Gary Cunningham's

Bayonet Point's

Updated March 1, 2004

Bayonet Points #17 - March, 2004

The US Bayonet-Knife, M4 (First Production 1944-45)
Part Two

Below is a very short history of each of the companies that manufactured the M4, usually compiled from the company website when they have one. Kinfolks no longer exists, and Frank Trzaska has been kind enough to provide a summary of that company. The knife division of Pal closed in 1953, but the original parent company continues to exist as American Safety Razor.

Included with each maker is a photo that shows the various elements of a M4 that they produced - the grip, the runout of the blade, the guard markings, and the butt plate showing the style of tang peen. It must be remembered the one shown is a single specimen from my reference collection and there are undoubtedly some differences on earlier or later production. If you have a specimen that differs in some respect, donít automatically assume that one or the other is wrong, as there may be differences within the production of even a single company.

Also included is a table showing the contracts given to each company for production of the M4, and an estimate of the total number delivered. This number is not totally accurate, as there were cancellations due to the end of the war and it is not certain how many were actually delivered against some of the last contracts. It is reasonably accurate however, and can be used to give the collector an idea of how common a maker may be or the relative rarity of one maker compared to another.

 

Makers

  1. The Aerial Cutlery Company, Marinette, Wisconsin
  2. The following information comes mostly from their website at:

    http://www.aerialcompany.com/thecompany.asp

    The Aerial Cutlery Company was founded in 1912 by Fred Jaeger, Sr., who had been working as a knife salesman based in Duluth, Minnesota. He bought a knife company located in Morris, Illinois and had the operation relocated to Duluth. The Aerial name was chosen to honor a Duluth landmark, the Aerial Bridge. It was a symbol for the "high ideals, lofty aspirations, and quality products" that he envisioned for his company.

    In 1913 the company was moved to Marinette, Wisconsin. Aerial began as a knife and cutlery company with a large line of knives with pictures such as nature and wildlife scenes carved into their handles. The company was a major supplier to Sears Roebuck, and also made custom designed knives. In the 1920's, Aerial was actively involved in selling barber supplies including straight razors, shears, sharpening strops and hones. During the depression days of the 1930's, Aerial began distributing a variety of other goods to keep the company alive during some very lean years, selling radios, fishing equipment, jewelry and silverware as well as their cutlery line.

    During World War II, Aerial did its part to support the war efforts by manufacturing pocketknives, bayonets and military trench knives. Thousands were produced by Aerial for the Armed Forces and Aerial was honored with the prestigious Army-Navy E Award for outstanding effort and contribution.

    Fred (Fritz) Jaeger, Jr. officially joined the family company in 1952. With a Bachelor's Degree in mechanical engineering, one of his first major tasks was designing bayonets for NATO. In 1960, eight years after Fritz Jaeger, Jr. joined the family company, the decision was made to go exclusively into distribution of beauty and barber supplies, and remains in that business today.

     

    bp16-acc.JPG (158985 bytes)

     

    There are two different markings used by Aerial. The one shown in this photo is the first style, and for some time was the subject of some speculation. During World War One, bolo knives made by the American Cutlery Company of Chicago were marked ACC. In some sources the M3 knives and M4 bayonets so marked were identified as being made by American Cutlery, and it was not until fairly recent years that it was determined that this was in fact an alternate marking used by Aerial Cutlery. This one has the first type plate, and the grip is made using washers of different diameters.

     

    bp16-aerial.JPG (169347 bytes)

     

    This one is unusual to me in that the Aerial markings are very crude looking (note the normal style of marking in the upper left inset that I borrowed from an auction listing). I have seen one or two others with similar markings but don't know the reason for the difference. It is a later production specimen with the 2nd type plate and V grooved grip.

     

    Production contracts for Aerial were:

    Quantity

    Price

    Award Date

    Contract #

    Finish Date

    Notes

    30,921

    2.2308

    07/12/1944

    W11-022-ORD-474

    12/1944

    Conversion of M3 to M4 production

    18,000

    2.2308

    10/30/1944

    W11-022-ORD-5699

    06/1945

    New Award

    26,977

    2.2808

    12/20/1944

    W11-022-ORD-5720

    06/1945

    New Award

    16,000

    2.2808

    03/05/1945

    W11-022-ORD-5720

    11/1945

    Additional Award to Previous Contract

    6,091

    2.2308

    03/24/1945

    W11-022-ORD-7907

    12/1945

    New Award

    Believed Cancelled

    13,000

    2.0300

    07/28/1945

    W11-022-ORD-9320

    04/1946

    New Award

    Cancelled 08/1945

    Approximate number delivered by Aerial: 91,898

     

  3. The Camillus Cutlery Company, Camillus, New York
  4. Camillus has a long and rich history as a cutlery manufacturer. The information here is a very short summary of a much more detailed history that can be found at:

    http://www.camillusknives.com/1mainframe.htm under the history section.

