Gary Cunningham's

Bayonet Point's

February 2003 

The M6 Bayonet Modified to fit the M1 Carbine

Over the past two columns, I have shown some of the M4 bayonets with plastic grips that are commonly found. This one is really not an M4, although it has been heavily modified to fit the M1 carbine. The basic bayonet is an M6, which has been disassembled and then undergone several changes. One of the two in my reference collection has an Imperial marked guard and the other a Milpar, although the markings on both are barely readable due to the modification removing most of the area in which the markings were applied. Both blades are the thick Milpar version.

The top of the barrel ring on the guard has been cut and material removed. The ends were apparently squeezed back together and welded, and the barrel hole re-drilled to be round and of the proper diameter for the M1 carbine barrel. The sides of the guard were slimmed down to approximate the width of the M4 guard. Some of the rear of the blade material was removed so that the guard could be moved forward about 5/16 inch and material was added behind the guard to take up the space left when the guard was moved. The pommel had several cuts made in the groove so it would fit onto the bayonet stud on the carbine, and the pivoting catch had the rear section removed and longer extensions welded onto it. Then the entire bayonet was reassembled and Parkerized. The original M6 grips are used without apparent modification. Most of the work shows that it was done by hand in a fairly rough fashion.

I have seen these for sale labeled as Korean modifications, but I doubt that as the South Koreans made the M4 and did a workmanlike job. It is much more likely that these were done somewhere that did not have a factory capable of making the bayonets from scratch. They must also have had a need for the M4 bayonet, and at least a fair supply of M6 bayonets as these were made in some quantity and to a pattern, not in a "jungle workshop" that modified just a few. I have spoken with some dealers, and there seems to be a general feeling that they came from either Cambodia or Thailand. Does anyone have any solid information as to the origin of these modified bayonets?

 

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Upper, standard M6 interior parts. Below, M6 modified to fit M1 carbine.
Click on thumbnail to view full size photo.

 

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Modified M6 bayonet shown fitted to an M1 Carbine. 
Click on thumbnail to view full size photo.

 

The M5, M5-1, and M5A1 Bayonets

The M5 bayonet was adopted in 1953 as a replacement for the M1 bayonet. Some of the reasons given were its more compact size, lighter weight, use of less strategic material in manufacture, and ease of production. It shares the same general blade shape as the M4 and could use the M8A1 scabbard, which had proven reasonably satisfactory in service.

The M5 is one of the few military issue bayonets that were patented. The original application was made on December 11, 1952. This application was separated and two patents were issued for this bayonet. The first, issued June 21, 1955 covered the method of holding the guard in position against the blade shoulder and the use of the stud engaging the gas cylinder screw. The second, issued December 27, 1955 covered the latching lever. These patents were issued to Michael A. Mirando of Providence, Rhode Island who assigned them to the Imperial Knife Company.

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Patent drawing for the M5 bayonet. 
Click on thumbnail to view full size photo.

Within a fairly short time, complaints began to come in from the field that the M5 was sometimes very difficult to remove from the rifle, especially if wearing gloves. It was found that under many conditions it was too hard to sufficiently depress the latching lever, and that on some rifles there was a little fore-and-aft movement. Further development led to a modification of the latching lever and the cuts in the tang for the placement of the coil lever return spring. The spring angle was altered to change the direction of the load to an angle from the rear from its previous vertical position, and the hole in the lever was changed to an oval shape to allow some lateral movement to tighten the lever against the bayonet stud when locked. These changes caused the nomenclature to be changed from M5 to M5A1. I have not found the record as to when the change officially occurred (although it apparently was in the 1956 time period) - does anyone have that information? In the photo below, note the more or less vertical backcut (the line between the true edge at the bottom and the centerline of the blade) used on US contract M5 and M5A1 bayonets other than those made by J&D Tool Co which is discussed later in this article.

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Top, interior view of the M5 - Below, internal view of the M5A1. 
Click on thumbnail to view full size photo.

Another change that apparently occurred fairly early (and I do not have the date for this change either) was in the grip. For reasons still unknown, the grips were made slightly thinner, and with checkering that rolls further up toward the upper tang. These are fairly uncommon, so it appears that the change was made early in production. The part numbers for the first style are 7266552 (right) and 7266553 (left). The part numbers for the second type are 7267652 (right) and 7267653 (left).

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Top, early M5 grips - Bottom, later M5 grips. 
Click on thumbnail to view full size photo.

The M5 and M5A1 were manufactured by 5 contractors for the US military. They were:

bulletUtica Cutlery Company, Utica, New York (M5 only)
bulletAerial Cutlery Company, Marinette, Wisconsin (M5 and M5-1)
bulletImperial Cutlery Company, Providence, Rhode Island (M5 and M5A1)
bulletJ & D Tool Company, Glenbrook, Connecticut (M5 and M5-1)
bulletColumbus Milpar and Manufacturing Co., Columbus, Ohio (M5A1 only)

Why two of these companies used the nomenclature stamping of M5A1 and the other two M5-1 is unknown to me. The official military nomenclature, based on what limited documentation I have from that time period, was M5A1.

