Privately-Owned Weapons in Modern Military Service

Introductory Note:  This feature article that I’ve written is a bit unusual for SurvivalBlog.  I wrote it mostly out of my personal interest in military history. It only has limited practical application, but I’m sure that many readers will find it interesting. You will note that I’ve made it heavy on photographs, since those images often speak volumes, just by themselves.

There has been very little documented about privately-owned weapons used by members of modern military organizations. Regulations on Privately-Owned Weapons vary widely, but generally, they have grown more restrictive with the passage of time. Because of these regulations, personal memoirs often gloss over the possession of such weapons. But you often see them pop up in circulated photos taken in combat zones.

Up until the Spanish-American War, U.S. military officers and NCOs could carry whichever sidearm they chose. But increasingly, standardization became an issue–at least stateside. Overseas, in combat, things even today are still more freewheeling, especially at the sharp end. And there definitely seems to be a double standard for special operations forces. More recently, with the advent of private security contractors, some additional “gray areas” have developed.

In England and the rest of the British Empire, privately-owned sidearms for commissioned officers were still allowed up until the 1930s. In fact, the contracted private companies that provided commissary services often sold sidearms to serving officers, overseas. For example, the “WG” Army Model Webley revolvers were widely sold by the Army & Navy Cooperative Society, Ltd. (C.S.L.) stores and other retailers to British officers in the 1880s and 1890s.

Vague About The Hague

Many times, I’ve heard it suggested that restrictions on privately-owned sidearms developed because of Declaration III of the Hague Convention, which banned the use of expanding (mushrooming) bullets. The U.S. government has never been a signatory to that portion of the Hague Convention, but we’ve largely abided by it. Although we do have a penchant for military shotguns, which many European military leaders consider “barbaric.”  And most recently, the U.S. Army adopted a hollowpoint 9mm cartridge.

Most western militaries refer to Privately-Owned Weapons as POWs.  No, they don’t use the POW acronym for Prisoners of War. Those are called PWs (Prisoners of War) or EPWs (Enemy Prisoners of War.) Again, up until the 1900s, POW sidearms were the norm for commissioned officers and NCOs in most western armies.

Some Notable POWs and Owners

Now I’d like to dive into specifics on some noteworthy owners and carriers of POWs.  Not all of these individuals followed regulations. For some high-ranking officers, such regulations were seen as non-applicable to themselves–which is to say: “Guns for me, but not for thee.”

Lord Lovat’s Winchester

Lord LovatLord Lovat (Brigadier Simon Fraser, 15th Lord Lovat, 4th Baron Lovat ) was born in 1911 and died in 1995. As a Lieutenant colonel, he famously carried a commercial Winchester Model 70 chambered in .30-06 when leading the August, 1942 British commando raid on Dieppe. In the Hollywood movie The Longest Day, they depicted Lord Lovat (portrayed by Peter Lawford) carrying a Mannlicher rifle on D-Day. But in his memoirs Lovat asserted that he had carried a standard U.S. M1 Carbine. That was a weapon not formally adopted by the British military, but Rank Hath Its Privileges (RHIP).

Winston Churchill’s Mauser

In his early years, Winston Churchill carried his own commercially purchased C.96 Broomhandle Mauser pistol. The image at the top of this article is a still from the 1972 movie Young Winston, starring Simon Ward.   Here is an account mentioning that pistol, and  Churchill’s capture, during the Second Anglo-Boer War:

“Churchill had accompanied an armored train which was ambushed by the Boers on its way to Ladysmith. While technically a non-combatant, he had been armed with his Mauser pistol and had volunteered his services to the train’s commander, Captain Aylmer Haldane, after the train came under fire. Several rail cars had been derailed by Boer artillery, preventing the engine from retreating to safety. Under constant machine gun and artillery fire from the Boers, Churchill directed the clearing of the line, helped load wounded onto the engine’s tender and then accompanied the engine to safety at Frere Station. After doing so, he returned on foot to the action to assist the remaining wounded and was captured.

One of the wounded officers who Churchill helped lead to safety called him “as brave a man as could be found.”

Brave, but forgetful. In returning to help the wounded, Churchill had left his Mauser on the engine, so that he was unarmed when confronted by a Boer rifleman on a horse. Churchill described the moment of his capture in My Early Life:

“I thought there was absolutely no chance of escape, if he fired he would surely hit me, so I held up my hands and surrendered myself a prisoner of war. ‘When one is alone and unarmed,’ said the great Napoleon, in words which flowed into my mind in the poignant minutes that followed, ‘a surrender may be pardoned.’”

