Vietnam War 1903A4 Bring Back/War Trophy


I think everyone will like this. A 1903A4 sniper rifle brought back by a Vietnam vet. He captured it from a dead communist. The theory is it was a Viet Minh capture from a French soldier then pressed into service later by the PAVN. I don’t know if I buy that. The US did provide aid to French troops in VN. It could have been captured from ARVN troops since the US gave them mountains of US arms and equipment that was out of date. Who knows?

The optic seen on the gun as put there by the owner so he could shoot it without worrying about damaging the original. He does still have the original optic as show below.

I know the receiver says 1903A3 but that is correct for a sniper rifle. The A4 was the Army’s first attempt at a standard issue/ standard production sniper rifle purpose made from the start to be issued for sniping. The USMC used National Match hand selected 1903s with the 8X Unertl bought by the gov for use in WW2 and later was used in Korea and then on the Model 70s in Vietnam.

The original optic issued with the A4.

And finally the original paperwork to bring the gun home.


  1. I’ll lay you long odds that that rifle was never, ever in the hands of the VC and/or NVA. More than likely, it was “captured” from ARVN stocks, by hook or by crook.

    Acquaintance of mine who had time in Vietnam was offered a similar deal by his counterpart that he was “advising”, which he had to turn down because what he was being offered was full-auto and very, very unlikely to get through the process of being made legal.

    Kind of a pity, because it was a one-of-a-kind variant he’d never seen anywhere else of some French “BREN gun” that I think was probably a mint-condition Chatellerault of some kind. Thing was in the unit arms room of the unit he was advising, they didn’t have the ammo for it, and his counterpart offered to give it to him as a gift. Everything was with it–spare magazines, tripod, sights, all of it.

    • yeah I wouldnt be surprised if that was the story. the same vet also brought back a chinese SKS with all matching serial numbers and it looks still new. I started to share those but figured no one really gets excited over an SKS

      • That might have come out of captured stocks–I know that they were finding cases of rifles in some of the fishing boats that the Navy guys were interdicting along the coast.

        Vietnam had some very unusual and interesting weapons show up, when they did the technical intel on them.

        The old Warrant Officer that was my point-of-contact over at the ordnance shop when I was at Fort Sill during my time as a unit armorer was a major source of stories about things–He’d done one tour over there working out of a technical intelligence shop in Saigon as an SME, and virtually everything that was strange or unusual during that time came through his hands. I don’t know if I believe him on this, but he claimed to have had hands on a developmental copy of the Dragunov that had been sent into South Vietnam with an ethnic Russian to do a combat evaluation of the rifle, and they’d killed the guy and captured his rifle. The Russian’s body got returned to the Soviet embassy with a message to “knock this shit off”, and the Soviets then withdrew a bunch of their ground advisers.

        Or, so he said… I never knew how to take some of the crap I heard from him, because if it didn’t relate to our weapons, he liked to tell some tall tales and just generally fuck with people.

          • I was thinking “what it was” as being more “How TF did a Memphis PD pistol get into the hands of the VC…?”.

            Had to guess, captured from an American who’d brought it over, but there have been stranger things found in weirder locations, with backstories that are beyond belief.

            Sometime in 2006, the Hawaiian National Guard guys that were attached to 101st Airborne, who had a really amazing record for sniffing out caches along the rivers and everywhere else they worked, found a new-in-crate M1919A6. Still in the crate, mind you, stenciled with the full US Army inventory nomenclature appropriate to such a thing from the late 1950s. Nothing on the crate or weapon showed how it got to a hole along the Tigris (I think…) and we were totally at a loss as to how such a thing could have happened–No military aid from the US to Iraq was recorded as having included those guns, the Iraqis never type-standardized on any American weapons or calibers, it wasn’t a part of any vehicle they might have ever bought from us, and the only people who’d been sold the damn things were the Iranians, who we didn’t think would have allowed a crated-up weapon to be captured… We never did get an answer back from anywhere in the US records side that could even tell us who it had been consigned to.

            But, there ya go–Brand-spanking-new M1919A6, in crate, all accessories, still essentially as it had left the depot oh-so-long-ago. And, we couldn’t figure out how it got from our hands to a hole in the ground in Iraq.

            Lots of other weird stuff over there–We had all the weapons that 101st captured when they killed Saddam’s sons in Mosul, which were pretty plain vanilla stuff whose only real claim to fame was the provenance, and a lot of other crap that was just bizarrely out of place–Like the brand-new FAMAS, and a bunch of other crap I’ve only ever seen in the pages of books and magazines. The StG44 was a hoot to handle, and you had to wonder what the stories were behind it getting into Iraq in the first damn place. Had to be from Syria, but… Why? Why would anyone send that thing in as aid and support to the Iraqis?

            There were some very nice things in that CONEX, but all the really good stuff got returned to the Iraqi government, because our own government and military are a bunch of pussy-ass chickenshits that have no appreciation for the finer traditions of soldierly looting of the enemy’s toys.

          • I like to think it was sent to the British in one of those lend lease or when regular people sent guns to help, then it ended up in asia in the hands of some Tommy fighting the Japs, then eventually ending up in the hands of some VC who didn’t need it anymore circa 1967

      • Anyone who could not get at least a little excited over even a beat-up Chinese SKS documented to have been brought back from Viet Nam, much less a really nice one, needs to have their man card revoked pending “re-education”.

    • It could have been brought back and registered as the NFA Registry was still open and didn’t close until May19th. 1986. But it may have been more difficult. And the Registry may still be reopened if a pre-1986 machine gun is found although it would have to be in ATF custody until the finder can qualify to own it. Or just surrendered to Law Enforcement which can register it. AFAIK.


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