Updated: Jul 27
In the previous article, we covered the first bayonet for the AK family of rifles - wrongly but commonly designated as 6x2. This article is part of a bigger list, of all the infantry hand-held weapons, which we are trying to complete and will probably finish this task in a month or two.
Development history and features of 6x3 bayonet
The next type of bayonet knife for the Kalashnikov assault rifle was put into service along with the modernized AKM assault rifle. This bayonet received the designation 6x3, its mass production began in 1960 at two plants: Izhmash and the Tula Arms Plant. Later, AKMS assault rifles and Dragunov SVD rifles were equipped with a 6X3 bayonet. The 6x2 and 6x3 bayonets are not interchangeable - you have to fix them to the correct rifle.
A characteristic feature of the 6x3 bayonet is the introduction of a wire-cutting device into its design in the form of a mechanism connecting the bayonet blade and the metal tip of the scabbard into an articulated “scissors” type structure. For this, an oval hole is made in the middle of the blade for the passage of the connecting pin of the sheath tip. The bayonet could cut the electrified wire. To isolate the user from the electrical current the handle overlays were made of non-conductive fiber reinforced plastic or thermosetting material AG-4V.
A leather strap was introduced into the design of the bayonet, passing through a hole at the base of the handle and fastened with a buckle through a hook-shaped hook under the crosshair. The strap was intended for additional fixation of the bayonet on the fighter's hand during hand-to-hand combat when the bayonet was not attached to the AKM.
On the other side of the 6x3 blade, a saw is present. It was designed for cutting wood and thin steel. The 6x3 handle linings were made of fiberglass or AG-4V press material and could differ in shape and color. On the early bayonets, there are linings of dark cherry color (fiber). Later linings from AG-4V, having an angular shape of the rear end, had an orange color, which is typical for 6x3 of the second variety produced by Izhmash.
The Tula Arms Plant did not produce bayonets with handles from AG-4 material. The fastening of the lining on the shank of the blade was carried out in the same way as on the bayonet of the previous model (6x2) - with two screws and nuts. The holes of the handles with twisted screws were plugged with corks made of textolite to match the color of the overlays, after which they were filled with glue. After that, it became possible to disassemble the bayonet only in the conditions of the workshop during the repair process.
Inside the handle, assembled, there is a hollow cylindrical tube made of getinax, which forms a passage for a leather strap. Also inside the handle was a latch assembly with a button and a spring. The top of the latch button was made of fiberglass, which has the color of the overlays.
The 6x3 bayonet is not interchangeable with the 6x2 bayonet and can only be installed on an AKM assault rifle. Installing a 6x3 bayonet on AK74 and AKS74 assault rifles is not possible due to the specific shape of the handle pads. The sheath for 6x3 is traditionally considered to be a steel sheath with a rubber insulator. But according to some reports, in the late period of production, part of the 6x3 knives from the previously manufactured backlog was completed with a sheath of AG-4 from bayonet of a new type - 6X4.
The use of 6x3 bayonet in Afghanistan
The 6x3 bayonet was used widely in Afghanistan, especially during the early years of the occupation. The reason was simple - many of the Army units which took part in the invasion were stationed in the Turkmenistan Military District and armed with older weapons - AKM rifles. These were mainly completed with older 6x3 bayonets and that's how they got to Afghanistan.
However, the bayonet was soon phased out with the 6x4 type, which was issued together with AK-74 rifles. As the rearmament process of the 40th Army was mainly finished by the end of 1980, it is hard to find 6x3 bayonets in photos.
Using 6x3 for reenactment certainly will not be wrong - they were present in big numbers. However, to keep your impression historically correct, you would have to accompany your loadout with AKM or AKMS (os SVD). It would also be advised to keep this impression early war only - preferably 1980 and maybe 1981. Overall, soldiers did not tend to bring bayonets to the operations with them, so not having one would not be wrong either.