Updated April, 2005
Bayonet Points #28 - April, 2005
The Model 1816 Bayonet
The Model 1816 was the first US bayonet that was actually made to a standard pattern by both the armories and the contractors, although it was 1822 before the design became truly settled. Standards were created at Springfield Armory and Harpers Ferry Armory in 1816 with the publication of Regulations for the National Armories, and these standards were then developed and later applied to the production of bayonets by the contractors. The Model 1816 was produced for over 20 years, and saw extensive use during the Civil War. There are many variations in markings and form found in small numbers, and for further information on this model and the variations, the reader is invited to read the classic work on US socket bayonets, American Socket Bayonets and Scabbards by the late Robert M. Reilly.
The photographs used for most of the illustrations are of a bayonet that has quite a bit of a brown patina. I did this since it is hard to clearly photograph a bright bayonet because of light reflections from the shine.
This particular bayonet is a family piece, having been given to me by my maternal grandfather. Family lore has it that a Model 1816 musket converted to percussion and this bayonet were brought home by a family veteran. The smoothbore musket was used from time to time as a shotgun on the family farm. My grandfather used it as a teenager in the 1890s, and in order to save a few pennies, would "borrow" some shotgun shells from an uncle, cutting them open to use the powder and shot. Unfortunately, he finally borrowed a smokeless powder shell, and the gun burst when it was fired. Granddad wasn't hurt, but the musket was a total loss.
Model 1816 US Socket Bayonet (Overall View)
The basic dimensions of the Model 1816 are (slight variations are expected):
Overall Length: 19 inches
Blade Length: 16 inches
Socket Length: 3 inches
Bore Diameter: about .813 inch (slight variations are to be expected)
Blade Width: 15/16 inch
Face Flute Length: 9 1/4 inches.
Although the Model 1816 did not introduce any truly new innovations, it did bring several ideas together and standardized them. This resulted in an overall improved bayonet. The final design for both the musket and bayonet was finalized in 1822 and the Pattern Muskets and Bayonets are marked with that date. However, they were actually simply the final refinement of the design began in 1816 and are still known by collectors as the Model 1816.
One of these was the standardization of the T mortise instead of the earlier L mortise. The problem with the L mortise was that if the bayonet were being withdrawn from a body after a thrust, the bayonet would naturally slide back until it struck the rear of the mortise. At that time, if the musket was twisted to the left, the stud would move along the lower leg of the mortise until it reached the slot, and then the bayonet would pull directly off of the musket. This effectively left the soldier disarmed at a time when he might really be in need of the bayonet.
The T mortise lengthened the slot behind the cross groove so that when the musket was pulled back, the bayonet stud traveled into the rear of the slot and did not align with the cross groove. If the musket was twisted, the bayonet remained fixed to the barrel.
Above: L Mortise on the Model 1812 Bayonet
Below: T Mortise on the Model 1816 Bayonet
Another standardized feature on the Model 1816 bayonet was the bridge over the stud groove at the rear of the socket. This bridge prevented the rear of the socket from spreading apart if the barrel was twisted from side to side with the bayonet imbedded in a body. This greatly strengthened the bayonet and helped prevent damage to the socket.
Bridge over the Mortise on the Model 1816 Bayonet
Beginning with the Model 1822, the long and nearly blade width face flute also became standard. On earlier bayonets, the flute was often either rudimentary or missing entirely. The flute on the Model 1816 was about 9 1/4 inches long, beginning at the point. The back flutes are wide and deep, extending the full length of the blade.
Face Flute on the Model 1816 Bayonet
The point of the Model 1816 is somewhat different from both those which came before it and after it. Generally referred to as a "prow" point, it angles sharply upward from the back edge to the point. Most US bayonets prior to and following the Model 1816 had a point that sloped gently downward from the face to the back.
Above: Prow Point of the Model 1816 Bayonet.
Below: Point found on the Model 1835 and later bayonets.
There are a wide variety of markings to be found on the Model 1816. As a general rule, the face flat near the shank is stamped with US, often over other letters. These marks, especially on the earlier ones, are often very deeply stamped to the point where they may be difficult to read. It is generally believed that the letters below the US are the initials of the final inspector. The letters SC and NC have been noted, and are believed by some to represent the states of South and North Carolina. However, since no other states initials have been noted, it is more likely that this is simply coincidence.
