Military bayonets are knives made to fit onto the end of a rifle barrel. The idea of a bayonet is as old as warfare: close with the enemy and kill him before he kills you. While a few bayonets will fit more than one rifle, bayonets are usually associated with a specific rifle, made to fit that firearm.
The long bayonets that went with early rifles were intended to be the same weapon as a medieval pike -- the rifle and bayonet together were a long pole with a deadly spear on the business end. As warfare evolved and mass collisions of troops became less common, bayonets became shorter. In some cases, bayonets became secondary to fighting knives which are short and intended strictly for hand to hand combat as a last resort.
Traditionally, all U.S. military rifles and carbines were issued with a bayonet. But the last American bayonet charge took place in Korea in February 1951. By 1973, the U.S. Army phased out mandatory bayonet training as unsuited to modern weapons and obsolete in an age of computerized warfare. However, the bayonet assault course never really disappeared in the Army and continued to be valued by the Marine Corps. The emphasis has shifted to combatives (hand-to-hand combat) and aggressiveness. In the 21st century some of the newest edged weapons are fighting knives which still retain the ability to be attached to a rifle -- for example, the USMC Multipurpose Bayonet (MB).
There have been many bayonets and scabbards issued to the U.S. military since the early days of the 20th century. The following list covers the ones most issued and used from World War I into the 21st Century, each with its own Olive-Drab.com page that can be reached by clicking on the link. Scabbards for each bayonet are covered on the same page.
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