We’ve examined guns in movies quite a bit here, but we’ve ignored knives a little too long.
Today, we change all of that.
We’ll point out, show off, and examine some of the best knives used in movies and TV.
The rules are simple.
One, it has to be a standard production knife or had to be at one time. I’m not including any knives designed explicitly for the film and later sold, ala the Rambo knives.
Second, it actually has to be a good knife. We don’t need it to be practical, but I’m not including some junk fantasy blade.
Lastly, it has to have a prominent appearance in a piece of filmed media – not necessarily used by the main character, though.
So, with that said, let’s take a look at the best knives of movie and TV.
Best Movie & TV Knives
1. Captain America and the Winter Soldier – Gerber Mark II
The Gerber Mark II is a rather iconic fighting knife that many have likely seen but few recognize by name.
Gerber produced the blade originally in the 1960s and 70s. It was a popular knife for private purchase for troops going to Vietnam and was likely second only to the Ka-Bar in popularity among fighting men.
The Mark II’s popularity continued into the seedy and dirty little wars of the Cold War.
It popped up across mercenaries in Africa and fighting forces in South America.
Similar in design to the Fairbairn Sykes fighting knife, the Gerber Mark II uses a true dagger type design. A US Army Captain, who designed it, modeled the knife off of the Roman Mainz Gladius.
The blade came as a straight blade, but later Gerber added a serrated edge which proved more marketable towards survival than fighting.
The Gerber Mark II appears in all kinds of movies and television, particularly science fiction.
The Winter Soldier uses the blade to engage Captain America with a number of fancy flips, tosses, and knifework used.
It’s a really fun scene and highlights the Gerber very clearly. I can’t lie and say it didn’t inspire me to not buy my own Mark II.
The aggressive design makes it the perfect blade for the Winter Soldier, one of Marvel’s notorious mercenaries.
I love the Mark II, but it is somewhat of a mall ninja knife…at least when compared to modern blades.
But for Winter Solider, it all makes sense. Let’s be real here; he’s kind of the ultimate mall ninja.
He literally wears a mask that looks ninja-like, adorning himself with knives and guns in odd places.
Winter Soldier also possesses questionable fashion sense and clothing that offers little to no protection — clearly sold in a tactical Hot Topic.
For more Gerber goodness, check out the Best Gerber Knives.
2. The Pacific – Ka-Bar
I could pick a dozen movies or TV shows that highlight the Ka-Bar.
We have Jon Berenthal’s The Punisher, draft-dodging John Wayne’s Sands of Iwo Jima, and dozens more. I chose The Pacific because the Ka-Bar is a notable guest star.
The Ka-Bar became the USMC’s chosen fighting knife during World War II and continues its legacy of service.
First designed to address both field and utility needs of soldiers and Marines, it measures large enough to qualify as a good fighting knife.
That 7-inch blade can pierce your torso from near any direction and reach something vital.
It’s a rough and tough blade designed to provide a Marien with a cutting tool, a tool to baton wood, a fighting knife, a shovel, and even a hammer.
The Ka-Bar is still an insanely popular knife. I’ve had my own for about 15 years now. And it still works like it’s new.
In The Pacific, the Ka-Bar is used by Marines in half a dozen episodes. Common uses in the film: killing snipers, popping blisters, and unpleasant war crimes.
The Ka-Bar shares the screen with the M1 Garand, the BAR, and the 1903 Springfield and holds its own.
The Pacific shows the Ka-Bar for what it was — a fighting tool, a utility tool, and a constant companion to the warfighting Marine on the move.
The Ka-Bar was and still is a very capable knife. Wielded by most Marines, you’ll see it on belts and web gear. It easily blends into the environment of World War II Marines.
For more Ka-Bar, check our our list of the best!
3. Sabotage – ESEE-4
This 2014 Arnold Schwarzenegger action flick offered up a DEA special ops super cop team — complete with riding on the edge of crazy operators.
I mostly remember the guys and gals of this team using some high-end, ultra-modern weapons…FN SCAR 17S, Benelli M4, Noveske N4, and many more.
The main character, Breacher, carries an ESEE-4, fitting that modern theme.
Designed by the guys at Randall’s, the ESEE-4 shows off an ultra-modern, well-made blade. Not surprising given the source.
Randall’s brings together some of the most experienced survivalists and adventurers to design some of the best knives on the planet.
The ESEE-4 might be the best general-purpose fixed blade knife on the market.
The 4.5-inch blade features a clip point and is super robust. It features a full tang knife with grip panels. The blade is 3/16 of an inch thick and 1.25-inches wide.
One chunky boy.