Deeply Stamped US and SC on a Model 1816 Bayonet
Lightly Stamped US and SC on a Model 1816 Bayonet
Regulations for the National Armories, mentioned above as being published in 1816, established regulations that the National Armories, Springfield and Harpers Ferry, were to mark their bayonets in batches of 2400. The blades were marked only US, but the shank was to be stamped on the side with a letter over a number up to 100. Two letters, J and V were apparently not to be used. The first bayonet of the batch would then be A over 1, and the batch would end with Z over 100. It is not known if this marking system was used throughout production, but bayonets marked in this fashion are fairly common.
Deeply Stamped US on a Model 1816 Bayonet
Batch Numbers on the Shank of a Model 1816 Bayonet
Most 1816 bayonets seen today are either in bright finish, or have an aged patina. From about 1822 to about 1832 the muskets and quite likely the bayonets were finished in National Armory Brown which was a smooth brown finish with a lacquer coating. Bayonets are seldom found in Brown, but may have been polished post 1832 to bring them up to the new standard.
The Marine OKC3S Bayonet
Personally, I like bayonets that show some honest use. Although I appreciate a near new specimen as much as the next collector, I really like those that may have "been there" and possibly have some history. Of course I realize that the wear may very well have been caused by someone who for some reason used it outside of the military environment. However, most bayonets are less useful than a knife, and are less likely to have been used by hunters or outdoorsmen than a standard knife.
With the newer bayonets (M7, M9 etc.) it has become impossible to tell if a particular bayonet is actually US issue or is commercially made. This greatly lowers my interest in them, especially in basically new condition. For that reason, I have tried to pick up some specimens of these bayonets that I have reason to believe are actually US military issue.
Although most Phrobis M9 bayonets are probably actually issue, I have seen entirely too many sold new in box to feel that all of them are. Sometime back, I managed to get a 3 line with the flat top M that is definitely US issue. Awhile after that I was able to buy one of the Marine test Buck M9s from the 5,000 piece contract in 1991. Even though both show heavy use, I prize them because I know they are US issue and definitely saw service. Later I was lucky enough to get a LanCay M9 with the fuller by trading the armorer of an area Reserve unit with another LanCay to put back in its place.
With the recent introduction of the Ontario OKC3S Bayonet into the Marine Corps, I naturally wanted one for my collection. But again, these are available commercially, and the commercial specimens are absolutely indistinguishable from the military issue (as are the Ontario M9s and late Lan-Cay M9s). I understand that this was at the specific request of the Army and Marine Corps. The official reason behind that is that the bayonets are supposed to be "off the shelf" items, but I think that another possible reason is that soldiers have been known to substitute a commercial bayonet for the issue one that they have lost or damaged. This way at least the military does not get a lower quality item in place of the milspec one originally issued.
I used this to my advantage in obtaining an OKC3S for my collection. A local Marine just returned from a tour in Iraq, and was kind enough to trade me his issue bayonet for a commercial one I picked up from a dealer. So now I have a bayonet that I am sure was "over there" for my personal collection.
Frank wrote an excellent article on this bayonet in the November 2003 issue of Knife World. For those that are not subscribers to this publication, I can highly recommend it for its interesting articles about all phases of knife collecting. Even though I am not seriously interested in anything other than military blades, I always find the magazine worth reading. Go to www.knifeworld.com for further information.
The new bayonet is the result of a fairly long period of prototypes and testing, as well as controversy. The Marines tested the M9 MPBS, purchasing 5,000 in 1991. In 2001 the Marines adopted the Eickhorn Bayonet 2000 with some modifications including the addition of the USMC E/G/A engraved on the blade. This was going to be a sole source "off the shelf" contract with no bidding, as they stated that only Eickhorn was able to supply the Marine requirements within the time period specified. There was an outcry from many US knife companies and others, especially about buying such an item overseas. As a result, the contract was cancelled and a new round of testing was initiated. 17 companies submitted a wide variety of designs, and testing took place at Quantico, VA by the Instructor Trainers of the Marine Corps Martial Arts Center of Excellence. The winning design was one of 16 styles submitted by the Ontario Knife Company of Franklinville, New York. The design is the Ontario Knife Company, Pattern 3, Serrated Edge, or OKC3S, and was adopted as the Bayonet, Multi-Purpose, with a National Stock Number of 1095-01-596-3424. The first contract was issued December 13, 2002.
