The Germans were the first to recruit riflemen into military service from the ranks of professional hunters. In Germany, jäegers (hunters) hunted with a rifle and carried a short sword called a hirschfänger (deer-slayer). The British Army would later come to call short swords 'hangers', a corruption of hirschfänger. When jäegers came in to military service they brought their own rifles and, of course, their hirschfängers. The sword bayonet came about as a way to make the hirschfänger double as a bayonet. In 1787, the Prussian Army adopted the first military rifle to fix a sword bayonet, the Jäeger Büchse (hunting rifle) Model of 1787.
Early sword bayonets, such as the Pattern 1801 Baker sword bayonet pictured below, very much looked as if they could serve either purpose. However, the bayonet is a thrusting weapon, while the sword is a slashing weapon. The vision of dual-purpose use never panned out in practice. By the mid-1800s, sword bayonets had evolved into implements solely intended for use as bayonets.
|Society of American Bayonet Collectors|