The ESEE 4 works in the most non-permissible environments possible. It can chop, cut, baton, and hell, it fleets tough enough to pry a door off a wall.
In Sabotage, Breacher carries the blade in his tactical vest. The handle is instantly identifiable to ESEE nerds like me.
Schwarzenegger positions the knife for an offhand draw but it only looks comfortable for an ice pick style grip off the draw.
This knife fits Arnold and his team’s weapon selection well. While the team has a questionable fashion sense, their weapons are spot on.
The optics, lights, lasers, etc., are all practical and stuff you’d see in use by real operators.
The ESEE 4 is no different.
It’s a practical knife for a practical man. Like Arnold, it’s thick, strong, and ready to terminate.
4. The Expendables- Cold Steel Espada
Like any other Stallone action movie, The Expendables fills its screentime to the brim with knives of all types.
Most are fantasy-type knives designed explicitly for the movie. But the first Expendables film sees Mickey Rourke wield a massive knife that is, in fact, a production knife from Cold Steel – the Espada.
Cold Steel’s Espada is a striking knife. It offers an overly large folding knife design influenced by the Navaja knives from Spain.
Let’s be real, the big, curved blade and its shiny fish in the film seem a bit gaudy…just a bit much. If Ed Hardy designed a knife, it would be the Espada.
However, it’s remarkably appropriate for The Expendables and Mickey Rourke’s character.
He’s a bit much — an eccentric biker-type tattoo artist that looks like an Ed Hardy-designed washed-up soldier turned hard-drinking biker.
It’s certainly got its own style, but beneath that style is a well-made knife.
Admittedly, it measures a bit big to land as my first choice as a folder, but it’s still an impressively designed knife.
The Espada can certainly cut deeply with that massive belly and do some serious damage if called upon. Cold Steel describes it as a pocket sword, and that makes sense.
Despite only being used in a throwing knife competition in the movie, that small scene made it stand out.
I question how well anyone could throw a knife like this, but I’m no throwing knife master. I’m also not Mickey Rourke.
5. Terminator 2 – SOG Bowie
Gun to my head, Terminator 2 is probably my favorite action movie, with a close second being Tremors.
I love T2 and have ever since my first crush, a librarian, let me rent rated R movies from the library. That led me to my second crush…Sarah Connor.
I could go on and on about T2’s realistic portrayal of Sarah Connor’s PTSD, how fun the action is, and of course, the guns upon guns featured in the film.
This movie rocks!
For those who haven’t seen it, our lead, Sarah Connor, struggles with the decision to kill an innocent man to prevent the future.
As she ponders her choices, she carves the words “No Fate” into a picnic table.
Easily one of their most recognizable knives, the SOG Bowie brings a massive size. And, in true bowie knife fashion, leans back towards American western blades.
The SOG Bowie’s leather-wrapped handle gives it a distinct appearance that appeals to my Tombstone/ Magnificent Seven/ High Plains Drifter nerd.
It sports a 6.4-inch blade and measures 11-inches overall – a powerhouse then and now. It uses AUS 8 steel, which lacks some refinement, but is perfectly acceptable in a big chopper like this.
This knife is perfect for Sarah Connor, a badass survivor who likes quality gear that results in some damage. Terminator isn’t a western, but the setting for this scene certainly calls for a Bowie.
The SOG Bowie is produced in numerous variants these days, including the SOG Super Bowie, which features a longer 7.5-inch blade.
Ya know, in case the 6.4-inch option wasn’t enough.
However, the closest we can get to the original is the Bowie 2.
Meanwhile, the Tech Bowie loses the leather-wrapped handle for a more modern polymer variant.
Prices accurate at time of writing
Prices accurate at time of writing
For more tactical knives, read up on our list of the best!
6. Kick-Ass – Benchmade 42
The irreverent superhero film Kick-Ass was a fun romp into what would happen if people acted like superheroes.
What we learned is that they’d get their asses kicked, lots of violence, bloodshed, and generally a not very fun experience.
One competent vigilante in the film, Hit-Girl, is gifted a pair of Benchmade 42 balisongs.
Balisongs are a Filipino design commonly called butterfly knives. They are known for a handle that separates and hides the blade until flipped open. Skilled users can flip the handles and blade back and forth – an impressive sight.
These knives are popular in film and movies, and Benchmade models are some of the best on the market.
The Benchmade 42 is a very high-quality variant of the classic balisong.
In the film, violent child vigilante Hit-Girl wields the Benchmade 42 to great effect.
When gifted them as a birthday present, she immediately shows some serious skill in flipping the blades open and closed and around in a choreographed nature.
