Lan-Cay received itís first contract for 30,500 M9 bayonets on 3/31/92 from the U.S. Army with an additional 21,500 bayonets added during the contract. In an effort to quickly supply the Army with new M9 bayonets after Desert Storm, Lan-Cay turned to General Cutlery as a sub-contractor to provide near completed blades for assembly at the Lan-Cay facility. All General Cutlery produced blades are easily identified as they are stamped on the ricasso "M9 / LANCAY / USA" in block letters of equal size. This form of marking was used only on the General Cutlery made blades and will not be used again.
General Cutlary Blade LanCay M9 Bayonet
These General Cutlery made M9 bayonets were produced in a very limited number and original General Cutlery assembled M9 bayonets are extremely rare. At least 300 examples, possibly more, were delivered to the Army and are passed inspection and put into military the supply system. Problems with manufacturing controls lead to the termination of this subcontract with General Cutlery but blades from the General Cutlery contract still exist in some quantity so buyers of General Cutlery LanCay M9 bayonets need to be cautious before buying what they believe to be an original and supply system General Cutlery M9 Bayonet. Things to look for in an Original General Cutlary M9 Bayonet include an unmarked pommel, screw driver at the end of the cutter plate on the scabbard and 1992 dated fastex connector. Late production GenCut LanCay M9s (non-original) will likely have Lan-Cay marked butt pieces (pommel).
At the same time that LanCay was getting blades made by General Cutlary, LanCay purchased itís own machinery and tooling for the production of blades and was making first contract blades in house. These blades are marked with all capitol letters but in a different font size. The marking was as follows, "M9 / LANCAY / USA" with the "L" and "C" much larger then the other letters in the name. All LanCay M9 bayonet blades have been manufactured in house from this point forward.
First Contract LanCay M9 Bayonet
It is also noted that all the bayonets produced up to this point were left in the natural or "white" state on the blades. This was the required milspec finish. The coloring variation between the Lan-Cay produced blades and the original Phrobis contract blades is due to the finish process. Phrobis bead blasted the blades while Lan-Cay used a heavier sand blasting procedure. Thus the Lan-Cay blades appear a little darker, almost a light gray. This was soon to change as an "ECP" (Engineering Change Proposal) was supplied from Lan-Cay to Rock Island Arsenal for approval. Another change that took place during the first contract stage was a reduction in the depth of the fuller. Because of Bureaucracy, it is easier to make a change in a specification then to eliminate one. A classic end run was found to this problem. The fuller design was set at a depth of .06 with a plus or minus of .06 !! The .06 was 50% shallower then the previous design. In total 350 M9 bayonets were produced with the shallow fuller before the change to eliminate the fuller was agreed to. This was to prevent the blade breakage encountered in some of the earliest Phrobis products. Come to find out later that blade hardening and tempering was the culprit not the fuller. Anyway this makes the half fullered blade amongst the rarest to be encountered today. It was also at this time that Lan-Cay switched from forged blades to laser cut blades. The unfullered blades mark the change over period to this new production method.
A second contract was awarded to Lan-Cay on 9/1/94. This contract was for 104,111 Product Improved M9 bayonets. All the while that the first contract bayonets were being produced, Lan-Cay along with Rock Island Arsenal had been working on improvements to the M9 and the scabbard assembly. This second contract was to be the culmination of these efforts, the "Product Improved M9."
Product Improved Lan-Cay M9 Bayonet
Although there had not been any reports of breakage of Lan-Cay produced blades the Army was still worried about the problem. To correct this potential problem several changes were approved. The first was to move the saw teeth further forward on the spine of the blade. Along with this the bottom of the teeth were rounded instead of the sharper "V" on earlier blades. Lan-Cay set their own broaching machine up to handle this with relative ease. Also the small "step" on the top of the blade just behind the saw teeth was eliminated for the simplification of manufacture. Another contract stipulation was to have the blades finished in a black oxide coating. A small number of M9 bayonets were still needed to finish off the first contract so the physical changes mentioned above minus the black oxide finish were used to complete the contract. Shipped on 4/21/95 were 1,090 Product Improved M9 bayonets with the sand blasted finish. These 1,090 blades make them some of the rarer bayonets for the collector to find. Again just another variation to add to the list. The second group of P.I. M9 bayonets with the full list of changes including the finish were delivered to the Army on 8/18/95 making this the first group of the second contract. Now comes the tricky part, during the second contract production the blade grinding was changed over from hollowing grinding to flat grinding to give the blade a stronger edge. Examples of both the flat grind and the hollow grind can be found with the standard for the time marking of "M9 / LANCAY / USA".
First Year Blood Grove LanCay M9 Bayonet
At the time of the flat grind blade development the corporate name of LanCay was changed over to Lan-Cay with a hyphen. It was at this time that the blade markings were changed to the now familiar "M9 / LAN -CAY / USA". This we will call the third type marking. All blades produced from this point in time were so marked which includes the overwhelming majority of the second contract. Another change much later in the second contract was a move back to forging the blades.
Now for another twist, in early 1995 approximately 200 of the first style blades were placed aside in the factory as the blade tips were a fraction of an inch thinner then the specification called for. As the difference was extremely small, Lan-Cay submitted a Request for Variance to the Army to have these blades approved. Somehow the paperwork was misplaced and the variance was never approved. When the paperwork was finally found and the variance approved the first contract had ended. The second contract called for black oxide finish so a black finish was applied to these blades and they were included with the second contract. Early style first contract blades with the "M9 / LANCAY / USA" type marking, a second contract late style black finish and only two hundred made, the rarest of the production group so far.
Another interesting model produced by Lan-Cay were a group of hollow ground, black oxide finishes that had clear Lucite handles. These bayonets were used for test purposes to see the inner workings of the tang and to teach budding Army Armorerís.
Clear LanCay M9 Bayonet
So as we can see, although they are new to the scene, the M9 bayonets are the beginning of a collectors dream. Many different variations with documented history behind them. It doesnít get any better then that. The Lan-Cay second contract ended in the second week of April 1997 with all bayonets being furnished and accepted on time.
In September of 1999, a contract was offered for 25,000 M9 bayonets for the U.S. Army. Until this time Lan-Cay had been the only bidder on the M9 contracts since taking over production from Buck. In this bid however, Ontario Knife Company, a long time government provider in cutlery felt they could be competitive in the M9 bid as they had procured new laser cutting equipment. When the bidding was finalized the contract was split. Rock Island, the government entity that procures bayonets felt that by having a backup provider it would improve the overall competitiveness. So it came to pass that Lan-Cay would produce 12,500 bayonets and Ontario would produce 12,500 bayonets.
Credits: I wish to give special credit to Frank Trzaska USMilitaryknives.com
for much of the information about the LanCay M9 on this page is from Frank! Bill Porter has also been a huge help with correcting and clarifing details on this page.