Modern bayonets still useful


Ed Straker
February 14, 2003, 05:57 AM
Modern bayonets still useful Friday, February 14, 2003 - Vladimir Ilyich Lenin once described the bayonet as "a weapon with a worker at each end," but the Russian revolutionary's rhetoric has never dulled the U.S. Marines' ardor for cold steel.
Marines have carried bayonets since Capt. Samuel Nicholas, first Marine commandant, recruited the first Jarhead in Tun Tavern in Philadelphia, where the Corps was born on Nov. 10, 1775.
Modern-day leathernecks still consider bayonets useful - even in an era of laser-guided bombs and other high-tech gadgetry, because when all is said and done, it's still the infantry that has to take the high ground and hold it.
So committed is the Corps to the bayonet that it recently ordered 120,000 of an improved version to put on the end of its M16A2 rifles.
To Marines, a bayonet is more than a parade-ground ornament. All Marines, no matter what their military specialty, learn rudimentary infantry skills, including intensive bayonet instruction to instill confidence and a fighting spirit.
The bayonet originated in 17th century France and has been attached to military firearms ever since - even in post-revolutionary Russia, Lenin notwithstanding.
The deadly accuracy of the rifled musket in the American Civil War and the meatgrinder machine guns of World War I relegated bayonet charges to acts of desperation. That doesn't make bayonets a useless accoutrement, however.
As firearms and other weapons improved, bayonets got shorter, from a 16-inch blade on the U.S. Model 1905 bayonet to the Vietnam-era M7 with a 6 5/8-inch blade. Today's U.S. M16A2 rifle is shorter and lighter than the 9.5-pound M1 Garand of yesteryear, but still can be used effectively with a bayonet
The new bayonet the leathernecks ordered from Ontario Knife Co. of Franklinville, N.Y., has an 8-inch blade that is wider and stouter than bayonets for the M16. It also has a sharper point and serrations to penetrate body armor and an improved handle for use as a fighting knife. (Kinder and gentler just ain't in the Marine vocabulary.)
Marine recruits now are taught enhanced knife-fighting in addition to traditional bayonet drill. Today's ground troops are likely to encounter close- quarter combat situations where a good fighting knife might come in handy - from dense tropical jungles to built-up urban settings or fortified tunnel complexes in the mountains of Afghanistan, where noisy gunfire may not be desirable.
The need for a better bayonet and fighting knife also is a sobering reminder that real war, where the Marines and other armed forces members put their lives on the line for us, is not a video game.
Modern Marines have readily embraced new technologies that enhance their combat capabilities, but they still insist troops know how to shoot - and fix bayonets when the ammo runs out.
We'll salute that!

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Ed Straker
February 14, 2003, 05:59 AM,1413,36%257E73%257E1178194,00.html

February 14, 2003, 06:41 AM
Click here for the VERY BEST use of a Baonet. ( Yes the bayonet is still quite useful. There are other links from that page that will be quite enlightening on how to use firearm related devices and accessories.


Don Gwinn
February 14, 2003, 10:17 AM
Waitwaitwaitwaitwait . . . . new, improved bayonet? I didn't know that. Made by Ontario? That sounds good.

Not sure I buy the part about serrations to penetrate body armor, but I suppose they might cut through soft kevlar fibers faster than a straight edge.

That "Phrobis" $110 M9 bayonet never impressed me much, so I hope this is something better.

EDIT: Never mind. Same design. Maybe a better steel or treatment? Ontario makes pretty good knives. Or maybe the author just doesn't realize that they've been using that M9 design for, what, like 15 years? Maybe 20?

February 15, 2003, 07:23 PM
Not really a big fan of hollow handles myself (with the exception of Chris Reeves' knives.) That shortend tang attached to the handle seems a serious weakpoint to me.

From what I understand, the very early M9's had problems with metallurgy. The breaks weren't occurring at the tang/handle junction as one might expect, but the blades themselve were breaking across the width about the middle of the blade. It was a long time ago that I saw pictures of them. Hopefully, that has been corrected.

February 18, 2003, 10:27 PM
Bah. The M9 sucks majorly.

Don't get me wrong. The spear is my favorite manual weapon, and the bayonet was designed to give the user a spear when his weapon was "dry". I'll practice with it, just 'cuz I like it.

Unfortunately, that does not mean that bayonets have much utility. Bayonet drill is taught as an aggression and confidence exercise. Wait, here it is: "to instill confidence and a fighting spirit".

Or, you COULD say, "time better spent elsewhere/funds better spent elsewhere".

Joe Demko
February 20, 2003, 02:14 PM
Of course bayonets have utility. They are good, for example, for keeping charging cavalry from riding right over you.

February 21, 2003, 05:41 PM
The bayonet may be next to obsolete when compared to a smart bomb, but it is still a useful weapon when compared to another bayonet.

February 21, 2003, 06:16 PM
? That almost sounds right. The fact is, firearms are the preferred weapons of todays battlefield because they are easy to learn, and can kill at a distance. Killing at a distance is preferred because, as Lynn Thompson said, "Proximity negates skill." US forces are invariably more skilled than their opponents, therefore we want to engage them outside their effective range. Even the "elite" US special ops operators will not deliberately choose bayonets, as they are a desperation weapon only.

Bayonet charges at US troops in the past century led to wholesale slaughter of the attackers. No, the US troops weren't mowing them down with bayonets.

As much as I distrust the M16 family of weapons, they are still more than reliable enough to do the job, and further, the individual rifleman has little chance of actually even firing (much less, closing to contact distance with a live foe) at the enemy. By far the heaviest casualties are inflicted by arty and air.

John, 11C (mortarman)
M224 60mm mortar: 3,500 meters max range
M252 81mm mortar: 5,800 meters max
M120 120mm mortar: 7,200 meters max

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