Confirm Action

Are you sure you wish to do this?

Confirm Cancel
Member Login
Posted: 9/27/2004 11:55:39 PM EDT

I read a Frederick Forsythe novel recently called Avenger (yes, I picked it up because of the title). The main character is a former Tunnel Rat who served in Vietnam. The book describes a pistol that the Tunnel Rats were special issued, which was a .44 magnum S&W revolver, barrel cut down to two inches, firning a unique round, in which the bullet had been cut into four equal parts, providing a shotgun effect down in the tunnels. Supposedly, it was very effective in the cramped confines of the tunnels of Cu Chi.

So, did it ever exist? I think that these particular rounds would be pretty awesome to own and shoot. Anybody know?

Link Posted: 9/27/2004 11:58:36 PM EDT
I read about that same setup in one of the Harry Bosch novels... so with 2 sources I assume it did exist...?


Last line.
Link Posted: 9/28/2004 12:01:47 AM EDT
Link Posted: 9/28/2004 12:03:33 AM EDT
Link Posted: 9/28/2004 12:32:50 AM EDT
All the pics I've ever seen of the tunnel rats (dudes with fuckin' stones if there ever were) had 'em carrying either 1911's or 4" S&W model 10 wheelguns. The .44 magnum sounds like artistic bullshit to me, you'd be deaf as a post after your first day on the job.
Link Posted: 9/28/2004 12:37:41 AM EDT
Could be, there was a lot of experimenting with weapons that went on during the war. I have a former "tunnel runner", as they were originally called, that works for me, I'll ask him about it later this morning.
Link Posted: 9/28/2004 3:56:49 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/28/2004 7:48:55 AM EDT by SG688]
Working off a groggy early morning memory here, but reports from early 70's said there was an experimental "tunnel rat" short bbl. S&W 44 mag. using a special cartridge system that was also developed in 12 ga. The expanding propellant, and thus the noise and flash, was contained in an expanding metal envelope in the cartridge. In effect, the cartridge was the silencer.

I can't remember the projectile type - might have been pre-fragmented, but the whole system was low power.

I'd have to get home to look up documentation. The system had a catchy name that I just can't dredge up. I'll see what I can find, because I know the BS detectors have to be buzzing....

update: Memory kicked in and spit out: Telecartridge.
The one online reference I'm finding says only that it was by the AAI corporation, which sounds about right.

Link Posted: 9/28/2004 4:02:07 AM EDT
My FIL was a Tunnel Rat............he spoke of carrying multiple S&W revolvers in .38 Special down the tunnels........the New York reload.
Link Posted: 9/28/2004 4:16:38 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/28/2004 4:37:13 AM EDT by SG688]
Not the S&W I'm remembering, but this is the same idea.


The "Vul" special-service pistol (PSS), developed in the CIS/Russian Federation in the late 1990s uses the special SP-4 cartridge utilizing the captured piston principle to fire a 10g bullet at approximately 200m/s. This special cartridge guarantees a nearly completely silent weapon, without the added bulk of an external suppressor as the expanding propellant gases are trapped by the cartridge and piston, while the bullet itself is subsonic. The Vul is an otherwise conventional manually-repeating pistol.

While searching, I'm also finding that the concept of "tunnel rat" with a "44 magnum" is very popular among the gamers. Looking closer, I found that the above listing seems to be from a game site with fantasy firearms mixed in with real ones, so I don't know if the "Vul" is a real pistol or not.

The revolver I'm remembering was certainly experimental and used very little, if at all.
Link Posted: 9/28/2004 4:41:11 AM EDT
"(I)n July 1969, the Limted War Laboratory invented a new piece of equipment for the tunnel rat (or Tunnel Exploration Personnel, as it call them): a silent handgun, capable of 'engaging fleeting targets without aimed fire.' They came up with a 'balanced, compact, six-shot, cylinder-loaded, exposed hammer, selective double-action, modified Smith & Wesson .44 magnum revolver, weighing 38 ounces.' It fired a special 15-pellet bullet with a shot pattern similar to that of a shotgun, but with smoke and flash virtually eliminated. Called the Tunnel Weapon, it deserved a better fate than it received, but by 1969, tunnel rat combat had become so refined that ever the introduction of a potentially helpful new pistol did not interest the ultraconservative rats.

