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CIA .44 Revolver - Viet Nam era

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posted on Sep, 13 2008 @ 03:24 AM
I am reading a book called 'Avenger' by Frederick Forsythe.

It is a story about two friends who were Tunnel Rats during the Viet Nam war.

When describing the action in the darkness of the tunnel systems, Forsythe mentions that the CIA had a quantity of .44 Magnum Revolvers manufactured to fire special ammunition.

The rounds in question, split in to four fragments on leaving the barrel and quite literally shreds the target, human or otherwise.

My question is, is there any evidence of such a weapon ever existing?

posted on Sep, 13 2008 @ 07:20 AM
Sounds like a normal hollow point round to me. IIRC the tunnel rats usually used 1911s rather than 44s and the CIA never went anywhere near them

posted on Sep, 14 2008 @ 01:41 AM
reply to post by fritz

the weapon is refferenced in the book :

"the tunnels of cu chi "

Tom Mangold
John Penycate

ISBN : 0-340-27810-2

Page 111

my book states that he weapon was developed by the LWL [ limited warfare laboratory ] , not the CIA

it is discribed as :

a silent handgun , capable of "engaging fleeting targets without aimed fire " they came up with a " balanced compact 6 shot cylinder loaded exposed hammer selective double action modified smith and wesson .44 magnum revolver weighing 38oz" it fired a special 15 pellet bullet with a shot pattern similar to that of a shotgun but with smole and flash virtually eliminated , called the tunnel weapon , it deserved a better fate than it recieved

transcribed from the book

not EXACTLY what you describe - but very similar

my book further descibes how despite favourable ergonomics and ease of use - its lethality / icapacitation rate was sub par - and the ammo had a high misfure rate

hope that helps

posted on Sep, 14 2008 @ 05:43 AM
Thanks guys.

But Frederick Forsyth - reknowned for his research prior to publishing his books, was adamant that this weapon was a .44 revolver which used a special round.

It was not a hollow point round but more like a fragmentation round, in that the bullet split in to 4 pieces as soon as it left the muzzle.

The weapon described was not silent because, Hollywood not withstanding, you cannot silence a revolver!

posted on Sep, 14 2008 @ 06:35 AM
reply to post by fritz

Its a split point round or segmented round.
A split point is something that is done by hand, you use a jewlers saw to split the round, from the point back.
As soon as the round leaves the barrel it peels back like a classic cartoon banana peel.
or a segmented round is in 3 or parts and held together with a plastic sabot, upon leaving the barrel the sabot falls away and the round fragments.

but now that I am writing this i am thinking, DUH, it could be a flechette round.

They were made for shotguns for sure, and maybe for a smaller hand gun sized round. You could probably fit a half dozen small nails into the sabot that holds it all together.
They were used with great effectiveness as an artillery round, and as an round for the grenade launchers of the day.

But after more carful reading of the posts what is described is a segmented round.

It is essentially a pistol version of buck shot.

posted on Sep, 14 2008 @ 10:24 AM

Originally posted by fritz
Thanks guys.

But Frederick Forsyth - reknowned for his research prior to publishing his books, was adamant that this weapon was a .44 revolver which used a special round.

It was not a hollow point round but more like a fragmentation round, in that the bullet split in to 4 pieces as soon as it left the muzzle.

The weapon described was not silent because, Hollywood not withstanding, you cannot silence a revolver!

Hey Fritz, I´ve got a solution for you, and you lead me to the answer yourself because of your last sentence stating that revolvers were not silence-able. I however knew there have been a few silenced revolvers before, and in the process of searching for them I stumbled over your gun in question - it seems to be the "Quiet special purpose revolver" (or QSPR, how imaginative).

This is indeed a S&W model 29 revolver in .44 Magnum, but completely reworked with a new cylinder and snubnose smoothbore barrel to handle a very special .410 bore handgun shot shell. This ammunition is actually the defining part of the system; it consists of a plastic sabot (probably what Forsyth meant with his 4 fragments) that is filled with 15 tungsten balls that have an effective range of about 10m. So far so good, what silences this gun is that the propellant is completely sealed behind that "bullet" and drives forward a piston that transfers the impulse to said "bullet", but is then caught in serrations at the front of the casing, effectively trapping the gases and flames inside the cartridge.

Not an entirely novel idea, the Russians have been doing this for a long time, but the first practical installment I´ve heard of this concept in american weaponry. One site I visited was said that one cartridge of this ammunition cost $70 - in 1969 Dollars! Props to ignorant_ape, it seems to be the same weapon that he described.

Lastly, this was a limited US Army program, then again nothing would stop the CIA from using the same equipment.

[edit on 14/9/2008 by Lonestar24]

posted on Sep, 14 2008 @ 11:51 AM
I have the rounds described in the pasted post; they are clear plastic resembling shotgun shells and contain small pellets. They appear to hold 12-15 of these pellets.

the ones i have are .357, but i remember the gun shop had them in various Calibers.

