Vietnam War Weapons

This is a discussion on Vietnam War Weapons within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; I watched Sniper 3, starring Tom Berenger, on the boob tube last night (not one of Berenger's better flicks, IMO). He was sent to Vietnam ...

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Thread: Vietnam War Weapons

  1. #1
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    Array Captain Crunch's Avatar
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    Vietnam War Weapons

    I watched Sniper 3, starring Tom Berenger, on the boob tube last night (not one of Berenger's better flicks, IMO). He was sent to Vietnam to assassinate an American deserter. His contact in-country was a Ho Chi Minh City cop who carried a brace of M1911 pistols.

    This got me to thinking about the early years of the war (my tour was 1962-63) when the U.S. equipped the ARVN with our surplus weapons, including M1 Garands, carbines, BARs, M3 & Thompson SMGs, M1919 MGs, and of course M1911 and 1911A1 pistols. I remember once watching a young ARVN soldier humping a BAR on a live-fire exercise. The BAR was longer than this little dude was tall. He was game, tho.

    AFAIK, none of these weapons were ever returned to our shores. They were probably sitting in armories seized by the NVA when the ARVN surrendered in 1975. Who knows where they are now? Somewhere in SE Asia there might be a big blob of rust that used to be an original Singer or US&S M1911A1 pistol or a rare M1C or M1D Garand rifle.

    What a waste! Our tax dollars at work!


    When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains,
    And the women come out to cut up what remains,
    Just roll to your rifle and blow out your brains,
    And go to your God like a soldier.

    Rudyard Kipling


    Terry

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    Member Array Dave James's Avatar
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    Remember that well,, Seeing the LRDP and Rangers carrying the cut down Garands and M-2 carbines,

    Was a hoot to see some of those little guys shoot the 45acp for the first time

    Never figured out how they humped those BAR's or the PIG later on.

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    Terry - just in case you or anyone interested - I tried to clear out some books a while ago to sell on .... wasn't hugely successful but anyways - I still have this one.


    Chris - P95
    NRA Certified Instructor & NRA Life Member.

    "To own a gun and assume that you are armed
    is like owning a piano and assuming that you are a musician!."


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    Member Array joelg's Avatar
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    FYI - USMC grunt insights from Iraq...just in case you haven't seen it...Don't know if it's been posted before...I cleaned some comments up. My apologies if I missed some...it's insightful, especially with some proposed weapons changes that should never happen...

    Sent: 1/4/07 822 AM
    From:

    Subject: Weapons in Iraq

    No politics here, just a Marine with a bird's eye view opinion:

    GOOD GUY WEAPONS
    • The M-16 rifle: Thumbs down. Chronic jamming problems with the talcum powder like sand over there. The sand is everywhere. Jordan says you feel filthy 2 minutes after coming out of the shower. The M-4 carbine version is more popular because it's lighter and shorter, but it has jamming problems also. They like the ability to mount the various optical gunsights and weapons lights on the Picattiny rails, but the weapon itself is not great in a desert environment. They all hate the 5.56mm (.223) round. Poor penetration on the cinderblock structure common over there and even torso hits can't be reliably counted on to put the enemy down.

    Fun fact: Random autopsies on dead insurgents show a high level of opiate use.

    • The M243 SAW (squad assault weapon): .223 cal. Drum fed light machine gun. Big thumbs down. Universally considered a piece of s**t. Chronic jamming problems, most of which require partial disassembly (that's fun in the middle of a firefight).

    • The M9 Beretta 9mm: Mixed bag. Good gun, performs well in desert environment; but they all hate the 9mm cartridge. The use of handguns for self-defense is actually fairly common. Same old story on the 9mm: Bad guys hit multiple times and still in the fight.

    • Mossberg 12ga. Military shotgun: Works well, used frequently for clearing houses to good effect.

    • The M240 Machine Gun: 7.62 Nato (.308) cal. belt fed machine gun, developed to replace the old M-60 (what a beautiful weapon that was!!). Thumbs up. Accurate, reliable, and the 7.62 round puts 'em down. Originally developed as a vehicle mounted weapon, more and more are being dismounted and taken into the field by infantry. The 7.62 round chews up the structure over there.

    • The M2 .50 cal heavy machine gun: Thumbs way, way up. "Ma deuce" is still worth her considerable weight in gold. The ultimate fight stopper, puts their d**s in the dirt every time. The most coveted weapon in-theater.

