Saigon Report Episode 02 – M1 "Jungle" Carbine
When the United States first became involved in Vietnam, the primary role for US Special Operation personnel was that of “Military Advisors” and instructors. The primary roles of advisors and instructors were played by US Army Special Forces or “Green Berets”.
Green Berets were tasked with advising and training friend Vietnamse forces to fight the North Vietnamese communists. One of the most readily available and easy to use fighting tools was the U.S. M1 Carbine. During World War II, literally millions of M1 carbines were made in factories all over the United States.
In Vietnam, surplus M1 Carbines were equipped with a flash-hider muzzle device and they were nicknamed “Jungle Carbines”. These Jungle Carbines were essentially the same guns used in WWII and Korea. As will most all WWII weapons, the M1 had a hardwood stock and parkerized steel barrel and action.
M1 Carbines were light-weight and relatively compact, this was a big plus as the average Vietnamese soldier was physically smaller than his American counterpart. The manual of arms for the M1 Carbine was simple and the average soldier could be taught to load, manipulate and fire the M1 Carbine in a short amount of time.
The standard detachable magazine for the M1 Carbine held 15 .30 carbine rounds of ammunition. During the Vietnam conflict, 30 round magazines for the carbine were issued as quickly became known as “Jungle Clips”. A 30 round jungle clip gave the user the same amount of rounds as the NVA soldier using an AK-47 with a 30 round “banana clip”.
Care and maintenance for the M1 Carbine was not difficult and, until widespread issuance of the M-16, the carbines served both the Special Operations forces and Vietnamese allies, Army of the Republic of Vietnam (regulars) and the South Vietnamese Popular Force (militia), well.