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Remington Timeline: 1966 - Remington Firearms in Vietnam

Remington Timeline: 1966 - Remington Firearms in Vietnam

The Vietnam War placed American troops into fighting conditions the military had not faced since the "War in the Pacific", with thick jungle conditions that forced many close range firefights with an enemy skilled in guerrilla warfare.

As the war escalated, the demand for close-range shotguns as well as long-range sniper rifles caused Remington gun makers to tool up once again in support of American forces. As always, Remington answered the call.

Remington Military Shotguns

Shotguns had been used by American soldiers since the Civil War but gained notice during the Moro Insurrection (1899 - 1913) in the Philippine Islands. The nine 00 buckshot from a 12-gauge Winchester Model 97 proved the best means of stopping a fanatical Moro Juramentado and for close-range jungle fighting. When we became involved in WWI the Model 97 proved equally effective for trench fighting.

Model 870 Riot Guns were standard issue to many American soldiers and Marines in Vietnam and were a favorite weapon for close-quarters firefights.

During WWI Remington provided 4500 of their Browning-designed Model 10 pump-action riot shotguns, some of which were modified into "Trench Guns" by adding a wooden handguard and bayonet mounting brackets. They saw service with American Doughboys on the Western Front and there are photographs of U.S. Marine mail guards in the 1920s armed with these guns; some of which were still in use when the U.S. entered WWII.

During WWII Remington Model 11 semiauto riot guns were obtained. While most were used for security and training purposes stateside, some found their way to the South Pacific where U.S. Marines found them just the item for close-range jungle fighting, patrolling, sentry duty or stopping Japanese banzai charges.

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When the U.S. became involved in Vietnam, the shotgun once again proved its worth for fighting in heavy jungles and for guarding outposts against Viet Cong attacks. At the time Army and USMC inventories included a varied selection of Winchester, Stevens and Ithaca Trench and Riot guns along with the aforementioned Remington Model 10 and 11 guns. Calls went out for guns to replace this aging assortment of smoothbores and in 1960 the U.S. government obtained in excess of 38,000 Remington Model 870 pump-action riot guns, many of which were forwarded to the South Vietnamese while others were issued to shipboard and ground units of the USMC, Army and Air Force during the war.

Most of these guns were five-shot repeaters with 18- or 20-inch barrels, blue finishes and wooden stocks; while some were fitted with Parkerized finishes, rubber recoil pads and sling swivels.

An American sailor on a river gunboat in Vietnam armed with a Model 870 Riot Gun. (courtesy Bruce Canfield & Stuart Mowbray)

Designed by a team led by L. Ray Crittendon, the Model 870 was a bottom-loading, side-ejecting pump-action shotgun with a four-round tubular magazine under the barrel, dual action bars, internal hammer, and a bolt, which locks into an extension in the barrel. The USMC requested a number of changes and in 1966 an extensively modified gun was adopted as the Shotgun, 12 Gauge, Remington, Model 870 Mark 1.


It was fitted with a 21-inch barrel with a modified choke and rifle-type sights. An extended magazine gave it a capacity of eight rounds while a bracket near the muzzle stabilized the magazine tube and had lugs for attaching the M7 bayonet as used on the M16 rifle.

Specifications:Shotgun, 12 Gauge, Remington, Model 870 Mark 1
Caliber:12 Gauge, 2.75 inch
Overall length:41.75 in.
Barrel length:21 in.
Weight (unloaded):8 lbs.
Capacity:8 rounds
Sights:Front: blade
Rear: U notch adj. for elevation
Stock:Stained walnut

The Model 870 Mark 1 proved a very popular weapon and saw extensive service during the war. After the war the Model 870 Mark 1 remained the standard Navy and USMC issue shotgun and was later supplemented by some Mossberg 590A1s.

Despite the effectiveness of the pump-action shotgun in jungle warfare, there were calls for similar weapons with higher rates of fire. Accordingly Remington began development of a selective-fire shotgun based upon their popular Model 1100 semiauto shotgun.