    Charles Sherwood started a small penknife factory in Camillus, New York circa 1894. In1902, Sherwood's small facility had 20 cutlers who were turning out about 15 different patterns, when it was bought by Adolph Kastor. Kastor owned a large cutlery business in New York City where he imported German made knives. The Dingley Tariff of 1897 drove the price of imported steel products up to the point where they could not compete with domestically made knives, so Kastor decided to purchase a knife company and make his own products.

    Kastor expanded the company and introduced the German method of cutlery manufacture to speed up production. By 1910 the company had 200 employees and was producing over 900,000 knives per year. Many German cutlers came to the company and Camillus built a dormitory for them and assisted them in bringing their families to the US if they proved to be good and productive workers.

    During World War One, Camillus supplied over 470,000 knives to the US, Canada, England and Holland. These included such diverse items as marlin spike knives, surgical scalpels, and a folding knife/spoon combination for the Red Cross to distribute to US troops.

    During the 1920s and 30s, Camillus expanded their line to include a very diverse line of character knives such as Buck Rogers, Babe Ruth, and George Washington. They also went into making a broad line of private line knives for such companies as Sears, Woolworth, and Simmons Hardware.

    During World War Two Camillus produced a very large number of knives of all sorts for the US military, including (according to a 1951 company history) 1,955,024 fighting/utility knives, 247,380 fishing knives, 698,020 sailor knives, 1,711,012 Army and Navy utility pocketknives, 2,564,220 four blade Navy and Coast Guard knives, 38,146 Navy marlin spike knives, 3,282,988 Engineers knives, 2,183,136 Electricians knives, 1,042,040 Army Air Corps 3 blade utility knives, and 855,472 kitchen and cooking knives. The best known to today's collectors are the M3 knife, the M4 bayonet, the Marine Raider Stiletto, Mark 1 and Mark 2 Navy sheath knives, and the USMC Fighting/Utility Knife. They received the Army-Navy E for Excellence award with 3 stars for their efforts.

    Following WW2, Camillus continued to produce an expanding line of belt and pocket knives both for the commercial market and military use. Among others, Camillus has produced the stainless steel pocket knife, the Jet Pilot's knife, the MC-1 switchblade parachute knife, and the Fighting/Utility knife.

    Thanks to Tom Williams, the Company Historian, we know a great deal about Camillus and their contributions to the military efforts of the US. Those of us who are collectors of military knives owe a great debt of gratitude to Tom and the Camillus Company.

    Tom has supplied us with the Camillus specification sheets from their WW2 production, and from these sheets, we know where they obtained each component.

    Blade Blank: Camillus production
    Guard: Square Stamping Company
    Grip Leather Washers: Simplex Manufacturing Company, Auburn, Mass.
    Grip Plastic Washers: Beckwith Manufacturing Company, Dover, New Hampshire
    Butt Plate Assemblies: Standard Products Company, Port Clinton, Ohio
    Parkerizing Materials (Parko Powder): Parker Rust-proof Company
    Ordnance Wrapping Paper: Dennison Manufacturing Company
    Paperboard Shipping Boxes: Central Paper Box Company
    Cook Box and Lumber Company
    Delavans Company
    Specialty Paper Box Company
    Wooden Packing Boxes: Syracuse Shipping Case Company

     

     

    bp16-camillus.JPG (174439 bytes)

     

    This is a standard production Camillus made before the switch was made to the second type butt in February 1945. Grip is the normal 6 groove with the V shape. Note the dark brown plastic spacers at both ends of the grip, and that the spacer at the butt is notched to allow the catch retaining pin to be removed. The Ordnance Shell and Flame inspection and acceptance mark is on the opposite side of the lower guard from the Model and Manufacturers mark and is shown in the inset in the upper left.

