In modern gun history, bayonets have been married to one gun-several-or many.
Early bayonets were mated to long, blackpowder and cartridge guns. Trench warfare made long bayonets effective for keeping an enemy at bay, but 20-inch blades affixed to 49-inch rifles proved unwieldy. And during World War I and by the Second World War, rifles and bayonets were shortened.
The latest trend-insofar as the U.S. Marine OKC-3S bayonet-has turned the corner and made signs of returning to the larger, more powerfully built, cutlass-like blades of yesteryear.
But back to turn-of-the 20th century bayonets-specifically, the Enfield 1917 bayonet.
Unsure of the battle worthiness of the Lee-Enfield rifle SMLE (Short Magazine Lee Enfield), in the years leading up to World War I, Great Britain set about to produce a replacement rifle more on par with the German Mauser. The Brits produced the hard hitting P13 (.276 Enfield), but settled for an improved .303 Enfield (P14). British factories were unable to meet demand, and the U.S. was enlisted.
Contractors Remington, Winchester, and Eddystone took up the slack for British manufacturers, and American-made P14 Enfields chambered in .303 rolled off assembly lines headed for England.
Then, in 1917, the U.S. entered the war.
To supplement 1903 Springfield rifles used in that war, factories produced the U.S. M1917 Enfield Rifle (1917 to 1918) chambered for .30-06. At the conclusion of World War I, remaining M1917 Enfield rifles were sold in bulk as surplus or shipped overseas. (They make great deer guns.)
The American-made M1917 Enfield came with a detachable knife bayonet-the M1917.
The M1917 bayonet has a wooden grip with a pair of notches (parallel to the guard). This single-edge, blade bayonet has a fuller notch that runs nearly the length of the weapon's 16 inches.
The ricasso is marked according to manufacturer, either with Remington encircled and the date of production or "W" to denote Winchester. Some Enfield bayonets were destined for Great Britain and are marked accordingly. The M1917 Enfield bayonet has a leather scabbard with a steel-tipped end.
(Special Note: Enfield rifle bayonets double as a great pig sticker for U.S. combat shotguns.)
Somewhat longer than the USMC OKC-3S, shorter than some honkin' long military bayonets, the Enfield Rifle Bayonet M1917 was a hefty proposition that gradually gave way to shorter blades.
Coming soon to a garage sale near you: The Enfield 1917 Rifle Bayonet.
Get yours soon. You never know when you might get invited to a hog hunt in Texas.