Ultra Rare Vietnam-era CIA Deer Pistol Donated to NRA Museum

Matthew Moss
by Matthew Moss
NRA Senior Curator Philip Schreier accepts a CIA DEER Pistol into the museum’s collection donated by Master Armorer Thomas Ring. (NRA)

On May 22nd the NRA Museum, in Fairfax, Virginia, received a very special donation, a Vietnam War-era CIA Deer Gun. The pistol was donated to the museum by Thomas Ring, a former Master Armorer. Mr Ring donated both an original condition Deer pistol and a tool room prototype replica that he made himself.

The Deer gun, designed by Russell J. Moure, can be considered a successor to the Liberator pistols of World War Two – a simple, single shot pistol which could be air dropped or distributed to poorly equipped resistance fighters en masse to help them capture enemy weapons. Chambered in 9x19mm and made by American Machine & Foundry for the CIA. It was developed when the US’ involvement in Vietnam was still limited and somewhat clandestine, it is speculated that the guns were intended for friendly elements within Vietnam such as the Montagnard.

The Deer guns were reportedly made with both smoothbore and rifled barrels, they had no trigger guard and like the earlier Liberator had no extractor. In an improvement over the WWII gun, the Deer gun, came with a rod to punch the spent case out of the breech. This could be stored in the grip along with 3 more rounds of 9x19mm.

Extremely Rare CIA Deer Single Shot Pistol with Original Polystyrene Container Bullets and Instruction Sheet sold by RIA in 2011 (RIA)

The striker-fired guns cost just $3.50 to produce using cast aluminium. They were shipped in unmarked polystyrene boxes with just a sheet of pictographs showing how to operate the weapon. The pistols were never deployed and US involvement in Vietnam subsequently escalated into a full-blown conflict, precluding the need for a clandestine pistol.

Approximately 1,000 of the pistols were made in 1964, its thought that today between 10 and 25 survive. This makes Mr Ring’s donation of the pistol very special. Back in 2011, Rock Island Auctions sold a boxed example of the gun for just under $26,000.

For more on the history of the Deer gun check out this Small Arms Review article.

Matthew Moss
Matthew Moss

Managing Editor: TheFirearmBlog.com & Overt Defense.com. Matt is a British historian specialising in small arms development and military history. He has written several books and for a variety of publications in both the US and UK. Matt is also runs The Armourer's Bench, a video series on historically significant small arms. Here on TFB he covers product and current military small arms news. Reach Matt at: matt@thefirearmblog.com

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5 of 48 comments
  • RUKdnMe RUKdnMe on May 29, 2018

    No Wonder we lost...Sold our allies a converted cake decorator....

    • See 2 previous
    • Al Wise Al Wise on May 29, 2018

      @RUKdnMe You could start by actually reading the article. They were never used, let alone sold to anyone.

  • JCitizen JCitizen on May 29, 2018

    Dang! If this thing was never issued, why is it in such bad shape? It looks like they found it in a swamp!