     

    Production contracts for Camillus were:

    Quantity

    Price

    Award Date

    Contract #

    Finish Date

    Notes

    224,893

    2.37

    08/26/1944

    W30-115-ORD-1155

    01/1945

    First Award to Camillus

    50,000

    2.37

    10/12/1944

    W30-115-ORD-1676

    07/1945

    New Award

    105,107

    2.15

    12/20/1944

    W30-115-ORD-1676

    07/1945

    Addition to above Award

    (47,302)

    2.15

    12/20/1944

    W30-115-ORD-1676

    07/1945

    Cancelled from above Award

    Approximate number delivered by Camillus: 332,698

     

  5. W.R. Case & Sons Cutlery Company, Bradford, Pennsylvania
  6. Certainly one of the best known cutlery companies in the US and possibly the world, Case needs little introduction to most collectors. The Case family has been involved in a great many other knife and cutlery companies and it can be somewhat confusing as to who owned what.

    The following is a very brief history mostly abstracted from their history on the Internet at:

    http://www.wrcase.com/history/TIMELINETEST.htm

    J. Russell Case formed W.R. Case and Son Cutlery Company in Little Valley, NY in 1902, and in 1904 the name was changed to W.R. Case and Sons Cutlery Company. In 1905, the company was moved to a new facility on Bank Street in Bradford, PA.

    Over the years, Case purchased a number of other smaller companies and added such things as razors to their product line. During World War One, Case produced 81,667 Jack knives for the US military a price of $0.3949 each.

    W.R. Case & Sons Cutlery Company had outgrown the Bank Street facility, which had housed the company since 1905. A new facility was built on Russell Boulevard in Bradford, PA. Ironically the move to the new facility took place on the same day as the famous stock market crash which signaled the beginning of the Great Depression.

    Dec. 7th, 1941 the administrative staff moved into new office spaces. The two-story brick office building had a courtyard in the center, which later became a conference room on the upper floor. The shipping department was located on the ground floor. This day was remembered by all, since the attack on Pearl Harbor that brought the US into World War Two happened during the move.

    During World War 2 Case produced the M3 knife, the M4 bayonet, the V-42 Stiletto, the 6 inch "Quartermaster" knife and many others. The Case name has always added a certain amount of interest to these military knives as Case is widely collected on its own. Generally, a Case made M3 or M3 seems to sell at a slight premium over most of the other makers even though a couple of the others are actually rarer.

    Case continues in business today. They opened a new plant in South Bradford, PA in 1975 and moved all production to that plant in 1986. The company has purchased a number of times in the past 30 years, most recently by Zippo Manufacturing.

     

    bp16-case.JPG (164948 bytes)

     

    Typical Case production M4 Bayonet. Note the domed catch retaining pins indicating production prior to February 1945. Case used an unusual semi-cylindrical tang peen unlike any of the other makers. The grooves in the grip are also shallower and narrower than most of the other makers used. The Ordnance Shell and Flame mark is on the underside of the lower guard and is shown in the inset. It should also be noted that the guard is not up tight against the blade ricasso, although it is quite tight and appears to have been made this way.

    Production contracts for Case were:

    Quantity

    Price

    Award Date

    Contract #

    Finish Date

    Notes

    83,474

    2.484

    07/15/1944

    W36-061-ORD-1013

    12/1944

    First Award to Case

    44,231

    2.4357

    11/17/1944

    W36-061-ORD-588

    11/1944

    Converted from M3 to M4

    97,059

    2.425

    01/02/1945

    W36-061-ORD-1879

    07/1945

    New Award

    Approximate number delivered by Case: 224,764

     

  7. Imperial Knife Company, Inc., Providence, Rhode Island
  8. Imperial and Schrade Cutlery have combined and now are called Schrade Cutlery - Imperial Schrade Corporation. A short history can be found at: http://www.schradeknives.com/about.htm

    The Imperial Knife Company was established in Providence, Rhode Island in 1916, and grew to manufacture a full range of value-priced folding pocket knives.

    In 1941, Albert M. Baer, whose vision guided Imperial Schrade Corp., purchased the Ulster Knife Company, which was founded in Ellenville, New York in the 1870's. In 1942, Ulster Knife Company and Imperial Knife Company joined forces to become Imperial Knife Associated Companies. As Ulster and Imperial joined forces, they committed themselves to producing knives for the military throughout World War II.

    During the 1950s through the 1980s, Imperial produced many of the bayonets supplied to the US armed forces, including the M5, M5A1, M6 and M7. Imperial Knife experienced extremely strong growth throughout the late 70's. As Imperial Knife entered the 80's, a consolidation took place and the company divested itself of various holdings.

