Tag Archives: bayonet

Q&A: Bayonets

Would it be useful or realistic to attach a knife to a gun? Would it be in anyway helpful in a fight in a smaller space or would it just get in the way and be unhelpful?

Well, that’s called a bayonet. They do exist. These date back to single shot firearms, where you’d be left without a functional weapon while reloading in an era when melee combat was still the norm. As with a lot of elements of military tradition and hardware, bayonets have massively outlived their usefulness.

Modern bayonets are (usually) functional combat knives with attachment points designed to lock onto a rifle. That said, some rifles do include integrated bayonets, which can be collapsed and stored on the gun.

Generally speaking, the only time you’d use a bayonet is when the rifle cannot be fired. Either because it’s out of ammunition, malfunctioning, or you’re in some incredibly specific situation where firing it would be a profoundly bad idea. Otherwise, even in close quarters, you’re better off pumping two or three rounds into someone.

Which leads back to the question about usefulness; not very. Detachable ones can be useful in the sense that you need a knife and just happen to be carrying one, but a well equipped combatant should have a knife or other cutting implement in easy reach regardless. In very rare circumstances, it’s a good augment for your rifle, but that’s more of an, “in theory,” consideration than a practical application.

Sticking a bayonet on a pistol (or revolver) isn’t a great idea. You’ll see these occasionally as novelty items, but you’d be better off simply bringing a separate knife. The one advantage a bayonet has, when it’s mounted on a rifle, is reach. Slapping one on a pistol makes the blade harder to control, without increasing its range.

-Starke

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How effective would a bayonet be as a stand-alone weapon? Like detached from a gun and being used as a knife/sword depending on the length?

Ignoring the odd bayonets that are integrated into the firearm directly, yes. Bayonets are a functional long knife (or shortsword), with a mounting mechanism, to allow them to be attached to a compatible rifle.

It’s probably worth remembering, there have only been a handful of successful bayonet charges in the last century (I’m only aware of two in the last forty years), so the entire reason to continue issuing bayonets has more to do with their utility as a knife than because you can mount them on the end of your rifle in some last stand scenario you’ll (statistically) never see.

Historically, when dealing with single shot rifles, the bayonet was a much more important attachment. Because of long reload times, it would allow a soldier to use their weapon in melee, when they didn’t have time to reload.

Today, with automatic weapons that can be quickly reloaded, and combat doctrine that rarely puts you in stabbing distance of your enemy, their use is much more niche.

While attached to a rifle, they can be useful in managing prisoners. (Oddly enough, grabbing someone’s rifle by the barrel is a lot less appealing when there’s a huge knife on the end.) But, beyond that, their use is primarily as a standalone knife or a training tool.

There are some exceptions. Some bayonets attach to the barrel of the gun using a ring mechanism, and cannot be wielded by hand. To the best of my knowledge, no nation has fielded these since World War II. There are also bayonet designs that are permanently attached to the rifle using a “hinge” mechanism, and can be collapsed (usually into the fore grip) or extended to fit the current situation. Though these are also something of an oddity.

As I said at the beginning though, most bayonets today will follow the same basic design as a combat knife and are entirely usable as a combat weapon or a utility tool.

-Starke

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