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Drop Point Vs Tanto Point – What’s the Difference?

The drop point has a curved tip ideal for hunting tasks like slicing or skinning animals, whereas a tanto point has an angled and finer tip for stabbing hard materials. Unlike the tanto point, which is good for special occasions, a drop point is an all-purpose tool for outdoor activities.

That’s pretty much the core difference, but there are a lot of details to back it up. In this article, you’ll find everything you have to know between tanto point vs drop point.

Tanto Point Vs Drop Point: A Quick Overview

SubjectDrop PointTanto Point
ShapeCurved From Spine To TipAngular Edge that Connects with the Point
StabbingNot GoodExcellent
SlicingExcellentNot Good
UsabilityAll-Purpose KnifeSpecific Situations
Ease of SharpeningEasyDifficult
AvailabilityWidely AvailableNot as Common
Tip StrengthLowHigh
AestheticsFriendlierAggressive & Intimidating

8 Key Differences between Drop Point and Tanto Point Blade

After comparing the two in-depth, eight are the biggest differences between tanto vs drop point style blade. The main one is the design of the blade, which consequently leads to the other differences. Let’s explore these differences to learn how each blade shape could benefit you.

The Shape of the Blade

A tanto blade has an angular edge that connects with the point. This shape doesn’t have a belly, but it does have a strong and more robust tip. The spine is straight in most cases, and the blade can be foldable like the Benchmade 601 or fixed like the CRKT Minimalist Tanto Knife. Tanto blades have deep roots within Japanese culture, and they’re visible in swords such as the Kamassu Kissaki.

Drop point blades have a convex spine, curving from the handle and down to the tip. This particular shape creates an easily controllable point with a prominent belly, as opposed to tanto blades. Drop point blades are more common than tanto point, featured in popular brand knives like the Boundary 92738 with a fixed blade or the foldable Kershaw Leek knife.

Stabbing Ability

The drop point is not designed for stabbing because the tip is broad. Knives with a drop point blade are not good for stabbing because they lack a razor-sharp, defined tip. This blade shape is good for dressing game animals or overall use but not for stabbing. 

Tanto tip can be used for stabbing purposes. Compared to a drop point, tanto point blades are better for stabbing. This is why they have a tip that perfectly aligns with the spine, meaning it’s easier and more suitable for penetration. 

Slicing Capability

Drop point blades can slice pretty well because they have a pronounced belly. You can use the knife in a push-forward or back and forth motion to slice through game, food, and materials with ease. The downside is that the tip of the drop point isn’t narrow and can’t penetrate well. If you want to use it for piercing, you have to hold the knife straight up and down. This position is awkward, and you don’t have the leverage to move the knife freely.

Tanto point is not ideal for slicing. As opposed to a drop point, a tanto point doesn’t have a belly at all. This shape makes slicing much harder. You may be able to slice thin and soft materials, but the rougher stock would be nearly impossible.

Usage

Knives with a drop point blade are good for everyday use, but they’re better for hunting tasks. The lowered tip of a drop point is easy to control, providing high precision for field dressing without risks of damaging the organs and messing up the meat. Furthermore, the tip of a drop point isn’t too narrow or defined either. This tip allows you to use the entirety of the straight edge length while skinning.

You can use this type of blade for slicing meat, field dressing, skinning animals, and chopping wood.

A tanto point blade is better for utility tasks like poking holes or penetrating through hard materials. Use it to pierce through thick wood or armor, break down boxes, cutouts, and more. Alternatively, the chisel-like tip of the tanto blade is good for removing splinters, stickers, and other stuff.

Ease of Sharpening

Sharpening a tanto blade is harder because you must sharpen two edges on the same blade. The double-beveled design improves the strength of the blade, but it’s a hassle when the cutting edge gets dull and requires sharpening. Ideally, you have to treat the blade as two separate edges. Start by sharpening from heel to lower tip, and then from that tip to where it meets the spine. 

Drop point blades are comparatively easier to sharpen because the cutting edge gets thinner as it reaches the tip. As a result, the bevel remains consistent along the entire length of the blade’s cutting edge. This benefit allows you to sharpen the drop point faster and with less effort than a tanto point.

Availability

Drop points are widely available, and you can even find a drop point knife for kitchen use. The design of a drop point blade makes the knife versatile enough to meet your demands under different tasks. Therefore, many popular brands like Spyderco use this blade style for their hunting knives.

A tanto blade style isn’t as common as drop point blades. Normally, you wouldn’t encounter a tanto point blade unless you’re actively looking for it. Plus, knives with tanto point blades are mostly for combat or rescuing applications, making them rarer to come by. 

Tip Strength

The tip of a drop point is weaker, and it could break under heavy-duty applications. For example, you shouldn’t use this blade type for piercing through armor, thick wood, lumber, or chopping logs. Chances are it will most likely break under those conditions. 

A tanto style blade has a good chunk of metal around the tip, making it stronger and similar to a chisel point. Due to this design, the tip of a tanto knife absorbs the pressure from piercing, even when you do it repeatedly. Weaker blade shapes like the clip point would break under that pressure.

Read Also: Clip Point Vs Tanto Point

Aesthetics

Drop point blades are not as cool nor intimidating, which makes them friendlier. Despite being a hunting blade style, this blade shape isn’t that different from what you would see in normal kitchen knives.

Tanto point blades are among the most eye-catching shapes. It looks like a genuine tactical knife, making you feel like a professional out there in the wilderness. This shape can also be intimidating due to its aggressive style.

Is Drop Point Good for Self Defense?

A drop point blade is a decent defensive tool, but the tanto point is much better at that. It’ll stab and pierce more efficiently.

Related Article: Spear Point vs American Tanto Point

Are Tanto Blades Hard to Sharpen?

Tanto blades are a hassle to sharpen because they have two edges. This shape requires you to sharpen the blade in two sections. First, you must sharpen the primary cutting edge and then transition towards the angled tip. 

Tip: Treat both edges as if they were two separate blades, and think of the transition point between them as the tip of the knife.

Who Makes the Best Tanto Knives?

Cold Steel makes some of the best tanto knives. This company consistently creates high-quality tanto knives for tactical users. The knives produced by this brand are strong for hard penetration, and the steel has excellent edge retention. Additionally, the material of the sheaths makes them impervious to the elements.

So, Which Is Better Tanto or Drop Point?

I would recommend picking a drop point over a tanto point. A drop point can do more in everyday life whereas the tanto is designed for use under specific circumstances. 

Ask yourself if you need a knife for regular use or a backup knife that you would use only in emergencies. Once you answer those questions, it’ll be much easier to make the final decision on which one to buy between a drop point vs tanto point.

About Brian M. Casey

As a food lover, Brian M. Casey developed a fascination for cooking at an early age. He soon realized that not only the ingredients matter but also the knives and the accessories used to turn those ingredients into a delicious dish. This way, Brian began his journey on the magnificent world of kitchen knives, outdoor knives, knife accessories, and much more. After years of experience with many ups and downs, Brian now wants to share everything he’s learned during his journey as an avid knife collector, a well-seasoned knife maker, and an all-around knives enthusiast.

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