During the Vietnam War the communist guerrilla group called the Vietcong proved to be a thorn in the side of the US Military throughout the war. When it came to weapons the Vietcong were mostly reliant on assistance from China and the Soviet Union, however there was always a shortage of weapons and ammunition. To fill in the gaps, the Vietcong often had to improvise, using creativity and human ingenuity to produce their own weapons.
One instance of this ingenuity is the Vietcong copy of the Colt 1911, a common sidearms used by the US military at the time. Produced by hand in small remote villages, bunkers, and other hideouts, they were crudely built in comparison to the quality mass produced models manufactured by Colt and other American firearms producers. Looking like bizarre parodies of a Colt 1911, these pistols were made out of whatever metal and parts could be found. Often, these pistols lacked common accessories such as sights and rifled barrels, but they were surprisingly functional. It is unknown how many were made, and since they were hand built no two are exactly the same. During the war many were brought home by American serviceman, who claimed them as war souvenirs specifically because of the novelty of the pistols.
Old School Tactical – The Metcalfe Cartridge Block for Springfield Tradoor.
In the 1870’s and 1880’s, most nations had decided to adopted breechloading single shot designs over a myriad of bolt action and lever action repeaters. While such breechloaders were often more powerful and more accurate, the rate of fire with such rifles were limited. In an attempt to increase the firepower of the infantryman, the United States Army adopted an interesting design called the Metcalfe experimental cartridge block. Invented by US Army officer Lt. Henry Metcalfe, the design was simple. A small recess was machined into the forearm of a Model 1873 Springfield Trapdoor and a clip was added to secure the block. The block held eight .45-70 cartridges, and due to its postion near the breech, made loading much faster than having to retrieve cartridges from a satchel or cartridge box around the waist. The Metcalfe cartridge block typically had a lid which was secured with a leather strap so that the cartridges would not fall out when not in use.
The US Army would equip 1,008 Trapdoor Springfields with the Metcalfe cartridge block. In the end they chose not to fully adopt the design. The Metcalfe cartridge block was also used in limited numbers with other common breechloading designs of the day, such as the Remington Rolling Block, Peabody Martini, and British Martini Henry.
A nod or homage to the original AR-10, Armalite made a top-charging handle, modernized variant. Although having the charging handle placed has a nostalgic appearance and feel, it severely limits any means of placing an optic since even standard carry handle optic mounts will not work. Armalite made the AR-10B for a few years but ended production around 2005. (GRH)
Produced during the last years of the World War I, the Mauser Trench Carbine was designed to be a light, compact carbine or personal defense weapon to be issued to artilleryman, stormtroopers, and rear echelon troops. It was Mauser’s answer to the Artillery Luger, a Luger pistol with an elongated barrel and detachable buttstock. The M1917 was a Mauser Broomhandle pistol also with an elongated barrel, as well as a pistol grip buttstock, and a wooden forearm. The most important aspect of the M1917 was its 40 round magazine. In contrast the Artillery Luger either used an eight round pistol magazine or a 32 round drum magazine. This gave the M1917 an edge in light, compact firepower, a necessity in the close quarters of WWI trench warfare.
Very few were produced as German officials feared that production of the M1917 would inhibit production of other more common Mauser produced weapons such as rifles and pistols. Most that were produced were issued to German stormtrooper units. When the war ended, the M1917 and similar weapons were banned by the Versailles Treaty due to barrel lengths. Most were destroyed, the model pictured above is only one of four known surviving pieces. It is valued by James A. Julia auctions at $30,000 - $40,000.
An Italian made pistol based off of a submachine gun, they were available in 9x19mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP. The one in the photos is the .45 ACP model, which supposedly is the rarest of the 3 caliber options imported into the U.S. Although known for their distinct quad-stack “coffin/casket” magazines, the .45 ACP model does not, rather it sticks to a traditional double, possibly even single stack magazine. (GRH)
A unique invention by William Elgar, a maker of pepperbox pistols during the early to mid 19th century, and businessman R.M. Smith, the Elgar and Smith revolver was first invented in 1855. The revolver featured three cylinders each with three chambers. Thus the pistol could fire a volley of three .32 caliber bullets simultaneously. After each shot, the next loaded cylinder was hand rotated in place for firing. The pistol used a percussion system with one central nipple. So after each shot a new percussion cap had to be placed on the nipple before firing.
While being able to fire a volley of three shots at a time might seem to increase the lethality of the pistol, in reality the design was a total flop. In 1856 the pistol was test by US Army Ordnance for consideration for military use. During the test, experienced officers missed all their targets. Thus the Elgar and Smith volley revolver was turned down by the Army. Only 10 were ever produced.
An eight shot snaplock (flintlock) pistol with revolving cylinder crafted by Hans Stopler of Nuremberg, Germany, circa 1597. Each chamber was loaded by hand with loose powder and a bullet and the cylinder was rotated by hand.
The SKS is one of the many surplus rifles that actually have sizable aftermarket parts source. This is largely due to their abundance, cheap price, and being chambered in a common caliber. However some people prefer collecting them in their original configurations, often berating modified examples as mall-ninja-esque creations. (GRH)