Q: I have in my possession what appears to be an early 19th century bayonet with an offset, socket-type fixture for mounting. It measures roughly 20¾"-long, and the spike-type blade measures roughly 17½". When did the U.S. employ this type of fixture?
A: Your bayonet has a rotating locking ring to hold it in place. This feature was introduced on U.S. bayonets in 1835. Before that, they were just held in place by friction. Sometimes they were locked to a stud on the bottom part of the barrel or sometimes they were locked to the front sight, which had a square-shaped base for this purpose. The style of this locking ring on your bayonet was introduced in the early 1850s.
The shape of your blade where the “U.S.” is stamped and the style of locking band are pretty much standard from the Model of 1855 and newer. There are minor variations for the many models of U.S. muskets and rifles, so I can’t be certain of the exact gun for which your bayonet was made.
—Michael F. Carrick, Contributing Editor