Some of these bayonets have appeared on the market that are most likely aftermarket surplus - that is, made for the surplus market rather than on US military contracts. During the period of production of the M5 and M5A1, US contract production that was accepted by Ordnance inspectors was marked with the Defense Acceptance Stamp (DAS) which was a very stylized eagle with three stars over its head. This mark was often poorly stamped and may be hard to see, but regular military production should have it on the lower face of the guard. I would be suspicious of any bayonet that is found without this mark, and would consider it commercial rather than military.

The hardest to find of the M5 series is the one made by Utica. In the Springfield Research Newsletter, Frank Mallory reported that "In 1953, Utica was just completing a contract for 75,000 M1 bayonets". The M5 that Utica made is not marked with the DAS but with the older Ordnance Shell and Flame mark (as used on the M4 bayonets of WW2) which leads me to believe that the contract was very early. Whether the 75,000 mentioned were actually M1 bayonets or M5s is still a question, as I have seen neither one in original packaging to determine a contract date.

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Guard markings on M5 manufactured by Utica Cutlery. 
Click on thumbnail to view full size photo.

Aerial and Imperial both made M5 and M5A1 bayonets, although Aerial used the M5-1 mark and Imperial used M5A1. I believe those made by Aerial are all US contract, but have seen a number of Imperial marked M5A1s that are almost certainly aftermarket commercial production. They lack the DAS and the backcut is long and sloping rather than the near 90-degree backcut that was standard.

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Guard markings on M5s manufactured by Aerial Cutlery and Imperial Knife. Click on thumbnail to view full size photo.

I have seen (and so stated in my book) that the J&D Tool Company was Jones and Dickinson Tool (I have also seen it as Jones and Dickson). However, I have yet to find any confirmation of that. Does anyone know for sure? J&D used a semicircular backcut that is very specific to their production. The DAS on their production is small and often very lightly stamped, but I believe the bulk of their production was on US contract.

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M5A1 as manufactured by J&D Tool, note the distinctive radius of the backcut. Click on thumbnail to view full size photo.

Columbus Milpar (marked MILPAR COL on their M5 and M5A1 bayonet production) sometimes used a blade that is unique to them, although not always. The taper from the centerline to the edge is not as great, and the true edge has a very short but rapid taper. This gives the blade a heavier look and feel.

Milpar produced the M5s, M6s, and M7s, and then sold off their machinery and remaining parts inventory to a commercial surplus company. A reliable source told me that it was Century Arms and some of their advertisements from the 1980s seem to verify this. This company used up the parts in making a hodgepodge of knives and bayonets. For some time they apparently produced standard bayonets, lacking only the DAS mark.

As they ran short of some parts they made their own or combined them to make "fantasy" items. One of the most common is the M5 "Knife" which used a M5 guard minus the stud, and new grips made without the opening for the latch. These were sometimes sold in M8A1 scabbards, and at times in a leather scabbard marked M5. These have been represented recently as PX sale knives from the Vietnam era, but I feel that they are all commercial production from the 1970s and 80s.

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Guard markings on M5s manufactured by J&D Tool and Columbus Milpar. 
Click on thumbnail to view full size photo.

 

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M5 commercial knife as made from leftover Milpar stock and new grips. Note the long sloped backcut typical of many aftermarket bayonet blades.
Click on thumbnail to view full size photo.

There are a few M5 bayonets made in other countries, mostly Korea. These seem mostly to have actually made for the Korean armed forces rather than for sale, although they now appear regularly on the surplus market. I show two representative specimens from my reference collection, but there are other marking variations to be found. Most seem to carry the designation of K-M5A1 and another mark or letters, which may indicate the maker or the using service.

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Two Korean made M5A1 bayonets. 
Click on thumbnail to view full size photo.

 

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Typical markings found on Korean made M5A1 bayonets. 
Click on thumbnail to view full size photo.

The next bayonet is an M5 manufactured for Kiffe of New York in Japan. These were possibly made for sale to the military of some Central American or Caribbean nation, as Kiffe did quite a bit of business in that area. It is also possible that it was sold out of his store as a commercial item. It is basically a standard M5, reasonably well made and with a slightly heavier and stronger blade than the Kiffe/Japan M4 bayonet that is much more common.

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M5 bayonet made by a Japanese maker for Kiffe of New York City. 
Click on thumbnail to view full size photo.

As with most of the US bayonets from the M4 to the M7, the German firm of Carl Eickhorn has made versions both for the military forces of other nations and for commercial sale. The engraved marking on the blade indicates use by the Haitian military. Note the odd colored blade typical of much of the older Eickhorn production. M6 bayonets can also be found with Haitian marks similar to this. Phillips head screws are used in the grips and the pommel and internal parts are of a different design than that used by the US contractors. Although the tang has a hole for the US style U shaped retaining bar, this bayonet has small welds on each side of the guard to hold it into position against the blade shoulder.

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M5 bayonet made by Eickhorn for Haiti. Guard marking is US M5A1. 
Click on thumbnail to view full size photo.

E-mail me at bayonetman@suddenlink.net

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