A New Enfield for a New War: The No4 MkI

The stalwart No1 MkIII “Smelly” served the United Kingdom well during the First World War, but by the 1920s it was growing obsolescent. The war had revealed a number of shortcomings of the design, and in the interwar years the British developed a replacement. The main issues that the new rifle would address were:

– Better mechanical accuracy, through use of a heavier barrel
– Better practical accuracy, through use of a micrometer-adjustable aperture sight
– A more practical short spike bayonet
– More efficient manufacturability

After a brief dalliance with the No1 MkV rifle in the early 1920s, the No1 MkVI was developed, which was fundamentally the new No4 rifle, just without the name. In the early 1930s a run of about 2500 No4 MkI rifles was produced, and they would go through field trials for the next several years until being formally adopted in 1939. Production actually began in the summer of 1941 at Maltby, Fazakerley, and BSA.


  1. My No4 No1 F is one of the nicest rifles in my collection. I particularly like the rear sight and of course the bolt is fast and easy to operate. If its 1942 and I’m going to war, I’ll have to admit that my Garand would be my first choice, but the Enfield would be a very strong #2.

    I remember paying about $75 for the rifle and a spike bayonet at a gun show in the last century (!). Later on I found one of the less common Bowie knife blade bayonets which makes an interesting accessory for the rifle.

  2. 1) The spike bayonet was universally hated. It may have been lethal, but that wasn’t the point, it was useless as a knife. It was replaced by the Bowie style No 9 post-WW2 and the blade design has been used on all British bayonets since.

    2) Noted author (Flashman, etc) George McDonald Fraser, while serving in the 9th Battalion of the Border Regiment in Burma, went out of his way to trade his No 4 for a No 1 Mk III. He just thought it was a better made weapon. Also, I think, there was a bit of “If it was good enough for my dad, it’s good enough for me”

    3) In all my reading of memoirs of the First and Second World Wars, I’ve never found anyone who called the SMLE the “Smellie” and I have to question its use. I think it is a post-war name that some collector came up with, like “MUTT” (which only existed in the imagination of Ford’s PR department) for the M151. We called them “jeeps”, “quarter tons” and even “M151’s” but never, ever in twenty-five years of service did I hear it called a “MUTT”. Same goes for the fools who call an M60 series tank a “Patton” or, worse, a “Super Patton”.

    • Colonel:

      I agree with you, the term “Smellie” is not one that seems to exist in any contemporary account I have read. I think British soldiers knew they had a good rifle. It was usually just referred to as a Lee-Enfield.

      As for the No4 spike bayonet, it was indeed no good as a knife, but every tommy was issued a jack knife for everyday use. An 18 inch sword bayonet was a bit unwieldy for opening a tin anyway, it is better to use the right tool for the job.

      I knew George McDonald Fraser had an SMLE out in Burma, but I had assumed he was issued it, rather than scrounged it. I am surprised he did not get into trouble over that. I had always thought the SMLE was pretty common in the Far East Theatre, as they were manufactured in India and Australia, neither of which ever made No4 rifles.

      • My copy of Frasers book Quartered Safe Out Here walked away but AIR he traded his Lee Enfield for one whose owner had been killed (friendly fire). He wanted to keep the rifle in the fight and it had a nice, very blond, stock.

        • I remember that passage as well. Fraser doesn’t say what model rifle he had before. He described a sort of secret ritual where each squad member traded some piece of gear with his dead comrade. Even something is simple as a sewing kit or cup.

          • One of the first things I did as AT Platoon Leader was hie me down to Sears and buy two heavy duty tow cables and two sets of heavy duty jumper cables – one each to my and my platoon sergeant’s vehicles, along with a roll of “duck” tape each so we could self-recover our M825 “Gun Jeeps” (M151’s with modified suspensions so they could carry a M40A1 106mm Recoilless Rifle). Turns out everybody in the Combat Support Company ended up borrowing them, to include the Heavy Mortar Platoon (Four Deuces) in their Goats. One day, the Scout Platoon borrowed a set of cables and towed a dead M151 in from the field. Spotted by the Battalion CO. “Where did you get the tow cables?” “From the AT Platoon, Sir”. I found myself called to the company CO’s office, where stood the LTC. Got a nice “Attaboy” and orders, “I want a TOE change request on my desk Monday morning for tow and jumper cables for X number of M151’s in the infantry battalion” “Yes, Sir” Six months later, it comes back, rejected as too expensive for the benefit. Wonder where those cables ended up after I PCS’d.

          • Actually, there’s nothing secret or new about dividing up a dead colleagues equipment and possessions. It goes back at least to the Roman Army and probably earlier. You exchange a worn piece of issue gear for a newer, better one – the quartermaster doesn’t care as long as his totals match up. As far as personal possessions go, they are auctioned off. The squad leader collects the money and sends it to the dead man’s relatives (In the Roman Army, some of it went to pay for his burial and memorial). I first heard of the ritual from an uncle who had been a flight engineer-top turret gunner on B-24’s, about how they would gather the missing man’s gear for turn in and personnel possessions to ship home. They would exchange gear and buy certain possessions, things that made life easier in England, but were meaningless back home. Personal letters were gone through to make sure “the girl back home” never learned about “the gal in London”, etc.

          • @COL Beausabre…

            I’ll lay you most excellent odds that what happened to that stuff was that your successors gradually forgot why that stuff was hanging around in storage, and eventually turned it in as “excess property” during some less-than-brilliant individual’s change-of-command inventories… Whereupon they discovered the “why” as soon as they went to the field again in any serious way.

