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Amnesty Registered C&R Mat 49


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Unfortunately, I have to sell my amnesty registered French Mat-49. On form 4 in Asheville, North Carolina. Happy to meet locally for a serious buyer. This exact specimen was featured in War Trophies: Weapons from Vietnam by Keith Seafield. The pictures below are the ones I sent the author and are featured in his book, as well as Major General Childer's personal write up of his account acquiring the weapon in Vietnam.

Here is video when it was featured on the VSO Gun Channel.


In addition to the gun I have:
Spare recoil rod assembly
Eight (8) magazines
signed copy of War Trophies: Weaspons of Vietnam
Signed copy of Small Arms Review August 2013- where this exact specimen was also featured.

Beau Haworth 410-693-3036

General Childer's Biographical, in War Trophies: Weapons from Vietnam

The first time I ever heard a shot fired in anger was on a modified LCM on a river in Vietnam in 1968.
The LCM (Landing Craft Mechanized) had been modified to perform as a special kind of “mine sweeper”. It had attached to the stern a dragline; a chain with numerous grapple hooks arranged at intervals so that if there were either a anchored mine or a cable attached to a mine, the grapple might snag one of these and with some thoughtful action, the mine could be rendered safe.
Chain was used rather than cable because if something happened to shear the cable, it could act like a bull whip and endanger the craft or crew. A chain, if it breaks, just collapses helplessly on itself.
Anchored mines were often used in a shipping channel wherein the depth of anchoring was too deep to impact the LCM (shallow draft) but would be quite suitable for the deep cargo vessel.
Mines might also be affixed to a cable which went from one bank to another. This allowed the miners to move the mine back and forth across the river like a guided torpedo and place it in the path of a ship. I guess this might be referred to as a cross adjusted mine.
I had heard about these mine sweeps and thought I should go on one to see firsthand what was involved and perhaps come up with an alternative approach; after all, this is why I was in country. So bright and early one morning I went to the galley, found the Chief Petty Officer (CPO) in charge of the mission, introduced myself, and asked if I might accompany them.
“We don’t give joy rides” he said, chewing on a mouthful of eggs and ham. “If you want to go, you have to perform some duty on the boat. I drive it so you can’t do that.”
“Let me go aboard with you and look around so I will have a better idea of what I might do” I suggested. “Fair enough turkey neck” he said with a big grin. “You know why I used the term “turkey neck” he asked?”
“Yeah yeah” I said, I have been working for the Navy as a civilian now for just over 6 years; I know all the BS you sailors use.
A few more mutual insults allows time for us to finish breakfast then we move on down to the LCM. He gives me a guided tour, introduces me to the crewmen, each of them talk about their duty and the mission.
We are then standing beside a 81mm pedestal mounted trigger fired mortar which he pats lovingly. “This is our primary firepower on this boat but as you can see we also have 6 Browning Cal .50 Machine guns which can put out a lot of firepower.”
“It did not come up in our discussion earlier but in the National Guard back home, I am an Armored Cavalry LT and pretty good with a Cal .50. I could man one of these” I proposed.
“Terrific” he exclaimed; “show me what you know by taking this one apart and putting it back together. I will time you”.
There was no ammo in the feed tray but I figured I should clear and safe it anyway so I did, then proceeded to remove the back plate and withdraw the components from the back. While doing that I asked him if he wanted me to remove the barrel and he said yes. I took the barrel off and handed it to him with the remark “hold the 27 # barrel please”.


To one of the watching sailors he said, “the turkey neck knows how much the barrel weighs; did any of you know that?” No answer.
Having laid out the internal components I said “disassembly complete” and started re-assembly. He was really impressed when I took the head spacing and timing gage that was hanging on the pedestal mount and set the head space and timing and announced “complete”.
“Ok Mr. Childers, but can you shoot?”
“Listen up! Briefing for today’s mission at 0600, cast off 0700”.
Crew begins to move with a purpose and an obvious routine from many previous missions.
At 0600 a map was on the bulkhead and the crew gathered to hear the mission of the day. The route was discussed as was particular locations along the route where the LCM might logically expect to encounter some level of enemy; based on a mixture of intelligence and past experience. Since the last patrol, a major cargo ship had been sunk probably by a cross adjusted mine but the odd thing (never explained) was that a LCM drag mission had proceeded the Cargo Ship by only less than an hour. Assignments to weapons and watch stations were made; plan B was discussed in the event our LCM was ambushed from the port side or the starboard side or both; refresher of actions upon snagging a mine or suspicion of same. Also mentioned was the availability of Seawolves (Navy version of UH-1 Gun Ships), if we got into a real “shit sandwich”.
With all questions resolved, all crewmen stood by their posts and at 0700, lines were cast off and the powerful diesel roared into action to propel the LCM from the dock towards the middle of the river. At this point, all gunners took their belted ammo, laid it on the feed tray, and worked the charging handle to ready the weapons to fire. We were now on a full ready status. I have to say it was somewhat exciting. Never in my wildest dream did I imagine than within 2 hours I would be burning up the river line squeezing off 12-15 round bursts.

