As an extension of military aid, the U.S., China, the Soviet Union, and more offered decrepit equipment to the Vietnamese on both sides. Often times nations hold stock of previous weapons that were once mainstays in the military of that country. For example, the 1903 Springfield was a bolt action that had long been obsolete by WWII, yet the Marines went into Guadalcanal with this rifle slung on their backs. Germany sent Maxim machine guns over to Spain in the 1930s to aid Franco's fascist uprising. Nations send off their no longer useful equipment as aid in order to stay out of the fight, so to speak. However, in Vietnam, this would not happen for the United States. This list here compiles some prominent weapons used by both sides that were well obsolete by the 1960s.
Free World Forces
- M1A1 Thompson- This submachine gun was a World War I design that saw rise through the 1920s and eventually into U.S. military service in World War II. It was sworn by many G.I.'s as a great weapon for its durability and fire rate. The Thompson was a handy sub machine gun that was given to many ARVN troops by U.S. forces. Even some U.S. tank crews had some on hand. Some of them fell into NVA hands and were eventually copied, but to no avail.
- M3 Submachine Gun- The M3, also known as the 'grease gun', is a submachine gun developed during World War II as a cheaper alternative to the Thompson. It was pure steel and very easy to produce compared to the expensive Thompson. It fired the same cartridge as well. It had a slower fire rate however. The M3 was given also to ARVN troops and rear-echelon soldiers. Tank crews got ahold of them because of their size and dependability. The Chinese made their own copy of it named the Type 64.
- 1903 Springfield- The 1903 is a bolt action rifle produced in the early part of teh 20th century. It featured a bolt assembly very similar to that of a Mauser. The 1903 saw service in both World Wars as well as any U.S. military engagement onward. It saw limited action in Korea too. In Vietnam, the rifle was well past its shelf life and was issued to rear-echelon troops and home defense militias in South Vietnam.
- M1 Garand- The M1 was the United States' main rifle from the 1930s up until the adoption of the M-14 in the 1950s. It was a semi automatic rifle that fed from an en bloc clip. This rifle saw the rugged combat of World War II and was very reliable. Many were shipped over to the South as military aid.
- M1 Carbine- The M1 Carbine was the U.S.' answer to a smaller rifle to offer to officers and crewmen. It fired from a detachable magazine and was very lightweight. It saw action in World War II initially, but continued to see service with U.S. forces into Vietnam. Many ARVN troops were supplied with this rifle; many had the upgraded versions that were fully automatic.
- Bren Gun- The Bren Gun is a British LMG based off of the Czech ZB-26 LMG. It saw service with Commonwealth forces from the 1930s until the 1970s. ARVN forces were outfitted with it occasionally, but primarily with U.S. supplied weapons. Australian and New Zealand forces used the Bren quite extensively.
- Tokarev TT33- The Tokarev is a semi-automatic handgun produced in the Soviet Union. It was very similar to many of the early 20th century semi-auto designs, most noteably the Colt Hammerless. This firearm saw service in World War II as the Red Army's main sidearm. Thereafter, it was issued to all Com-Bloc nations as well as sent over as aid to Vietnam. Many copies were made in China, Egypt, and Hungary.
- PP-Sh 41- The PP-Sh is a Soviet-made submachine gun produced during World War II. It was cheap, easy to produce, and had a hell of a fire rate. It would serve with the Soviet military until the 1950s. In Vietnam, the PP-Sh was delivered with military aid. It was a favorite of the NVA and VC for its fire rate especially. The weapon had the ability to use both stick magazines as well as drum magazines, most seen commonly with the drum. However, in Vietnam, the drum was dropped out of favor. The NVA produced their own version of this weapon based on a Chinese copy of the PP-Sh that they called the K50M.
- Mosin Nagant- The Mosin Nagant is a Soviet bolt action rifle first introduced in the late 1890s. It has seen many developments since then and was not fully replaced until the adoption of the SVD in the 1960s. It was rugged, simple, but not as dependable as many other bolt actions. The Mosin saw service with the NVA and VC. It was sent along with Soviet military aid. There have been over 1 million of these produced.
- MP-40- The MP-40 is a German submachine gun that was used from the 1930s onward. It was the main submachine gun for the Germany military during World War II. A few found their way over to Vietnam somehow, probably through Russian capture.
- DP-28- The DP-28 is a Soviet LMG made during the 1920s. It featured a distinctive horizontal plate magazine on top of the weapon, similar to the Lewis Gun. The DP was used by the Soviets until the late 1940s when the RPD replaced it. The DP was then given to the NVA through Soviet military aid. It was not used extensively because of its age and unreliability.