Unfortunately for Churchill, his daring exploits in rescuing the train were widely reported in the press by his fellow correspondents. These news reports undermined his efforts to persuade the Boers to release him on the grounds that he was a noncombatant. Churchill claimed in a letter to the Boer Secretary of State for War that he had taken “no part in the defence of the armoured train” and was “quite unarmed.” The Boers weren’t fooled.

Patton’s Pistols

Some POWs have had almost legendary status.  Most notably, General Patton’s ivory-gripped .45 Colt Colt Single Action revolvers. For some reason, American journalists spilled a lot of ink, over them. Perhaps it was because they were a physical manifestation of Patton’s larger than life personality. Most of Patton’s guns are now on display at the post museum at Fort Knox, Kentucky. And even today, they attract just as much attention from tourists as do the hundreds of tons of tanks and other vehicles that are on display, out front.

Mad Jack’s Longbow

Several times in SurvivalBlog, I’ve mentioned the eccentric “Mad Jack” Churchill (1906-1996). He went to war in WWII with his service revolver, but also armed with a broadsword and a longbow. He reportedly used that longbow to kill at least two German sentries.

Captured Lugers, Walthers, and Nambus

Aside from samuari swords, the most prized war trophies in World War II were captured enemy service pistols. In Europe, this often meant Lugers P.08 pistols or Walther P.38 pistols, and in the Pacific theater, these were usually Nambu pistols. Though these captured guns were often stuffed deep into dufflebags to avoid theft, some servicemembers actually carried captured pistols for their self-defense, in combat. More often than not, these captured guns were later carried home to the States –with or without the benefit of official War Trophy capture papers.

 

After World War II, there were a huge number of captured guns that went into circulation in the United States. They have gradually been traded back and forth between collectors, and their prices have increased dramatically. Some of these “bring back” guns were fully automatic. But only a small fraction of those were legally registered, with a $200 Federal Transfer Tax stamp. The unregistered ones are considered contraband and are a felony to possess. Even today, 70+ years later, submachineguns, sturmgewehren, and light macineguns, are being found in the homes of deceased World War II veterans.

The Regulations

Each branch of the U.S. Military has its own regulations on POWs. For the U.S. Army, it is AR 190-11. Component commands, individual forts, and troop units can institute their own regulations and SOPs, right down to the Company level. Here is one example, for Fort Riley. and here is one for Fort Benning.

For the U.S. Navy, the key regulation is CNRMA Instruction 5820.2.

The U.S. Air Force has a similar regulation, but like the U.S. Army, a lot of the rulemaking is left up to subordinate commands and by individual installation commanders. In January of this year, there was a huge kerfluffle when the Commander of Offut Air Force Base in Nebraska banned privately owned weapons from being locked in privately owned vehicles (POVs) that ware driven on base–even if the owner had a civilian concealed carry permit.

The Army’s AR190-11’s section on POWs is fairly brief, and it intentionally leaves a lot up to individual commanders:

“4–5. Privately–owned weapons and ammunition
a.Commanders will establish procedures and publicize punitive policies that regulate privately–owned weapons, explosives, or ammunition on the installation. Such policies will provide for—(1) Registration of firearms belonging to personnel living on the installation.(2) Procedures for the carrying and use of weapons by hunters and marksmanship shooters using installation firing ranges.(3) Identification of prohibited weapons, such as crossbows, numchucks, swords, throwing stars.b.The carrying of privately–owned weapons, explosives, or ammunition on military installations are prohibited unless authorized by the installation commander or his designated representative.(1) Signs will be posted at installation access control points depicting this prohibition.(2) This prohibition does not apply to the lawful performance of official duties by an officer, agent, or employee of the United States, a State, or a political subdivision thereof, who is authorized by law to engage in or supervise the prevention, detection, investigation, or prosecution of any violation of law or security duties.c.Commanders will ensure privately–owned arms and ammunition (including authorized war trophies) are protected on their installations and facilities. Commanders will—(1) Secure arms and ammunition belonging to Soldiers living on the installation in the installation armory or unit arms rooms in approved locked containers separate from the military AA&E. Storage requirements in this regulation apply.(2) Installation commanders may authorize storage of these items in other locations on military installations, provided they are properly secured.(3) Account for and inventory the privately–owned arms and ammunition by conducting inventories when inventory-ing Government arms and ammunition.