    In 1983, Albert M. Baer purchased the stock of all shareholders in Imperial Knife Associated Companies and became the sole owner of the privately held cutlery giant. In 1985, the name of the company was changed from Imperial Knife Associated Companies to Imperial Schrade Corp. and in the next few years all of the production facilities were moved to Ellenville, NY.

    In 2004, Imperial Schrade Corp. will celebrate its 100th anniversary. The Imperial Schrade Corps world headquarters in scenic Ellenville, New York has more than 548,000 square feet of manufacturing space and employs more than 450 people dedicated to producing the world's finest pocket knives, lock backs, fixed blades, cutlery for the outdoor and hunting markets and multi-tools. Additionally, as part of their global strategy, Schrade's manufacturing assets include the Listowel, Ireland facility which employs over 70 people.

     

    bp16-imperial.JPG (149416 bytes)

     

    A fairly late production Imperial M4 bayonet with the Hemphill Products butt plate. The staked pins show this to be post February 1945 production. Imperial used a very sharp 90 degree corner in their runout, unlike most companies that used a slight curve in the corner. The finish on Imperial M4 bayonets tends to be a thin and light gray color. Note the deep V grooves of the grip, and the use of plastic spacers at each end. An earlier Standard Products plate is shown in the inset at upper left, from another Imperial M4.

    Production contracts for Imperial were:

    Quantity

    Price

    Award Date

    Contract #

    Finish Date

    Notes

    356,588

    2.36

    06/27/1944

    W19-020-ORD-2480

    12/1944

    First Award for the M4 Bayonet

    180,000

    2.24

    10/17/1944

    W19-020-ORD-3621

    06/1945

    New Award

    304,806

    2.07

    01/02/1945

    W19-020-ORD-4104

    08/1945

    New Award

    76,500

    2.19

    03/29/1945

    W19-020-ORD-4626

    06/1945

    New Award. Price Increase due to butt subcontractor price increase (Hemphill?)

    109,100

    1.94

    04/24/1945

    W19-020-ORD-5184

    Start 9/45

    End 12/45

    New Award
    Probably Terminated

    Approximate number delivered by Imperial: 917,894

     

  9. Kinfolks, Inc., Little Valley, New York
  10. The company name is derived from the fact that the founding officers were all cousins. All were also from the Case family tree hence the name Kinfolks. The company was originally formed in Little Valley, New York in 1927 under the direction of J. Russell Case, Dean J. Case and Tint Champlin. Tint Champlin served as the first president of Kinfolks Inc in 1927 but was soon replaced in that office by Dean J. Case in 1929 for reasons unknown. In 1930 Dean J. Case purchased out the other members and asked his father Jean Case, to enter the business with him.

    The firm produced mainly fixed blade hunting knives to be sold by Case and Cattaraugus dealers, it was an inexpensive brand name to handle. Although they did produce folding knives the line was very small, a Kinfolks folding knife is fairly rare to find these days. Another marking the company produced was Jean Case or J. Case for Dean's father.

    During WW II the company produced many sheath knives for the military, most being the 6" fixed blade hunting knives. They were usually fitted with a stylized leather scabbard with the Kinfolks Inc. logo stamped into the front. Kinfolks also made the Army Air Force machete survival knife now known mistakenly as the V-44. Along with these knives were the M3 Trench Knife and M4 bayonets we are discussing here today. The company officially ceased production in 1957.

    One of the early employees was a fellow named Emerson Case. Emerson went on to run the Robeson Shuredge factory for Saul Frankel after Mr. Frankel purchased the company upon Millard Robeson's death in 1940. Sticking with his roots Emerson Case purchased the bankrupt name of Kinfolks in November 1957. The Kinfolks name was used by Robeson until circa 1965 when it was discontinued. The name was later purchased by Parker Knife Collector Service in 1993 and used on special edition knives.

     

    bp16-kinfolks.JPG (153029 bytes)

     

    This is an early production M4 by Kinfolks. Note that the 6 square grooves in the grip are made by using washers of different diameters. Also, the spacing of the grooves is the same as used in the 8 groove grip of the M3 knife, leaving more space on each end than normal. Slightly later production used 3 washers between the grooves instead of the 2 in this specimen, which spaced the grooves to a more normal M4 pattern.

