John Rambo, the iconic fictional character portrayed by Sylvester Stallone, used a sheathed knife in almost every movie. It was a small surgical knife that Rambo used for survival and combat. Let’s take a look at how a small piece of stainless steel blade came to be known as the Rambo Style Knife.
The Rambo movies were very popular on the big screen. The begin with, First Blood came out in 1982. Subsequently, the production released four more movies over the next four decades. Finally, in 2019, the franchise saw its finale with the release of the long-awaited Rambo: Last Blood.
The sheathed knife was one of the personal main weapons of Rambo. Rambo’s knife was a versatile tool for stealth attacks, to cut through barbed wire and straight up fight.
1. Origins Of The Rambo Knife
The Rambo style knife, as it is known today, originated in the first Rambo movie, First Blood. The knife used in First Blood was not a mere prop. On the contrary, it was a real, functional piece designed by Jimmy Lile. He was a renowned knife maker who was famous for his craftsmanship in making high-quality knives.
The original Rambo style Knife featured a 9-inch-long fixed blade. Moreover, it had a straight edge and a serrated one. Additionally, it also had a hollow handle that acted as a storage compartment for survival items like matches, a small compass, fishing hooks, etc.
As the popularity of Rambo grew with every movie, this particular style of knife became increasingly associated with Rambo. Consequently, just like the character, the weapon symbolizes toughness and survival. Therefore, the name Rambo knife.
Knife manufacturers saw the rise in popularity of the Rambo as an opportunity and wanted to capitalize on it. For this reason, they began producing versions of the Rambo knife. They kept the features similar to the original knife. Thus, they featured serrated edges and hollow handles.
Over the years, authentic Rambo knives and their replicas have gained a lot of value. Knife enthusiasts and collectors seek these knives and cherish them as a part of their collection. The collectors know their value and go to lengths to acquire a genuine piece.
2. Rambo Survival Knives
Throughout the Rambo movies, the character uses different knives. The knives featured unique blades in every installment.
A leather sheath covered the blades in most cases. Although they were all Vietnam-era survival knives, they had slight distinctions in design and use.
Let’s look at the various knives Rambo uses for survival and combat.
2.1 Rambo: First Blood
Firstly, the original Rambo style knife was the one he used in the first movie, i.e., First Blood. Jimmy Lile designed the knife Rambo used in First Blood.
The overall length of the First Blood knife was 13.75 inches, out of which the blade made up 9 inches. The handle was 4.8 inches long.
The producers used stainless steel for the blade. Additionally, the blade had a serrated edge with 14 teeth. Therefore, Rambo used these to cut through barbed wire when going for stealth attacks.
Moreover, the knife had a hollow handle wrapped with a cord. The hollow space stored a survival kit. The survival kits had essential items that Rambo used. Moreover, there was a compass on one end of the handle. The blade guard on the handle also served as a screwdriver.
Finally, the knife was used as a spear by mounting it on a piece of wood.
2.2 Rambo: First Blood (Part 2)
Similar to the previous knife, Jimmy Lile designed the knife used in First Blood (Part 2). This knife was a bit larger than the original one. Instead of a 9-inch-long blade, this knife had a 10-inch-long blade. He also increased the overall size from 13.75 inches to 15.5 inches.
The material used in the blade and handle were similar. The knife had a stainless steel blade with a wire cord-wrapped handle. The handle was hollow and had a compartment to store a small survival kit. Like almost every other knife, a black leather sheath covered the blade.
The knife was not merely a survival knife. Rambo used the knife in combat to dispatch enemies with surprise attacks. Furthermore, Rambo also used the handle to break class. On several occasions, Rambo even used the survival kit’s fishing lures to sew his wounds.
Interestingly, this particular knife was known as the “mission knife“. Manufacturers created hundreds of these “mission knives” after the release of Rambo: First Blood (Part 2). Some of these survival knife replicas were officially licensed, others not.
2.3 Rambo III
Gil Hibben designed the Rambo III knife. He was a famous knife maker at the time. Although initially manufactured by United Cutlery, the knife was renamed Hibben III after United Cutlery lost the right to use Rambo’s name due to bankruptcy.
This knife was further larger in size compared to the previous survival knives Rambo used. With a 13-inch-long stainless steel blade and a 5-inch-long handle, the overall size of the knife was 18 inches. This was the biggest one used by Rambo. Yet.
Furthermore, the third knife featured innovations in the design as well. To begin with, the handle was now made of wood. The blade of the Rambo III knife had a curved spine and pointed end.
The spine of the blade featured cuts representing Rambo’s team members. Lastly, the Rambo III knife had a blood slot cut out into the blade.
Rambo saw John Rambo upgrading from Rambo survival knives to a machete. Sylvester Stallone and Gil Hibben designed the machete together.
Perhaps the character was bored of using a survival knife and wanted something big and brutal. Hibben delivered with an 18-inch-long and almost 4-pound heavy machete.
The blade of the machete was made with D2 carbon skin. The handle was wrapped in goatskin leather. It also featured the sheath from the previous film.
2.5 Rambo: Final Blood
Final Blood saw a return to Rambo knives. Yes. Knives. Plural. A German designer, Dietmar Pohl, designed the knives for the final movie. Rambo Knives were called the MK9 and MK8. The MK8 was an inch smaller in size.
Stainless steel was used to produce both blades. The handles were also produced using different materials. While the MK9 featured a Micarta handle, the MK8 had a wooden handle.
The ends of the handle also had a sharp pommel. It proved to be extremely useful in close hand-to-hand combat. The knives were stored in a dark leather sheath.
With this, we come to the end of the list. All the knives and the machete used by Rambo are part of the legacy of the action hero. They will always be cherished by those who know their worth.
3. Conclusion- The Legacy of Rambo-Style Knives
The Rambo style knife and its legacy extend beyond the big screen. Rambo’s knife is not just another tool of another fictional character.
It has grown from being a prop to a very sought-after collectible. Furthermore, it inspires fans across the world to be brave.
Whether displayed on a shelf or used in the wilderness, a Rambo style knife is a legacy of the character who was loved by millions and inspired the entire action scene in Hollywood.
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