Maj. John Plaster went on 22 missions while as an enlisted Green Beret attached to MAC-V-SOG in South Vietnam. Of course, none of those missions were IN Vietnam. He made contact on almost every mission. Later the recipient of a battlefield commission, he retired from the Army and went on to become a noted author and expert on sniping and military history. I must admit that I have almost all of his books on my own library and have attended several presentations of his over the years.
That’s why I made sure to squeeze his 2-hour talk in Indy last month on the guns of MAC-V-SOG into my schedule and ignored calls from my editor during that slice of time. And I was glad I did. After 50 years, he was given “his” XM177E2 back.
More in my column at Guns.com.
Official caption: “MACV/SOG Naval Advisory Detachment: Two Nasty-class PTF’s returning at dawn from a sea commando mission into the DMZ area in 1971. This was a particularly successful mission, with no friendly casualties.”
With the hundreds of wooden PT boats all liquidated shortly after WWII ended, the Navy in the 1960s found themselves in need of a handful of small, fast, and heavily armed craft for “unorthodox operations” in Southeast Asia.
These wooden-hulled Norwegian-designed 80-foot boats, powered by a pair of Napier Deltic turbocharged diesel engines, could make 38-knots but, with a 40mm Bofors single, an M2 .50 cal/81mm combo, and 20mm cannons, they could deal some hurt.
Some 20 were acquired in the early 60s (numbered PTF-2 to PTF-23), six lost in combat, and, laid up at Subic after 1973, retired by 1981.
Set up to unveil in 2016, likely at the SHOT Show in January, Inland manufacturing is stepping up their M1 Carbine game with a new offering that takes the vaunted little .30 caliber fun gun from WWII into the triple canopy of South East Asia.
What were these guns?
When the U.S. began their boots-on-the-ground involvement in the Republic of Vietnam (aka South Vietnam) with the establishment of the U.S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV) in 1962, the primary focus was to build up the local military, police and militia into a force that could ward off the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese. Originally set up by the French, these forces had a hodge podge of captured WWII Japanese and French weapons.
To augment and eventually replace these worn guns, the U.S. began shipping boatloads of surplus GI weapons from the states to include M3 Grease Guns, Thompson submachine guns, M1 Garands, BARs, M1919 Brownings and, last but not least, the M1/M2 .30 caliber carbine. As Uncle had officially replaced all these with the M14/M60 and was looking hard at the new AR-15 to become the M16, these were all second-line guns.
With literally thousands of these laying around South Vietnam, the U.S. advisors sent to train the locals often “acquired” a few of their own which led to a number of all the above in hands of Green Berets and rear echelon guys who quickly converted them to their own needs (which was ok as no armorer was going to come looking for them).
One of the more popular in-theater mods was to take the M1 Carbine, or better yet its full-auto M2 cousin, lop the barrel and or buttstock off, and use it as a compact room-broom to help break contact in an ambush, clear a fighting position in the middle of the night if Mr. Charles got through the wire, or poke into a tunnel entrance.
As the conflict evolved and better gear started showing up to include shorty CAR-15s and SW76 K-guns, the chopped M1/M2s faded away– though undoubtedly are still encountered in some parts of South East Asia today.
Civilian market runs with it
Back in the states, about the same time a number of companies that were in the market of making M1s for public consumption using an enormous stock of surplus parts sold by the Army in the late 1950s, hit on the idea to make a M1 pistol. Of course, to get around ATF regulations on short-barreled rifles, they made new pistol-only receivers and fitted GI parts to them, as well as only having one pistol grip and no provision for a stock to remain compliant.
Both Plainfield and Iver Johnson made M1 carbine style pistols in the 1960s and 70s. These were dubbed “Enforcer” models.
Universal also did the same thing through the 1980s.
I used to own a Universal M1 pistol and, while it worked, the handguard rattled and it suffered from the same complaints that bother AR and AK pistol designs: huge fireballs due to unburnt powder, and limited use at long range. Of course, while it would never be a carry or hunting piece, it did make one intimidating truck, house, or boat gun that was capable of stowing in a small space and deploying with a serious caliber when needed as long as you didn’t have to make a shot past 25-50 yards or so.
Now they are making a more genuine come back.
Based in Dayton, Ohio, MKS Supply is the company behind Hi Point and Chiappa. Last year they have teamed up with a reborn Inland Manufacturing to market a series of M1 Carbines that are almost identical to the ones carried by the GI’s of WWII. Like the war babies, they are 100 percent U.S. built from U.S. parts (just like Hi-Points are). They even contain the same arsenal-stamped cartouches stock markings and 1944-style battle sights.
These guns, in fact, are so near to their predecessor that the press release from the company states, “The new Inland carbines are so precisely copied from the original specifications that the company marks the underside of the barrel and the inside of the stock of these current models to prevent potential fraudsters from passing these new carbines as mint WWII originals.”
Moreover, the new Advisor model picks up where those guns left off on an evolutionary line.
“The M1 Advisor is a pistol that is features a 12 inch threaded barrel with flash hider weighing in at lbs. 8oz. The Advisor will ship with one 15 round magazine and a standard M1 carbine sling,” says a post on Inland’s page this week. Plus the flash-hider, which neither the old-school Plainfield, Universal and Iver-Johnson M1 pistols had, is a nice improvement and will go (a bit) towards preserving your night sight if firing in low-light situations, which was one of my hangups with my old Universal. The wood looks like their classic WWII homage M1A1 Paratrooper model, sans folding stock and with a shorter barrel, which is about right for the design.
Price point is TBD but could prove interesting.
I’ll be dropping in on them at SHOT.