No. 56: The German Eickhorn Commercial Bayonet 2000 WC

The short pommel-cap is of the type developed in the USA and first used on the M4 bayonet-knife. It has a T-section mortise machined completely through its thickness from back to front and is secured by a Phillips screw-bolt. Two spring-loaded fixing catch levers are housed in slots machined into the obverse and reverse faces of the pommel and pivot on slotted spring pins. Like all the steel components, the pommel has a black Parkerised finish. The one-piece black plastic grip has an oval cross-section and has five encircling grooves aimed at improving grip. There is a semi-circular flat on each side at the forward end of the grip, finishing flush with the edges of the crossguard. The centre section of the cross-guard has straight parallel sides and merges with the short lower quillon which has a rounded end and which is pierced by a 5mm diameter hole. The upper quillon swells in width to accommodate the large muzzle ring. The flat-backed unfullered single-edged blade has a wide chamfer on the obverse side and a narrow one on the reverse tapering to an off-centre cutting edge. The point has a straight swage on the reverse side only. The blade is pierced by an aperture which houses a mating lug on the scabbard when the bayonet forms part of a wire-cutting tool.

The scabbard is rather longer than the blade length would warrant, presumably to give more leverage in the wire-cutting role. The steel throat and mouth-piece have a black Parkerised finish. The mouth-piece is spot-welded in place and supports a single blade-retaining spring which lies within the scabbard’s obverse side. The throat has an elongated curved-ended aperture on its obverse side and a dove-tail joint on the reverse. The moulded black plastic scabbard body has five ridges on the obverse side near the throat and a single more prominent ridge further along. Forward of the five ridges is an adjusting screw with a sunburst pattern of grooves on its head. Just forward of this screw is raised moulded lettering reading LOCK

<-> OPEN’, the two-headed arrow being actually slightly curved. Tightening this screw exerts pressure on the blade-retaining spring inside the scabbard and prevents the sheathed bayonet from being withdrawn. A rectangular grey diamond-impregnated blade sharpener is glued in place on the scabbard obversejust to the rear of the large ridge. Attached to the obverse side of the scabbard body’s tip is a blackened steel wire-cutting device. It has a lug which fits into the aperture bored through the bayonet blade and a notch designed to trap the wire being cut. The wire-cutter plate terminates in a screwdriver blade. There is a screwdriver-slotted bolt head on the obverse side of the plate which limits the play of the bayonet when attached as a wire-cutter. A second bolt is countersunk into the scabbard body near the plate’s lower edge which, when slackened, tightens the bayonet blade against the wire-cutter plate to compensate for wear following repeated use. Inset into the reverse surface of the scabbard is one of the two component parts of a snap-fastener, on an octagonal base and copper-coloured. Visible on the reverse surface of the scabbard body near its tip are two Phillips screw heads which hold the wire-cutter plate in position. There are also two circular holes. The elaborate frog is made of black synthetic webbing. Sewn onto its obverse side are three straps, two narrow ones which end in snap fasteners and a broad one of finer fabric which ends in Velcro panels. This serves to protect the sharpener panel on the scabbard and partially covers the adjusting screw’s sunburst head. In the centre of the broader strap is a snap fastener component which mates with the one mounted on the reverse surface of the scabbard body. One of the two narrower straps also serves to attach the scabbard to the frog, whilst the remaining one encircles the hilt of the scabbarded bayonet. The domed darkened copper faces of the snap fasteners on the two narrow straps are decorated with raised dots and the legend ‘EICKHORN SOLINGEN’ arranged in a circle with two stars between the two words. Sewn across the reverse surface of the frog are six loops and a longitudinal strap which has a snap-fastener at one end. The frog design allows it to be attached in a variety of positions on combat vests such as the MOLLE or IDZ types.

Relatively minor markings on the scabbard and frog have been mentioned above. In addition, the bayonet itself is well-marked, as shown in Plates 1 and 2. The reverse face of the blade is engraved in a longitudinal orientation ‘BAYONET 2000TM WC’ (Bayonet — 2000 -Trade Mark — Wire Cutter). The reverse blade ricasso carries the maker’s Squirrel trade mark, with ‘ORIGINAL EICKHORN SOLINGEN’, above ‘MADE IN GERMANY, with the lower edge of these marks towards the cross-guard. The two semi-circular flats at the forward end of the plastic grip show raised moulded markings. The obverse flat is marked ‘GERMANY above a stylised Squirrel and the one on the other side reads ‘BAYONET 2000 PAT. PEND’.

