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USMC Ontario OKC3s 1st Fielded Prototype Bayonet 1 of 500


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A few years ago I was fortunate enough to purchase this bayonet from Frank Trzaska and to this day it remains a focal point of my USMC collection. After searching the net for more info and coming up with zero, I thought that I should post this to preserve the information and to provide insight into the rarest, contract, issue bayonet of the Marine Corps bayonet program AFTER THE TRIALS.

 

The 1 of 500 USMC Ontario OKC3s 1st Fielded Prototype is the bridge design between the M9 bayonet and the Ontario OKC3s that is issued today. It is a modular bayonet that can be disassembled similar to the M9. The Ontario OKC3s as we know it today can not be disassembled. The OKC3s 1st Fielded Prototype will probably prove over time to be one of the most sought after blades by collectors that the Marine Corps has ever issued. I will post pics of it along with the write up letter from Homer Brett below as I received it. Many thanks to Frank on this one!

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I think you are referring to the Bayonet 2000. I agree with you that it does have a similar look. Overall blade shape(w/o the serration), guard, similar grip shape, latch plate, and of course they are both modular in that it can be disassembled to replace parts like the M9.

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What an excellent blade to acquire! Thank you for posting it. I always wondered how much use serrations on military blades ever really get in field use by the troops, but I guess the preference for them is mostly just a sign of the times.

The beatings will continue until morale has improved..

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  • 1 year later...

Bobcat87 ... Awesome bayonet! I like that older style scabbard too! Unlike the M9 bayonet, the OKC3S has few variations, so it's great to see them.  

All ... M9M4.com (pages 70-73) has some pretty good background information on the OKC USMC prototype/trials bayonets that were very rare and unique predecessors to development of the USMCs current OKC3S bayonet. It also has a Homer Brett letter referencing the trials bayonets and the fielded prototypes.

I am currently working to acquire three different USMC prototypes that were actually used in the USMC trials and predecessors to the OKC3S. I'll follow up with pics when the bayonets are in-hand. Like Bobcat87 mentioned, very little information exists for these rare variations, so it'll be good to preserve them on this forum. 

I do have a USMC OKC prototype/trials blade with no handle, crossguard, or latch plate that was used in the USMC trials. This blade is full tang and not modular like the M9, and was intended to be peened to the latch plate like the current OKC3S. I suspect the handle was destroyed in testing or maybe the blade was used solely for hardness/strength tests or scratch resistance tests of the powder coat finish, etc. because of the manner in which the markings and scratches are applied to the blade. I decided to rescue that blade from being a paperweight or worse yet, being tossed out since it's a piece of USMC bayonet history. OKC is working with me to have that USMC prototype/trials blade re-handled. The original parts were unique to the prototypes/trials bayonets and after two decades, OKC doesn't have the original parts anymore, so they will re-handle the blade with the current OKC3S components. It should look like an OKC3S when complete, minus the serrations, and it will still retain markings that are specific to USMC prototype/trials bayonets. Pics to follow when that is complete as well. 

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  • 1 month later...

Here is one of the 2002 USMC trials bayonets/pre-adoption prototypes that Bobcat87 alludes to in his initial post.

This particular model is the tanto bladed prototype bayonet referred to in the Homer Brett letter transcribed below, the USMC OKC 1FT UC (Ultra Carbon). Ontario Knife Company (OKC) also made another version of this bayonet called the USMC OKC 1FT DS (Diamond Steel). From my understanding there were 50 or less of the OKC 1FT UC prototype trials bayonets made by Ontario Knife Company; once the final design was decided upon the remaining stock of the USMC OKC 1FT bayonets was released for public sale. I have a copy of a legacy OKC price list that showed OKC originally sold the OKC 1FT UC prototype for $125.00 and the OKC 1FT DS prototype for $125.00.

 

The accompanying Homer M. Brett historical letter is transcribed below:

 

    "Prior to the final test trials that decided on the winning design for the new Marine Corps bayonet, a number of trial-test bayonets were manufactured as part of the program of the Ontario Knife Company."

