British X2E1 Trials Bayonet for the X8 Rifle (FN FAL)
Spear-pointed knife blade with partial false edge. Blade length 7 3/8 inches (18.7cm), 13 inches (33cm) overall. Steel hilt with muzzle ring and integral flash-hider prongs, wood grip scales held by two screws, exposed tang, steel pommel. Steel scabbard with frog hook and ball finial. The bayonet is stamped on the tang with ’X2E1 5918’. The scabbard is stamped at the throat with ‘X1E1’.
In the early 1950s the British Army, working in concert with counterparts in Australia and Canada, evaluated the Belgian-designed FN FAL rifle, chambered in the new NATO standard .7.62x51mm cartridge, as a possible replacement for the venerable Lee Enfield series of bolt-action rifles. Several thousand were ordered from FN in late 1953 / early 1954 for large-scale troop trials: some sources suggest there were 5,000 total but Skennerton & Richardson state (in British & Commonwealth Bayonets) that there was an initial batch of 1,100 sent to Britain and a subsequent batch of 14,530.
These trials rifles were officially designated the X8 (different versions being X8E1 to X8E5), while the trials bayonets made in Belgium were designated the X2E1. While the FAL was a preexisting model, the design commissioned by the Commonwealth was bespoke: FN described the flash hider prongs on the bayonets, for example, as being “the British design”.
The British Army ultimately adopted a refined version of the X8 as the L1A1 SLR, produced under license in the UK. The trials bayonets are rare today – many probably did not survive the testing process and they were not compatible with the L1A1, which ultimately used a different bayonet closer to the British No. 5 and No. 7 types.
Most X2 bayonets were serial numbered at the factory to match with a specific rifle – in this case, rifle 5918. The scabbard being differently marked to the bayonet is not a mismatch: the X2 bayonet goes with the X1 scabbard because a previously designed X1 bayonet (for the cancelled EM-1 experimental bullpup rifle) used the pre-existing No. 5 scabbard.