M1801 Hirschfänger bayonet

I had not planned showing bayonets on the sword pages, but will make an exception for this contraption. In 1801 the Danes decided to mount a heavy iron corner with a spring on the two hirschfänger models, so that it would fit as a bayonet on the jäger rifles. Bad idea!

The hirschfänger was heavy by it self, adding this iron device did not make it any lighter. When it in addition brought the hirschfänger 55 mm out from the left side of the rifle, the balance got to be terrible – both when shooting, but also when fighting with the bayonet mounted. A very bad idea! Bayonets should be as light as possible and preferably be placed in the barrel and not way out to one side.

The contraption was first mounted on the M1803 & M1807 jäger rifles, later on all the older ones as well – with the exception of the M1711. They probably ments that being a good hundred years old, it just was too old to be modernized.

Now for the really bizarre development. When Kongsberg produced the M1821 jäger rifle, it was still for attaching the utterly hopeless hirschfänger bayonet!

Sometime around 1830 (a full generation after it was introduced) somebody found out that this was nonsense and the bayonet attachment was removed from the rifles and the bayonets. In Norway the hirschfängers went into use as the sidearm M1835.

Be aware, this bayonet is scarce. Very scarce and valued accordingly. Faking it is very easy as the hirschfängers cost next to nothing and it really is not that much of a job making a fairly good look-alike of the rifle attachment. Where the fakes come from? Denmark, of course!

A “distress cutlass” from appr 1807

One finds the strangest things when one is not looking – and this really is one of the stranger! It is a M1801 hirschfänger converted to a naval cutlass. I’ve placed it together with the bayonet as it does not deserve a page by it self as it probably is no official model and and it time and model wise is closest to the M1801.

So, what on earth is this contraption that is not mentioned in any literature I have seen? I have a theory and anybody with a better, one wins over mine.

I believe this to be a “nød våpen” (distress weapon) after the English fleet robbery in 1807. The Danish navy was stolen including – well, everything! The Danes ran around trying to put their hands on anything that could shoot or chop as a result of this. As the hirshfänger is the M1801 model, it must have been brand new or even taken out of production and modified. It also had a blackened blade.

This undoubtedly is a military weapon made by the Danes for the Danish (or Norwegian) navy. As far as I know, it is unique. What is it worth? As of today, next to nothing! The moments somebody starts researching, finds the real story, publishes a paper on it and perhaps a couple more – a lot! There is only one thing that creates value – and that is demand. There is no demand what so ever for this, even if it is a good story.