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Bayonet Development for the Lee Enfield No4 Rifle

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Having wrapped up our series on the major development of the Lee Enfield rifle in British service, I figured it would be a nice addendum to talk about the bayonets developed for the No4 rifle. These went through a substantial evolution, and are an interesting field for collectors all by themselves.

During World War One, the British used the Pattern 1907 bayonet, a long blade type essentially copied from the Japanese Type 30. By the 1920s, this was being reconsidered – the long blades were expensive, fragile, and perhaps not really necessary. When the No1 Mk VI rifle was put into trials, it was given a new bayonet style. This was inspired by the Swiss cyclists’ bayonet, with a cruciform spike instead of a true blade. It was only 8 inches long; this was determined to be long enough for virtually all use cases and being short minimized weight and bulk.

As World War Two progressed, the spike bayonet was simplified several times. Before the initial production of the first standard model (No4 MkI) was completed, the cruciform pattens had already been abandoned for a much simpler (and faster and cheaper) round body spike with a screwdriver-like point at the end. This was in turn simplified by separating the socket and spike into two parts for easier production, and then further simplified by casting the socket instead of forging it. After the war, the spike was replaced by a short blade-type socket bayonet (the No9), although this was rather short-lived because of the adoption of the SLR (FN FAL).

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