    These bayonets were then used to test different blade designs and various physical features. This effort permitted hands-on design handling, rather than relying on theoredical ideas or drawings. All this work was done in the search for the most practical and efficient bayonet/fighting knife for the Marines. This historical data sheet coverers the three below listed bayonet designs. The unique feature of these three specific bayonet types is their one-piece grip with molded in checkering. Less than a combined of few hundred of these types were manufactured (Less than 50 of the the 1FT UC design), and they were made only in the three blade designs below."

"All three of these blade-tang combinations were submitted by Ontario Knife Company to the Marine Corps bayonet trials, which Ontario ultimately won. The three designs are: 1) The Tanto bladed bayonet, one-piece blade-tang design. 2)The Kabar bladed bayonet, one-piece blade-tang design. 3)The Spec 3 bladed, one-piece blade-tang design.

    All three of these, one-piece blade-tang designs were forged, and then stamped with exactly the same markings: On their left ricassos: COMBAT/MARINE, On their right ricassos: ONTARIO/USA" ... The one-piece molded grip was purposely produced with the left oval (molded medallion) having no design in it, and with the right oval only molded with the letters 'U.S.A.'

    This group of bayonets purposely did not have an serrations on their blades, and the checkered design was officially field tested at Camp Lejeune immediately after the Marine Corps trials, where it was found that a smooth grip of the soft polymer material was superior, more comfortable and more ergonomic than a checkered one.

The field testing was done using the bayonets as bayonets, but more specific to the grip design, as fighting knives and field knives. Testing was purposely done with both wet and dry hands, and with and without gloves.

Throughout the field testing it was found that the checkering continuously roughened up wet hands, and did not give better hand purchase, given the nature of the special polymer grip material. 

    All three of these bayonets types were produced in Ontario's proprietary Ultra Carbon Steel (UC), and are stamped 'UC' on the face of their crossguards. The entire group of these Ultra Carbon bayonets was completed with a parkerized finish, as were the final OKC 3S issue bayonets purchased by the Marines. 

These three bayonet designs were all accompanied by the 1st model Ontario 'stealth' scabbard (an Ontario patent), with its traditional style webbing. The webbing was fitted with a single MOLLE compatible web strap, with pull-on-the-dot snap. Also on the back of each scabbard was a white colored, fine grade, sharpening stick.

    This historical write up is a preliminary one, which gives the basic information on these unique bayonets. A lengthier write-up will be made available at a later date. Signed Homer M. Brett ---SME-MCMAP, Prelim of October 2003"

 

I should soon have in my possession four more USMC prototype bayonets used in the 2002 USMC bayonet trials that led the path towards adopting the OKC 3S final design; I'll be sure to post!

 

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This Ontario Knife Company (OKC) Spec 3 profile USMC bayonet is a unique one-off example, factory assembled, using components of an original USMC OKC 3FT DS prototype bayonet and the USMC OKC 3S production bayonet to make what I will refer to unofficially as an OKC3H (for Hybrid). If anyone has a better title, please let me know. Since very little data is available on these OKC/USMC 2002 pre-adoption prototype trials bayonets, I’ll try to convey the little bit of information I believe to be true. If I contradict anything that someone knows is fact, I am sure the community would like to have as much information on these early OKC/USMC bayonets as possible, so please update accordingly.

 

The prototype USMC OKC 3FT DS (Diamond Steel) blade used to complete this bayonet is the Spec 3 blade profile design, full tang USMC test example; one of many different design configurations submitted by Ontario Knife Company for the 2002 USMC bayonet trials. The prototype test blade of this bayonet was used specifically for analysis and development that ultimately resulted in the OKC 3S bayonet adopted by the USMC.

 

I do not own a complete original USMC OKC 3FT DS bayonet, but I do own its rarer twin, the USMC OKC 3FT UC. I thought it would be of interest to post before and after photos of the Ontario Knife Company’s refurbishment photos of what this prototype blade lools like as a complete bayonet. I also added comparison photos of the complete hybrid bayonet with an OKC 3S which is identified with serrations. Moreover, I predominately wanted to depict the differences between the Diamond Steel blade against the Ultra Carbon blade of the USMC OKC 3FT UC bayonet, which I will post very soon. Cosmetically, the Diamond Steel blade has the appearance of a powder coat or paint type finish and the Ultra Carbon, more of a zinc phosphate or parkerized finish.