(a)A DA Form 3749 (Equipment Receipt) will be issued for each privately–owned weapon secured in the arms rooms. (b)Privately–owned weapons will be inventoried in conjunction with, and at the frequency of, the inventory ofGovernment weapons.(c)Commanders will establish limits on the quantity and type of privately–owned ammunition stored in the arms room, based upon availability of space and safety considerations.(4) Post applicable local regulations and State and local law information on ownership, registration, and possession of weapons and ammunition on unit bulletin boards.(5) Conduct inspections per AR 190–13 and this regulation to ensure proper storage and control.(6) Process unauthorized AA&E in accordance with AR 195–5.(7) Prohibit retention and storage of incendiary devices and explosives.(8) Brief all newly assigned persons on this regulation and subordinate command guidance. All personnel will be made aware of changes.d.Personnel keeping or storing privately–owned arms and ammunition (including authorized war trophies) on military installation will—(1) Comply with Federal, State, and local laws and regulations on ownership, possession, registration, off–post transport, and use.(2) Store both arms and ammunition in the unit arms room or other locations authorized by the installation commander.(3) Follow local security and safety regulations. Safeguard the unit issued DA Form 3749 for turn–in to the unit armorer when the weapon is withdrawn from the arms room.(4) Withdraw privately–owned weapons and ammunition from the unit arms rooms only upon approval of the unit commander or the commander’s authorized representative.(5) Comply with the National Firearms Act and other relevant laws and regulations when receiving or bringing arms into the United States. Automatic arms must be turned over to the BATF or brought under Army control.” –  (AR 190–11 • 15 November 2006)

The other branches of the U.S. military have similar regulations.

Special Forces Leeway

The various special operations forces (SOF) have had a long tradition of carrying non-standard firearms. Some of these were officially issued and accounted for–such as the “training” AKMS rifles issued to U.S. Army Special Forces teams. And cross-border penetration teams often carry foreign weapons, to avoid detection. But a surprising number of guns–especially handguns–carried overseas by SOF troops have been privately owned (or captured) and “off the books.” In the case of captured guns, these were typically left behind with other unit members, whenever someone was rotated back to the United States. But in a few instances, there were un-papered “bring backs” that resulted in either UCMJ or civilian prosecution.

Those Rambunctious Aviators

During World War II, U.S. military aviators were authorized to carry pistols. Usually, these were just standard-issue S&W Victory Model K-frame .38 Special revolvers, or M1911A1 .45 ACPs.  These were carried in both hip holsters and shoulder holsters. Often, holsters were made by civilian leatherworkers. Militray pilots are well-known for their larger-than-life personalities. Many pilots carried one or more pistols that they had privately purchased in place of, or to supplement their issued pitol or revolver. These ranged from Colt .32 ACP pistols to family heirloom big-bore Colts and S&W revolvers.

Some pilots modified their issued sidearms with custom grips or carried them in custom-made holsters–often made by native craftsmen.  Pictured at the right is Lt. Col. David C Schilling, a P-47 fighter-bomber pilot who carried a M1911A1 modifed to full-auto fire, with a specially-made extended magazine, and equipped with a custom foregrip.

As a teenager, while on a family hunting trip, I was privileged to meet Alan Shepard. (He was no relation to the astronaut of the same name.) Shepard was a friend of my father’s who had been a B-17 co-pilot with the 8th Air Force during World War II. He recounted to me the guns that he carried when flying over Germany and occupied France: In addition to his issue M1911A1, he carried a non-regulation M1 Carbine that he had his crew chief cut down for him. The stock was cut off just behind the pistol grip. He did this, thinking that if he ever had to bail out in a hurry, that an M1 Carbine with a standard stock would be too long to maneuver out of the bomber.

Some World War II aviators quietly “requisitioned” firearms from other military services. One of my mother’s cousins was Colonel William Shuttles, a B-17 pilot and squadron commander. He told me that he carried three guns and a dozen magazines with him, whenever he flew bomber missions: His issued M1911A1 .45, a commercial Colt .380, and a British Sten submachinegun.  (The latter was carried party-disassembled, in a separate “bailout bag” that he could clip on to his parachute harness) Late in the war, as the allies advanced through Germany, Colonel Shuttles shipped home several seven-foot-long metal-banded wooden crates full of captured German guns, packed in sawdust. These were sent to his family home in Dallas, Texas. When I viewed his amazing collection, he recounted how he had stenciled those crates: “Body With Personal Effects.” The collection ranged from an Artillery Luger, to Spandau water-cooled machineguns, and even a cannon removed from a Messerschmitt Bf 109. All of his full-autos were registered, just after the war. But this is a lengthy tale suitable for an article unto itself.

