French M1886/93/16/35 Lebel Spike Bayonet
Cruciform shortened spike blade, steel hilt with muzzle ring, brass grip, tubular steel scabbard. Brown leather frog, outer side painted black.
The 1886/93/16 bayonet pattern fitted to the M1886 Lebel and M1907 Berthier rifles used by the French Army during WW1, and was the third version of the M1886 (which was revised in 1893 and 1916). This version had a simplified flat locking button and was manufactured without the quillon found on earlier types. The brass handle was another expediency measure to increase production – German silver (cupro-nickel-zinc alloy) was the original material.
In 1935 many of the various types of Lebel bayonets in the French arsenals had their blades shortened to 13¼ inches by removing the slender tip and repointing. The shorter blades were considered less prone to breakage, and perhaps with the decline of the bayonet in warfare additional reach was less important than ease of carry. The scabbards were also modified to match – this one has been cut down to size by removing the lower section, with the chape end (with drainage hole) then reattached by brazing.
The blade has some spots of dark patina, particularly towards the reshaped tip. The scabbard has a few small dents and some losses to the black gloss paint, revealing steel underneath which has patina in places but no corrosion. The hilt has the same black paint, in much the same condition. Various tiny dings to the brass grip consistent with use. The leather frog is in good condition, all stitching intact and the leather quite supple. There is one small tear to the edge of the leather on the rear side belt loop, not enough to threaten its integrity. Some surface cracking to the unpainted rear side, and flaking/rubbing of the paint in high-wear areas on the front side, revealing the brown leather beneath.
The hilt’s serial number is faint and beneath paint, making it illegible. The blade has an inspection mark ‘T’ to the forte.
Overall length 45.5cm (~18 inches) Blade length 33.5cm (13¼ inches).