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A rather simple question in my opinion compared to my typical: Why would a nation with Napoleonic age technology and weapons use axe bayonets over the more standard 'spear-like' bayonets? They were made so I imagine there was a rational at some point I'd like to understand.

part 2: how could this rational carry over or make more sense in a world where a Napoleonic age empire of humans is fighting things like the monsters and races seen in Warhammer Age of Sigmar?

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Axe bayonets do exist in history (most of them are decorative in these images but some are used as weapon, if I remember it was commonly used by Prussia/Germany or around there).

From what I gather, one of it purposes is as a mix of boarding axe and gun (usually for a pistoler rather than long rifle type).

Also it does well for cavalry mixed weapons from what I found (the third image below is used for cavalry, the upper one).

And just like an axe it can help in hooking something or breaking wooden objects, maybe to break the enemy rifle too (it more than likely would destroy the wielder's gun barrel or the mechanism in the process but, perhaps that's not an issue because there's not enough time to reload anyways).

Copy paste picture from my answer in Best gun to modify into a monsterhunter weapon? (and maybe some of the answers there can help you) enter image description here from https://hugelol.com/lol/86852

enter image description here from https://www.reddit.com/r/mildlyinteresting/comments/6eonme/found_this_combination_axeflintlock_rifle_in_a/

enter image description here

from https://ilovefunnythings.wordpress.com/2016/03/31/the-british-had-the-bayonet-the-germans-had-the-axe-gun/

enter image description here from http://thegunsman.com/2013/12/axe-guns-gun-axes/

enter image description here

from https://www.reddit.com/r/ArmsandArmor/comments/bi13bu/a_silesian_flintlock_axepistol_from_1670_the_gun/

enter image description here from https://www.reddit.com/r/ArtefactPorn/comments/5z5gvn/flintlock_combination_boarding_axe_and_carbine/

For why they use this against monsters, maybe because the monster's hide is too thick or hard for penetration using a common bayonet spear, so they use an axe instead to give more bite or hack or cut.

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    $\begingroup$ This technicaly are not bayonets, but hybrid weapons. $\endgroup$ – ksbes Dec 30 '19 at 10:01
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    $\begingroup$ @ksbes isnt bayonet a hybrid weapon ? $\endgroup$ – Li Jun Dec 30 '19 at 10:01
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    $\begingroup$ No, bayonet is an easy detachable accesory, which can be used on it's own in most cases. Napoleonic times is time period when bayonet can't be used as a separate weapon (before it was a knife inserted into the barrel, after it was a short sword under the barrel). But even at this time it was detachable for maintance and easy replacement. It banded and breaked a lot in a fight. $\endgroup$ – ksbes Dec 30 '19 at 10:14
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    $\begingroup$ @ksbes True but I think this still answers the original question. $\endgroup$ – thanby Dec 30 '19 at 14:32
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    $\begingroup$ Totally on-board with the fact that they exist, and love the photos, but your final justification doesn’t make a whole lot of sense—thick hides are precisely what spears are best for. $\endgroup$ – KRyan Dec 30 '19 at 15:55
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Part 1.

Bayonets - no, at least as a real weapon. You see, bayonet is a detachable device. It just can't withstand axe-like strike without damaging it's mounting points (or barrel if it is plug bayonet) - even "normal" bayonets always had and have problems with that. If you try to make hybrid weapon (like in @Li-Jun answer) - you would had to keep it short, because axe larger mass will make it an unwieldy gun. If you would reduce axe mass to extreme, you come to sword-like bayonet anyway.

And in napoleonic times there were just too little armor on the battlefield for poleaxe. And when it comes to just make in hole in uncovered body - simple spear is better then any other polearm.

So as a toy- or art-weapon it can be done. May be pirates would use it (using axe as hook or support on a railing) mostly for "badass" look, but only as short "handgun".

But axe-bayonet will certainly never go for something like musket.

Part 2.

Since axe-musket hybrid is a bad single-use poleaxe and a bad unwieldy musket - it would be far more logical to have two separate type of troops: one heavyarmored with poleaxes and other - no-armored, fast-running shooters (they do not even need any bayonets, if they are usless against beasts and dwarfs).

Or you troops may be like russian streltsy wich were using berdyshes as close-combat also as a support for there guns (dosen't Kislev already has ones?). But this are far pre-napoleonic.

