All photos copyright Mike Carter 2007 and may not be republished without permission.
In October of 2006, Sylvester Stallone contacted Gil about making a new knife for the upcoming "Rambo" movie due to be released early 2008. Gil came up with several prototype designs over the next few months. The studio wanted a crude looking knife since according to the script Rambo would forge his own knife in a primitive foundry using materials that could be scavenged. The result was a large machete style knife with a cord wrapped handle covered with grip tape.
Once again Sylvester Stallone called upon Gil to make a knife for the upcoming movie "Rambo" scheduled to be released in 2008. In the movie script, Rambo loses his famous knife from the previous movie and has to quickly forge a new knife from the materials he has available (a piece of spring steel).
Gil begins the design process in October 2006.
Stallone had an idea of what he wanted the knife to be. Gil made at least 5 prototype versions of the knife before they finally arrived at the design that will be used in the movie. Gil made the first prototypes from pieces of old truck leaf springs to be authentic and faithful to the movie script.
It's hard to believe how much time and effort went into developing this knife. Over the course of a year, Gil made nearly two dozen handmade prototypes before they arrived at exactly the knife Stallone wanted for the film. And then when they finally had the final version, the studio needed several copies for filming.
Gil started out by making a knife that was reminiscent of the knife that he made for the movie "Rambo III". Stallone liked the blade design but said it was much too perfect. He wanted something much more crude looking, as if it had been pounded out quickly from limited available resources.
Gil went back to the drawing board. Since they were agreement on the basic blade design it was now a question of the handle and finish of the knife. Gil thought about what materials might be available to the character in the movie. He considered leather, wood, paracord, tape and even seat belt webbing for use on the handle.
He decided that paracord was the practical choice. According to the script, Rambo loses his previous knife (also designed and made by Gil) and has to forge the new one quickly. Without the time or resources to make a new sheath, he cuts the end off of his old sheath to allow room for the wider blade.
A "clean" prototype of the movie knife
They were getting close but Stallone said the knife was still to "finished" looking. Stallone said, "the knife has to be brutal".
Gil finally decided that considering Rambo's skills and experience, and the materials that the character would have available, the knife would have a cord wrapped handle, perhaps covered with some tape for additional grip. The blade would be marked with depressions from the hammer blows from being forged quickly without time or resources to put a fine finish on the blade. Following the tradition of the Rambo knives, it would be a large heavy blade with a thick spine.
Here is the final product as will be seen in the movie. This is one of the actual knives that Gil sent to the movie studio. Since, in the movie, Rambo would be modifying his 20-year-old sheath from his previous knife, Gil weathered and aged the sheath for effect. The retaining strap was removed since it had no function with the new knife design.
In the original script, Rambo still has the knife from Rambo III. Stallone asked Gil to make some new ones from D2 steel for the new movie. D2 carbon steel is stronger than the 440C stainless steel that was used previously. Apparently Stallone plans to put this knife to some heavy use.
Actual RIII model made from D2 carbon steel for the new movie
For over 20 years we have used the “RAMBO” trademarks (currently owned by Studio Canal Image S.A.) in connection with the advertising and sale of the knives featured in the movies Rambo III and Rambo. While we strongly believe we still have the right to use the “RAMBO” trademarks, we have decided to temporarily discontinue such use in order to avoid a legal dispute with the trademark owner. We are, and will continue to be, the ONLY source of authentic reproductions of the knives used by Sylvester Stallone in the movies Rambo III and Rambo.
Gil made a limited edition of 100 serial numbered handmade full size screen accurate replicas of the knife he made for use in the movie. The handmade copies are exact replicas of the knife used in the movie except that the sheaths are not "weathered and aged" as they were to emulate the 20 year old sheath for the movie. The handmade replicas come with a handmade leather sheath, Certificate of Authenticity and a special padded carrying case.
Sorry, the original serial numbered series has SOLD OUT. We are offering a Second Edition series of slightly different knives as seen below.
J.R. Movie Knife - Second Edition
The first Limited Edition of 100 handmade serial numbered knives quickly sold out. Because of the continued demand for original handmade replicas of the movie knife, we are offering a Second Edition of the knife for sale.
This knife is a full size replica of the knife that Gil Hibben designed and made for use in the movie "Rambo". It does have a different handle wrap, a different Certificate of Authenticity and a black leather sheath. The knives are serial numbered are a limited edition of 100.
These knives are the same steel, size, thickness, weight and balance as the knives actually used in the movie. They are real functional knives that have been properly hardened and tempered to a Rockwell hardness of 61 and hand sharpened with a fine working edge.
United Cutlery will also be making a factory reproduction of the knife made from forged 1060 carbon steel.
United Cutlery is the ONLY manufacturer authorized by Gil Hibben to reproduce his designs.
Copies of Gil Hibben designs, including replicas of the knives that Gil Hibben designed for the movies, that are being sold by Master Cutlery, Hollywood Collectables Group or any other manufacturer other than United Cutlery are NOT authorized, endorsed, approved by or otherwise associated with Gil Hibben or Hibben Knives in any way.
Gil also plans to sell handmade replicas of one of his original prototypes that was rejected by the movie studio for being to "finished" looking. The "Big John" knife will be available in a limited handmade version. There is also discussion about maybe offering this knife as a factory produced model based on Gil's design.
"Big John" based on one of the early prototypes rejected by the movie.