            Once upon a time, in the Federal Republic of Germany, we got in a new commander. During his change-of-command inventory, he saw that we had all this tentage and heating for said tentage on the books, unauthorized on the MTOE (Modified Table of Organization and Equipment, for those of you who’re fortunate enough not to have done damage to your mind through military service with Uncle Sam…). So, we turned all that canvas and steel in. During the month of October. Did I mention that our new commander was from Texas, and had never done service anywhere with a really cold climate? I probably should have…

            January came around, and we found out that there was a concatenation of unpleasantness: V Corps had recently gone through a succession of units cancelling training at various sites, and had put out a message saying that if you scheduled it, you bloody well used it. Period. No exceptions. Ever.

            Second event was that the new commander’s cancellation of the exercise scheduled by the previous commander in Wildflecken crossed paths with the message from Corps, and, well… Yeah. We were going to ‘Flecken. In January. Also, because he’d submitted the cancellation thinking it would go through, we hadn’t scheduled any of the ranges or barracks at Wildflecken, so it was a sudden shock to find out that we were gonna have to go up there and stay out in a training area, conducting whatever training we could come up with on our own. No options; train or die.

            Should have also mentioned that because we’d had all that tentage, and were in a garrison community that mostly did support arms (32nd AADCOM was the overhead, for us…), the nice people at the Central Issue Facility never saw fit to issue anything more than the Intermediate Cold sleeping bag, ‘cos, ya know… Tents.

            We did three weeks in weather that got down to -30 degrees Fahrenheit, living in shelter halves. Did I mention it was policy to court-martial any leader whose soldiers got cold-weather injuries? Or, that that was my first rodeo as an NCO? Oh, yeah… I’ve still got twitches, thinking about that whole deal.

            Later overheard our new commander having a come-to-Jesus session with our acting First Sergeant, who’d argued for hours over the tentage turn-in. The sarcasm fairly dripped off his words, and if you’ve never ever seen a senior E-7 achieve moral ascendency over an O-3, well… That would have been an enlightening half-hour or so. New commander got it in succession from the Battalion Commander, the CSM, and then our acting First. See, he’d kinda forgotten to mention the whole tentage and heater deal to the chain of command before leaving to go do training in the middle of one of the coldest winters during the 1980s in Central Europe, and the BC was kinda curious as to why we were all in shelter-halves as opposed to the GP Mediums he thought we’d have had…

            Ah, youth and naivete… Never a good combination. Also, I’ve learned to inquire about the climatic experience and background for my bosses, and compensated accordingly such that I never repeated anything like that again.

        • I just looked at my copy of Fraser’s memoir. He said he carried the “old pattern “ of Lee Enfield. He mentioned that others carried the “Mark 4 with the pig sticker “. No mention of swapping or trading.

    • ‘Super Patton’ is a new one for me, and I like to think of myself as an armor nerd. It smacks of ‘Gavin’.


        “Mr Sparks if you want to try and name something try something from Airborne then!!!! M113 Crewmen have NEVER called it your stupid “G” name anywhere in the world and NEVER EVER will (see i will not even say the name and yours in the same comments on the off chance it gave you any more bogus google hits, which we all know is how you started your stupid campaign) and yes i did 12 1/2 years in them. did you ever crew one at all?? why don’t you go try and name a plane or helicopter after who ever it is. and they name armoured vehicles after Armoured people (or from units that were predecessors to Armoured like Calvary or Mounted Rifles in the case of my country) so why would they ever name after someone who was never even associated with Armoured Vehicles. give up your campaign. i find it very offensive that you are even still trying when so many have told you the truth in so many places.
        the only people that ever call them your stupid G name is those that are uneducated on the matter.”

        “In more than 30 years working in the defense industry, I have never, never heard anybody use the name “Gavin” for the M-113. Not in the US nor in any of the many countries that use the vehicle. Not in the military forces, not in the companies that build and equip it, not in the groups that retrofit and repair it. This usage appears not only to be “unofficial”, it is entirely fictional and I believe that you may have been the victim of a hoax or deliberate disinformation.” From Globalsecurity.org

        “Unfortunately the person most responsible for spreading this myth is Mike Sparks. I would not take anything he says at face value but would verify it from other sources. See Mary McCarthy’s comments on Lillian Hellman”

        • Ol’ Sparky is a tragedy, to my mind. There is, I am afraid, just a little bit of “signal” in all the noise he makes, and because that signal is emanating from him, wellllll… The actual value of the message gets rejected, ‘cos “Sparky”.

          Early days, there was some value to his website, and I could not argue with what he had to say about a limited number of things. Then, the dude went right off the deep end into lala-land, and we have the reputation he’s got to this day. Want to kill a good idea? Let it be known that Sparky had something to do with it, or spoke positively of it.

          I still agree with him that there’d be some value in mounting some bits and bobs of light infantry on bicycles–You’re gonna rely on speed, stealth, and strategic mobility? A pallet of bicycles and guys trained to use them will get a small force a hell of a lot further than a pallet-load of fuel for the limited number of vehicles you can squeeze into theater. Granted, there are a limited number of situations where that would be valuable, but I think it’d be handy to have that in the light infantry toolkit for the occasions it would be. Just like I think we ought to spend a lot more time and energy on things like training them to be ski troops, at least rudimentary ones.

          Like I said, Ol’ Sparky is a tragic disaster wrapped up around a really creative mind that’s coupled with no filter and what appears to be a very limited amount of common sense. The guy could have been a real positive force, but then he veered off into the weedy verge of lala-land, and here we are along the timeline where he’s a byword for epic-scale nuttery.

          I’ll lay you long odds that because you’ve invoked his name, at some point, he’ll become aware and pay us all a visit.

    • Lot of the “naming of things” happens long after the item actually leaves service, and is conducted by people not actually involved in using the equipment. I never, ever heard anyone that operated them in WWII call the M25 Tank Transporter a “Dragon Wagon”, but you go to a military vehicle meet, and that’s all you’ll hear. Even some of the successor vehicles get called by that sobriquet…

      Also, the MUTT: Never once in the time when we still had those things did I ever hear them called anything other than “M151”. Not even “Jeep”. Always just M151, period.

