20 April 2016

FWS Armory: Firearms as a Melee Weapon by Yoel and William

The introduction of firearm change the way we bold apes manifesting our will upon each other; no more relying on weak human or animal muscles, the firearm driving projectile is faster, longer and deadlier than any bow, spear, or sling. While the firearm is doing good job in its intended duty, it has been and still is used as a melee weapon in certain conditions. Whether it a pointy bayonet attached at its front end or savagely butt-stroking by its rear side, there is still a great deal of options to do without aiming and squeezing the trigger of your firearm. In this article of the continuing FWS Armory serial, we'll be diving into the world of firearms being used as a melee weapon!  

Note from the Author
As a FWS contributor author, I'm more or less bound to neutrality representing topics and weapons, and not siding with one nationality or another. In this FWS Armory article you may notice the disproportion representation of Israeli-made weapons and concepts. I don't know whether my homeland is indeed leading in the field of guns' melee usage or simply my knowledge about Israeli arsenal is wider than that of the foreign goods… but anyway, it isn't my intent to steal some nation's thunder or toot one's own horn.

I would like to thanks Mr. Ralph Cobb of worldbayonets.com for his help and detailed research into the history and different types of bayonets worldwide, this article's bayonet part couldn't been made without his support.

I would like to thank Yoel for his continued contribution and hard work to the FWS Armory blog serial with bring a new take and fresh eyes on interesting topics from the world of firearms and humans involvement with them. He enriches the site and the content.

Why use Firearm as a Melee Weapon?
That is kind of the main question concerning this article. After all, firearms are supposed to be superior weapon system to ancient melee weapons. That why humanity grww up and beat their swords into guns; so it takes a good reason to go back and wave your rifle as some Uber-expensive club as our ancestors did.

Encounters at Short Range
Firearms are range weapons and as such, are less effective at point-blank ranges when the enemy attacks you with some ax, knife, club, or bare hands. In such scenarios, your foe won't simply wait till you slowly move your battle rifle muzzle toward him. In such a scenario, your gun will be used both as melee weapon and a shield to counter your foe's attack and put up a fight for your survival...hopefully driving him out far enough and long enough to use the gun as a slug thrower as it was original intended.

Running Low on Ammo & Jamming
A firearm is a great machine… and as with all machines, it sometimes doesn't work, which is a real bummer under fire. Guns require their own fuel, which is called ammunition, and when they are poorly maintains and cleaned, they cease to function, temporarily or permanently. The possibility to use a gun as melee weapon is the KISS solution to those dire circumstances when the gun fails. After all, when your firearm is jammed or empty, it creates an opportunity for your enemy to take your moment of being defenseless and use it to kill you. This was a common historical tactic in the age of firearms being single-shot and complex to reload. But being defenseless is only a state of mind. If you properly trained and swift enough, your firearm can become an melee weapon to drive back the enemy. That is where bayonets and butt-stroking come into play. This recently happened in Afghanistan to British infantryman Lt. James Adamson. During an close quarters engagement with Taliban fighters, he ran out of ammunition in his L85A2 bullpup assault rifle, and used his attached bayonet to stab an enemy fighter.  

Forming a Perimeter
In the days of single shot muskets and rifles, firing rates were pathetic; in order to increase the volume of fire, military organizations used tactics to arranged their soldiers in a formation called "the line of infantry". The soldiers were standing/kneeling in a line(s) perpendicular to the firing direction shoulder to shoulder and firing in volleys. Standing there, in line, the soldiers' bayonets formed a pointy deadly line of blades acting as a barbed wire barrier to the enemy. The ability to create an barriers in the battlefield at will was only one benefit. Since that wall was compose of foot soldiers, the general, this living wall/barrier could be more simply maneuvered, moving the spiky fence slowly but surely toward the enemy as well.     

Less-Than-Lethal Usage
This more related to the use of firearms as a blunt weapon than the bayonet.  An gun can be use as a less-lethal weapon when need is called for. Enemy soldiers, enemy civilian & disobedience privates in the platoon sometimes need to be dealt without being killing or severely wounded. Unlike the bullets with their "power level" preset in the factory as per the amount of gunpowder in the cartridge, the use as of the firearm as a blunt tool allows the soldier to "dial-a-threat" to knock your opponent unconscious. I specially titled this segment as "less-than-lethal" rather than "non-lethal" for a reason. Any vertical buttstoke to the face will surely end up with more than harmful sweat sleep, using gun as a blunt object is as close one can get to a magical "phasers on stun"… which still is very far. One of the risk of using your assault rifle as an less-than-lethal option is that you have to be very careful where you apply your melee attack and how much force you apply behind it. Blunt force trauma is no joke, and in a chaotic situation, an soldier could apply more energy than is needed to a sensitive region of the body, resulting in long-term physical injury or death.              

The late actor Alan Rickman summarized, as Hans Gruber, the most efficient method of interrogation – "I'm going to count to three; there will not be a four. Give me the code".
For us mortals with more patience and no scary fake German accent who don't like killing there is the possibility of using melee as  a tool of interrogation. This  "dial-a-threat" of melee usage to inflict pain & suffering could be  and is capitalized on, especially with a swift pistol whipping or rifle buttstroke to the head.  

Dead Checking
Going from the dark side to the morbid, the bayonet can be used as "euthanize" device. When a victorious army march into the positions and trenches of defeated and fleeing enemy, some enemy combatants are left on the field, wounded. Since it is not cost efficient to spare a bullet on nearly dead enemy, the bayonet was used to finish the job.  This can also be used to check to see if any enemy is really dead or playing possum. 

Firearm blast is distinctive both in noise and flash. When stealth is needed, the melee capacity is used. This is seen in video games, films, and television when soldiers attempt to gain entry into an enemy complex without alerting the entire complex of your clandestine assault. Often sentries, guard dogs, and robots are dealt with a melee attack. This can be seen in the hostage rescue mission at the beginning of 1987's Predator.  