     

    Production contracts for Kinfolks were:

    Quantity

    Price

    Award Date

    Contract #

    Finish Date

    Notes

    40,053`

    2.2749

    08/26/1944

    W30-115-ORD-1156

    12/1944

    New Award

    9,202

    2.2749

    09/11/1944

    W740-115-ORD-3570

    12/1944

    M3 contract converted to M4

    16,000

    2.2935

    10/12/1944

    W30-115-ORD-1675

    04/1945

    New Award

    34,447

    2.268

    01/22/1945

    W30-115-ORD-1857

    05/1945

    New Award

    20,000

    2.268

    02/16/1945

    W30-115-ORD-1857

    06/1945

    Addition to above contract

    20,300

    2.284

    04/03/1945

    W30-115-ORD-1857

    09/45 to 12/45

    Addition to above
    - terminated

    21,000

    2.1924

    07/26/1945

    W30-115-ORD-1857

    01/46 to 04/46

    Addition to above
    - terminated

    Approximate number delivered by Kinfolks: 119,702

     

  11. Pal Blade Company, Holyoke, Massachusetts

Pal began as a kitchen cutlery maker in Plattsburgh, New York about 1931. The company expanded to make razor blades by 1939 under their trade name of Personna Blade Company, and also made blades for Gillette and Gem. In 1941 the company purchased the cutlery tooling and machinery of Remington, and set up a new factory in Holyoke. They continued to make many of the Remington patterns and also developed a line of their own in both hunting knives and pocketknives.

During World War 2 the company made the M3 knife, the M1 bayonet, the M4 bayonet, and some pocketknives such as the TL-29. They also made the Navy Mark 1 and Mark 2 sheath knives. They also supplied the military with millions of razor blades from their Plattsburgh factory. Their RH-36 pattern (Remington Hunting, Pattern 3, 6 inch blade) was purchased in large quantities by the military and sold to servicemen through the Army PX system.

Following the war they continued to make a line of commercial knives, but by 1953 the machinery was effectively worn out, and it was decided to close the factory. Pal Blade Company of Plattsburgh was acquired by American Safety Razor in 1953. They continued to manufacture razor blades, and remain in business and make Personna and Bic razors and other products today under the American Safety Razor (ASR) company name.

 

bp16-pal.JPG (163719 bytes)

 

A standard Pal M4 made prior to February 1945. The Ordnance Shell and Flame acceptance mark is on the underside of the guard and is poorly struck and hard to see in this specimen. Like many of the others, Pal used the plastic spacers at each end of the grip.

 

Production contracts for Pal Blade were:

Quantity

Price

Award Date

Contract #

Finish Date

Notes

52,880

2.32

07/11/1944

W19-059-ORD-1498

02/1945

New Award

66,589

2.32

10/21/1944

W19-059-ORD-1098

12/1944

M3 contract converted to M4

100,531

2.245

12/16/1944

W19-059-ORD-2304

04/1945

New Award

48,000

2.245

01/22/1945

W19-059-ORD-2304

05/1945

Additional award to above contract

Approximate number delivered by Pal: 268,000

 

7. Utica Cutlery Company, Utica, New York

Utica Cutlery now shows three divisions and websites. They are (information taken from their individual websites):

The Utica Cutlery Company Ė Utica Stainless. Established in Utica, New York in 1910, Utica Cutlery Company has been providing quality stainless steel housewares products to consumers since its inception. Our focus is and has always been to provide consumers with quality stainless steel products such as flatware, cookware, bakeware and cutlery

Walco Stainless division of Utica Cutlery. The Walco name is synonymous with quality, dependability and service in the Hotel and Institutional trades. With over 50 years of history the Walco team has serviced the industry with products which have met strict specifications within tasteful and contemporary design. Currently Walco is an independent division selling to the Hotel-Restaurant Industry. Walco Stainless has proven to be a great success to Utica Cutlery Company and an asset to the Tableware Industry.

Kutmaster division of Utica Cutlery. For nearly 90 years KutMaster has been a leading manufacturer of top quality knives and specialty tools for outdoor and household use. Through the years, we've continued to produce innovative products that meet the demanding performance requirements of serious outdoorsmen, "Do-It-Yourself" handymen, and professional tradesmen around the world.

Utica was formed by a group of Utica businessmen in 1910, and opened their plant at 820 Noyes Street, where they are still located today. The first products produced by Utica were pocketknives, which remain their prime product today. Over the years they have also produced hunting knives and a line of tableware.

