Saigon Report Episode 01 – M1911A1
The M1911A1 service pistol was officially adopted by the United States Army prior in 1911 replacing the 1892 New Army double-action revolver in .38 Colt. This was the first semi-automatic handgun to be adopted by the United State Military. The pistol, designed by John M. Browning chambered the .45 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol) cartridge. Detachable single-column magazines held 7 rounds of ammunition. The M1911A1 uses a single-action trigger and includes a manual thumb safety as well as a grip safety.
During the Vietnam War, M1911A1 pistols were primarily issued to officers, vehicle crew members, Military Police, and members of crews-served weapons teams. Special Operations forces also carried pistols as well and Non-Commissioned Officers and Staff NCO’s.
The standard .45 ACP round for the M1911A1 pistol used a 230 grain, full metal jacket projectile also known as “ball” or “hardball” ammunition. When fired from the M1911A1 pistol, the 230-grain bullet traveled approximately 850 feet per second when exiting the muzzle.
Between World War II and Vietnam, holsters, both shoulder and hip, for the M1911A1 were changed from brown leather to dyed black leather. Twin magazine pouches made of OD green nylon were the most common method used to carry spare ammunition.
During the Vietnam War, one of the most famous uses of the M1911A1 pistol was when it was paired with an OD green angle-head flashlight by “tunnel rats”, small-framed soldiers tasked with clearing and inspecting tunnels. The tight confines of the tunnel systems used by the Vietcong and North Vietnamese Army required a firearm that was compact and could be used with one hand.
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