    • The .45 pistol: Thumbs up. Still the best pistol round out there. Everybody authorized to carry a sidearm is trying to get their hands on one. With few exceptions, can reliably be expected to put 'em down with a torso hit. The special ops guys (who are doing most of the pistol work) use the HK military model and supposedly love it. The old government model .45's are being re-issued en masse.

    • The M-14: Thumbs up. They are being re-issued in bulk, mostly in a modified version to special ops guys. Modifications include lightweight Kevlar stocks and low power red dot or ACOG sights. Very reliable in the sandy environment, and they love the 7.62 round.

    • The Barrett 50 cal sniper rifle: Thumbs way up. Spectacular range and accuracy and hits like a freight train. Used frequently to take out vehicle suicide bombers ( we actually stop a lot of them) and barricaded enemy. Definitely here to stay.

    • The M24 sniper rifle: Thumbs up. Mostly in .308 but some in 300 Win mag. Heavily modified Remington 700's. Great performance. Snipers have been used heavily to great effect. Rumor has it that a marine sniper on his third tour in Anbar province has actually exceeded Carlos Hathcock's record for confirmed kills with OVER 100.

    • The new body armor: Thumbs up. Relatively light at approx. 6 lbs. and can reliably be expected to soak up small shrapnel and even will stop an AK-47 round. The bad news: Hot as **** to wear, almost unbearable in the summer heat (which averages over 120 degrees). Also, the enemy now goes for head shots whenever possible. All the B.S. about the "old" body armor making our guys vulnerable to the IED's was a non-starter. The IED explosions are enormous and body armor doesn't make any difference at all in most cases.

    • Night Vision and Infrared Equipment: Thumbs way up. Spectacular performance. Our guys see in the dark and own the night, period. Very little enemy action after evening prayers. More and more enemy being whacked at night during movement by our hunter-killer teams. We've all seen the videos.

    • Lights: Thumbs up. Most of the weapon mounted and personal lights are Surefire's, and the troops love 'em. Invaluable for night urban operations. Jordan carried a $34 Surefire G2 on a neck lanyard and loved it. I can’t help but notice that most of the good fighting weapons and ordnance are 50 or more years old!!!!!!!!! With all our technology, it's the WWII and Vietnam era weapons that everybody wants!!!! The infantry fighting is frequent, up close and brutal. No quarter is given or shown.

    BAD GUY WEAPONS:
    • Mostly AK47's The entire country is an arsenal. Works better in the desert than the M16 and the 308 Russian round kills reliably. PKM belt fed light machine guns are also common and effective. Luckily, the enemy mostly shoots like s**t... Undisciplined "spray and pray" type fire. However, they are seeing more and more precision weapons, especially sniper rifles. (Iran, again) Fun fact: Captured enemy have apparently marveled at the marksmanship of our guys and how hard they fight. They are apparently told in Jihad school that the Americans rely solely on technology, and can be easily beaten in close quarters combat for their lack of toughness. Let's just say they know better now.

    • The RPG: Probably the infantry weapon most feared by our guys. Simple, reliable and as common as dogshit. The enemy responded to our up-armored humvees by aiming at the windshields, often at point blank range. Still killing a lot of our guys.

    • The IED: The biggest killer of all. Can be anything from old Soviet anti-armor mines to jury rigged artillery shells. A lot found in Jordan's area were in abandoned cars. The enemy would take 2 or 3 155mm artillery shells and wire them together. Most were detonated by cell phone, and the explosions are enormous. You're not safe in any vehicle, even an M1 tank.

    • Driving is by far the most dangerous thing our guys do over there. Lately, they are much more sophisticated "shape charges" (Iranian) specifically designed to penetrate armor. Fact: Most of the ready made IED's are supplied by Iran, who is also providing terrorists (Hezbollah types) to train the insurgents in their use and tactics. That's why the attacks have been so deadly lately. Their concealment methods are ingenious, the latest being shape charges in Styrofoam containers spray painted to look like the cinderblocks that litter all Iraqi roads. We find about 40% before they detonate, and the bomb disposal ! guys are unsung heroes of this war.

