Why own a bayonet?
In my Bayonets article, I passed down exploits of warriors with bayonets, a little about US bayonet development over the last hundred years or so, and some of my personal experiences with (and opinions about) bayonets and bayonet training. The question I address in this article is:
Should you, as a Rifle Armed Citizen, have a bayonet for your rifle?
My theory is yes, for three reasons.
1: Objets des arts
First off, if your rifle also doubles as a work of art (some of mine are wall hangers), a mounted bayonet would certainly add to the aesthetic value of the display.
At least, I think so. There’s no accounting for taste, but if you appreciate weapons as art (the history of weapons is, after all, the history of homo sapiens), you’ll probably agree.
The best use I’ve seen for a bayonet has been cutting a wedding cake, after all the folks in our outfit returned home safe from the war.
Often in the modern US Army, the only time soldiers mount a bayonet to their rifles is for change of command ceremonies.
The last time I personally used a bayonet was to create a memorial to our fallen service members on 06 Jun 1994, the 50th Anniversary of D-day.
The bayonet serves as a means of planting the rifle in the dirt–or in this case, the slots of a box made by my 187 AES squadron mate, Bill Nuñez.
Such displays, often with a pair of boots, are sometimes referred to as “battlefield crosses,” although they are equally fitting for remembering our fallen brothers and sisters from non-Christian faiths. Bill called it a “Holy Joe.”
If you choose to so honor “our comrades up North,” as my dad used to say, even on Memorial Day, be careful where and how you do it. The mere presence of something that looks like a rifle–even inert plastic or obviously carved wooden depictions–sends some post-modern Americans into fits of apoplexy.
On a more practical note, a bayonet might be tactically useful, and by that I mean even if it is attached to your rifle.
If you must unlimber your rifle or carbine to stop a madman 120 yards away from dropping boulders onto passing cars from a freeway overpass, the bayonet will NOT do you much good. It might even affect your accuracy.
If, on the other hand, you are using your rifle to repel boarders from your homestead, as the Korean store owners did during the Los Angeles insurrection of April – May 1992, a bayonet might serve as a visible deterrent to the bad guys closing the distance between you.
A bayonet says “Whoever tries to take this rifle away from me first is going to get a good long look at his intestines.”
Optics aside (we all know what happened to that couple in St Louis, who could have accomplished their mission much more intelligently), your rifle, with its bayonet, might give a rampaging mob some pause.
There are laws in some states against bayonet LUGS on rifles. These laws ostensibly prevent gang-bangers from participating in what one ATF deputy director said would be “the world’s first drive-by bayoneting.”
Such arbitrary and capricious bans of specific features, rather than the intended or actual use, of firearms have proven to be entirely ineffective in preventing crime.
For example, the MAK-90s had their bayonet lugs ground off, and their pistol grips replaced with kinder, gentler thumbhole stocks, so they could meet ridiculous import regulations. On 20 Jun 1994, a madman armed with a MAK-90 rifle killed several people and wounded 22 others at the Fairchild AFB hospital (before he was shot by USAF Security Policeman Andy Brown).
The lack of those evil “Assault Rifle” features did not, and could never, prevent premeditated murder, because they are hardware solutions to software problems.
While touring Opelousas, LA, a former home of the legendary Jim Bowie, I came across this monument to Rosa B. Scott – Anderson, another hero of the Fairchild AFB attack.
The various states have various (equally arbitrary, capricious, and ineffective in preventing crime) laws against different sizes and shapes of fixed bladed knives, in various contexts. A bayonet may or may not fall under those multifarious definitions.
Mounting a bayonet to your rifle, and holding the rifle in your hands, may count as “brandishing a knife” in specific jurisdictions and circumstances.
If there is a demonstrably hostile mob, or other apparently lethal threat, and you are morally and legally justified in brandishing a firearm at or near them, you are likely justified in brandishing a bayonet-mounted firearm as well. The presence of absence of a bayonet probably will not affect that calculus.
But be warned: the bayonet has not always been a useful deterrent to crowds. During Viet Nam era anti-war demonstrations, National Guard troops might have been ordered to fix bayonets for intimidation factor in crowd control. Undeterred, mass-media saavy, Moscow inspired inciters would start by having pretty blond-banged cheerleader types slip flowers into the muzzles of the rifles–a powerful pacifist image.
Then agents provocateurs would shove the pretty blond banged kids toward the bayonets, hoping that a hapless (equally young) GI would spear one by accident, on camera–which would be an even more powerful anti-establishment image.
I’ve seen a ‘Nam era image of troops with bayonets mounted to rifles in their scabbards, so nobody lost an eye during a protest that got out of hand.
If you are a police chief and you don’t want protests to get out of hand, you should have your riot control cops wearing riot control gear, and be issued longer batons instead. Save your rifles for roof-top marksmen. Ordering cops to police a riot without riot gear is unconscionable, criminally negligent pandering.
In this era when “optics” are far more important than reality, don’t count on the police saving you or your neighborhood from angry mobs. If a mob comes to burn your neighborhood to the ground, a bayonet mounted on your rifle may cause the leaders of the pack to slow down a little.
Mounting a bayonet to your rifle might not even be an option. Most of the modern, full-length, free-floating AR handguards block access to the bayonet lug (if your AR even has one).
But an edged weapon of some kind is not only practical for day to day cutting tasks; it never runs out of ammo in a fight.
–George H, former rifleman by trade