During World War Two, Utica produced the M3 knife, the M4 bayonet, the M1905 and M1 bayonets, and the TL-29 Lineman's Knife and the Lineman's Pliers. Later, they made the M5 bayonet, the Fighting/Utility Knife and the Jet Pilot Knife.

 

bp16-utica.JPG (185256 bytes)

 

The photo shows a Utica M4 that has been through a rebuild. The blade finish is a fairly dark and somewhat granular Parkerizing. The guard and butt have been painted with a low gloss black enamel. The grip has been coated with a clear finish with a slightly black tone. The guard is on upside down, with the markings being on the grip side instead of the blade side. Whether this was done at the time of manufacture, or during the rebuild, is unknown. Note that the tang peen is very crude, indicating the butt plate was probably removed at one time. A view of the normal guard marking and tang peen are shown in the insets. There are plastic spacers at each end of the grip washers. I am not certain that the US military did the work, as the M4 bayonet has been in the service of many nations.

 

Production contracts for Utica were:

Quantity

Price

Award Date

Contract #

Finish Date

Notes

242,112

2.18

08/11/1944

W30-115-ORD-1157

12/1944

New Award

180,000

2.081

10/12/1944

W30-115-ORD-1674

09/1945

New Award

92,888

2.141

12/05/1944

W740-ORD-3450

12/44

M3 Contract converted to M4

70,000

2.04

03/30/1945

W30-115-ORD-1674

10/1945 to

12/45

Additional Award to Second Contract
Believed Cancelled

332,500

Flex

04/27/1945

W115-115-ORD-1674

09/1945

Price Flexible depending on amount produced

204,000

Flex

07/05/1945

W115-115-ORD-1674

09/1945

Price Flexible depending on amount produced

312,760

1.98

07/27/1945

W115-115-ORD-1674

01/1946 to 04/46

Additional 108,760 pieces to be delivered Terminated with no deliveries

Approximate number delivered by Utica: 515,000

 

It is hard to tell exactly how many were actually delivered as Utica was to be the prime supplier of the M4 and their contracts were extended and then blanket cancelled about the 1st of September 1945 with the end of the war. Some parts of the contracts were totally terminated and some other sections partially depending on what had been delivered against the contracts as of blanket cancellation.


Total Production Figures

Totals by all contractors based on the above figures would be:

Aerial Cutlery Company

91,898

Camillus Cutlery Company

332,698

W.R. Case & Sons Cutlery Co. Inc.

224,764

Imperial Knife Company Inc.

917,894

Kinfolks, Inc.

119,702

Pal Blade Company

268,000

Utica Cutlery Company

515,000

Total all makers

2,469,956

 

The above tables and numbers are from a publication titled first the Digest of Significant Purchase Actions (Army Service Forces, Ordnance Department) and later the Register of Prices Paid for Small Arms Items (Small Arms Branch, Industrial Division). This publication (available from Frank by clicking on the above title, as is almost every source mentioned here) can be a little confusing, as it does not show quantities that were cancelled as the war ended. In the case of the M4, it is more accurate for prices and order quantities than numbers actually delivered.

 

According to the book; 
United States Army Edged Weapons Report

Bayonets, Knives & Scabbards
1917 through 1945
the total delivered was 2,260,519. The lower number may reflect end of the war cancellations not accounted for in the above tables. As with so many smaller Ordnance items, there are conflicting numbers depending on what source is used and we may never be sure of exactly how many were made and delivered. This reference shows the following breakdown of M4 bayonets delivered by month:

1944

 

1945

 

July

500

January

269,271

August

33,709

February

228,370

September

136,463

March

229,145

October

195,257

April

247,695

November

238,623

May

196,025

December

285,771

June

88,501

   

July

73,024

   

August

38,165

 

It should be noted that the total production of M4 bayonets, regardless of which of the two above totals is more correct, did not approach even 50% of the total number of M1, M1A1 and M2 carbines that were made (circa 6,000,000). This would help explain the number of bayonets later made both in the USA and for and by countries all around the world.

