Yataghan Sword Bayonet M1866 (France)


Code: EU6

This is a French M1866 Yataghan bayonet, also useful as a sword (“saber”), designated Model 1866 series Z.  It was designed for use with the Chassepot rifle. The model was replaced around 1974 by the M1874 “Gras” bayonet.   

The hilt is brass with a spring steel latching arrangement on the right side for quick attach and detach from a musket.  The cross guard is iron steel  with a screw-type tightening arrangement on the muzzle-ring.  A hooked “blade-breaker” is featured on the lower quillon. The steel blade is single-edged and fullered on both sides.

The blade is marked on the back edge with the arsenal, month and year of manufacture.

The total length of this bayonet is 27 1/2” of which 22 1/2” is blade, 1” wide”.  The grip and guard each measure about 4” for a total weight of 1 lb 6 oz. 

The Yataghan sword is relatively heavy.  When attached as a bayonet to a long rifle, the sword became unmanageable and at the very least tiring to use. A thrust with this weapon required  considerable strength. bayonet was reportedly not popular with the troops who had to carry it into battle.

The Yataghan-style of the blade originated in Turkey and was known as a formidable saber (thrust and parry type fighting) and as a cutting weapon (for slashing). The re-curved and heavier blade end helped focus force at that point on a downward slash.

This sword bayonet looked snazzy and dangerous on parade, and soon the Yataghan bayonet became de riguer for many armies, more as a matter of fashion than practicality. 

It is the most widely copied of all the sword bayonets. The US during the Civil War, Egypt, Belgium and Argentina all manufactured similar bayonets.

The US had high regard for French military fashion and a number of yataghan blade bayonets appeared with both the U.S. and Confederate forces.


Photos by Pierre Renoux, Christian Méry, Roy Williams.

Bayonet Identification

Sword bayonet

Bayonet pattern 1866 Chassepot

Association Française des Collectionneurs de Baïonnettes.