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Jimmy Lile - Never Before Seen Rambo Full Tangs

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by DAMN YANKEE, Jul 25, 2019.



    Feb 18, 2008
    [​IMG] Like many of you, I was a young man when I first saw "First Blood." In my case, I was living in a very remote place and much of the film rang true with its images of BC. I had the great pleasure of knowing Jimmy, Marilyn and Jacquie through the early years. I also worked these blade in my day job. I also was one of the relatively few that work his blades and, as such, he enjoyed updates on my sentiments on them.
    I tried to contact Blade magazine recently to share some of the rare Liles that I have the pleasure to own and, given the announcement of the last Rambo film, thought that now was the time for the rest of the world to see some of these ghosts. The truth of it is that even though I sent emails, letters and photos and tried to call a good number of times, well, I never did hear a word back from the Editor.
    These blades have waited over 30 years, its long enough. Given that, I am of the mind that posting a picture here will give folks an opportunity to see something that no one has ever seen before....a full tang SlyII knife...and not just one design. Simply put, I know of no others. These two knives are not in the most excellent "James B. Lile - Knife Maker To The World" codex. For those that know how hollow handle knives can be made, there are essentially two paths. Mill them out of single stock or make them out of pieces. These eliminate the issues surrounding the later and, as such, are truly different and the rarest sight for those who love the Rambo patterns. Less to do with movies, more to do with function. To me, its a great pleasure to share these two with all those that love Jimmy's designs and are ready to see something all but forgotten to time, something truly wondrous.

    Last edited: Jul 25, 2019
  2. Twindog

    Twindog Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 6, 2004
    Beautiful knives -- my favorite Bowie pattern. And so much nicer than the Buck 184 that I bought in my younger day.

    Are both of those blades full tang?
  3. GIRLYmann


    Nov 7, 2005
    Holy cow! Thanks for sharing the picture.
    I suppose time hasn't been too kind to the 80's sawback survival knives but its different
    when it comes to the early history and
    development in regards to the story of the
    Rambo knife.
    It would certainly be a great knife history lesson to revisit.
  4. danbot

    danbot Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 31, 2009
    Hmmm....where do you store the sleeping pills?

    Seriously though, I like these way more than the movie versions, although I'm really not an admirer of saw backs.
    craytab likes this.


    Feb 18, 2008
    Yes, these are the only full tang Lile's I have ever seen. The Mil pattern is very heavy, its a hammer head top and is the heaviest of the SlyII's ever made. The Skeleton model is the lightest SlyII ever made.
    On the saw back performance on the Lile's, and this is not news to anybody that worked the blade, its good for making igloos. Worked materials have to be pressed into the rakes rip trough. There is exactly ZERO clearance angle between the Heel and the Point, therefor there is no rake at all. Won't cut wood and certainly will not cut through a fuselage of anything other than an ice sculpture. The saw back is easy in and out on a thrust.
    These two survivors made it there and back again.
    GIRLYmann and danbot like this.
  6. The Whip

    The Whip

    Jan 28, 2007
    Your knives are beautiful pieces of cutlery history! I can't believe that Steve Shackleford wasn't interested in including them in a future Blade story. Thank you for sharing them here!

    GIRLYmann likes this.
  7. GIRLYmann


    Nov 7, 2005


    Feb 18, 2008
    Yea, read that before I started.....
    Over 14 Years published many articles in just about every gun magazine.
    December Cover of Blade had a knife I designed just a few years back.
    Major contributions to the Smithsonian, The Cody and the National Firearm Museum.
    Followed every one of those steps. I did, however, waive the fee as it was for Jimmy and I don't need it. If that is a sin, I am guilty.
    When 4 emails including HD pics better than the one I posted here didn't get a response, I sent it all registered mail.
    Received at destination.
    I guess it just isn't the kind of effort or article that even gets a passing response these days.
    Shall I post the other pics? Steve?
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2019
    lzeplin likes this.
  9. eveled

    eveled Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 11, 2016
    I think most magazines won’t run an article unless they are paid to do it. That’s why you never see a negative review in print. It’s a scam.
    jdk1 likes this.
  10. eveled

    eveled Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 11, 2016
    To be fair they are dying and are gasping for air trying to stay alive. They probably need every penny they can get.

