Infantry Weapons of the Vietnam War

1st Entry: The M-14 Rifle

In service: 1957–present
Used by: Estonia, Israel, Latvia, Lithuania, Philippines, Taiwan, Turkey, Venezuela, United States (Haiti)
Wars: Vietnam War–present (as M-21/M-25 USMC intermediate sniper rifle mostly)
Production history
Produced: 1959–1964
Number built: ~1.38 million
Variants: M14E1, M14E2/M14A1, M14K, M21, XM25

Weight: 4.5 kg (9.9 lb)
Length: 1,118 mm (44 in)
Barrel length: 559 mm (22 in)
Cartridge: 7.62 × 51 mm NATO (.308 in)
Action: Gas-operated, rotating bolt
Rate of fire: 700–750 round/min
Muzzle velocity: 850 m/s (2,800 ft/s)
Effective range: 460 m (500 yd)
Feed system: 20-round detachable box magazine
Sights: Aperture rear sight, “barleycorn” front sight

The M14 was developed from a long line of experimental weapons based upon the M1 Garand. Although the Garand was one of the most advanced infantry rifles of its day, it was not a perfect weapon. Modifications were beginning to be made to the basic M1 rifle’s design since the twilight of the Second World War. Modifications included adding a fully-automatic firing capability and replacing the 8-round “en bloc” clips with a detachable box magazine holding 20 rounds…adoption by the U.S. Military as the M14 in 1957. Springfield Armory began tooling a new production line in 1958 and delivered the first service rifles to the U.S. Army in July, 1959. However, long production delays resulted in the 101st Airborne Division being the Army’s only unit fully equipped with the M14 by the end of 1961. The Fleet Marine Force finally completed the change from M1 Garand to M14 in late 1962.

The rifle served adequately during its brief tour of duty in Vietnam. Though it was unwieldy in the thick brush due to its length and weight, the power of the 7.62 mm NATO cartridge allowed it to penetrate cover quite well and reach out to extended range, developing more than 2,400 ft·lbf (3,250 J) of muzzle energy. The weapon also proved to be very reliable and continued to function even under adverse conditions. However, there were several drawbacks to the M14. The traditional wood stock of the rifle had a tendency to swell and expand in the heavy moisture of the jungle, adversly affecting accuracy. Fiberglass stocks were produced to resolve this problem, however, the rifle was discontinued before they could be distributed for field use. Also, because of the M14’s powerful 7.62 × 51 mm cartridge, the weapon was virtually uncontrollable in fully-automatic mode…


M-14s in action:

More info that you want to know:,14632,Soldiertech_M14,,00.html

Today’s installment, the AR-15/M-16/M-16A1

The orig. AR-15/M-16 incarnation

The M-16A1 (w/ ‘forward assist’) in action
Spec’s: M-16A1

Caliber 5.56x45mm (.223 Remington), M193
Action gas operated, rotating bolt
Overall length 986 mm 1006 mm
Barrel length 508 mm 508 mm
Weight, empty/loaded w. 30 rounds 2.89 kg / 4.47 kg
Magazine capacity 20 (or 30 rounds late in the War) standard
Rate of fire, cyclic 650 - 750 rounds per minute
Muzzle velocity 945 m/s
Maximum effective range 460m (300m realistically)

The history of the development, introduction and the service of the US Rifle, 5.56mm, M16, is a long and a controversial one. I’ll try to cut this story as short as possible, and will highlight only some most important periods and events. So, let’s start.

[b]* 1948.[/b] U.S. Army's Operations Research Office (ORO) conducts a research about small arms effectiveness. This research was completed by the early 1950 with the conclusion that the most desirable infantry small arms should be of 22 caliber, select-fire and with high velocity bullets, effective up to 300 meters or so.
[b]* 1953 - 1957.[/b] US DOD conducts the next research, "Project SALVO", that also lead to the desirability of .22 caliber high-velocity infantry rifle
[b]* 1957.[/b] The US Army requests the Armalite Division of the Fairchild Aircraft Corp to develop a rifle of .22 caliber, lightweight, select-fire, and capable to penetrate the standard steel helmet at 500 meters. The Eugene Stoner, then a designer at the [Armalite](, began to develop this rifle, based on his earlier design, 7.62mm AR-10 battle rifle. At the same time, experts at the Sierra Bullets and the Remington, in conjunction with Armalite, began do develop a new .22 caliber cartridge, based on the .222 Remington and .222 Remington Magnum hunting cartridges. This development, initially called the .222 Remington Special, was finally released as .223 Remington (metric designation 5.56x45mm).
[b]* 1958.[/b] Armalite delivers first new rifles, called the AR-15, to the Army for testing. Initial tests display some reliability and accuracy problems with the rifle.
[b]* 1959.[/b] Late that year Fairchild Co, being disappointed with the development of the [AR-15](, sold all rights for this design to the Colt's Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company.
[b]* 1960.[/b] Eugene Stoner leaves the Armalite and joins the Colt. The same year Colt demonstrated the AR-15 to the US Air Force Vice Chief of Staff, Gen. LeMay. Gen. LeMay wanted to procure some 8 000 AR-15 rifles for US AF Strategic Air Command security forces to replace ageing M1 and M2 carbines.
[b]* 1962.[/b] US DoD Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) purchases 1000 AR-15 rifles from Colt and sends those rifles to the South Vietnam, for field trials. Same year brings glowing reports about the effectiveness of the new "black rifle", used by South Vietnamese forces.