Last but not least, the gun can be used as a tool either by itself or with attachments to perform all sorts of things: barber-wire cutter, window breaker etc. After all, in the field, you use what you have not what you want to have. 

The History of the Bayonet
Like the magazine, the bayonet origin is in the French language. In the 1611's Randle Cotgrave’s A Dictionarie of the French and English Tongues defines "bayonnette" as "a kind of small flat pocket dagger, furnished with knives; or a great knife to hang at the girdle", not a mention of any firearm cause at the time the 'bayonnette' was just that – a knife, more exactly an hunter's knife.The meaning of the name 'bayonnette' is most likely derived from the name of "Bayonne", which is the name of a Basque coastal town between present day France and Spain.
Back then, the town was known for its cutlery manufacturing.The marriage between the "bayonnette" and the firearm that lead to the modern bayonet that we all know didn't happened on the battlefield, but the hunting of games. Unlike most animals that escape when wounded, like the wild Boar, who apparently holds grudge and if not taken down by the bullet, the wild Boar tend to charge the hunter. Being that the musket extremely slow on reloading, the hunter needed a PDW like weapon. While a pike was common and effective, it was heavy to carry when already carrying a massive musket. So, the knife was the substitute for the pike. And at this time, pistols were relatively uncommon and expensive. At some unknown time and by some unknown individual came the novel idea to redesign the bayonnette handle to be round and taper so that it could fit INSIDE of the musket muzzle as a pike ending. The plug bayonet blocks the barrel from firing, but when the Boar attacks, it faster to use it than reload.The similarities between the Boar and an enemy cavalry haven't escaped from the eyes of the soldiers of the era, and the early musketeers' prime target were the cavalry which was also the musketeers' primary threat.
The long periods between shots made the musketeer vulnerable to cavalry attacks.The earliest muskets were more an artillery piece than gun, rest against pork shape monopod, and were low on maneuverability as well. To protect themselves, the musketeers were some of the few soldiers in every unit that were issued pikes to counter cavalry attacks. By the mid 1600's, the muskets were improved and made smaller and lighter. But due to the low rate-of-fire, they still had to rely on pikemen for protection. To add further protection and reduce the number of pikemen needed on the field, plug bayonets were issued to soldiers. If an enemy cavalryman survive the first volley and closed in on the musketeer position, he would take his bayonet and plug it in the gun effectively convert the gun into a pike.
The plug bayonet was an improvement indeed, but it had major disadvantage. When insert into the gun, it block the gun from firing, render the firearm to either an gun or a pike, not both. Though a musketeers had a weapon for self-defense, they still needed to be escorted by pikemen for quick response if some lucky cavalry reach the musketeers before they could plug their bayonets. Several attempts were made to mount bayonet parallel to the muzzle, one was bolting or brazing a secondary short "dummy" barrel next side to the muzzle to accommodate the bayonet.
The big next step in the ladder of bayonet development was the socket bayonet. The socket bayonet is what most people nowadays imagine when thinking about bayonets of the black powder muzzle loading muskets & rifles era. The socket part of the bayonet is a metal sleeve with one or more slots designated to latch and lock with short leg(s) on the muzzle end. One telling fact that can identify whether some bayoneted gun is either muzzle loaded or breach loaded is my examine the bayonet orientation – in muzzle loaded gun the bayonet is usually mounted lean from the right side of the barrel to not stand in the way of the soldier's left hand that push gunpowder & projectile into the barrel, with breach loaders to bayonet is designed to be mounted below the barrel.
Next step in the bayonet evolution wasn't due to technology but tactics. The bayonet line usually regarded as defensive formation when someone figure out that the soldiers don't need to wait till enemy charge toward them. Instead you can bayonet-charge the enemy. The next major development in the gun industry was the smokeless powder which effected the bayonet rule and design. The smokeless powder enable the use of rifles with shorter barrels achieving better performance. The ever shorter pose a problem; the bayonet relay on the combine rifle and bayonet lengths to tackle the cavalry, compensate the shorter barrel with unrealistic long bayonet could have been a problem if not a major shift in the battlefield occur similarly. The bayonet nemesis, the cavalry, was becoming useless with the introduction of automatic fire, barber-wire and later, mechanized warfare. The bayonet new enemy therefore become… another soldier with bayoneted rifle. As a result the bayonets become shorter more suitable to tackle a foot soldier.
The trench warfare of World War One gave the final push toward the final configuration we know today as bayonet: the knife bayonet. In those hellish fields of slaughter and mud, the soldiers needed both a weapon for the open field charges between trenches along with the close quarters combat conditions once inside the trench complexes...which is melee blunt range. Melee weapon, like a knife, was idea for the close and personalized fighting inside in the trenches due to the length of the bolt-action rifles of the time period.  The knife bayonet was ideal invention to serve its dual purposed in the battlefields of World War One and beyond. It could be attached to the rifle for bayonet work then de-attached for use as an normal combat knife.
The knife bayonet serve well humanity's military organizations for decades and many nations still equipped their troops with knife bayonets to this day, but the shifting away started at the end of the Second World War. The last known bayonet charge in the US Army history was during the Korean War. On February 7th, 1951, Captain Lewis Millett led the last bayonet charge during the assault on Hill 180. 20 enemy soldiers were found with bayonet wounds and Captain Millett was given the second highest medal for his valiant effort that day. Since Korea, there have been a handful of bayonet charges by French and British forces. At the moment, the October 2011 bayonet charge ordered by British Army Lance Corporal Sean Jones in Afghanistan. However, these are becoming more and more rare. After third of a millennia, the bayonets are leaving the armories and heading to the museums.

Bayonet Types
Many types of bayonets have been developed and deployed over the centuries. The flag, the socket, the knife all appeared in the history segment. Alongside of those successful types are the least known cousins, never been fully used by any major force and ended up as footnote of history. Two of those types are the fixed and foldable/retractable.    

Integral –fixed
The earliest firearms were very unreliable and slow on reloading, some of those models had an integrated blade 'bayonet' as part of the gun. Those bladed projections take form of knives & axes and were fixed to the gun.

