View Full Version : Shotguns in Vietnam

June 28, 2002, 06:24 PM
Does anyone know much about shotgun use by US troops during the Vietnam War? What types, who carried them, etc.

June 28, 2002, 07:00 PM
The only shotgun I've ever heard used in Vietnam was the Ithaca (model 37, I think). It was sometimes fitted with a duckbill attachment. It was used mainly by SF groups.

I'm not very familiar with this topic, but I hope I helped a bit.

Dave McC
June 28, 2002, 07:12 PM
What I saw were a great variaty. Shotguns were a weapon of opportunity in that most came to the troops through irregular channels.

I saw Model 12s and 97s,Ithacas,A-5s, 870s, and some Savages I think they were.Some doubles, oft cropped very short.Sorry,but other matters at the time occupied my attention.

A battered 97 was part of our equipment.

June 28, 2002, 07:19 PM
We were there at various strength levels for over 20 years. Think every type, model and make of shotgun was used at one time or another. Depends on the nature of the duty, branch of service, time, supply etc. Many were purchased on the open market.

Few were the units that had officialy issued gvt owned shotguns but many were used "off the books."


June 28, 2002, 07:37 PM
MP Freeman's and my real father joined a SF camp on the border between Cambodia and Vietnam. A Master Sgt. walked up to him and handed him a Win. 12. "Here, I bought this in Thailand; but you'll need it now."

Everything I've read and heard was a dog's breakfast of weaponry. Some official, some unofficial.

June 28, 2002, 09:09 PM
Hello Slater,

American Rifleman did an article on this very subject, I'll scan the article and email it to you on Monday.



June 29, 2002, 04:54 AM
I read a book on the subject titled "taking point" I think. The author said that he used an Ithaca with a duckbill attachment. Also said he used #4 buckshot for this purpose. Widespread pattern in the jungle worked well against snipers. If I can find this book (in a box in my closet) I will post the name of the author and exact title. I believe it was "taking point" or "front man".

June 29, 2002, 05:28 AM
During WWII, the US issued the following shotguns as infantry weapons:

Ithica Model 37 (Only 1,420 manufactured, very rare)
Remington Model 11 (semi-auto)
Remington 31A
Savage Model M620
Savage Model 720 (semi-auto)
Stevens Model 520-30
Stevens Model 620A
Winchester Model 12
Winchester Model 97

I'm sure that many were stuck in the arsenal and were available for use during Vietnam, along with the commercial shotguns purchased by individuals/SF groups. Unfortunately, I do not have data on which models were actually "government issue" during Vietnam. Would love to have a list if anyone does have that information.

June 29, 2002, 06:47 AM
During one of my trips to beautiful Southeast Asia I was issued an Ithaca 12 ga (I don't remember the model number, but seem to remember that it said it was a "Featherlite" or something like that). I do remember that we used brass shells (probably because the paper shells didn't stand up to well to the humidity) in 00 Buck. I had occasion to use it only once, but it was very effective.

June 29, 2002, 07:31 AM
I was in the Army just AFTER Viet Nam, and we had a bunch of Winch 12s in our armory. The NCOs (who were almost all Nam vets) were quite familiar with their use in Viet Nam. Mostly for point man or for guard duty in the rear.

June 29, 2002, 07:32 AM
Military shotguns were a hodgepodge of different makes. My experience with them is when they were issued for guard duty. Mostly Mossbergs with the occasional winchester.

I understand that during the battle of Hue (Tet 1968) the marines put out a call for shotguns to be used in clearing the city. They procured whatever makes they could find and rushed them to the troops. (The marines claim they "stole" them from the Army, but they always claim they steal from the Army :D )

Have seen photos and heard plenty of stories of shotgun use during the Vietrnam war. Apparently guns were procured through both official and unofficial channels. No standard. Whatever could be found in arms rooms or purchased quickly or obtained through ...er... other methods.

BTW I thought the mossys were junk, but we only used them in the States to guard the ammo dump. Brass felt it was too dangerous to allow the use of issue M16 for guard duty! Shottys were issued to each guard post with three rounds green taped together! Troops were instructed the tape around the shells had better be intact when they were relieved!

June 29, 2002, 11:29 AM
I seem to remember reading a story of a full auto version of the remington 1100 being used in vietnam, imagine 7 rounds of #4 buck coming at you in under 3 seconds.

June 29, 2002, 09:26 PM
I took trap lessons from Vietnam vet a few years ago who was into very expensive doubles. He said my 870 was used to shoot "insert derogatory word for SE Asians."

He said they had a horizontal duck bill that would spread out the shot and could take out a barracks of NVA in their bunks in seconds. He was kind of an intense guy.

He preferred the 20 gauge O/U with English (straight) stock for birds.

June 29, 2002, 09:59 PM
He said they had a horizontal duck bill that would spread out the shot and could take out a barracks of NVA in their bunks in seconds. He was kind of an intense guy. Hmmm.


June 29, 2002, 10:34 PM
First tour there I carried a Savage model 520 had the bbl cut down to the front of the mag tube.carried a mix of Fleshets and double -0 ,lost it and picked up a Winch-12 had about a 5" bbl carried the same loading,saw one Seal that had a 37 with the duck bill,said it was great with no.4 buckshot,most of the MP types I saw had Model 12's,did know one guy that had taken a Darne double bbl and had cut the bbl's down to 14",said it fit in the chopper better

June 29, 2002, 10:40 PM
While in MP school in 1973 they had a quick and dirty shotgun familiarization course. Winchester model 12's were used. First shotgun some recruits ever held in their life and what was the first shell they ever fired?

