tunnel rats weapons

Basically, MAC-V wanted a small, handheld, suppressed shotgun for the tunnel rats.

In the dark tunnels, Vietnam War tunnel rats needed every one of their senses so they had to settle for lesser quality pistols. The precision sights of the Model 29 were useless with the new ammunition and the rear sight was removed, leaving a square slot in the top of the revolver for rough aiming if desired. Their standard military pistols weren’t ideal because the blast was so loud it would deafen them momentarily after firing. The Tunnel Weapon was found to be ideal for ambushes, especially at night. Each chamber of the .44 magnum Model 29 cylinder was reamed out to 0.528 inches straight for its entire length.

In the captured piston system, propellant gases from normal smokeless powder drives a piston pushing a payload down a cylinder with one open end. The tunnel rats’ first operation was part of Operation Crimp, carried out in January 1966, designed to destroy the bunker. “For our use it works real good. Only the ten examples, and a single specimen maintained by AAI, were ever made. The means of this military magic was discovered by a US Army sergeant when he sat on a nail that was sticking up from a hidden trapdoor. Their standard military pistols weren’t ideal because the blast was so loud it would deafen them momentarily after firing.

But the very conservative tunnel rats never liked or trusted the tunnel weapon completely. The 25th Infantry Division issued their Tunnel Weapons also to members of one of their reconnaissance and Intelligence platoons as well as to its Ranger company and infantry companies. Accuracy was reasonable with the new weapons. During the First Indochina War the tunnels were a fairly basic system but they evolved into a very complex tunnel system during the Vietnam War. Even with pistols, the tunnel rats had to follow certain guidelines to try to stay alive. A tunnel exploration kit was developed in 1966 by the Limited Warfare Laboratory (LWL).

Its bite was usually deadly. The communications system in the kit didn’t work well.

Typically, a tunnel rat was equipped with only a standard issue M1911 pistol or M1917 revolver,[4] a bayonet, a flashlight, and explosives.

The Tunnel rats used a host of specialized weapons that helped them to be effective at their job.

The 15-pellet load gave the revolver the shot spread of a very open .410 shotgun. The tunnel rats knew what worked for them and were exceedingly conservative in adopting any new hardware or weapons.

During the Vietnam War, the United States fought the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army forces with some of the most high-tech weapons the US could produce.

Personal weapons were used by the rats, ranging from .25 caliber automatics to sawed-off shotguns. The Vietnam tunnel rats faced a casualty rate of around 30% compared to a casualty rate of 10% (for United States troops) for soldiers in regular combat. The firing pin was replaced in-country with a harder metal one, and the ammunition primer redesigned. The second tunnel rat’s job was to note the soil and other measurements required for demolition later.

The captured piston seals off the end of the cylinder, trapping the propellant gases inside the system where they can bleed off slowly.

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