Do American soldiers still get trained in how to kill with a bayonet?

In a lot of parodies (the “Bart the General” episode of the Simpsons comes to mind) of boot camp, there is a part of the obstacle course where the soldier is issued a fake rifle with a real bayonet on the end and is expected to use the bayonet to ‘kill’ a straw-filled bag hung from a wooden gallows. One of them gets a bit too carried away and manages to do a brutality to a really cheap mattress. Lots of laughs all around.

Does any branch of the US Armed Forces still train its new recruits to use a bayonet in combat? If so, is it anything like the above? If so, for the love of God why? (That is, do any modern weapons still accept bayonets? I don’t recall seeing an M-16 with one. Ever.)

I don’t know about the first question, but for this one, yes. Most modern rifles including the M-16 has provision for a bayonet.

And, at least in 1979, Basic Combat Training (aka Basic Training/Boot Camp) included instruction on the use of the bayonet.

Oh come on, Who the heck was even alive in 1979? :slight_smile:

Guns jam. Close quarters combat happens. Bayonet > fist.

kawaiitentaclebeast, Oakminster: My question was based on the assumption that no modern rifle used by the US Armed Forces accepts a bayonet. I was wrong, and the benefits of a bayonet in close combat when all of your guns are jammed is manifest.

Monty: And that answers (well, to some extent) my main question.

I went through basic 20 months ago, and yes they still teach bayonet skills. It is only 1 day. In the morning you get some training on how to attach it, remove it, and the different ways to attack someone with it. Then after lunch you do the obstical course.

When I did it we used real M16s, and a few of them got broken. I hit the dummy hard enough to snap the blade off the bayonet. One of the other guys broke the stock off the M16. When I snaped the blade off it went twirling over my head and landed behind me. I grabed the blade off the ground, and was trying to figure out what to do. I was scared the Drill Sgts. were going to get pissed off I broke it. One of them saw I was just standing there, and yelled at me to keep going. I yelled back something about braking the bayonet. I worried for nothing, his reply was “Good Job! That means you are using it right. Now get moving!” Had to finish the course by pretending to jab at the dummies.


I’ve also heard that bayonettes (when not attatched to the rifle) can be just plain handy tools to have around, useful for things like opening cans of food (assuming you don’t have a can opener for that sort of thing, I suppose).

Your astonishment at the fact that bayonets are still used is perfectly reasonable, for I think they are a useless anachronism.

NOTE: I am in a very much outspoken minority when it comes to this subject, and no doubt other military dopers will disagree with me.

  1. Modern rifles are much shorter than their WW1 counterparts, and that means less reach. They are also somewhat less able to withstand the kind of abuse that bayonet fighting will put on the rifle and still function. Modern rifles also tend to use knife bayonets, which are more useful as knives but less effective than the old spike bayonets. The prevalence of electronic and optical devices on modern rifles such as flashlights, lasers, supressors and optical sights also make regular use of the bayonet inpractical.

  2. In the infantry sections/squads of most Western armies, only a minority of soldiers will be carrying bayonet equipped rifles. The prevalence of light machine guns (generally no bayonet mounts), underbarrel grenade launchers (which generally preclude the use of bayonets), and designated marksmen (whose rifles generally cannot mount bayonets) means that only 20-50% of infantrymen will have them.

The British army is famous for having launched a “Bayonet Charge” in the early days of the Iraq war, to great effect and supposedly validating the usefulness of the device. When I raise the obvious question of how a standard 8 man British army section, with 2x Minimi light machine guns (no bayonet mounts), 2x L86 LSWs (no bayonet mounts) and 2x AG36 equipped rifles (you guessed it, no bayonet mounts), is supposed to have done so much damage with their bayonets, no one has ever given me a straight answer. I suspect that while one or two people may have been bayoneted, the battle was probably won the same way most other British victories over third world armies were; by being better shots and having more machine guns.