* 1963. Colt receives contracts for 85 000 rifles for US Army (designated as XM16E1) and for further 19 000 rifles for US Air Forces (M16). The US AF M16 was no more than an AR-15 rifle with appropriate markings. The XM16E1 differed from AR-15/M16 by having an additional device, the so called “forward assist”, which was used to manually push the bolt group in place in the case of jams.
* 1964. US Air Forces officially adopted new rifle as M16. Same year US Army adopted the XM16E1 as a limited standard rifle, to fill the niche between discontinued 7.62mm M14 rifle and the forthcoming SPIW system (which newer got past the prototype and trial stages).
* 1966. Colt was awarded with the contract for some 840 000 rifles for US Armed forces, worth almost $92 millions.
* 1967. US Army adopted the XM16E1 rifle as a standard “US Rifle, 5.56mm, M16A1”, on 28 February 1967.
* 1965 - 1967. Field reports from Vietnam began to look much more pessimistic. M16 rifles, issued to US troops in the Vietnam, severely jammed in combat, resulting in numerous casualties. There were some causes for malfunction. First of all, during the introduction of the new rifle and its ammunition into the service, US Army replaced originally specified Dupont IMR powder with standard ball powder, used in 7.62x51mm NATO ammunition. The ball powder produced much more fouling, that quickly jammed the actions of the M16 unless the gun was cleared well and often. This pitifully combined with the fact that the initial M16 rifles were promoted by the Colt as “low maintenance”, so, for the sake of economy, no cleaning supplies were procured for new M16 rifles, and no weapon care training was conducted fro the troops. As a result, soldiers did not knew how to clean their rifles, and had no provisions for cleaning, and thing soon turned bad. To add the trouble, the ball powders also had a different pressure curve, so they produced higher pressures at the gas port, giving the rise to the rate of fire, and, thus, decreasing accuracy and increasing parts wear.
* 1967 - 1970. The deficiencies discovered in previous years began do dissolve. 5.56mm ammunition was now loaded using different powders that produce much less residue in the gun action. The barrel, chamber and bolt of the rifles were chrome-lined to improve corrosion resistance. Cleaning kits were procured and issued to troops, and a special training programs were developed and conducted ever since. Earliest cleaning kits could be carried separate from rifle only, but since circa 1970 all M16A1 rifles were manufactured with the containment cavity in the buttstock, that held the cleaning kit. At the same time (circa 1970) the new 30 rounds magazines were introduced into service instead of the original 20 rounds ones, to equal Soviet and Chinese AK-47 assault rifles, which had 30-rounds magazines from the very beginning.
* 1977 - 1979. NATO trials lead to the adoption of the improved 5.56x45mm cartridge, developed in Belgium by FN…


AR-15 (Colt Models 601 & 602)

Colt’s first two models produced after the acquisition of the rifle from ArmaLite were the 601 and 602, and these rifles were in many ways clones of the original ArmaLite rifle (in fact, these rifles were often found stamped Colt ArmaLite AR-15). The 601 and 602 are easily identified by their “slab-sided” lower receivers without the commonly found “fencing” around the magazine well, and in certain cases their green or brown furniture. The 601 was adopted first of any of the rifles by the USAF, and was quickly supplemented with the XM16 (Colt Model 602) and later the M16 (Colt Model 604) as improvements were made. There was also a limited purchase of 602s, and a number of both of these rifles found their way to a number of Special Operations units then operating in South East Asia, most notably the U.S. Navy SEALs. The only major difference between the 601 and 602 is the switch from the original 1:14-inch rifling twist to the more common 1:12-inch twist.

An early M16 rifle: note “duckbill” flash hider, triangular grip, and the lack of forward assist
An early M16 rifle: note “duckbill” flash hider, triangular grip, and the lack of forward assist

Variant originally adopted by the USAF. This was the first M16 adopted operationally. This variant had triangular handguards, a three-pronged flash suppressor, and no forward assist. Bolt carriers were originally chrome plated and slick-sided, lacking any notches for a forward assist. Later, the chrome plated carriers were dropped in favor of Army issued notched and parkerized carriers. The Air Force continues to operate these weapons and upgrades them as parts wear or break and through attrition.

XM16E1 and M16A1

The prototype army-version, XM16E1, was essentially the same weapon as the M16 with the addition of a forward assist. The M16A1 was the finalized production model. To address issues raised by the XM16E1’s testing cycle, a “bird-cage” flash suppressor replaced the XM16E1’s three-pronged flash suppressor, which was too easy for foreign material to get into and which caught on twigs and leaves. After numerous problems in the field, numerous changes were fielded. Cleaning kits were developed and issued; barrels with chromed chambers and later fully-chromed bores were introduced. The number of malfunctions due to fouling and corrosion declined and later troops were generally unfamiliar with early problems. A rib was built into the side of the receiver protecting the magazine release from being inadvertently being pressed. The bolt cam pin and the hole it rides in the bolt were beveled to prevent the bolt from being inserted upside down (creating a failure to eject).