 

The Ontario Knife Company blade used to create this particular bayonet, when assembled in its intended configuration, would have been designated as the USMC OKC 3FT DS pre adoption prototype (Spec 3 blade design) bayonet. This test blade was never fully assembled into a complete USMC OKC 3FT DS bayonet, but rather used as a test example by the USMC and Ontario Knife Company; testing for hardness, strength, DS finish durability, etc.

 

As a survivor of the 2002 USMC bayonet test trials, the blade of this hybrid was never assembled into a complete bayonet. A request was made to Ontario Knife Company to attempt to reassemble the prototype blade back into its intended OKC 3FT DS configuration. Unfortunately, after almost 20 years, the original parts for the OKC 3FT DS full tang prototype are unavailable, and Ontario Knife Company obviously cannot modify tooling and slow production on behalf of a military knife enthusiast, just to re-manufacture legacy parts. However, Ontario Knife Company manufactures the bayonet currently in use by the USMC, the OKC 3S. The OKC 3S is the end-result and finalized design that evolved out of the OKC 3FT series of prototype bayonets (the same category of bayonets this OKC 3FT DS prototype blade falls into) and the 2002 USMC bayonet trials.  

 

Ontario Knife Company was able to reassemble this USMC OKC 3FT DS prototype test blade into a complete bayonet with components from their current production bayonet, the OKC 3S, utilizing its cross guard, handle/grip assembly, and latch plate assembly.

 

Due to safety considerations this OKC 3FT DS prototype blade was never sharpened in its test configuration. Upon reassembly, Ontario Knife Company factory sharpened the blade to include the top swedge. However, since the blade of this bayonet displays a lot of character, it purposely retains its original DS powder coat finish that was specific to the OKC 3FT DS prototype bayonets.  

 

This OKC 3FT prototype blade also exhibits signs from all the testing the USMC and Ontario Knife Company  imposed upon the blade, displaying several cosmetic blemishes and scars that attest to its battle hardened life as a test subject for the 2002 USMC bayonet trials program. Also notable is the absence of serrations, unlike the OKC 3S. Homer Brett does reference this in some of his historical documents, conveying the serrations were intentionally left off the early pre-adoption prototype blades but there is no reference as to why.

 

The final result is an unusual combination of USMC/OKC legacy components (with lineage that predate the OKC 3S) and new generation OKC 3S components of the same Spec 3 blade profile bayonet adopted by the USMC and thanks to Ontario Knife Company this old prototype test blade is a fully functional combat bayonet.

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Here is the Ontario Knife Company USMC OKC 3FT UC (Ultra Carbon) pre-adoption prototype; likely the rarest version of the three OKC/USMC pre-adoption prototype design models submitted for the 2002 USMC bayonet test trials.

 

From what I understand, the Spec 3 Ultra Carbon was the adopted blade profile selected out of the 2002 USMC bayonet trials, called the OKC 3FT UC, the Ultra Carbon version was retained for further testing, while the remaining USMC test prototypes that survived the USMC test trials were released for public sale at some point by Ontario Knife Company. If you find one at a garage sale, I recommend picking it up.

 

The three pre-adoption one-piece full tang blade designs, the Tanto, Kabar, and Spec 3 were each made in Ontario’s proprietary Ultra Carbon and Diamond Steel versions. Very few of these pre-adaption prototypes were made and survived the testing process; I understand only 50 of each blade design were made. However, I am not sure it that means 50 UC and 50 DC versions of the tanto, Kabar, and Spec 3 or just 50 total of each blade profile category. If anyone has more specific historical info, please update; information on these OKC trials bayonets is very scarce. The only reason I am posting is to preserve what little bit of historical information I can find on these rare USMC bayonets.

