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Spear Point Vs. Tanto Point – What Are the Differences?

A spear point is a symmetrically pointed blade with a tip that is in line with the center of the blade, whereas the tanto point has two straight edges and two points. Therefore, a spear point is more lethal and versatile than a tanto point. You can go with the first for piercing and fine tip work or with the latter for flat cutting tasks.

There are also other differences like who would benefit the most from these blade shapes and how easy it’s to sharpen them. Continue reading to find out more about these common blade shapes.

Spear Point vs American Tanto Point: A Quick Overview

SubjectSpear PointTanto Point
Knife Blade ShapesSymmetrical spine & cutting edge to form a narrow point.Angular edge that connects with the spine to form point
Tip StrengthLowerHigher
Best Use CasesSelf-defense Slicing Piercing Fine tip workCutting through thick & strong materials Flat cutting tasks
Penetration CapacityHighMedium
Ease of SharpeningHarderEasier
AestheticsAggressiveTactical
Are They Legal?Spear points with double edge are illegal in many placesLegal as the blades don’t have a sharpened spine

Key Differences Between Spear Point and Tanto Point

The main differences between spear and tanto point are their shape, applications, tip strength, penetration capacity, sharpening, aesthetics, and whether they’re legal to carry. You’ll find that spear point is often the better choice, but that doesn’t mean a tanto point is not good. Let’s find out why.

Shape

Tanto blades have an angular edge to connect with the point. This particular shape sacrifices the belly but produces a stronger and robust tip instead. The spine has a slight curve before reaching the point, unlike spear point it doesn’t have a sharpened edge on the spine. 

The tanto point looks like the kamasu kissaki blade that Japanese swords wield. Both have similar plain edges and a sharp point, but the modern tanto is superior. 

Modern tanto point cutting edge is straight, whereas old Japanese swords had nearly straight cutting edges. Also, traditional kamasu kissaki swords were sharp but fragile. Tanto points are sharp and stronger due to the metal thickness present throughout the blade’s length. These attributes make knives with tanto point blades useful for fighting applications.

Some popular brand knives with spear point blades are the Benchmade 601 (folding), and the CRKT Minimalist Tanto Neck Knife (fixed-blade). The Kamassu Kissaki swords also have a similar blade shape.

Spear point blades have an asymmetrical shape, with a tip aligned to the center of the blade’s axis. Both the spine and cutting edge fall and rise equally to create a narrow tip, and the blade may or may not have a sharpened spine. Spear points with a sharpened spine like daggers are illegal in many places. 

The spear point blade is similar to the needlepoint, but spear point is stronger and just as good at thrusting.

You can find this type of blade in automatic knives like the Kershaw Launch 4, and fixed-blade knives like the GW 2503.

Tip Strength

A spear point blade has a narrow tip, which means there’s less steel in that area. This fine tip will pierce and stab through materials with ease, but it won’t last as long as the tanto point. Sharpening requires material removal, and removing steel out of an already thin tip will cause it to wear down quicker.

Tanto point blades have more steel towards the tip area, making the point stronger and more durable. A stronger blade allows the tip to puncture through tougher materials like thick armor without breaking. Plus, it gives you the confidence to tackle most tasks.

Best Used For

Spear point blades make excellent self-defense knives due to their narrower tip and sharpened spine. These two elements allow the blade to pierce through with ease, requiring little effort. Daggers and throwing knives use this blade style due to its efficiency. 

A spear point has some similarities with other blade shapes. The spear point blade has a belly like drop point blades, but it’s smaller and not as good for slicing. Some knives with spear points may also have serrated blades that you can use for cutting rope, belts, fabrics, and more. See the Messermeister 4″ Four Seasons Serrated Blade Knife for reference.

Wharncliffe blades share a similar narrow tip, but the purposes of Wharncliffe and the spear point are different. The spear point is more robust for general use, whereas the Wharncliffe is better for carving and cutouts. Read Also: Wharncliffe and Sheepsfoot: Are They Same?

