John Rambo and the Art of Knife Survival… Pt. 2

While looking for pics for the knife from my previous Rambo IV survival/homicidal knife post, I came across quite a few pics of the knives from previous Rambo movies. Now interestingly, as survival knives go, most of these are actually not what I’d consider the ideal survival knife design, however as movie icons, these blades are legends in their own right, so I figured what the heck, might as well do a post on them… So hang on. The ride starts now:…

RAMBO: First Blood – Survival Knife

First Blood Knife

[view full size]

This is the design that started it all. What we have here is now commonly viewed as your stereotypical survival knife. It’s got a nice large, long blade, a mild drop point, and the trademark of 13 (oooh scary!!) little saw tooth cut outs in the spine. The blade on these is usually fastened to the hilt via a rather short push tang. Not the best design (for reasons I’ll go into in a bit), but there it is.

It also has a cool cross guard with a Phillips style screw driver tip on one side, and a flat screwdriver tip on the other. It also features the neato (and now fairly ubiquitous) little hollow cylindrical grip, wrapped in green paracord, in which all manner of cool survival stuff is usually stored, with a compass set into in the pommel/cap, with a rubber O-ring to (supposedly) keep out the elements.

So far so good. But the Rambo II knife did this one better…

Rambo: First Blood II – Mission Knife

Rambo II Knife

[view full size]

The Second Rambo knife followed the same pattern as the first, except for some minor, but nice visual upgrades, including a non-reflective black finish, 15 saw tooth cut outs instead of 13 (Pffft whatever) , a black cord wrapped grip, a slightly deeper belly to the blade, a deeper clip point, and the addition of an extended lanyard stub on the pommel. All very nice improvements if you ask me. Especially (of course) the black treatment.

Now these first two blades are pretty cool looking, but alas, as I mentioned in passing before, they are actually not the best survival blades. I think they a little bit too large and bulky, the saw spines on the back really aren’t really as effective as they should be (the saw blade on my swiss army knife bites 10 times better), and the push tang construction is a really, really bad idea. Add to that the fact that hollow handle storage is rarely ever truly waterproof, then I think it becomes a rather poor implementation of an otherwise good idea.

Fortunately, the Rambo III blade suffered from very few of these flaws, and among the three blades in this post, is probably the one I’d be most likely to use for long term survival purposes…

Rambo III – Survival Knife

Rambo III - Mission Knife

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With the Rambo III blade we finally see a much needed departure from the handle storage, and into full tang, contoured wood grip, total survival knife domination! As you can see from the grip, the tang extends all the way to the pommel, which, in addition to being super strong, would provide yours truly with some truly epic cranium cracking action! Yeah…!! Errr… Don’t ask.

Anyway, we also see that the saw tooth serrations on the spine have been abandoned in favor of some even more useless divots. And a slot has been added into the side of the blade. Which was originally designed for some fancy schmancy spring loaded wing blade insert:.

Rambo III Knife With Wingblade Insert

Rambo III Knife Wingblade Protoype

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Which is cool for a designer/fantasy blade, but is basically pointless in a survival knife. From a survival perspective, this blade is still a little on the large and heavy side, but in the grand scheme of things, I would rather have this, and a ziplock bag with my matches/flint, compass, mirror, string, needle, etc., etc., etc., than any of the prior two knives.


So there you have it. Phyreblades abridged guide to Rambos survival (and wannabe survival) blades. Obviously, these knives were made to impress the movie going audience, as opposed to actually being useful for survival, so their flaws are understandable, just don’t be fooled into thinking these are the stuff that ideal survival blades are all about.

Now that I think about it, I think It might be fun to make a post (or a page maybe), specifically about what I think the characteristics of a good survival blade are (as well as what they are not) in the near future, so stay tuned, ye wild folk of the Dark Realms… 🙂

13 Responses to “John Rambo and the Art of Knife Survival… Pt. 2”

  1. 1 Niccolo
    May 19, 2008 at 4:46 am

    Hahaha… he’s always used knives that are huge chunky pieces of steel, hmm? I really need to watch those movies.