High Standard PistolsIn later conflicts, the tradition of POWs for aviators continued, with many willfully flouting regulations. In addition to sidearms for personal protection, many pilots and other aircrewmen carried .22 rimfire guns, for hunting small game, in case they were shot down in a remote area. The Air Force had officially-issued “Survival Guns” which were available in just small numbers. But many pilots carried their own .22 pistols–most commonly those made by Hi-Standard, or Colt Woodsman pistols.

Guns From Home to Vietnam

American servicemen in the Vietnam War had a fairly large number of privately-owned weapons. These were either guns from home, or captured weapons, or a variety of guns bought on the black market from ARVN soldiers. The “status symbol” guns for both aviators and ground troops were .357 magnum revolvers.  In some instances, soldiers would have family members mail them handguns or disassembled long guns. These were mostly riot shotguns, But a few soldiers asked for  — and received via mail — their trusty .30-30 Winchester carbines. To 21st Century readers this might sound hard to believe, but it really happened.

PMAGs in Iraq

Windowed MagPul PMAGAs time has marched on, the U.S. military has become downright picayune about restricting POWs, and even accessories like bayonets and magazines. Here is a good example: By 2012 it had become common practice for parents to send MagPul PMAG polymer magazines to their deployed sons and daughters, because they were more sturdy and reliable than the standard-issue aluminum alloy M16 magazines.  And some servicemembers simply mail-ordered their own, and had them mailed to their APO or FPO addresses. Now even though PMAGs met full military specifications and had even been assigned their own National Stock Numbers (NSNs) there was a minor uproar about them, in the Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) theater. It seems that some general officers were miffed that some of their troops were seen carrying “non-standard” magazines, so they locally-issued orders banning them. Soon,  they were banned, army-wide. Also in 2012, the Marine Corps issued a similar order, MARADMIN 668/12. These PMAG bans nearly caused mutinies in some Army and USMC units. For a while, there were conflicting orders at various levels of command.  To further complicate things, in late 2016 the U.S. Marine Corps formally approved and adopted the PMAG, for general issue. Then, in 2017, the U.S. Air Force followed suit.

But it was not until 2018 that this controversy was resolved, when the U.S. Army finally approved MagPul PMAGs for issue. But in the six intervening years, there were a lot of individual officers, NCOs, and enlisted soldiers that just plain flouted the regulations. Typically, local commanders showed discernment and let this practice slide, Everyone knew that the regulation wasn’t enforced–that is, unless there was a visiting ranking officer expected to arrive at a Forward Operating Base (FOB)–and the word would go out: “Hide your PMAGs!”

JWR’s Opinion

In my opinion, any active duty or reserve officer or NCO should be able to carry whatever weapon he pleases, on-post or off-post, and whether deployed or stateside. But regulations say otherwise. Since we live in the age of global terrorism, I’m hopeful that common sense will prevail, and these regulations will change. (A hint to DJT.)

I should also mention that the recent adoption of the modular SIG M17 and M18 pistols might create a new gray area. Since technically the serialized trigger group module constitutes the issued weapon, what is stop local commanders from allowing their officers and NCOs to buy whatever style SIG P320 9mm that they desire, for field carry?  The issued trigger group module could be popped into an unserialized pistol frame. After all, the ammunition and magazines are interchangeable.  Just some food for thought, and grounds for further research.

I look forward to your comments. – JWR




58 Comments

  1. I have a young Army Reserve Green Beret Weapons Sergeant (SFC) that works for me at his other job. While discussing sidearms I learned from him that they carried Glock 19 as the US Army still was issuing them the Beretta. The Beretta being full-size they were allowed to obtain and carry Glock 19 as a medium sized sidearm. Not as a POW but thru unit purchase. Although, I’d guess a few POW might have found their way to Afghanistan some how. As a side note two copies of your new book remained at my local Costco last I was there. Thank you for this article and the information you provide in the blog.

