Non-issue weapons in the military


November 8, 2008, 08:03 PM
Having read a book or two in my day, I've read of the extent to which American servicemen, particularly in Vietnam (or so it seems), took privately-owned weapons with them to the battlefield. In the book "British GI in Vietnam," the author observes that a very sizeable percentage of the helicopter crewmen wore revolvers, and he later recounts a firefight story that includes one of the Americans firing back at the enemy with his S&W .44 magnum. I've read more than once on this board of people carrying non-issue weapons into battle, also, with the most memorable example being a .444 Marlin rifle.

My understanding of current military policy is that non-issue weapons are verboten. When did this change occur, and for what reason?

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Ron James
November 8, 2008, 08:16 PM
Mid 70's and the change took place because too many GI's were shooting their own foot off or getting drunk and shooting their friends foot off.

November 8, 2008, 08:18 PM
I believe there were at least two guys in Vietnam who carried gyrojet pistols.

But as far as they know, they were never fired in anger.

November 8, 2008, 08:44 PM
In Vietnam and I think now the concern was supplying ammo and replacement parts.When everyone is shooting the same gun ammo can be shared and parts are more available.

November 8, 2008, 09:34 PM
As Army helicopter aircrew, we were given a choice between either a Colt 1911 in .45ACP or a Smith & Wesson Model 10-5 in .38 Spl. I, as did most of Flight Platoon, chose the S&W M10.
The revolver was smaller, lighter, was just cooler than the 1911. Especially after purchasing one of the gunslinger rigs, at the local store.
Many of the pilots & crew carried their own personal stuff like 9mm HighPowers, S&W .357's, & custom survival knives (Randalls & K-Bars). I never saw a .44 caliber tho.
Best Buddy (still) was a UH-1H slick Crewchief & carried a .45 Grease-gun until his doorgunner had a mishap with it. After that he carried a cut-down M79. He's still PO'd at doorgunners.
Here's a pic of Matt w/ his M79.


November 8, 2008, 10:19 PM
Charlie Askins was supposedly the first to kill a man with a .44 magnum. He brought it to Vietnam and waited for a group of VC to pass by, stepped out and shot the last one in the back.

November 8, 2008, 10:28 PM
My understanding of current military policy is that non-issue weapons are verboten. When did this change occur, and for what reason?

dont know WHEN it occured. but why is because those weapons outside the control of the military are just that, outside the control. they dont know if your personal gun is safe to fire, or safe to carry. they don't know if your using a hollow points ( a no no, even though we didnt sign the treaties). they havnt qualified you on that weapon. they dont know if its even capable of being effective against a target.

in Iraq and A-Stan some soldiers get away with carrying pickups but its entirely on a " I KNOW NOTHING!" Schultz like approach of the CO

November 8, 2008, 10:29 PM
Haha, the hair, the sunglasses, and the facial expression say it all.

IIRC, the guy with the .44 wasn't a helicopter guy, but rather one of the guys in the Tiger Force at the same time as the author. (The author bounces around different parts of the 101st, starting with a rifle on a medevac ship, then as a part of Tiger Force, and finally as a door-gunner on a Huey gunship.) He (successfully) shoots at the enemy during a firefight in the Dak To area, but is soon killed, along with a huge chunk of that company.

November 8, 2008, 10:37 PM
well i know that when we invaded Iraq one of the companies in my battallion all took personals and when caught all were melted down, and each marine recieved NJP. but because they were told it was ok by their CO no punishment was taken, just paper work so no one else could charge them. still sucks that they lost their personals. my company was allowed to take only M9' s if we were taking personals. that way no one would be the wiser, same parts and ammo. no worries.

