The M9 Bayonet

 

The current issue US bayonet for the M16 rifle although relatively new it already has a substantial number of variations both official and commercial. Take a look at http://www.m9bayonet.com/, which has a lot of information on the issue blades and their variations. For more of the trials and development models take a look at Homer Brett's book on Bayonets which shows many that are unlikely to ever be in most collections due to the very small number of them made. The information below is gleaned from a wide variety of sources, on-line, in print and through discussion on forums or with fellow collectors, any errors or omissions are mine. Many thanks for many on the M9 Forum for allowing me to use their information and pictures from their personal collections.

Military trials for a new bayonet for the M16 rifle to replace the M7 resulted in choosing the M9 that is the current (2009) issue bayonet for the US Army and Airforce, the Marines having their own bayonet. The trials produced multiple entries, including a modified version of the L3A1 bayonet in use by the UK for its SA80 rifle.

The winning design was that of Buck who took their 184 Buckmaster design of knife and militarized it by the addition of a muzzle ring and pommel catch for attachment to the rifle. The original Buckmaster had a heavy sawback design and two "spikes" that could be fixed to the crossguard, this latter feature was apparently due to discussions with Seal Teams and were to allow the knife to be used as an anchor for equipment. The new model the 188, had the modified cross guard, mounting points and a wire cutter design similar to that of the Soviet AK and UK SA80 bayonets, and a "sawback" along the top spine. The scabbard was given a quick release mechanism to allow its removal as the second part of the wire cutter.

The first few thousand Buck made M9 used a milled sawback, this was changed to a broached manufacturing technique fairly shortly after manufacture began

BUCKMASTER 184

The knife produced by Buck that was later modified to produce the 188 design accepted as the M9 bayonet

Thanks to Alain for pictures of his example

 

BUCKMASTER 188

The commercial version of the M9 bayonet made by Buck, each year is marked by its own symbol. Commercial blades were made until 1997

The differences make a significant difference to the overall weight of the bayonet

1991

1994

1996

 

PRODUCTION ITEMS

Buck and Qual-A-Tec (the design company who designed the 184/188/M9) set up a separate company to handle production of the 184, this company was called Phrobis with the contracts for the M9 another company Phrobis III, Ltd was set up.

Note that it is almost impossible to tell an issue blade (in most cases) from a commercially produced one, they are made on the same presses, dies, molds etc. and have the same markings. It is possible to tell commercial ones in many cases as the markings are wrong/different, or they are in none issue colors - i.e. black, white, camo, orange etc. If it isn't Green it is not issue. But if it is green is still may not be.

 

PHROBIS

 Prototype XM9
the original trials bayonets used in the competition for the new bayonet
132211116

All parts were marked to allow it to be tracked in the trials, the 29 on the ricasso is Phrobis's number in the trial

Thanks to Carlo for the pictures

 

BUCK

Buck only marked knives are typically commercial, with the exception of Australian contract, Abu Dhabi Contract, Dutch Contract, two Japanese contracts and a USMC trials blade

Australia bought the M9 to use on the Steyr Aug rifle, these were produced by Buck and had the war department arrow acceptance mark on the ricasso

Thanks to Lee Cousins for the top picture and Carlo for others

In 1991, Buck made 5000 units for the US Marines these bayonets were used by the 2nd Marine Division for field trials. The bayonets are the Phrobis first generation style but have a Buck cutter plate on the scabbard. The blades are marked with M9-USMC and a plus (+) mark (Buck date code for 1991).

21315171

Buck made 350 prototype M9 bayonets for the USMC in 1993. these are referred to as the "riveted Pommel" bayonets as half of were riveted while the other half had the tang drilled and threaded. These M9 bayonets were actually made in three distinctly different styles, two of which were submitted to the USMC for testing and of these knives most were destroyed during the testing. These were made of all stainless steel instead of a mix. The military wanted to buy the same bayonets for all services and the Marine version was discontinued.