  2. Marvelous commentary on this topic. You covered the main reason I chose not to make the Army a career….open hostility to private arms possession and retention by officers. It is my understanding that the Air Force is beginning to see the light on allowing CCW by “qualified” personnel on bases.
    I recently installed two NBC shelters at a western air force base and was told by members on base that the commander allowed licensed carry there. I was about done with the project by then, so it didn’t matter. But the Army is still in love with dead, unarmed, personnel as long as they die within policy. Army training is still 40 years behind the curve.
    A late friend of mine has a son who worked EOD (Explosive Ordinance Disposal). He recounts many, many calls to deceased veterans homes to recover live artillery shells, cases of WWII grenades, mortar rounds, and the like. One case involved two 75mm rounds that “oozed fluid from the shells every time they built a fire in the fireplace because the shells were fashioned into fireplace ornaments.”
    One the air force base bombing range, where we installed the shelters, we had strict protocols to obey, and were in constant communication with the range safety officer. There is a lot unexploded WWII ordnance all around our work area, and the range is still used by various aircraft training, including gunships.
    One day, as we’re working, we heard another contractor call the RSO and say, “We’re out here on road XXXXXX and found a thingie with fins on it sticking out of the road.”
    Instantly, the RSO said, with great enthusiasm, “DON’T TOUCH ANYTHING!!!! DRIVE AROUND IT!!!” We fell to our knees, laughing.
    Good times.
    Always a pleasure to read your work…

    1. I met a WWII vet one evening who came to my department to turn in an artillary shell.
      He was an anti aircraft gunner on the beach somewhere in Europe. He told me that he personally shot down two German fighters.
      Anyway, he brought back a shell as a souvenir and it was on his fireplace mantle ever since. He and his wife were moving to assisted living and she told him, the piece couldn’t come.
      It was a live 2” shell. OSP bomb squad friend hauled it off for us.

      1. Thanks for that, Tom.
        Makes you take a second look at that nice, elderly war vet next door.
        I had a neighbor…..from Finland, who fought the Russians in the Winter War. We met at a church spaghetti dinner and after he told us they were from Finland, I did the math in my head….he would have been of military age for that time period and I made the mistake of asking him about it during the dinner. His wife sighed, and focused on her food and he told us all about it! I never thought to ask him about what sort of ordnance he had in his living room. He was a ski trooper, directly involved in the fighting. Nice man, though.

  3. I was only mildly interested when I started this piece, but my interest grew the further along I got. By the end I was thinking “this is an EXCELLENT article”. And then I saw it was authored by JWR…….I should have known. Thanks and looking forward to more like this.

  4. In regular service your POW can find it’s way to combat but the way your searched and treated like a criminal on the way home it ain’t worth messing with. I wouldn’t trust the officers in most units either as too many see it as an opportunity to snitch and promote just like with the PMAGs. Heck you’d think sand was a bioweapon worse than covid and cancer.
    They even got sideways about my POW bayonet coming back from the Balkans in an infantry unit.
    Thinking on this I need to go pull out my Grandfathers WW2 Pacific Theater [Arisaka Yype] 38 and oil it down and reminisce.

  5. Active and honorably discharged military personnel should have complete freedom to possess, use, train and operate any firearms whether stateside or overseas.

    (Just like ALL Americans should be able to do as the second amendment says so clearly.)

  6. One other organization that relies extensively on POW is the State Guard. Most State Guard or Defense Force members provide their own uniforms and equipment, including weapons for drill. The Adjutant General can authorize use of National Guard weapons should the need arise, but every State Guardsman I know has a privately owned AR15 pattern rifle and a 9mm or .45 Cal sidearm, including the Doctors, Chaplains and lawyers.

  7. I had a friend who was in Viet Nam in 1968-69 and carried his personal S&W .357mag. His parents sent him several boxes of .357 HP ammo in the mail and the military stopped the delivery and sent the ammo back to his parents. The military included a letter to his parents telling them NOT to send their son anymore ammo, that they would supply him and that hollow point ammo was not allowed due to the Hague Convention, which you were right, the US did not sign that part of.

    1. If the best policy for a survival group is to use identical weapons and calibers, the policy would seem to apply to the military. Carrying an additional backup weapon would seem to be appropriate, however.

  8. The most sought after POW weapon for Army Aviators in Vietnam was the Swedish K but there were MANY unauthorized weapons in Army helicopters. I myself carried a German Pistole 640(b) which was a Browning HiPower made for the German Wehrmacht after they captured the FN plant in Belgium in 1940. A good friend, a crew chief on another of my platoon’s gunship, carried an S&W 38/44 Outdoorsman. We had fellow crewmembers carrying Walther PPs and PPKS and a vast variety of privately owned pistols and shotguns.
    By the way, I had to leave my HiPower in Vietnam but got it back 46 years later

  9. Just a side note. The armor museum closed down at Ft. Knox when the armor school moved to Ft. Benning in 2010 due to BRAC. There is a Patton museum at Ft. Knox but most of the the tanks are gone. I have been told that most of them are in open storage at Ft. Benning but that the armor museum wasn’t reestablished.