The foldable or retractable concepts of bayonet was not as successful idea at first appearance. The foldable bayonet concept was process of testing and testing over a span of years. The idea behind those concepts is fairly simple – have a gun with a bayonet folded backward, not lengthening the gun and make it ungainly when pointy bayonet isn't needed and when the call arise simply fold it open.Many of those designs were spring loaded and simply bottom push and the bayonet dash to action. The problem with this noble design was twofold: First, any mechanism needed to fold or retract the bayonet have to be robust enough to stand the mechanical shocks that bayonet is expose to have to bulky and heavy. Second, usually those bayonet were fixed to the gun. What that meant was the weight of the bayonet and the added mechanic joint and spring had to be carry constantly whether the user need a bayonet or not.

Using Firearms as a Blunt Weapon
Since the first ancestor of humanity picked up a stone or a bone to strike their prey or enemy, the idea of using a hard object to harm or kill your opponent was established. Even during the era when warriors used swords as their primary weapon, there were tactics of "quarter-swording" and using the handle/hilt as a weapon. When the first firearms, like the flintlock and the arquebus were used on battlefields across the globe in the 15th century is likely when the first musketeer was forced to use their firearm as a melee weapon. Of course, we have no records of when this happened, but my educated guess is during the first engagements due to the tactic of waiting until the musketeers were reloading to charge and eliminate the advantage of the gun.
It was during these assaults that it is likely that musketeers were using their firearms to crack some skulls in a defensive strategy. This was the birth of butt-stroking or butt-striking. By the 18th century when the rifle was common issue for the infantry and fell into the hands of civilians, the practice of butt-stroking was used and taught. It helped that muzzle-loading smoothbore long rifle of the time, like the Brown Bess and Pattern long rifle, were fitted with real wooden stock with metal butt plates. Some of the training materials that have survived from the 18th and 19th centuries inform us that butt-stroke tactics were accepted doctrine.
Throughout the Napoleonic wars in Europe, the Colonial Wars, the Mexican-American War, and the American Civil War; the firearms technology of the time fueled the use of firearms being used as melee weapons. This included the pistol as well. Much like the muzzle-loader rifles, the pistols of the time were single-shot, and given that they were used in close quarters engagements, the wielder could become overwhelmed and forced to use the pistol as a blunt trauma weapon. The metal plate of the handle of pistols could be used to strike an enemy in either an defensive or offensive manner.
One of the prime users of pistols during this time was privateers and pirates, given their CQW combat environment. During the American post-Civil War westward expansion era, the revolver could be used in a blunt melee weapon manner to knockout an opponent, which was called "buffaloing" someone. According the many legends surrounding lawman Wyatt Earp was that he was famous for using pistol whipping to avoid lethal force. That has been popularized by American Old-West films like 1993's Tombstone. Even when firearms technology improved to the degree of the bolt-action rifle and the semi-automatic battle-rifle, the full-wood stock was still used for butt-stroking tactics, especially during the horror of the trenches of war torn Europe during the Great War. However, time was running out for this traditional tactic. During the 2nd World War, weapons like the German MP40, the US M1A1 Carbine Paratrooper model, and the British Sten SMG abandoned the full-stock in favor of lighter, wire stocks that could be folded in some cases. This made the traditional butt-stroke tactic risky if not completely useless. Muzzle-strike and magazine-thump were still useable in a pinch. While most traditional assault rifles, like the AKM, the M16, and the STG44, could use the time honored tactic of butt-stroking, but the trend of carbines was on the rise. 
By the time of Vietnam, the collapsable and wire stock was being used to lighten and shorten firearms for specialized units. Then were was also the emerging trend of bullpup assault rifles as well. These trends in the world of military firearms has caused the traditional butt-stroke tactic to be more risky or unusable than before. An Colt M4A1 collapse CAR stock could be broken along with the interior mechanism of the weapon during butt-stroke strikes. Some soldiers use muzzle-thumping instead to prevent massive damage to the stock , and this seems to be the way. Of course, this just rules out deliberate butt-stroke strikes. In the heat of CQW, there may be no choice in the moment and an broken M4A1 is better than being dead.

Pistols Being used as Blunt Weapon

Pistol Whipping
Throughout the world and across various forms of media, the concept of pistol whip is commonplace along with its brutality. The threat of being whipped by the handle or body of a pistol is seen being used by criminals, interrogators, and police. Criminals the world over use pistol whipping to "convince" someone to hand over the money. But, is this a wise maneuver? That depends how you use your pistol to deliver the beating. The classic "holding the pistol by the barrel and use the handle as a club" tactic is risky to both the pistol and the wielder.
If the gun is still loaded, it can discharge, killing you instead of your attacker. This move can also damage the pistol's handle/magwell/magazine beyond use as well. There have been pistols developed with being used as a club in mind. During the era of single-shot pistols, Swedish cavalrymen would use specially developed pistols with metal butt plates with the expressed use as a club. How could you use a modern pistol as a blunt weapon? Use the body of the pistol as a "fist pack" to deliver crushing blows. With automatic clip pistols, this is risky due to the buttons on the side of the pistol. During the engagement you could damage the pistol...so maybe use an revolver. Be warned though, pistol whipping can result in serious blunt force trauma that could led to permit injury and even death if the right area of the head is repeatedly struck...unless this your intention. I leave with this quote: "If you get a customer, or an employee, who thinks he's Charles Bronson, take the butt of your gun and smash their nose in. Everybody jumps. He falls down screaming, blood squirts out of his nose, nobody says fucking shit after that."-Mr. White, Reservoir Dogs  

Pistol Muzzle Strikes
The best way to use your pistol as a blunt instrument is the muzzle strike. This keeps the pistol aiming towards your opponent, and this will damage your pistol the least. In this situation, this maneuver of muzzle strike is used against sensitive areas of the face (eyes), the chest, and even the groin. Why would you hit your opponent with the muzzle of your pistol instead pulling the trigger? Well, you could be out of ammo or between reloads, and your opponent is using that moment to get the drop on you. You could be using the lethality of the pistol as a last resort, as it is the case in law enforcement. It could also be during the middle of struggle over the pistol or in a CQW situation, where your attacker surprised you.

