After the fall of Saigon to the communists of North Vietnam , the crowning achievement of the U.S. Democrat party of the day. There was a lot of equipment and arms left over, much of it US made and supplied to the Army of the Republic  of South Vietnam for their for their survival in their fight to hold off the Peoples Army Of North Vietnam, China, the USSR and Fellow Travelers in the US.  After the final fall, that left a mountain of war material left over.    Most of it ended up  piled up  in stacks and left to quietly rust to nothing in the tropical jungle climate.

Not. Pretty.

Some however were saved by the victors to be re purposed  and modified for their own uses, a very common thing for the Vietnamese  people to do.   The AK may be in the minds of millions as the signature gun for the Vietnamese communist but  even they recognized its virtues and more modern concepts.

The lighter handier and more accurate M16 and M16A1 certainly had an impact on the Communist forces ( no pun intended) but the one that really must have made an impression was the Colt  “CAR15”  otherwise known officially as the Xm177 mostly used and identified with US Special Operations forces  and MACVSOG  in particular.  With most of the world not using an AK pattern rifle going with the M16 family and now the M4 or M4 like carbine, the Viets  knew a good thing when they saw it.

After cannibalizing parts,  sourcing other parts from various countries and using non licensed Chinese rip off parts, Vietnam developed its own take on a CAR15.  They call this carbine the M18 reportedly.


While it is obvious that the upper and lower receivers  are 60s era Colt made originals, the collapsing  stock is the current M4 pattern, as is the hand guards.    If those new parts are made to original specs or are pure knock offs from a Chinese airsoft company I have no idea.

The M18 is issued to at least  some special units and the coast guard. The carbines pictured above appear to have a newer finish  and a suppressor, It is curious that the Vietnamese updated the buttstock and HGs but chose to retain the original smooth A1  pistol grip.  Many people would agree with their choice over the A2 grip.


You can read a little bit about it here if you can read Vietnamese. It has very, very little technical  details about the M18 and is more of a fluff piece with some CNN level knowledge on  the AR15 system but  I link it for those interested and able to read it .




  1. They still use the hardened aircraft shelters my dad’s Seabee battalion built while over there too. If I recall correctly they also repurposed the RVN’s F5s for a time as well though mostly for show.

    We had original Air Force contract M16s still in service just ten years ago that I can personally vouch for. We had to do inspections on them and their maintenance records went waaaay back. It’s not beyond reason many of those war service weapons would still be serviceable though. Other than their intervention in Cambodia they’ve had a relatively peaceful existence since so the guns wouldn’t be beaten into submission through overuse. It’s still saddening to think at least some of these were taken from a GI.

    • there is a pretty well know picture floating around of some hill tribe in Khmer still running around using an M16 with the traingle HGs held together by some rope and it still works. The M16/M16A1/AR15 is a hell of a lot tougher and durable than a lot of internet experts want to give it credit for and admit.

      • No doubt but then again an occasional “hard day’s shooting” of a Wal Mart value pack is about the extent of use a lot of people’s ARs ever see. But hey, their money and of course it’s still a free country for them to do as they wish.

