Viet Cong 1911 bring back

A 1911 enthusiast in Virginia recently had a buddy ask him if he could work on his 1911 for him. The buddy’s relative had brought back a 1911 from Vietnam. This is the resulting encounter-

Well he brings over this gem and the first thing I tell him is … Well this ain’t a 1911! He protests and says that of course it is a 1911, I get my Remington Rand down [out] and put them side by side and ask him if he’s sure.

It is in fact a Kyber pass or Viet Cong garage build. Definitely an interesting historical piece, definitely not something which should be shot as the possibility for KABOOM is very real.

Full set of pictures fully disassembled and detail pics. You’ll be able to see that they had a 1911 to work from, but kind of went a different way. The thumb safety didn’t actually do anything nor did the back strap safety.

The gun making workshops of Peshawar (reference to Kyber Pass) didn’t really go into full throttle until the early 1980s, with the massive influx of arms supporting the Mujahedin’s fight against the Russians started to flow in. Although there were gun shops there in the 1960s, a 1911 copy making it all the way to Vietnam would have been especially rare. Instead, the NVA actually manufactured a good amount of 1911 copies in jungle workshops or in North Vietnam, similar to their manufacture of replica Thompson submachine guns. Forgotten Weapons has an excellent piece about one that was on sale in 2012. Now, obviously the quality here leaves alot to be desired (even for bare bones functioning, let alone a safety check or live fire), but lets look at the context of the times. Much of the armies in the Vietnam era were still in World War Two and prior mentality of sidearms being much more of a status symbol than an actual weapon. The fact that the thing won’t fire very well is besides the point of letting everyone in the company or platoon know who the officers were. In addition, many of these homemade 1911s were given out as gifts to high ranking officials within the Viet Cong/Viet Minh. They weren’t actually expected to be used under duress.


The frame with the grips off. It seems that some of the pistol had inspiration from the Star 1911 copies made in Spain, as an example in this case would be the curved trigger.


The bolt face. I’m pretty sure the guy taking it apart said it was in .45 but from this angle it does look a little small, and 9mm was certainly widely used by many countries during the Vietnam era.


That is fifty years of gunk on a badly made firearm to begin with. Yuck.


The safety is actually quite well put together. 


A look down the muzzle into the bolt face. 


The grip panels are similar to a Star BMM 9mm handgun with the cutout on the left grip panel for the safety. 


The hammer, pins, and plunger are done alright through…


Some sort of extended spring cap for the main spring housing.


The guy who took it apart mentioned that this dent in the slide stop, almost made it impossible to take apart.


The 1911 copy disassembled as far as it would go. 


Opposite side of the handgun. 


Infantry Marine, based in the Midwest. Specifically interested in small arms history, development, and usage within the MENA region and Central Asia. To that end, I run Silah Report, a website dedicated to analyzing small arms history and news out of MENA and Central Asia.

Please feel free to get in touch with me about something I can add to a post, an error I’ve made, or if you just want to talk guns. I can be reached at


  • Azril @ Alex Vostox

    Welp. If I was right, the WW2 Imperial Japanese Army also were issued with homebuilt M1911 due to inferior quality of Nambu.

  • Jeff Smith

    A collecter at a gun show in the Memphis area had one of these for sale a while back. I probably stood and gawked at it for 10 minutes. If I remember correctly, I don’t believe his had a rifled barrel. I’m curious to know if this one is similar.

  • Zebra Dun

    I’ve run across several M-1 Garands assembled like this at Gun shows and flea markets, no markings other than a Christian Cross on the receiver, numbers usually are in the under one thousand range if any. Shake them and they rattle like an Eastern diamond back on crack.

    The sellers always say the rifle will shoot yet offer no clips and no range time with them.

  • Phillip Cooper

    Very interesting indeed. I didn’t realize they’d made their own weapons in the VC

    • Darren Hruska

      They actually did. I even remember reading about the VC making bolt-action shotguns in their jungle shops that resembled American firearms (such as the M1903 Springfield and M1918 BAR). I believe they used a cut-down 12.7x108mm or 12.7x99mm (.50 BMG) case.

    • Tassiebush

      Yeah they did it on a pretty significant scale. Apparently the quality and finish varied a lot but the manufacturing model was to have a foreman overseeing a bunch of village youngsters or injured VC who’d make the parts. A lot were made with the whole idea of it being a gun to get a gun. At least that’s what is said in Improvised and Modified Firearms by Minnery and Truby.

  • Sulaco

    When I first saw this I thought it was a conversion from a BB gun I had as a kid….

  • Fruitbat44

    Weird little bit of firearms curiosity.

  • sam

    Seems legit.

  • Tom

    Is that a makers mark on the hammer in photo 8?

  • ghost

    Throw towards trash.

    • Sam Schifo

      It belongs in a museum.

      • ghost

        So do I.

  • …Put… Put the FAB front sight on it…

  • Bob

    *Looks at picture* WTF?
    *Reads* Ah, understanding…

  • Jim_Macklin

    More proof that gun control means control of libraries and schools and censorship of textbooks. Home workshops with lathes, milling machines, drill presses and even hand files and hand drills must be controlled and eliminated.
    3D metal printing, CNC plasma cutters, nice, but simple tools can build a workable gun. Just ask John Moses Browning.
    The picture is John Browning’s shop where he invented most of the machineguns, handguns and rifles and shotguns used by the US Army and licensed to be built by Winchester.

    • Tassiebush

      Wonderful! 🙂

    • itsmefool

      Wow, thanks for the shot, Jim!

  • Tom

    What no full length guide rod utter trash.

    • Rittmeister

      Yes, without a “full length” guide rod all 1911s are horribly inaccurate…
      you sarcastic devil you.

  • Orion’s Hammer

    If I’m seeing the barrel and pin properly, there *is* no pivoting barrel link, so the slide stop/takedown pin holds the barrel fixed relative to the frame. My guess is this means barrel doesn’t lock up to the slide, making this version pure blowback, with the slide’s inertia the only thing that holds the breech closed, unlike a real 1911’s barrel-to-slide locking lugs. If so, this means the gun is not at all safe for full power loads!

  • Rittmeister

    Awesome paperweight but, that’s all it should be.