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M1911 A1 – Saigon Report Ep 01


Welcome, everyone, to a new feature that we’re calling the
Saigon Report. During this video series, we’re going to discuss in detail,
demonstrate, and fire weapons that were used during the Vietnam era. Now, today we’re gonna talk about the standard issue side arm during
the Vietnam War, and that would be the M1911 A1 pistol. What is significant about the M1911 A1 pistol? Well, if you didn’t know, this was the first semi-automatic,
magazine-fed firearm handgun to be adopted by the U.S. Army. Now, before this, it was all revolvers; specifically, the firearm that
this replaced was the 1892 Navy/Army Revolver in .38 colt. Now, you should know, if you don’t, that the M1911 A1 was chambered in
the .45 ACP, which stands for Automatic Colt Pistol. What was significant about this? Well, number one, up to this point,
all the Army side arms either held five or six rounds. This one held seven in the magazine plus one in the chamber –
single-column magazine. Yes! The original 1911 magazines only held seven. You guys are like,
“Yeah. But my 1911 holds eight.” I got that. ‘Cause they redesigned the followers. But, the originals
held seven rounds of 230-grain ball ammunition. Right there. Now, what you may not know is when John Browning designed
this gun, he designed it so that it could be taken apart, field stripped by the average private, PFC, in the field using only the bottom of their magazine. If you didn’t know, you could take the bottom basepad of this magazine
and push it right there, and it fits perfectly. That’s something that Browning did very deliberaltely. If you’re going to issue a firearm to soldiers, to troops, to the Navy, to the Marines, whatever, you want to make sure that
they don’t need a tool to disassemble it in the field to clean it. Now, obviously, there are armorers who are going to detail strip them
and take them apart and so forth but for average in-the-field maintenance, right; just G.I. Joe and he’s out in the desert – he’s in the woods, he’s
in the jungle – he needs to take it apart and clean it, oil it, lube it you don’t want that guy to have to have a tool, a special tool. Because, what have we learned over the years? We’ve learned that G.I. Joe will lose the tool. If you make a specific tool for that gun, when he needs it, it won’t
be there. Trust me. I know. So what else is unique and special about this gun? Well, It has, if you guys didn’t know, a manual safety on this side, right
here. Got a manual thumb safety. You have a grip safety right there, and it is a single-action pistol. Unlike most of your modern firearms, this one was single-action, and how
you were taught to carry it, at least when I was a United States Marine, I was taught to carry it chamber empty, magazine inserted, loaded in the holster. Now, you say,
“Why would you wanna do that?” Because… safety. Because safety. Now, if you were going to be in an area where you knew you were going to encounter the enemy, obviously you would
load it up completely, pull the hammer back, put the manual safety on and carry it like that. Let’s talk about how you would carry your gun. If you look on my side,
right here, you will see an all-leather black flap holster. Now, in World War II, the leather was brown. The one main change between
World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, was all the brown leather was transitioned over to black leather. Essentially, the holsters were the same. They went from brown to black,
and they’ve got the ubiquitous “U.S.” on them. Flap holsters with a tie-down. How many people tied them down to their legs? I’m guessing not many. Who would carry this? Well, obviously, officers and NCOs would carry this. A handgun was not normally standard-issue for troops in the field,
PFCs, Privates, and so forth. If you were on a vehicle crew, you would be issued a handgun. If you were
on a crew-served weapon crew; for instance, you carried the M60 machine gun, you were a mortarman, or so forth, you would be issued on of these. But, the average grunt, the
average rifleman, would not carry a pistol. Something else that the 1911 pistol was very famous for, was use by
the Tunnel Rat. And, the Tunnel Rat wasn’t a specific MOS. You didn’t join the Army or the
Marine Corps and they said, “OK. From this point forward you’re going to be a Tunnel Rat.” If you were a small, slight-of-frame person, you ended up
being a Tunnel Rat. If you were 6′ 2″, 230 lbs, you probably weren’t going down into a tunnel.
But, if you were 5′ 8″ or 5’ 7″, only weighed about a buck 55, guess what? You were going down into the
tunnel. And, what would you use? You would use a 1911 A1 pistol and your standard G.I. Joe green angle-head flashlight. Now, this one’s got a red lens on it. You can take the red lens off
and you can make it a white lens. And, you say, “But Paul, those angle-head flashlights, their made of
plastic. They’re probably pretty flimsy. Right?” Well, let me tell you a little story. I can tell you for a fact that the angle-head flashlight with
two D batteries in it weighs about a pound or so and will split a man’s skull. Take that to the bank. I’ve seen it happen.
I know that it can happen and you can split a man’s skull, and still tuen the light on and use it. The Tunnel Rats, no SureFires back then. No super cool LED bulbs. An
incandescent-bulb angle-head flashlight, and your 1911. That’s what you had to go down into the tunnels. And they did it all the time, every day. Ladies and gentlemen, the 1911 A1. The first semi-automatic magazine-fed
handgun issued to the U.S. Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and used in Vietnam.

6 thoughts on “M1911 A1 – Saigon Report Ep 01

  1. Joined during Vietnam and this fine weapon, was the first pistol I ever shot in the US Army in AIT.

    CLASS OF 72. and I've carried a 1911, ever since. My preferred sidearm.

    I'm looking forward to watching other videos.

    BTW, this was the standard weapon issued on armor vehicles.
    TANKS.

    Basic training consisted of the M16/M16a1, M60 machine gun, M203/M79 Grenade Launcher, Law Rocket launcher, claymore mine. And the use of DET CORD.

    AIT ARMOR SCHOOL, was the 1911, M3/M3A1 sub gun, M85 machine gun, M73, coax machine gun, M105 cannon.

  2. Outstanding video. Being 64 I saw the bull crap way the soldiers were treated. They never got the respect they deserved nor did their weapons. Excellent to have you do this series. Keep up the good work.

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