  2. You never forget the sound of a AK47 rifle , as a young Marine in Vietnam the first time I heard that sound a young hero died and soon a mother cried , boys became men or died . Fear turned to courage, you were there to fight for your country ,but you would die fighting for your brother standing next to you . That was your new world ,for Marines 13 months was your tour , some headed home after 1 day in country , in body bags with a flag draped across them . For some 12 months and 10 days of hell ended with death . 20 days left and they would have been home .
    The heat 110 degrees in the high humid land , with boobe traps on jungle trails and snipers hidden in spider holes ready to pop up and fire . Snakes and wild tigers and fearless man eating Babboons that roamed the land in packs . And rats that would pull your hair out or bite you as big as cats . The AK 47 was the rifle of choice for the enemy , its Russian made and indestructible, water mud dirt , nothing hurts these rifles they will fire under water . Our weapons were of the highest of technology costing 50 times as much as the AK 47 , we had the M16 America made rifle very high quality plastic and steal , that if wet or dirty would jam mostly when your life depended on it . When it rained it would rain for 50 60 days day and night called the monsoon season . Your clothes were wet your feet were wet your spirit was wet for weeks at a time you walked all day searching for the enemy , when you lay down in mud to close your eyes for rest is when the enemy liked to fight , they even the odds in the dark , we had the helicopters and planes in the day time , they had the dark of night and stealth waiting for tired soldiers. I’ve seen drug bags attached to enemy soldiers with I Vs who never felt a bullet tear through their body and kept coming at you until you blew their head off . Blood spattered across your filthy wet clothes explosion all around bullets flying in all directions in a fire fight , at night you would see the tracer rounds light up the dark like shooting stars the bullets flew , and grenades full of shrapnel light bees made of hot steel seeking to penetrate your body . The watery rice paddys you lay in or crossed the streams and bogs were full of leaches sucking your blood and you never knew until you pulled down your pants or pulled up your shirt and saw the slimey blood suckers attached all over you . Mosquitoes bit you day and night full of malaria, I had it twice spent a total of 40 days combined on hospital ships feeling like death warmed over , but safe and dry for a while . If you were in the bush your food was in a cardboard box called sea rations , there was no Buffett to choose everybody got the same thing most of the time , sometimes your food had been packaged and canned back in World War Two , or Korean War . You weren’t always in the bush looking for death once or twice a month you would come into a base for a week or so get baths hot chow and new clothes , and “hope “, write a letter home, receive a package and letters from home , sleep on cots not mud or dirt listen to rock music , go to chapel and pray ,drink cold beer , laugh and talk about home and wife’s or girlfriends , Mama , dad and family ,football . The next week that old buddy your brother in arms lifeless body would be draped across your shoulders as you loaded him aboard a medivac helicopter. Your job had a lot to do with what your life expectancy was , if you carried a M60 machine gun in the bush life expectancy was 5 minutes, radio man 1 day ,point man one hundred yards , door gunner on a Huey helicopter 5 minutes, officer second lieutenant 7 seconds in a fire fight , ground pounding grunt rifleman 30 minutes tops . Not much hope of ever seeing home again . Now you see why these kids who played high schooled football last year , had their first real girlfriend last year , still lived with mom and dad , some never had a intimate relationship with a female , some still had pimples on their baby faces came home and brought Vietnam with them . The boy if he made it home was never the same , many fought the war at night in dreams . PTSD was not known or was not recognized for 25 to 30 years until after the war in Vietnam, they said it’s all in your head boys . Until they recognize the suicide rate was 10 times the veteran average did the VA decide hey something’s wrong . Not everyone that went to Vietnam was a rifleman or grunt , some drove trucks , cooked , did construction, mechanic, every day jobs on the bases , the only action they saw was an occasion mortar attacked , or guard duty and shot at by snipers . Do I fault them heck no they served their country in war . Did I feel like a hero when I returned , Hell no ,I felt like I never left for 35 years of PTSD , you can’t look at a person and tell what hell is in his or her head . How and why did I make home ,and why me and not so many of my brothers ? (God had a plan ) I was no faster ,no smarter , no better , no luckier, nope . God had a plan and that’s my witness friends . Ive said before the heroes of war are the dead left behind very few make it home and many of the Vietnam Vets that survived brought back the orange death with them only to die later a slow painful death from agent orange that orange striped killer in 55 gallon drums sprayed all over us and the jungle . And then be treated like street scum by our own people when we came home . And even worse by our own Government Heath care system called the V A hospital. Well thanks America. I’m glad those kids that sacrificed their life cant see what they died for today. Danny C Hall USMC Vietnam 1968 to 1969

    • The sound of the AK is seared in my mind. I wish you had mentioned the unit you were with. I was there in 68-69 as well. India Co 3/3. I suspect we weren’t that far apart.

    • I was not drafted due to the “luck of the draw”. I got #256 if I remember correctly and was relieved. That was in July of 1970. I have been drawn to the writings of the “Que Son Valley Contractor” and your post reminds me of his writings. He too tells of the horrors that stay with him to this day. I pray for all of you that the bonds you formed in VietNam can somehow be reformed and together you can bring this problem out from the darkness where it has been for decades and into the light so it can hopefully be somehow remedied. Thank you Danny C. Hall for your openness and your insight and for your service.

  3. Thank you Danny Hall ! You told it better than than I ever could have and took more heat than I did so I thank you sir and welcome home . My time there was spent around Danang in 1972 and 1973 near the end of the war for us . I still remember the nights spent in the benji ditches with leaches and snakes trying to keep as still as possible knowing the gooks were there as well and waiting for daylight to see where . Even though it was hot and humid , at night when you were muddy and wet , you were cold as ice and you thought the shivering would never stop . At 77 years old the dreams still haunt , the memories never fade . The smells of war never leave and the promises of a “grateful nation” somehow have never never became a reality . Even so, may God Bless America always !

  4. All I can say is welcome home my brothers n sisters especially my Vietnam brothers welcome homluyn DS/DS 1/39th FAR ABN


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