This is an article detailing the history of the Rambo knives along with the differences between the official film knife and the collector's replicas. 

Jimmy Lile 'First Blood' knife (First movie) and his official licensed replicasEdit

Knife designer Jimmy Lile made the first two knifes for the first two movies of the Rambo saga.

Jimmy Lile was a serious knifesmith and the knife he designed for Sylvester Stallone for the first Rambo movie, was a professional survival one, not just a 'useless' movie prop.

That being said, officially licensed replicas are NOT the 'same' knife that Stallone used in the movie. The differences are hidden in the materials used, construction and even in design, to the point that an expert observer can easly spot them at first glance.

Differences for First Blood:Edit

  • Tang construction: Knives 'experts' usually think to hollow handle knives as useless, very weak knives for slicing only. This is true for the cheap ones, that are 90% of hollow handle knives on the market.  The oth
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    er ten percent, uses a completly different kind of construction, and are indeed very strong knives. On the left, you can see the 'screwed' tang ( the tang is the base of the blade) of official licensed 'replica' knives. The blade of these knives ends in the shape of a screw, and a dice is screwed to it inside the hollow handle. It is easy to understand why and where this kind of construcion is easy to break.  On the right, in the computer graphic generated image, you can see the different tang of
    professional (and much more expensive) hollow handle knives. made by
  • french knifemaker, he use only the best materials for a intense use. (titanium grade 5 and RWL34 finish steel,original movie compass),the tang really used by Jimmy Lile for his knives. As you can see, this kind of tang is much more bigger, and goes inside the hollow handle in a different manner. Because of 'the law of the lever', this kind of construction is almost as strong as the one of a full tang knife. So, a knife with a tang made like this one,  is really usable for military usages.
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  • Sawback design: The sawback design of FIRST BLOOD official licensed
replicas, is DIFFERENT from the one used in the movie.
This is the most obvious of the differences between the two knives, and subject to much speculation. The sawback of the FIRST BLOOD replica is not the one of the first movie, but a scaled-down version of the knife used in the second movie (the so called by Jimmy Lile himself 'mission' knife). In the image on the left, you can see two knives: the upper one, has the sawback design of the knife used by Stallone in the movie. The lower one, is an official licensed replica (serial number n. 1759). As you can see, it has a caled down version of the sawback design of John Rambo's second movie knife. No one knows why the FIRST BLOOD official licensed replicas are different from the ones used in the first movie (literally wrong, in fans opinion), but at a close looking, the knife really used for the ' FIRST BLOOD' movie, looks really different from a 'licensed replica' one. (In the following image on the right, you can see a Jimmy Lile original 'first blood' knife).
Another difference lies in sawback teeth shapes. The sawback of the knife really used in the movie has only two kinds of teeth: single ones and double ones. The sawback of the official licensed replica has three kinds of teeth: single ones, double ones, and a central bigger one.
  1. Materials: The general public usually does not care a lot about the steel a knife is made of, but in the field it can make a lot of difference. The replica knife has the blade made in 420J2 steel. This kind of steel is very cheap, which is the primary reason for it being used for replica/display knives (that are not ment to see a lot of usage). Because of 420J2 very low carbon content, it is very difficult steel to rust, so it is also used for diving knives. The drawback of this steel is that it is very soft, so much that it will loose it's edge much more sooner than most of the other steels on the market. Some knives enthusiast, exaggerating, consider it a 'junk' steel that should not be used at all for knives manufacturing. On the other side, it is so easy to resharp that almost anyone can resharp it to razor edge levels without too much difficulties, which is the reason some users love it. All in all, if you don't use your knife very much or for outdoor usages, and you like razor edges, 420J2 will do just fine. The handle of replica knives is made by recycled aluminium, a very soft and cheap material. Anyway, in case of heavy loads applied, the blade will surely break sooner than the hadle and so, the handle material is not questioned. Overall the official replica is a very good display knife and an average slicing knife, perfect for cooking or similar usages. But it absolutely is'nt a military knife. Most of knives enthusiast, will agree that because of his tang construction, so you should'nt use it for outdoor/camping usages. On the other side, Jimmy Lile handmade 'true' knives have the blade made in D2 steel or 440C steel. The D2 steel is a very hard steel, so hard that it can be difficult to resharp by people that are not very expert in knives sharpening. But this steel will keep it's edge even under very hard conditions. Due to it's very high carbon content, it can rust more easly than other steels, so it must be cleaned properly (more often than other steels). The 440C steel is also a very good steel, often used in the average or high end cuterly industry. It can hold the edge well (not as well as the D2), but it is easier to resharp. The handles of Jimmy Lile knives, are also made by 440 steels. This blade, toghether with the hollow handle different construction, make 'real' Jimmy Lile knives a very different kind of knives from the official licensed replica ones.

Overall, Jimmy Lile knives are high-end professional knives, made strong to never let you down even under the worst conditions.

Jimmy Lile 'the mission' knife (Second movie) and his official licensed replicasEdit

1) tang construction (see 'first blood' point .1)

2) materials of both blade and handle (see 'first blood' point .3)

3) the edges of replica knives are larger than the one used in the movie. This usually does not creat such a difference between one knife and another one, but since this knife is black, the official licensed replicas have very larger 'silver bordered' edges than the knife used in the movie, and this gives is really easy (ugly, for fans) to spot at a first glance. One of the possible reasons for the larger edges of official replicas, is that the knife used by Stallone in the movie probably didn't had any edges at all, so to avoid injuring himself or the other actors.

Some real fans of the second movie, black paint their replicas around the edges, to make their knives look more similar to the ones used in the movie.

Gil Hibben Knives (third and fourth movies)Edit

Rambo IIIEdit

The differences are:

  1. The movie knife is much thicker.
  2. The movie knife is made of different steel.
  3. The movie knife is much longer.

Rambo IVEdit

The differences are:

  1. The movie knife is made of stronger D2 Carbon steel.
  2. The handle is wrapped with tape.
  3. The blade is treated with heat and greatly worn.
  4. The sheath is made of aged, grimy leather.

Special thanks to Cartertown for the information.