The pictures at right are of what is known as the full threaded tang variation (with thanks to Carlo for the use of his pictures)

Holland bought a consignment of M16's from Diemarco in Canada, these were supplied with Buck made M9 bayonets, all the evidence is that these were standard 1994 stamped Buck knives, it appears that he Dutch then marked the right ricasso with a serial number prefixed with KL

In 1998 the Dutch went back to Diemarco for additional bayonets and scabbards, Buck had stopped making the bayonet so Diemarco went to LanCay. LanCay provided bayonets and scabbard components to Diemarco which were made up to match the original Buck supplied scabbards for the contract, all of these were hand altered to include a sharpening stone and the web pouch on the front.

Thanks to Grardus Luppensfor the pictures of his Dutch M9 and Carlo for his Buck and LanCay Scabbards
No example Abu Dhabi bought 1500 bayonets but I have found no further information on these
No example Japan had two contracts for M9's these have modifications to the latch plates and a smaller run had modifications to the quillion.

 

PHROBIS

The first M9's were produced by Buck for Phrobis III, and some of the more collectable M9's are these early production items, especially the Chevron marked items. There are several changes in blade markings, and manufacturing techniques that make the collecting field very large. I have a few of the variations, and would appreciate pictures of those missing from my collection. I shall continue to try and fill in the holes with my own additions but some are not that easy to come by.

1st generation

Bayonets have a distinctive flat top to the M's in the M9 and carry the Buck date code of a Chevron after the USA only 1200 made
23

One of the first M9's made, has the chevron mark date stamp put on by Buck, this was stopped after only 1200 were made. The last 166 of these were not issued but stamped on the reverse face sequentially, odd numbers were kept by Buck and supplied to members of the Buck Collectors, the others were given to Phrobis who gave them as presentation pieces or mounted them on barrels mounted on plaques and sold to the public. The other 1000+ were issued and are very collectable, although many are in used condition.

Note Buck marked blades have the same chevron mark if made in 1987 but these are not the "Chevron" ,marked M9's as they are commercial 188's not M9's

Thanks to Lee Cousins for the picture (cammo background) and Carlo for Ricasso pictures

2nd generation

Bayonets still have the distinctive flat top to the M's in the M9 but no longer carry the Buck date code of a Chevron after the USA
The original production M9's made by Buck had what is know as "The Crazy M", the top of the M shows the none standard original profile stamp which was replaced after only a short run, it also has a "lazy"9 with a curved lower portion to the 9 compared to later stamp fonts. This is the same stamp as on the chevron pieces but no longer has Bucks date code stamp.

3rd generation

Bayonets have lost the distinctive flat top to the M's in the M9 and carry 3 lines of text, M9, Phrobis III, U.S.A.
PHROBIS III three line issue blade 1992
4th generation

Bayonets carry 4 lines of text, M9, Phrobis III, U.S.A., Pat. Pend. The USA is now in a narrower font than that used originally

Phrobis M9 this has the 4 line Part Pending ricasso marking identifying it as a 4th generation bayonet.

I am not sure of the significance of the serial number on the blade, but assume it is an issue mark as this is a "used" blade. I have not seen other examples similarly marked

 

ONTARIO

Ontario made M9, 12,500 were made in  a contract split with Phrobis. This is an early model marked M-9, current models are marked M9 see the Iraqi commemorative below for the newer blade markings

 

LANCAY

After the initial contracts for the M9, the production of additional bayonets was put out to bid with the lowest price winning. Buck/Phrobis lost the contact to LANCAY, who took over the production

The first contract for 20,500 M9 bayonets on 3/31/92 for the US Army with an additional 21,500 bayonets added during the contract. In an effort to quickly supply the Army with new M9 bayonets after Desert Storm, Lan-Cay contracted General Cutlery to provide near complete blades for assembly at the Lan-Cay facility

General Cutlery produced blade

All General Cutlery produced blades are easily identified as they are stamped on the ricasso "M9 / LANCAY / USA" in block letters of equal size. This form of marking was used only on the General Cutlery made blades and will not be used again.

There were a number of these made in 2002 from parts left over from the original contract, these will have later model scabbards with 1994-5 dates not 1992 ones, and usually have a marked pommel rather than an unmarked of the original production. They may also have flawed blades made from seconds rather than the quality of the original contract. The quarterbore forum has more detail

Thanks to Carlo for his picture of a 2002 model)

LanCay

When LanCay started producing their own blades the letter format changed to one in which the L and the C were larger than the rest of the text.

