Many countries manufactured the FAL under license and produced bayonets. This page provides a type-specific approach for identifying FAL bayonets, as an alternative to the country-specific index. This page is by no means exhaustive, but covers some of the more common types encountered today. Most FAL bayonets conform to three basic types: the Type A and Type C, designed by FN in Belgium, and the L1 Series designed by Britain.
FN's initial bayonet design was a knife bayonet. What we know today as the FAL Type A bayonet, was an innovative design that confronted the adverse effects that a bayonet has on the accuracy of a self-loading rifle with new technology. It's designers introduced the "free-recoil" concept, where a spring hidden in the pommel allowed the bayonet to float during rapid semi-auto and full-automatic fire. This ingenious approach was later adopted by the Dutch firm, Artillerie Inrichtingen, when designing a bayonet for another groundbreaking assault rifle, the Armalite AR–10.
The most distinctive feature of the Type A bayonet are the flash-hider "prongs" integral with the muzzle-ring. These served as an ersatz flash-hider on early FALs that had no muzzle device. The blade profile is a modification of the U.S. M4 design. The grip scales can be wood, plastic, or sheet steel. The steel scabbard is follows the standard FN scabbard design developed in the 1920s. A couple of frog stud variations are found.
A Type B bayonet was made for use with a slender flash-hider. Type B bayonets were not produced in large numbers, making them very scarce today.
The Type A was the standard FAL bayonet used by all, except for Britain and the Commonwealth Nations, until NATO standardized on the 22 mm. rifle grenade in the early 1960s. This necessitated a new bayonet design, due to the much larger diameter flash-hider required to accept and launch the 22 mm. rifle grenade. Despite it's obsolescence, the Type A remained in limited use for many years, seeing combat service with Argentine forces during the 1982 Falklands War.
Belgium—FN Type A Bayonet with Wood Grip Scales
Argentina—Type A Bayonet Made at the Domingo Matheu Factory
In the early 1960s, the NATO countries standardized on a 22 mm. diameter rifle grenade to simplify logistics when troops from different countries operated together. For the FAL, this meant either carrying an attachable NATO-spec grenade launcher or incorporating a larger diameter flash-hider/grenade launcher into the FAL design. Many non-NATO countries chose to conform to NATO standards as well, resulting in the majority of FALs produced after 1965 having the 22 mm. flash-hider/grenade launcher.
The Type A bayonet would not work with the larger flash-hider. Although innovative, it was also a costly and complex design. For its replacement, FN took a back-to-basics approach, returning to the most lasting of bayonet designs—the socket.
The Type C socket bayonet fits over the flash-hider, so the socket was made with a set of slots that lined up with those on the flash-hider. The socket was long, almost as long as the blade. A simple spring catch was placed at the rear of the socket. The bayonet was much lighter than the Type A, mitigating the need for a free-recoil mechanism. The blade had a semicircular profile, being flat on top and rounded below. Although far from elegant (it resembled a kitchen apple-corer), the Type C was an effective design that was easy to manufacture.
Early Type C bayonets had serrations on the spring catch. Later examples used a modified spring catch with "wings" instead of serrations. The final FN production were cast, rather than drawn. Most are devoid of markings. The most common finish is black paint. Parkerized examples are also encountered, as are examples with paint over parkerizing.
Many scabbard variations exist. The scabbard body may be steel or plastic. Some scabbards have frog studs, while others have an integral web belt hanger. Some scabbards have the mouthpiece aligned so the socket faces outward when worn, while others are aligned so the socket faces inward.
The Type C is somewhat of an enigma. It was the most popular FAL bayonet, used by dozens of countries. There are many variations, however, relatively little is known about which countries used what variants. The following illustrates variations that currently reside in my collection.
Belgium—FN Type C with Early Steel Scabbard
This example has the typical finish, parkerized overall, with black paint over the parkerizing on the socket only.
This scabbard is an uncommon steel-bodied scabbard with integral web belt hanger.
Belgium FN Early Type C Bayonet with Plastic Scabbard
This is an early example of the FAL Type C bayonet, with the serrated spring catch. The bayonet is parkerized, with black paint over the parkerizing only on the socket. The scabbard is made of a shiny black plastic, with a steel frog stud. The throatpiece is positioned so the socket faces inward when placed in a belt frog.
Belgium—FN Later Type C Bayonet with Plastic Scabbard
This later example has the spring catch with "wings" and a parkerized finish overall. The scabbard has a plastic body, with a flattened round steel frog stud, The throatpiece is positioned so the socket faces outward when placed in a belt frog.
Belgium—FN Late Production Cast Type C Bayonet
In order to reduce costs, FN constructed the socket by forging upper and lower halves using a drop hammer. Hot metal was poured in between the halves, to make the complete blank, which was machined to create the tubular socket. The sprue line is evident in the pictures at left. The earlier FAL Type C bayonets had a one-piece drawn socket. I have seen an unfinished casting that has a FN mold mark, so know that FN used this construction method. The scabbard body is plastic, with an integral web belt hanger. This construction method was subsequently used by the German firm, A. Eickhorn GmbH of Solingen (AES), an example of which is shown on page 2.
© Ralph E. Cobb 2009 All Rights Reserved
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