      Or, since they were pretty much at the end of their service life throughout my first four-year contract, “…that POS that’s broken-down in the motor pool…”. I was not fond of the M151. Or, it’s even-worse cousin in the pantheon of POS vehicles that were Really Bad Ideas ™ in concept and use, the benighted Gamma Goat.

      I have issues with the M151, once having spent most of an afternoon and evening push-starting and just plain pushing one through rural and suburban West Germany for about fifteen miles after having had to go out with a driver and arrest a guy for some really, really stupid crap he got up to while clearing the post, and before he left to go to his next assignment. Turns out, when you can no longer keep the distributor where it’s supposed to be on that little 4-cylinder, it don’ lakh runnin’ much…

      Ah, memories of service. Madness, incarnate, looking back–But, it seemed so reasonable at the time, when I was young, enthusiastic, and dumb as a friggin’ post.

      • I once heard a guy who had the displeasure of working with M151s remark that the only way he could see anyone who’s actually driven one calling that thing the “mutt” would be as an abbreviation of “Motherf*ucking Useless Trash Truck” or similar

        • LOL… I feel his pain, to this day.

          Out of my Basic Training company, three of us died due to accidents with the M151. One guy was hapless enough to get himself and his LT run over by a tank during maneuvers at Fort Hood, another one rolled his vehicle on an off-ramp doing something off-post at Fort Reilly, and the third guy bit it on an on-ramp going onto the Autobahn in Germany.

          Stupid bastards didn’t do anything about the well-known rollover issue with that vehicle until well after it left active duty. The rollover cages and nets that kept people in, plus the seatbelts? Those would have saved a lot of lives, over the years…

          Dear God, did we really used to lose that many guys just doing routine peacetime operations? You stop and think about it, and it’s mind-numbing: Before the end of my first 4-year contract, my Basic Training company had at least five deaths that I knew about–The aforementioned tithe to the M151 gods, one guy who took an M203 flare into the chest cavity thanks to a particularly stupid National Guardsman he was playing OPFOR for, and the fifth guy went to sleep in the middle of an open field only to be “discovered” by a tank running him over in his sleeping bag. I think there were a couple of civilian auto accident-related fatalities and no doubt some drug/drinking related ones, as well… But, damn, that’s five deaths in routine operations over the course of four years, mostly in the first two, out of around a hundred and thirty guys.

          Things have seriously tightened up, safety-wise: Used to be, every unit going to Fort Irwin for participation in the National Training Center was required to have five senior NCOs or officers take their Class A dress uniforms with, just in case they had to do escort duty for a casualty. Some units wound up using all of them…

          The three years I was at NTC, we had one fatality in training, guy who took a 25mm round through the back of the head because a particularly dimwitted Lieutenant didn’t clear his actual line-of-fire vs. his line-of-sight on his Bradley. Didn’t help that the other Lieutenant that the poor bastard was driving the M113 for was ever-so-slightly out of position, either, but who the hell expects to have targetry to actuate after the action was already over, or to have some trigger-happy dumbass decide to engage it after the cease-fire?

          Playing “Army” is a dangerous game, when you’re doing it for realsies…

          • Old friends of mine who were in the armed forces have similar tragic tales… Light infantry on maneuvers crashing after forced marches in the ditch next to the road… Guy at the wheel of a particular vehicle falls asleep…Vehicle lurches into the ditch, and the driver jolts awake having crushed a few slumbering guys. Idiots thought it would amusing to fire a dummy tank shell at a neighboring tank to scare the shit out of ’em… Only people died or were injured seriously…

            I have it on good authority that before sale could be authorized of scrapped M151s, they’d be completely crushed, because they were understood to be so unsafe… People without scruple would by them and pull and tease and prize them back into shape and sell them anyway…

    • I served in the ‘80’s, the MPs I served with called the M151 “Jeeps”, but they were….MP’s.

  3. Only way I found to contact you . Some time ago you compared the Hellcat with the Sig p365. I think it is time to update and compare the Hellcat RDP vs. the Sig P365 XL Romeo. What do you think???

  4. The No4 was of course also made in Canada at Longbranch, on the west side of Toronto, in a new factory set up specifically to produce this rifle.

  5. For all gripes about the pig-sticker bayonet being useless for everything apart from stabbing people or mine probing, I think the (misguided) idea was combat-specific equipment being separate from camping utilities. Not that any soldier would use a knife covered in potted meat and bread crumbs to run someone through, but a stuck-up commissioned officer might say “your bayonet is not a tin opener, so don’t use it as one.” I could be wrong.

    • I think you’re absolutely spot-on… I didn’t see your post until after I added what I did below, or I would have made it a reply to yours.

  6. There’s an interesting u turn on the idea of the SMLE nose cap

    I think that the No4 got it correct, that weight is far more useful in the barrel, than it was in the nose cap.

    The bedding / stocking of a British Lee is a very involved subject*. Word of mouth suggests that the heavier barrel and receiver of the No4, resulted in rifles that maintained their zero better.

    I’m not sure how well they handled the higher pressure Mkviii machine gun ammunition
    They were upposed to be OK from a safety point of view, but later experience with the 7.62×51 conversion, which added a larger case head to the high pressure, showed greater dispersion unless even heavier barrels were used.

    *Bedding of the Lees that had one piece stocks, looks like even more of an art form, as Lee doesn’t seem to have designed them with specific recoil absorbing surfaces.

