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Vietnam Tunnel Pistol.

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by TnShooter83, Aug 23, 2007.

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  1. TnShooter83

    TnShooter83 Member

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    I remember a few years ago, the History Channel
    ran a special on "Tunnel Rats" in Vietnam.
    It was when I wasn't in to pistol shooting, I was more a target rifle person.

    Any how, anyone know what type pistol they used in the Tunnels?....U.S Troops.

    I remember the guy saying "He all ways had his cocked, and ready to fire at the first sound." And he gave it good praises for doing the job.
    He claimed "Every man he ever shot with it, dispatch rather quickly."

    Not sure what the troops carried in Vietnam...I wasn't around until some time in 1983. So I have no idea.
     
  2. crazed_ss

    crazed_ss Member

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    IIRC, the tunnel rats carried a 1911 as their only weapon.
     
  3. 10X

    10X Member

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    A Marine Vienam Vet that I used to work with was a tunnel rat. He was a small framed guy and got the job because of his size. He told me a couple of stories. I saw a couple of pictures of him in Vietnam.

    As far a the pistol used, he was issued a "45" for tunnel work. That means a 1911a1 to me. However, he didn't like the 45 so he carried a personally owned Baby Browning 25 acp.

    He later sold it to me. I shot the Browning before trading it off soon after that. I didn't think it was a very good defensive weapon.
     
  4. Ghost Tracker

    Ghost Tracker Member

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    Yeah, I don't think anything special or exotic was designated as a "Tunnel Rat Pistol". The issue 1911A1 .45 ACP was what was there & handy. I WILL bet, however, that those guys suffered some SERIOUS hearing loss. Try repeatedly firing a .45 in a trash can...while being enclosed INSIDE the trash can. Whew, OUCH!
     
  5. Detritus

    Detritus Member

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    they carried whatever they had handy/could get their hands on. 1911's being most common, with G.I. S&W .38s close behind. but any gun that was available to the tunnel rat would likely be fair game. CAR-15s, Thompsons, shotguns, there was one crazy SOB assigned to the 25th Infantry that carried a Garand with a cut-down stock! :what:

    actually the army DID make one, a supressed pistol that also used an experimental "telescoping case" that was meant to solve the problems of flash and blast when the gun was fired in a tunnel. i think this concept was revived and put into use by the russians for one of their suppressed weapon systems.
    IIRC none of these "improved" weapons saw much actual use outside of their field trials.
     
  6. buzz_knox

    buzz_knox Member

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    The 1911A1 and .38 Special (in various forms) were primarily used as that is what they had.

    There's been discussion of other weapons developed for use in the tunnels, including a customized M29 using enclosed piston ammunition with a vastly reduced noise signature and shotgun loads with the same mechanism. I don't believe either was ever deployed.
     
  7. armoredman

    armoredman Member

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    A co worker who was a tunnlel rat said he carried a 1911 and a K-bar. Good guy.
     
  8. TnShooter83

    TnShooter83 Member

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    What does "IIRC" mean? :confused:
     
  9. ZeSpectre

    ZeSpectre Member

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    If I Recall Correctly
     
  10. CWL

    CWL Member

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    Read the book "The Tunnels of Cu Chi", which is a good accounting of the tunnels, the VC/NVA as well as Tunnel Rats.

    1911s weren't that popular because they were loud and had a huge flash for such an enclosed environment. Tunnel rats used whatever they could get their hands on meaning a lot of revolvers in .38 spcl. one 'Rat' used his personal Ruger MKI .22lr and chalked-up a kill vs. an NVA with an AK.
     
  11. flinch

    flinch Member

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    S&W model 39 9mm.
     
  12. joab

    joab Member

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    I recalled seeing that or a similar documentary and remembered a tunnel specific handgun ammo combination.
    I had to look a little but this is what I found
    silent1.jpg

    And this
    THE TUNNEL EXPLORATION KIT:

    Due to the specialised nature of tunnel warfare, priority was placed with ENSURE (Expedited Non-standard Urgent Requirements for Equipment) program for the development of special "Tunnel Exploration kits". Six kits were requested by USARV on the 29th of April 1966, and then passed on to ACTIV (Army Concept Team In Vietnam) on the 7th of August. ACTIV then distributed the six kits, two went to the 1st Inf Div at Di An, a further two were dispatched to the 25th Inf Div at Cu Chi. Of the remaining kits one was given to the 1st Cav at An Khe, whilst the last remaining kit went to the 173rd Airborne Bde at Bien Hoa.

    Each kit cost 728 Dollars and consisted of a .38 calibre pistol which was fitted with a suppressor and a spotlight sighting device. This was all carried on a standard pistol belt in a specially designed holster. On the wearers head was a baseball cap which had a miners lamp mounted on it which was switched on and off via a mouth operated bite-switch. At the back of the cap was a bone conduction microphone communication system which was connected to a small ear piece. The power pack for the lamp and a communication wire reel were also hung on the pistol belt, but were situated on the wearers back.