Her skills go beyond opening, closing, and spinning the blades, though. She uses them to kill baddies and even throws one.
What I love most about these knives and this movie is that actress Chloe Grace Moretz, who was 11 years old at the time, actually learned how to use a balisong.
She showed off her skills in the movie and in the press tour that followed.
We praise Keanu’s gun-slinging skills in John Wick, and we should praise Moretz’s skills with a balisong….again, at only 11 years old.
It makes me want to practice with my Kershaw Lucha, so maybe I can be as good as her one day.
7. John Wick – Microtech OTF
The John Wick films redefined action films.
You can’t get away with lame fight scenes and shaky cam anymore. We wanna see the action!
John Wick provides clear, easy to see, and well-choreographed violence we all love.
Certainly, John Wick is a gun movie, but it’s a shame not to also mention the knives — mostly because the knives are as high-tech and well-made as his firearms.
John uses the best…his knives are no exception.
In each movie, John arms himself with Microtech OTF knives.
OTF stands for “Out the Front” and is a proper way of saying switchblade. These automatic knives deploy the blade with the push of a button and are just plain handy.
Microtech OTF knives are fantastic blades! They are arguably some of the best OTF knives on the planet – extremely well made.
Basically, they are the high-end Rolex of OTF blades.
John Wick uses different OTF models and seems to get a new one in each flick.
In the first film, he ankle carries a Microtech Ultratech. We see it among his weapon stash concreted into the floor.
The Ultratech is a slick blade with 3.4-inches of stab behind it.
In the second flick, he arms up with the Microtech Troodon – which, apparently, is the name of a dinosaur-era flying creature.
The Troodon uses a big ole 3.8-inch blade, a bit bigger than the Ultratech.
The third film sees John wielding the Cypher OTF. Again, John goes bigger with a 4-inch blade. I guess he learned along the way that bigger is better for combat knives.
The Cypher is a big knife and somewhat obnoxious, to be honest, but it still remains pretty dang cool.
8. Training Day – Spyderco Police
David Ayer has tried to recreate this move time after time and failed. Maybe that’s because no one was wielding a Spyderco Police. I mean, Training Day features one while the Tax Collector doesn’t. And which is the better movie?
Anywho, the Spyderco Police is one of three stars of Training Day. Denzel Washington wields the fully serrated blade to intimidate a poor dude shoved against a fence.
The Spyderco blade adopts a striking appearance — a very recognizable blade design.
Its fully serrated blade is also an intimidating option for a film. The Spyderco catches your eye, looking brutal.
However, from a practical perspective, a fully serrated blade makes a lot of sense for a police officer. The serrated blade makes it a monster for cutting through thick materials.
I imagine cutting through seat belts or similar thick straps and clothing would be much easier with the Spyderco Police.
As a drug cop, Denzel likely cuts through all manner of materials in his quest to find drugs. Spyderco’s Police will chew through it all.
Spyderco blades are always good knives. And the Police model is not only a scary-looking one but one that makes sense for the film.
9. MacGyver – Victorinox Swiss Army Knives
Watching MacGyver as a kid with my dad, I distinctly remember the presence of the red-handled Swiss Army knives by Victorinox.
I always assumed it was one knife, but I realized he used various models as I researched this article.
Like too many to list, but, thankfully, MacGyver Online lists them all.
The Victorinox is the perfect cheap multitool. These knives are affordable but offer a quality tool with a ton of accessibility and size options.
You can use, abuse, and break one and not be out a whole bunch of cash.
It makes sense why MacGyver loves them.
He’s not a knife fighter. He’s clever, a gadget guy. Let’s be honest, MacGyver’s ability to problem solve made him different than other action heroes.
So, a Swiss Army Knife makes so much sense for him to carry.
Not to mention, he uses them in a more “positive” manner, as tools and not just fighting weapons. He builds, escapes, and survives.
When he did so, he used a variety of Swiss Army-style knives. Of the models, the Camper always appealed to me the most.
It’s not much bigger than a normal pocketknife, but it’s not super small. It packs plenty of useful tools.
It probably wins the award for the most practical Swiss Army Knife.
While guns are neat and all, knives have a range of uses in films, too — whether problem-solving alongside MacGyver or taking care of baddies in John Wick. As a fan of knives, it’s always cool to see them pop up in my favorite TV shows and movies.
While you may be tempted to pick one of these up for fun, make sure to check your local laws to determine was is legal (and what’s not) in your state.
We most certainly have our picks for best movie knives, we know you do too. What knives would you put on the list? Let us know below. Still, want more pop culture? Check out our best Top 10 Most Famous Movie Guns.