guard and pommel were changed from brass to stainless in 1992. Blade Steel: Cold Steel’s "400 Series Stainless". There were also some regular Tantos with San Mai III blades, prior to being called Master Tantos. The markings were the same as the regular Tantos (#3 below), so the only indication is the lamination line. Blade Length: 5 3/4" (this would change to 6" when they switched to stainless fittings) Blade Markings: There are 4 versions that I know of: 1) Very early versions had a stamped marking on one side only (nothing on the other side): TANTO logo COLD STEEL, INC. VENTURA, CA. 2) Same as #1 except it is etched instead of stamped (still nothing on other side) 3) Side 1: TANTO logo By Cold Steel, Venture, Calif. Side 2: Made in Japan 4) Side 1: TANTO logo Side 2: COLD STEEL logo VENTURA, CALIF MADE IN JAPAN Sheath: Most are black leather with Velcro strap and 2 sets of slits on the back to pass a belt through, allowing it to be carried at 2 different heights. There may also be some later ones with a single belt loop, which was standard after the transition to the 6” version with stainless fittings. Both versions should be stamped JAPAN on the back. I also have one, and have seen a couple others, that have a wider retention strap…these are very rare. There were also some Kydex sheaths sold as accessories…see the Special Ops/Master Ops Tantos below for an example. Misc: One special version of this Tanto was made for the cutlery company Hoffritz. It is identical to the standard Tanto except it also has the Hoffritz logo on the blade. Another special version was a Cutlery Shoppe exclusive with stainless fittings...it has its own post below. There is also a 10th Anniversary special version that is serial numbered, with Lynn’s signature on the blade, and includes CoA. Hoffritz logo: 10th Anniversary Tanto: ==================================================================================================== Original Recon Tanto with Brass fittings - #13R I think most of us are familiar with the current style Recon Tanto, but few realize that before that version there was this one. It was basically just a regular Tanto, but with a non-reflective bead-blasted finish...not only the blade, but the guard and pommel too. However, the pommel was a “dome” shape rather than the normal “skull-crusher”. Period: 1986? – 1987? I have a copy of National Knife Magazine from April 1987 that has an article about the CS Tanto, and includes the Recon Tanto. It was basically introduced as a lower cost alternative to the regular Tanto (the article mentions how the regular Tanto was $139.95 and the Recon Tanto was $89.95). Not sure how long they were produced, but they are not shown in the 1988 catalog. Another interesting tidbit from the article is that the Recon Tanto was only available from Matthews Cutlery in Decatur GA. Blade Steel: Cold Steel’s "400 Series Stainless" Blade Length: 5 3/4" Blade Markings: Side 1: RECON TANTO logo MADE IN USA Side 2: COLD STEEL logo VENTURA, CA Sheath: 2 versions that I know of…1) typical black leather sheath with Velcro strap and 2 sets of slits…2) Cordura/nylon sheath that was also available with a shoulder harness.