 

Moreover, since the number of pre-adoption prototypes on the collector market is exceptionally rare and the OKC 3FT UC Spec 3 profile was the adopted blade profile by the USMC, and retained for even further testing, it likely means the OKC 3FT UC is the scarcest variant of all the pre-adaption prototypes. This is likely due the OKC 3FT UC being administered more field testing, analysis, abuse, and possibly being destroyed in the USMC supplemental testing processes.  

 

Some of the photos depict the USMC OKC 3FT UC next to my OKC 3 hybrid bayonet factory assembled by Ontario Knife Company. The hybrid is made with an original USMC/OKC rials prototype test blade intended for a USMC OKC 3FT DS (Diamond Steel) variant. I wanted the viewers to be able to see the differences between the Carbon Steel and the Ultra Carbon finish side by side. The Diamond Steel finish appears to be a powder-coat or paint type finish and darker in color in the photographs. Considering how much abuse this blade took, it appears the Diamond Steel finish holds up well. I am curious to know what the deciding factor was for the the USMC A.jpg.653bb3ef55d3b09fb69e9fb7ea01e1c4.jpg

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... just a continuation from my last post/I forgot to add this picture for the OKC 3FT UC posting. The Ultra Carbon (UC) and Diamond Steel (DS) markings were indicated on the front/bottom of the crossguards of the OKC/USMC pre-adoption prototype trials bayonets. Enjoy! 

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I got these crazy looking USMC trials M-9 bayonets directly from Ontario Knife Company (OKC); I am very appreciative to them for their assistance - these are two Ontario Knife Company submission examples from the 2002 USMC bayonet trials; OKC compact/ergonomic reduced mass M-9 bayonets, I believe they were returns from the USMC back to OKC due not being adopted during the 2002 USMC trials, Unfortunately, no original reduced mass scabbards were supplied with these bayonets.

 

The blades show signs of testing but despite after being almost 20 years old, the blades are in remarkably good condition. I haven’t cleaned them yet as of this posting. Ontario knife company touched up the bottom edges prior to sending the bayonets out to me. I am not sure what the brown speckling is, but it seems to rub off easily, thankfully it doesn’t appear to be surface rust. The blades should clean up well!.

 

I do not believe I have seen any actual pictures of any M-9 trials bayonet submissions from Ontario Knife Company (OKC) for the 2002 USMC trials, although I knew they existed, and I know several M-9 designs were submitted by OKC and several other manufactures, e.g. LanCay for the trials. Probably since the USMC was aligning more towards OKC’s FT series pre-adoption prototypes the lowly OKC M-9 compact/ergonomic designs probably never drew much attention and interest faded in this platform; I understand the USMC wanted to move away from the M-9 platform anyway. 

 

Unfortunately, I have not been able to find and any formal Homer Brett letters on these OKC/USMC trials M-9s, so most of what I say is speculation based off what I have seen and read. Hopefully, there is a Homer Brett letter out there somewhere; if anyone has a copy, or any detailed specifics on these rare OKC/USMC M-9 compact/ergonomic trials bayonets please post! I have read some generic information in letters and online that gloss over the modified OKC M-9 submissions in the 2002 USMC trials but no robust detail. However, there is a Homer Brett letter discussing the OKC M10 bayonet that provides hints of the OKC/USMC compact/ergonomic M-9s evaluated during the trials.

 

The OKC M10 was a less bulky evolution of the M-9 series of bayonet designs with a reduced mass scabbard (no slots), MOLLE attachment system, and Army markings on the handle, rather than USMC markings, that was released in limited numbers for public sale. Moreover, I believe since Ontario Knife Company invested a lot of tooling and resources into these USMC trials compact/ergonomic M-9 bayonets pictured, when the USMC adopted the OKC 3S, OKC decided to copyright the OKC M10 designation with the hopes that the Army would adopt the improved M-9 design, now designated as the OKC M10. However, knowing how resistant the Army is to change, the Army was probably unwilling to make changes to the streamlined improved compact/ergonomic design of the OKC M10. Although not a true prototype since the M-9 design already existed but the bayonets depicted are the predecessor the OKC M10 and convey some of the evolution designs that led to the compact/ergonomic, reduced mass OKC M10.

