Many of us who believe in self-reliance make sure we have a rifle available that can serve for self-defense. This is only prudent. But most neglect making sure that rifle has a bayonet lug and bayonet.

I would argue that there are a lot of valid reasons for having a bayonet for your rifle when the zombie apocalypse hits. And to be honest, I can’t think of a single argument against it. A bayonet lug doesn’t take up much room or interfere with shooting the rifle or carbine, and the bayonet doesn’t have to be mounted. But it’s good to have the option.

In this column, I’ll enumerate many of the reasons I like the bayonet option. These will remain valid whether you have an AR-15 mounting an M9, an AK-47 mounting an AKM, or a Mosin- Nagant mounting a 91/30 bayonet.

One of the most telling arguments for me is that if you have a rifle and you run out of ammunition, you have a club, a club that when used will likely break and leave you without a rifle if you do get more ammunition.

If you have a rifle with a bayonet and run out of ammunition, you have a pike, which is still a formidable weapon until you get more ammunition.

A weapon mounting a bayonet is an excellent deterrent as well. Given any breakdown in society, your likelihood of encountering undesirables will increase. You will want to keep those undesirables at a distance. A bayonet does a really nice job of that. Someone who comes onto your porch or approaches you in your yard uninvited during disturbing times will likely hesitate to come too close to a leveled bayonet. In many cases, the fear of getting jabbed will be more of a deterrent than the fear of getting shot.

Many of those looking for handouts from you when they can’t get government handouts will assume you won’t shoot them, but they won’t be too sure you won’t jab them, and most will have been cut or stuck somehow before. I doubt they liked it. A weapon with a bayonet mounted still offers the option of shooting if needed, but the bayonet may lessen the need to shoot, thus saving ammunition and hassles.

Should you need to search deserted buildings, a bayonet on your carbine may make entering doorways a little safer.

I’ve been talking primarily about rifles with bayonets mounted, but an even better deterrence weapon is a shotgun with a bayonet mounted. Mossberg offers the 590A1, which has a bayonet lug and comes with a U.S. M9 bayonet.

This is an excellent weapon for troubled times, especially in urban areas. It is possible to mount the bayonet and slip the sheath over it while leaning it next to the bed or door, so it is unlikely you will get cut by accident. But if you need to deploy the shotgun, the sheath may be quickly slipped off.

Another real boon to having a bayonet mounted is that it lessens the likelihood of someone attempting to snatch your weapon away or succeeding in doing so. If someone does attempt to snatch your rifle or shotgun, you have the option of thrusting the bayonet toward them or jerking the weapon rearward, cutting their hands as they attempt to grab the weapon.

If you’re searching your house at night after the power has gone out, the bayonet can be the first thing through a door, once again discouraging anyone from attempting to grab your weapon.

Another consideration in bad times might be that you don’t want to call attention to yourself. If lethal force is necessary, it might be better to administer it with a quieter weapon such as the bayonet.

I have worked security details in some Third World cities where we carried guns and knives, but if possible we would have chosen the knives to avoid attracting the attention of the locals, all of whom were one degree or another of bad! If times get bad enough here in the U.S., we could be living in the equivalent of a Third World country for a time.

Two versatile bayonets: AKM bayonet (left) and U.S. M9—both with serrated edges
and wire cutters.

Some bayonets will prove useful by themselves in addition to their utility as an extension of your rifle or shotgun.

For example, the U.S. M9 bayonet and the Russian AKM bayonet both incorporate sawteeth into the blade, as well as wire cutters using the blade in conjunction with the sheath. Most of us will probably have various types of saws, plus one or more multi-tools that will give us wire-cutting capability, but redundancy is good, and these bayonets give us more options.

When properly sharpened, both of these bayonets can also function as close-combat knives.

One of my favorite compact carbines is a Norinco underfolder AK-47 that I’ve had for many years. It came with the standard Norinco bayonet, which is shorter than the AKM and without the saw and wire cutters. It has a very pronounced clip point, which gives it a wicked look. I’ve often carried the Norinco in my truck in a pack along with loaded spare magazines and the bayonet.

I don’t normally have the bayonet mounted, but if times were bad, I would carry the carbine with bayonet mounted and the sheath on. I could quickly remove it if needed.

A bayonet should not be the only edged tool/weapon carried. At a minimum, I would want a multi-tool or Swiss Army Knife and a heavy-duty folder whether a bayonet were carried or not.

Attempting to disarm you of a weapon mounting a bayonet puts the hands and arms of your opponent in jeopardy.

Another requirement if you’re going to have a weapon mounting a bayonet is gaining some rudiments of close combat with it. A few basic slashes and thrusts will normally suffice.

There are videos on YouTube demonstrating bayonet use. It is possible to practice these techniques with a partner using broomsticks or, with great care, the rifle or shotgun with the bayonet covered by its sheath. The most basic concept, as with virtually all blade combat, is to keep the blade moving.

I’ll conclude by going back to my first point. I don’t think there is a downside to having a rifle, carbine, or shotgun that mounts a bayonet. But there are a lot of situations where the bayonet can be a valuable adjunct to your firearm.

One final point: soldiers throughout the centuries have learned that few commands cause you to get your war face on and inculcate the martial spirit like the command, “Fix bayonets!” Mounting the bayonet on your weapon in troubled times may give you a bit more of what the Marines call “the spirit of the bayonet.”

You may need that spirit one day!

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