More info:

CAR-15 “Carbine”

The first carbine version of the M16 assault rifle appeared under the name of CAR-15 in 1965, an was intended for US Special Forces who fought in Vietnam. The original M16 was simply shortened by cutting the half of the lenght of the barrel (from original 20 inches to 10 inches) and by shortening the buttstock by another 3 inches. The butt was plastic and retractable, the handguards were of triangular shape and the flash hider was of original three-prong type. Based on the origunal CAR-15, Colt quickly developed the CAR-15 Air Force Survival Rifle, intended, as a name implied, to serve to downed airplane and helicopter pilots. This version had tubular handguards and metallick tubular buttstock, and fo some reasons the pistol grip was shortened.

Initial combat experience with CAR-15 brought up some problems. First, the carbine was too loud, deafing the firing soldier quite quickly. Second, the muzzle flash was also terrific, blinding the shooter at night and giving avay the position of the shooter to the enemies. Colt partially solved this problem by installing a new, longer flash suppressor. This version, known as the Colt model 609 Commando, also carried new handguards of tubular shape. This model was officially adopted by US ARmy as XM-177E1. This wersion had M16A1-style receiver with forward assist button. In the mid-1967 Colt slightly upgraded the Commando by lenghting the barrel up to 11.5 inches (292 mm), and this version was adopted as XM-177E2.


An excellent two part article: “The Saga of the M-16 in Vietnam” by Dick Culver MAJ-USMC ret.

The M-16 tells a grim tale.

All pics from A site with an excellent gallery.

Beautiful work Nick.

Thanks George!

Now, what did the Australian soldiers (mostly) carry. Aussies, please correct any information or lapses I may have here:


Designed: 1951
Manufacturer: Fabrique Nationale (FN)
Produced: 1953—
Number built: Over 1 million
Weight: 4.0–4.45 kg (8.8–9.8 lb)
Length: 1,090 mm (43 in)
Barrel length: 533 mm (21 in)
Cartridge: 7.62 × 51 mm NATO (.308 in)
Action: Gas-operated, tilting block
Rate of fire: 650 rounds/min
Muzzle velocity: 823 m/s (2,700 ft/s)
Effective range: 600 m (656 yd)
Feed system: 20-round detachable box magazine
Sights: Aperture rear sight, hooded post front sight

The Australian Army used the British L1A1 SLR (Imperial) until it was supplanted by the Steyr AUG in the 1990s. The Australians also operated an automatic rifle variant, similar to the FN FAL 50.41/42, but with a larger bipod and no handguard, under the designation L2A1.

Many Australian soldiers used the rifle during the Vietnam War despite its unsuitability for close jungle combat. In fact, many Australian soldiers preferred the larger calibre weapon over the American M-16 simply because they could trust the 7.62mm x 51 round to kill an enemy soldier outright. By contrast, the 5.56 x 45 mm NATO round fired by the M-16 could not always be relied upon - especially when firing over longer ranges. Australian jungle warfare tactics during the Vietnam War, which were far more conservative than those employed by US troops, were determined in part by both the strengths and limitations of the SLR. Because of financial constraints, soldiers were forbidden to discard empty magazines - which they refilled when given the opportunity.

Another interesting product of Australian participation in the conflict in South East Asia was the field modification of L1A1 and L2A1 rifles by the SASR for better handling in the environment. Nicknamed “The Bitch,” these rifles were field modified, often from heavy barreled L2A1 automatic rifles, with their barrels chopped off right after the gas block. Those converted from L1A1 rifles had a field expedient sear or other “foreign object” installed to allow the rifle to function in full-auto. These rifles were also often fitted with XM148 40mm grenade launchers obtained from US forces.


More info on Australian and New Zealand participation in the Vietnam War here.

Note: The Australian Army also used the F1 (9X19mm) submachinegun, but it was withdrawn as underpowered and some soldiers were armed with the M-16 to provide additional firepower to the L1A1. Most other weapons carried were US in orgin.


Some good stuff here Nick, keep it up.

I’m always wary of using Wikipedia for gen as any plank can edit it to push their pet agenda, (the late and unlamented Tinwalt being just one that springs to mind,) but this has only a couple of small errors

The tactics weren’t formed by the constraints of the weapon, but by experience both gained in other theatres and absorbed from problems encountered by the other allied forces in RVN.

While it is financially unacceptable to throw away any item designed for multiple use it is poor soldiering skills and possibly limiting to one’s longevity to give the enemy useful accessories for weapons.
Contrary to the perception of a small group of Ramboesque weirdos there is no army on the planet that teaches it’s troops that mags are single use only.