"Rats who used it in combat liked its size enormously. It allowed them to reach quickly round tunnel corners and fire without themselves exposing more than a hand and an arm. It sounded like a cap gun when it went off (which was good) -- but it did not always kill (which was not so good). In fact there were several times when it did not even incapacitate an enemy soldier after he was hit. The riot shotguns that some rats used always maimed, at least. There was also a dangerously high misfire rate with the ammunition."

"In fact, the .44 magnum did not get much of a run from the rats, who were already impatient with all the false technological breakthroughs that LWL had shipped over. The Tunnel Weapon went the way of the Tunnel Exploration Kit, although there is a curious addendum to this story."

"According to Richard Keogh, who was the 1st Division's ammunition officer, LWL did solve the ordnance problem and actually came up with some new, highly potent ammunition for the snubnosed .44. 'It was a mutliple bullet with four segments to increase the kill range,' he recalled. 'It didn't make a nice hole; in fact it just tore holes inside you. It was very good at a short distance. The barrel of the .44 was shortened to three inches and a sling swivel added. They only manufactured about seventy-five of these guns; they were in use for six months, and then suddenly they were withdrawn.' It is likely that the new lethal and silent 'segmented' bullet that replaced the less effective 15-pellet bullet contravened the Geneva Convention on 'allowable' weaponry."

"'A couple of fellows showed up one day with this new .44 magnum. It had a stainless steel little shell, that kind of had little holes round the back of it. It was gas-propelled. It shot pellets and had a range of about twenty-five feet. They showed them to us and we fired at silhouettes above the ground, but it wasn't a killing gun,'" said Major Randy Ellis.

... from The Tunnels of Cu Chi, The Untold Story of Vietname by Tom Mangold and John Penycate, Random House, New York, 1985. ISBN 0-394-52576-0
Link Posted: 9/28/2004 6:46:50 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/28/2004 6:48:00 AM EDT by Hoplophile]
I really, really doubt that the .44 was used at all over there. Until the Dirty Harry movies S&W was about to drop the caliber because it was only bought by a very small number of guys who wanted them for hunting.

Edited to add though that putting cuts in the bullet is a distinct possibility.
Link Posted: 9/28/2004 11:31:55 AM EDT

Mahatma8rice, thanks - that's exactly what I was talking about. The book 'Avenger' captured it perfectly. In fact, in the novel, only 74 of the revolvers were turned in at the end of the Tunnel Rat's campaign, and the main character snuck one home with him, and used it years later to kill three men who had helped kidnap/rape/enslave his daughter. Those .44s really tore these three guys up, too.

Link Posted: 9/28/2004 12:49:07 PM EDT
Actually saw one of these at the US Secret Service Training Academy in Beltsville MD in about 1975.

I believe it had a regular primer and powder set-up, only it was all totally contained in the plunger-like cartridge so no gas – or sound - escaped.

IIRC (which is a big “if”), the three or four pellets were small in diameter (maybe .30 caliber or such), were stacked one in front of another, and were made from depleted uranium.
Link Posted: 9/28/2004 12:54:59 PM EDT
Might have looked like this maybe

Link Posted: 9/28/2004 1:01:52 PM EDT
A GLOCK 18 would serve a modern tunnel rat nicely.
Link Posted: 9/28/2004 1:13:24 PM EDT
Hoplo --

It was obviously tested in VN.
Link Posted: 9/28/2004 1:15:01 PM EDT

Originally Posted By triburst1:
A GLOCK 18 would serve a modern tunnel rat nicely.

Or two!!!
Link Posted: 9/28/2004 1:43:58 PM EDT
I read an article about this before I dont remember what caliber or what revolver but I do remember that the cartridge was a piston activated cartridge which means that the"piston rod" sealed off the neck of the casing not allowing any gas to escape therefore you dont get any extra push in the barrel so it is low velocity and not very lethal.
Link Posted: 9/28/2004 1:49:34 PM EDT
the crowded tunnel of cuchi?

that cracks me up
Top Top