Side arms and war trophies
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Old 07-04-2011, 06:21 PM   #1
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Default Side arms and war trophies

Hi all and happy 4th of July American people, condolences on 4th of July British people!
This is my first proper thread so forgive me if I've put it in the wrong section.

Anyhow my question is this; you see in a lot of tv shows and movies former servicemen often owning a handgun that is described as their sidearm, implying it was a gun they used in the military.

I was wondering under what circumstances officers or soldiers are allowed to keep their sidearms and other weapons after they leave the service? I would have thought it would add up cost wise if everyone who joined the army was allowed to go home with a 1911 .45... Do they perhaps give some people an option to purchase it or something?

Finally I was also wondering under what circumstances servicemen were allowed to keep war trophies? I know Lugers were a hot ticket item in both world wars but was there a system for officially owning them once found or captured or did they just end up in peoples duffle bags and taken home on the down low? And had it changed by Vietnam? Ive heard, possibly Apocryphal, tales of Ak's being taken home as trophies, which I suppose would have been legal to own in the states back then.

Is it the same system for non weapon war trophies? Flags, enemy equipment and the like? Is there a system for dealing with things like that?

Thanks in advance for your answers, I've always been curious about this and I figured if anyone would know it would be the people on this forum. Thanks again.

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Old 07-04-2011, 06:57 PM   #2
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Regarding servicemen bringing back their side arms they weren't suppose to back in WWI and WWII, but a lot of them did and at that time it wasn't a big deal, but now today it would be a big deal. War trophies like firearms and such are no longer legal to bring back I believe. There was what is called "spoils of war" which was basically in effect up until after WWII I think. Now today you couldn't just bring back lets say a AK 47 or a PKM or bring back your service weapon(s). Regarding non firearms and other effects like that I'm not sure.

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Old 07-04-2011, 08:38 PM   #3
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Times, regulations and laws change.

TODAY- US military, there are NO legal firearm war trophies. In WW II, rifles and handguns that were captured in combat, and were "papered" with capture papers COULD be brought home. Capture papers increase the value of a collectors item significantly.

Many GIs DID bring home firearms without paperwork- leading to the term "duffle cut" when speaking of a rifle stock- the stock was cut in such a manner that the un-assembled rifle would fit in a GIs duffle bag.

Up thru Vietnam- rifles (like the SKS) and handguns captured in combat COULD be brought home- no full autos (in 1968, during the registration amnesty, there were 47 of the AK47s from Vietnam registered here in Richmond VA )

In WW II, full autos could be deactivated, and brought home with paperwork. These were DEWAT's- Deactivated War Trophies. In 1968 they had to be re-registered, or become contraband.

Military ISSUE firearm never became the property of a service member. Other than being a bit of the Ned Kelly, I mean

Today- NO firearms, grenades, tanks, battleships, or nuclear weapons as trophies. Other stuff- yeah.

Papers from WW 2 and from Vietnam-
capture-20paper.jpg

war-trophy-papers.jpg

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Old 07-05-2011, 12:22 AM   #4
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I knew I came to the right place, that's exactly what I wanted to know.

Is it not the case that some infantry officers can or were allowed to use a personal gun for their sidearm? People taking their nickel plated colt peacemaker into battle and the like.
Maybe that's what's being reffered to in movies when someones worried their veteran friend is going to check into a motel room put on their class A's and shoot themselves with their service sidearm...

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Old 07-05-2011, 12:37 AM   #5
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I have a bring back Arisaka with a "duffle cut" and "Mum" I heard the only way you can get them with the Mum is to get a GI bring back, as all the surrendered ones were defaced.....

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Old 07-05-2011, 01:07 PM   #6
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Personal firearms are no longer officially permitted to be carried in combat. George Patton's ivory gripped revolver would be taboo. Most of us DID have a personal sidearm- a 1911A1.

And if you expect movies to be accurate, I have this bridge I am sure you would be interested in. It runs from just outside Longford, goes right over to New Zealand- Wellington. I can make you a really good deal, and you could charge all the tourists tolls. Cash only. Small bills.


Re: Arisaka- if the mum is intatct, it was taken in battle. The rifles that were surrendered at the end of the war had the mum ground off, to avoid dishonoring the Emperor.

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Old 07-05-2011, 03:02 PM   #7
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I regret my lazy action to this day. I captured a SKS & AK-47, among many weapons in Vietnam. These two were mechanically and cosmetically the best. My intension's were to bring them back home as a trophy. Legally, you were not allowed to ship them home (Radar shipped home a whole jeep ) You had to hand carry them with your paper work and they wanted the barrels filled with lead (no way). Anyway, I managed to get two fully loaded military duffel bags, a large hand bad and my two rifles all the way to the airport. It became so heavy and cumbersome I decided to get rid of the SKS & AK. I gave them to another soldier. Should have thrown away my military issue and kept my trophies. Uncle Sam would have given me a very nice Article 15 to frame for posterity had I done that

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Old 07-05-2011, 04:05 PM   #8
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Certainly would have added to your military pension in a significant way, I imagine they would be quite valuable even just as deactivated collectors items...I wouldn't know where to look, anyone have any idea what a ballpark figure for a genuine Vietnam era ak trophy would be?

My sister was in Vietnam and Laos recently and at my urging went to one of the ranges there and apparently there are ex service AKs there that are nearly 50 years old and have survived drunken tourists putting 600 rounds a day through them for a big portion if that time...
On an unrelated to this thread note someone she met there said the day before they took up an offer to fire an rpg-7 at a cow for 500usd...animal rights issues aside I don't know I'd trust firing a junked up Laotian rpg, I've heard the spring loaded fins can jam the grenade in the tube leaving your ear all but touching an armed warhead

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Old 07-05-2011, 10:38 PM   #9
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I believe General Officers have the option of buying their service pistol at Retirement.

Also G.I.s hide weapons in cargo going back home. There was one person that wrapped a Iraqi grenade with tape and put it into the turbine on a truck, they found it when it went clunk, clunk when the engine was started in CONUS

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Old 07-05-2011, 10:49 PM   #10
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A Chicom type 56 (SKS) WITH capture papers, intact, complete, good condition- about $800. A LEGAL, PAPERED, TRANSFERABLE AK47, about $8000- more or less. They will not have capture papers per se, but may have other documentation- and MUST have been registered with the BATFE by May 1986 and the transfer tax paid (unless registered in the earlier amnesty program)

Armsmaster- General officers (when they make general) were issued a General Officer's sidearm- used to be a Colt 32 Smokeless Rimless, later a .380, and damifino what it is now. There WAS a process for them to keep the sidearm, and PAPERED General Officer's sidearms are a collector's item all their own.

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