Until fairly recently the rifle still resided in 1 SASR’s armoury and is actually called “The Beast” - firing 7.62 x 51 through such a short bbl does ensure it has an impressive muzzle blast and is just a tad noisy ! Not particularly pleasant to shoot it was never a favourite with the boys.
Never seen the XM148 attached to it, (the mounting clips won’t fit for a start,) but that’s not to deny the possibility that an armourer couldn’t make the necessary hardware in country.

One or two inaccuracies

The M16 fired a .223 not a NATO 5.56.

The M16 was issued to replace the SMG in Malaya.

And to say the SLR was unsuitable for close jungle combat smacks of …….

Because of financial constraints, soldiers were forbidden to discard empty magazines - which they refilled when given the opportunity.

Sounds like good skills and US ammo came with chargers (an excellent tool if you can get your hands on one) so they must have kept the mags as well.

Thanks for your input and comments. I am very wary of using Wilki actually, They can be very unreliable, but some times it’s convenient on basic matters of general agreement.

I even saw Stephen Colbert change a Wilki entry on George Washington, in which he added a (false) comment that he “did not own slaves.” :lol:

The tactics weren’t formed by the constraints of the weapon, but by experience both gained in other theatres and absorbed from problems encountered by the other allied forces in RVN.

I agree. I think there were some advantages as well as drawbacks for the L1 in the jungle fight. And I’m not sure how different their tactics were from those of conscript American infantry, who would often seek to get the Vietnamese to attack them, so they could call in artillery or airstikes.

While it is financially unacceptable to throw away any item designed for multiple use it is poor soldiering skills and possibly limiting to one’s longevity to give the enemy useful accessories for weapons.
Contrary to the perception of a small group of Ramboesque weirdos there is no army on the planet that teaches it’s troops that mags are single use only.

Until fairly recently the rifle still resided in 1 SASR’s armoury and is actually called “The Beast” - firing 7.62 x 51 through such a short bbl does ensure it has an impressive muzzle blast and is just a tad noisy ! Not particularly pleasant to shoot it was never a favourite with the boys.
Never seen the XM148 attached to it, (the mounting clips won’t fit for a start,) but that’s not to deny the possibility that an armourer couldn’t make the necessary hardware in country.

No one should have dropped magazines. There is a lot of evidence that many VC used captured M-16s, and presumably L1s/M-14s as well. They also could have been used to create booby-traps or shrapnel.

U.S. servicemen predominately used the M1911 .45ACP combat pistol. From what I’ve read before, the pistol had some what of a bad reputation in 'Nam for being inaccurate. But this was because many of the weapons in service had been produced in WWII and had received little maintenance causing worn pistol barrels. This led the U.S. military to remanufacture the M1911A1 series in 1970 I believe. Other than that, the weapon was reliable with more than enough knock-down power from the .45 slug.

2nd Lt. John J. McGinty III
Rank and organization: Second Lieutenant (then S/Sgt.), U.S. Marine Corps, Company K, 3d Battalion, 4th Marines, 3d Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force.
Place and date: Republic of Vietnam, 18 July 1966.

Entered service at: Laurel Bay, S.C. Born: 2 1 January 1940, Boston, Mass. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. 2d Lt. McGinty’s platoon, which was providing rear security to protect the withdrawal of the battalion from a position which had been under attack for 3 days, came under heavy small arms, automatic weapons and mortar fire from an estimated enemy regiment. With each successive human wave which assaulted his 32-man platoon during the 4-hour battle, 2d Lt. McGinty rallied his men to beat off the enemy. In 1 bitter assault, 2 of the squads became separated from the remainder of the platoon. With complete disregard for his safety, 2d Lt. McGinty charged through intense automatic weapons and mortar fire to their position. Finding 20 men wounded and the medical corpsman killed, he quickly reloaded ammunition magazines and weapons for the wounded men and directed their fire upon the enemy. Although he was painfully wounded as he moved to care for the disabled men, he continued to shout encouragement to his troops and to direct their fire so effectively that the attacking hordes were beaten off. When the enemy tried to out-flank his position, he killed 5 of them at point-blank range with his pistol. When they again seemed on the verge of overrunning the small force, he skillfully adjusted artillery and air strikes within 50 yards of his position. This destructive firepower routed the enemy, who left an estimated 500 bodies on the battlefield. 2d Lt. McGinty’s personal heroism, indomitable leadership, selfless devotion to duty, and bold fighting spirit inspired his men to resist the repeated attacks by a fanatical enemy, reflected great credit upon himself, and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the U.S. Naval Service.

From: (“Myths & Legends”)

Congressional Medal of Honor Citations, U.S. Army Center of Military History

Weight: 2.437 lb (1,105 g) empty, w/ magazine (FM 23–35, 1940)
Length: 8.25 in (210 mm)
Barrel length: 5.03 in (127 mm), Government model;

4.25 in (108 mm), Commander model;
3.5 in (89 mm), Officer’s ACP model
Cartridge: .45 ACP
Caliber: .45 in (11.43 mm)
Action: Recoil-operated, closed bolt
Rate of fire: Semi-automatic
Muzzle velocity: 800 ft/s (244 m/s)
Effective range: 75 yd (62 m), 30° elevation (FM 23–35 of 1940)
Feed system: 7 rounds (standard-capacity magazine), +1 in chamber


Australian troops used the FN Browning “High Power”

The 9mm L9A1 Browning pistol, of Belgian design, is a reliable, recoil-operated, magazine-fed, semi-automatic pistol with a maximum effective rang of 50 metres and a practical rate of fire of 40 rpm. It was used in Vietnam as a personal weapon by staff officers, the crews of vehicles and soldiers searching confined spaces such as tunnels. In it’s civilian version it is called the Browning High Power.

