Shortened M60s in Vietnam


I saw this over on the forum where some discussion was going on about these chopped down and redone M60s. Clearly used in Vietnam you can see how they were shortened to make them handier for use in the field and on helicopters.

The one above was modified to fit inside the “loach” scout helicopter for the pilot to use on targets of opportunity. Makes me wonder about how much of a problem the links and brass may have caused inside though.

The bottom is a regular infantrymen with a shortened M60.

I’d want a lighter M60 too if I was going to be carrying that much belted ammo on my body.


  1. In my experience carrying ammo belts wrapped around the body looks very warlike but isn’t real practical, particularly during fire and movement. The belts can bend and break, mud and shit gets into the links etc. Much easier to carry it in satchels.

    • I Saw some picks of Australian troops carrying M60 ammo belts inside rubber tubing to protect it and thought about sharing it in that post. I wish I had now.

      • Like innertubes?

        I vaguely heard about that from some of the old-timers; they made things that sounded a lot like the current ammo fanny pack-style bags for belts. Never saw one in the flesh or in use, just that “You could do that…”.

  2. @LSWCHP,

    Yep. That’s one “tell” for whether or not you’re dealing with a professional soldier, or a wannabe amateur-hour poseur. The real-deal Vietnam guys who’d spent significant time in combat all drilled into me that the so-called “Mexican Bandido” carry for ammo was absolutely forbidden, and if they ever caught any of us doing that crap, it was grass drills till you puked.

    I have no idea at all why those pictures are all over the place, either. Maybe I was dealing with a small sample size of Vietnam veterans, or it was just that the idiots who did that method of carry were considered “bad-ass” and photogenic…?

    The shortened barrel thing still mystifies me, as well. That bitch was noisy and unreliable as it was, and I can’t imagine why on earth you’d want to make it worse. The port pressure on the guns had to experience a massive drop with the barrel hacked off just in front of the gas system, so… Yeah. Seems as if the minute you built up the least amount of fouling, you’d be done for.

    There’s a lot of stupidity surrounding this sort of thing with people. They think they’re gonna be able to mod a weapon in the field, and somehow “fix” some issue that the guys back in the factory or developmental labs didn’t catch or manage to test, and that there will be no issues.

    Of course, the supply chain ain’t exactly responsive sometimes, either. Witness the extreme stupidity of the M4 fielding process, wherein they chose to take a weapon intended as a “nice-to-have” self-defense weapon for support troops, and then turned it into the basic primary infantry weapon without really bothering to test for a lot of the things they should have with regards to lethality and range.

    I remain dubious of the proposition that chopping all that barrel off was ever a good idea. If they didn’t properly crown the barrel on that thing, they probably turned that gun into what amounted to a man-portable Claymore, throwing bullets all over hell and gone.

  3. SOG used the cut down M60, but it was not really liked by the teams for a number of reasons. The cut down RPD was a much better weapon.

  4. Great topic and article. Thanks for posting it.

    The photo of the guy with the belts of 7.62 draped across his body makes me cringe. I am not judging him because I respect those guys and the war they had to fight in, but my experience as an M60 gunner from 1988 to 1994 showed me that disintegrating link ammo is pretty fragile when carried in a haphazard manner like that. Things link the cartridges working loose in the links, debris getting intertwined, etc. Plus, it takes more time to unwrap the belts from your torso than it does to have your a-gunner pull a 100 rd box from.your ruck or pop the lid on a 200 rd can. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

  5. I used to complain about the weight of humping an M60. Once we switched to M240B’s, I realized how light the M60 was and missed that. But one thing I didn’t miss about the M60 was how finicky and jam-o-matic it could be.

    I also missed the slower rate of fire that the M60 had. At 550 rounds per minute, it was easily controlled with a bipod and it was adequately controllable when fired from the hip.

    I never could control the M240B when fired from the hip, even though it was only 100 or 200 rounds per minute faster on the cyclic, depending on which gas port adjustment I was using.

    When mounted on a Tripod or Pintle T&E, the faster cyclic rate of the 240B over the M60 was a huge blessing.


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