After years of debate, the Marines are getting their own bayonet, one that
can be detached from a rifle barrel and used in hand-to-hand combat.
The Marines have ordered 99,987 of the new bayonets—known as the OKC3S—from
the Ontario Knife
Company of Franklinville, N.Y., at a price of $3.85 million, according to Maj.
Renee A. Holmes, a project officer at Marine Corps Systems Command.
The OKC3S is the first bayonet designed exclusively for the Marine Corps, said
Homer M. Brett, a former Marine and author of “The Military Knife &
Bayonet” who serves as an edged-weapons consultant to the service.
Unlike the current M7 bayonet, which was intended primarily to be used at the
end of a rifle as a stabbing weapon, the OKC3S is meant to double as a fighting
knife that can be used on its own, Brett said.
“The M7 does an adequate job in a straight thrust, but the OKC3S does
a much better job of hacking and slashing,” he explained. It has an eight-inch
razor-sharp blade, compared with the 6.25-inch stabbing blade on the M7. Also,
Holmes said, the OKC3S—unlike the M7—can pierce a flak jacket.
In addition, the OKC3S has a grooved handle that has been designed ergonomically
to reduce hand fatigue, said Nick Trbovich (cq) Jr., Ontario’s president
and chief executive officer. The company used computer modeling and simulation
to find an optimum design, he said.
“We tried 100 different variations before settling on this one,”
Trbovich said. “We identified where, on the handle, the blister points
might be and eliminated them.”
The ergonomic handle and the longer blade make the OKC3S “an excellent
fighting knife,” Brett said. Those same qualities make it a good all-around
camp knife, as well, he said. For example, it can be used for cutting rope,
pounding tent pegs or opening tin cans. The OKC3S blade even has 1.75 inches
of saw-like serrations near the guard, which can be used for sawing small branches.
Although the OKC3S closely resembles the famed Ka-Bar combat knife—which
U.S. forces have used since World War II—the bayonet is not intended to
replace the knife, Brett said. “There probably always will be a need for
a combat knife that is never used as a bayonet,” he said.
The OKC3S fits the entire M16 family of rifles, including the M4 carbine. Brett
said that in today’s world of highly technical military systems, he occasionally
is asked whether there is still a need for such a basic weapon as the bayonet,
which is said to have been deployed first in Bayonne, France in 1647.
The OKC3S already has seen service in Iraq and Afghanistan. Although to-day’s
combat forces seldom make the kinds of massed bayonet charges that took place
during World War I, “there are still plenty of combat uses for the bayonet,”
Brett said. Among them:
“The bayonet is a very useful psychological weapon,” Brett said.
“Just ordering a platoon of Marines to ‘fix bayonets’ and
allowing your opponents to contemplate the damage they can do—just that
alone—can sometimes destroy their will to fight.”