Review: Cold Steel G.I. Tanto

I bought the Cold Steel G.I. Tanto several years ago.  At the time, I was looking for an all-around knife for prepping purposes, one that would do well around the camp and could help me take out a bad guy if the need arose.

I selected the G.I. Tanto because it met several of my criteria at the time, primarily being carbon steel and affordable.

The G.I. Tanto by Cold Steel

The G.I. Tanto by Cold Steel

As you can see from the photo, the knife comes with a Kydex sheath (they call it Secure-Ex) and boasts an 8″ blade, with a 5″ handle, bringing the total length to 12″.  This is not a particularly small knife.

Further, the Kydex sheath is attached to the belt via a webbed loop that also has a snap that secures the knife in place…which is redundant since the sheath is a tight fit for the knife all on its own.

The knife itself came with an edge but wasn’t particularly sharp.  Since it’s carbon steel, however, that was remedied in short order.

One thing at the time that struck me was how mucking big this thing is.  I suck at judging distances and lengths, so I wasn’t really expecting something this size.

My knife with a can of beans for scale

My knife with a can of beans for scale.  I camoed mine though.

However, despite the length, it’s surprising light considering.  It’s not too light, where you feel like you’ll break it or anything, but just light enough to be comfortable carrying around whether you use it or not.

It’s a sturdy piece of kit, but I’m hesitant to recommend it for other preppers.

For one, it’s length.  It’s too short to be a general use knife, too long to work as  a machete. I suppose there are uses for it that I’m just not thinking off, especially since the blade is a pretty good thickness.  Maybe you can use it with a mallet of some sort for splitting purposes.

One thing I disliked is the black finish.  The material is fine, but black?

I get it.  They do this to make it look “tactical” and all that.  The thing is, I have grown to hate “black” for tactical/prepping purposes is stupid.

You see, black stands out in a lot of circumstances when you want to blend in.  The G.I. Tanto?  Yeah, it’ll stand out.

Luckily, I could take some spray paint cans, a bit of camo netting, and make it far more likely to blend (see photo above of my knife).  However, I took the webbing off.

Personally, the webbing is a waste.  The Kydex holds the knife really firmly in place, so snaps are unnecessary.  All it does is serve to lower the knife on the body.  While that may sound like a good thing with a foot-long knife, I disagree.  The handle is short enough that a clip on the sheath itself would be sufficient.

Not only that, but I think Cold Steel missed an opportunity here.  Had they simply put an attachment point on the back of the sheath, they could have then sold various systems for carrying the knife.  A clip for your average user, PALS compatible clips for the more tactically minded, and who knows what else.

As for the webbing, it’s easily removed by loosening the two screws.  Personally, I laced mine on a “battle belt” with some paracord.  I’ve found it to be plenty secure so far, though I have thought about attaching some clips to give it a more secure attachment to the belt.

My knife on a battle belt.  It rides nicely behind my pistol holster and blowout kit.  So far, it works just fine.

My knife on a battle belt. It rides nicely behind my pistol holster and blowout kit. So far, it works just fine.

My overall impression is that the knife is a solid purchase, though perhaps not the best place to start for a prepping knife.  I’ve got a Mora Companion due in tomorrow to serve as a better general purpose knife for me.  The Cold Steel G.I. Tanto is designed more as a combat knife, and for that purpose, I suspect it’s awesome.  Especially for the price.

I can’t recommend it, but I can’t give it any kind of negative assessment either.  This is a “your mileage may vary” kind of knife, in my opinion.  However, for the price?  It’s not like you’ll go broke if you pick one of these up.

Assuming this isn’t your first knife.  If you’re getting started prepping, this is probably not where you want to make your first purchase.  Otherwise, I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

Click photo to pick one up via my affiliate store:


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