  7. vis-a-vis the bayonet question…

    Once upon a time, I was a bored young Staff Sergeant with a crew of miscreant nut…, er… enthusiastic young men under me. Couple of us were shooters, couple of us were guys who had odd questions about things. One of which was, shortly after the Army saw fit to copy the Kalashnikov bayonet and issue the M9 made by Phrobis, was “How does this thing work, as a bayonet…?”.

    We gathered up the fixin’s for a fairly decent “scientific test”: Said M9 and a rifle out of the Arms Room, an “excess” M7 that hadn’t quite made turn-in, one of the guy’s AK-pattern rifles and an AK “multi-tool”-type bayonet, and a Chinese SKS with a cruciform bayonet. The “test material” was a lot of cryo-pack sides of beef that had been recalled for some reason, or which had gone over their “use by” dates, and some other things like the old PASGT flak vest and some sandbags we filled with something that kinda-sorta matched ballistic gelatin.

    We spent an afternoon down in the cold storage building we had access to, and did some “practical testing”. Outcome?

    M9 was the biggest POS ever. The blades broke, they got stuck between ribs, and they were basically the worst thing you could possibly stick into something, ‘cos it wasn’t coming out after. God help you if you stuck it in and twisted, because the nice little serrated teeth were perfect for hanging up on ribs and what-not. Also, utter shiite for getting through things like web gear and/or the Kevlar on the PASGT vest.

    We broke three of those ‘effing things before we were even half-way done doing what we were doing for testing, and had to go “borrow” a couple of more from the Arms Room. Thankfully, there were enough “excess” in the inventory afterwards to account for the losses while we ordered new blades. And, other parts–The latching mechanism on the M9 bayonet were not worth crap, either–Twice, we got to witness the latch failing, once when trying to remove the bayonet from a simulated body, and another time it just flew off the end of the rifle when doing a “Spirit of the Bayonet”-style lunge when a guy was showing off. That one sent the damn bayonet flying across the cold room like some kind of deranged knife thrower did it, and nearly took out one of the test participants.

    You can color me in as “unimpressed” by the M9 bayonet. To my way of thinking, it’s one of those things like the BMP or the F111: Cold War “Good Ideas” that did more damage being copied by the other side than they ever will in actual combat. I don’t know what the Soviets were thinking with their bayonets, but they’re even worse. In some regards–We couldn’t get the AK multi-purpose one to come off the rifle, but they got hung up just as badly as the M9, and it broke with equal faculty when you went to do the “stick-and-twist” with it. Again, not really impressed–The steel in those things is so hard that you can’t really sharpen them, and you’re pretty much going to slice a finger off if you’re in a hurry to use one cutting wire, just like the M9.

    Again, not impressed.

    M7 on the M16? It worked, but got stuck a lot. Also, prone to breaking. Tips, usually, not down by the base of the shaft where the M9 did.

    Surprise of the day? That cruciform spike on the SKS. That puppy was an amazing little tool–Zip in, zip out, no issues with getting stuck, and holy schnikes, did it leave a mess inside the “body” when you did the “stick-and-twist” with it. It also penetrated body armor and web gear with equal faculty, not getting stuck on anything, and instead of bending or breaking on a magazine the way the M9 and M7 did, it just went right through that bastard like it wasn’t really there. Granted, you had a bit more trouble on the pull-out, but… Yeah.

    So, here’s my perspective: You want a bayonet? Cruciform spike is the way to go, and make damn sure the connection to the rifle is positive. I really wish we’d had a selection of the old-school weapons from back in the day to compare, but we didn’t. I still look at a lot of the old knife-style bayonets with a questioning eye: Yeah, they look a treat for use as a slashing weapon, but as with the Romans and their gladius hispanicus, color me in as an enthusiast for poking people rather than slashing at them. The spike bayonet on that damn Chinese SKS was about 12 inches of vicious efficiency at penetrating anything in the path on your way to someone’s vitals, and I think that if I had my choice of “things to be on the other guy’s rifle” when in a bayonet fight, that I’d prefer the poor bastard to be saddled with something like the M9 or the AK multi-tool style. I see he’s got one of those spike bayonets on the end of his rifle? I am not going to be a happy camper.

    So, for what it’s worth, I think the fools that traded the spike bayonet for the knife version were fools kowtowing to the irrationalities of the private soldier. The Brits were not terribly fond of the spike after the advent of cartridge weapons, for some reason, and I’d love to know why they chose to go to the knife. The French, with the trend towards “Rosalie” for the Lebel? I think they got it a lot closer to right.

    Anybody who choses the knife-style bayonet? I have to wonder whether they’ve ever actually, y’know… Stuck one in something. After having done so myself, I’ve concluded that if I were using the M9 in a bayonet fight, I’d likely be dead, dead, dead after about the first person I stuck into with one, ‘cos that bitch is probably staying in that guy, period. Or, it’ll break. Too many jobs for one tool, too many compromises in the design resulting.

    No, give me a single-purpose tool, if I’ve gotta go into a bayonet fight. Make it a cruciform with razor-sharp edges, bright chrome so as they can see me coming at them with something sharp and blood in my eyes. Also, for the love of God, make sure the ‘effing thing stays on the friggin’ weapon…

    The M9 is not a bayonet for fighting with. It’s a shiny toy that looks all GI Joe, but it’s actually not fit for purpose. Dunno about the current Marine-issue bayonet, but it’s another knife-on-a-stick, and I’ve got my doubts about that whole ‘effing concept.

    • Kirk

      Your experience makes a lot of sense

      Cruciform bayonet, a lot like the bodkin arrow head of the hundred years wars; Both of them)

      It might not look impressive, but it went in and did its job,

      Especially if it had been dipped in rotting meat and horse shit before hand.

      (Not recommending such barbaric practices).

      • Yeesh… That’s about as bad as the supposed punji stake deal. Every Vietnam vet I ever met that spend time in the field claimed that that’s what the VC did, deliberately–contaminated the stakes with all kinds of unGodly concoctions.

