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.