35 thoughts on “The carbine and bayonet in hand-to-hand close combat (also Bowie knives and kukri)

  1. Ken ibn Anak says:

    I suspect an American Revolutionary fighting using a short fowling piece as a shield may sometimes very well may have had a hatchet/tomahawk as an alternative to a knife. Noting also the Martin Henry Artillery carbine. Mine accepts a bayonet. Some internal debate as to whether the bayonet would be better back then than an artillery sword, due to their often neccessarily (while dragging cannon around) short length. Total agreement the short issue M-6 bayonet is useless (and poorly made) as a bayonet for the M16 class weapons which is why many US soldiers in combat areas with M4 carbines often opt to just privately purchase a fighting knife and leave the bayonet in the barracks.

  2. Victor Waddell says:

    Many American militia were townsmen, and many others were frontiersmen . The townsmen usually had a musket , as they would drill on weekends or after church services on Sunday . The frontiersmen usually owned a rifle for hunting , as they didn't buy their meat as a townsman would . The townsmen would be drilled in conventional tactics , which would include bayonette drill . The frontiersmen didn't drill on a regular basis , as the distance from each other would discourage regular weekly meetings . The hunting rifle had no bayonette lug , was slower to load , but had much greater accuracy and range . The frontiersmens combat training came from his contact with the Native Americans . A wise commander would use the strengths and weaknesses of these two different types of forces to complement each other . Too many American commanders dismissed the frontiersmen as unorganized rabble . Today many people have the romantic idea of all American colonials as being guerrilla fighters . Cheers !

  3. Arie Heath says:

    It was also common to just smack the guy coming at you with the butt end of your rifle. Basically use it as a big club, similar to how some sailors used their pistols after firing them.

  4. roentgen571 says:

    British army soldiers used bayonet charges to great effect in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The short blade on a short rifle might not be the best design, but apparently it still works. 🙂

  5. Benjamin Abbott says:

    This sort of technique was also used with a single-handed sword plus a crossbow or arquebus in the 16th century. Sir John Smythe and Captain Martín de Eguiluz both mentioned holding the arquebus in the left hand to parry. Blaise de Monluc mentioned it with the crossbow.

  6. ActionPhysicalMan says:

    I will take your advice. My self defense rifle is a 10.5" barrel AR-15 (.338 Spectre) and don't much like the idea of dropping it for close non-firing defense. I also do have a 12" blade dagger though and this really make sense. I do not much expect to have such a fight (or any fight) much less survive it, but better have it and not need it than…..:-)

  7. DonMeaker says:

    The hand on butt of rifle was standard technique for rifles in US civil war for defending (in squares) against cavalry. For rifled carbines, the command to fix bayonets was "Fix Swords!" Finns also taught use of knife and rifle against rifle with bayonet in WWII.

  8. clothar23 says:

    Holy crap, I had a sergeant in the CAF who suggested using our service rifles and bayonets in the exact way Matt is describing. I didn't know that technique had a historical precedent

  9. Tom Calver says:

    Makes me think of the problems the bayonet-equipped English faced fighting Jacobites armed with swords and shields. The drill they developed in response could also help when fighting opponents using the tactics in this video.

  10. steelpanther88 says:

    some bullpup rifles come with plastic handguard for the pistolgrip portion. Steyr AUG comes to mind immediately.
    Steyr AUG also has the frontal vertical grip, normally used for the suppport hand when shooting. The vertical grip is also very sturdy, and it would protect against some attacks I would imagine.

    I suspect that the Steyr AUG style bullpup with the pistolgrip hand protection would be effective to use as parrying stick. The main hand would use a combat knife in the same manner of dual wielding as scholagladiatoria describes…

  11. Sphere723 says:

    Short Hawken style rifles in the American Revolution? That's about 30 years off. The American style during the Revolutionary era was unusually long and they stayed that way until the turn of the century.

  12. Phantom Apprentice says:

    I couldn't help but notice Matt's ear grab when he said he was going to use this for demonstration purposes …

    As for Bayonet on modern rifles such as SA80 : I think its more to either use as a machete or to deal with knives because long bladed weapons are not as common in the modern era so the difference in reach is no longer as critical.

  13. Ethel2eal says:

    A few years back I once knew a guy called Squall Leonhart whom trained in a fighting style that used a very short firearm and a very long bladelike bayonet attached to it.

  14. Anthony Ridgway says:

    Please please PLEASE do a video on British bayonet drill with rifles! I mean, if you happen to know anything about it. I've always wanted to learn more about it, especially after reading various books that make it out to be nearly unstoppable in hand to hand (which I somehow doubt).

  15. Darren O'Connor says:

    Interesting point about using the carbine as a parrying stick. I can see how you would do it with a U.S. military M4 carbine, at least like the one I was issued 20 years ago. You can hold the weapon around the slip ring (the ring, located between the receiver and the handguards, which actually serves to hold the two handguard halves in place), which is also just about the balance point of the weapon. I'm not sure how the modern optics they are putting on the carbines these days might interfere with this. On the other hand, I can't see any way to make this work with the British SA-80. I don't think there is any place around the mid point of the carbine where the receiver is narrow enough that you could get a good, secure hold on it with a single hand to hold it in the way you'd need for this technique.

    On the other hand, and just to play devil's advocate, the point of the rifle/carbine as shield and knife in strong hand technique was, as I gather, a way to make a decent defense against an old-style musket or later rifle musket, which was very long. When the bayonet was fixed, the total length of such a weapon was about as long as its user was tall. There was no way a man with a bayonet affixed to a short little carbine wasn't going to find himself massively outreached if he just put a bayonet on the end of his much shorter weapon, so it made sense to go to a different technique entirely, hence the method of using the carbine as a shield and a knife or hatchet or other weapon in the strong hand. However, today's infantry small arms are much, much shorter. Even conventional rifles, as opposed to bullpups, are much shorter, as are the bayonets that are used with them. The difference between the reach of the two weapons, therefore, is much less, and the user of the shorter weapon won't find himself at such a serious disadvantage. Moreover, a rifle with bayonet affixed isn't used only to stab; the butt of the weapon is also used as a bashing weapon, and is pretty effective in that role. Using the carbine as a shield in the off hand would deprive you of that.

    Of course, as you note, bayonet fighting is extremely rare these days. In an age of rapid-firing weapons and soldiers carrying ammo load outs of an absolute minimum of 200 rounds, it's pretty much an extreme last resort. In the army we used to joke that if you ever heard the command "fix bayonets," it would be immediately followed with the order "place head between legs, kiss ass goodbye!"

  16. Badbob says:

    Great point for modern day fighting.I have AR15 and AK weapons.Now i can fix a bayonet on my AK but dont have one for my ARs.After watching, you have shown me a better way is to not worry about fixing any bayonet in hand to hand combat but carry a good knife.I usually carry some form of bowie knife anyway.Hand to hand = knife in right hand and empty carbine in left as a shield.Thanks for a great tip!

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