The L1 series consists of five variants, three produced in Britain (L1A1, L1A3, & L1A4), one produced in Australia (L1A2) and Canada (C1), and one produced in India (1A). The British, Australian, and Canadian bayonets are very similar, differing in minor respects. The Indian bayonet is still closely patterned on the British design, but departs from the L1 pattern in having wooden grips and longer blade.
The L1A1 and L1A2 bayonets are very similar, both featuring a protruding press stud. The L1A1 has a square fuller, while the L1A2 can have either a square (pictured above) or rounded fuller (pictured below). The L1A1 was used by Britain and has identifying markings on the ricasso and grip. The L1A2 bayonet was used by Australia and Canada (where it was designated C1). The Australian bayonet is devoid of markings.
The L1A2 was produced at the Small Arms Factory, Lithgow, from 1958–1984. The earliest L1A2 bayonets, such as this one, had the squared fuller like their British and Canadian counterparts. Australia changed to the unique rounded fuller in 1960. I had long thought the bayonet pictured above to be a Canadian C1, due to the square fuller. However, L1A1 Collector and Researcher, Kevin Adams, pointed out how the L1A2's assembly slot in the pommel is straight (see image at left) and the Canadian version is T-shaped.
The L1A2 bayonet and scabbard pictured below were still packed in cosmoline when I received them. The Australian L1A2 scabbard is somewhat more pointed than the British No. 5 Mk. I pictured below, along with the L1A4 bayonet.
The L1A3 bayonet was introduced into British service during the late 1950s to eliminate the protruding press stud used on the L1A1 and L1A2 designs. It was felt that the protruding press stud made the bayonet too easily dislodged, so the press stud was made flush with the pommel. This example was made at the Royal Small Arms Factory, Enfield in 1959. It had been reconditioned and was still in the government packaging when I received it. I carefully removed it from the packaging in order to photograph it, but never unwrapped the point.
In the mid-1960s, the L1A3 blade fuller was shortened, creating a very long ricasso. It was perceived that the fuller extending almost to the crosspiece weakened the blade. Late L1A3 bayonets also introduced a simplified crosspiece, lacking the "waist" found on earlier examples. This example was made in early 1967 at the RSAF Enfield.
The L1A4 bayonet was approved in the late 1950s, however, was not produced until the 1970s. Most of the differences are in its internal construction. The L1A4 used the simplified crosspiece, introduced on late L1A3 bayonets, but returned to the long fuller. The L1A4 bayonets were made by Hopkinson Ltd., a Sheffield firm. This example was made in 1973. Note how much more rounded the British No. 5 Mk. I scabbard pictured below is than the Australian L1A2 scabbard pictured above.
The Indian variant of the FAL was designated the 1A Self Loading Rifle (SLR). It was a reverse-engineered copy of the FAL that incorporated a mixture of inch-pattern and metric FAL features. The Indian 1A bayonet has wooden grip scales. This was probably a better choice than sheet steel for the tropical Asian climate. India produced two versions of the the 1A bayonet, one with a standard 8-inch blade and one, like this example, with a longer 10-inch blade. The 1A long variant is the longest of all FAL bayonets. This example was made in 1967 at Rifle Factory Ishapore. The scabbard is a crude longer version of the British No. 5 Mk. I.
© Ralph E. Cobb 2009 All Rights Reserved
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