Ontario Tanto Bayonet for M16, M4, and AR-15
“What’s the spirit of the bayonet!” the drill sergeant yelled. “To KILL! KILL! KILL! with the cold blue steel!” I roared back, trying to look as mean as I felt with the old M7 bayonet attached to the business end of my worn M16A1. Since then I have had a few bayonets issued to me; M7s, then M9s, but none were anything like the bayonet that is sitting in front of me this evening: the Ontario Knife Company’s 1FTS Bayonet.
The most noticeable feature of the 1FTS Bayonet is the wicked-looking 7 1/2″ tanto-shaped blade. The 3/16″ thick high-carbon steel blade has a good black phosphate parkerized finish and is partially serrated. The crossguard is a normal bayonet-type with a wide muzzle ring for the the M16 flash hider. The hilt features a one-piece molded-rubber grip (Ontario calls it Dynaflex®) in a dark earth colour. The pommel will be familiar to anyone who has been around M16 bayonets.
Stamped on the ricasso on the right side of the blade is “ONTARIO USA,” and on the left side, “COMBAT.” Molded into the grip near the pommel is an Army eagle on the left side and the words, “US ARMY,” on the right.
The scabbard is simple, rugged, and lightweight. The body is molded from dark earth coloured polymer. The frog is made from heavy-duty webbing of a matching colour and is permanently attached to the body. The bottom part of the frog can be removed from the bottom of the body to expose a ceramic sharpening rod built into the back of the scabbard. The bayonet is secured to the scabbard by spring tension against the blade and by a strap across the crossguard and a strap around the hilt, both secured by snaps. The entire back of the frog, from the top of the frog to the bottom of the scabbard, is designed to be attached to MOLLE loops. The top strap can also be used to mount the bayonet on a belt.
At 1 pound 5.7 ounces for the bayonet and scabbard, the 1FTS Bayonet is substantially lighter than the M9 bayonet currently issued to most troops. As a knife, I like it a lot more than the M9. It is nicely balanced with a more useful blade shape. The partially serrated blade is a nice feature, great for ripping through webbing, ropes, or other fibrous material. The parkerizing is very porous and soaked up a lot of CLP – a good thing for rust control. The grip shape is much more comfortable in the hand and the hard rubber gives a secure no-slip grip. As a bayonet, it’s simple, well-designed, and that tanto blade sure looks mean on the end of a rifle.
Modern soldiers wear a lot of webbing, magazines, equipment, and body armor on their torsos. Recent research has shown that tanto or chisel-tipped blade designs are more effective than traditional bayonet blade shapes for penetrating current body armor and web gear. I’ll have to get some old gear together and see how effectively I can drive this thing through various vests, straps, and body armor.
This bayonet is not yet a standard military issue item, as other Ontario bayonets are. Maybe someday soon the sharp edge of tanto blades will flash in the sun as trainees yell, “Blood! blood! blood! makes the grass grow!”