    • Mortars and rockets: Very prevalent. The soviet era 122mm rockets with an 18km range) are becoming more prevalent. One of Jordan's NCO's lost a leg to one. These weapons cause a lot of damage "inside the wire". Jordan's base was hit almost daily his entire time there by mortar and rocket fire, often at night to disrupt sleep patterns and cause fatigue (It did). More of a psychological weapon than anything else. The enemy mortar teams would jump out of vehicles, fire a few rounds, and then haul ass in a matter of seconds.

    • Bad guy technology: Simple yet effective. Most communication is by cell and satellite phones, and also by email on laptops. They use handheld GPS units for navigation and "Googleearth" for overhead views of our positions. Their weapons are good, if not fancy, and prevalent. Their explosives and bomb technology is TOP OF THE LINE. Night vision is rare. They are very careless with their equipment and the captured GPS units and laptops are treasure troves of Intel when captured.

    WHO ARE THE BAD GUYS (remember that is what the Captain called them!)?:
    Most of the carnage is caused by the Zarqawi Al Qaeda group. They operate mostly in Anbar province (Fallujah and Ramadi). These are mostly "foreigners", non-Iraqi Sunni Arab Jihadists from all over the Muslim world (and Europe). Most enter Iraq through Syria (with, of course, the knowledge and complicity of the Syrian govt.),and then travel down the "rat line"which is the trail of towns along the Euphrates River that we've been hitting hard for the last few months. Some are virtually untrained young Jihadists that often end up as suicide bombers or in "sacrifice squads".

    Most, however, are hard core terrorists from all the usual suspects (Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas etc.) These are the guys running around murdering civilians en masse and cutting heads off. The Chechens (many of whom are Caucasian), are supposedly the most ruthless and the best fighters (they have been fighting the Russians for years). In the Baghdad area and south, most of the insurgents are Iranian inspired! (and led)Iraqi Shiites. The Iranian Shiia have been very adept at infiltrating the Iraqi local govt.'s, the police forces and the Army. They have had a massive spy and agitator network there since the Iran-Iraq war in the early 80's. Most of the Saddam loyalists were killed, captured or gave up long ago.

    BAD GUY TACTICS:
    When they are engaged on an infantry level they get their asses kicked every time. Brave, but stupid. Suicidal Banzai-type charges were very common earlier in the war and still occur. They will literally sacrifice 8-10 man teams in suicide squads by sending them screaming and firing AK's and RPG's directly at our bases just to probe the defenses. They get mowed down like grass every time (see the M2 and M240 above). Jordan's base was hit like this often. When engaged, they have a tendency to flee to the same building, probably for what they think will be a glorious last stand. Instead, we call in air and that's the end of that more often than not. These hole-ups are referred to as Alpha Whiskey Romeo's (Allah's Waiting Room). We have the laser guided ground-air thing down to a science. The fast mover's, mostly Marine F-18's, are taking an ever increasing toll on the enemy. When caught out in the open, the helicopter gunships and AC-130 Spectre gunships cut them to ribbons with cannon and rocket fire, especially at night.

    Interestingly, artillery is hardly used at all.

    Fun fact: The enemy death toll is supposedly between 45-50 thousand. That is why we're seeing less and less infantry attacks and more IED, suicide bomber s**t. The new strategy is simple: attrition.

    The insurgent tactic most frustrating is their use of civilian non-combatants as cover. They know we do all we can to avoid civilian casualties and therefore schools, hospitals and (especially) Mosques are locations where they meet, stage for attacks, cache weapons and ammo and flee to when engaged. They have absolutely no regard whatsoever for civilian casualties. They will terrorize locals and murder without hesitation anyone believed to be sympathetic to the Americans or the new Iraqi govt.

    Kidnapping of family members (especially children) is common to influence people they are trying to influence but cant reach, such as local govt. officials, clerics, tribal leaders, etc.). The first thing our guys are told is "don't get captured". They know that if captured they will be tortured and beheaded on the internet. Zarqawi openly offers bounties for anyone who brings him a live American serviceman. This motivates the criminal element who otherwise don't give a **** about the war. A lot of the beheading victims were actually kidnapped by common criminals and sold to Zarqawi. As such, for our guys, every fight is to the death. Surrender is not an option.
    The Iraqi's are a mixed bag. Some fight well, others aren't worth a ****. Most do okay with American support. Finding leaders is hard, but they are getting better. It is widely viewed that Zarqawi's use of suicide bombers, en masse, against the civilian population was a serious tactical mistake. Many Iraqi's were galvanized and the caliber of recruits in the Army and the police forces went up, along with their motivation. It also led to an exponential increase in good intel because the Iraqi's are sick of the insurgent attacks against civilians. The Kurds are solidly pro-American and fearless fighters.