Frank stated in his article that the first 5,000 went to Camp Lejeune, NC, the second 5,000 to Camp Pendleton, CA and the third 5,000 to the Marines on Okinawa.
(From a) Marine Corps Press Release from Quantico dated 08/30/2004:
First issue of new bayonet - January 2003
At the time of the press release, the numbers actually received and issued was (total 89,491):
1st Marine Expeditionary Force - 32,690
2nd Marine Expeditionary Force - 27,271
3rd Marine Expeditionary Force - 22,593
Marine Forces Reserves - 10,080
Training and Education Command - 3,425
Other Support Establishment Units - 2,432
According to Homer Brett in an article written by Harold Kennedy for National Defense Magazine, the first contract to Ontario Knife Company of Franklinville, New York was for 99,987 at about $38.50 each.
In another website of the Marines, it is stated that the Acquisition Objective is 189,416 units. This site also gave the following general description and information:
|"The multi-purpose bayonet has a ""Mission style"" serrated edge which will facilitate the cutting of hemp rope, lanyards, or cloth.|
|The multi-purpose bayonet scabbard (thermoplastic elastomer) offers both a weight reduction and noise reduction from the current M7 bayonet scabbard.|
|The scabbard is fully MOLLE compatible and has a quick release capability. An associated leg strap may be ordered separately.|
|Acquisition Objective (AO) is 189,416.|
|Due to a limited $$, one time congressional plus-up, only 100,000 bayonets will be purchased during CY 2004/2005"|
The total contract number has been stated to be 120,000 units.
US Marine Bayonet, Multi-Purpose, Ontario OKC3S
The previous Marine owner added a strip of Camo tape on the face of the scabbard.
The overall appearance of the bayonet is quite evocative of the Marine "KaBar" knife, probably deliberately so. It has an 8-inch blade with a 1 7/8 inch serrated section at the rear of the (very sharp!) true edge. The 3 1/2-inch false edge is also supplied from the factory with a very sharp edge. The guard and pommel are essentially the same as supplied on the tried and true M7 bayonet. Finish of the metal is a fairly dark Parkerizing.
Serrated section of the blade
Blade markings on the USMC Bayonet, Multi-Purpose
The handle is an injection molded Dynaflex blend with a slightly soft feel. The design is almost exactly like the early oval handled WW2 KaBar knives, and feels very good in the average hand as well as being quite comfortably to use. The rear of the handle has the Marine Eagle, Globe and Anchor emblem molded into one side and USMC on the other. The color of the handle and scabbard is called Coyote Brown, again very similar to the old KaBar. It blends well with the new Marine uniform, and is said to have a low infrared signature.
Marks molded into the grips
The scabbard is simple, but well designed. It has a molded body of a polyester elastomer plastic. It is designed to have a low "noise signature" when carrying the bayonet. The nylon straps and loops allow fitting the scabbard to almost any location on the gear. The bayonet is secured by a spring in the scabbard throat, a strap over the guard and another strap around the handle. This one isn't going to fall out and be lost, no matter what the Marine is going through. There is an elastic strap at the bottom of the scabbard to allow the back webbing to be raised, giving access to a ceramic coated aluminum touch up sharpening rod on the back of the scabbard. To me, this is a weak point since the elastic has to be stretched quite a bit to get over the scabbard tip and seems to be a potential trouble spot. However, I am sure that it has been tested enough to be reliable.
Although I cannot speak from a combat soldier's point of view, the bayonet seems to me to be one of the best designs the US military has ever adopted. As a combat/utility knife, it is comfortable and seems able to tackle any cutting job that a knife can be expected to do. My congratulations to Ontario and the Marines for a job well done.
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