Made out of desperation and a lack of factory-produced arms, a few of these guns came back to the US as war souvenirs. This pistol was modeled after a US 1911 captured by the Viet Cong, and clearly made with a minimum of tooling.

The pictures come from Andrew, who runs Wartime Collectibles. He was buying a veteran’s uniform and insignia, and got the pistol as well:

North Vietnamese crude 1911 copy

North Vietnamese crude 1911 copy

While the broad outline is a pretty decent duplication of the 1911, there are a bunch of simplifications that have been made. Most obviously, the safety has been omitted, along with the plunger tube for its locking detent. The plunger tube, actually, has been left off all the different examples of this sort of pistol that we have seen. Compared to the other working parts of the gun, the plunger tube is fairly unimportant and fairly tricky to mount properly, so it isn’t particularly surprising to not see it here. In addition, the slide stop lever here appears to be non-functional, as there is not cutout in the slide for it to rotate up into. It’s just acting as a barrel pin.

North Vietnamese crude 1911 copy

The extractor is visible here, and is of the external type instead of the 1911 internal design. Again, this is simpler to build this way.

North Vietnamese crude 1911 copy

And the magazine release has been put in the heel of the gun. Not the number of holes in the magazine – apparently the gunsmith here didn’t recognize the significance of the witness holes, namely having one for each cartridge.

Unfortunately, Andrew hasn’t disassembled the gun, so we don’t have any photos of the internal construction. Some of these sorts of guns have no locking lugs, and act as straight blowback actions. Andrew informs us that the barrel does have some play when the slide is retracted, and between this and the barrel pin we can tell that it is not a fixed-barrel gun. Whether the locking system was copied faithfully or just left off remains a question. While we are generally eager to shoot unusual historical weapons around here, I don’t think we would really want to touch off this one. It would probably function for at least a few rounds, but I like my face as-is and don’t really need to risk running a pistol slide through it.



  1. What exactly do u consider a minimum of tooling ?
    I believe it was made by someone with access to the proper power-tools and with enough know-how .
    It seems to me that minimum was his time to build it
    and his opportunities to use the tooling .
    I too would be very hesitant in shooting it as there
    is no guarantee whatsoever regarding the metallurgy
    of it, BUT on a practical level it is an excellent idea .
    By the way u r running a great site. Best wishes from Athens, Greece .

  2. Hay these guys just needed something that could shoot and kill a guy not to be pretty or practical

  3. is the barrel of this gun rifled?
    if not u need not much tools to make such a pistol
    to me the slide of this gun seems to be made from several parts,
    like that of the german volkspistole.
    if someone wants to shoot this gun he needs at first some handloaded rounds
    with 140 grain projectiles and not more the 1.6 grain of somekind of weak acp powder. when this works one can test some rounds loaded with a 180 grain projectile and 4 grains of alliant blue dot,have fun.

  4. The V.C. also converted the captured 1911 – 45acp’s to shoot the 7.62 x 25 mauser type ammo.
    When I was a dealer navy arms had like 300 of these converted V.C. 1911’s for sale. They were like $550.00 each. so I passed. But I be willing to bet this weapon would shoot the same ammo?
    The conversion was crude but effective. Say what you want the V.C. and china can copy and make any thing they need. I bet they even copy American money and the treasury cannot tell the difference?

    • considering the ammount of inflation the treasury is causing, it wouldn”t affect it much if they did copy our money

  5. The Vietnamese both North and South copied quite a few things.I have a copy of an Enfield No.2 Mark 1 clearly marked Made in Vietnam – in English . Brought back by an Irishman serving in the U.S. army who recognized it as an Enfield type. He died on his second deployment (RIP).Also marked in Vietnamese, which I have yet to have translated. May have been used by the Cao Dai Sect,but that’s another story.

  6. I agree with the minimum tooling fact! I knew a guy on Hondu Street in Danang when I was there in ’68 who made Smith and Wesson .38 caliber revolvers with some files, a few drill bits and no power tools what so ever! I used to have one of each. But traded them for something more interesting! A brand new PTRD still in cosmoline.

  7. I recall a full article in a “american rifleman” issue from back in the early “70s” dedicated to these firearms. They mentioned the person making them was limited to nothing more than basic hand tools. And it took several days to manufacture. This article may possibly exist still in the NRA archives for those who may be interested.

  8. A gun digest annual back in the early 70s also had an article about one of these things. Theirs had been fired and the barrel/slide assembly had a somewhat bent upwards appearance as a result of the metal bending. Those gun shops were a lot like the ones in the Khyber Pass, except clandestine and often underground lit by oil lamps or the like. All hand tools, scrap metal and someone who knew what they were doing. Remember these early conflict guns had only two purposes. As a badge of office/rank and to kill the GI so you could take his gun. Later of course when better weaponry flowed down from China these home workshop projects became no longer needed.

  9. the interesting thing is the frame is made in
    two parts. Left side and right side. then
    brazed together.
    Note the brass filled seam in
    the frame leading to trigger guard.
    This means you can make the mag well
    without doing any complex machining.
    A very clever way to get round not having a mill.


  10. Ran across this blog surfing the net. These guns are so rare. Felt I had to share a pic of mine with the paperwork to bring it out of country. Old 1911 VC knockoff. These guns are very crude and would be afraid to shoot this thing. Hope the picture links work

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