Gary Cunningham's

Bayonet Point's

Updated March, 2005

Bayonet Points #27 - March, 2005


Some General Notes on US Socket Bayonets

Let me first explain that although I have an interest in the socket bayonets issued during the 19th Century, I am by no means an expert. For those that have detailed questions, I can highly recommend the classic book on the subject, American Socket Bayonets and Scabbards by the late Robert M. Reilly.



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The US Bayonet, Model of 1855

The above illustration of the Model 1855 Bayonet is taken from Rules For the Management and Cleaning of the Rifle Musket, Mode 1861. It will serve to illustrate the basic nomenclature of the socket bayonet. The parts are listed as:

A: Blade
B: Neck
C: Socket
D: Bridge
E: Stud Mortise
F: Clasp

Collectors use more terms than this of course.

The flat part of the blade nearest the socket is normally called the face.

The ridge on the other side of the blade is called the back.

The two curved grooves on either side of the back are called the back flutes, and if there is a groove on the face, it is called the face flute.

The neck is often called the elbow due to its shape.

The widest area of the blade where it joins the neck is called the shoulder.

The hole through the socket is called the bore.


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The Bayonet Clasp

The parts of the bayonet clasp are listed as:

A: Strap
B: Ears
C: Socket
D: Bridge
E: Stops

There are alternate terms used by collectors for many of the parts. For a more complete listing of parts and how measurements are commonly taken, you may wish to visit the Society of American Bayonet Collector's site at:


Pre-1816 Models

Pre-1816 socket bayonets are somewhat uncommon and show great variation. Many are fairly crudely made by contractors, both with the US government and some state governments. I will illustrate one to show the general pattern, and refer anyone that has one of these to the book mentioned above.

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Pre-1816 US Socket Bayonet (Overall View)


The dimensions of this specimen are:
Overall Length:18 inches
Blade Length: 15 inches
Socket Length: 3 inches
Bore Diameter: about .890 inch (not perfectly round)
Blade Width: 1 1/8 inches (at the shoulder)
Face Flute Length: 7 inches

This is probably a very early Model 1812 style bayonet. It is somewhat pitted, and heavily patinated and there may be some small marks that are not now visible.


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Close-Up of the Socket


The slot where the stud on the barrel fits into the socket (stud mortise or simply mortise) in this case is referred to as an L mortise due to its shape. The mortise is on the top of the socket (with the blade to the right as was standard), indicating that the barrel stud was on the top of the barrel. On some pre 1816 muskets, the stud was on the bottom, so the mortise can be found on either side of the socket.


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Close-Up of the Rear of the Socket


There are remnants of what may have been a bridge across the mortise at the rear of the socket. A bridge became standard with the Model 1812 bayonet, although it did not always appear on very early specimens. This one possibly had a thin bridge, which could have been broken off or removed because it would not clear a barrel stud. The bridge was to strengthen the rear of the mortise so that the lips would not spread when the bayonet was being used.


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Marks on the Blade Face


A wide variation can be found in the markings on the pre-1816 bayonets. Some are marked only with symbols, some with the name or initials of the maker, some with state names or marks. By 1812 the markings were becoming more standardized with the use of the US and possibly an inspector mark. As the iron of the earlier bayonets was relatively soft, the marks are often very deep and sometimes hard to read.

The mark shown here with NC. and a larger US is fairly common on the Model 1812. Although there is some thought that the NC stands for North Carolina state use, it is much more likely that it is the initials of the final inspector.


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Blade Tip and Rudimentary Flute


Prior to 1812, many of the bayonets had no face flute at all. The flute shown here is obviously nearly useless for the purpose of weight reduction, so it may be assumed that it was more meant to serve the purpose of a "blood groove". Until recently, it was believed that a flute or fuller in the blade lessened the suction of the body fluids when the blade was being retracted.


To Be Continued



The GF mark on the Model 1917 Scabbard throats and tips.

Sometime back, I mentioned the marks found on the metal parts of the Model 1917 scabbards, and the suggestion was made by Frank Trzaska that the M.S. mark might be that of Maxim Silencer, as they were the company that held the patent on the 1st Type scabbard with the leather hanger. So far no one has came up with a better suggestion, although it is still simply an educated guess.

One of the other commonly found marks on these parts is GF in an oval. Sometime back I began to search the Internet for any reference to this mark, or any company that might have used such a mark.

After some searching, I located a "possible" at: At that time (the website has since been revised) they had a short history of the company which read:
GF Office Furniture, Ltd. was founded in 1902 as The General Fireproofing Company. A manufacturer of fireproof building products, the Company almost immediately shifted its specialized manufacturing energies to the office furniture industry. By 1910, with the introduction of the first production 4-drawer steel vertical file, GF had become a leader in the metal office furniture industry.

Throughout its impressive history, characterized by product innovations which have become established standards, GF has nurtured and refined its product design and metal fabricating capabilities, using its expertise to accomplish a number of firsts in office furniture products for traditional, contemporary, and open-office environments.

Since a company that made office furniture such as file cabinets obviously had some sheet metal stamping and shaping capabilities, I emailed them to ask if they had any information about their companies activities in World War One. Unlike many companies, they were kind enough to answer my inquiry, and believe me there are a lot of companies that have not in my experience.

The reply received was as follows. My personal thanks to Mr. Wallace for his prompt and informative answer.

Hello Gary,

In response to your inquiry I found a reference to GF's production activities during WWI. The reference was in a Company publication that recalled GF's history over the first 50 years from 1902 to 1952. Based on the text I would assume the items were manufactured by GF. GF at the time used an oval shaped logo with the letters "GF" within.

Here is the text as printed:

"When the United States entered World War I, the factory devoted a major portion of its facilities to the manufacture of gun clips, gas mask boxes, smoke funnels, magazines containers, aerial bomb cases and similar articles. During the war, however, some facilities for the manufacture of the company's regular products were retained, as contrasted to World War II when there was a complete conversion to the manufacture of war materials."

I hope this helps in your research.
Jon Wallace
Director Sales Administration

Although this does not definitely prove that the GF in an oval mark was for General Fireproofing, it certainly indicates that this is a good possibility.

Health problems and work requirements have limited my time this past month. I apologize to those who have emailed me and had to wait on a reply. Hopefully I can get caught up soon, and I appreciate your bearing with me.

Next month I will continue with further information on the socket bayonets.

All of the above reports referred to and the books are available on our Books For Sale  and or Documents page.

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