November 8, 2008, 10:53 PM
CH47 gunner has it correct. The only thing I think he didn't mention was personal weapons were not authorized in Vietnam. They were tolerated in a lot of places though. The problem was if you had anything that wasn't chambered for 38 Special or 45 ACP ammo was impossible to get. I knew a guy in my battery that carried a 6 1/2 357 Blackhawk in a quick draw western holster. There was also a Lieutenant who had a 4" S&W Model 19 and a few boxes of Super Vel 357s (this was the first I ever heard of them, not that I was all that knowledgeable about guns then). I had a Battery Commander who "acquired" a commercial Thompson with Cutts Compensator and 100 rd drum. He made the mistake of letting some MPs see it in Chu Lai and the took it away from him.

I got to Vietnam in 1968 and by that time there was plenty of personal weapons there. They didn't pay too much attention to what you brought in country but would only let you take genuine war trophies home (no US weapons of any kind, full autos had to be dewatted). A friend of mine had a SKS, AK47, and PPSH hanging on his living room wall. The AK and PPSH had beed dewatted.

November 10, 2008, 01:40 AM
So a soldier could bring back an SKS from the middle eastern theater today? Or are bring backs totally illegal?

November 10, 2008, 01:44 AM
So a soldier could bring back an SKS from the middle eastern theater today? Or are bring backs totally illegal?

i wouldnt say illegal, but nearly impossible to do legaly just due to red tape and reluctance for them to allow it. also i believe you would still need to import it via the BATFE the same as any hunting rifle you'd buy commercialy

November 10, 2008, 02:10 AM
I also don't know when it changed, but it's definitely not all that friendly nowadays -- enough of a hassle that I know two or three guys who decided to keep their privately owned weapons in a rented storage space off post rather than go through all the hassles and headaches of firearms ownership for single soldiers living in the barracks. Eventually, their storage space was broken into and I think they were collectively out of $5-6K worth or weapons.

Downrange, I know some guys whose careers were effectively ended or seriously derailed by getting caught with privately owned weapons, though there does seem to be an issue of just how much pain The Powers That Be want to dish out on a case by case basis. Complete travesty to see good soldiers (18 series SF guys, no less) thrown to the wolves for trying to equip themselves with better kit than issue stuff.

November 10, 2008, 06:59 AM
Vietnam was slightly before my time. In the early '80s in Korea and as XO of a basic training company at Ft. Knox, I carried my own Series 70 Colt on occasion. One week, just before trainee payday, they withdrew all of our .45acp without replacing it immediately. This left the pay officers with M1911s and no ammunition for them. They gave us the choice of providing our own ammunition or carrying M16s. I carried my own .45 and my own very hot handloads using the 200gr. jacketed semi-wadcutter Hornadys.

In Korea, I carried my own .45 and had but didn't carry my Ithaca riotgun. A lieutenant in the next company over carried an 8 3/8" S&W Model 29. The year before I got there, that company had a patrol get pinned down in the DMZ by North Korean Light Infantry Brigade special forces. The battalion commander cracked and wouldn't send a relief force. He wouldn't allow our 4.2" section to fire illumination when the patrol ran out of 40mm illumination. In fact, he countermanded several attempts by a supporting 105mm unit to fire illumination, stating that he didn't want to create an "incident" if an illumination cannister landed in North Korea. The lieutenant ran into the TOC and asked the BN CO whether he was going to call out the quick reaction force. The col. replied, "What, me take THAT responsibility???" The lt. drew his .44 magnum and had to be dragged from the TOC before he shot the CO. A friend in the same company brought his 4" Model 13, but didn't carry it.

I taught the Korean security guards at our post to use their Winchester 1200 riot guns. I gave a demonstration of slam firing with my Ithaca. They were disappointed that their Winchesters couldn't do that.

I last put on a uniform in 1986, so I don't know what people are doing with personally owned weapons now.

November 10, 2008, 07:22 AM
We had the same talk recently on !

Some members there were headed to A-Stan and wished to take their personal M-4 clone instead of the issued FAMAS.. Some were granted this, others not. It seems that's it upon the regiment commanders decision.. Some agree, others dont.

The one that were denied this request were quite unhappy, more of them about their backup gun more than the primary..

the reason given for this denial were odd, to say the least. Incompability of ammo, was the funniest one..

here you can see one french soldiers which were obviously granted to take their M4 clone.

