Updated Nov.1, 2003
Bayonet Points #13 - November, 2003
Backcuts and Runouts
In some of the sections covering the newer bayonets, especially the M7, I commented on the shape of the section where the bevel of the true edge blends into the blade at the ricasso. Generally collectors call this area the backcut, the military term (at least recently) is runout.
General wisdom in the past has been that the backcut is at a nearly 90 degree angle to the true edge. Any other angle, especially a long sloping cut, has been very suspect and generally has been felt to indicate a commercial item rather than military issue.
For the M4, M5 and M5A1 (with the notable exception of the J&D Tool made specimens as shown in Bayonet Points #5), and M6 (other than the AN specimens) this is probably still true as the military specifications called for a runout of this shape.
Recently I was able to obtain a copy of the latest specifications for the M7 bayonet (which is still being ordered from time to time). This specification sheet shows a curved runout, with a note stating: "Configuration of runout may vary - Sharp corner not permissible." This change shows a revision date of July 1, 1974 which means that all M7 bayonets contracted for following that date will have a runout with a curved shape, or at least a curved corner. This would include bayonets made by General Cutlery, Imperial, and Ontario. So now the collector, finding a M7 by one of these makers with a curved or sloped runout will not be able to determine if it is military issue or commercial production. Just another tribulation for the bayonet collector.
This revision also apparently deletes the requirement for the cutouts in the tang, which was another area that some of us used to try to determine if a bayonet was military issue or not.
A part of the current specification drawing for the M7 bayonet, with the Note 4 indicating that the runout cannot have a sharp corner.
Also note the lack of cutouts in the tang and the location of the hardness testing. The blade was to be hardened to Rockwell C 47 to C 53, and the tang to Rockwell C 40 to C 47. There is also a note that states: Hone keen edge after final finish, indicating that the blade was sharpened following parkerizing. The width of the sharpening was not to exceed 0.062 inch.
A Rockwell hardness test mark on the ricasso of a BOC M7 bayonet. This mark is often covered by the guard and not visible. According to a source from a recent manufacturer, the mark on the blade was usually obscured as final finishing was done after the testing was complete.
In this photo are 4 different M7s with varying runouts. The left is fairly sharp, the second has a small radius in the corner, the third is curved and the fourth is sloped. It is likely that the first two are military issue and the others are commercial.
M1905 Bayonets Being Sold By IMA
Recently International Military Antiques, Inc. sold some bayonets advertised as:
Long 16" U.S. Garand Rifle Bayonets.
Long U.S. Garand Rifle Bayonets with Black parade finish and black plastic grips.
I have had several people email me about these bayonets, and have already seen a few appear on eBay. In my opinion they are reproductions, possibly made in the area of India/Pakistan where they have been making reproductions of other bayonets and swords for many years.
My thanks to Dick Newcomer who was kind enough to send one of these for my examination and sold it to me for my reference collection. It is marked with the standard US and Ordnance Shell and Flame, but the maker is M.D.C.O, obviously a fantasy item.
One of the giveaways of these bayonets is a mark on the other side of the ricasso from the maker marks - a poor copy of the Ordnance Escutcheon that is found on some of the early M1905 bayonets made in 1942. This is sometimes called the crossed cannon mark, and on US made bayonets is often lightly stamped and hard to read. The mark on the IMA version is deeper and distinctly different from the regular mark.
A detailed photo of the M.D.C.O Bayonet sold by IMA. The internal design is similar to the US made M1905, but is cruder and shows evidence of quite a bit of hand fitting. Note the number 50 on the tang and grips. The inset in the upper right shows the spurious Ordnance Escutcheon mark. The finish on this specimen was dark blue, most of which has been worn/polished off.
There have been 4 different markings reported to me so far on these bayonets. Two are fantasy markings, the M.D.C.O in an oval mark just shown and a U.S.M.C. mark also in an oval.
The USMC mark.
The other two are copies of regular US marks, PAL and OL. The PAL mark is fairly crude and should not be confused by anyone familiar with the standard marking. The oval around the PAL is closer to a circle, and the A in PAL is a totally different shape.
The PAL mark compared to a known correct mark
The OL marking however is closer to the real thing and could be confusing. There are some minor differences when compared carefully, but nothing that really stands out by itself. Things such as the detailing in the flames, the shape and thickness of the line in the letters, and the 1 in 1942 can be seen to be different.
The OL mark compared to a known correct mark
Fortunately, at least on the ones I have seen, the reproduction of the Ordnance Escutcheon mark is so distinctive that there ought to be no problem in detecting the fakes.
Some Personal Notes
In closing this month I would just like to make a few personal comments on my own collecting interests and background. Having just turned 62, I have begun to reflect a little more on what I have done rather than what I will be doing. Not that I intend giving up collecting or studying, but I find that I will have to be more selective in what I do.
For most of my collecting life I have not been a real specialist in bayonets. For over 40 years I collected many areas of US militaria, beginning with the firearms but later including uniforms, insignia, marksmanship badges, accouterments, web gear, etc. Most of these interests did not go very deep, but I had a lot of odds and ends in each field. I now in some ways regret that I did not specialize more, but I enjoyed looking for all those odds and ends at the flea markets and shows.
I tend to be interested in militaria for its historical association, rather than as a specific field of collecting. That is, I have more interest in those items that actually saw field use than I do in those that were experimental or not field/combat used. I also tend to be more interested in items that show honest wear and use than those that are in perfect condition. I like items the most that I have gotten directly from the veteran and that have a "history".
When I was young, my scoutmaster was a serious collector of Harpers Ferry arms, and he started my interest in Civil War history and the weapons of that conflict. The Civil War became my first (and still very strong) interest in collecting and history. From that grew an interest in the Infantry and the desire to collect items connected with the US Infantry of all time periods. One of my collecting goals when I was younger was to have examples of the primary infantry weapons of each of the wars the US had participated in (ending with the Korean) as well as the appropriate accessories and accouterments for them. Although I never totally reached that goal, I came reasonably close. Most of the firearms had to go some years back when my mother's health failed and the bills began to pile up, but I tried to keep the bayonets and some of the other items, especially the Civil War items.
Afterward it was obvious that I would never be able to replace the firearms collection due to a limited budget. As I had always had some interest in bayonets, and they were still relatively available and not too expensive, (which has rapidly changed in the past 5 or 10 years), I decided to add to that collection. My interest in bayonets covers the entire field from the early US socket models to the current issue ones, with greater personal interest in the Civil War and WW1-WW2. Many collectors specialize in one model or period, and know a great deal more than me about their particular area of interest. I am more of a generalist rather than a specialist, in bayonet collecting as well as the other areas that I have collected in the past. More recently I have been trying to build a larger reference collection to include many of the slight variations that I paid little or no attention to some years ago. Part of my goal in that is to be able to illustrate these differences to newer collectors in this column and pass on the information that so many others have shared with me over the years.
Finances and ongoing health problems (not life threatening but debilitating and somewhat expensive) have dictated that I have to slow down and severely limit my collecting activities. My work and other necessary activities may require that I spend less time in this hobby, and possibly in writing. I hope all of you will bear with me, as I sometimes am not able to answer your emails as promptly as I would wish. Be assured that I appreciate hearing from you and will look forward to your comments and questions.
E-mail me at email@example.com
To purchase a signed copy of Gary's awesome book, American Military Bayonets of the 20th Century click here American Bayonets Book
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