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Yeah, it's a fencing musket.

 John(NTA) got there first, in his cryptic comment on yesterday's post. He was cryptic so you all could still keep working it.  Which is good, because that allowed Seza Geoff to chime in with a correct answer.



The clue yesterday was to show the blunt end of a Mark X fencing musket - which I was pretty sure J(NTA) would recognize because he sold it to me some years ago.  Bayonet training rifles come in several flavors, depending on how they are to be used - you rarely use actual serviceable rifles as full-contact trainers because it's hard on the rifle.  So they tend to be some form of simulacrum of the service rifle, to varying degrees of fidelity.  The ones that are going to be used for full-contact training tend to be very robustly (and, if possible, cheaply) built.  One of the problems of bayonet training however, is teaching the soldier to "push through."  You can have 'em run down a course stabbing straw-filled dummies, but the problem with that approach is... in the real world the enemy rarely stands still like a straw-filled dummy.


[This pic will embiggen.]

So, to train one-on-one, blunted bayonets were used.  The problem with that is called "counter-training," where you actually teach bad habits.  In this case, you teach the soldier to thrust with the bayonet right up to the point where.... it touched the other guy.  And then you stop.  A solution for that is the "pogo-stick" fencing musket, where the "bayonet" is a blunted rod that compresses a spring.  What we have in evidence for the Whatziss is about the most expensive approach to take to that - making your fencing musket out of a service rifle.

It's really pretty simple.  Take a rifle, bore it out so there is a step in the barrel, where it narrows in diameter toward the muzzle.  Make a rod to fit that barrel.



Then, simply insert the rod, follow it with a spring, close the bolt, and add that little blued button that started this whole series, and you have a very expensive bayonet trainer.  

This is an interesting piece. No Brit military proofs or acceptance marks anywhere - commercial only. All matching numbers. There is no evidence this weapon ever saw service with any Commonwealth armed force.  Nor is this kind of fencing musket discussed by Skennerton or the others who have written extensively on Lee-Enfield rifles and accoutrements.

The stock disk says "G. Velho" and is very professionally done. Based on a little research, my working hypothesis is that this rifle was one of the ones provided to the Portuguese corps that fought in France during WWI. There is some evidence to indicate that the Portuguese sent their surviving SMLEs to their colonial forces. There was a Portuguese corvette called Goncalo Velho in the Pacific in the 20's and 30's... my guess is this rifle was part of her kit for training her landing parties.  Just a guess at this point.

19 Comments

Gawd, but that's obscure! You've taken an already-obscure subject, bayonet-training rifles, told us lesser mortals how they are built (still obscure), then given us the COMPLETELY obscure provenance of this obscurest-of-the-obscure example. This is, of course, the penultimate example of a Whatzis.


 
Greetings:

Again with the bayonets! How many times have i told you about how they effect  my fear of intimacy and my kitchenphobia and yet on you go with them damn bayonets. Stick a couple extra magazines in your rucksack and forget the damn things. 
 
A very safe alternative to the real thing.

No BandAid required.....
 
And the US Army no longer trains the bayonet in Boot Camp.  So much for the 'Spirit of the Bayonet.'
 
"Red" Millet is drowning in his tears.
 
11B40 - c'mon, this is about as safe as you can get with bayonets...
 
   
That is a really unique example!   The Portuguese connection is especially obscure.

There are a number of "fencing muskets" made by various countries over the years, and that would be an interesting collecting specialty.

The most recent examples I have seen are the Commie bloc pogo stick types that look like they were orignally made to imitate the Mosin Nagants, but later modified by addition of a AK style "magazine".

The last U.S. examples seem to have been the trapdoors chopped down to M1903 length with padded springy bayonets, and the late WW1 heavy solid wood versions with a padded leather tip.

If anyone knows where to find one of the early full length trapdoor fencing muskets made without the lock assembly, I am looking for one!
 
C'mon. That's pretty! It would be a shame to use it as a fencepost. Save that for all those Nagants.
 
Seems ol' Red clanked when he walked.
RIP Capt.
 
Huh...the BDU-33 of firearms...
 
Hmmm.  You *can* teach an old Hun new tricks.  I think the BDU-33 analogy works better when comparing the -33 to the Mark X fencing musket.  If you wanted to do an equivalent with ordnance it would be like taking a Mk-82 and putting  a blank charge in it.
 
Re. Red Millet.  One important thing you missed there John was Millet's actual job at  the time.   He was an FO (yea red leg) from 25th Divarty attached to the Wolfhounds.  When the chain of command in his supported unit was decimated by enemy action he took command and subsequently lead  what some regard as the greatest bayonet charge in US Army history since Cold Harbor.
 
Bayonet training is still done in Marine Corps Boot Camp...well, at least back in 1998 it was.
 
Og, I'm embarassed to admit it took me until now to realize you made a joke.  It wasn't a bad joke, I'm just 'toopid.
 
 Well, If katsup/ketchup spurted out of the barrel when you poked the guy, then we'd have perfect agreement (spotting charge + inert real-siz/shape weapon). FWIW, I agree that was a graduate-level whatziss...
 
John: it was but a feeble joke anyway. No big loss. But a great whatsis!
 
Stuff like this makes your blog so interesting, annoying but interesting. I have learned something new yet again.