        Yet, the one former VC I knew? His story was they never did that, ever–At least, not deliberately. Didn’t need to, because of the environment.

        I have to wonder about the “coat the bodkin point with filth” thing, because if they knew to do that, then… Why the hell did it take us so long to come up with the germ theory of disease? Were we really that dumb, and everybody was thinking that infection was a matter of bad luck or divine/demonic intervention?

        • The germ theory was first postulated just after the Thirty Years’ War, in 1657.

          Two German doctors, Augustine Hauptman and Christian Longius, conceived it after having treated a lot of infected wounds prior to 1648. They were immediately attacked by “mainstream” medical experts, notably John Asdruc, Louis XIV’s court physician, who vilified them as “quacks”.

          Ironically, Louis Pasteur, who generally gets the credit for germ and sterilization theory today, specifically mentions Hauptman and Longius’ work in his documentation. But nobody bothers to read the original source material anymore.



    • “…Too many jobs for one tool, too many compromises in the design resulting…”(С)

      And there is.
      Universal = for nothing.
      Back in the middle of the 19th century, serious tests were carried out in Russia to determine the optimal bayonet for a new rifle.
      The Italian(?) Version with a cruciform rod was found to be optimal.
      This variant served with success until WW2 and everyone was happy with it.
      Except the poor fellows in which he was thrust, but they did not sting either. 😉

      But there are no obstacles for idiots. And to replace one of the best in the world (it’s true) bayonets, they adopted the worst possible in the world (and it’s true).

      • And, then… We copied them.

        Sometimes, ya have to wonder about the easy way bad ideas propagate, even ones taken up from your enemies. “Ohmigawd… There’s a bayonet gap!!! The Soviets can cut wire with their bayonets! Even electrified wire!!!! And, look! Saw teeth!!”.

        Followed by the Germans copying (or, maybe they were first…? Dunno, I think there may have been a WWII predecessor to the Eickhorn disaster…) them, then the US, and nowhere did any of the idiots actually seem to have taken the trouble to try using the friggin’ things as, ya know… Bayonets.

        It ain’t just teenage girls who’re prone to fads, or suburban salarymen driven to “keep up with the Joneses…”. It’s the same range of idiocy that leads to things like the EM-2 never dying until they brought in the L85, or the way the SPIW tried to come back to life like a George Romero zombie as the OICW. As a cultural phenomenon, it’s an amusing subject for study–As a taxpayer? Man, I want to lynch some of these idiots. As a soldier? You have no idea how much I envy the supposed Samurai tradition of taking a sword broken in combat back to the smith that made it, and ramming it up his fundament.

    • I thought the use of a bayonet nowdays was there largely to trigger the primal fear of sharp objects (several millennia of breeding) in humans that a gun (only ~700, less than 400 of which had guns that could fire instantly be common) just doesn’t. I doubt a spike triggers that fear like a knife does. Plus I expect the non-bayoneting tasks (cutting things open, dismantling wire fencing, stabbing someone you get into a grapple with in CQC) to be more common than actually using a bayonet offensively.

      • I don’t think there’s a lot of perceptual difference between “Guys carrying sticks with pokey bits on the end” vice “Guys carrying sticks with sharp slashy bits on the end”, to be honest. By the time you’re able to discern the difference between the two, you’re probably already either filling your pants and running, or you’re laughing your ass off as you flick the safety off the good ol’ Maxim gun…

        My main objection to the multi-purpose knife bayonet is that they’re all pretty much shiite as knives or tools. Trying to cut concertina with the M9 is an exercise in frustration and serious risk to chopping your fingers off because the eeedjits designed it with the sharp side of the blade slicing into the sheath when you put it on the wirecutter and try to cut wire with it. Then, there’s the minor fact that the friggin’ thing was not designed to really cut wire very well, either–The stud that holds the blade against the cutting edge liked to loosen up, which meant that it didn’t want to cut effectively, and there was really no real wire guide built into the design to help you get the wire to where it could be cut.

        I once spent a night under a HMMWV that my idiot driver had managed to get entangled in one of those typical “haystack from hell” wire masses that you find after breaching a wire obstacle in training. He’d compounded the error by trying to accelerate out of the pile of wire after first having driven into it in a fit of utter moronic stupidity–Dude had no damn excuse; he was wearing our one set of night vision goggles, the moon was out, and I’d had my head down checking our map with a red lens flashlight. I could identify that there were mounds of wire alongside the combat trail with my naked eyes, after the fact–With NVGs on, he should have seen the damn things for what they were, tempered steel tumbleweeds the size of a damn car. And, he drove right into one so hard and so fast that we literally could not open the doors–My initial attack on the problem was opening the window, leaning out with that loathsome M9 in hand, and cutting enough wire to get out of the damn truck. Whereupon, I discovered that some other victim of cognitive function damage had a.) broken our one set of Army-issue bolt cutters, not informing anyone, and b.) that there was a metric butt-ton of wire wrapped around all of our axles and even, amazingly, the drive shaft. Cue close to four hours of practical experience with our two M9 bayonets, at the end of which they were both useless for wirecutting, and me deciding that I was gonna buy that set of hundred-dollar concertina cutting pliers that they had in the Brigade Quartermasters catalog, come hell or high water.

        I gotta be honest with you–I had that night, and a couple of “tactical” experiences with that damn POS cutting wire, and I decided it was basically a waste of time. The only really quick tactical wire-cutter is that weird Finnish flash hider on the Valmet rifles, where you stick the flash hider over the wire, twist to put it straight across the muzzle, and fire. That’ll do it, quick and easy, every time. That damn M9? It looks like a good idea on paper, but try to actually use one, sometime–You find out it simply does not perform as advertised.

