When the CS G.I. Tanto first came out a few years ago, i ordered one immediately, but sent it back after only a few minutes of playing with it. I don´t like cord-wrapped handles at all and the nylon sheath was “useable”, but a joke! CS has since then put high impact plastic scales (they call it polypropylene) on the 1055 carbon steel knife (you can still get the wrapped model, i think) and upgraded the sheath to Secure Ex material.
The new variant arrived in the mail today and i am a little impressed! A knife needs handle scales! Paracord, no matter how you wrap it, must not apply in my world. The scales on the G.I. Tanto are simple yet clever in design thanks to a long and slightly hollowed out section that gives you a feeling of index and control. The knife feels blade heavy and should make a decent chopper. It does not come shaving sharp from the box, but almost.
The grind is, for all practical purposes, flat. Workmanship is very decent, no gaps or uneven angles that catch your eyes. If you find rough edges, keep them or smooth them up with a Dremel tool. This blade wants to be used hard, detail asthetics are therefore secondary.
The Secure Ex sheath is an improvement over the nylon things. There are rivet holes abound but they are NOT lined up perfectly to work with a TekLok. Why manufacturers do not conform to that standard is beyond my understanding and an insult to the consumer! The velcro-and-snap nylon belt attachement setup is a bit on the flimsy side. The loop will fit the widest of military belts. The keeper strap is sewed on and not completely ambidextrous therefore. I removed it and stiffened the belt hanger a bit with a plastic buckle from another knife sheath. You can, of course, screw it off completely and attach the sheath to your backpack, equipment vest or carry it inside your waistband.
The G.I. Tanto, despite basically being a copy of a Strider design, has earned itself a lot of respect from users for being nearly indestructible, even beating the original in some very extreme testing that is fun to watch with popcorn on the lap, but not realistic. I look forward to using mine outside this weekend. I would also love to see Cold Steel offer more blade style options. They would sell a spear-point model faster than they could have them made in China. The knife cost me less than 30 Euros, including shipping from the United States!
Additional thoughts after the first outing :
The knife is really a good chopper! Even 2 inch diameter hardwood logs can be done if neccessary, though it will take time. A baton stick on the back of the blade will help a bit, but the relatively thin stock and the dull back edge will destroy it quickly. I actually found the back edge to be a capable tool of its own on softer wood. The GI does not shine when sharpening sticks. The long ricasso and the double guard do not help you here. I found that the almost needle-like tip will bend before it breaks, so you have to be a bit careful there. The grips are great. Damned be paracord wrappings! Their smooth surface prevents blisters and they have just the right amount of “meat” for my paws. I never felt the need for a lanyard. Sharpness did not suffer much. Overall, i would say that the GI Tanto, despite its “Kill´em all!”-mall-ninja-looks, could make a very decent survival knife, unless you intend to build a log cabin.