Our Infantry Weapons

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          NVA and Viet Cong Infantry Weapons


shown with 30 round magazine

20 round magazine bandoleer

M16: General dissatisfaction with the M14 rifle and numerous studies led the Army to the development of a light weight weapon capable of firing a burst of small caliber bullets with a controlled dispersion pattern. Although initially opposed by the US Army Ordnance Corps the Armalite AR15 was adopted by the Secretary of Defense as the 5.56mm, M16 rifle. Colt later acquired the marketing and manufacturing rights to the AR15. The M16 was selectable for semi-automatic or automatic fire. The M16 was to have had the same effective range as the M14 rifle it replaced, but it was most effective at a range of 215 yards or less. The M16 used a 5.56mm (.223 cal.) cartridge in 20 or 30 round magazines. There were a number of problems encountered during initial fielding. Better training, preventive maintenance (PM), and several design changes, resulted in the weapon that has become the standard issue rifle of the US Army, More than 3,690,000 have been manufactured. Source: Federation on American Scientists



M60: The M60 was type classified in 1957 as a companion to the 7.62mm M14 rifle. The M60 is lighter than the .30 cal. M1919A6 and only slightly heavier than the .30 cal. M1918A2 Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) it replaced. The M60 7.62mm machine gun has been the US Army's general purpose medium machine gun since the late 1950s. The M60 fires standard NATO 7.62mm ammunition and is used as a general support crew-served weapon. It has a removable barrel which can be easily changed to prevent overheating. The weapon has an integral, folding bipod and can also be mounted on a folding tripod. The M60 has a rate of fire of 600 rounds per minute. The M60C and M60D were aircraft versions of the basic M60 machine gun. The M60 series is today being replaced by the M240B 7.62mm medium machine gun. Source: Icompanyranger.com


M79: The M79 grenade launcher resembled a large gauge, single barrel, sawed-off shotgun with the the barrel angled slightly upward. The grenade launcher was designed as a close-support weapon for the infantry. It bridged 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 meters. The US Army added two M79s to the TO&E of the line infantry rifle squad and gave the squad an crucial indirect fire weapon. 

The M79 was a simple single-shot, single-barrel, shoulder-fired weapon which broke open for loading. The soldier inserted a 40mm grenade into the breech much like a shotgun. Once loaded and closed, the firer put it to his shoulder, took aim through a simple open sight, and squeezed the trigger. It fired a spherical grenade which, just 40mm in diameter, nevertheless had a kill radius of five meters. 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 overall length of the weapon was 29 inches and its loaded weight was nearly 6.6 lbs. 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 437 yards. Source: gruntonline.com



M1911: The M1911A1 .45 caliber pistol was the standard personal defense weapon carried by officers and some enlisted personnel of all services during World War I, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. It has a rich military heritage. It was very reliable, and the weapon of choice for use in close quarters. The M1911A1 pistol has been replaced by the M9 9mm pistol.

The .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol M1911A1 is a recoil-operated hand weapon. It is a magazine-fed semiautomatic weapon, which fires one round each time the trigger is squeezed once the hammer is cocked by prior action of the slide or thumb. This design is referred to as "single action only." The thumb safety may only be activated once the pistol is cocked. The hammer remains in the fully cocked position once the safety is activated. More modern pistol designs of the "double action" type will allow the hammer to move forward to an uncocked position when the thumb safety is activated.

The M1911A1 was widely respected for its reliability and lethality. However, its single action/cocked and locked design required the user to be very familiar and well-trained to allow carrying the pistol in the "ready-to-fire" mode. Consequently, M1911A1s were often prescribed to be carried without a round in the chamber. Even with this restriction on the user, numerous unintentional discharges were documented yearly. Source: Federation of American Scientists



M18 (Smoke grenade):  The M18 colored smoke hand grenade is used for ground-to-air or ground-to-ground signaling. The body consists of a sheet steel cylinder with four emission holes at the top and one at the bottom (recently manufactured grenades do not have bottom holes). The holes allow smoke to escape when the grenade is ignited. The M18 grenade is light green with black markings. The top of the grenade indicates the smoke color. Smoke colors included; green, red, violet and yellow. Source: Gary's U.S. Infantry Weapons Reference Guide


M18 (Claymore mine): The M18 Claymore, a directional fragmentation mine, is 8-1/2 inches long, 1-3/8 inches wide, 3-1/4 inches high, and weighs 3-1/2 pounds. The mine contains 700 steel spheres (10.5 grains) and 1-1/2 pound layer of composition C-4 explosive and is initiated by a No. 2 electric blasting cap. The M18 command-detonated mine may be employed with obstacles, or on the approaches, forward edges, flanks and rear edges of protective minefields as close-in protection against a dismounted Infantry attack.

