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

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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

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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… 🙂