You may not realize it but for each Rambo movie, there was a different knife designed, each one bigger and badder than the previous model. There are many collectors that feel the Rambo III knife was the best of them all. It was a bit different than its predecessors, the Rambo First Blood Knife and the Rambo 2 knife. It’s not a survival knife in the sense that it doesn’t have the hollow handle with survival items in it that the first two knives had. An example of this type of knife that isn’t an actual Rambo movie knife is the Survival knife by Maxam. Not having a hollow handle makes the knife stronger which is why many considered it to be the best Rambo knife. It also didn’t have any serrations (saw teeth) on the spine of the blade. See how the Rambo iii knife compares to the other Rambo Knives, including the Rambo 4 knife/machete.
Rambo 3 knife vs Similar knives
|Knife||Overall Size||Blade size||Handle size||Blade material||Handle Material||Price|
|Official Rambo 3 knife|
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|18-Inch||13-Inch||5-Inch||440 Stainless Steel Blade||Wood||$$$|
|Gil Hibben III knife (Hibben designed the Rambo iii knife)|
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|16-Inch||11-Inch||5-Inch||420 stainless steel blade||Laminated wood||$$|
|Rogue River Tactical Big Jim Large Bowie Knife|
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|16-Inch||11-Inch||5-Inch||Stainless Steel Blade||Wood||$$|
How The Rambo III Knife Came About
Jimmy Lile made the first 2 Rambo knives and Stallone visited him to create a unique Bowie-style knife for Rambo iii. A great quality bowie knife is the Natchez bowie by Cold Steel. The problem was that Stallone didn’t like any of the prototypes created by Jimmy as he was looking for an Asian-style type of fighting knife. Since this wasn’t Lile’s speciality, he suggested Stallone get in touch with Gil Hibben, a talented knife designer. Stallone was already familiar with Hibben’s work and immediately went to him. Hibben was known for creating tactical knives for troops during the Vietnam War.
Gil Hibben created and made the knife that was used by Stallone in the film at Stallone’s request. Stallone and Hibben exchanged ideas and created several prototypes before getting the Bowie style knife that was used in the movie. Hibben agreed to make the knife and created several prototypes that carried on the Jimmy Lile “Mission” style. The knife had the same green nylon handle seen with the original First Blood knife… minus the grooved finger grips.
Hibben made several prototypes and copies to be used in the movie. He then decided to make 350 handmade full size screen accurate copies from 440C stainless steel, the same as the actual movie knife. He also then made 101 copies from Damascus steel and one from meteorite. It was since the original series has sold out, Hibben is now making a limited edition collection of 100 Rambo III knives that are handmade copies of the knife that was made famous in the Rambo III. It’s a great knife but if you’re looking for a real survival knife, check out my page on the best bowie knife.
The knife was a little smaller than the final movie product, and it didn’t include the blood sight. Rather, the sight sloped into a polished knife blade and was quite long. Stallone had the desire to steer clear of the Mission style, wanting something else entirely. However, the Mission prototype knife was briefly used during the scene involving the mine field.
The producers eventually noticed this, and wanted to re-shoot the scene. However, the movie was too far into its production, and they didn’t have the time to spare nor the money to shoot the scene again. The scene is the last in the movie, and because of its poorly lit quality, the majority of folks overlooked it. Take a closer look, however, and you’ll see the knife had saw teeth – something the final knife product didn’t have.
When the final product was actually crafted, it wasn’t ready for film use. Hibben had originally intended to use the blade slot as an area where you could insert a spring-loaded blade – think axe-like motion.
The blade could be removed by a press of a button and throw like a star if you wanted. Stallone felt this was more of a camp-like feature and opted against it.
In fact, there were several revisions on the knife until that final piece was crafted and picked.
Since the release of Rambo III in 1988, the knife that was made famous in the film has finally become just as iconic as Rambo himself.
Features Of The Rambo III Knife
The knife comes in at 18 inches. That’s not a typo. It’s 18 inches. Its blade is 13 inches long, 1/4 inches thick and is made of 440C stainless steel. The handle is 5 inches long. In the middle of the blade, there’s a 3 3/4-inch long blood sight and clipped point that is similar to the Bowie knife. At the top of the blade there is a serrated edge for cutting barbed wire.
On the spine of the blade there are five slanting curves which represent the men in Rambo’s unit. The big curve is for Delmar Barry, who was an extremely tall man and Rambo’s confidant. The blood slot cut into the blade, helps to break the suction when it stabbed into flesh or meat. A bolt joins together the blade guard, handle guard and the blade, and it’s covered by a sealed hardwood handle that’s comprised of Macassar ebony. Replica knives tend to have a stained, laminated hardwood, kept in a hand-stitched leather sheath that Rambo tailored to fit the machete in 2008.
Who is the manufacturer?
There are two manufacturers making factory made (not hand forged) collectibles of the Rambo III knives. They are Master Cutlery/Hollywood Collectables group and United Cutlery. United Cutlery made two different types of versions of the replica. United made the first version, the Model UC 201 in 1988 and it was one of the biggest selling knives with over 250,000 knives sold worldwide. In 2007, United closed down due to bankruptcy. The company name and remaining assets were then purchased and United Cutlery was restarted in Thomasville, Georgia.
The new United Cutlery has continued making many of the knives from old catalogs included the replica that was used in Rambo III. Since United Cutlery no longer has the right to use Rambo as their product name they changed the name to Hibben III.
The knife was 17 ¼ inches long that had an 11 7/8 inch blade that is 2 ¼ inches wide and 5/16 thick. The handle is made from solid Makassar Ebony and the pommel and guard are made from stainless steel. These knives are the ones that were actual movie knives that were made in Gil Hibben’s one man shop in LaGrange, Kentucky.
All of the knives are stamped with Hibben Knives trademark and Gil Hibben signature and it comes with a hand signed Certificate of Authenticity and a custom leather sheath and padded carrying case.
Where to buy?
An officially licensed version of the Rambo 3 knife can be found here.
A replica of the Rambo 3 knife can be found here. The replica version is about $50 cheaper.
You can also try bladehq.com. Check out my bladehq coupon page.
The Rambo 3 knife design has also been used as the basis of a machete which looks absolutely awesome! The machete below wasn’t actually used by Rambo in his movies, I just love the look of it so thought I’d include it. You can find out more about it here.