The 1911 In The Vietnam War

BY Herschel Smith
6 days, 4 hours ago

American Rifleman.

Combat narratives from veterans who engaged Viet Cong or North Vietnamese Army units at close range during the war are filled with stories of pistols used effectively. Handguns became a necessary fall-back option when rifles or machine guns jammed or ran out of ammunition. In such desperate engagements, the stopping power of the .45 ACP round was particularly praised as a rapid and reliable solution.

Throughout the long war in Vietnam, a number of soldiers and Marines carried civilian-made sidearms. This was largely in the early years of the war, when regulations regarding personal defense weapons were more relaxed. These weapons were either brought from home or sent to Vietnam by anxious family and friends.

[ … ]

Just like in World War I, World War II and the Korean War, there were never enough M1911 pistols to meet the demand.  American troops believed in, trusted and faithfully carried it on their hip or shoulder whenever and wherever they went into combat.

My love for the firearm puts me in good company.  Regardless of your commitment to high capacity magazines, the 1911 still lives, and today earns more respect and demands more money than plastic pistols.

It shoots a man-killer round that can be converted with +P ammunition to be large-animal killers with ball ammo.  It’s slim, sleek design makes it easy to acquire and reacquire sight picture and target, its single stack design makes it easy to grip and handle (especially for someone affected with RA like me), and its reliable operation engenders trust and confidence.

While change marks the nature of the plastic pistol market, the 1911 has changed very little over the century – because perfection doesn’t need change.


Comments

  1. On September 14, 2020 at 10:20 pm, Levi Garrett said:

    I’ve always been fascinated by the “Tunnel Rats” of the Vietnam era. It certainly took a set of big brass ones to crawl into the unknown underground armed only with a pistol and flashlight.

  2. On September 14, 2020 at 10:30 pm, 41mag said:

    Double stack 1911s.

    https://www.armscor.com/firearms/ria/gi-series/gi-standard-fs-hc-45acp/

    Woulda made tunnel rats happier.

  3. On September 14, 2020 at 10:33 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    @41mag,

    The single stack leads to the slim design of the frame, and thus the concealability for me, the ease of handling with my hands, and makes for a less unwieldy handgun.

  4. On September 14, 2020 at 11:00 pm, George1 said:

    I have a Colt Commander that I love to shoot. I have had it a !ong time but just recently got a decent holster for it. To my surprise it carries better than my Glock 19, in spite of the extra weight. Must be due to the slimness.

  5. On September 14, 2020 at 11:16 pm, Bad_Brad said:

    My EDC is a G19. For reasons I’ve shared here before. However if I’m on a road trip or even a night out I carry a full size Less Baer Thunder Ranch. Replaced the “Night Sites” with a set of Dawson Precision combat sites and it’s a shooter.

  6. On September 14, 2020 at 11:24 pm, Georgiaboy61 said:

    @ Levi

    You scooped me about the tunnel rats… ever since reading about them years ago – in the book “The Tunnels of Cu Chi: A Harrowing Account of America’s Tunnel Rats During the Vietnam War,” by Tom Mangold” (2005) – I have been in awe and amazement at their bravery and toughness. It took a very special man to do that job.

  7. On September 15, 2020 at 12:32 am, Bones said:

    I tried to post a picture of my two EDC firearms. Detonics Combatmaster and Servicemaster. .45 Auto, of course.

    But I’m old…

    I’m not interested in kicking off the “caliber wars”, but .45 cal is the way to go.

    Double Stack 1911’s. Yes. Sign me up.

  8. On September 15, 2020 at 12:37 am, skybill said:

    Hi Herschel!!,
    “10-4!!!”… 1911-A1 All The Way!!!!!!
    skybill

  9. On September 15, 2020 at 7:48 am, Bill Sullivan said:

    I have been carrying one for almost 50 years now. I have other types and calibers, but John Browning got it right.

  10. On September 15, 2020 at 4:39 pm, revjen45 said:

    After 109 years in service the 1911 is still the gold standard against which anything new is compared.

  11. On September 16, 2020 at 8:12 pm, X said:

    “Regardless of your commitment to high capacity magazines, the 1911 still lives, and today earns more respect and demands more money than plastic pistols.”

    Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fantastic handgun, but it DOES have it’s weaknesses. It “demands more money” because it is needlessly complicated and much more expensive to machine, fit, assemble, and produce. It DOES have a limited magazine capacity. Smaller rounds WILL do the job and you can fit more of ’em into a handgun.

    I am not a Glock “fanboy” — I don’t own one, yet (I’m an S&W auto man myself) but it is popular for several reasons: simplicity, durability, cost-effectiveness, reliability, capacity, accuracy.

    The 1911 is not a BAD gun by any means. It is an excellent gun. So was the Mauser 1898, the Springfield 1903, and the M1 Garand. Armies don’t use them any more for very good reasons — there are better and cheaper alternatives.

    There were some great steam locomotives 100 years ago, too, but they have been surpassed by superior technology.

    A 1911 is simply not on my purchase list because of the cost and the limited ammo capacity.

  12. On September 17, 2020 at 4:08 pm, david said:

    I don’t recognize the soldier from the 25th, but it was over fifty years ago. Very unlikely my unit. I was with the 2nd Battalion 14th Infantry, Bravo Co., first platoon. We often worked the Ho Bo Woods and the Phi Lo (sp) Rubber Plantation, aka the Iron Triangle. At 5’6” and a buck ten, I spent time some time in some of those tunnels, a flash light, an M1911 and pitch black.

  13. On September 17, 2020 at 5:10 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    @david,

    Thanks for the comment. I’m sure those were dark days.

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This article is filed under the category(s) Firearms,Guns and was published September 14th, 2020 by Herschel Smith.

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