Cold Steel Recon Tanto 13RTK Review

Posted by Leighton Taylor on

Video by: The Late Boy Scout

Knife on deck: Cold Steel Recon Tanto 13RTK

It doesn't take any great strength of observation to notice that this knife is a pretty awesome combat knife, and while we'll admit that its primary design function, we've decided to explore its worth as an outdoor knife. The Late Boy Scout has also tested this combat knife for outdoor tasks (which you can tell by the chipping of the black Tuff-Ex finish in the middle of the knife), and wait until you see how it performed. First, though, let’s look at the specs.

Cold Steel’s Recon Tanto 13RTK has an overall length of 11 3/4 inches with a weight of 9 ounces. The blade style is, obviously, tanto. The blade is 7 inches long, has a flat grind, is 3/16 inches thick, and made of Japanese Aus 8A stainless steel. They seem like pretty good specs for a tactical knife. It definitely looks battle ready straight out of the box. 

The Late Boy Scout points out that though the blade is 7 inches long, the actual cutting edge is shorter – about 6 inches or so. The Kraton handle is, of course, very grippy and has a single lanyard hole which you can use when doing outdoor tasks.


This knife is pretty tough. Our reviewer has used the Recon Tanto for batoning and chopping branches off trees. And while it was designed for combat, it performed admirably. In fact, it was an excellent knife for splitting wood because of several features on the blade.

First, it has a flat grind which means there is less drag/friction when the knife goes through the wood. Second, the thickness of the blade also makes batoning much easier. This just goes to show that the Recon Tanto, despite being a tactical knife, can baton through wood quickly and efficiently.

The tip of the Recon Tanto, along with the rest of the knife, is pretty tough. Japanese Aus 8A stainless steel is a very durable material and is also rust resistant. Of course, if you've read some of my other articles, I still think carbon steel is better. But for review purposes as well as how great the knife held up during outdoor tests, I'd say the stainless steel is good enough in my book.

Anyway, the tip of this knife is pretty tough. It's also a bit shorter than some tanto blade tips. For The Late Boy Scout, this means that there is more stabbing strength because the tip is backed up with the strength of the entire blade stock. In short, the tip will be very, very good at piercing. The Recon Tanto is also great for prying and digging because of this very tough tip.


The knife weighs a pretty hefty 9 ounces. Now, there are some that weigh more, but I would think (and The Last Boy Scout agrees with me) that as a tactical knife, it should be light in hand. You want to be swift with your knife when fighting.

TLBS also notes that the weight of the knife isn’t that balanced since most of the weight comes from the blade. Of course, he (and I) admit that we’re not really experts on knife fighting. Some reviews on the blade claim that it is well-balanced and lightweight. Those reviewers may be more knowledgeable about that aspect of the knife. Anyway, it’s a point to consider.


The sheath that comes with the Recon Tanto is just about perfect. It holds the knife securely so there's no need to worry about the knife accidentally slipping out while walking. It protects the knife perfectly, has numerous holes allowing the knife to be mounted in various positions, and has a fairly small drain hole that will allow any moisture on the knife to drain out.


Simply put, this tactical knife would perform well in an outdoor survival situation despite being designed for a different purpose altogether. And, if you were to find yourself in a combat situation, this knife would most probably also perform pretty well (if you knew what you were doing that is). So, if you're looking for a survival knife with good tactical features, the Recon Tanto just might be the perfect blend of the two.

View the Cold Steel Recon Tanto 13RTK on Amazon!

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