 

Early production LanCay M9

 

LanCay mark, other variations of the marking exist LANCAY, LAN-CAY etc. these help identify period of manufacture

 

 

Later serrations have rounded base to serration

 

Early scabbards had built in sharpening stone

 

Scabbard shows large differences from later ones, with a double set of tie down areas, and the lack of a textured grip area when using as wire cutter

 

 

This blade came with original 1994 issue storage bag.

Lan-Cay Shallow Fuller (note all letters in LanCay should be in capitals just two sizes)

During the early production run a change was made to the specification to allow a half depth fuller to be used on the bayonets, only 350 blades were made with this shallow fuller before the fuller was dropped from the design altogether. Apparently the fuller had been blamed for blade breakages that were actually a heat treatment problem. During this time the blades went from Forged to Laser cut.

Original Fuller was 0.12" deep, a revision to a 0.06" ±0.06" was allowed which then became 0.
Courtesy of Bill Porter

Lan-Cay Saw back design change

During the first contract a change was made to the method of producing the saw teeth on the spine, these changed from sharp  to rounded teeth

No example Examples of tooth profile difference

Lan-Cay Color change

The original blades were in the white with slight differences between manufacturers due to differences in shot type, after the first contract the blade finish changed to a black oxide one

No example blade color difference

Lan-Cay

A further change in text added a hyphen between the Lan and the Cay.

see under commercial blades  

 

 

COMMEMORATIVE ITEMS
us m9 bcn general 2.jpg (341082 bytes)us m9 bcn general.jpg (324967 bytes)us m9  BCN pouch.jpg (352674 bytes)us m9 bcn ricasso 2.jpg (186030 bytes)us m9 bcn ricasso.jpg (175657 bytes)US m9 paperwork.jpg (314301 bytes)

One of 75 M9 bayonets made to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Bayonet Collectors Network (BCN). Made by original manufacturer with a custom cut logo

 

Bayonet uses the latest ergonomic grips and not the early circular hilt of the first M9's

 

Custom stitched pouch with BCN name

 

 

BCN log and Xth anniversary mark

 

Made by Lan-Cay 

 

 

Even comes with notes added to issue M9 bayonets

16125 Phrobis International USMC commemorative
Many thanks to Carlo for pictures.

Desert Storm Commemorative using Marto made blade

thanks to Lee Cousins for pictures

M9 collectors model with etchings showing the 4 units attached to SOCOM in Iraq.

M9 commemorative made for Iraqi Freedom

 

Number 430 of 500 made

Ontario Knife Company initials in the hilt

Presidential seal on the opposite grip

 

Standard Military marks on ricasso

With additional blade etching

 

"sand" coloured scabbard matches hilt

Engraved scabbard

Ontario Knife company logo on the throat of the scabbard

Frog is dissimilar to other M9's with a long strap, although it has the Bianchi catch

Franklin Mint commemorative uses a Spanish Marto made bayonet. Flags are the countries on the allied side in the Kuwait war. For copy write reasons they had to drop the SPAIN off from under the M9 mark

 

 

COMMERCIAL ITEMS

Buck manufactured M9 bayonets for the commercial market, While Phrobis served the Military one. The commercial bayonets were identical to the military bayonet with one obvious difference; the left ricasso of the commercial M9 bayonet has the same markings as the military model but the right ricasso had Buck’s name and model number. When the military contract ended in 1989. having broken ties with Phrobis, Buck moved their company name and model designation to the left ricasso and the right ricasso was left blank.

Phrobis made commercial bayonets, particularly the M9A1 which were commercially sold when an attempt to produce an improved M9 for the military failed, many of these becoming commemorative items.

Taiwan has set up a thriving business making M9 look alikes, and there are a multitude of variations. Medrano was the first of these, but now S&W market a range of M9 look alikes under their name, as well as several other large commercial companies.

One of the biggest manufacturers of commercials is LanCay themselves, who produce a huge range of colors, and etchings and added styles. These are identical to the issue items but are not official.

