The Portuguese AR-10 Bayonet

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Image of the Portuguese AR-10 bayonet

 

Knife bayonet for use on the 7.62 mm. NATO caliber Armalite AR-10 assault rifle, produced for Portugal by Artillerie Inrichtingen in the Netherlands.  Only 1,556 AR-10 rifles were delivered to Portugal, all in 1960.  A few additional Portuguese AR-10 bayonets were produced for use in Dutch Army weapons trials.  According to the Dutch Army Museum, total production of this bayonet was roughly 1,600 pieces.  The AR-10 saw nearly two decades of combat service with Portuguese special forces fighting insurgents in Angola and Mozambique. Low production numbers and combat service have made surviving specimens of this bayonet scarce.  This example from my collection has obviously seen considerable service.

Unlike most modern bayonets, which mount below the rifle’s barrel, this bayonet mounts inverted above the barrel. The one-piece wooden grip is unique and wraps almost completely around the hilt. The only marking is the triangular Artillerie Inrichtingen trademark. The scabbard is closely patterned after the familiar U.S. M8A1 scabbard. Click on the following thumbnails to view additional pictures of my Portuguese AR-10 bayonet and scabbard.

Thumbnail image of the Portuguese AR-10 bayonet mounted to the rifleThumbnail image of the Portuguese AR-10 bayonetThumbnail image of the Portuguese AR-10 bayonetThumbnail image of the Portuguese AR-10 bayonetThumbnail image of the Portuguese AR-10 bayonet

Click on the highlighted map of Africa to view pictures of Portuguese Special Forces armed with the AR-10 rifle and bayonet in Angola and Mozambique.

Map of Southern Africa, with Angola and Mozambique Click here for an index of pictures from Angola Click here for an index of pictures from Mozambique

The AR-10 rifle was developed in 1955 by the ArmaLite Division of the Fairchild Engine and Airplane Corporation.  It was a revolutionary design, both in appearance and construction.  It was the first military rifle to utilize significant amounts of lightweight aluminum alloys and plastics in its construction.  Click on the following link to view a picture of the Portuguese AR-10 Rifle

Artillerie Inrichtingen was the only producer of the AR-10, having made 2,500 AR-10’s for Sudan; and small quantities for Burma, Cuba, and Italy in 1958-1959. These earlier AR-10's used a German-made bayonet that mounted conventionally, beneath the barrel. The Portuguese rifles were the final AR-10 production, as ArmaLite opted not to renew Artillerie Inrichtingen’s production license. This paved the way for sale of the AR-10 design to Colt Firearms, who downsized it to create the legendary AR-15/M16 rifle used worldwide today.

Although the AR-10 was not commercially successful, its impact on military rifle design was huge.  For 350 years, military rifles had been made of wood and steel.  Never again would that be the case.


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© Ralph E. Cobb 2008