        The problem is, all those “non-bayonetting” tasks you mention…? The multi-purpose tools like the M9 and the AK bayonet are utter shiite for all of them. Because the itty-bitty top of the blade has to be hard enough to cut the tempered steel in military barb wire and concertina, the entire blade has to be hardened to the point where it is ludicrously difficult to either put on a good edge, or keep it; the rest of the functions are better served by dedicated tools, and if you think any of the bayonets are even slightly useful as a knive, fighting or otherwise…? Yeah; try one out, sometime. Does. Not. Work.

        Only knife-blade type bayonet I’ve ever seen that was worth a damn was the one the Finns put on the Valmet line. Those bastards are amazingly good knives, and built like you wouldn’t believe–I think the shank is like 3/8″ thick, and it’s about like a damn prybar. I opened 55 gallon drums with the one I had, no problems. Weird thing is, the Finns hate those damn things, refuse to carry them in lieu of their own puuko knives, and I’m told they do not even issue them any more. Which I find really odd, because I loved that damn thing. Wish I could find another one–Mine went the way of all things flesh one night at Yakima Firing Center, and I presume it’s laying in wait to ambush someone’s tire. Probably take off a tank tread, to be honest…

        • Finnish aversion of the bayonet goes back to WW2. They were hardly ever used mounted on the rifles and for hand-to-hand combat puukko knives and occasionally spades (which would nowadays be called e-tools) were preferred, or even using the rifle simply as a club. Also, nobody ever wanted to attach a bayonet on a Suomi SMG.

          The RK 62/95 is already longer than a sub-machine gun; why would you want to make it even longer with a bayonet? On the very off-chance that you would sometimes have an empty magazine when coming to hand-to-hand combat ranges? Or at least that’s the thinking behind the dismissive attitude towards bayonets.

          The M1962 bayonet is basically a utility knife which can also be used as a bayonet. It still isn’t as good as a dedicated puukko knife, which probably explains why Finnish soldiers are less than enthusiastic about it.

          • I have got to get my hands on one of those puukko knives, if they’re so much better than that M1962 bayonet, nomenclature of which I was unaware. If the average Finnish soldier feels like that thing is inferior, well… Those puukko knives have got to be something else.

  8. A stacking swivel is not a frill. If we had been obliged to lay our M14s on the wet sand of Ft. Lewis WA, esp. in winter, routine cleaning would have turned into an even more miserable job than it was.

    • I doubt the stacking swivel was designed to be locked in different orientations. It looks this one has loosened up and is no more staked as it should be.

  9. Something I’d not thought about before

    Looking at the thumbnail pic

    It looks like the chamfering cam was on the right hand lug seat

    Was it mirrored on the left hand seat?

    Extraction camming can only have been on the left hand lug

    Why did no one ape mauser, and use the root of the bolt handle for extraction camming?

  10. I agree that the Phrobis M9 (modified Buck “Buckmaster” pseudo-Rambo knife) is a terrible bayonet and a pretty poor knife, too. It didn’t help that the Rambo stuff was a low point of practical (para)military sharp pointy tool design.

    There comes a point where militaries decide that bayonet fighting is no longer A Thing, but that being able to stick a field knife on the end of a rifle is still desirable, whether for “martial spirit” or for herding prisoners, or just because.

    To me, that can be traced to 1930s (eg MP38j and WW2 SMGs with no bayonet mounts (unlike, say, the Lanchester, which took the foot and a half SMLE pig sticker), and the M1 carbine, which, originally, had not facility for bayonet mounting, though later gained one.

    No bayonet on the MP43/44/SG44 either.

    Rightly or wrongly, the last twenty years show that the knife-type things in service judged as most important by the guys are the multi-tool and the “tactical folder”, with anything fixed blade far behind, especially the “combat dagger” type. Personally, I think there is a heck of a lot to be said for a sensible 3-5” blade single edge straight knife in preference to the folder, but that’s not where most of the guys downrange are.

    • I made a similar judgment, as a soldier. The Marines appear to agree with us, because their current bayonet is a lot more “a fighting knife you can stick on your rifle” than the M9. Although, there is that goofy set of serrations on the thing…

      To my way of thinking, there’s room for a multi-purpose tool, but if it were me doing the determination, it’d be a titanium spike worked into a storage space built in to the handguard, and it’d be usable as a mine probe as well as a bayonet. The knife issue I’ll take care of myself, thankyouverymuch–I’m with the Finns: Let the soldier procure his own, just authorize it and set some commonsensical specifications for him to work within.

      I probably carried way too much steel when I on active duty. Usually, I’d have at least a Swiss Army knife, a pliers-based multi-tool, a decent-sized fixed blade on my web gear, and then something suitable for brush like a kukri or machete on my ruck. Odds are, were I humping that up and down hills in Afghanistan, things woulda been winnowed down to the barest necessities, but so long as I had a truck and I was mostly working off of it? Yeah; if I’d needed it once and found it useful, I was usually carrying it.

      • An original Leatherman (light, compact), a small Swiss folder in a trouser pocket and something like a modernised Randall Bird and Trout or short model 1 or 3 on the belt should more than cover cover the infantry bases. And the last has to be optional.

        Many/most recent knives and even multi-tools are overbuilt. No problem in many circs, but if the soldier is carrying half or more his/her body weight in stuff, why add to it?

        To put it another way, the classic Ka-Bar (which IMHO is 2” too long), fails about every single modern “Knife nut” test, but largely passed the real test of combat use.

  11. I have helped derail these comments. To try to get back on track, does anyone think that the No4 was not the finest bolt-action military rifle ever fielded by a vaguely serious army? Because it is. Stuff your Mausers and Springfields….