The M18 Claymore, a directional fragmentation mine, is 8-1/2 inches long, 1-3/8 inches wide, 3-1/4 inches high, and weighs 3-1/2 pounds. The mine contains 700 steel spheres (10.5 grains) and 1-1/2 pound layer of composition C-4 explosive and is initiated by a No. 2 electric blasting cap. The M18 command-detonated mine may be employed with obstacles or on the approaches, forward edges, flanks and rear edges of protective minefields as close-in protection against a dismounted Infantry attack. Source: Federation of American Scientists



M26 (Hand grenade): Now obsolete. These grenades were used to supplement small arms fire against an enemy in close combat. The M26 produced casualties through the high-velocity projection of fragments. The M26 and M26A1 fragmentation grenades have been reclassified as the M61. The M26 used M204A1 and M204A2 fuses. The delay element is a powder train requiring 4 to 5 seconds to burn to the detonator. The detonator sets off the filler. Casualty radius: 50 feet (15 meters). Source: Gary's U.S. Infantry Weapons Reference Guide



M33 (Hand grenade): Replaced the M26 hand grenade. Also called the baseball grenade. Besides the shape, the M33 had essentially the same kill radius, delay, fuse and explosive characteristics as the M26. Because this grenade was spherical the blast pattern was more symmetrical then the M26. Source: alphaco.us webmaster



M29 (81mm mortar): The M29A1 81mm mortar is a smooth-bore, muzzle-loaded, high angle-of-fire weapon. It consists of a cannon assembly, bipod assembly, and baseplate. The cannon assembly consists of the externally threaded barrel, mount attachment ring, and base plug with a spherical projection that contains a removable firing pin for drop firing. The bipod assembly consists of the elevating and traversing mechanism, and bipod legs. The bipod absorbs the shock of recoil in firing with a spring-type shock absorber.

The M29A1 medium mortar offers a compromise between the light and heavy mortars. Its range and explosive power is greater than the M224, yet it is still light enough to be man-packed over long distances. The M29A1 weighs about 98 pounds and can be broken down into several smaller loads for easier carrying. Rounds for this mortar weigh about 15 pounds each. The M252 replaced the M29A1 in US service. Source: Gary's U.S. Infantry Weapons Reference Guide



M30 (4.2 inch mortar): A.K.A. "Four-duce" it is no longer in US Army service. The M30 4.2 inch mortar was phased out in the 1980s in favor of the newer NATO standard 120mm mortar, the M120. The M30 can still be found in use within NATO countries and other nations.

The 4.2 inch (107 mm) M30 mortar is a rifled muzzle-loading weapon designed for high-angle fire. It has a normal rate of fire of 18 rounds per minute for 1 minute, then 9 rpm for 5 minutes and then 3 rpm sustained. Source: www.ichiban1.org



M72 (LAW):  The M72 series light anti-tank weapon (LAW) is a lightweight, self-contained, anti-armor weapon consisting of a rocket packed in a launcher. It is man-portable, may be fired from either shoulder, and is issued as a round of ammunition.

The tubular rocket launcher is a telescoping, smooth-bore, open-breech weapon. The outer (front) tube is made of plastic-impregnated fiberglass; the inner (rear) tube is made of aluminum. When the launcher is closed, as it is during unit maintenance, the inner (rear) tube and rocket are not visible.

The disposable launcher serves as a watertight packing container for the rocket and houses a percussion-type firing mechanism that activates the rocket.

The M72 was designed in the early 1960s for use against light tanks of that era. Although the M72 is mainly used as an anti-armor weapon, it may be used with limited success against secondary targets such as gun emplacements, pillboxes, buildings, or light vehicles. The M72 replaced by the M136 AT4 rocket in US service. Source: Gary's U.S. Infantry Weapons Reference Guide


C4 Explosive:  Information pending.


Misc. Items


M3 Medical Aid Bag: The Medical Instrument Supply Set, also known as a "Unit One" bag, was a 3 compartment bag made of heavy canvas, and after 1968 of rubberized cotton. Nylon bags like this one above appeared in the early 1970s and this one is dated 1972. Typical contents would include different sizes of dressings and bandages, blood volume expanders, aspirin, salt tablets, anti-malaria tablets, morphine syrettes and other various medications. Source: www.thevietnam-database.co.uk



M1 Helmet:: The M1 helmet of the 1960s had a lower profile than the M1 helmets of WW2, otherwise the design was unchanged. The two-part chin strap was typically fixed up around the rear of the helmet. The WW2 helmet's rim joins at the front. Source: www.thevietnam-database.co.uk


Tropical Combat Boots: The tropical combat boot went through many changes and eventually, ca. 1965, the familiar O. D. green canvas uppers and a Vibram style sole became standard issue. From ca. 1969 most boots were constructed with nylon uppers with the spike protective Panama tread sole, shown above,  and the diagonal nylon ankle reinforcement. Source: www.mooremilitaria.com









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