In the hands of a properly trained operator, a good close-quarter knife or multipurpose bayonet system is a silent and lethal killer. This is especially true in the hands of our U.S. Armed Forces. And few knives are the equal of the 6 3/4-inch blade found on the business end of the 11 1/2-inch-long U.S. M6 bayonet; the 6 1/2 inch blade on the 11 3/4 inch U.S. M7 bayonet; or the 7-inch blade on the 12-inch U.S. M9 bayonet. The M6 was made for the M14 rifle; the M7 for the M16; and the M9 was made for the M16 series of battle rifles, the M4 carbine series, and the Mossberg 590 Special Purpose shotgun.

Mounted or hand-held, the M9 is a serious threat to be dealt with in close-quarter-combat.

On the firearms listed above, the M9 makes for a handy back-up when your ammo is gone.

And depending on a soldier's skills, the elongated weapon's systems can duel with the best.

Release of the M6 fell between two American wars-Korea and Vietnam.

The M7 was a friend of grunts in South Vietnam.

And the M9 bayonet is a child of the 1980s.

Whereas the M7 fared well in Vietnam and Grenada, the M9 did itself proud in the Gulf Wars of the early 1990s-the First and Second War. And at the turn of the 21st century, the United States Marines formed the tip of the spear (again) with the latest U.S. bayonet system-the OKC-3S bayonet.

Not quite as multifaceted as a Swiss Army Knife, the M9 has its unique qualities. One is its sheath, the M10 Scabbard-and its ability to cut through wire. And a sharpening stone is on the back.

The M9 is the brainchild of American Charles A. "Mickey" Finn and the Qual-A-Tec Company. Finn was eventually able to secure the patent for the M9 but not before a series of knock-offs surfaced.

As the man said, "Imitation is the highest form of flattery." But it's also illegal and costs U.S. companies a bundle each year-largely as a result of Asian and Mexican counterfeit knife makers.

In addition to Qual-A-Tec, several legitimate knife makers have produced the M9 to include Buck Knives, LanCay and Ontario Knife Company. And depending on the contractor, the M9 may or may not have a fuller. That said, the M9 bayonet has a reputation for breaking (hopefully, in the dead carcasses of American enemies) because of its thin blade. Quality or lack thereof may also have something to do with the reported breakage issue. For my money, assuming I had the opportunity, I believe I'd buy an M9 bayonet made by Buck Knives. Have you ever broken a Buck blade? Me either.

I don't own an M9, but visions of U.S. Special Operators slashing their way through enemy lines with these babies on the end of their M16, M4 or Mossberg 590 is incentive enough to run out and get one. Coming soon to a theater of war near you: the U.S. M9 bayonet and multi-purpose knife.