bayonet is a weapon resembling a short sword or a dagger, designed to be attached to the muzzle of a rifle or musket. The bayonet is believed to have been developed in Bayonne, France, about 1650.
It consisted originally of a spike or dagger equipped with a handle that fit into the muzzle of the musket. This first type, the plug bayonet, had several defects as a weapon. No shot could be fired until the bayonet was removed; if pushed in too tightly, it was difficult to remove; if not tight enough, it might fall out or remain in the body of an enemy. About 1700 the attachment was modified to fit around the barrel of the musket, allowing the gun to be fired with the bayonet in place. This type of attachment, the socket bayonet, is still in use, but the length and shape of the blade have been altered.
During World War I the U.S. Army used a bayonet resembling a short sword with a 16 inch blade. It was sharpened along the full length of one edge and on the back for about 5 inches from the point. The German army used a 15 inch sword. The French used a triangular blade about 22 inches long and the British used flat, triangular blades of various lengths. In World War II the length of the bayonets was reduced by about 8 inches, in order to decrease the load carried by soldiers and so increase their efficiency and mobility. Other types of bayonets - mauser bayonet, german bayonet and ww2 bayonet.