 

PHROBIS III

Phrobis made commercial bayonets, particularly the M9A1 which were commercially sold when an attempt to produce an improved M9 for the military failed, many of these becoming commemorative items.

m9a1G_2m9a1G_3p12100219rq M9A1 Note distinctive scabbard style, this version has a low wire cutter stop. Made by Marto but not marked with SPAIN mark on ricasso
thanks to Carlo for pictures
m9A1B_2M9A1B_3M9A1B_4 M9A1 this version has a high wire cutter stop and shows Spain mark as blades were made by Marto
thanks to Carlo for pictures
 
Total length = mm                  Blade length =  Blade width =  MRD = 
  Phrobis International made M9. Had to be marked Spain for foreign sales. Blades were made by Marto in Spain

 

Phrobis INTERNATIONAL

Buck and Phrobis split and Buck kept the rights to the M9 in the USA. The Phrobis people set up a new company Phrobis International and got Marto in Spain to manufacture blades for them. These bayonets are marked on the left ricasso:

M9

PHROBIS INT'L

Spain

These were made for commercial sales in Europe. Phrobis made commercial bayonets, particularly the M9A1 which were commercially sold when an attempt to produce an improved M9 for the military failed, many of these becoming commemorative items.

M9 made by Marto of Spain for commercial sale in Europe
thanks to Lee Cousins for pictures

M9A1 an improved M9 design by Phrobis that was not accepted by military, produced by Marto in Spain many of these became commemorative bayonets

thanks to Lee Cousins for pictures

m9A1T_1M9A1T_2M9A1T_3M9A1T_4 M9A1 this version has a high wire cutter stop and tan colour and shows Spain mark as blades were made by Marto
thanks to Carlo for pictures

 

MARTO

Phrobis III and Int were made by Marto in Spain

IMG_1219IMG_1220IMG_1221 M9 shows MARTO name on one ricasso and Phrobis name over pat number on reverse face, these are for European Sale
thanks to Carlo for pictures
256 M9A1 shows MARTO name on one ricasso and Phrobis name over pat number on reverse face, these are for European Sale
thanks to Carlo for pictures
IMG_1222IMG_1223IMG_1224 Comparison of M9 and M9A1, note the scabbard difference
thanks to Carlo for pictures

 

MEDRANO

Qantas Products Limited of Taipei Taiwan began to produce copies of the M9 using Russian and Japanese steels. Pedro Medrano imported 8 versions of the M9 which were marked with his name on the ricasso.

The variations (in OD or black) are:

Standard M9

M9 with Buck style saw back blade

M9 with Bowie point 

M9 with double edged blade 

(thanks to P Medrano for information)

Comparison of Medrano bayonets with Phrobis and LanCay versions, there are slight differences in blade profile and the pommel locking screws
 (thanks to P Medrano for information and pictures)
M9 with Bowie point by Medrano

Standard M9 profile blade sold by MEDRANO

Buck 184 profile Sawback version

Bianchi style belt clip, and front mounted ammo pouch are all from early M9 production

No example at moment  Double edged blade version 

 

SMITH & WESSON
Smith and Wesson laser pattern camouflage M9's in black and natural silver colours

One of several versions of the "M9" sold under the Smith and Wesson name, these all come from the same source in Taiwan they are just marked to be OEM from different sources

 

Lan-Cay

By far the largest producer of commercial M9's. They produce in multiple colors, and produce several different blade inscriptions. All of these are made on the same tooling and with the same markings as the military issue items, the one point to remember is that if it isn't OD it isn't military (but even OD isn't a guarantee it is actually an issue item). Below are just a few of the variations available, and as the scabbards and hilts are interchangeable any color/blade marking combination is possible

Note that many of these blades are sold with the impression that they are trials, special forces etc. this is all a sales pitch or a lack of knowledge on the part of the seller. 
Color schemes so far known
Orange
Blue
Tan
Clear
White
Grey
Forest camouflage
Black
OD
Urban Camouflage (grey and white)
Grey and white splinter
Blade Etchings
101st Airborne
10th Mountain
82nd Airborne
Special Forces

Another LanCay color variation Tan

Sold as an M9 for rescue services, the orange color being to make it easy to find in low visibility or smoky condition.