Pistol Magazine/Handle Thumping
Using the handle/magazine well of your pistol to thump someone in the face or groin is one way of using your pistol as an blunt melee weapon that is less risky than the tradition club method. But, it is still an good way to break your pistol along with our opponent's face. Like all of the ways to use your firearms as an blunt force trauma weapon, it could inflict serious injury and death. Magazine/handle thumping is going to be a last resort or an way to induce fear and/or control given the proximity and the awkward hand position. I've also read that if pistol magazine thumping is done wrong, it can damage your wrist and hand.

Rifles being used as an Blunt Weapon

Magazine Thump
When you have an assault carbine, like an M4A1 or an AKS-74, the stock may not be able to take the stress of being used as an blunt force trauma weapon, and one of the tactics is instead to use your magazine of your carbine to thump your opponent. Like many of the tactics discussed here, it is risky to the overall integrity of the weapon and its ability to be fire properly. You could shove the magazine into the mechanics of the carbine or damage the mag-well, or the magazine itself. The tactic is to use your magazine to smash the face, chest, or groin of your opponent by holding the carbine by the stock and the barrel. You can sweep it vertically or shove it horizontally. One of the best examples of the effectivness of this tactic was captured on video in April of 2012 when an IDF soldier magazine thumped an Danish protestor during an operation to prevent chaos in the West Bank.
Here is the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0HtWDbKstBA

Muzzle Thump
This is one of the better ways to use modern assault carbines and bullpup assault rifles as an instrument of blunt force trauma attack. Muzzle thumping is using the barrel of your weapon to thump, tap, shove, or push on an sensitive area of your opponent; like the groin, eyes, face, mouth, or even the chest. This could be used to back up an hostile, crowd control, or in an hand-to-hand combat situation when your weapon is either out of commission or in very close quarters conditions. This tactic was seen in use in Afghanistan by an ANA soldier against an hostile local. The barrel of an assault carbine or bullpup rifle are better able to handle the force of being used as an blunt melee weapon, and there is lessened risk of damaging the stock and internal mechanics. Some barrel manufacturers have designed aftermarket barrels for the purpose of being more effective at the muzzle thump tactic without having the user switch out to another barrel or attach an bayonet. These include the S.O.M Muzzle Break, the SMT tactical tactical muzzle break. and the Howling Raven 9130 muzzle break.
Here is a nice PDF: http://www.benning.army.mil/infantry/197th/combatives/content/pdf/Posterback.pdf

What is an"Buttstroke"?
Okay, I know that this official and traditional military term sounds dirty as hell...like something you cannot do at a strip club without being kicked out. But it is a real military term that has appeared in official training manuals for hundreds of years and the basic tactics are still taught today in basic training around the world. According to the US Army Field Manual 3-25.150 Chapter 7 released in 2002, butt-stroking is "the objective is to disable or capture an opponent by delivering a forceful blow to his body with the rifle butt. The aim of the butt stroke may be the opponent's weapon or a vulnerable portion of his body". There two main buttstroke attacks used in infantry combat are: vertical and horizontal. There two basic buttstroke attacks are often combined with bayonet techniques to form devastating melee attacks in close quarters combat conditions (smash-then-slash). For buttstroke attacks to be effective more than the weapon needs to be used. Training in buttstroke techniques involves the arms, legs, movement, and correct body position.

Vertical Buttstroking
This is when the butt of the rifle is swung upwards in a half-circle arching movement using two hands to control the movement and delivery the maximum power. One hand is on the barrel assembly and the other is on the stock. You snap the rifle upwards, driving the buttstock into the opponent's face, ribs, stomach, groin, or chin. This should be used in combination with proper foot and hand movement, allowing for power, speed, control, and not exposing the attacker to the opponent's possible counterattack. This rapid snap of movement can be combined with bayonet slashing and thrusting along with the two vertical buttstroke attack. Another form of vertical is bring the weapon's stock down on an opponent's body after an upwards vertical buttstroke. You could strike upwards, then strike downwards in a crushing rapid physical assault. I learned something similar when I was in Aikido with staff movement/attack drills.

Horizontal Buttstroking
There two horizontal buttstroke attacks, and both movements use two hands to control the movement and deliver the maximum power to the body of your opponent. The most seen is swinging the rifle stock in a 90 degree arch like a hook punch into the enemy face, chin, ribs. One hand is on the barrel assembly and the other is on the stock, and you snap the rifle in an swinging 90 degree motion driving the butt stock into the opponent's face, neck, or side of the head most often. This tactic can be reversed to set up for another rapid blow using the momentum of the first horizontal buttstroke to propel you or combined with an bayonet slash.
The other horizontal buttstroke is when you flip the rifle upsides down and hold the rifle by the barrel and stock. You jab the end of the stock into the chest or face or chest of your opponent. This is an awkward over the shoulder maneuver, and this type of horizontal buttstroke can leave you more exposed, but it is set up more easily by preforming an vertical buttstroke following by this type of horizontal buttstroke. Both horizontal buttstroke attacks should be used in combination with proper foot and hand movement, allowing for power, speed, control, and not exposing the attacker to the opponent's possible counterattack. This rapid snap of movement can be combined with bayonet slashing and thrusting along with the vertical buttstroke attacks above as well. 

Countering an Firearm Blunt Weapon Attack
For generations, the art of using your rifle as a blunt instrument of attack was taught to soldiers along with how to counter an butt stroke attacks. Several of my friends that served in the Marines were taught complex attacks, counters, and moves. Very complex stuff, and it shows how much these encounters must be occurring in warfare to warrant the teaching of these maneuvers. The Japanese military even has a specialized Martial Art called "Jukendo" devoted to bayonet/melee fighting. In these time-honored drills, soldiers use their assault rifle/battle rifle to intercept and counter attacks. Most of these moves are dependent on you having a rifle to counter their attempted butt stroke strikes. Without an rifle, counting an incoming rifle stock strike or muzzle thump with a normal block is nearly foolish and could result in broken bones. The best counter for an unarmed individual is to move out of the way or duck.

