Knifemaker Jack W. Crain, designer and maker of knives for such action movies as Predator, Commando and others, passed away Sept. 7. He was 70.
Arriving hot on the heels of the Rambo knife phenomenon started by BLADE Magazine Cutlery Hall-Of-Fame© member Jimmy Lile in the early 1980s, Crain also made a hollow-handle survival model with sawteeth on the back a la the Rambo knife. Called the LS-1, the knife appeared in 1985’s Commando. It was the first of several knives Crain would make for the movies, television and books. LS-1 was short for Life Support System 1, a knife Crain originally introduced in 1982. He later made a successor called the LS-2. He also made two other knives for Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character of Matrix in Commando, the Scorpion and Commando. It was the first of two ’80s Schwarzenegger action films for which Crain designed and made knives. The second, Predator, is considered a cult classic. Crain made the knife not only for Schwarzenegger’s character, Dutch, in Predator, but also a big bowie for the character of Billy played by Sonny Landham.
Crain is listed as either weapons master, knife designer and/or manufacturer in such movies as Die Hard, Road House, Die Hard 2, Predator 2, Demolition Man and Executive Decision, among others. He also designed knives for all 22 episodes of the 1988-89 TV series, War of the Worlds.
Of Weatherford, Texas, Crain was one of a generation of knifemakers inspired by 1952’s movie about Jim Bowie and his knife, The Iron Mistress. Since Crain preferred making bowies, he said in a 1985 story in BLADE® Magazine that he assumed the movie influenced him as well. He sold his first knife in 1969 and a decade later became a full-time maker and joined The Knifemakers’ Guild. Initially he forged his blades but later adopted the stock-removal method of knifemaking.
He is survived by his wife, Jane Fritts Crain, sisters, a daughter, niece, great niece and numerous extended family and friends.