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Monday, July 25, 2016

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Weapons of the War in Afghanistan: Edged Weapons Part I

Weapons of the War in Afghanistan

Entrance to Firebase Vegas, Korengal Valley, Afghanistan. 

In the world of war, weapons and technology are ever changing, each war is characterized by the weapons and tactics used to fight it. As new environments and enemies are encountered, the parties to those wars develop new - more effective tactics, technologies, and weapons to counter and defeat their adversaries. The ingenuity seen in war has existed since (and most certainly before) the first wars of recorded history and continue to this very day. 

Keeping with that theory, let’s take a look at the weapons that have characterized the wars and conflicts that the United States has been a party to over the course of it’s history. During the course of this series, I aim to breakdown the weapons used in each conflict by their classification, and to which party they were employed by. Having served in combat operations in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley, I would like to start our series with the War in Afghanistan. 

For our ninth installment let's take a look at the most common edged weapons of the war in Afghanistan.

Claymore Mine at entrance of Firebase Vegas.

Part I: The United States

M9 Bayonet

The M9 Bayonet is a multi-purpose knife and bayonet officially adopted in 1986 by the United States. It has a 7-inch blade and is issued with a sheath designed to double as a wire cutter. 

After the Phrobis III bayonet contract was completed, rights to the M9 reverted to the United States Army and there were many subsequent versions from other companies. It is issued by the armed forces of the U.S. and other countries, and has also been sold commercially in various versions.

Some production runs of the M9 have a fuller and some do not, depending upon which contractor manufactured that batch and what the military specs were at the time. The M9 Bayonet partially replaced the older M7 Bayonet, introduced in 1964. Although it has been claimed that the M9 may be more prone to breakage than the older M7, the M9 bayonet has a 20% thicker blade and tang (0.235" vs. 0.195") and a 75% greater cross-sectional area of steel in the blade than the M7.
  • Manufacturer: Phrobis, Buck Knives, LanCay, and Ontario.
  • Weight: ~16 oz.
  • Overall Length: 12.25 inches
  • Blade length: 7 inches
  • Blade Material: 420 Modified Stainless Steel

M11 Knife
The M11, or M11 EOD is a version of the M9 specialized for explosive ordnance disposal (EOD). It has some extra features, such as a hammer pommel, but uses the same blade and sheath as the M9.
  • Manufacturer: Ontario
  • Weight: ~16 oz.
  • Overall Length: 12.25 inches
  • Blade length: 7 inches
  • Blade Material: 420 Modified Stainless Steal

OKC-3S Bayonet
The OKC-3S is a bayonet developed by the United States Marine Corps to replace the M7 bayonet as its service bayonet for the M16 family of rifles. This multipurpose bayonet provides greater durability than the M7 and also functions as a fighting knife.

The OKC-3S is manufactured solely by the Ontario Knife Company and identical civilian versions are available for purchase. It bears a resemblance to the Marines' iconic Ka-Bar fighting knife, though it is not fullered. It is larger, thicker and heavier than the M7 although slightly thinner and lighter than the current U.S. Army-issued M9.

The OKC-3S features an 8 in (20.32 cm) long, 1.375 in (3.49 cm) wide, .2 in (0.51 cm) thick blade. The serrations measure 1.75 in (4.4 cm) of the blade length on the true edge. The blade is made from high carbon steel rated at HRC 53-58 and is capable of functioning without breakage in operating temperatures of −25 to 135 °F (−32 to 57 °C). The blade also has a non-reflective phosphate finish.

  • Manufacturer: Ontario
  • Weight: 13.8 oz.
  • Overall Length: 13.3 inches
  • Blade length: 8 inches
  • Blade Material: 1095 Carbon Steel

Mark 2 Combat Knife (Ka-Bar)
Ka-Bar is the contemporary popular name for the combat knife first adopted by the United States Marine Corps in November 1942 as the 1219C2 combat knife (later designated the USMC Mark 2 combat knife or Knife, Fighting Utility), and subsequently adopted by the United States Navy as the U.S. Navy utility knife, Mark 2. 

The Marine Corps issued USMC Mark 2 combat/fighting utility knife throughout Marine forces, with early deliveries going primarily to elite formations. In late 1943 the 1219C2 replaced the Marine Raider Stiletto in service, a change welcomed by the marines of Col. Edson's 1st Raider Battalion, who found the Raider stiletto ideal for silent killing but of little use for anything else. As the knife went into large-scale production, the Marines issued the Mark 2 Combat/Fighting Utility knife to reconnaissance and engineering units and to any Marine armed with the pistol, M1 carbine, BAR, or crew-served machine gun (rifle-armed Marines were typically issued a bayonet). Marines were often issued knives with "U.S.N. Mark 2" markings when Navy-issued Mark 2 knives were all that was available. By 1944 the USMC Mark 2 Combat/Fighting Utility knife was issued to virtually any Marine in the combat branches who desired one, and was in use by Marine Corps close combat instructors for training new recruits. Unlike the prior Marine Raider stiletto, Marines were taught to use their new knife primarily as a slashing weapon in the initial phases of hand-to-hand combat.

As its new name implied, the "Knife, Fighting Utility" was designed from the outset as a dual-purpose knife: it was both an effective combat knife and a utility tool, well-suited to the type of jungle warfare encountered by Marines in the Pacific theater. This dual-purpose design resulted in some initial criticism of the pattern as being less than ideal for knife fighting, but combat experience of returning veterans as well as reports from the battlefield soon dispelled any doubts about its combat effectiveness.

After the Second World War, the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps continued to use the Mark 2 Combat/Fighting Utility knife. In addition to military contract knives, the knife was produced for the civilian market, and the pattern enjoyed some popularity as a general-purpose hunting and utility knife.

  • Manufacturer: Camillus Cutlery Co., Union Cutlery Co. (Now KA-BAR Cutlery Inc.), Pal Cutlery Co., Robeson (ShurEdge) Cutlery Co.
  • Weight: 0.7 lbs
  • Overall Length: 11.875 inches
  • Blade length: 7 inches
  • Blade Material: 1095 carbon steel

Personal Knives

More often then not the knives that US Military personnel will have on them are personally bought knives of various manufacture and design. Some of these may be the equivalent of standard issue knives/bayonets that the individual's unit did not issue; while many maybe knives of higher quality and design than those issued. 

  • Manufacturer: Various
  • Weight: Various
  • Overall Length: Various
  • Blade length: Various
  • Blade Material: Various

Infantry conducting operations on top of the Abbas Ghar, Korengal Valley, Afghanistan. 

Shawn G in the Korengal Valley, Kunar Province, Afghanistan.

For more info on these and other weapons
Technical specs compiled from:

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Shawn in the Korengal Valley, Kunar Province, Afghanistan.

For more info on these and other weapons
Technical specs compiled from:

"The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement."


At 6:21 AM , Blogger Joseph Ferguson said...

nice post


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