The Curious Case of  The Native American Gunstock War Club
One of the most unique war club designs used by the Native American Tribes is one that might be descended from buttstroking tactics employed by Europeans. As someone who grew up in Oklahoma and had an interest in Martial Arts and weapons, the weapons of the Native Tribes was always a topic of interest for me. The most iconic melee weapon of the Native Tribes was the tomahawk, which is still in use today with our military. One of the more uncommon and unknown melee weapons is the Gunstock War Club. Most people know the Gunstock War Club from the awesome 1992 film Last of the Mohicans. One of the main characters, Chingshgook, uses a bright blue Gunstock War Club with a single blade. From the information I've gathered over the years, the Gunstock War Club history is shrouded in mystery. It is either an Native Tribal copy of European flintlock musket stocks or is an native design much older than European contact. Some sources say that when the muskets ran out of ammo or the warrior was caught reloading, they used traditional butt stroke attacks, and they smashed the muskets beyond repair. Not wanting to waste anything, they re-purposed the stock for a war club. Others point to the fact that Plains and more isolated tribes had Gunstock War Club designs prior to European contact and exposure to the gun.

Gal AR Buttguard 
The Gal AR was a prototype rifle designed by Uziel Gal, father of the Uzi SMG. The rifle was one of the participants in the late 70's trials to be the next assault rifle for the IDF, which eventually ended with the Galil has the winner. One of the unique features of the gun was it buttstock which contain a metal rod connecting the lower half of the stock to the pistol grip. While outer guns had a similar stock design (the M1 para-carbin for example) this added rod was more than stock stiffening hardware. The bottom rod intend was to protect the soldier forearm's side from injury when buttstoking the enemy and also protecting soldier's right forearm while crawling (what with the left forearm?)

Magal .30M1 Handguard stroke
Taking the pistol whip concept to its extreme – one of the offsprings of the Galil was the Magal (Hebrew: Sickle), the Magal was a micro Galil chamber down to 0.30 cartridges. The gun's intended customers were Israeli police and civil guard for replacing their used up American M1 carbines. Since Israeli law enforcement used an .30 caliber round, it made sense to chamber the Magal carbine in the same cartridge as the old M1 carbine. As a gun designated for law enforcing usage the gun features some unusual oddities. For starter there is the bloated handguard enclosing and shielding the short barrel, front sight and optional flash light maglite. This robust handguard design serves as a crud club the police officer can swing to knock his opponent. Other feature is a pistol grip guard shielding the officer palm from harm and securing the gun from slipping or snatching away.The gun itself is fairly conventional by design however the gun was found to be unreliable, the 0.30 cartridge found to be to underpowered and couldn't cycle the heavy bolt group. Some 3,000 units IWI supplied to the police been later resold to other police forces worldwide at a major discounts.

Anti-Materials, Using an Gun as a Tool
Using a gun as a blunt tool to unlock doors and crack ammunition box is as old as guns themselves. A few firearms in history have been designed with specific features and attachments for specific use. For lacking of better term I used the "anti-materiel" for this section, all of those guns and weapon systems designed for manipulating inanimate objects.      

Stake Mines Dismantle - Tral (Трал) system
A fellow gun enthusiast name Mr. Hayrapetyan brought to my knowledge this interesting concept, developed by students at the Department of "small arms and cannon" of the Tula State University, the 'Трал' (trawl in English) is an innovating system for clearing stake-mines. A stake-mine is a regular grenade with trip wire connecting to the pull ring. Tripping the wire pull the ring and activate the grenade's fuse. The 'Трал' compose of fishing rod's pulley mount under the AK with thin fishing wire contacted to a solid metal projectile.
The projectile could be launch out of a special cup mount on the gun's muzzle using regular ammo like modern Muzzle-Fired grenades. Another option is a projectile shaped as a cap placed on the muzzle of Russian GP-25 under barrel grenade launcher, using inert/training grenade to propel the cap. Any of those method to launch the projectile, the end result is that projectile lands far from the shooter with tether connecting. The shooter can know simply crank the pulley pulling the projectile back and triggering all those trip wires in its path.    



Barber wire cutter 

Barber wire, first invented in 1867 for cattle restraining, quickly became a tool for militaries for blocking and slowing enemy combatants. Early usage in the Spanish–American War & Russo-Japanese War of late 19th early 20th but it toke WW1 to fully demonstrate the wire capacities. As the barber wire became prevalent in the battle field so does methods of dealing with emerge. First attempts were adding sawteeth to the bayonet blade spine for dual use as a bayonet and a tool for wire cutter. Those Sawback bayonets appeared in 1870 and were in extensive use in WW1 in the German side. More straight-forward thinking was to simply bolt a hand-held wire cutter to the gun front end. Those devices allowed troopers to cut obstacle wires while advancing without putting down their arms.  

Valmet M76
The Finnish is praised by many as one of best quality AK clone with many little features of the original AK-47 improved and well-tuned. One of those features is flash suppressor, M76's suppressor has three longitudinal cuts with sharp edges, and the cuts are open from one side.
When to call arise the soldier carefully moves the suppressor forward, entering the barber wire into the cuts and then with slight tilting moment cut the wire.    

Galil ARM Bipod
Know to anther AK clone that is closer to my heart, well more like my lower back pain… my service rifle the IMI Galil. One of the variant of the Galil was the Galil ARM which was the LMG-support rifle. A bipod is common in this LMG genre but this bipod had a sharp niche and by using the left hand and holding the two bipod's legs the soldier can rotates the bipod on its hinge back & forward, cutting the wire.