Thin Black Line
November 10, 2008, 09:55 AM
in Iraq and A-Stan some soldiers get away with carrying pickups but its entirely on a " I KNOW NOTHING!" Schultz like approach of the CO

There's a general order against carrying non-issue firearms and the only
time I saw it blatantly ignored inside the wire was by an 06 SF type carrying
one himself.

There were a couple other guys who got little notice to deploy and literally
stepped onto a flight straight into theater with a personal sidearm. They
caught some cr@p on the way back for it, but let's just say their branch of
service was so high-speed getting them in that they didn't send them by
the arms room first.

There are plenty of issue weapons waiting in theater. I got my pistol in
CONUS and picked up what else I needed later. It was one less duffle bag
to carry.

November 10, 2008, 11:09 AM
Air Force aircrew were forbidden to carry personal weapons in Vietnam, but there were a few that did anyway. All arms were of course locked up in the arms rooms when we were not actually flying.

November 10, 2008, 12:12 PM
I remember reading in Leatherneck magazine [I was a Squid,but had Marine buddys] a bunch of flack from a photo shown of a guy that had the infamous ''Vietnam Tomahawk'' hopping off of a helocopter into an LZ.The letter writer was outraged that an inhumane weapon was being carried by one of our troops.The reply was that the Marine in question was full blooded American Indian [I regret I don't remember what tribe] that the tomahawk was a gift from the lad's father,and further,that it was being carried as a tool,and not a weapon.A neat solution to what shouldn't be a problem,I thought.

November 10, 2008, 12:19 PM
don't rangers get a modernized tomahawk nowadays?

November 10, 2008, 12:22 PM
I think so. At least I bought one recently. (Fusion by SOG)

November 10, 2008, 12:33 PM
I read a book about the MACV-SOG guys in Vietnam a few years back. Seems alot of them carried personal weapons (the author carried a sawwed-off double barreled shotgun as a backup to his barrel with buck, the other with a slug). He also mentions Dan Wesson revolvers, a PPK, a cut-down Russian machine gun (don't remember what model) and a Browning Hi Power him and his team carried.

Read another book about the F-105 Thud pilots. In conjunction with the author's .38 revolver, he also bought a .380 Beretta that he carried.

Nowadays, we get yelled at if we are caught carrying POCKET KNIVES at work (they use the "It's a personal tool" slant, therefore unaccounted for if it winds up in our equipment or FODs out a jet...and we don't even work on the flightline). As for firearms, you can have anything you long as it's an M-16 that's issued to you :D.

November 10, 2008, 12:34 PM
The American Tomahawk Company makes a superior product that's a direct descendant of the original.

November 10, 2008, 12:49 PM
Yeah, that Fusion tomahawk is really a piece of junk, but the ATCs are real tough stuff, or so I've heard.

Freelance Tax Collector
November 10, 2008, 01:27 PM
The Marine Corps is an organization totally afeared of firearms. This is compounded in my case by the perception of firearms in California. This doesn't seem likely as Marines stationed at Pendleton come from all over the place, and the Corps mission itself is wrapped around shootery, but if you try to keep a personally owned firearm as a barracks living individual you're going to have to overcome some pretty significant obstacles. One Marine in my company got smacked with a battalion NJP for having a handgun in his vehicle at the barracks.

They tell you that you can keep your firearms in the armory, but without going into too much detail, it's just not practical. The better solution is to keep them with a buddy who lives in housing, or out in town, but that requires having a buddy willing to do that, and your willingness to hand over your guns to someone who isn't you.

Although the attitude is understandable to me, at least. I'd hazard that most marines are terminal case alcoholics. Guns + alcohol = not pretty. Still I think theres a better solution than banishing personal owned firearms from the barracks completely. How could the Corps policy of tight control and accountability be compatible with personal ownership and control?

November 10, 2008, 03:29 PM
I think you should carry whatever you want. I mean it is your a$$ getting shot at....

Every man to the devil his own way...

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