Spike Bayonets? Outlawed by the Hague/Geneva Conventions or not?


I’m in the process of making a “theater knife” from an SKS spike bayonet.  My goal is “crude but effective.”  The plan is to use common items such as nuts, bolts, washers, and perhaps a metal strap, all common things found in an army motor pool or local hardware store and make something similar to the US Army M1917 trench knife (the one with a d-guard, not the brass knuckles).  The difference is, I’m thinking this will be a homemade pig sticker possibly made by “Charlie” or a bored American Soldier at a Fire Base. (Or just a post apocalyptic Zombie poker)

This brings me to the question.  Are spike or triangular blades banned by Geneva Convention or not? I’ve read several posts saying they are but then I’ve also read that the Geneva Convention doesn’t ban ANY specific class of bayonet or weapon;  it only speaks in generalities about weapons inflicting “unnecessary suffering.”  See: http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/logbrowse.pl?trx=vx&list=h-war&...

The British used a spike bayonet with the No 4 Mk 1 Enfield Rifle  during WWII, Korea, and well into 1960s by some Territorial Forces. The Chinese used a folding spike on the SKS and AKM well into the 1970s and the bayonets are still encountered in some areas and within the Chinese reserves. The French also used spike bayonets in WWII and in 1950s. Even the Swiss Army employed a spike bayonet after WWI!

One post I read said that triangular blades longer than 14 inches were banned. Has anyone read a definitive answer?  My general impression is the ban is a myth created by books like Slaughter House 5 but the real demise of the spike bayonet was due to its lack of being used as anything other than a pig sticker.  Another source claims that a ban was considered but over riled by to principle signers, the French and Russians

Has anyone actually read an official document outlawing the use of spike or triangular bayonets in war or is this just a well distributed myth?

Views: 20336

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Oh yeah the bayonet I have: (Stock photo, approximate blade length, 11 inches

and the Trench Knife I'm modeling my theater or home made trench knife (also a stock photo)  In this case a 9 inch triangle blade.

Tobias, I did some serious web crawling- I am not a lawyer,nor do I portray one on TV. From what I can ascertain, the confusion arose over the import of Chinese SKS rifles with spike bayonets packed in the box, but not attached. If you could prove the bayonet was already attached, it was legal. If you attached the bayonet yourself, it was considered no longer a sporting gun, and therefore illegal. Strangely, this does not apply to European SKS imports. From what I can figure out, it is not illegal to own a spike bayonet, but if you attach it to a rifle, things get a little murky. I also saw a reference to a maximum length of the bayonet, but could not substantiate that.

Thanks for the info, John.   However, I'm looking for an international treaty regarding the use of such a bayonet in war.  I've heard that they were made illegal after WWI.  You even have mentions of such knives being illegal in Kurt Vonnegut's book, Slaughter House 5.  However I can't find any real evidence.   I'm beginning to think it is just a bunch of hooey.  There were similar claims made about CS gas, the 50 Caliber round against personnel, and the use of shotguns in combat.  I'm fairly certain all of this is myth and there really is no international ban on the use of such things in a declared war.

My SKS bayonet is Chinese, is unattached, and is legal to own but not legal to carry in the city of Chicago as it would be consider an offensive weapon.  By the time I'm finished with it, it will be very "offensive" in more ways than one!  LOL

From every thing I've read " Slaughter House 5 " is the source that added to the confusion!! The Geneva  Conventiom placed a ban on weapons that could cause grievious additional injuries upon being withdrawn- I.E. Barbed blades which would cause such injuries when being pulled out. A triangular bayonet causes no more injury than an equally sized bullet wound Triangular bayonets are legal, just don't mount them on a rifle. Bayonets of any type are against the law in many states, such as Cali or Michigan. BTW here is the law on Chinese SKS- that started a lot of this

A rifle is considered “assault” if it has the ability to accept a detachable magazine and has two or more of the following:

  • folding or telescopic stock
  • pistol grip protruding conspicuously beneath the action
  • grenade launcher
  • bayonet mount
  • flash suppressor or barrel having a threaded muzzle

The Bayonet mount on the Chinese SKS is what caused all the hubbub.