In addition, I’ve heard that some U.S. troops got their hands on the Browning 9mm, especially some special operations troops, who favored the 13+1 magazine capacity. And Gen. Westmorland was reputed to have worn one by U.S. veterans.

More info:

Additional pistols used include a silenced version of the Smith & Wesson M39 called the Mk22 Mod 0 “Hush Puppy”, used by spec. ops such as the U.S. Navy SEALS.

Also, the Smith & Wesson M10 .38 Police revolver found some use with American forces.

Pistols found many uses in Vietnam, such as the main arm of a tunnel rat.

*Certainly, these are not all of the sidearms that found their way into the theater. The Wembley revolver, S&W .357 Magnum, types of .38 snubnose revolvers, and Walther PPK were other favorites said to have been used by individual troops.

The most infamous use of a sidearm in Vietnam, the alcoholic Police Chief of Saigon --General Nguyen Ngoc Loan-- killed a VC guerrilla, purportedly for murdering civilians, in full view of an NBC camera.

hay Nickdfresh mate hows it going? I just read you post and how you wanted to no what Australians use in that i mean weapons. Well i am Australian and now a days they use what they call a F88 AUSTEYR more commonly known as the STEYR or AUSTEYR which can be fittered with a grand launcher if you chose so. So there you go hope you injoy!!!

cheers see you later guys

Fine mate. Thanks for the info. I was aware of the Aussie Army use of the Steyr (as well as the Irish Army), I do wonder how effective they consider the weapon and if the Australian Army is happy with it’s decision to adopt it though.

Saco Defense/PCC Ordnance
Saco, Maine UCAS/LV, PCC
Caliber: 7.62x51mm NATO (.308)
Operation: Gas, Piston
Safety: Two position switch on left side, safe/fire selector
Sights: Folding adjustable ladder, protected post front
Barrel: Varies (18-22")
Weight: Varies (orig. 10.5kg/23.1lbs w/ bipod)
Muzzle Velocity 853 m/s
Max. Effective Range Approx. 1,100 meters
100 rounds, belted
Modes of fire: Safe, fully automatic
Cyclic Rate: 500-650 rpm

Sources: &

The Americans finished World War II with a collection of machine-guns from the drawing board of John Browning. They were all of World War I origin, and American exposure to the weapons of their enemies and Allies had shown that there were other ways to make machine-guns; and some of them were more practical than the Browning for various applications.

One wartime innovation that attracted the Americans (and others) was the German concept of a general purpose machine-gun, a weapon that could be a squad automatic on a bipod, light enough to be carried by one man but robust enough to operate in sustained-fire weapon when fitted on a tripod.

The concept of the General Purpose Machine Gun in the United States was accelerated during World War 2 by confrontation with the German MG34 and MG42. The German MG42, it was felt, was the way to go.

In 1944 a captured MG42 was dissected and American designers set about adapting it to their concept of a machine-gun. When the result appeared it proved to be a failure due to a draughtsman’s misreading of a vital dimension; by that time the war was over so the project was scrapped.

The Allies had been impressed with the flexibility provided by the German GPMGs, and the first US prototype GPMG was designed along the lines of the MG42 in a series of guns in the series T44, T52. When the early series proved disappointing, however, incorporating a modified belt feed mechanism based on that of the German MG42, with the gas operating mechanism of the German FG42 paratroopers’ assault rifle provided significant improvements and the T161 series emerged and was pronounced ready to enter service as the M60 GPMG (see Technical Specifications).

The resulting machine-gun went into service in 1957 as the M60, chambered for the 7.62-mm NATO cartridge and acting as partner to the new 7.62-mm M14 rifle.

The prime producer of the M60 has been the Maremount Manufacturing Co of Saco in Maine, and large numbers have been produced to equip all arms of the US forces. Despite the protracted development of the M60 it still has some debatable features - the barrel heats quickly and is not easy to change rapidly, and the carrying handle is fragile and awkward. Also the M60 is rather on the heavy side for use as a squad weapon. Mounted on the M122 tripod, the M60 has limitations on sustained fire. Vehicle mounting is the M4 pedestal mount. Basically, the M60 is gas operated and can fire automatic only from a disintegrating metallic-link belt… As the first round travels down the barrel, it pushes gas into the gas cylinder through a hole in the bore. The pressure generated in the cylinder then forces a piston down the chamber, moving the bolt back and bringing the next round into place. Once the firing pin hits the bullet and sends it speeding out of the barrel, the cycle is repeated for as long as the trigger is depressed.