    Tests on the exploration kit in Vietnam soon revealed its short comings. The silenced .38 cal pistol was not liked because of its length with the suppressor, and because it lacked balance and was awkward to handle. The special aiming light was found to be unnecessary given the tight confines and short ranges the tunnel rats were operating in. The huge pistol holster was also a failure as it was too big and unwieldy to be used in the tight confines of a tunnel. The head mounted miners lamp fared no better! This was obstructed by the baseball cap's visor and could be shorted out by switch malfunctions rendering it useless. Furthermore the lamp tended to slip down over the wearers eyes. The earpiece part of the communication system was also troublesome as it kept falling
     
  13. jlbraun

    jlbraun Member

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    I have the book "Tunnels of Cu Chi", I'll look tonight.
     
  14. sig226

    sig226 Member

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    I read an article years ago by a guy who said he was a tunnel rat. He said they were issued revolvers, probably .38s since those would have been the mot common caliber at the time. The Air Force Police had .38 revolvers, I think right up until the M9 pistol was put into service.

    The soldier in the article also said they were ordered not to fire more than three shots at a time. This was supposed to be so the enemy could not tell how many rounds he had at ready. He said he panicked at one point and emptied the gun, which got him removed from the detail. I remember this because the soldier related a specific thing, his issue weapon, the tactics he was supposed to use to employ it, and how his tactical mistake affected his duties.

    How true is it? I read it in a magazine in the 1980s. This was after First Blood, Missing In Action, Still in Saigon, and Goodnight Saigon. The mainstream press had realized that they treated Vietnam Veterans like crap for the past fifteen years and suddenly got religion, so anything that was said by veterans, particularly ones who discussed unusual engagements or duties, was fodder for media trying to atone for the sins of their fathers.
     
  15. Ron James

    Ron James Member

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    They may have had all kinds of Buck Roger's stuff on the drawing boards, but in my two and 1/2 tours in Nam I only observe 3 different types of firearms used by Tunnel Rats, The 1911, the 38 S&W and a couple of Mk I Rugers
     
  16. Kimber1911_06238

    Kimber1911_06238 Member

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    I've also heard rumors of colt woodsman .22's but I don't know if that is true. If my life depended on it I'd take the .45
     
  17. tbtrout

    tbtrout Member

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    One guy I know used .22 instead of a .45, he said the .45 in the tight space was hell on his ears. I do not remember if it was a Browning or a Colt.
     
  18. CWL

    CWL Member

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    I really suspect that any .22lr pistols used (except for SF hushpuppies) were personal firearms brought incountry or sent by relatives/friends. Things were certainly different during the Vietnam war!
     
  19. jonnyc

    jonnyc Member

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    Joab nailed it with his QSPR (Quiet Special Purpose Revolver) info. The rounds are known as ".44 QSPR", and they are a very scarce round. Mine, like most others in circulation, is fired, and a loaded example of the cartridge alone is classified as a silenced weapon.
     
  20. NIB

    NIB Member

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    I have an article somewhere that has a list of all the weapons used by Tunnel Rats in Vietnam. I'll have to look for it later as I am getting ready for work.

    Pretty much all the weapons listed in this thread were used with the 1911 and the .38 revolvers being issued others acquired by other means. The major problem was definitely the noise which prompted soldiers to acquire other quieter weapons. Believe it or not captured Makarovs were highly prized by Tunnel Rats due to it's decent stopping power and low noise.
     
  21. 2RCO

    2RCO Member

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    I thought I had read something about High Standard .22lr as well. For my $.02
     
  22. MrDig

    MrDig Member

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    Standard issue was a 1911A1, a buddy of mine from the VA Hospital told me about "being sent down a hole with a com' wire and a .45" He heard movement around a corner and turned and fired, sadly it was another American GI he shot and killed worse for him, one he knew.
    He never got over the experience, he committed suicide about 8 years ago. Ironically with a .45, I still get a little teary eyed relating this story. He and I did a lot of hard therapy together, sadly for him therapy and sobriety were not enough.
     
  23. sterling180

    sterling180 Member

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    Wasn't Forest Gump a Vietnam Tunnel Rat,who used Lt Taylor's 1911A1,whilst crawling through the tunnel and flushing out the bandits.?Quite impressive for a semi-retarded,simpleton like Forest's character.:)

    Now then for the truth about Tunnel Rats:In Vietnam,how were men selected to be 'rats' and what special qualities,did they need to qualify for this special task,because it seems like a very dangerous and nerve-shattering experience,crawling through an enemy tunnel? Was it one of the worst jobs in a platoon,to do?
     
  24. 35Rem

    35Rem Member

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    I would think one would have to be a little "off" to do that job anyway...
     
  25. 03Shadowbob

    03Shadowbob Member

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    A guy I ride with was a tunnel rat and he used a 1911. AND he has hearing aids!
     
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