3" OO Buck-Quite an eye opener! I think we fired maybe 25 rounds, max. Bet it was the last shotgun many of them touched in their lives! So much for the gradual introduction method.

Later in post military life I went to the Kansas police academy and we fired folding stock Remington 870's outside when it was 15 degrees and a 20 mph wind. I swear my fillings were loose after that experience. On the other hand, we were bundled up like Eskimos so I am sure some of the recoil was soaked up.:(

Al Thompson
June 30, 2002, 06:33 AM
Welcome to TFL Magnumforces. I bought one of those folding stock 870s in 1982. Took me a box of shells to figure out that I wanted a real stock.

I've read several accounts of the duckbill spreader. IIRC, it was by a company named A&W. Seems that I saw the first article in a gun rag. Several SEAL accounts of the SE Asia conflict mention those.

FWIW, one of my Platoon Sargents had pictures of he and his 870 in Vietnam. He mentioned that he had his Dad ship one over and he promptly cut the barrel down to some short length. He relayed that it didn't take him long to have his Dad send him a 30' full choke barrel - the no choke barrel didn't work too well. Bruce was in the 173rd.

June 30, 2002, 09:41 AM
I went over as an MP in 69 and we had trained with the Winchester 1200. LBJ was right across the street from my hootch and I think that a lot of the guards used 1200's. There were a number of shotguns in Vietnam. The American Rifleman article that was mentioned did a good job of covering the subject.

June 30, 2002, 10:06 AM
The book Nightwatch is referring to is Point Man by Chief James "Patches" Watson and Kevin Dockery. An excellent book BTW.

As for the duckbill attachment, they are/were still available from Great Lakes Arsenal. I had one put on a Mossberg barrel a couple of years ago It's a neat accessory that really turns a round pattern spread into a flattened oval.. I found out about GLA from Small Arms Review magazine.

June 30, 2002, 10:25 AM
There were a lot of different ots shotguns used, Mostly sawed off pumps. There were also a lot of Japanese A-5s, also shortened.

The land warfare center had a lot of experimental SGs, e.g. full Auto 1100s, Duckbill spreaders,suppressed, and One belt feed I've seen. Also a cut down Win. 97 with six inch Bbl. and folding grips, a three shot.

There were also some four and six Bbl. break open models prototyped.

The British used A-5s cut down with #4 buck to great effect. When they were in Malaysia.

On the folding stock for the 870. Here is the rest of the story. The Secret Service wanted a pistolgrip 870. Due to red tape and bugeting there had to be a production ots piece that they could get. In a roundabout way they got the Marine Guards to submit need for a folding stock gun to be used to protect embassadors. This was enough reason for our elected officials to approve for the budget R&D and aquisition of these. The SS designed and approved the design. You will notice that the folding stock is easy to remove and does look like an afterthought. All you have to do to get money from the politions is to tell them it is for thier own protection.

On the folding stock 870, I have used one for several years. The folding stock is just for storage ease. I have modified mine by machining an aluminum block to fit inside the stamped sides. It contains a mercury recoil reduer. This adds a little weight and stops the rattle. I've shrink wrapped a six" piece of closed cell foam around the stock over the reducer and done the same with the "short" buttstock. This lowered the recoil covered the sharp edges and stopped the lose stamped steel rattles. Also I use a bungee cord sling. It is reasonably comfortable to shoot with the LE low recoil loads.



June 30, 2002, 11:18 AM
Would be interesting to see a "spreadsheet" of what folks saw and used at different times when working that area. Early 50s, when we (weren't) helping the French. Later 50s when we (weren't) there. etc etc.

Should present a wide variety of official and "unofficial" weapons as there were so many working in relatively independent groups. And in mixed nationality groups.


July 1, 2002, 10:37 AM
A model 37 Ithaca down in IV Corps....I ran a Kit Karson Scout team...

July 1, 2002, 10:43 AM
Years ?


July 2, 2002, 08:21 AM
70 and 71

IV Corps...Dinh Tuong Province

October 7, 2012, 07:15 PM
1965-66 Chu Lai area, the CO's driver had a Browning A-5. The barrel was cut to just in front of the handguard. When we went on med-cap's He took it and a civilian Colt 45 Auto with him. He purchased the shotgun gun in Viet Nam,. The Colt he took with him.
His load was 00 Buck in brass cases.

Semper Fi

October 7, 2012, 09:03 PM
I was in the Hue Phu Bia area in 70 & 71 and our arms room had a rack of assorted shotguns but mostly Remington's and Ithaca's. my troops preferred the Remington's for patrols when required by the op officer. In my unit the shotguns lost out to the M16 with the M203 in the late 70's, with most troops carrying a combination of HE M433 or shotgun rounds. The one disadvantage of the M433 it required 15 to 30 meters to arm and the added weight of each round.

Mike Irwin
October 9, 2012, 06:43 AM
Absolutely NO sense in resurrecting a 10 year old thread and replying to it as if it were posted yesterday.