      • Well, at least we haven’t derailed a train. Speaking of derailing conversations and me derailing stuff, there’s not much hope for Wall Street if people could be snookered into investing in a steam locomotive that even casual train spotters knew wouldn’t work. This scam was done TWICE, by the way, the second time just ten years after the first. What was I talking about? The Holman Horror…

        • In a wartime context,

          First, in WWI there was the proposed 200 HP fixed radial ABC “Dragonfly” aero engine, that the British mandarins fooled themselves with.

          The Canadians fooled themselves with Ross rifles


          In the wwii, the British mandarins again fooled themselves into tolerating the appalling production quality and reliability of the 2,000+ HP Napier sabre engine

          It makes the sound design and success of the No4 rifle and the BREN, all the more amazing

      • In the context of rifles, there are two types of “straight-pull” bolt-actions.

        One type is an actual system in which the bolt does no rotation to lock or unlock. The M1895 Lee-Navy 6mm is a classic example of this, as are the Model 1885, 1886, and 1887 Mannlicher Austrian Army rifles, with their locking flap under the bolt.

        The other is a conventional turnbolt action with an added “cam path” system which allows the user to pull straight back on the bolt handle, while the “cam” does the work of turning the bolt back and forth. These are analogous to the early gas-operation systems used to convert bolt-action rifles to self-loading actions, such as the British Enfield “Sword Guard” experimental system of 1917.

        The Swiss Schmidt-Rubin, Model 1893 Austrian Mannlicher, and the Ross fall into this category. It’s not as obvious with the M1893 and the Ross, as their cam path setups are machined into the bolt body itself. There’s no way the Schmidt-Rubin’s can be missed, as it’s in a separate tube on the right side of the action, ahead of that T-handle (which has always looked like the starter-pull handle on a Briggs & Stratton lawn mower engine to me).

        About the best thing than can be said of the “cam-path” type is that they have almost as effective primary (turning) extraction as a regular turnbolt action. The non-turning types tended to have poor primary extraction, as there was no initial rotary motion of the cartridge to break it loose form the chamber wall.

        That doesn’t change the fact that the cam-path types (or as I think of them, “phony” straight-pull actions) are basically turn bolt actions with unnecessary complications tacked on, to little or no real advantage.

        Unless of course the Ordnance types dream of being able to convert every rifle in their inventory to a self-loader by clamping a gas tube to one side of it. And I’m sure at least some of them were thinking along those lines a century or so ago.



        • My understanding is that the basic idea of straight-pull bolt action rifles is that it makes cycling the bolt a simpler task with less phases. That in turn is supposed to make it easier to do without problems under combat duress. It was NOT supposed to make cycling the bolt much faster, especially not in the case of the pseudo-straight pull actions such as the Mannlicher 1893.

          How significant the supposed straight-pull advantage in training soldiers was in practice is of course debatable. The performance of the Austro-Hungarian infantry in WW1 can hardly be taken as indication, since that army had so many issues that any small advantage in infantry training would have been meaningless. The Canadian use of the Ross rifle was too brief to tell us much, either.

      • Switzerland is a weird thing… Since they’ve successfully maintained neutrality for the last few centuries, nobody ever thinks of them as much of anything in regards to small arms. However, those that know regard them as a source of one hell of a lot of innovation–Eduard Rubin, anyone?

        The Schmidt-Rubin rifles were typical Swiss products–Idiosyncratic, very well-adapted to local conditions and tactical/operational intent, and just really amazingly good rifles. If someone had been foolish enough to challenge Swiss neutrality, I think people would hold them in much higher regard.

        Switzerland is an interesting nation. I’ve run into a couple of serving Swiss soldiers over the years, and those guys always struck me as being pretty sharp and nobody I’d like to have on the other side when I am at war. So too, their weapons…

        I still have a soft spot in my heart for the StG57. And, all the gear that went with it… As an example of a well-integrated set of combat equipment, that whole package is very well thought-out, and an example other nations ought to aspire to.

  12. I’ve also never seen a contemporary with use “smelly” reference.

    I’m open to correction but I suspect it’s much newer than that, maybe an American surplus advertisement coinage of the 1950s. It sounds very Hy Hunter/Sam Cummings.

    The only slang term for rifle I’ve seen in First World War writings is “bundook” and variations thereof, an Arabic and Hindi term.

    • staghounds, “Bundook: is Filipino for “Mountain”. During the Philippine Insurrection US troops corrupted it to “Boondocks” meaning “Out Back of Beyond” or “Nowhereville” (cf: the British Army WW2 term “out in the Blue” for the middle of the Western Desert)

      “According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the phrase “the boondocks” is derived from the Tagalog word bundok, which means mountain. American soldiers stationed in the Philippines adopted the word in the early 1900s, shifting the meaning to refer to “an isolated or wild region”.

      • And I stand corrected. In addition to the American usage, there is this

        “From Hindi बन्दूक (bandūk, “gun”), from Arabic بُنْدُقِيَّة‎ (bunduqiyya, “rifle, gun”). The original Arabic was بُنْدُق‎ (bunduq) and denoted filberts, nuts shaped like the projectiles thrown from stone bows. That usage was transferred to the bows themselves. Later it was transferred from bows to firearms.”

        my apologies

  13. According to my friends who were in service, the M151 was always called exactly that, or just the “151”. Ditto the M113, including the ACAV modified ones. Most of them were unaware that the “113” even had an “official” name.

    The term “Patton tank” was only ever applied to the M46 and M47 series. The M48 and M60 were called by those exact designations. Yes, this did cause occasional confusion in the latter case, due to the M60 GPMG.

    And no, nobody ever called the 152mm gunned, Shilleglagh ATGW-firing M60A2 the “Starship”. “Piece of S#!t”, OTOH, was a frequent “nickname” for it. Along with its “little brother”, the M551 “Sheridan”.

