Extra Firepower for Vietnam: the Aussie “B!tch”

Many of the special forces groups that operated during the Vietnam War found they standard issue weapons a but unwieldy for use in confined jungle environments. They also found a need for something that could deliver an immediate large volume of fire to break contact during an ambush (or deliver an ambush of their own). The Australians were no exception, and with the typical Special Forces attitude towards customization a few guys made some improvements to what they were issued…

What we have today is a recreation (by Mark Graham of ARS, build on a DSA semiauto receiver) of an Australian L1A1 with its flash hider cut down and a second pistol grip mounted to the barrel. The real examples of these often had rather shorter barrels, and ones that began life as semiauto L1A1 rifles were typically converted to fully automatic (some began as L2A1 automatic rifles and did not require this extra step). Fitted with a large LMG magazine, they could deliver a lot of firepower in a very short time; just the ticket for a small jungle patrol.

Special thanks to Bear Arms in Scottsdale, AZ for providing access to this rifle for video!


    • In one of the pics you see a shortened M-16 with the barrel cut back to the FSB and a grenade launcher. These old photos are invaluable.

    • “(…)American forces also did these sorts of mods(…)”
      U.S. Navy SEALs informed development of Remington Model 7188
      it was selective-fire derivative of Remington Model 1100 self-loading shotgun.
      Beyond adding selector magazine capacity was increased to 8, barrel shroud was added, bayonet mount was added, sights were changed to rifle type. There also existed less common variants which have only part of said alterations.

  1. And yet again I expect Kirk will chime in and tell us this idea was a stillborn abomination. No automatic rifle is going to be an effective substitute for a proper machine gun.

    • Horses for courses. This FAL modification is designed to deliver short range firepower and nothing else. It is not an LMG.

      • Completely agree with you. The problem here was that the 7.62 NATO weapons were grievously overpowered for the assault rifle role, and because of that fact, had to be designed and built with egregiously long barrels and heavy weights… Which, in turn, made them really unsuited for the assault rifle role.

        These cut-down versions were necessary for things like handing out to point men in the jungle, but were totally unsuited for anything else, really.

        I’ve been fairly close to the HK version of one of these, being fired semi-auto. I was reminded then of the effect from a 16″ battleship gun being fired, only on a slightly smaller scale. I’d refer interested readers to Ian’s piece on the HK51, and further recommend reading all of the comments.

    • True,that. There is a reciprocal, however: No full-size MG can do the sort of things one of these can, either. Horses for courses.

      That said, I have always wondered about how well any of these adapted weapons really worked. I suspect they were more effective as noisemakers than tools for killing, having outsize morale effect vs. killing enemy troops. If you were hiding along a trail, or doing a meeting engagement in dense brush, the sheer dislocation and disturbance you would develop having one of these go off in your ears by surprise would have worthwhile tactical effect. Also, if the point man dumped a mag or two, there is probably no way that the rest of the patrol would miss that they were in a fight.

      Outside context? These are ineffective range toys, period. Jungle? Small car patrolling Northern Ireland? They have their uses.

  2. Folks, that’s not an FAL magazine. It’s a magazine designed for the 7.62 NATO version of the Bren gun. It’s designed as a top feed where gravity is your friend. Hang it, as it were, upside down, fully loaded, in an FAL, and it’s a second round failure to feed malfunction waiting to happen. Trust me on this point. It’s a fairly straightforward malfunction, reasonably easy to clear, but it’s still embarrassing, and certainly raises your blood pressure a notch or two when the little enemy people are shooting at you. I recommend avoidance.

      • I’m reasonably sure that the Aussie version of the heavy barrel FAL used the same magazine as the re-chambered BRENs, and that it fed well in both weapons… I’ve got zero references for that fact to hand, however.

        I do not see the sense in having non-interchangeable magazines in that role, and I rather doubt they’d have done it. As I recall, the re-chambered BRENs didn’t use mags designed specifically for that weapon, but were designed to use re-purposed FAL mags, and that was part of the rationale behind the heavier lugs on the inch-pattern FAL magazines…

        If someone has the cites, or can refute that? I’d be grateful.

    • W. Fleetwood,

      As pictured in the above thumbnail the magazine is a straight 30 round magazine originally designed/issued for the L2 series of rifles. the 30rd magazine for the L4 Bren has a distinct curve.

      The straight magazine for the L2 was designed to overcome the limitations and reliability issues of the L4 magazine in these rifles, particularly in automatic fire.



  3. 43″ is as long as a Bren gun. For the usual FN Fal; this doesn’t look much shorter… Walking fire eh. Didn’t work again. Burma has spiders, lie on the deck and use the tripod; ambush.

    Full Auto the Oz SLR’s where they? Well they got that wrong straight away, to think that would even remotely work.

    Britain, sensibly went semi auto; unlike Argentina. And that was the last time any sense existed in the British military; 70 yrs ago.

    Given that; I think we should really become more pacifist, and spend the cash on research instead of keeping folk dressed up like Naploean in jobs.

    As a Brit, but anyway… It’s a wide world.

    • 70 years’ish FAL U.K edition eh, not the Falklands; clearly… My Dad said he nearly joined the Marined beforehand; personally I glad he avoided it “Some scouser ex Para on the radio once was saying he got his jaw blew off, and there was proper smoked folks lying around all other stone dead with 7.62x51mm Argie hits.” Still young folk eh, I joined up myself… Some good points to it. Apart from the War element; GPMG barrels going white hot’ish, vibrating the ground and going straight through albeit mild steel 1″ targets at 100m or so… In training, did I admit make me question if this was indeed a sensible idea.

      Peace eh, fair play to it; give it a go. Jesus’s birthday in a bit, eh.

    That war is OVER and was a waste of young men’s lives!!!!

    The Domino Theory was BS, and DUlles should hve been hung!

    • I know that is not a Bonaparte hat, but funny the brain isn’t it; I woke up this morning really keen “For 10 mins” on embroidering a Hanoverian mitre hat…

      Quite. I mean it was probably due to “Hats; before going to bed.” Brain, eh; amazing thing.

  5. If you’re ever in Perth Western Australia. Try to approach the Regiment at Swanbourne to visit their museum. You might get lucky. As the arsenal was quite interesting by memory.

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