With no gas regulator on the gun. however, there were drawbacks to this mechanism. Accumulated dirt or dust would slow the piston down and result in the M60 either jamming or ‘running away’. The latter term refers to the weapon continuing to fire even when the finger is removed from the trigger. An extremely unnerving problem to deal with during the heat of battle, the assistant M60 gunner would have to hold on to the ammunition belt in order to stop it feeding.

A bipod is fitted as standard and is also used for barrel changing. As well as being the standard American GPMG, the M60 was also used by Australians.

The Australians introduced into the tactical use of the M60 two practices, based on experience in jungle, the first reaction firefight takes place with only a few rounds being fired off while the soldiers take cover. Australian gunners used to fit a short belt of only about 15 or 20 rounds on the gun, which was enough for the first firing. A full belt was fitted after going to ground. They also designed and manufactured a ‘ready reaction magazine’ of 28-40 rounds, enough for the initial exchange of fire, which fitted on to the belt carrier attachment of the M60 and fed into the ammunition feed tray. After taking cover, a full belt was loaded. The ready reaction magazine stuck out of the side of the gun ‘a bit like on the old Sten Gun’ as it was described by an Australian veteran of the Vietnam War.

The gun used in Vietnam had an odd arrangement of barrel, bipod and gas cylinder, which made barrel changing unnecessarily difficult and gave the gun’s Number 2 crewmember an equally unnecessary weight to carry. The bipod and gas cylinder were permanently attached to the barrel, and the carrying handle fitted to the receiver. When firing on sustained fire, the exterior temperature of the barrel could reach 500ºF (literally glowing in the dark). To change the barrel, the whole assembly had to be removed, and this operation needed both crew members. Number 1 had to hold the gun secure by the butt and carrying handle, and Number 2 (wearing heat-resistant asbestos gloves) had to pull the barrel-bipod-gas cylinder assembly free after releasing the barrel locking lever. While Number 1 held the gun, Number 2 fitted the new barrel. Number 1 then had to readjust the zeroing setting to cater for the new barrel before resuming fire.

Experience gained led to the introduction of the M60El. The rather flimsy carrying handle of the M60 was replaced with a more robust one, and the gas cylinder and bipod mounted on the gun itself. The M60 had a straight-line recoil shape which made control easy when firing. It had the interesting features of a plastic heat guard on top of and underneath the body, forward of the trigger mechanism, and the bipod had heat shields attached so that when folded up the hands of the firer need not touch any hot metal. This was a great help when firing from the hip on the move or standing. A canvas belt carrier for a 1 00-round belt could be fitted to the left side of the gun, which kept the ammunition free of undergrowth. The gun weighed over 10kg (221b) and was 1,105mm (43.5in) long. it had a fixed blade foresight and a U-notch leaf rearsight. The M60’s effective range was 1,000 m (1,094yd) on the bipod and 1,800m (1,969yd) on the M122 tripod.

The Australians introduced into the tactical use of the M60 two practices, based on experience in jungle, the first reaction firefight takes place with only a few rounds being fired off while the soldiers take cover. Australian gunners used to fit a short belt of only about 15 or20 rounds on the gun, which was enough for the first firing. A full belt was fitted after going to ground. They also designed and manufactured a ‘ready reaction magazine’ of 28 rounds, enough for the initial exchange of fire, which fitted on to the belt carrier attachment of the M60 and fed into the ammunition feed tray. After taking cover, a full belt was loaded. The ready reaction magazine stuck out of the side of the gun ‘a bit like on the old Sten Gun’ as it was described by an Australian veteran of the Vietnam War.

Some other changes also came along. The M60C was a modification that removed the stock and fitted a remote firing control, so that the gun could be slung on helicopters and fired by the pilot. The M60D had a spade grip fitted at the rear, for firing from helicopter doors. And the M60E2 was designed for use as a fixed tank coaxial gun, with a long exhaust tube and barrel extension to carry the propellant fumes out of the tank.

The M60 fires at about 550 rounds per minute, slow enough for a trained gunner to be able to loose off single shots or short bursts without the need for a special selector lever. It was also the first US machine-gun to have a quick-change barrel, but experience in combat showed that the designer hadn’t quite got it right.

The barrel carried the front end of the gas cylinder and the bipod, so that when the gunner shouted “Change!” and released the locking lever, his assistant had to grasp the bipod and heave the barrel out of the gun while the gunner held it up in the air - or dropped it in the mud. The gunner had to keep holding it up while the assistant put the hot barrel to one side and inserted the new one, complete with its bipod; not the easiest of tasks on a dark night with a hot barrel, which is why a heavy asbestos glove was part of the assistant’s kit.

As a sustained-fire gun on a tripod the M60 was fine; as a squad automatic, on a bipod, it was still somewhat heavy for its job, and eventually the Maremont Company developed what it called the ‘Lightweight M60’, which has now gone into service as the M60A1.


M-60D was mounted on the doors of UH-1 Iroquois (Huey) helicopters

More info:

Other machineguns:

The M2 .50caliber (12.7mm) heavy machinegun.