I don't even sure this applies to saw blades but I think it would apply to a gut hook blade.  It was thought that saw backed blades such as the German Pioneer bayonets of WWI were banned because they caused grievous wounds that were impossible to fix.  There was also rumors that German soldiers started removing the saw backs because the Brits and French executed Germans caught carrying them.  In reality, the Germans had the saw teeth removed because once they were inserted they would get hung up on the heavy woolen great coats and they couldn't pull them out! This led to Germans getting shot because they lost the use of the their rifle.   

The triangular blades were exceedingly popular during WWI because the long spike blades could pierce the heavy great coats and puncture vitals and be withdrawn with few worries of getting hung up .  It was also possible to poke through the thick leather pickelhaube (the German Spiked helmets) and even the steel helmet and through the skull.   Soldiers also found out it the spikes didn't need to be extremely sharp or pointy because if they were too sharp they could get stuck in bones or bend. (plus they were dirt cheap to make compared to sword bayonets.

The SKS spike bayonets have no sharp edges whatsoever.  It is purely deigned to penetrate the chest cavity or skull with a quick decisive lunge or thrust.

I just realized I never posted pictures of the end product of my SKS bayonet conversion (at least not on this thread, I might have somewhere else!)

Anyway, this is how it turned out.  A deadly pig sticker made from scrap bamboo, a galvanized steel washer, book binding tape and rawhide.

It really only has one use.

Tobias, would that one use be for frog gigging?? LOL--- Very cool conversion, I like that a lot--  Bet that helps keep guests to your home in line !!  VERY NICE ~~~~

Absolutely John!   But  with over a 12 in long spike they need to be really, really , big frogs! 

Boy O Boy did that come out nice!

Nice Tobias

First thing first -- The Geneva Convention (which the USA didn't sign on to by the way) deals with treatment of people and buildings; it is the Hague Convention that deals with weapons.

The spike bayonet was never banned, regardless of it's size.

During WW1 many of the Allied soldiers modified bayonets to become "theatre knives" and the only thing that was really frowned on was the use of teeth/serrations on the back of the long bayonets -- you would be killed outright if you were caught with one during a raid or attack.

This is a commercial WW1 dated 1917 LF&C spike bayonet knuckle knife.listed at Snyder's Treasures (http://www.snyderstreasures.com/pages/knuckle_knives.htm)

This knife is illegal in many states and cities but not because it is a triangular blade but because it has brass knuckles.

This cutler makes some beautiful period blades Plowshare Forge (http://plowshareforgeknives.blogspot.com/)

Shlomo,  reagrding saw back knives --First let me say,, I'm not doubting what you wrote because I have also read the same thing and believe it to be true.

The Imperail German Army actually had an official butcher knife bayonet that had saw teeth.  They were in production well before the war and remaining in production until around 1916.  The bayonet were intedned for pioneers but became general issue. The saw back was intended for use in  cutting through timber.  

The problem with the sawbacks was they would get  snagged on the heavy wool great coats and internal parts of a body making it damn near impossible to extract them, leaving the soldier with out a knife or rifle and a most crucial moment in time!

German soldiers started grinding away the teeth as they realized the fatal flaw.  Initially front line soldiers were court martialled for willfully damaging their equipment!  As the problem became more widespread and documented the German Army recalled them and took most of the existing stock and ground the teeth off. 

I guess the poinst I'm trying to make is  1) saw back design can be as deadly for the user as the victim and 2) sometimes there is more than one reason soldiers opted to get rid of the saw back bayonets.

Reply to Discussion


White River Knives

Visit Lee' s Cutlery




JSR Sports!

Click to visit

© 2024   Created by Jan Carter.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service