But if you still is looking for some cool-looking weapons, you would need to make hybrid "shooting" poleaxes - may be even single-shooting. This "shooting" poleaxes would twice as thick as nomal ones and should have fast-removeable ignition mechanism - it will not suvive poleaxe fight and will mess a lot. Normal people would not be able to handle them, you will need unnaturaly strong guys.May be magicaly-modified? Or some half-humans?

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    $\begingroup$ Good answer. The types of troops that early 19th century guns are good against and the types of troops that axes are good against are unlikely exist on the same battlefield. If you wanted axe-bayonnets, ask yourself first: what am I using this weapon against that makes an axe preferable to a stabbing weapon, and if it's that big an issue, why don't I have dedicated axe troops to repel it? $\endgroup$ – Michael W. Dec 30 '19 at 18:43
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These hybrid weapons were made because early guns took a long time to reload. In any realistic combat scenario a combatant might get one shot off, and then have to turn to close-quarters combat. Rather than dropping the gun and drawing a secondary weapon (ala "The Three Musketeers"), guns were crafted so they contained secondary weapons.

Long, pointed weapons like swords, spears, and bayonets are most effective when used in organized formations. Combatants form a solid line, and an oncoming enemy is confronted with a thicket of sharp points that it has to break through. If you watch any World War I movies you'll see a lot of that: soldiers forming a line, firing off a shot or two, and then fixing bayonets to advance in unison. However, in disorganized hand-to-hand combat axes are more effective. They are quicker and more maneuverable than large swords (the moment of inertia of a long, flat blade is greater than that of a compact axe), have more cutting power (try chopping down a tree with a longsword), and need less room to swing. A bayonet in the same circumstances would be equivalent to a short-sword or dagger (with an uncomfortable long hilt). That would improve its maneuverability but drop its cutting power even further, making it ineffective against anyone wearing light armor, or any creature with a significantly thickened hide.

There are a few 'sword vs axe' videos on YouTube that you might take a look at; it's kind of a meme.

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In order to consider why an axe bayonet would be a good idea, let us first consider why a long spiky bayonet has been more popular:

  1. Reach - if one soldier has a long spike protruding well beyond the end of the barrel and the second has an axe blade roughly level with the end of the barrel, the soldier with the axe is likely to be impaled on the long spike before getting within range to swing the axe.
  2. Weight and effort - battle axes were light. Forget the illustrations of fantasy figures and the oversized (rubber) blades carried in poorly researched medieval-period movies - an axe that could be swung quickly enough to be effective in combat was a very light blade much thinner than the tools used to cut wood. Even with a light axe, though, the amount of effort required to inflict a fatal or disabling wound with a cut is much greater than the effort required to stab an enemy for the same effect.
  3. Grip and balance - a rifle / musket with a spiky bayonet can be used effectively as a spear with the hands gripping it in roughly the same position that would be used when firing. An axe needs to be gripped with one hand close to the butt end of the handle with the other hand free to slide up and down the handle - this works badly with a rifle or musket due to the end of the stock being too thick to get a good grip and the trigger mechanism blocking the off hand from sliding up and down the stock.
  4. Damage to the firearm - a rifle barrel and stock are strong in compression, resulting in a very low risk of damage when either stabbing an enemy or using a smash with the butt at close range. However, a series of repeated, powerful swings risk separating the barrel from the stock, breaking the stock or possibly even bending the barrel.

Given all of these reasons why long, stabbing weapons are better, some or all of these must be negated in order for axe bayonets to be desirable:

  1. Reach - the enemy of the axe bayonet wielder must not use reach weapons. Reasons could be religious / cultural as the tactical advantages of using weapons with long reach are overwhelming.
  2. Weight and effort - the humans must be very strong and enemies must not be vulnerable to stabbing damage and enemies must be vulnerable to slashing / cutting damage and enemies must be vulnerable to musket ball damage. This is a really difficult situation to visualise - maybe the enemies of the humans are some kind of plant creatures that have no central circulatory system or vital organs to stab, the only way to defeat them is to cut their connecting tissue apart. (Which raises the question of why anyone would try to shoot such a foe with a musket in the first place...) A slightly less fantastic solution is that their armour is highly stab-resistant but can be cut away with enough slashes - armour made of poorly-stitched plates, for instance.
  3. Grip and balance - change the shape of the stock so it is narrow all the way down to the shoulder and give each soldier a socketed shoulder plate built into their uniform / armour to distribute the recoil force. Change the trigger into a recessed stud and try to work out a low-profile ignition mechanism.
    1. Damage to the firearm - protect the firearm from shear force damage by reinforcing the bands securing the stock to the barrel and making the barrel heavier. Accept that this will make the musket / rifle even more heavy and consequently unwieldy as a melee weapon. Look to logistics to ensure that damaged firearms can be repaired or replaced as required.