    1. I was at the Patton Museum last year, in October, I think. The museum was still definitely there and had just made a major expansion. I cannot imagine that it has closed for good. Perhaps it has been affected by COVID, but not closed permanently.

      Sad to say, you are correct about the fact that most of the armor outside on the museum grounds has been removed. I believe that the Armor School has been moved to Fort Benning, so that is probably the reason for the change.

  10. 1) The killing of 13 soldiers and wounding of 32 others at Fort Hood in 2009 by Army major Nidal Hasan shows some of the issues re private firearms in the military.

    On the one hand, Hasan would probably have been less successful if the other soldiers had not been disarmed by regulations that Hasan ignored.

    On the other hand, he might have been more successful if he had been able to acquire armor-piercing ammo for his FN Five Seven.

    2) 11 years laters, Hasan appeals continue and he still lives. I have never heard of any intel being obtained from him and last I heard he asked ISIS to make him a citizen.

    https://stories.usatodaynetwork.com/the-fort-hood-shooting-10-years-later/sentenced-to-death-fort-hood-shooter-has-years-of-appeals-to-come/

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nidal_Hasan#Prison_life

    1. Mike,
      But then again, Fort Hood might have looked more like the church intervention in Texas, where the rampage was ended in 6.2 seconds by a parishioner. With most officers and senior NCOs armed, Hassan probably wouldn’t have even tried it.
      When I went through basic at Ft. Knox, in 1973, my drill sergeants were carrying 1911s and three loaded magazines, especially when we were under arms because there was a spate of people driving through the base and asking soldiers on the side of the road if they could “see” their M16. They would get in the car with the rifle and drive away. Uncle Sugar frowned on that.

  11. The Viet Nam stories ring a bell with me. One of my acquaintances back in the day was a door gunner. After the first time his helo. got shot down, he was being hunted in the jungle and didn’t feel like he had enough defensive firepower. He had his family send him a shotgun and I believe a .45 auto. As the story goes… he was shot down several times, but always got rescued.

  12. My friend flew ‘mosquitoes’ and SecretSquirrels out of Panama into Nicaragua in the 1970s.

    My friend carried the stupidest weapon ever made — High Standard 10-B 12-gauge bullpup, complete with flashlight.
    Dumb… but cool, and the envy of all the other contractors.

    My friend recalls the 10-B was designed for high-base shells; low-base wouldn’t cycle, turning it into a single-shot… useful if my friend wanted to contain evidence.

    My friend matured significantly since those ‘ten-foot tall and bomb-proof’ days.
    In late-2020, my friend suggests a better defense is a couple-three AR pistols in 5.56 with mufflers… fed by 20-round PMags.

    *****

    A side note from my friend:
    Most noise-producing equipment — motorcycles and chain-saw are examples — comes with a muffler factory-installed.
    Why is a firearm muffler available as a separate option… often costing more than the firearm?

    *****

    As another aside:
    * If my friend was president of these united states of America, my friend would outlaw any ‘law’ outlawing ownership or carrying of any firearm or firearm-related equipment such as mufflers.
    * My friend would also charge anybody expressing a desire to limit individual or business ownership or carrying of any firearms and related equipment with the crime known as ‘treason’.
    * My friend strongly believes the punishment for treason is hanging at a permanent gallows in a public place.
    * My friend thinks conviction-to-drop should be less than three minutes.

    * My friend is pretty sure a way could be found to work-around ‘ex post facto’ restraints so every gallows would be open for business around-the-clock!

    * And rumors of my friend volunteering to ‘work the lever’?
    Well, that would merely be deranged ramblings of an over-the-hill coot, and shouldn’t be accepted as other than for its entertainment value.

    Don’t break into small groups, don’t discuss.

    1. Note that not only is the US not a signatory of the Hague Convention, the Hague Convention ban on hollow point or so-called “dum-dum” bullets applies only to warfare against other signatory countries. Therefore, it would not apply to the Taliban and Iraqi insurgents, since they are not “countries.”

      I have always heard that the best policy is for members of survival groups to have identical weapons in the same caliber. (Of course, “best policy” and “reality” are often very different.) Why should it be any different for soldiers and Marines? In a fight, having a buddy toss you a Glock 17 mag to use in your Sig would be pointless. If he’s carrying a .40 S&W and you are carrying a 9 mm, it is even more pointless.