 

Although, Ontario Knife Company is currently still producing the traditional M-9 for the military, I think there was also a push at one point by Ontario Knife Company to try to get the Army to ween off the M-9 platform and go with the OKC3S design. I have seen pictures of OKC3S bayonets with Army markings (both full tang and screw tang) and I have seen legacy price sheets mentioning: “ON-OKC3FT Ontario Knife Company Prototype Ultra Bayonet-Special Forces Blade” … I imagine these were OKC Army variants of the OKC3S blade design made in limited numbers for the Army folks, and when not adopted by the Army, the bayonets were likely released for limited public sale.  

 

In Homer Brett’s M10 historical letter, he discusses the OKC USMC compact/ergonomic M-9 bayonets used in the USMC trials stating:

 

“During the long work up to the final Marine Corps Bayonet Trials, all of the competing companies purposely had equal access to the research I did for the Marine Corps on the M-9 bayonet and its possible improvements, as well as any other design ideas. This included handling the prototypes I personally made using standard 3rd generation M-9 bayonets. These bayonets were crude but effective examples of M-9s with ergonomic grips and reduced mass scabbards. These USMC compact/ergonomic M-9 prototypes were made in both black and green, and were available for viewing by any company in the competition. They were publicly on display at MARCORSYSCOM and the Martial Arts Center of Excellence (the MACE).”

 

The one thing I think is odd about this Homer Brett’s statement is he says the prototypes were made in black and green but Homer Brett words aren't set in stone, there have been plenty of mis-information identified in his letters. Nevertheless, the OKC USMC trials M-9s in these pics are brown and came directly from OKC; however, I have read that during the 2002 USMC bayonets trials, the USMC specifically did not want any green bayonets, the USMC was looking for a tan or brown color that was a closer match to their new uniforms, the USMC wanted a lighter weight bayonet, and the USMC was not interested in a wire cutter function, nor a saw function.

 

What’s notable, if you look at these two unusual compact/ergonomic OKC/USMC M-9s, neither has a saw function and the bayonet without the cutter plate hole in the blade has a sharpened swedge. Also notable about these USMC M-9 trials bayonets, the handle components are similar to the traditional M-9 design with threaded handle assembly, latch plate, and M9 style crossguard. The grips of these OKC/USMC M-9 trials bayonets are more ergonomic and comfortable than traditional M-9 grips, the grips has the USMC Globe and Anchor insignia with "USMC" in both ovals of the grip n black. This grip/handle design was carried over to the first 500 of the OKC/USMC 1st Fielded Prototypes before the full production run of the OKC/USMC full tang, permanently peened-on latch plate, non-removable grip assembly of the OKC 3S bayonets. Furthermore, the grip appears to be hard plastic unlike the softer non-slip Dynaflex material of the OKC 3S (On the left ricasso of each blade, these OKC/USMC M-9 trials bayonets have the original trials markings: COMBAT/USMC and the right ricasso: ONTARIO/USA).

 

A lot of bayonets designs were submitted, and the USMC trials probably had all kinds of shapes, sizes, and colors, etc. I believe these Ontario Knife Company USMC prototypes, despite not being adopted by the USMC, (nor the Army), were the predecessor prototypes that spurred OKC to copyright the M10 designation and the eventual release of a limited number of M10s for public sale when it wasn’t adopted by the military. Although I do not have the reduced mass scabbards for these bayonets, if you look for an OKC M10 bayonet through online searches, you will see examples of what a reduced mass scabbard likely looked like for these bayonets.  

 

I have also seen the Ontario Knife Company USMC M-9 commemorative that looks similar to these prototypes but those are strictly traditional M-9 designs, with saw teeth, M-9 markings, retro two-slot scabbard design instead of the reduced mass scabbard. I believe the only part shared with those commemorative bayonets is the grip.

 

Hopefully, all the info helps preserve some of the history of these trials bayonets and prototypes and we see some more OKC/USMC 2002 trials variants submitted since Ontario Knife Company released limited numbers of the trials bayonets to the public that contributed to the decision and evolution of the USMC OKC 3S.

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