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RSAF Produced Pattern 1856/60 Enfield Short Rifle Saber Bayonet

RSAF Produced Pattern 1856/60 Enfield Short Rifle Saber Bayonet

  • Product Code: EWB-2582
  • Availability: In Stock
  • $195.00

In 1856, the British military adopted a new variant of the Pattern 1853 “Enfield” family of percussion muzzleloading long arms. The new Pattern 1856 Enfield “Short Rifle” was intended for issue to light infantry, sergeants and any soldiers who would be encumbered by carrying the full-length 39” barreled Pattern 1853 Enfield Rifle Musket. The new “short rifle” had a shorter 33” barrel that was secured by two, rather than three barrel bands. In the military tradition of the period, the new shorter long arm was equipped with a long bladed saber bayonet, rather than the shorter socket bayonet. The intent was to make up some of the distance lost by the shorter barrel, so that the rifle would still have sufficient reach to be effective in guarding against cavalry.


The pattern of saber bayonet adopted was of the semi-Yataghan blade style that had been popular on the European continent for the two previous decades. The first Yataghan pattern bayonet to be put into British service was with the Pattern 1853 Artillery Carbine, the first of the short-barreled guns in the Pattern 1853 family. The bayonet adopted was a nearly direct copy of the French Model 1840 saber bayonet and included the brass handle and iron cross guard of the French design. The French rifles included a long, narrow guide bar or key on the barrel, forward of the saber bayonet lug and this feature was incorporated into the first pattern Artillery Carbine Bayonet. As produced the Type I Artillery Carbine also included a 1” guide key forward of the lug. These brass-handled bayonets were sourced from the long-time British Board of Ordnance cutler Reeves, as well as from the Belgian trade; who appear to have subcontracted the bayonets to Solingen cutlers. After about two years of production the Artillery Carbine Saber Bayonet was changed to utilize the pressed leather grip scales typically associated with mid-19th century British saber bayonets and the brass hilts were eliminated. The grips were made of multiple layers of thin leather, pressed to make them solid and hard and then roll embossed with a checkered pattern. Like the earlier brass handled bayonets, the guide key cut remained in use on these bayonets, as the Artillery carbines retained the keyed bayonet lug through about 1857. The Artillery Carbine bayonets were carried in all metal scabbards, rather than metal mounted leather scabbards.


When the Pattern 1856 Short Rifle was adopted, the bayonet adopted for use was essentially the same as the Pattern 1853 Artillery Carbine Bayonet. It was a semi-Yataghan bladed bayonet with an iron cross guard and checkered pressed-leather grips. Like the P1853 Artillery Carbine, the new P1856 Short Rifle included a 1” bayonet guide bar or key forward of the bayonet lug. The bayonet was nominally about 28 ¼” in overall length with a blade about 22 ¾” in length. The hilt mortise was cut for the 1” guide key for the rifle and carbine and the muzzle ring diameter of rifle bayonet was essentially the same as the carbine bayonet, which was about 20.5mm. In reality other than the designation as the Pattern 1856 Short Rifle bayonet and the use of an iron mounted leather scabbard rather than an all-steel scabbard for the carbine bayonet, the bayonets were essentially identical.


In 1858, the bayonets for the both the Artillery Carbine and Short Rifle were modified with improvements that would remain throughout the production of all of the similar British Yataghan bladed bayonets. First, the guide key was eliminated on the guns, so the guide key mortise cut was eliminated from the hilt. Secondly the locking spring which had been secured by a rivet on the earlier bayonets was replaced by one secured by a screw, allowing for easier replacement of the locking spring should it be damaged or broken. Again, the two bayonets remained essentially identical other than their scabbards and were designated as the Pattern 1856/58 Saber Bayonets for either the Short Rifle or Artillery Carbine. The majority of these bayonets were produced by the Birmingham trade, with many of the British cutlers relying upon Solingen for the production of the blades.


In 1860, a final variant of the Short Rifle bayonet was adopted. Designated as the Pattern 1860 Saber Bayonet, or sometimes the Pattern 1856/60 bayonet, there was only one minor change to the pattern; the muzzle ring diameter was increased to a nominal 20.6mm from 20.5mm. Interestingly the increase was noted to as being necessary to make the bayonets more interchangeable. This is odd as the Board of Ordnance considered the earlier Pattern 1856/58 bayonets as “interchangeable” although any collector who has tried to fit such a bayonet to a rifle knows that they bayonets are far from interchangeable. This was the first of the short rifle bayonets to see substantial production at the Royal Small Arms Factory at Enfield Lock (RSAF), with a lesser reliance upon the Birmingham and London trade for their manufacture. These bayonets were issued with the upgraded Pattern 1860 and Pattern 1861 Short Rifles, but also saw service with the earlier Pattern 1856 Short Rifle in the field as well.


Offered here is a VERY GOOD condition example of a RSAF Enfield Pattern 1856/60 Enfield Short Rifle Saber Bayonet. The bayonet is stamped with a clear {CROWN} / VR on the reverse ricasso and with a {BROAD ARROW} / WD military ownership mark and a {CROWN} / E / 27 Enfield inspection mark on the obverse ricasso. The {CROWN} / E / 27 inspection is also found on the top edge of the blade and the top edge of the pommel cap, forward of the lug mortise cut. The bayonet is full-length with a 22 7/8” blade that has a 15” fuller. The iron hilt is 5 ¼” with a 4 3/8” crossguard and the overall length of the bayonet is 28 1/8”. The muzzle ring measures about 20.8mm, very slightly larger than the nominal 20.6mm ring diameter for the Pattern 1860. The iron crossguard is engraved with the rack or issue mark 9.166. This suggests “company 9, man #166” which is significantly more men than were normally in a British company, which was typically between about 80 and 120 men. This would suggest that the marking may be from use later in the bayonet’s life when it saw service with a British colonial regiment.


The bayonet has a medium pewter patina with scattered patches of surface oxidation and discoloration that gives the blade a somewhat mottled steel and darker gray patina. The blade shows some scattered minor pinpricking but shows no real pitting. The blade has a few minor nicks along its cutting edge, although only a couple are even close to visible. The hilt and guard have a lightly oxidized brownish patina over the gray metal with some darker freckling on the pommel cap. The original locking catch remains in place and functions exactly as it should. The pressed leather grips are in about GOOD+ to near VERY GOOD condition. As is typical, they show some shrinkage due to age. The grips scales show moderate wear with about half of the embossed checkering worn smooth and some apparent added finish over the leather to protect the leather. The grips remain securely pinned to the hilt and remain completely functional.


Overall this is a solid example of a later production British Military Pattern 1860 (P1856/60) Short Rifle Saber Bayonet produced at RSAF. This would be a solid addition to any collection of British military bayonets or to add to the display of an Enfield Short Rifle, particularly a Pattern 1860 or Pattern 1861 rifle. The bayonet is very fairly priced and will be a nice addition to your collection.

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Tags: RSAF, Produced, Pattern, 1856/60, Enfield, Short, Rifle, Saber, Bayonet