Overall, use knives with spear point blade shape if you’re likely to partake in the following scenarios:

  • Self-defense
  • Hand-to-hand fighting
  • Military & Tactical situations

Use the Tanto blade for utility tasks like poking holes or puncturing through hard materials. This type of blade is strong enough to pull through wood or armor, break down boxes, and removing material out. You could also use the chisel-like tip as a scraper or for removing splinters, stickers, and other stuff. 

A tanto blade is also good for:

Penetration Capacity

Many spear points have double-edged blades that penetrate through the skin easily. When you use this blade shape for piercing, the blade doesn’t incline in any direction erratically. It passes through smoothly, giving you total control of the knife. This benefit allows you to stab animals with precision, avoiding organs damage.

Tanto point blades have an unsharpened spine, and they push forward to the cutting edge while penetrating. Since the spine of a tanto blade doesn’t have a sharpened spine, the job depends on the cutting edge. This design may cause the knife to move awkwardly to the side of the cutting edge while puncturing. The cuts won’t be as smooth, and you may have to apply more force to pierce through.

Ease of Sharpening    

Spear point blades are comparatively difficult to sharpen. You must sharpen the blade while maintaining the blade’s symmetry, which is not easy. The process requires you to do it freehand with single-stroke passes and a steady pace. This method will allow you to restore the blade’s edge, bevel, and tip.

Tanto point blades are easier to sharpen, with fewer considerations to keep in mind. As long as you change the sharpening angle right at the spot where the two edges connect, the sharpening is hassle-free. Start with the main cutting edge first, and make sure to halt the stroke as you get closer to the transition point.

Unlike spear point, a tanto point requires the same sharpening techniques as most knives. It isn’t as intimidating, and you won’t need an expert to sharpen the blades.

Aesthetics

The spear point is an aggressive blade shape. You can find this blade style in daggers, which have double-edged spines. These knives are illegal in many places across the United States. Make sure your state allows it and you should be fine.

A tanto point is more of a tactical blade, which looks tough but not as aggressive as the spear point. It’s friendlier, and you won’t get a lot of eyes over your way if you use it outdoors.

Read Also: Differences Between Clip Point and Tanto Point

Legality

A spear point blade may have a sharpened spine, which may be illegal. Some places consider knives with sharpened spines as weapons that people can readily use for stabbing. 

These laws vary a lot between states and countries, and you must be careful before purchasing a knife with this blade shape. For example, you can carry a dagger in California as long as you don’t keep it concealed. 

Spearpoint blades with a single edge are not illegalbut the size of the blade must comply with the law. The Kershaw Launch 4 CA is a perfect example of a single-edged spear point allowed almost anywhere. It has a blade length of 1.90″, which is within the boundaries allowed of most states.

Tanto point knives are legal if they don’t have a false edge. Still, you have to consider other things that may break the law. For instance, Texas doesn’t allow adults to carry knives with blades longer than 5.5 inches around courthouses, schools, or government buildings. Each state has its ruling against the blade length. Make sure to know your knife doesn’t go against the laws.

What Is Better Among Spear Point and Tanto Point for Self Defense?

A spear point is better than a tanto point for self-defense purposes. Spear point blades come with an asymmetrical design perfectly aligned with the knife’s center. This design makes the blade tip narrower and better at thrusting. 

So, Which Is Better American Tanto or Spear Point (Overall)?

The spear point is a blade that provides maximum piercing power. With a narrow tip and double-edged blade, the spear point pierces through almost anything. This blade shape also has a great straight cutting edge and a wide center for more strength while stabbing. These attributes make the spear point an excellent self-defense tool for survival. 

A tanto point has a strong tip and angled tip that resembles a chisel point. People used this blade for close combat and piercing armor, but it has other purposes nowadays. The blade can poke holes into hard materials like wood, scrap stickers, and remove labels. This blade style is more suitable for cutting ropes and other materials while hiking or camping.

Once you know what each blade shape does, choosing between spear point vs tanto is easier. 

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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