The white variation is supposedly for winter troops, the blade M9 mark is the same on both the white and orange versions

This is often sold as the blade used in the marine trials which eventually ended with the USMC using the OKCS bayonet 

This is the correct style Molle II scabbard as used on the trials bayonet, different from the more normal Bianchi mounted scabbards

Webbing includes a fabric pouch for the wire cutter

and a crossguard strap to aid retention

research has indicated that the blade markings are incorrect, and there should be USMC and the anchor marks on the ricasso and not USA

Commercial by Lan Cay without sawback. There was a trials version made like this but the blades were marked M9-FT

Commercial by Lan Cay with grey and white splinter camo finish

Commercial by Lan Cay with Airborne logo on the ricasso, made for collectors, these are not made specifically for the units they are marked for, no matter what people say.

Another airborne commercial 

Commercial bayonets can be found in a multitude of colors, like this forest cammo variation. All use standard LanCay M9 blades, molds and scabbards so all parts are completely interchangeable and any version can be pieced together 

Grey splinter camouflage also called tiger stripe by some

  101st airborne marked 
Plain grey  
 

 

Lan-Cay M9LW

A version of the M9 with a drilled blade, and with lighter materials used in crossguard and tang. often sold as a special forces version, this is another commercial bayonet at moment and has not been military issue

The differences make a significant difference to the overall weight of the bayonet

 

UNKNOWN MAKER 

Made by  LAN -CAY (identified by Bill Porter)

M9 Utility, another blade for commercial sale before the military issues became available

 

US marking on left ricasso

 

M9 Utility on right ricasso

 

Sharpening stone was standard on early bayonets

 

Original round hilt

 

belt clip

 

AIRSOFT

For use on the AIRSOFT range of replica firearms there is an all rubber M9 replica

And for Airsoft shooters there is a rubber version 

 

JAPANESE COMMERCIAL

No example

 In order to meet Japanese legislation a short blade version of the M9 was made for commercial sale in Japan.

 

Lan-Cay M11

A knife version of the M9 made for Explosive Ordinance Disposal use

us m11 general.jpg (319347 bytes)us m11 blade with pouch.jpg (244654 bytes)us m11 blade.jpg (207991 bytes)us m11 pouch front.jpg (308541 bytes)us m11 pouch.jpg (279028 bytes)us m11 knucks.jpg (355438 bytes)us m11 quick release.jpg (250848 bytes)

M11 EOD (explosives, ordinance, demolition) knife made by Lan-Cay, fitted with after market aluminum knuckle duster grips

Part of the M11 package is a large utility pouch attached to the scabbard

blade markings

quick open pouch holds primer crimp tool, Gerber multipurpose tool and Mag light

pouch is substantial

After market knuckles replaced original handle, reputedly made for issue to USMC but these are not official issue

quick release buckle attaches scabbard to the belt

 

Lan-Cay M11A1

A knife version of the M9 made for Explosive Ordinance Disposal use using the later lightened blade design

No example yet 

M11A1 EOD

 

MISCELLANEOUS

M9 Trainer
Total length = mm                  Blade length = mm              Blade width =  mm              MRD =  mm                           
Marine rubber trainer made from a Buck marked M9 with the stock number on the blade
UAG M9 with a replacement knife hilt of smooth plastic that is carried on the blade. Bayonet has a heavy Rambo style saw back, but is impossible to get out of the scabbard, this is the cheapest made M9 I have seen with screws barely holding on press studs or the very basic frog. The cost of returning it meant I didn't bother
us m11 general.jpg (319347 bytes)us m11 blade with pouch.jpg (244654 bytes)us m11 knucks.jpg (355438 bytes) An aluminum knuckle guard sold as a trials piece for the military is actually made by Dale Sandberg, http://www.edmfknives.com  in the USA. 
Not only are there commercial bayonets there is a thriving after market//commercial scabbard production. Usually sold as special forces etc. many of these scabbards are interesting but the bulk and "extras" would be of little use to a military unit. this blade also has an airborne etching.

 

OKC3S

Ontario made bayonet for the US marines, having a composite scabbard.

 

USMC molded into the hilt

 

 

other side has USMC Eagle, Globe and Anchor

 

unlike the M9 this blade has no wire cutter or sawback, rather it has a serrated area immediately in front of the crossguard. the blade is very sharp from the factory on both edges

 

makers mark

 

 

SUPPOSED ONTARIO TRIALS BLADE

Trials blade for US army, has distinctive Tanto style blade and aside from the M9 style hilt is completely different to the M9 and M11 types