  1. A pistol is a much more useful secondary weapon to have than a bayonet.

  2. There are certain specific uses for bayonets, it’s a good, cheap crowd control weapon, and can be used as such as a last resort, but there are better crowd control devides in the tool box. It is a nice way to build confidence and aggression for new soldiers, and the training is fun and relaxing. That’s about it.

  3. No known version of the FN SCAR feature a bayonet mount.

I think that the weight of the bayonet can be substituted with an extra rifle magazine, a far more useful item, and the time used on bayonet training can be used for more productive ends.

kawaiitentaclebeast: This thread has indeed been educating for me. I obviously don’t know enough to debate on the topic, but thanks for validating my observation that at least a few modern rifles don’t have any place for a bayonet.

Raguleader: Are American infantrymen commonly issued large knives? If they are, a (modern, knife-like) bayonet seems to be merely another large knife that has the added advantage of being able to be stuck on the end of your rifle. If they are not, far be it from me to Question the Wisdom.

Bayonet training is also intended to establish the establish a warrior mentality and the understanding that one may be forced to actually fight and kill.

Otherwise, an awful lot of the training may seem like games and sport. Even marksmanship training can seem like sport or maybe even video games.

Bayonet training is accompanied by a lot of chanting about blood and killing, moreso than most of the rest of the training that is conducted in Basic Training.

So, while bayonet training may be a bit obsolete these days, it does, IMHO, have a place in the training of soldiers, even in preparation for fighting on today’s modern battlefield.

[hijack]My father is a decorated WW2 pacific theater and Korean war combat vet. AFAIK, the only thing bequethed to me in his will is his actual Korean war combat bloodied bayonet.

He kept it on the inside of his right boot. “You always know where it is and can get to it quickly.”[/end hijack]

Does it not also get recruits used to viewing the enemy as “bundles of straw”?

ie. you no longer think of them as flesh and blood?

I guess also that if you’re trained to shove a spike into an enemy, you’ll also feel comfortable with a close-range pistol shot to the head (when required)

The AUSTEYR assault rifle is fitted with a bayonet lug, FWIW…

Well what would you have them train on?

DS:“What is the spirit of the bayonet?”
recruit:“To KILL! To Kill without mercy
DS: "What makes the grass grow green?
recruit: “BLOOD! Blood makes the grass grow green.!”
–Army Basic Training, 1992
It’s not a pretty thing. It took a lot of design revisions for our current US bayonet to pass NATO and Geneva standards. And when warfare comes down to the decision to fix bayonets, the situation is more grim than you can possibly imagine unless you’ve had to do it yourself. Nobody. NOBODY wants to see his enemy writhe at the end of his rifle…and not be allowed to discharge a round to dislodge the corpse. It’s all so wrong.

As an aside, when I toured the factory, I was told that this is the way Wilkinsons (of razor blade fame) got into the sword-making business. The bayonets previously supplied to British soldiers were inferior and prone to breaking off etc, which led to too many soldiers getting killed. So Wilkinsons bid for and got the contract. The rest is history.

So I think they’d disagree with your Drill Sergeant if they were still in the sword business.

No, believe it or not most people in the military actually don’t confuse enemy soldiers for sacks full of straw. While the military is about as respected as television psychics on these forums, believe it or not the vast majority of people in the military are not in fact brain dead, and do recognize there are quite a few differences between a human being and an inanimate object.

There’s also almost no time when a close-range pistol shot to the head is required. If that’s some sort of jab about “executing” prisoners or whatever, that’s actually frowned upon by the military and is a crime. If you’re referring to a genuine combat situation, you typically would never aim for the head in a situation where you had to make quick use of your pistol. In most situations (snipers and other expert shots aside) you are better off aiming for the torso, because even if you’re slightly off target you’ll still probably hit flesh.

I mean, when boarding enemy vessels? All services officers dress uniforms include swords-when do they use them?

At weddings?