Bottle opener - Galil ARM Bipod's hooks
Again with the Galil ARM… the two hooks under the hand guard that hold the bipod when folded can be use as bottle opener. This strange feature is understood in contexts when you realize that in absents of any bottle opener Israeli soldiers used their magazines' feed lips to open bottles and ware up those feed lips in the process. IMI intend the Galil's magazines won't suffer similar damage.

Window Breaker
Toughened glass, better known as tempered glass, is a type of glass which by thermal and chemical process gain increased strength compared to regular annealed. The tempered process also produces glass, that if broken, breaks apart into small granular chunks instead of splintering into jagged shards thus reduce the danger of injury. In simple terms, the process of tempering creates a glass structure with outer shell under compression stress and inside core under tension stress. Breaking the glass is much difficult causes the outer shell is more immune to cracking, when the outer shell been cracked the inner stress energy release rapidly and the glass rapidly broke.
One way to understand it is thinks of a party balloon; the balloon cans withstand blunt punches but a gentle touch of a pin will violently blow it to pieces.The tempered glass skin is much harder than the party balloon so the pin needed to fracture have to be from similarly hard or harder material, for that commercial window breakers are made from hardened steel or synthetic diamond while hoodlums and car thieves use fragments from spark plug (known as Ninja Rocks) to break side and rear car windows (front windshield is laminated glass). Several breakers are available as gun attachments; usually as a rifle or pistol 'bayonet' under the barrel, breaking the car window is done by simple bayonet stab. Another option for mount a breaker on a pistol is as a magazine floor attachment.

While the models mentioned above can easily break tempered glass, all have one disadvantage; breaking the glass require same rapid movement of the firearm toward the glass thus removing the target, even momentarily, out of sights; which is very dangerous to do while closing on a suspect/target sitting inside the car. For such scenarios, FAB Defense developed the WB2; the WB2 is spring loaded piston with harden tip mount under the pistol, when gently pressed against the car window a small button pressed and release the piston to break the glass while the police officer steadily keep the gun points at the target.

Tire Deflator –FAB TD-2
FAB Defense also developed and produces this oddball of modern socket bayonet designated for tire deflating. The deflator dagger is place on M4 Flash Suppressor.

Machete Stock
We all knows that in outer-space every gram counts. Unlike the Americans' capsules that splash land in the Indian Ocean, the Russian Soyuz capsules parachute over land. After one parachuting veered off course in 1965, the cosmonauts had to survive a few days in Siberia before being rescued an area where hungry bears & wolves roam. In the call to arm these spacemen with some sort of PDW, the Russian space agency came up with tri-barrels break-open gun, capable of firing flares & shotshell out of the two smoothbore barrels and 5.45x39mm rounds out of the riffled one. Being an survival gun, the Russian space agency made sure to include a Machete that could serves also as a detachable stock to the gun. The Machete is needed as a tool to cut firing wood and such and could use as a crude shovel.

Using an Bayonet as Machete?
When I was young rookie in the boot camp I been told that the M-16A1, like our US surplus rifles, been used in Vietnam with a knife bayonet as a machete. The claim was that those long guns were used as a lever to wave the bayonet and clear flora. Even as an 18 year old kid that sound kinda unrealistic but while research for this article I found in the internet several machete bayonets. Those machetes was used as dual purpose – was a handheld they were machetes, mount on the guns they were weapons. It appear that this claim of mounted machetes and using them as machetes never been part of any military doctrine, but did some soldiers ever used those cutting tools on the end of their rifles as an unauthorized use? Your guess is as good as my.          

The Future of Firearms Melee Use
The use of firearm as a blunt weapon is as old as firearm themselves and it not likely to change in the future. Usage as a blunt weapon requires no gun modification or attachment and the needed training is minimal. All MILGRADE firearms would be ruggedized enough to survive the harsh environment of the battlefield and if a phase plasma rifle in the 40Watt range can survive being dropped, it can also handle the task of breaking some human skulls. But what about bayonet? Does it have a future in the long run? Within the foreseen future, the bayonet will still be a major part of militaries' armories around the world, and that the trend is undeniable. As firearms become more deadly and reliable, the role of the bayonet fulfills will become became ever smaller than today. Could some future tech of enhance blades reverse the trend? The "Orbital Vector" had a great article about this subject and I invite you to peep in at: http://orbitalvector.com/Misc.%20Weapons/Enhanced%20Cutting%20Weapons/ENHANCED%20CUTTING%20WEAPONS.htm
While the article itself isn't a future technologies for bayonet per se, but blades in general. Most of those gizmos could be mount under the barrel of a gun with little thought. The article contain chainsaw sword, electrified knives and vibro blades and all of these have appeared sometime or another in sci-fi across all mediums. Having to do the underpaid job of wet blanket, I believe that none of those technologies is likely to be adapted as an bayonet. Though very cool, those devices fail to serve the need and role that current bayonets fulfill. Regarding the KISS principle, the bayonet serves as backup to the more complex and less reliable gun and it needs no ammo, fuel tank or battery. Any of those future technologies mentioned in the article will be prone to failures as much as the gun itself, and even more so if it was underslung. Any chainsaw or vibro blade would be an noisy device, unsuitable for any quiet kills. The "super bayonet" will still be an zero-range weapon which presumably is useful for close quarters combat, unfortunately CQC requires speed and maneuverability, but even with future technological advantage, the chainsaws of the future will be clunky & heavy. All-and-all, if there is not some unexpected advancement in cutting technology, the fate of the bayonet is sealed.

