In 1959, the Soviets adopted the AKM assault rifle and its revolutionary bayonet-knife. It has a stainless steel blade, with both a sawback and wire-cutter feature, setting a new standard for bayonet-knife design. The AKM assault rifle became the most widely used military rifle in history, a distinction it still holds today. These bayonets have been made in many countries. The picture below is of an AKM bayonet made at the Ishevsk Arsenal in Russia. The AKM bayonet is the most commonly encountered bayonet of the Iraq War.

The Cold War probably influenced the U.S. to ignore this trendsetting design and retain the M4 bayonet-knife design long after it was outmoded. Shortly after the Berlin Wall came down, the U.S. began trials to select a replacement for the venerable M7 bayonet (the final M4 clone). In 1994, the U.S. adopted the M9 bayonet which exhibited virtually all of the characteristics introduced by the AKM bayonet, some 35 years before.

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© Ralph E. Cobb 2009 All Rights Reserved

1959—The AKM Knife Bayonet

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