    Anyhoo: What I’d be curious to see is how that wingblade insert functions as an impromptu tiny axe. Wouldn’t be good for much more than kindling, if that…

  2. May 19, 2008 at 10:45 pm

    Ach, that whole wingblade idea seems really flighty to me. If it were taken out of the blade, It looks like it would be great for skinning and cleaning and chopping food or something, and even at that, because it’s double edged, I think it would be hard to use comfortably.

    As a miniature in-blade axe head… well… The designs got issues… All kinds of issues… Franky I’d just rather use the knife by itself…

  3. 3 Niccolo
    May 20, 2008 at 12:07 am

    xD Yeah. Axes have to be built completely differently to blades to be even remotely functional.
    Actually, it’s like videogames at the moment. They try to do everything at once and it just ends up splattering all over the floor.

  4. 4 dualblade
    May 20, 2008 at 8:08 pm


    This is my first blog so i hope i dont offend people but i was interested in the conversation at hand. I completely agree with you though. Axes have no place doing the job of a knife haha

    Axes are just huge and clumsy when it comes to anything but cleaving a limb off or even doing anything functional…but that is just due to the make and their main purpose and design.

    They were created to be used for just blunt force and all muscle activities such as attackng a person to even chopping down trees…but a dagger/knife is still being modified for even more purposes then what it was created for. Their designs are the most impressive acheievement (in my eyes) that has been made in the feild of hand held weaponry due to the shear fact that so many other franctions of the knife has been molded into so many different types of weapons and purposes. It’s incredible

    Well I think that I’ve acted like a dork long enough but i do believe that it would be so much more trouble using an axe for a knifes job.

  5. 5 Niccolo
    May 21, 2008 at 4:02 am

    Well, my point here was that this is actually meant to be a survival knife, not a combat knife. And if you’re stuck out somewhere necessitating survival, you’ll want an axe to cut firewood and stuff. I didn’t actually mean that the axe was to be used for the knife’s job; every tool has it’s own purpose.

    Not that this one’d be too much good…

  6. May 21, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    Agreed. And in fact, Niccolo has actually hit upon an important point with regards to what I’d consider the ideal survival blade kit. Carry both a hatchet and a knife. Pretty much almost every possible survival need can be covered, fairly universally, with either a knife or a hatchet, with very little compromise in functionality. That is why the best (imho) camp kits carry both. There is some very solid reasoning behind it.

  7. 7 Ram08
    September 19, 2008 at 4:03 pm

    I just wanted to say that the Rambo knives were made to look good in the movies. Nobody ever said to use them for real, they are to sell . I have all four knives and they are nice to have. I camp,hike,fish, and hunt with a Gerber Big Rock or a Gerber Gator folding knife. Both are good strong knives. The Rambo knives are for the movies but as a Blacksmith I do know that all of the Rambo knives are made of realy good steel(420High Carbon steel)

  8. September 21, 2008 at 4:22 am

    Hey Ram08

    Thanks for commenting! Yes, I do know that these were made for the movies, and not necessarily for practical purposes, but I do point that out in my post.

    I’m not saying nobody should get them, they are made of a good grade of steel, and regardless of their practicality, or weaknesses, they are still great for to have as movie momentos.

    I just also like to point out flaws in certain designs, and the survival knife category happens to have a lot of knives that are rife with these kinds of weaknesses. I’ve gone through (and broken) a few of them myself.

    So I speak from experience when I say a lot of the Rambo style “survival” knives we see for sale are flawed either in design or construction…

  9. October 4, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    i am make knife in damascus

  10. October 5, 2008 at 3:05 am

    Good for you. Now will you please stop spamming the blog? 🙂

  11. 11 MoZZA!
    December 9, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    dualblade! sorry youth but i am slightly offended by your “axes are clumsy” comment. but there is a reason for this

    i made an axe a while ago (unfortunately i lost it in a house move) and i carved wood with it (and thats one of the things where clumsy has no place) also i helped my dad skin and joint a deer with that axe. it was extremely useful but as well as delicate tasks it also did the typical axe tasks too.

    my conclusion: clumsy is only in the specifics of the designs.

  12. February 12, 2009 at 6:45 pm

    Is it USA steel cas CHINA steel is shit.

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