Martini Bayonets

There were a wide variety of bayonets used with Martini-Henry, Enfield and Metford rifles. Many were converted or adapted from previously issued bayonets in the interest of saving time and money. We'll only cover the most common patterns, as the history of Martini Bayonets is a topic worthy of its own web site.

Socket Bayonets

The Pattern 1853 Socket Bayonet was sometimes referred to as the "Common Socket Bayonet", as nearly every infantryman used it. It was originally issued for use with the Pattern 1853 Muzzleloading Rifle. Notice that its blade is slightly curved away from the muzzle of the rifle. This design feature was integrated so the soldier could load the muzzle-loading Pattern 1853 rifle without spiking himself on the point of the bayonet. Since vast quantities of these were available as surplus, a bushing was brazed into them to allow them to be used with the new Martini-Henry. There were several different scabbards used with this bayonet.

Overall Length: 20.4 inches

Blade Length: 16.9 inches

The Pattern 1876 Socket Bayonet is an improved and redesigned Pattern 1853. It was the opinion of many that the Pattern 1853 was too short to make an effective fighting weapon when attached to the rifle. As a result, the Pattern 1876 was lengthened nearly five inches. The cross sectional shape of the 1876 was made equiangular, rather than being wider on the top as was the 1853. Also, since this bayonet was only to be used with breechloading arms, the outward curve was also omitted. Three scabbards were used with the 1876, the MkI, MkII and the MkIII. The MkI scabbard had three rivets on the front face of the leather body, the MkII had two, and the very rare MkIII has a single rivet. These rivets were attached to a long leaf spring which held the bayonet secure when it was in the scabbard. This bayonet was also referred to as the "Long Common Socket Bayonet". Many of these were later converted for use on .303 Caliber Martinis by cutting down and bushing the socket. The sockets were bored, reslotted and a new locking ring, stop and screw installed. After conversion, these bayonets hung below the rifle, instead of to the side. Converted 1876s are sometimes referred to as the 1896 Pattern, but the correct designation is "Bayonet, Martini-Enfield, Triangular".

Overall Length: 25 inches

Blade Length: 21.75 inches

Sword Bayonets

The Elcho Sword Bayonet was not widely issued for use with the M-H, but I have included it here because I find it an intriguing bayonet. In 1870, Lord Elcho (a.k.a. 9th Earl of Wemyss & March, Francis Wemyss Charteris Douglas) submitted his bayonet for trials with the Martini-Henry Rifle, which was under acceptance trials at this time. This initial version of Elcho's Bayonet was made by the Wilkinson Sword Company of Pall Mall, and is referred to as the "1870 Experimental Elcho Sword Bayonet". Trials of the bayonet found it to be very well designed and it received praise in general from those putting it through its paces. It was slightly modified, and began to be put into service with certain military units as the Pattern 1871. It featured an integrated saw on the top of the blade. It was well balanced, performed very well at cutting and chopping, and was found to be quite adequate for attack and defense. Unfortunately, Lord Elcho's bayonet met an untimely death due to a high cost in manufacturing. It was decided that it was cheaper to modify existing socket bayonets for use by the common infantryman, and to adapt existing sword bayonets for use by Sergeants of infantry battalions. Many felt that a bayonet should be a defensive weapon, and not a tool to be used for chopping trees or brush. Others felt it to be too heavy and ungainly. There is also the widespread belief that the superintendent of RSAF Enfield had a dislike for this bayonet, and had something to do with it not being accepted for widespread service use. This particular example is a later "Approved Pattern" Elcho Sword Bayonet. Note: when purchasing Elcho Sword Bayonets, be on the lookout for fakes. Genuine Elchos were made by Enfield, Wilkinson, Kirschbaum (a knights head on the spine of the bayonet) and Gustav Felix (logo marked on ricasso). The most prominent fakes are those made by Alex Coppel, which bear the maker's mark of a balance scale and the initials "AC". Another clue that your Elcho is a fake is the marking "Elcho Bayonet", which was commonly ground off the bayonet at a later time.