In summary - long spiky bayonets have lots of advantages over axes. The type of enemies and situations required that would allow axe bayonets to dominate will result in a radically different environment to the Napoleonic wars.

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“Why would a nation with Napoleonic age technology and weapons use axe bayonets over the more standard 'spear-like' bayonets?”

Well you’ve answered your own question, they are “fighting things like the monsters and races seen in Warhammer”.

If the spear-like bayonets are ineffective at piercing the hide of the monsters you are fighting or the armour of the races you are fighting, it might make sense to equip your rifles with an axe. An axe would generate far more force when swinging it than you could generate with a thrust, which may be what you need to kill your enemies. Or it might be you need more stopping power than what a spear-like bayonet could provide - a thrust with a blade is good at killing someone, but its not going to stop them from hitting you in return. An axe swing on the other hand has a lot more stopping power, preventing your opponent from continuing their attack.

Also, whilst a weapon axe and a tool axe are significantly different (a tool axe head is far thicker and heavier than one made for combat), you could use your axe bayonet as a tool with some amount of success - a lot more so than what you’d have using a napoleonic bayonet at least. Whilst you’re not going to fell a tree with it, you could definitely cut through underbrush with it like a machete and potentially split wood with it. It may also find some use in cutting down doors or wooden barricades and fences, allowing for troops and horses to pass through easily.

I’d see these axe bayonets being used by a specialised division of troops, like an engineers corps, shock troopers or perhaps some kind of support-based unit, rather than the main bulk of the army. An axe is best used when you have room to swing it - eg, not in a tight formation which is better for thrusting from. Also, it’d take significantly more metal to equip all soldiers with axe bayonets than it would with the spear-like bayonets.

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Not axe. Shovel.

shovel weapon

https://oprishki.wordpress.com/training/thrusts/

A shovel is a useful tool for a soldier, for many reasons. Shovels can also be effective weapons, and even more so if you have time to hone the edge prior to weapon use. Instead of axe bayonettes, have shovel bayonets.

I envision the shovel attachment as actually being on the butt not the barrel, because the but and stock are more robust than the barrel and can more easily serve as the supports of a shovel blade. For hand to hand combat, or for digging, the weapon would be reversed.

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  • $\begingroup$ youtu.be/qp0FFPyEN1k Apparently the americans tried it. $\endgroup$ – Journeyman Geek Dec 31 '19 at 8:17
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    $\begingroup$ If the shovel head is on the butt of the rifle, doesn't that mean you have to point the gun at your chest to use it? I can't see that going over well with any soldiers who know the 4 rules of gun safety. $\endgroup$ – Ryan_L Jan 1 '20 at 3:48
  • $\begingroup$ @Ryan_L I would assume that if you have entered melee combat, you have already fired your musket round from your Napoleonic-era rifle, so there wouldn’t be any risk of shooting yourself as there is nothing in the gun that could be shot. Also, i would imagine if you turned a musket so the barrel was pointed directly at the ground, the ball and gunpowder would just fall out anyway, again meaning there is nothing in the gun to shoot yourself with. $\endgroup$ – Liam Morris Jan 7 '20 at 17:12
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I think I have some good answers:

Although as far as I know they weren't used by Napoleon's army, rifling may be your answer, and rifles were developed around that time period. Axe-bayonets would have a lot of disadvantages when attached to a musket type firearm, making it heavier, more difficult to aim, and an unwieldy melee weapon. However, assume instead that your civilization develops rifling and incorporates sharpshooters into its military. Rifle mounted axes could be slapped down onto a log or stump, giving your sharpshooter-on-the go a makeshift mounted weapon, and some of the recoil could be absorbed by the log instead of the shooter, possibly allowing for more gunpowder to be used and an increased range of fire. Then, when your enemies charge the sharpshooters, they can still pick up their rifles and either flee or fight.

Another option would be to change your battlefield to the ocean instead of land. Axes become more useful when boarding a ship because they can be used not only to cut down enemies at close range, but to cut through ropes to cripple the enemies' ships. And on a ship, your battles will likely be more close-quartered, which limits the usefulness of long-reach weapons like traditional bayonets.

Basically, they are either for stabilizing/absorbing recoil, or they are for damaging the enemy's equipment. If your enemies are monsters, then they might not be able to use ships or technology, so that might not help, depends on your monsters.