Firearms Melee Use and Science Fiction
The cause of firearms melee usage in science fiction is indeed curious one, in the classic Golden Era of science fiction (50's & 60's era) it was the presumption of more clean and civilized universe than the muddy & bloody world we know. A ray gun is all the protagonist needs at his side, need to lightly stun someone? Set phaser on 'stun', or knock him unconsciousness. Killing was easy too; set on 'kill' and your foe conveniently disappear into smoke. No moving parts that could jam, no finite ammo… so who needs bayonet or a buttstoke in these futures?
As the decades past and in the real world the bayonets were disappearing an opposite trend is notable in science fiction, more bayonets and its future offshoots, more blunt strokes. The question is why? As less melee usage existed in the real world it seems that SF writers, video game developers and screen writers didn't get the memo. The main reason I believe is that we live in an 'age of dimness exceptions'. For better or worse modern science fiction tries to build a more realistic perception of the future, as creators tries to produce more realistic universe by adding more mature themes including violence and its results a more gritty arsenal is needed.
First in that trend were the rayguns dumped in favor of the trusty slug-throwers. The replacing of those magic "dial-a-solution" guns with assault rifles with primitive dials of semi-auto kill or full-auto kill lead to the need of some sort of buttstroke for less-lethal use instead of "stun" or breaks a door where laser cutting phaser is nowhere to be found. Another reason is trying to cling into memorable and famous war or battle or so. But the most logical reason is the simplest one – it so much cooler adding some chainsaw bayonet and cutting those enemies in half with all that blood spray on screen! Blood for the Blood God!              


The COG Lancer MK1 bayonet & Lancer MK2 Bayonet-Saw from the Gears of War Universe
One of things that set the Gears of War games from other titles at the time on the Xbox 360 was the Bayonet-Saw of the Lancer assault rifles. Two Lancer assault rifles have been wielded by the forces of Coalition of Ordered Governments (COG). In the later decades of the Pendulum Wars, the Lancer MK1 been used against the (human) forces of UIR. The MK1 is assault rifle with enormous bayonet blade attach under the barrel. Although the gun prove its efficiency against the soft skin humans only six weeks after the defeat of UIR, the Gears had to buckle up and head to combat again, this time against the monstrous subterranean Locust Horde.
Not too long into this bloody Locust War, the human forces realize that the bayonet blades weren't an match against the Locust thick outer shell in CQW. In response to the need, Adam Jonathon Fenix design the MK2 with its iconic underslung chainsaw blade. One of the best moments in any Gears of War game, either online, campaign, or head-to-head, is to use the chainsaw blade bayonet. The amount of gore and horror unleashed by this melee weapon is unreal and very satisfying...makes you question your humanity.

The Imperium Chain Bayonet from WH40K Universe
If there was any military sci-fi fanchies that could neatly fit an chain-bayonet into their universe and not have be laughed off existance, it is WH40K. While there are many, many different Bolter models in the dark universe of War Hammer 40K, two of the models, Godwyn-De'az & Mark II "Scourge", have a chain bayonet underslung and it is called the "Sarissa".This is named after the ancient Greek pike and this is similar in technology to the Chain-Sword and the Chain-Fist in use with the Space Marine Chapters. It has been rumored that the Sarissa chain-bayonet influence the development of the chainsaw bayonet on the Gears of War Lancer MK2.




The Brute Type-52 "Mauler" Shotgun Pistol from the HALO Universe
While nearly all the weapons in HALO can be used as a melee weapon the Covenant's Mauler has an edge on… so to speak. The alien drum fed pistol shotgun has a sharp spike under the handguard further improving its abilities in close quarter combats. This weapon was favored by the Jiralhanae (Brute) aliens and was first seen in HALO 3. I also liked to dual-wield the Type-52 Mauler shotgun pistol during close encounters with Flood or those nasty ass Brutes. Like many of Jiralhanae weaponry, it is brutal, designed for CQW, and heavily constructed. This weapon was sort of designed for the original HALO game, but cut during the move from 3rd person to 1st person and it would only appear in HALO 3 and HALO 3: ODST.

The RDA AMP Suit GAU-90 bayonet from AVATAR 
A rare but wonderful example of the winning combination of Mecha & bayonets is the AMP suits of the movie AVATAR. The Mitsubishi MK-6 Amplified Mobility Platform (AMP) main weapon is the 30mm GAU-90 auto cannon, the gun consist of fixed long blade. Since the blade "stabbing segment"' is relatively short and the blade body has jagged edge it is more likely that the blade main purpose isn't fighting but as a clearing tool for the thick vegetation in the path of the AMP when roaming the untamed jungles of Pandora.

Q's "Frenchmen" from ST:TNG "Hide & Q"
In the 10th episode of the first season of ST:TNG, "Hide & Q", our favorite immortal troublemaker, Q, is once again return with its hat full of tricks for the crew of the Enterprise-D. This time he teleports the bridge members to a simulated reality and gifted First Officer William Riker with Q-like power and leave William to choose whether to use the power or let his friends die in the hands of some weird "French Legionnaires" pig-like aliens complete with DEW muskets, both Wolf & Wesley Crusher are fataly stabbed by the muskets' bayonets before Riker chose to save the day.

The Robocain's underslung "Battle Ram" from Robocop 2
Leave it to the morons of OCP to plug the brain of delusional psychopath into their brand new war machine! This would be replacement for the Alex Murphy Robocop  and this massive cybernetic suit is armed many weapons, one is a battle ram underslung under the minigun. Intended purpose is to break doors it been used to create new doorway by slumming Robocop One into the wall.

The AK-47 butt-stroking of an Terminator from Terminator: Salvation
What do you do when you want to knock cyborg unconscious? Just slam a AK-47 butt to its face! Yeah, Terminator: Salvation is just one dumb movie! Unfortunately, this trend of attempting to use melee weapons against the robotic humanoid soldiers of Skynet. In the original film, Kyle Reese attempts to bash an T-101 when an metal pipe, and in the original Xbox 2002 Terminator video game, Dawn of Fate, the player(s) can engage Terminators when melee weapons and kickboxing moves.

Alliance Shock-Rifle buttstroking from Firefly Episode "Ariel"
In one of the best episodes of the legendary show Firefly, the crew is hired to journey to the core world of Ariel to visit one of the largest hospitals in the 'Verse. Chased by the mysterious hand of blue agents, Jane and the Tams are cornered in a deadened room with a locked door. At first, Jane tries to blow the lock by firing the shock-rifle but the gun's sonic shocks are for non-lethal law-enforcement use only. In desperation, Jane tried to unlock the door with a good Ol' buttstrokes. Man, I love this show.

