By Bill Porter
I havenít really mentioned this here in the past, but one of my main collecting interests is the US M9 Multi-Purpose Bayonet System, or putting it more simply the M9 Bayonet. I started collecting the M9 back in 1987 when it was first adopted by the US Army. It has turned into quite an obsession since then with my M9 and related items probably approaching 250 pieces. I warn other collectors who havenít yet purchased an M9 and are thinking about it to be careful because a sickness comes over you after acquiring one of them. Theyíre like Lays potato chips; you canít own just one.
There have been a couple of significant happenings in the M9 field in the last few weeks and I thought Iíd share some comments on them. The first involves what M9 collectors refer to as the "Chevron" M9. The chevrons are the very first group of M9s that were made. There was a ">" added to the blade marking and it wasnít supposed to be there. A total of 1200 of these bayonets were made and a little over 1000 of them were actually delivered to the Army in the first shipment. Where they went from there I donít know, but I can tell you that it took me until 2004 to find one (thatís 17 years for those of you who are doing the math). To use the old expression, theyíre as scarce as henís teeth. One showed up on ebay a few weeks ago and the auction closed at $1525.50. Thatís right folks, over $1500 for an issue M9 bayonet! A week later the same seller listed another one that closed for $1125.00. Turns out that the seller had stumbled upon a small group of them. From what I understand he sold a number of them to collectors without going through ebay. It will be interesting to see if any others show up on the auction.
Last week a Buck USMC marked M9 bayonet was on ebay and closed at $2025.00. This is even more incredible in my mind than the chevron bayonet because they made 5000 of these bayonets and a couple of years ago they were all over the market. Granted the piece that sold for two grand was in exceptionally good condition, but I know guys who have had these on their tables at shows for over a year and would gladly accept a fraction of what that one sold for.
I have mixed feelings about these prices. It sure feels good to think that my collection houses these four-figure pieces but I know that these are unrealistically inflated values. Problem is that other people who are selling these same bayonets will price them according to what theyíve seen on ebay. Then none but a few will be able to buy them. I guess this will force the prices to come back down to a reasonable level, but someone will get hurt in the meantime.
For years peopled scoffed at the M9 but the number of people collecting them has grown significantly. I think the big thing to come from all of this is that the M9 bayonet has finally become a seriously collected item.
The SOS in Louisville, Kentucky and the Baltimore Show and Society of American Bayonet Collectors annual meeting are all coming up very soon. I will be at both shows and the SABC meeting and hope to see many of you there.
Weíll continue here with the topic we started a few months ago, foreign made bayonets for the US M16 rifle.
Israeli M7 Bayonet
I picked this bayonet up last year from my good friend Bill Humes. I knew about the Eickhorn manufactured Israeli M7s but Bill sprung a new one on me with this piece. This is a standard Imperial manufactured and marked M7. The one exception is that this bayonet has an additional marking on the front of the crossguard that looks like a script "Y". This mark is the Israeli Army property mark.
The scabbard is an M8A1 style scabbard. The face of the throat is marked USM8A1 but does not have a manufacturerís mark. The green scabbard body has a crinkle finish. There is not an Israeli property mark on the scabbard.
Overall length 300 mm
Blade length 171 mm
Blade width 21.8 mm
Blade thickness 4.7 mm
The Israeli M7
Thailand M7 Bayonet
These two bayonets were made in Thailand and are probably one of the poorest quality bayonets Iíve seen. They are a standard M7 configuration. The metal components have no finish to speak of and the stampings and machining work are of inferior quality. The plastic grips are hollow and are made of a soft plastic and are held in place by machine screws. One set of grips has round threaded inserts cast into the plastic grip; the other has hex nuts cast in. The pommel castings are rough and the latch levers fit very loosely. No attention was paid to detail.
There are two different scabbards with the plastic material of the body being the main difference between the two. Both have unmarked metal throats with visible spot welds along the front. One has a soft, light green colored scabbard body while the other has a hard, dark green plastic. Neither scabbard body appears to have any type of fiber reinforcement in the plastic. The scabbards are not interchangeable with the bayonets due to the difference in the blade widths.
Overall length 298 / 292 mm
Blade length 171 / 167 mm
Blade width 22.6 / 21.7 mm
Blade thickness 4.2 / 4.3 mm
The Thai M7 bayonet
Kiffe M7 Bayonet
Iíve listed this bayonet as an M7 but Iím not really sure what it is. This is a leather gripped bayonet made by Kiffe. The muzzle ring is 22 mm in diameter, the same as the M7 bayonet. The problem is the pommel which has the small mortise slot of the M4 bayonet. There is a yellow "48" painted on the left side of the grip.
I have no information on this piece, but some thoughts based on the muzzle ring and pommel combination: early M7 prior to the addition of the heavy bayonet stud on the M16, a bayonet for the BM59 (BM59 has a bayonet stud comparable in size to the M1 Carbine), a bayonet that was part of the SPIW program (OK a long shot) or a bayonet that someone put together from miscellaneous parts. I would welcome any input you might have.
Overall length 290 mm
Blade length 170 mm
Blade width 20.3 mm
Blade thickness 4.1 mm
The Kiffe M7
That wraps it up for this month. If any of you will be in Louisville or Baltimore please look me up and say hello. If youíd like information on the Society of American Bayonet Collectors drop me a line. Any other questions or comments can be forwarded to me firstname.lastname@example.org.
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