Updated June, 2006
Bayonet Points #32 - June, 2006
Bayonet Points #32
The South Korean modification of the M1 bayonet to M5 blade configuration
Bill Porter discussed these modified bayonets in his Report #1 found on this website. I still receive numerous emails concerning this bayonet, and decided to cover it in a little more detail so that I can direct those inquiries to this article and save some writing.
During and following the Korean War, large numbers of M1 rifles and bayonets were sold or given to the Republic of South Korea by the US. Essentially the entire South Korean military was armed with the M1 rifle and carbine during the 1950s and 1960s. By the late 1960s the South Koreans began to transition to the M16 rifle series, first supplied by the US and then produced under license in South Korea.
In the early 1970s the South Korean military decided to modify the stock of M1 bayonets on hand to a blade configuration similar to the M5. This would allow the bayonet to be used with the M8A1 scabbard.
On the surface this does not seem to be financially practical as it would seem to be cheaper to simply continue to manufacture the M5A1. Apparently the labor cost was low enough that it was felt that the modification was cost effective considering the large stock of M1 (and M1905E1) bayonets on hand.
The blade was cut to a length of about 5 ¾ inches, and the width and thickness were reduced to approximate that of the M5 blade. The back of the blade was cut to form a false edge similar to that on the M5A1. The thinning of the blade resulted in the removal of the markings, although on some specimens remnants of the marks can be seen.
M1 Bayonet modified by South Korea to M5 blade configuration
Circa 2002-03 large numbers of these bayonets were sold as surplus by the Koreans and sold very cheaply in the US, often as low as $9.99 each. Prices have risen somewhat since then, but they still have very little collector interest.
Original packaging was in a Vapor Phase Inhibitor (VPA) paper wrapping, with two wrapped bayonets in an outer sealed pack. These outer packs were stencil marked either in English or Korean.
Outer Wrappers of South Korean Modified M1 Bayonets
Note that the nomenclature is Bayonet M5, even though they are modified M1 bayonets and not true M5s.
Both wrappers show a typical US style Federal Stock Number, which is not the number of either the M5 or M5A1 bayonet. A friend had access to an old database that shows the specifications for some of the old FSN, and he was able to find 1005-726-6556 in this database. It shows the product to be:
ITEM NAME BAYONET-KNIFE
OVERALL LENGTH 11.510 INCHES NOMINAL
BLADE LENGTH 5.750 INCHES NOMINAL
BLADE WIDTH 0.875 INCHES NOMINAL
BLADE THICKNESS 0.195 INCHES NOMINAL
METALLIC HARDNESS RATING 47.0 MINIMUM ROCKWELL C AND 53.0 MAXIMUM ROCKWELL C
WEAPON FOR WHICH DESIGNED RIFLE
BLADE MATERIAL STEEL
PROTECTIVE GUARD INCLUDED
MODEL NUMBER M5
BLADE TYPE DOUBLE EDGE
BLADE BLOOD GROOVE FEATURE NOT INCLUDED
GRIP CATCH TYPE LEVER
SCABBARD NOT INCLUDED
GRIP MATERIAL SPEC/STD MIL-P-10420, CLASS 5 PLASTIC
GRIP LENGTH 4.216 INCHES NOMINAL
SURFACE TREATMENT PHOSPHATE
This shows that a true US Federal Stock Number was created for the South Korean modified bayonet. That, along with some of the labels being in English, seem to indicate that at least some of the work may have been done under US contract. One collector has suggested that the KA at the end of the last line on the English language package may stand for Korean Army.
Although this bayonet was intended to fit into the M8A1 scabbard to reduce supply problems, another scabbard was imported in some numbers that was apparently also modified for this bayonet at about the same time. This is a M7 scabbard that was shortened and has a thin metal cover over the plastic body and pinned in place. The scabbard is painted olive green overall. Little else is known about this scabbard.
A lot of collectors have purchased these bayonets as an inexpensive source of parts for repair of their M1 bayonets. The bayonet catch, scabbard catch, scabbard catch spring, grips and grip screw can be easily removed and used as spare parts. However, many of the grips are not US WW2 manufacture.
The pair of grips above may be actual US issue, although neither are common WW2 marked grips. The upper one has a drawing number molded in, and it has been suggested that these are post-WW2 replacement grips. The early World War 2 drawing number was C113680, and this number is C5613680, which may be a later period version of the part number.
The lower grip, with the marked of an intertwined CP or GP, may be a later mark of Columbus Plastic Products or another yet unknown company.
The upper grip is marked T "star" Y, believed to be a Korean maker. The lower grip is unmarked, and it is not known who the maker is.
The above grips are of Korean manufacture. The upper one is marked TY C5813680 and the lower TY in the left panel and 5613681 in the right panel. The numbers may be the part numbers in later US terminology.
Many of the bayonet catches found in these bayonets are of the WW2 style, but are unmarked. This may indicate that the Koreans also made catches for replacements.
By the mid-1970s the M1 rifle was pretty much relegated to a second line rifle in Korean service. Besides the M1 bayonets originally supplied with these rifles, the Koreans also obtained 30,000 or so M5A1 bayonets from the US as military aid, and produced unknown quantities on their own. The Korean made M5A1 bayonets are not quite as well made as the US version, but is serviceable. They typically are marked on the guard K-M5A1 and a maker mark, either letters or a symbol.
Two examples of South Korean made M5A1 bayonets. The upper one is marked D.Y.W. and the lower one with a symbol somewhat similar to an 8.
They received about 300,000 M8A1 scabbards in military aid from the US, mostly prior to 1968, and also manufactured their own M8A1 scabbards. Markings on the scabbard are normally K-M8A1 on the face of the throat and various marks on the back of the throat. Late versions are marked with the anchor, wing and star symbol of the South Korean Ministry of Defense.
A South Korean K-M8A1 Scabbard
Face and back of a later issue South Korean K-M8A1 Scabbard.
The mark on the back of the throat is the
Wing, Anchor and Star mark of the South Korean Ministry of Defense.
Label found in the packaging of the scabbard shown in the photos above. Note again the Ministry of Defense mark at the top. The number 1095-508-0339 is the US Federal Stock Number for the M8A1 scabbard.
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