Overall Length: 25.25 inches

Blade Length: 20 inches

Saw Length: 9 inches

The Pattern 1860 Sword Bayonet is another example of an existing bayonet being modified for use with the Martini-Henry. At the time of the Martini's adoption, there were large numbers of these bayonets in stores, so in the interest of saving money, they were inexpensively modified to fit the M-H. Their muzzle rings were bushed to fit the M-H barrel, and the tops of the pommels were filed down to allow the Pattern '60 to slide onto the top barrel band tab. This bayonet does not have an integrated saw like the Elcho, but features a curved blade known as a "Yataghan" type blade. It is very common to hear these generically referred to as Yataghan Sword Bayonets.

Overall Length: 28.1 inches

Blade Length: 22.7 inches

The Pattern 1879 Artillery Bayonet was also initially a conversion bayonet, made from the Pattern 1859 Cutlass Bayonet. They were made for use with the newly adopted Martini Henry Artillery Carbine. They feature a 9.25 inch, 41 tooth integrated saw on the top of the blade. The primary use for this saw in the Artillery realm was for falling small trees to be used in constructing abaitis. New production Pattern 1879s have the button for the latch on the right side of the pommel, and the catch leaf spring on the left. Converted Pattern 1879s have these parts on the opposite sides.

Converted Pattern 1879s:

Overall Length: 31.2 inches

Blade Length: 25.8 inches

New Production Pattern 1879s:

Overall Length: 29.8 inches

Blade Length: 24.3 inches

The Pattern 1887 sword bayonet, or "Sword Bayonet, Martini-Henry Rifle, Pattern 1887", was designed specifically for M-H Mark IV Infantry Rifles. Many Mark IV rifles were converted from Enfield-Martini .402 second pattern rifles, and thus, had no provision for mounting a socket bayonet. The P1887 was created out of the need to supply a sword bayonet for the new M-H Mark IV. The basic design of this bayonet came from the bayonets designed to fit the defunct Enfield-Martini .402 rifle. There were four Marks of the Pattern 1887, Marks I-III are described in its LoC introduction (5604 of 1-1-1889): "Patterns of the above mentioned sword bayonets and scabbard have been sealed. Mark I sword bayonet has a fullered blade and flat bolt spring, and the grip is attached to the tang by four rivets. Mark II differs from Mark I in having a spiral bolt spring, instead of a flat one, and in the grip being attached to the tang by two rivets and four washers. Mark III differs from Mark II in having an unfullered blade, and being slightly heavier. The Mark I pattern, as originally approved, had a projecting guide on the cross piece, and a foresight on the ring; and orders have been given for all sword bayonets made to that pattern to be altered to correspond to that described above. In manufacturing bayonets of the Mark III pattern, the contractors have a discretionary power as to the mode of securing the cross piece of the tang, either by riveting or brazing." The Pattern 1887 Mark IV was approved in 1891. It was nearly identical to the Mark I.

Overall Length: 23.75 inches

Blade Length: 18.375 inches

The Pattern 1888 sword bayonet, or "Sword Bayonet, Pattern 1888, Mark I" was adopted on 1 DEC 1899 after the advent of the Lee-Metford Magazine Rifle. This pattern was designed for use primarily with the Lee-Metford Magazine Rifle, but was also used on Martini-Metford and Martini-Enfield Artillery Carbines, as well as other Martinis with the "Rigby" type nosecap. The Mark I, Second Pattern is shown. Its grips are secured via two brass rivets, compared to three rivets in the Mark I, First Pattern.

Overall Length: 16.5 inches

Blade Length: 12.0 inches

Fixing Your Martini-Enfield Socket Bayonet
Position the bayonet's socket over the muzzle of the rifle with the cam shaped opening parallel to the front sight. Make sure the locking ring is in the unlocked position as indicated in this photo.
Slide the bayonet down, ensuring the front sight post engages the slot. At this point, the blade protrudes from the right side of the rifle like a Martini-Henry Socket Bayonet.
Rotate the bayonet 1/4 turn. Notice now, that the blade is beneath the barrel. Make sure the locking band is still in position to allow the front sight post to slide through.
Slide the bayonet down the last leg of the slot.
Rotate the locking band 1/4 turn. The band is keyed, and will only go one direction. Notice how it locks the bayonet to the barrel utilizing the front sight post.

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Last Modified: 06/12/04