 

Scabbards

(I covered the scabbards rather fully in Bayonet Points #6, and those who have a serious interest are invited to read that section.) http://www.usmilitaryknives.com/bayo_points_6.htm

 

bp16-m8a1.JPG (187712 bytes)

 

Above and left - Early production Scabbard, Bayonet-Knife, M8A1

Below and right - Later production Scabbard, Bayonet-Knife, M8A1

 

The proper scabbard for the Bayonet-Knife, M4 was the Scabbard, Bayonet-Knife, M8A1, all of which were manufactured by the Victory Plastics Division of the Beckwith Manufacturing Company. Early production (until about the beginning of 1945) of the scabbard used the earlier throat marking of U.S. M8 over B.M.CO. By early 1945 the marking was changed to U.S.M8A1 over B.M.CO. There are no other significant differences in this scabbard. The earlier Scabbard, Trench Knife, M8 (similar to the above but without the double hook belt attachment) may have also been used, but was out of production by the time the M4 went into production.

The scabbard was supplied by the Ordnance Department as Government Free Issue to each maker, who packed it with the bayonet. Packing was one bayonet and one scabbard in a pasteboard box.

 

Rubber Handled M4s

Rubberpr.jpg (48196 bytes)

 

It has long been stated that the M4 with a molded rubber grip was an attempt by the US military to provide a replacement grip for those M4 bayonets whose leather handles had deteriorated due to being exposed to damp conditions such as found in the Philippines.

They have been around for quite a number of years, as M.H. Cole illustrated them in his book A Collection of US Military Knives printed in 1968. He shows all seven makers with this grip. They are still fairly common, and even today some of the larger militaria dealers such as Northridge and Fulton Armory still have them in stock. (He also illustrated a Utica with a more tubular shaped grip which is apparently rather uncommon as I have never actually seen one.)

For many years I paid little attention to them, other than acquiring one for my reference collection. I have found no official documentation or mention of their use, and photographic evidence of this version in use would be difficult, as most photos do not show the handle area with sufficient clarity to determine whether it has a leather or rubber grip. I have spoken with a fair number of veterans of the Korean War about this, and none remember seeing one in use. It must be remembered that most of them really recall very little about the subject so this lack of first hand information is not definitive.

I took a closer look at one in my reference collection (illustrated above) and noticed something that I had previously overlooked. The guard is a typical WW2 Camillus, but the butt plate is marked only with a dot. To the best of my knowledge this mark was only used after 1954 on TMN, Conetta and Bren-Dan production. Recently I saw one for sale on eBay with good photos. The guard was the Camillus 1953 contract production type, so the conversion could not have been made until post 1953.

At a recent gun show I was able to examine about a dozen on a dealer's table. On two of them I noted the dot marked butt plate. I think it is very unlikely that the conversion work was done prior to 1954-55 and probably later. Since the US had by then adopted the plastic grips for the M4, I now believe it is highly unlikely that the rubber grip conversion is an official US modification.

So who did it and when it was done is still a mystery. I don't feel these were made for the collector/surplus market as they certainly pre-date 1968 when there was little interest or value in the M4. Also, they seem to have been imported in recent years by more than one surplus dealer. I think it is more likely that it was done by another country (possibly in the Southeast Asia area) for use in their military service as the leather grips deteriorated, but have no facts to support that. More research is called for, and if anyone has any information about this, please pass it on.

 

Wood Handled M4's

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The general feeling among collectors seems to be that the wood handle was fitted to the M4 to replace leather grips that had deteriorated. As with the rubber handled version mentioned previously, I have seen no documentation to prove who did the work and when, but they are rather uncommon today.

The wood is apparently not a native North American species, and again the general feeling is that it is a tropical hardwood. I have read differing opinions as to where the work was done, with the Philippines and Okinawa being mentioned.

The grip is made as one piece, and very coarsely checkered. This requires that the butt plate be removed and the grip slid over the tang. Note in the specimen pictured above (a Camillus) the plastic spacers were retained. The plate is an early type Standard Products, and the rear spacer has the slot for pin removal. The tang was rather roughly peened when the plate was reinstalled.

M.H. Cole in his U.S. Military Knives Book 4 shows a photo on page 115 of a US soldier in Korea with what appears to be one of these wood gripped M4s on his belt. I saw another photo some years ago that also may show one of these in use by US forces in Korea.

I think it is at least possible that this conversion was indeed done in a US facility, probably in the late 1940s or very early 1950s prior to the adoption of the plastic grips. As with the rubber grip version, I would appreciate any information that anyone may be willing to share to prove or disprove the stories surrounding both of these versions of the M4 bayonet.

E-mail me at bayonetman@suddenlink.net

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