Used mostly as a weapon mounted on patrol boats, some helicopters, and AFVs such as the M113 “ACAV” with armor plating to protect the gunner, and often an additional M-60MG.

Australian ‘ACAVs’ fire on advancing NVA forces

In addition:


The M2 machine gun on the M3 tripod provided a very stable firing platform. Together with its slow rate of fire and its traversing and elevating mechanism, the M2 was used to a very limited extent as a sniper weapon during the Vietnam war at fixed installations such as firebases. Snipers prefired the weapons at identifiable targets and worked the data into range cards insuring increased first-round accuracy. The 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division constructed 20-30 foot high shooting platforms, adding steel base plates and posts to further stabilize the M2 on the M3 tripod. Together with the use of Starlight night vision scopes, the M2 severely limited enemy movement within 900 yards (1,000m) of the perimeter of a firebase.

More info. on the M2 .50 heavy machinegun:

M134 7.62mm Minigun
The U.S. also made good use of the M134 Minigun.

Mounted mostly on helicopters, and “Spooky” (modified C-47) gunships, the weapon could devastate entire areas with it’s 6000 rpm!

More info:

In addition, some U.S. Navy SEAL/Marine Recon units used the Stoner 63 5.56mm light machinegun. The M1919A4 and BAR were also widely used in the early part of the conflict by U.S. servicemen in an “advisory” role, as well as by the South Vietnamese ARVN forces until “Vietnamization.”

Good topic boys.

In here you can watch a nice video about the XM16E1…wich is the proto for the M16A1.

The M-72 Light Anti-tank Weapon (LAW) Launcher

[b]* Length:[/b]
      o Extended: less than 1 m (34.67 in).
      o Closed: 0.67 m (24.8 in).
[b]* Weight:[/b]
      o Complete M72A2: 2.3 kg (5.1 lb).
[b]* Firing mechanism:[/b] Percussion.
[b]* Front sight:[/b] reticle graduated in 25 m range increments.
[b]* Rear sight:[/b] peep sight adjusts automatically to temperature change.


* Caliber:[/b] 66 mm (2.6 in)
[b]* Length:[/b] 508 mm (20 in).
[b]* Weight:[/b] 1.8 kg (2.2 lb).
[b]* Muzzle velocity:[/b] 145 m/s (475 ft/s).
[b]* Minimum range (combat):[/b] 10 m (33 ft).
[b]* Minimum arming range:[/b] 10 m (33 ft).
[b]* Maximum range:[/b] 1,000 m (3,300 ft).

[b]Maximum effective ranges

* Stationary (point) target:[/b] 200 m (220 yd)
  (Area target) 300 m



**The LAW was used mostly as a “bunker-buster” in Vietnam as U.S. troops had very few close encounters with NVA armor or vehicles.

Weighing 2.37-kg (5.2 pounds) complete, the LAW was designed as a discardable one-man rocket launcher primarily for use as an anti-tank weapon. In Vietnam however, the LAW was used almost exclusively as a bunker buster or for attacking entrenched enemies. When carried, the smooth-bore launcher tube was carried closed, and was watertight. In action, the end covers were opened by removing safety pins and the inner tube was telescoped outwards. This cocked the firing mechanism. Held over the shoulder, aimed by the simple sights, the weapon was fired by pressing the trigger button. The LAW Fired a 1-kg rocket to a maximum effective range of 300m. The rocket motor was fully burnt out by the time it left the launcher and resulted in a large back-blast danger area behind the firer. Once fired the tube was discarded. Due to it’s low weight, a number of complete assemblies could be carried in a squad with each person capable of packing at least two if necessary.


The M-79 Grenade Laucher

Making its debut in the Vietnam war, the US Army’s M79 grenade launcher or ‘Bloop gun’ was a completely new infantry weapon without an equivalent in any other armed force.

In the 1950s, the US Army had been researching new ideas for infantry weapons, one of which was SPIW the Special Purpose Individual Weapon. This was to be a high-tech rifle with sundry attachments making it capable of numerous functions.

One idea that developed was of making an attachment which would allow special grenades to be launched. To do this it was necessary to have a suitable grenade, and so the design departments developed a 40-mm high-explosive grenade fitted into a cartridge case. By the time this had been developed, the SPIW programme had been scrapped and so a weapon capable of firing the newly developed grenade now became necessary: this led to the M79 launcher (see Technical Specifications). The first of the new weapons were delivered to the Army in 1961.

Resembling a a large bore, single barrel, sawn-off shotgun, the grenade launcher was designed as a close-support weapon for the infantry. It plugged the gap in firepower between the maximum throwing distance of the hand grenade and the lowest range of supporting mortars, an area between 50 and 300-metres. The US Army added two M79s to the TO&E of the line infantry rifle squad and thus gave the squad an integral indirect fire weapon.