In its finalized version the Model 7188A1 used the basic Model 1100 receiver with the trigger mechanism modified with a three-position selector switch for safe, semiauto and full-auto fire, and a modified shell carrier to ensure feeding under all conditions. It was fitted with a 20-inch, full-choke barrel with rifle type sights and a full-length ventilated metal handguard with an adapter to accept the M7 bayonet.

Variations included the Model 7188A2, which did away with the rifle sights replacing them with a simple bead front sight. The Model 71889A3 did not have a ventilated handguard.

One of the world's most famous snipers of the Vietnam era was Carlos Hathcock, shown here with a Model 40 during his second tour in Vietnam.

A small number of 7188A1s were delivered to the Navy SEALs in 1967. While the SEALs appreciated the destructive firepower of the 7188A1, they found it to be highly sensitive to dirt and fouling, which made it unsuited for general use in Vietnam. In addition, the enormous recoil of a full-auto burst (even at the low cyclic rate of the Model 7188) was difficult to control. And even with an extended magazine, the ammunition supply was thought to be too small by many SEALs. There were never more than a couple of dozen of each Mark used and they were withdrawn from service within a few years.

Specifications:Shotgun, 12 Gauge, Remington, Model 7188A1 Military
Caliber:12 Gauge, 2.75 inch
Overall length:41.1 in.
Barrel length:20 in.
Weight (unloaded):9 lbs.
Capacity:8 rounds
Sights:Front: blade
Rear: U notch adj. for elevation
Stock:Stained walnut

Remington Sniper Rifles

The warning "Sniper!" causes even the bravest soldiers to cower behind cover. The ability of the sniper to place a single rifle bullet precisely where he wants it, when he wants to and, usually, from a position that makes him invisible to his foe can immobilize and render impotent entire units of troops.

The 7.62mm, Sniper, Remington Model 700 with a Redfield 3-9X variable scope was the primary sniper rifle of American troops during the Vietnam War. Photo Courtesy Remington Museum via Roy Marcot

The type of fighting common to the Vietnam conflict made the sniper invaluable. The Viet Cong and North Vietnamese made extensive use of snipers and in response the U.S. Army and USMC organized sniper units. At first American snipers in Vietnam used an assortment of rifles including 1940's vintage M1903A4 Springfields, Korean War vintage M1D Garands, Model 70 Winchesters and few scoped M14 rifles.

In 1965 the Marine Corps Marksmanship Training Unit (MTU) embarked upon a program to develop a satisfactory bolt-action sniper rifle with the precondition that it would have to be chambered for the standard 7.62mm NATO cartridge. After a series trials it was determined that Remington's Model 40X (a version of the Model 700 rifle) best met their needs. It was designated the "Rifle, 7.62mm, Sniper, Remington M700." Instead of its rather lengthy designation it was usually referred to as the "Model 40."

U.S. Marine snipers in Vietnam, armed with 7.62mm, Remington Model 700 Sniper rifles, took a deadly toll on enemy troops. Photo Credit: USMC

Built on the Model 700 short action, it had a medium weight, free floating barrel 24 inches long with a 1/10 RH twist, a five-round magazine and a walnut stock. The original rifles were fitted with Redfield 3-9x variable scopes with rangefinder reticles and mounted on Redfield Jr. mounts.

Specifications:Shotgun, 12 Gauge, Remington, Model 870 Mark 1
Caliber:12 Gauge, 2.75 inch
Overall length:41.75 in.
Barrel length:21 in.
Weight (unloaded):8 lbs.
Capacity:8 rounds
Sights:Front: blade
Rear: U notch adj. for elevation
Stock:Stained walnut

While generally liked by their users, the Model 40 exhibited some shortcomings. The rifle's wood stock proved susceptible to the humid and hot conditions common to Vietnam. It was not glass bedded and became warped to the detriment of accuracy. In addition, the Redfield scope was basically a commercial hunting scope and did not stand up well to extensive use and the rigors of combat; the scope's green anodized finish wore easily; and the Redfield Jr. mounts proved less than durable while their mounting screws tended to loosen and were easily lost.

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