French Model 1874 "Gras"
Sword Bayonet

This bayonet was the last of the French "sword-type" bayonets. It was manufactured to fit the French Model 1874 "Gras" Infantry Rifle, basically a refinement of the Model 1866 Chassepot Infantry Rifle. The "Gras" was manufactured from 1874 to about 1885.

This bayonet has a solid brass pommel with integral latching mechanism (push-button/spring-steel). Grips are wood. Crossguard is steel, usually "blued," with upper guard being the muzzle-ring, lower guard forming a hooked "blade-breaker" quillon.
Blades are steel - well made - and triangular (3-edge) in form (very sturdy as a thrusting weapon). The blades are usually marked on the back-edge (opposite the bottom cutting edge) with the arsenal, month, and year of manufacture; this is done in engraved cursive fashion and will appear something like, "Mre d' Armes de St. Etienne Janvier 1874" or perhaps "Mre d' Armes de Chatellerault Juin 1882". Contrary to novice speculation, this is not the name of a lieutenant or major, nor is it a presentation date; in reality - as previously stated - it is the the exact month, year, and location of manufacture.
French arsenal locations I have observed are: Chatellerault, L'Deny Paris, Paris-Oudry, St. Etienne, and Tulle. There is also an arsenal located in Austria and these are marked Steyr.
The scabbards are usually blued sheet-rolled steel, semi-oval, tubular, with a ball finial.

These bayonets replaced the Model 1866 "Chassepot" bayonet (and corresponding infantry rifle), and were replaced by the French Model 1886 Lebel Bayonet (aka "Rosalie") (and corresponding infantry rifle).

Several other countries used this bayonet, including Greece (these are marked "Waffenfabrik Steyr" or "Usine de Steyr"), Germany (many modified variants), Ireland, and others; Portugal also used a variant for their Portuguese Kropatschek Navy Rifle, but their bayonet has a straight back-edge on the grip (no hump).

The French Model 1874 "Gras" Bayonet has a colorful history was used by the French Foreign Legion on more than one occasion.

  • The French wars during the useful "life-span" of this bayonet were:
    • French Indo-China in 1873-1874 and again in 1882-1883;
    • Sino-French War 1883-1885;
    • Madagascar Wars 1883-1885 and 1895;
    • 1st Mandingo-French War 1883-1886;
    • 1st Dahomeyan-French War 1889-1990;
    • 2nd Dahomeyan-French War 1892-1894;
    • 2nd Mandingo-French War 1894-1895;
    • Conquest of Chad 1897-1914;
    • 3rd Mandingo-French War 1898;
    • Moroccan War 1907-1912;
    • World War I (early).
  • These conflicts obviously overlap periods of use for other French bayonet models, such as the 1866, 1886, 1892 and 1914.
French Model 1874 "Gras" Sword Bayonet
With Navy/Colonial Markings (Anchor)

It is believed that the anchor markings were used to indicate Colonial Troop usage - as opposed to Navy usage - and would have been used in "foreign soil" conflicts as noted above.

French Script Back-edge Translation
"Manufactured at the Armory at Chatellerault, November 1876"

French Script Back-edge Translation
"Manufactured at the Armory at St. Etienne, July 1878"

French Script Back-edge Translation
"Manufactured at the Armory at St. Etienne, May 1882"

Another 1874 Gras "Epee" Bayonet, array of images,
bayonet manufactured in Paris 1880 at the Deny arsenal
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