    Officially, the M2 IFV is the “Bradley” and the M3 CFV is the “Devers”. In practice, they are all “Bradleys”.

    And today, the M1 Abrams in all its variations is simply known as a “tank” in U.S. service, as it’s the only “tank” still in the inventory, and has been since 1992.



    • I don’t think the M113 has an “official name”, although I’d be open to contradiction… In my entire career, that vehicle was always the “Emm-one-one-three” or “One-one-three”, period.

      Variants were typically the same–The Command Post version was the “Emm-five-five-seven”, and the “Improved Tow Vehicle” with the hammerhead was always the “Eye-Tee-Vee”.

      That’s it. I don’t remember ever hearing anything else…

      • Track (unofficial) or ACAV (Armoured Calvary Assault Vehicle apparently sounding warrier than APC).

        • I’ve only ever heard those used by Vietnam-era guys. Although, the construction “track” was pretty much used by everyone to refer to anything with a track-laying sort of setup, whether it was a tank, an APC, or an SP artillery piece. As in, “Those tracks over there are coming this way…”. It was always kinda generic in my generation.

          I think the ACAV deal was a situational adaptation to Vietnam that they threw out the window upon the end of the war, making believe they’d be able to return back to their original flawed assumptions about how the whole thing worked. Honestly, the ACAV package really should have been applied to every single M113 out there, aside from the ambulance versions, and those should have been vismodded to match so as to make them visually indistinguishable.

          The parallels between the fate of the ACAV mod kit and the MRAP are frightening. I know all of us going into Iraq as users of the M113 (namely, Engineer troops…) wanted the full-ride ACAV setup, vice the generic M113.

          I think there’s an entire monograph out there, waiting to be written, discussing this issue, which I see as the utter lack of any ability to actually learn on the part of the US Army. I worked with a British senior Warrant officer who was doing an exchange tour at the Engineer School for just a little bit, and he made a priceless comment about our much-vaunted “Center for Army Lessons Learned”, or as it’s known, CALL. What he said was to the effect that “There’s no bloody sense in calling it the “Center for Lessons Learned” if nobody ever actually applies any of them… By rights, you lot ought to be calling it the “Center for Army Lessons Identified and then Bloody Well Ignored”…”.

          Ruefully, I have to acknowledge that the man had a point. A pungent one, but a point nonetheless.

          • David Drake, the SF writer who was with a field intel unit in Vietnam, said that “track” meant things like the 113, the M88 recovery vehicle, the M109 SP 155, and etc.

            Tanks (meaning M48s) were always “tanks”.

            As he put it, “A tank is a tank and a track is a track. That’s just the way it is.”

            Not “being there”, I’m not going to argue with him.



          • Not going to argue with him… My time was some 15 years later, and I presume there was some linguistic drift happening.

            Military jargon is highly mutable. Even between parts of the same army–The stuff that came out of Korea compared to the German stuff or what came in from Panama or the Philippines? You could easily sit there and think you were in between people speaking two different dialects of the same language. There was some cross-fertilization, but most of the time you were gonna get weird looks if you referred to “ajima” in front of guys who only ever did Germany, and if you suggested going to eat at the “Deutschekantine” with a guy who only knew Korea? Mass confusion. Two totally different experiences in the same Army, at the same time.

      • I was told that the ITV and FIST tracks, which look a lot alike, would be magnets for enemy fire in the Fulda Gap scenario. Which makes sense, as the ITV was supposed to kill Russian tanks and the FIST (FIre Support Team vehicle) was supposed to call in artillery.

        So any Russian tanker with a working brain was going to whack any 113 with a T-shaped “hammerhead” sticking out of the top as soon as he saw it, just on general principles.



        • Well, yeah… But, the idea was that they’d only ever see the head of those things, ‘cos we Engineers would have them dug in with multiple hull-down positions that they’d be able to move between under cover or screened by terrain.

          Personally, I thought it was a great idea. The poor bastards crewing them considered them a hydraulic nightmare, and you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone that liked them. Maintenance was a stone bitch, from what I’m told. Everyone was ecstatic to see the Bradley come in, as useless as I think the concept was. But, what do I know? I’m just an Engineer watching ’em dismounting waaaaay the hell off the objective, or getting whacked in their track on the way in.

          I still remain convinced that the IFV is a false concept, and they never should have copied it.

        • 1) Eon, David Drake’s MI unit was attached to the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment

          His first novel was based on his experiences in Vietnam and was rejected, left. right and center. “No one reads books about Vietnam anymore”

          So he changed the setting to Outer Space, made the heavy armor Hover Tanks and light armor became Combat Cars, etc

          And Hammer’s Slammer’s was born


          2) Kirk, Well, we did have the expression “Eighth Imperial Army” for the formation in Korea due its “unique” way of doing things. On the other hand, tankers spent half their career in Germany. An armor platoon sergeant without a German wife was as unthinkable as an airborne E7 without a latina one. I did develop a taste for German Potato Salad and Jaegerschnitzel, though



          Speaking of Germany and potatoes brings up Frederick the Great


  14. 1) Eon, David Drake’s MI unit was attached to the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment

    His first novel was based on his experiences in Vietnam and was rejected, left. right and center. “No one reads books about Vietnam anymore”

    So he changed the setting to Outer Space, made the heavy armor Hover Tanks and light armor became Combat Cars, etc

    And Hammer’s Slammer’s was born


    2) Kirk, Well, we did have the expression “Eighth Imperial Army” for the formation in Korea due its “unique” way of doing things. On the other hand, tankers spent half their career in Germany. An armor platoon sergeant without a German wife was as unthinkable as an airborne E7 without a latina one. I did develop a taste for German Potato Salad and Jaegerschnitzel, though



    Speaking of Germany and potatoes brings up Frederick the Great


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