Le Vengeur de 1870 or Mle 1916

A famous and popular blade.





Cruciform blade

At the beginning of the Great War France had a tradition of narrow cruciform blades. This was relevant for both bayonets and knives. This type of blade is perfect for penetration thick and heavy military uniforms. These ideas were the reason for these blades.

Cruciform blade

The Great War was dominated by a new weapon the Machine gun which stopped the open field fighting and cavalry attacks. It became a war in the trenches. The demand for close quarter weapons became eminent.

Long bayonets and rifles became clumsy and shorter weapons were requested. Sometimes bayonets were converted to knives. This happened on both sides. Still we find the narrow bayonets transformed to knives. First bayonets to become transformed were the long thin bayonets like the French bayonet Mle1886.

Mle1886 bayonet converted to a trench knife.

France was one of the first countries which supplied it troops with fighting knives. The first knives had cruciform blades. 1915 France had Military knives designated No 1 and No 2. These knives had cruciform cross sectioned blades. Even the US Military liked these types of “pig stickers” like US knuckle knife 1917.

US1917 with triangular cross section blades

Double edge blade

In France during October 1915 a new design was proposed. The new knife should have an ordinary double edged blade with marked ricasso, a wide straight cross guard and wooden grip of Walnut. Later produced Mle1916 knives have a ferule made of steel close to the cross guard strengthening the wooden grip.


The blade of this knife is also found on the US M1918 knuckle knife, first produced by the French company AuLion and also other companies in USA like Landers, Frary & Clark (LF&C).

Blades of Mle1916 type - left US1918 and right Mle1916


Ricasso of US1918 made by Au Lion
(private collection)

US1918 fighting knife made by Landers, Frary & Clark


The grip of Mle1916 has full tang topped of with a locked nut.

The scabbard is made of steel. It has a wide belt loop made by 4mm thick steel thread. The blade is secured to scabbard by a dent at the top of the scabbard. The scabbard is of similar construction like the US1918 knife but the thread shackle is complete and not divided like US1918.

On the cross guard there is inspection stamps in form of a star and the letter B.

The first known official acceptance documentation of the knife is issued by Ministry of War dated as late as 6th of August 1924. There are however documents from 1917 mentioning repairing of these knives ordered by the General of the Infantry. This was six years after the Great War ended. The knife model is Mle 1916 with the nickname “Le Vengeur de 1870” or simply “Le Vengeur”. The nick name refers to the lost war against Prussia 1870-71. It is common that one side of the ricasso is engraved “Le Vengeur de 1870” while the other is marked with the mark of the manufacturer.

France kept on producing these knives in large quantities between the wars until 1939.


Dolch 116(f)

In June 1940, when Germany attacked and occupied parts of France, the German forces captured large quantities of this knife and it got the German designation “Dolch116(f)”. It was never accepted by the German test authority Wehrmachtsabnameamt (WaA). For this reason you will not find these knives with the WaA-stamp like other arms which were booties of war. First all the fighting knives were stored but as the war passed on they were issued to the German soldiers. Non German volunteers from different nations even French were equipped with these knives and the last services at war for these knives were in April 1945 at Reichskanzlei in Berlin.


Service after 1945

This knife was captured from the Germans in Norway in quantities. Some of these knives came to Sweden and were tested as fighting knives for the new Paratrooper force, but it was rejected in favour of the US fighting knife M3.


Length over all 283mm
Length of blade 168mm



Les couteaux poignard Mle1916


The French knife  M1916  - "Le Vengeur de 1870".
The name refers to the lost war against Prussian Army 1870.
(private collection)


M1916 made by SGCO
Societé Generale Coutellerie et Orfeverie a Thiers. (Company for Knives manufacturing and for Gold smith works in Thiers)

(private collection)


Poignard du Bourgade
courtesy of bsweeney



Here are some examples of Mle1916



with courtesy of Keith i Hong Kong



one side of ricasso

Courtesy of fabnatcyr


The other side of the ricasso was marked with name of manufacturer.

(No. 41 surmounting the inscription GONON in an arc)

Private collection

8 (followed by vertical) CHABROL

Courtesy of fabnatcyr

(the letter M manufacturer unknown)

Courtesy of fabnatcyr

ASTIER-PRODON (clover leaf)

Courtesy of fabnatcyr

(written behind China mans head)

Courtesy of fabnatcyr

in an oval

Courtesy of fabnatcyr

(in a shield found both vertical or horizontal adjusted
written DELAIRE)

Courtesy of fabnatcyr

L. PRADEL (written horizontally)

Courtesy of fabnatcyr

(written horizontally with clumsy writing in Thiers DeSousa)
(written in an arc)

Courtesy of fabnatcyr

(in a rectangular frame with rounded corners)

Private collection

(Bessette-walls of Thiers)

courtesy of Jarle

Ricasso marked with a Lily-flower surmounting the word DEPOSE
(marking simplify Delaire)


Special honour should be given to “fabnacyr” in France, who was so very kind to support me with information and the full list of manufacturers of these knives.

Many thanks to Keith and all other fellow collectors in the forum

Military Knives and Daggers of the World

who attributed with their pictures!



Couteaux de Combat (by Jean Fontvielle)

Fighting Knives (by Fredrick J. Stephens)