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  • $\begingroup$ I like it! The axe feature augments the primary function of the rifle! $\endgroup$ – Willk Jan 3 '20 at 16:50
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The most likely rationale I can come up with is some guy who never actually fought in a battle in his life thought it would look cool.

Have you ever tried swinging a woodcutting axe (or a pickaxe, or a mattock, or something similar)? It takes a huge amount of effort to actually use it, requires special application of leverage, and even then is far too slow to be an effective weapon against anything that's realistically agile. On top of that, if swinging for an attack and you miss, it takes far too long to recover from the miss and get to a guard stance, let alone prepare for another swing. The only reason this stuff is viable against zombies in so many movies, TV shows, comics, and other stuff is because zombies are really slow, and tend not to dodge.

Real world battle axes were relatively lightweight affairs. They would be used against hide or leather armor, not plate armor, and definitely not stuff like chain mail or scale mail (the whole point of chain mail is to make you hard to cut). That's part of the reason that a lot of historical portrayals of combat show axes used by raiders, brigands, and other people who are most likely attacking unarmored or lightly armored targets. Some long ones were occasionally used by cavalry, but mostly just to gut the other guy's horse or to lop off the unprotected heads of infantry as you ride past them.

Now, using one for a bayonet or a hybrid weapon has other issues...

The reason that a spear-like bayonet works as well as it does (which is honestly not quite as good as a real spear) is because of how it ends up being used. Because almost all of the force is (usually) applied along the long axis of the gun's barrel, it's very easy to design a reasonably reliable locking mechanism to keep the bayonet attached as you stab someone without damaging the gun in the process (most of the time).

A large part of the reason that in real life axe-bayonets (they do exist, see some of the other answers) have been unpopular is because they can't be made this way. Striking with the axe inherently applies force in a way that makes it very easy to damage the gun, or at least severely impact it's accuracy long-term. They're also very heavy compared to spear bayonets (a spear bayonet can just be a long spike, no need for a cutting edge or any extra material to reinforce it heavily or provide a counterbalance), which makes it harder to use the gun as a gun.

Something to keep in mind though is that bayonets were never intended to be a 'primary' weapon. Most people who used guns back in the middle ages (and even up until the end of WWII in some cases like the Imperial Japanese Army) carried a sword of some sort as a sidearm, with the being a stop-gap for when they were caught by surprise and couldn't drop their gun and draw their sword. Bayonets suck for actual combat. They're better than nothing, but honestly not by much, especially if you don't have a long (in the conventional sense of the term long) gun to put them on. The only reason they became the standard in late medieval and early modern Europe is logistics. Musketeers with bayonets replaced the roughly 50/50 mix of musketeers and pikemen that was used previously because a bayonet on a long musket works almost as well as a pike, and that way you didn't lose out on firepower just to protect your musketeers from cavalry attacks (and you had one less type of weapon to worry about supplying your soldiers).

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  • $\begingroup$ Just a quick note, axes weren’t just used against things like gambeson or leather, they were also used against chain mail. Whilst you’d struggle to break the chain mail, the blunt force impact of an axe hitting someone could still break bone and cause injury. Or you could turn it around and strike with the flat side of the axe (or the spike if you have one) and use it like a mace (or a war pick). $\endgroup$ – Liam Morris Jan 7 '20 at 17:39
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A bayonet is a stabby tool. The reason that Bayonets were so popular in the napoleonic era was that it turned a gun into a spear - and the guns of the era were relatively slow loading. Also smashing at things sideways with an expensive early industrial age barrel would likely damage it.You don't (still) make axes with hollow handles for most part.

On the other hand, contemporary guns were heavily wood. Taking inspiration from a pistol hatchet you could possibly integrate the axe head into the stock - taking the idea further, you could build pistols into fully enclosed and reinforced handles - 2 single shots then acting as short hatchets.

Putting it in the shooty end is dumb - putting it, encased in the butt end makes sense.

In addition, rather than open field combat (and if I was fighting monsters, I'd totally go with ranks of riflemen or better yet a volley gun or cannon over an axe), skirmish combat at close quarters would favour axe-like weapons somewhat.

Or more precisely, the hatchet gun

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Guns are designed to take force along the barrel (the recoil from firing) not at right angles to it. If you use one like a cricket bat - much beloved of some model soldier designers - it'll a) be hard to swing - the stock isn't designed for that and b) break.
The correct way to use a longarm as shock weapon is to turn it around and jab with it - you contact the enemy with the part that would be against the shoulder when firing it.
It's a silly idea.

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