This bayonet was developed and manufactured by Eickhorn Solingen Ltd., KolumbusstraBe 6, 42655 Solingen, Germany. Unlike the majority of bayonet models produced internationally over the years, it was not designed by the military authorities of a particular nation for use by its armed forces, but was produced as a commercial enterprise for export sale to any interested customers. It illustrates an interesting development in modern bayonet evolution in that it was intended for use with a wide variety of contemporary assault rifles and not specifically for a limited number of firearms in the hands of the armed forces of a single nation. This versatility was aided by the fact that the various assault rifles used by members of NATO have standardised muzzle attachment dimensions, intended to allow the interchangeable use of rifle grenades. A bayonet muzzle ring of 22mm diameter is therefore appropriate for the wide range of different assault rifles in use by various nations. Fixing the bayonet on a variety of firearms was made possible by a series of adaptors produced by Eickhorn which could be clamped on any suitable assault rifle. The adaptor provided the T-section bayonet bar required to accept the T-section mortise and locking catch system of the Eickhorn bayonet.

The illustrated bayonet model is only one of a complex series of related designs marketed by Eickhorn from the year 2000 onwards. Grips and scabbards were available in olive green polyamide plastic as well as black. Some versions eliminated the wire-cutting facility and bayonets therefore lack the aperture cut through their blades, and scabbards of course lack the cutter plate at their tips. Some scabbards do have the wire-cutter plate but lack the projecting screwdriver blade. This was done because some purchasers feared that the screwdriver might injure a soldier’s chin if the scabbarded bayonet was being worn upside-down on a combat vest. The scabbard’s adjusting screw which, when tightened, prevented the bayonet being withdrawn was intended to prevent the bayonet being lost during vigorous activities like parachute jumping but was considered an unnecessary refinement by some purchasers and was sometimes eliminated. Eickhorn went on to produce an updated series of variants known as the Bayonet System 2005. Some of these have saw-backed blades whilst others have rope-cutting serrations at the base of the main cutting edge. Point profiles may vary too.

Confusingly, a further series of similar bayonet designs are currently being offered for sale by a company entitled Waffentechnik Borcott & Eickhorn, also based in Solingen and founded in October 2004 by Frank Borcott and Jorge Eickhorn. The relationship between this organisation and the original Eickhorn company is unknown.

Eickhorn-made bayonets, which are part of the series of variants described here, are currently on issue to the armed forces of the Netherlands and Canada. The Dutch bayonet was supplied by Borcott & Eickhorn, has an olive green grip and scabbard, and has the wire-cutting facility. It was adopted in 2005 and the obverse blade ricasso is marked ‘EICKHORN WAFFENTECHNIK SOLINGEN. GERMANY STAINLESS STEEL’ with the letters ‘NLD’ (i.e. Netherlands) plus a five-figure serial number. The bayonets adopted by Canada are also olive coloured wire-cutters. There are two Canadian variants, both produced by Eickhorn Solingen Ltd. The first batch acquired were of the Bayonet System 2000 series and blades were marked with the Original Eickhorn Squirrel logo and ‘MADE IN GERMANY on the ricasso (as shown here in the Plates), plus ‘BAYONET 2000 TM ‘ and ‘DIEMACO’ with a Maple Leaf symbol and a six-figure serial number. Diemaco was the Canadian defense company based in Kitchener, Ontario, which manufactured the C7 series of assault rifles. The second Canadian purchase was of the Bayonet System 2005 series and had exactly the same ricasso Squirrel markings, but additionally ‘B 2005 CAN’ with a serial number preceded by an upper-case letter such as A6005’.

It is of interest to note that a variant of the Eickhorn Bayonet System 2000 was submitted for trials organised by the United States Marine Corps in 2002. This had a black grip and scabbard and lacked the wire-cutting facility. The reverse blade ricasso carries the Original Eickhorn Squirrel and ‘BAYONET 2000 TM’ above ‘MADE IN USA’. The reverse blade flat carries the USMC insignia of an Eagle, Globe and Anchor. The claim that it was ‘Made in the U.S.A.’ was stretching the truth as German-made parts were probably only assembled in the United States. The Marine Corps order for the Eickhorn bayonet aroused furious opposition from the indigenous US cutlery industry, with the result that the contract was rescinded and the American designed and manufactured OKC3S bayonet ultimately adopted instead.

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