      I served with a fellow who carried a .38 snubbie in Vietnam. It was his last ditch weapon if everything else failed, and this made sense to me.

      1. No kidding. Treason and execution for a thought crime (“anybody expressing a desire”)?! Geez. For the sake of Marge’s safety maybe we should hope she never falls out of favor with her ‘friend’…

  13. Interesting article on private weapons brought/used in wartime. As I experienced during my active service years, not a lot, but many had them shipped to them from home, often stated as because they were more effective that then issued variety and the trust they placed in them to to the job intended. No matter what you do, you simply cannot do a “proper” job unless you have the right and trusted tools to achieve the desired results.

  14. I always find it ironically disappointing that we are so willing to put the most lethal combat arms in the hands of 18 year olds and train them to kill with prejudice, yet won’t let those same adults walk around in public with much less effective weaponry. Contempt and control.

    We are a nation of double standards.

  15. I recall the Gulf War, just before which the Royal Air Force re-equipped its fighter aircrew with the Walther PP, and took away the Browning Hi-Powers everyone, (including me), had been very happy with. This was done by some stores weenie because they had the Walthers sitting in a corner after the Royal Protection lot had rejected them because they kept jamming (such as when Princess Anne was attacked by the IRA on The Mall), and the requirement numbers were the same. After Nichol and Peters were shot down, John Nichol told me that John Peters had suggested they fight it out with the Iraqis heading towards them with their pistols. John Nichol said “Best not, they’ll probably jam and we’ll really annoy them”. The Iraqi commander they surrendered to immediately took the pistols as war trophies, and fired one off. It jammed.
    The RAF does not allow POWs.

    1. I thought the RAF used Walther PPs as anti-aircraft weapons.

      In the last James Bond movies (Spectre) , Bond whips out his Walther PPK and shoots Blofeld’s helicopter out of the sky even though it was 500 yards away and 400 feet higher in altitude.

      I sure would like some of that special 32 ACP ammunition Britain evidently has developed.

      1. Bond is a former 1950’s naval officer, and doesn’t understand any weapon smaller than a 12″ cannon 😉
        My weapons instructor reckoned you could get 3 good shots with a PP…by breaking it down into barrel, frame and magazine, and throwing them at your enemy. Our preferred tactic was to be very good with the aircraft’s 27mm cannon so that the use of the PP was never required. A third of a second burst would deliver around 18 APHEI rounds, and I averaged 36% hits at manoeuvering targets, which would spoil the bad guy’s whole afternoon.

  16. At our unit, In the 70’s, USA single enlisted men kept their hunting rifle in their uniform locker on base. Often times, after deer hunting, they could be seen cleaning their rifles on the mess deck tables. Hunting was encouraged to keep skills honed.

  17. I get the whole standardized weapons. My wife and I have the same pistols and a spare. We have the same rifles and a spare. If you are in a fight and have a Glock 17 and you need a mag but your buddy is carrying a SIG he can’t just throw you a mag. I think uniformity on that front is important. As for carrying on base, YES everyone should be allowed to carry on base.
    Not allowing units or personnel to use PMAGs is plain stupid. My GI mags would misfeed until I replaced the followers with MAGPUL followers. My PMAGS have never had a single issue.

  18. PMags rock..I have dozens and same with my brother. Never had a failure to feed or other malfunction, ever. Have a few alloys and have a 20 rd one that likes to cant the ammo forward and down. Figure’s the idiot military commanders would have restricted them–those guys egos always get in the way.

  19. This was a really interesting article – thank you!

    Out of curiosity I asked my husband (US Army, Desert Storm era) about his experience with this particular topic. He said they weren’t allowed POWs, anywhere…then added: Of course, it depended on what your job was, and your rank. Officers could get away with a lot.

  20. My father was a veteran of both WW2 and Korea. While in Korea he felt under armed so a friend back in the states sent him a .45 revolver compete with moon clips. Never a man to be unprepared, he later made a trade of two dozen eggs to a local in exchange for a Thompson sub-machine gun. When rotating out he attempted to ship the Thompson home with a note explaining that this was not an issued weapon, the attempt was unsuccessful. Whether he was the victim of a rule following bureaucrat or a nefarious individual who helped himself, the Thompson was never seen again.

  21. In Vietnam, we observed 11 NVA following a stream. we swept down from hill 51 and engaged them. We captured some, one was a colonel, he had a brand new pistol with a holster. I took it off him. We could bring back any non-automatic weapon. The pistol was the one with cord to the holster. I put the gun in my rucksack, half hour latter a chopper appeared and took my pistol. I was told it was given to President Johnston. He took, my pistol!

