Max: Boots

Rossiter’s motorcycle boots (aka engineer boots). Max’s boots may very well be his exact pair from the first Mad Max, as they are the exact same model, but many modifications have taken place. The badge and top adjustment straps have been removed (the straps were were reused on other parts of his costume), and a Gerber knife sheath has been riveted in using 2 rivets . Max’s right boot also has the outside strap loop tab removed, and has a cut and sewn/laced area on the rear – probably adjustments to accommodate the knife sheath.

Max’s boots have a pair of leather boot harnesses attached. The boot harnesses are made of leather straps with centerbar roller buckles and there are tiny “spikes” on the rear strap. The spikes are male ends of rivets sticking through holes in the rear strap of the harness (this rear strap is double-ply). You can see the stitching that binds the two layers together. It has been confirmed that the rings on the harnesses are D-rings. The D-rings are about as wide as they are tall, and the straight side of the ring faces toward the ground. For more info, photos and replica options, see Special Topics: Boots and Tutorials: How to make Max’s boots.

Search eBay for Rossiter boots

Boot Knife

Gerber Mark II double serrated knife in a standard Gerber black leather sheath. The sheath’s top is cut off, the snaps were relocated, and the sheath is riveted to the outside of the right boot. Please contact me if you are interested in purchasing a resin version of this knife or a replica sheath.

Max’s boot knife is a Gerber Mark II (sometimes written as Mark 2). This is a very iconic knife and as far as military knives go is second in fame only to the K-bar fighting knife. The Mark II was created for U.S. soldiers fighting in Vietnam and was said to be designed after the short sword of ancient Rome. The original version from the early years of the Vietnam War had a greyish/greenish handle and no serrations on its narrow wasp blade (called a wasp shaped blade because it starts off narrow and then gets wide, like the body of a wasp). During the war, this combat knife (like many things in Vietnam) developed a bad reputation with the folks back home. The idea of our boys knifing folks in the jungle wasn’t appealing. So, in 1971 they decided to make the blade serrated and call it a “survival” knife (the serrations made it easier to cut small branches to make a shelter etc.). A serrated blade is better for various survival tasks, but it’s also a little harder to sharpen.

In 1973 they altered the blade a bit again, making it a little wider but keeping the wasp shape. (this is known among Gerber collectors as the “wide wasp” blade.) In 1978 the handle was changed from gray to black. Around this time the leather sheath was changed from brown to black as well.
This is the version that Max carries. Black handle, wide wasp serrated blade, black sheath. (as a side note, I had to consult the high def version of the movie to be sure that his blade was serrated, on the standard def version it’s a little hard to tell).
In 1980 the blade was changed again to a straight blade with serrations. The serrations can sometimes make the blade look slightly waspish, but it is clearly straighter than the wide wasp blade when compared side by side. It’s possible that Max’s blade is the straight version, but from looking at it many many times I’m 90% sure it’s the wide wasp.
1980 was also the year that the blade was changed from hand ground or forged L6 steel to 440C stainless steel. (the pre-1980 steel blades are harder and hold an edge better, whereas the newer blades resist corrosion better)
In 1987 Gerber did away with the leather sheath and to this day they use one that is cordura nylon. Also, the modern blade is now black. Most of the Mark IIs you see on eBay and on the net will be straight black blades in a nylon sheath. Gerber does occasionally put out anniversary models (they have one coming out right now I think) but they tend to be based on the Vietnam early version, with no serrations, a gray handle and a narrow wasp blade (and a brown sheath). It’s a cool knife, even if this version isn’t “Max accurate”.

Here is a site with pretty much everything you could want to know about the Gerber Mark II –

Unfortunately, these knives are very popular with collectors and they’re really expensive. Expect to pay at least a hundred dollars on eBay. Vintage Vietnam-era Mark II’s sell for well over a thousand dollars. As for Max’s version, over the last couple of months I’ve seen them sell on eBay for between $140-180 depending on condition. (this is all as of Feb 1st, 2009). I bought a slightly banged up one for $140 the other day. A lot to pay for a costume knife, but the more I read about the knife the more I wanted one, just as a collector, whether I use it with my costume or not. (A worn knife and sheath were better for me, it saves me the trouble of weathering to make it look accurate).
The cheapest option I saw was a broken Mark II (the guard was snapped off and missing on one side) that went for $60. If you really want the accurate blade shape, it can be a little tricky (it can be hard to tell in pictures on eBay whether the blade is straight or wasped). Luckily, Gerber stamps the knives with a serial number and many sellers include the serial number in the auction. You can then use this chart to check which knife it is and when it was made –

Gerber Mark II Production Table

Considering how popular and iconic the Gerber Mark II was, you’d expect there to be a lot of cheap knockoffs. (you can get an imitation Ka-bar knife very cheap for example). But while there are some knockoffs of the Mark 2, they are pretty hard to find (at least they were for me). Along with the actual counterfeit Gerber Mark IIs, there are some knives with similar handles. The Gerber Command II for example, uses the same exact handle as the Mark II. The blade is different though, being straight and only single-sided. A good condition Gerber Command II just sold on eBay for about $110 if I remember right. That’s cheaper than a similar condition Mark II would go for, but my feeling is, if you’re spending that much already you might as well get the real thing.

Here is a link to info on both the imitations, and the Gerber Command knife.

NOTE – The Gerber Mark II is also used in the movie Aliens. It’s the knife Bishop uses to do his “knife trick” on Bill Paxton’s hand.