They were called snake rounds, and the reason i purchased them, if i came across any snakes or rodents on a desert trip i took several years ago. I fired a few to accustom myself. they left a 12" pattern at about 15 feet.

posted on Sep, 14 2008 @ 04:19 PM
reply to post by fritz

ok - the weapon i cited WAS a .44 S&W revolver , neither i nor the book claimed it was silent , rather that it had minimal smoke / flash

the ` sticking points ` seem to be is source LWL vs CIA and number of pellets 15 vs 4

now the CIA historicaly appropriated / distributed many items ` as they saw fit ` sometimes using them in ways the developers never imagined

so that just leaves number of submunitions is it 15 or is it 4 ? or were there more than one ammo type availiable ?

or did forsythe just make it up / misread / get it wrong

if you are so bothered ASK THE AUTHOR , he is still alive and was last interviewed in july 2008

posted on Sep, 14 2008 @ 05:04 PM

Originally posted by ignorant_ape if you are so bothered ASK THE AUTHOR , he is still alive and was last interviewed in july 2008.

Bothered? Moi? I am not that bothered Ape! I just have this mental picture of a .44 magnum round splitting in to 4 pieces on exiting the barral in much the same way as the baddie's spaceship stole the Russian and Yank sattelites in that James Bomd film.

That is the why I was asking and that is why I posed the question.

I did not mean to upset you or anybody else. I was just curious.

posted on Sep, 14 2008 @ 05:46 PM
Nearly every program in Viet Nam that was labled as experimental by any designated group was invariably CIA covert action. You could throw a rock into any meeting at MACVSOG HQ and hit a few "Agents"!!LOL

[edit on 9/14/2008 by ZindoDoone]

posted on Sep, 14 2008 @ 06:04 PM
Perhaps this is it.

Smith & Wesson / AAI Quiet Special Purpose Revolver / QSPR / tunnel revolver (USA)

Quiet Special Purpose Revolver (QSPR; also known as 'tunnel revolver' or 'tunnel gun') evolved from 1967 US Army requirements for a silenced, multi-projectile hand weapon for use by 'tunnel exploration personnel' (so called 'tunnel rats'), which operated against Vietnamese communist forces in the numerous tunnels dug by NVA and VC personnel. The weapon concept was developed at US Army Land Warfare Laboratory at Aberdeen Proving Ground, in collaboration with AAI corporation, which was responsible for creation of the internally silenced ammunition, based on the "gas seal piston" concept [...]

First ten specimen of QSPR revolvers were delivered for field testing in Vietnam in mid-1969. Testing continued until late 1969

Image is a photoshopped modification of the original S&W M29 revolver photo to closely represent extremely rare QSPR weapon, © 2008 Maxim Popenker

[edit on 9/14/08 by makeitso]

posted on Sep, 15 2008 @ 02:35 AM
There were thousands of soldiers who did tunnel clearing duty. The pistol in question one one of many experimental wepons that were tried in the war, but it saw such limited service as to be nothing more than a historical footnote.
I have met 2 "tunnel rats" and both men were forever changed by their experiences, one of them to the point of disability later on in life.
One was a marine and the other army and neither of them would really talk about their tunnel experiences.
But the both commented that they went into the tunnels with a .45 a flashlight and a k-bar.

posted on Sep, 17 2008 @ 06:02 AM
Firing a regular 44 mag round underground in a small tunnel would be so damaging to the shooter.
Many of the VC tunnels were only 2x2 foot and the tunnel rats needed to hear the VC so they could not wear hearing protection.
The sound,blast and flash would be to much for anyone to fire a standard 44 mag round MORE THEN ONCE.

Some tunnel rats used a sawed-off double barrel 12 gage with AAI
"TELECARTRIDGE" silent shot shell or 12 ga. Grendl silent shot shell.

The Navy seals also liked these silent 12 ga rounds for taking out VC sentries

your truly
nam vet

[edit on 17-9-2008 by ANNED]

posted on Oct, 8 2008 @ 06:21 PM
I remember many eons ago some supposed CIA guys favoring a special short barreled .44 S&W (but I want to say it was .44 special and not mag.). I know a Ruger frame was/is/has been used in several suppressed set-ups using a special round that seals the gap between the cylinder and forcing cone.

" The trick is that a .30 caliber projectile was loaded in a sabot in a .44 Magnum cartridge case. However, the barrel is bored for the .30 cal projectile alone. The over-sized sabot serves to seal the cylinder/barrel gap."

posted on Oct, 9 2008 @ 11:10 AM
I'm thinking that this might be something along the lines of the of the Taurus Judge. This thing is a revolver capable of firing .45 Long Colt, .45 ACP or .410 shotgun shells. Combine this with with the Mosin-Nagant M1895 sealed-cylinder revolver, and you've got a silencer-capable, high-power, short-range revolver.

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