The Jappa's Ma'Tok Staff from the Stagate SG-1 Universe
The prime weapon of the Jappa, the slaved foot soldiers of the Goa'uld, is the Ma'tok staff. The staff is 2 meter long staff capable of firing plasma blasts out of oval shape projector in its frontal end. Both the projector and the power source in the outer end are massive and roughed and by skilled wielder can be used as powerful clubs. One nice element is that the projector end has to be open to fire and when not in use it close protecting the inner firing mechanism when the projector is been use as a club. In later seasons of Stargate, the Ori infantry are seen carry similar staff weapon.

The Commonwealth High Guard Force-Lance from Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda
The primary personal armament of the three galaxy spanning Systems Commonwealth was the Force-Lance (F-Lance) of their military, the High Guard. Some fans bemoaned the visual similar of the F-Lance to the Trek Phaser, especially considering that Gene Roddenberry created both series. The Force-Lance is used, most of the time, like an DEW pistol that is about one foot in size and overall rod shaped that can fire plasma bolts and smart bullets. When the situation warrants it, the Force-Lance can be extended from 1/3 of a meter to an 2 meter long melee staff without losing its firing capabilities. This means that most High Guard personnel were trained in the dual uses of the Force-Lance. In the show, the Force-Lance was a relic of the long fallen Commonwealth and the extending scenes were completely SFX.

Butt Stroking and Pistol Whipping from the HALO Universe
Throughout many of the core HALO games, the player(s) could engage in using their various weapons in melee combat: from the pistol, to Needler, to sniper rifle, and even the rocket launcher. Some of these melee strikes using the weapon were vertical butt strokes, to classical rifle stock strikes, to using the pistol handle for some  good ole whippin'! I give credit to Bungie for designing various melee attacks based on the weapon the player(s) were using and the shape of the weapon. This can be best seen with the Covenant Needler weapon. This tactic of engaging in melee combat was widespread in the single-player campaign and online.
These common melee tactics were made even more lethal by the enhanced abilities of the SPARTAN super-soldiers. There was nothing like a good melee strike to bring down your opponent and crush their ego. In some of the games, players would run across sleeping grunts and the players could use their melee function to silently execute their dozing enemy without alarming anyone else.  By the time of HALO:Reach, a more complex (and fun to watch) melee system had been developed to allow the player(s) to melee their victim in a pre-arranged animation close-quarters combat sequence that often involved the combat knife. With these futuristic and alien weapons being used as a melee weapon in one of the most popular video games of the 21st century, they influence other video game creators to add their own weapon melee system, especially with the so-called "HALO killer" games like Playstation's  Killzone.

The Grammaton Clerics Beretta 92FS Magazine Studs from Equilibrium
We have discussed the sci-fi Martial Art of Gun-Kata used in Equilibrium and Ultraviolet, but when it comes to an firearm being used as a blunt melee instrument, Equilibrium gives yet another example. In one scene of the film, Christian Bale's character is surrounding and rather than use his expert-level gun-fu skills, he flips his Beretta 92FS modified pistols around, and five studs pop out from the bottom of the magazine. Then he unleashes an unholy storm of pistol whipping with his Beretta clubs. While we discussed how bad this tactic of using your pistol as a club is, in the world of the Grammaton Clerics, it could make some sense...some. Since the pistol are clearly designed to use in this manner, than the handle could be reinforced to counter the impact stress of being used as a club.

Next Time on FWS Armory: Enjoy the Silence (words are very unnecessary)
Firearm discharge hallmark is flashy bright muzzle flash and a loud explosion noise, both very indicative and revealing the presence and location of the shooter. Gun's bullet also produce distinctive supersonic noise alerting the target/s. In the next installation of FWS Armory we'll look at those guns & technologies tested and used to silence gun & ammo.

Next Time on FWS...
For years, FWS has been attempting to explore and explain the genesis of future wars both here on Terra and out there among the stars. In the next installment of the blog serial What Will We Fight Over?, we will examine one of the most common sparks of wars in outer space: Inner Colonies vs. Outer Colonies.


  1. Another excellent article on Bayonets and the use of firearms as melee weapons Mr. Yoel and Mr. William. Will be waiting for the next article.

  2. The Babylon 5 episode" Severed Dreams"had a terrific melee complete with butt strokes, bayonets and hand to hand combat when the Earth Force Marines, in a breaching pod, took on the Babylon security forces. Somebody had been there and done that.

  3. One of my favorite episodes of the entire series. I took inspiration from Sheridan that night and broke up with my high school girlfriend. You are correct, that scene is packed with all manner of melee combat...good eyes!

  4. What No Qualta Blade from Farscape? of course if you wanted along that line would come about a hundred weapon sets from the Power rangers who although not military Scifi are scifi and did use "Blade Blasters" or rather blunt batons that converted to DEW pistols.
    Also missing is mention of the Almost to weird for Scifi yet real reversal The "Special Scout knife" Deployed by Russian and PRC Special forces The NRS-2 GRAU index 6P25U is a knife that is a single 7.62x42mm SP3 chambered single shot fighting knife.

  5. One of the more innovative one's I've seen is the omni-blades of Mass Effect 3. Essentially a wrist mounted device called the omnitool contains a 3D printer that rapidly produces a one time use blade.

  6. I used this article to reach my uncle what melee means

    1. I just hope you're right, because recently there are shows where ranged weapons can transform into melee weapons and vice versa. If your uncle understands what you're talking about, I'll be grateful.

  7. In the show RWBY, most hunters(huntsmen in the show, I had no idea)/huntresses fight against monsters called Grimm using weapons that can transform into melee weapons. I had no clue on what these weapons that have multiple functions are called, nor am I certain that most of them may not be practical if built in real life in terms of combat. If you won't believe me, check on the wiki page or watch it on Youtube.

  8. Surprised you did the mauler instead of the brute shot that was introduced first but whatever. Also need to point out it's Jaffa not Jappa.

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