  22. I was helping a friend go through his deceased father’s old Korean war footlocker and things he brought back that had been in his attic all these years he never talked about it. We found 2 1911’s and an M2 Carbine. Can these still be registered? A friend told me it had to be destroyed that would break my heart. As of now just cleaned and put back. What should he do?

    1. If the receiver is marked “M2” then you are out of luck–the receiver must be destroyed. (But save the parts kit, less the full auto parts. Parts kits are worth a lot of money, these days.) However, if the receiver is marked “M1” then just remove and destroy the Seven Magic Parts. (You’ll need to replace the trigger group pin, or just grind off the pig pivot arms.) That will leave just a legal M1 Carbine. (Proviso: I’m not an attorney. Consult an attorney…)

      1. Early in Operation Iraqi Freedom I was in the office of an an infantry battalion commander and noticed his inbox paperweight was an Iraqi military pistol with a Republican Guard insígnia inlaid in the grips. When I commented on it he reached into his desk drawer and pulled out a factory box with a unissued 9mm pistol just like the one on his desk, spare mag and bore brush included. He said “ have a full drawer of these, you can have one, it only costs your career..”. I passed.
        The bring back rules are idiotic. I understand the reason for prohibiting full auto weapons but a 9×18 handgun?

        1. Just disassemble the carbine and strip as many parts as you can from the barreled receiver. Then use a band saw or cutting torch to cut up the selective fire parts (compare a parts diagram of an M1 versus an M2–to see which ones.) Then cut the receiver into multiple sections, and discard the selective-fire and receiver chunks separately in various dumpsters. That will leave just a receiver stub on the barrel that any gunsmith can then legally handle, to remove. The remaining parts set with stock is worth around $500, in today’s market.

          It is quite sad that the ATF hasn’t declared a registration amnesty, since 1968. The ATF Director can do so, at his discretion. Doing so would remove the “felony” cloud over the heads of tens of thousands of Americans, and raise a lot of revenue. (At $200 per registration.)

    2. I don’t know the details of any (probably unConstitutional, since you mention registration) laws in the state in question, nor how applicable your friend feels that they personally are, but wouldn’t it be a shame if the existence of these items just slipped his mind in the stress of all the other details? Goodness, just SO much to keep track of nowadays…

      1. The issue is Federal law, not any state law. It is the Federal ban on new machinegun registrations that began in 1986. (With the Hughes Amendment to FOPA-’86.) All privately-owned machineguns that were created after then, or that predated it, but that were not registered before the 1986 deadline are considered contraband, and there is no longer a mechanism for registering them. And because and ATF ruling has declared “once a machinegun, always a machinegun” the “M2” model marking is the sticking point. There is no plausible deniability that the gun was never a selective-fire full auto.

        1. Interesting legal situation developing now – since the ATF will not register these auto weapons, they do not collect a tax. But the administration has argued (in the case of Obamacare) that a “tax” that collects no money is not a tax, hence the underlying law is null and void. Recently a challenge to the ATF refusal to collect the tax resulted in the dropping of charges against a person seeking to register a new auto weapon. Stay tuned….

  23. While in Israel in the late 70’s and early 80’s the 1911 was much sought after, but hard to come by. Browning and Star pistols were prevalent as were Enfield rifles and revolvers. We referred to the Enfield & Webley, revolvers, and Enfield rifles as realocation of scarce resources from the time of the British occupation. Most of us carried whatever we could get our hands on, mostly Enfield and Webley revolvers and Egyptian Helwan 9mm pistols. .380/200 revolver ammunition, 9mm sub gun ammo, and AK ammunition could be found laying on the ground all over the Golan back then, most of it in usable condition.

  24. In the early 1980’s to late 80’s I was a NCO in an National Guard Infantry Unit. As the State I was residing in did not allow National Guard Troops any ammunition at any Guard Drills, only one or two of us were handed one loaded 45 magazine for our 1911A1’s so at least we could protect the M2 heavy barrel 50 BMG machine guns, the M60 machine guns, the M16A1 rifles, and the M203 grenade launchers we transported to every training. This was a large quantity of weapons for an entire Infantry Company. If there was to be a spot inspection, we were to eject the mag and hope to grind it into the earth as to not get caught with live ammunition. We were all graduates of basic and advanced infantry schools. What do you think we trigger pullers thought of the Government employees making these types of decisions?

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