Saturday, March 31, 2007

Guns: The Bayonet, Past and Present

Popular culture continues to glamorize the sword, but the spear has arguably always been the backbone of Western armies. Stretching back to the ancient Greek phalanx all the way to Napoleonic warfare, whenever land needed to be taken, it invariably came down to a battle between masses of the Poor Bloody Infantry armed with spears.

The bayonet is a logical extension of the idea of a long stabbing weapon in a time when firearms were relatively inaccurate and unreliable. From the 21st century standpoint, attaching a 17" long knife to a rifle may seem silly, but picture hundreds of men in rank with such weapons, and you can see how effective a bayonet charge could be. Columns of soldiers with attached bayonets would persist until the development of the cartridge and the repeating action.

Today's bayonets are more for emergency use than as a primary fighting option, and the small carbines favored by today's military forces are ill-suited for thrusting compared to a turn-of-the-century bolt action rifle. Bayonets are still important, though, as urban warfare and counter-terrorism operations bring soldiers closer than ever before to their adversaries. What new developments will be brought to bear for the bayonet? Here's one theory from "Gears of War" - the chainsaw bayonet:

I'd buy one.


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