US Army Combatives

5-8 Bayonet/Knife

Section III OFFENSIVE TECHNIQUES

At ranges of 10 meters or more in most combat situations, small arms and grenades are the weapons of choice. However, in some scenarios, today’s combat soldier must engage the enemy in confined areas, such as trench clearing or room clearing where noncombatants are present or when silence is necessary. In these instances, the bayonet or knife may be the ideal weapon to dispatch the enemy. Other than the side arm, the knife is the most lethal weapon in close-quarter combat.

5-8. BAYONET/KNIFE

As the bayonet is an integral part of the combat soldier’s equipment, it is readily available for use as a multipurpose weapon. The bayonet produces a terrifying mental effect on the enemy when in the hands of a well-trained and confident soldier. The soldier skilled in the use of the knife also increases his ability to defend against larger opponents and multiple attackers. Both these skills increase his chances of surviving and accomplishing the mission. (Although the following paragraphs say “knife,” the information also applies to bayonets.)

a. Grips. The best way to hold the knife is either with the straight grip or the reverse grip.

(1) Straight Grip. Grip the knife in the strong hand by forming a vee and by allowing the knife to fit naturally, as in gripping for a handshake.

The handle should lay diagonally across the palm. Point the blade toward the enemy, usually with the cutting edge down. The cutting edge can also be held vertically or horizontally to the ground. Use the straight grip when thrusting and slashing.

  • (2) Reverse Grip. Grip the knife with the blade held parallel with the forearm, cutting edge facing outward. This grip conceals the knife from the enemy’s view. The reverse grip also affords the most power for lethal insertion. Use this grip for slashing, stabbing, and tearing.
  • b. Stances. The primary stances are the knife fighter’s stance and the modified stance.
  • (1) Knife fighter’s stance. In this stance, the fighter stands with his feet about shoulder-width apart, dominant foot toward the rear. About 70 percent of his weight is on the front foot and 30 percent on the rear foot. He stands on the balls of both feet and holds the knife with the straight grip. The other hand is held close to his body where it is ready to use, but protected (Figure 5-27).

  • (2) Modified stance. The difference in the modified stance is the knife is held close to the body with the other hand held close over the knife hand to help conceal it (Figure 5-28).
  • c. Range. The two primary ranges in knife fighting are long range and medium range. In long-range knife fighting, attacks consist of figure-eight slashes along the No. 1, No. 2, No. 7, and No. 8 angles of attack; horizontal slashes along the No. 3 and No. 4 angles of attack; and lunging thrusts to vital areas on the No. 5 angle of attack. Usually, the straight grip is used. In medium-range knife fighting, the reverse grip provides greater power. It is used to thrust, slash, and tear along all angles of attack.

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