    The only magazines I’ve bought in the last 20 years were when my kids were born for a time capsule.
  11. jdk1


    Apr 21, 2010
    You mean like the new rifle\handgun review where it is proclaimed to be one of the best ever...without a shot even fired? Yea, after a few years of unboxing, tabletop infomercial articles I stopped paying anything for a magazine. Much better reviews can be found on here!
    eveled likes this.


    Feb 18, 2008
    Trade Shows.....that is where the money is. Everything else is marketing in support of Trade Shows.
    Its a thin way to make a living, except for those that manage the trade shows. The trade show, especially the annual, is where significant initiatives take place and just a tiny handful of folks see any of it. Its where the lion share of effort goes now, its the pointed business end of the blade.
    The most important story these knives tell is the post movie pivot by Jimmy to make knives that met the requirements of those that could not or would not carry a two piece hollow handle in their day jobs. After the Siren's song of Hollywood fades and the disappointment of R3, it was returning to the selling and servicing the people that came before the toxic madness set in. You can imagine what it must have been like to find out that after all the success with R1 and R2, your R3 design was given to another R3 designer. Not an easy thing to hear no matter who you are.
    These two are just two of a number of Slys that have never been seen. The same goes for Hibben R3's, example? Most people do not know that Hibben provided the opportunity for people to order "one of 100" R3 knives made out of Damascus. The Damascus was made by an astoundingly capable and competent maker and that is where some truly rare variants occurred. The original idea was that every part of the R3 Damascus knife would be standard Hibben parts except for the Damascus blade...standard wood, standard guard, standard pommel, standard nut. All rendered in standard stainless steel. (Note, R1 and R2 could be ordered in D2). Well, lets just say they were not all standard assembled R3s. But....one 100% Damascus R3 was made and that process took a very looong time. The thickness of the R3 blade is one thing, but the guard is huge, forming a Damascus pommel and nut was nothing short of a labor of love. The letter that came with knife says "Not only has no one else been extended these accommodations, but I can tell you frankly that not even Stallone "Rambos" themselves, nor the units for the two billionaire owners of Carolco Productions have received the attention.." or as quoted by another "Here is Gil Hibben's comment quoted exactly "What a bitch" "I could have made a $3,000 Elf Dirk in the time this baby took."" That knife was fitted with bird's eye maple grips and still awaits its public viewing. Folks, this was when $300 for an blade without engraving was unusual.
    So many more wonderful sights to see and stories to tell but this is a very different world now and the editors know what sells.
    Man with no name likes this.


    Feb 18, 2008
    Should read 3,000
  14. john april

    john april KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 27, 2006
    rare stuff !! :thumbsup:
  15. GIRLYmann


    Nov 7, 2005
    Wow! Great insights.
    Thanks for sharing!
    But you do still have
    a rather good story to tell.
    A look into the late mr. lile's rambo
    experience is something just begging
    to be told.
    If not for general consumption,
    than at least an insight
    awaited by those who
    do appreciate Lile knives.
    Keep the faith! Time will not completly
    deminish the interest of these knives.
  16. brownshoe

    brownshoe I support this site with my MIND

    Sep 6, 2002
    Try Knife magazine. They answer the phone.
  17. TAH

    TAH Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 3, 2001
    Very cool knives, Yankee. Thanks for posting them! Here is another one that is currently listed on a reputable dealer's website...



    Feb 18, 2008
    Yes, that knife is the first tang rivet handle variant. There are actually 6, you have now see three Skeleton, Hammer head, riveted Scale.
    And you just saw them all for the first time. Three to go...

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