    According to Jordan, morale among our guys is very high. They not only believe they are winning, but that they are winning decisively. They are stunned and dismayed by what they see in the American press, whom they almost universally view as against them. The embedded reporters are despised and distrusted. They are inflicting casualties at a rate of 20-1 and then see **** like "Are we losing in Iraq" on TV and the print media. For the most part, they are satisfied with their equipment, food and leadership.

    Bottom line though, and they all say this, there are not enough guys there to drive the final stake through the heart of the insurgency, primarily because there aren't enough troops in-theater to shut down the borders with Iran and Syria. The Iranians and the Syrians just can’t stand the thought of Iraq being an American ally (with, of course, permanent US bases there).

    Anyway guys, that's it, hope you found it interesting, I sure did
    Semper Vigilantia - Semper Paratus
    NRA Life Member

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    Distinguished Member Array randytulsa2's Avatar
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    This kind of information is worth its weight in gold.

    We ignore it at our peril, for the peril of our fighting men is very much our peril indeed.
    "...bad decisions that turn out well often make heroes."


    Gary D. Mitchell, A Sniper's Journey: The Truth About the Man and the Rifle, P. 103, NAL Caliber books, 2006, 1st Ed.

  7. #6
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    joelg,

    Good information (it has been posted before, BTW), but what does it have to do with this thread?


    When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains,
    And the women come out to cut up what remains,
    Just roll to your rifle and blow out your brains,
    And go to your God like a soldier.

    Rudyard Kipling


    Terry

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    VIP Member Array Rob99VMI04's Avatar
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    I've seen that posted about 15 times from 2003. The funny thing is I've seen it from "Marines and Army"

    Intersting though everybody I know who has been over there as said alot of the opposites as to what that says.
    “Are you a thermometer or a thermostat, do you reflect or become what is happening in the room or do you change the atmosphere, reset the temperature when you come into the room”?--Chuck Swindoll

    Its not about guns...Its about Freedom!

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    Member Array joelg's Avatar
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    Just his comment: "With all our technology, it's the WWII and Vietnam-era weapons that everybody wants!!!! The infantry fighting is frequent, up close and brutal. No quarter is given or shown."

    Some things don't change. I heard the same thing from my adopted fathers (USMC and Army) from Korea (Chosin and Pork Chop Hill). With them it was the carbine - they hated it.

    I came back here in 1965, and no one here ever heard of Vietnam, had no idea what was going on, friends dying... The three most requested weapons then were the .45, 12 ga. shotgun and a Gerber or a Randall.

    The string was interesting, that's all. I saw the post and didn't know if anyone saw this attributed statement I received from some veterans I stay in touch with.

    If it's a hoax, my friends and I don't know about it. I'll certainly pass it on...my apologies...
    Semper Vigilantia - Semper Paratus
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    Senior Member Array Andy W.'s Avatar
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    Good article joelg, thanks for sharing.

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    We were up on the Coastal Plains north of Hue right after Tet when we ran in to a two small squads meeting up for a money transfer.

    One was V.C. the other was NVA. After the fight one of the guys fell in to a hidden tunnel. We found millions in NVA money, records and over 300 weapons.

    Among the weapons were Thompsons, old ww2, Jap, French and German weapons. We also got about 30 M16's and other American weapons like 45's and M60's.

    The records gave the names and some pictures of all the important VC leaders in the Saigon and Delta areas. They were the paymasters the money was to go to. Alot of them were well know people like Doctors, teachers and Army officers.

    They told us later it was one of the most important finds of the war.

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    Well somewhere in europe or arabia there are some priceless matchlocks that got sent to another country as obsolete surplus way back when . That is the nature of deplomisy and war . The haves donate to the have not's for a price , and its winner take all .
    Make sure you get full value out of today , Do something worthwhile, because what you do today will cost you one day off the rest of your life .
    We only begin to understand folks after we stop and think .

    Criminals are looking for victims, not opponents.

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