The M79 was a simple single-shot, single-barrel, shoulder-fired weapon which broke open for loading the 40mm grenade into the breech just like a shotgun. Once loaded and closed, the firer put it to his shoulder, took aim through a simple open sight, and pulled the trigger. It fired a spherical grenade which, although just 40mm in diameter, nevertheless had a kill radius of five metres. Firing a large grenade from such a lightweight weapon presented some problems, but the ammunition design was such that the whole thing became very controllable and consistent. A rubber pad was fitted to the shoulder piece of the butt stock to absorb some of the shock.

The designers revived a principle originated by the Germans during World War II, called the ‘High-Low Pressure System’. In this, the propelling charge is confined inside a small chamber in the base of the cartridge case, this chamber being provided with carefully calculated holes. When the cap is fired, the charge explodes inside this chamber and develops a very high pressure - in the region of 2500 kg/cm² . This, without some form of control, would blow the grenade out of the weapon at colossal speed and place extremely high pressure on the weapon breech. But the high pressure is confined to the special chamber in the cartridge case and via the specially designed holes ‘bleeds’ into the empty space of the rest of the cartridge case.

Here it expands and the pressure drops to about 200 kg/cm², enough to send the grenade out at about 76m/sec velocity and to a range of 350 to 400-metres, yet without placing excessive pressure on the body of the weapon. This enables the barrel to be thin in section and thus light in weight, without presenting a safety hazard for the user.

The grenades were stabilised in flight by fins and by spin imparted by grooves in the rifled barrel. The shell travelled with a muzzle velocity of only 75-metres per second (compared to around 800-metres per second for a machine gun) and a trained man could direct a grenade through a house window from 150-metres.

As the grenade spiralled through the air, the rotation caused weights in the fuze mechanism to arm the grenade when it had flown 30-metres, after which the grenade would detonate on impact. Thus, the warhead could not be accidentally detonated through a fall or bump or being struck by a bullet. The minimum range also prevented the launcher from placing himself in the grenade’s fragmentation radius.

There were a great variety of 40mm grenade cartridges which could be fired from the M79 grenade launcher. All of these cartridges were fixed munitions, consisting of a cartridge case and projectile. Among the options were a number of high-explosive grenades, including an airburst projectile, smoke, parachute smoke, flares and riot control CS gas-grenades.

The M-406 40mm HE grenades fired from the M79 contained enough explosive within a steel casing that upon impact with the target would produce over 300 fragments at 1,524 meters per second within a lethal radius of up to 5 meters.

For close range use the Army developed two shells for the M79. The first was a flechette round which housed approx 45 small darts in a plastic casing, these rounds were issued on an experimental basis. Later this round was replaced by the M-576 buckshot round. This round contained twenty-seven 00 buckshot which on firing was carried down the barrel in a 40mm plastic sabot which slowed down in flight so that the pellets could travel in their forward direction un-aided.

Generally operated with two M79 grenadiers joining with eight M16 riflemen to form a squad, the launcher could be used without ranging up to 150-metres (164 yards) and at this range a trained man could shoot grenades into a nominated windows of a house. At longer distances it was necessary to know how for away the target was because of the round’s unusually high trajectory. A large flip up sight was situated about half way down the barrel with a rudimentary leaf foresight fixed at the end of the barrel. The rear sight was calibrated up to 375-metres (410 yards) in 25-metre (27.3 yard) intervals.

The tactical use of the weapon required the gunner to be dedicated to the M79, and in order to use the weapon effectively the gunner needed to be encumbered by as little extra weight as possible. He therefore generally carried only a pistol as additional personal armament.

The overall length of the weapon was 737 mm (29 in) and its loaded weight was nearly 3 kg (6.6 lb). This small size and low weight made the M79 an ideal weapon in the close terrain of Vietnam. It had an approximate maximum range of 400 m (437 yd).


More info. and specs.:

**The M-79 was withdrawn from service and replaced by the M203 system very late in the War. This was mainly due to the fact that M-79 grenadiers were vulnerable since they only had a .45 pistol, and the anti-personnel close range rounds were too tough to load, the enemy often knew it.

The XM148/M203 40mm Grenade Launcher system

** The M203 arose from combat experience and was developed for the Special Operations forces, as early as 1965, to give them additional firepower without losing a rifle in a small team. The concept was later adopted for regular infantry as well and was fielded by 1971, although it did not see widespread service at the height of the fighting.

More info/specs.:

In addition to the above, the U.S. forces also used the 90mm M-67 Recoilless Rifle and the M-20 3.5" “Bazooka”, which was obsolete by the beginning of major ground combat operations in Vietnam.

A LOAD OF TROUBLE (90mm M-67 RR) for the enemy waits on the shoulder of Specialist 4 Percy Miller of Williston, Fla. The Warriors provided more than enough trouble for NVA in a recent firefight. (PHOTO BY SP4 ART BROWN)


Thanks Nickdfresh!!!
Fantastic job!


The Australian Army IS happy with their choice. The F88 Austyer is a light-weight easy to operate weapon and is very effective! Looks sexy too! LOL

                       ---SORRY OFF-TOPIC---

Thanks Lancer
And Hiddenrung, the Steyr is a cool rifle. I hadn’t heard much regarding it’s combat experience.