“Behind Enemy Lines”, a Brief Article About MACV-SOG

I remember as a wee kid playing “war” with friends.  We’d spend our summers running around the open space area near the river and stage mock battles.  A few of the kids even had some old “army surplus” gear which of course made them the “experts”.  I eventually got an old ratty web belt with canteen (and cover) and an ammo pouch.  None of us at the time really knew (or understood) what that gear represented.

Fast forward a few years and my own time downrange and I saw that gear (and those times) from a different perspective.  I’d always wondered what interesting (and non-mainstream) gear some of those guys had that were doing work in the jungles of Southeast Asia.

American Rifleman, a couple of weeks ago, put out a short but interesting article on what some of the MACV-SOG guys used.  They had access to mini-grendades from Holland.  Some of them used World War II era weapons.  They even had access to an M60 outfitted with a “backpack-able” 500 round drum (at a whopping 90 pounds).  A number of weapons were developed at the Naval Weapons Center in China Lake.

Anyway, I found the article to showcase some pretty interesting things, and thought some of you might appreciate it. Feel free to comment about any other oddities (or rarities) from that era–I’m always interested to learn more.

Tom is a former Navy Corpsman that spent some time bumbling around the deserts of Iraq with a Marine Recon unit, kicking in tent flaps and harassing sheep. Prior to that he was a paramedic somewhere in DFW, also doing some Executive Protection work between shifts. Now that those exciting days are behind him, he has embraced his inner “Warrior Hippie” and assaults 14er in his sandals and beard, or engages in rucking adventure challenges while consuming craft beer. To fund these adventures, he writes medical software and builds websites and mobile apps. His latest venture is as one of the founders of IronSights.com; a search engine for all things gun related. He hopes that his posts will help you find solid gear that will survive whatever you can throw at it–he is known (in certain circles) for his curse…ahem, ability…to find the breaking point of anything.


  • Tassiebush

    That linked article was a terrific read! I really recommended that people make an effort to read it! It outlines a heap of fascinating non standard gear that was often uniquely modified. Author is Maj John L Plaster for those familiar with him. Author of The Ultimate Sniper.

    • TDog

      He also wrote a book titled “SOG”. Great read.

      • Yup! “SOG” is an excellent book. Highly recommended.

      • Tassiebush

        Thanks TDog, I’ll definitely keep an eye out for it.

  • John

    Wow, that really was a great article. Worth the read.

  • AJ187

    Awesome stuff. Some guys have made a hobby out of discovering information about the SOG units.

  • I always thought the V40 mini grenade was one of those great ideas that should have been more widely adopted. More can be carried and they can be thrown farther and more accurately than their larger counterparts. Probably safer to use for room clearing as well.

    • JSmath

      The effectiveness of grenades is an extremely delicate balance of packaging and lethality. Once they become a necessity, the slightest shortcoming of the latter is really highlighted — Sure you COULD carry thousands of .22LR rounds into combat in the same dimensions and weight as a few hundred 5.56. But do you really want to?

      For what it’s worth, I do agree it’s a pretty interesting concept and would definitely benefit from modern technologies/research.

      • They had a pretty long service history, so I imagine they must have worked fairly well despite the small size.

        I’d definitely like to see a modern version designed that uses the latest chemistry and metallurgy. Possibly one slightly larger that splits the difference between the V40 and the current M67.

    • ThomasD

      Mark Bowden, in Blackhawk Down mentions them (or something very similar) being employed by Delta personnel during the events in Mogadishu .

  • Zebra Dun

    Memories! The backyard wooded area in my old nieghborhood is still littered with the defeated NAZI and Japanese Empire troops that we kids fought.
    We used pine combs as grenades.

    • Tassiebush

      I recall pulled up bracken fern and sticks as stick grenades.

  • iksnilol

    Those mini-grenades seem like such a good idea.

    The chopped down RPDs are what I always associated with the SOG. Though no mention of the Stoner 63? Didn’t they also use that one too?

    • Apeman

      I thought the Stoner 63 was more of a SEAL thing. Besides, if you read the article, the whole point was not being labeled as an American. I am not sure the Stoner 63 would have supported that goal.

      • iksnilol

        Yeah, I must have mixed up the two.

  • ruinator

    Way cool article Tom!

  • lbeacham

    Comments about remembering play snaps me back to the late 50’s. War, cowboys & Indians, cops and robbers. Toy guns fashioned from any and everything including finger and thumb. Makes me wonder what kids today will remember 50 years from now.

    • BryanS

      internets and iphones, if they can remember anything with that short attention span.

    • Grindstone50k

      Kids still pay war, cops and robbers, etc, but with different tools. Just like how before finger-guns, kids picked up sticks to emulate swords and spears.

      • JSmath

        Yep. Now they just pick up the Xbox or Playstation controller. And they mostly play robbers.

  • skusmc

    “Master Sergeant Charles “Pops” Humble, a veteran of the 1st Special Service Force, wanted a German Schmeisser; SOG got him one.”

    That guy. That guy was an operator. Most badassiest thing I’ve read all day.

  • roguetechie

    Whenever that era comes up my mind goes straight for the shotguns… The fighting there birthed some amazing leaps in shotgun technology that were almost completely forgotten within 5 years.

    You have the modified full auto point man guns built to empty their entire tube magazine in the first trigger pull hopefully buying enough time for the rest to locate the enemy and start laying effective fire.

    Or what about the Childers shotguns? Somehow the only guy able to make working double stack 870 magazines, and the unforgettable blow forward top feeding SOW… (Which appears to use the same magazine) Somehow I always picture the SOW on a pintle arming the fleet of super quiet helicopters that were a part of the special operations efforts in the area. Imagine the kind of bad day that combination could cause you? Quiet helicopters that can get loud with the best of them!

    And finally Eugene Stoner’s shotgun… Beautiful and light as a feather.

    • Cymond

      Of course, if you even talk about removable box magazines and volume of fire today, you’re mocked because “that’s not what a shotgun is for”. Apparently, shotguns are highly valued for the ability to rapidly switch ammo types, so a shotgun that doesn’t do that is I’ll suited for combat or defense.

      Of course, I wonder how much of the doctrine of “proper” use & handling was formed around the shotgun’s design, and is now in fact dictating design.

      • roguetechie

        I’m noticing that a substantial amount of potential innovation is being crushed by the firearms consumers themselves, or a certain clique within the larger community.

        The milspec side of the western arms world has it even worse though, and that is a much more urgent and potentially dangerous situation that can’t be ignored.

        Honestly as someone hoping to get into the industry this knowledge has made me consider very carefully who I should be designing for since I feel absolutely no compunction to design even remotely conventionally. I hope to inspire many insecure fearful of the new and different rants by Lance when articles about my stuff show up here LOL.

  • Nimrod

    Soldier of Fortune magazine had some good articles about SOG back in the day if you can find the back issues.

  • Fruitbat44

    Interesting article. Thanks for the link.

  • Aren’t you doing the same thing towards the older generation?

  • MACVS2

    The Dutch min-grenades were valued by us MACV types too. Many carried them as a last ditch defense against capture.

  • Cleophus

    Modern? Son, we INVENTED modern!

  • Grindstone50k

    Old farts have ragged on the younger generation since the beginning of time.

  • BryanS

    No, while their response is to throw whatever away, mine is to learn how it works and rebuild it. Excuse me, got to hit up mouser to get capacitors for my large format printer carriage board.