The Mekong Delta is not just a simple, single channel through which one river flows. There are perhaps scores of rivers, counting side channels and lesser streams, but is dominated by flat flood plains in the south, with a few hills in the north and west. The flat flood plains with centuries of sediment deposits create rich flat farm land which primarily grows rice. Although the Mekong is the river most often thought of relative to Vietnam, allow me to provide some additional detail. The Mekong is a very long river, with the headwaters in Thailand and making and making a path through a small part of Laos, then into Cambodia, and finally penetrating South Vietnam and dumping into the South Sea.
Although I spent a lot of time on several rivers in Vietnam (Mekong, Saigon, Hau, and Tien; this LCM patrol occurred on the Saigon River, or, as the Vietnamese would say, Song Sai Gon. So there we were, cruising down the Song Sai Gon “trolling for mines” as the crew loved to observe; but of course hoping that they never snagged one because then you have to figure out what to do with it. About 2 hours out we rounded a very sharp and relatively narrow spit of land which later would prove to be one that if a VC were to fire on the LCM and we returned fire, much of the return fire would traverse the narrow spit of land and maybe become incoming for some other element across that spit of land.
The firing came from our starboard side so the CPO bellowed out who he wanted to return fire. I was on the Port side of the craft and then he instructed me to be prepared to return fire on the Port side if anyone opened fire on us from there. It seemed to me that a hell of a lot more fire was going out than coming in. CPO called cease fire briefly to make a check. He also called a report to HHQ and advised them he would like to have Seawolves on standby. Then I observed some muzzle flashed from the Port side bank and a few impacts on the gun shield and maybe the side of the craft.
“Hose em down Mr. Childers” and I began to pour a steady controlled bursts of fire on that area where I saw muzzle flashes. Then the starboard side began a firefight again and a whoosh sound of a rocket motor burning out and a fast moving object. My first encounter on the receiving end of a B-40. Fortunately it was high and went on actually to be a dud and went into the drink. But the launch point was clearly marked by the rocket exhaust trail and became the object of (I was told later) one hell of a lot of fire. Secondary explosions came from the launch point and that basically ended the fire fight. Later it was determined that the secondary’s came from reloads for the B-40.
The CPO went into a big circle so as to reel in his drag line and be more maneuverable and concurrently a number of Patrol Boat River (PBR’s) which were on patrol and were monitoring the radio net, came to our location to assist as necessary. Presently also, two Seawolves arrived overhead and each one took either shoreline and put considerable ordnance down to ensure that there was no fight left. 2.75” rockets and 7.62 machine gun were on the menu and they received no return fire.

Now, it was time to put a party ashore to see what intelligence might be gathered. PBR crews basically did this and the LCM stood off to provide fire support as required. After what was about an hour or so, exciting for me to tell the truth, I noted that one of the PBRs pulled up to the stern of the LCM and the CPO went to talk to them briefly. Later when we had completed the mission and returned to the base, he had one of his guys tell me to report to the CPO for an after action brief.

“You did well Mr. Childers. Come back any time you want to. First I want to know if you saw anything you would recommend in terms of improvements that are your specialty”. I recommended to him a couple of things, to include a ballistic product known as “Woven Roven”. Then he handed me something, relatively heavy wrapped in some soiled rags and said “I think this should be yours. The shore party found this clinched in a guy’s hands, laying across some mud and logs barricade, with his body considerably destroyed. They estimate a .50 Cal did the work and you were the only one shooting that direction”.

I shook his hand, thanked him for the excitement, and casually walked out to the parking area and got into my vehicle for the trip back to Saigon. I went to my hotel room before I would unwrap the object, having no idea what it might be other than the likelihood it was a weapon.

I had never seen what a MAT-49 before other than in a movie starring Anthony Quinn.

I had about 3 months to figure out if and how to get it back to the US. No one in the VLAP office in Saigon ever knew that I had this prize. No one knew that I made the decision to transport it home. It came into my possession in the US in about July of 1968 and by a large stroke of luck, in November of 1968 the BATF announced an amnesty for all such “illegal” devices; no questions asked. I traveled to Richmond Virginia and registered it to make it fully legal. Some years later I took advantage of my access to a facility which had the ability to “glass bead and Parkarize” all surfaces to give it a complete protection from corrosion. Glass beading is a form of sand blasting but more “gentle” and preserves original dimensions and contours more effectively than does harsher materials as the impinging media.

The weapon came with 4 magazines, also wrapped in the soiled rags. I noted right away the serial number because it was only a 4 digit number and I thought this was curious in that surely tens of thousands had been manufactured. Many years later, in 2013-2014, when I was negotiating to sell the MAT-49 and had done some limited research to discover the potential value did I find at least one example of a MAT-49 which had been auctioned off in the US bearing a 5 digit SN.

A very old friend of mine from the Armored Calvary days, a Sergeant of Scouts, eventually became a journalist and high definition photographer specializing in articles about weapons. The magazine he published most in was the Small Arms Review (SAR). Bob Spruce by name, had done I think two articles on some of my design work in combat shotguns prior to his proposal to do an article on my MAT-49. As it turns out, and is often the case, guys like Bruce have a circle of acquaintances, made through articles, reenactments, collector events, and his coverage of the Shot Show. These he can call upon to show up in support of a new article. So in August of 2013 Bob arranges for two French Foreign Legion re-enactors to join us and he developed a very nice technically accurate article on the MAT-49 for publication in the SAR. As a reward for allowing my MAT-49 to star in his article, he donated several issue items which I did not have, to include a very clever magazine speed loader and carry pouch, a cleaning kit, and some slings (both leather and a canvass webbing style).

In 2013, I attended a “shoot nanny” sponsored by a National Guard comrade, John Lewis. This is by invitation only and it is an outdoor event wherein everybody brings their guns and then people sort of swap opportunities to fire other’s guns. I decided to take my MAT-49, knowing that it was a rare piece and that some people would realty enjoy shooting it. Sure enough, a retired USMC LTC, Force Recon Marine and avid gun collector, became enamored with the MAT. He immediately began overtures about acquiring it from me and I told him up front that most anything I owned was for sale or exchange. We became fast friends and carried on this discussion of him becoming the new owner for over a year before we finally decided to make the transfer.







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