Open main menu

The Deer gun, developed by the CIA, was a successor to the Liberator pistol. The single-shot Deer gun was intended for distribution to South Vietnamese guerrillas as a weapon against North Vietnamese soldiers.[1]

Deer gun
An image of the Deer gun
TypeSingle-shot pistol
Place of originUnited States
Service history
In service1964
Used bySouth Vietnam
United States
WarsVietnam War
Production history
ManufacturerAmerican Machine & Foundry Co.
No. built1,000
Mass12 oz (340 grams)
Length5.0 inches (127 mm)
Barrel length1.875 (48 mm)

Cartridge9×19mm Parabellum
Muzzle velocity1050 ft/s (320 m/s)
Sightsplastic clip



The Deer gun was made of cast aluminium, with the receiver formed into a cylinder at the top of the weapon. The striker protruded from the rear of the receiver and was cocked in order to fire, and a plastic clip was placed there to prevent an accidental discharge, as the Deer gun had no mechanical safety. The grip had raised checkering, was hollow, and had space for three 9 mm rounds and a rod for clearing the barrel of spent cases. The Deer gun lacked any marking identifying manufacturer or user, in order to prevent tracing of the weapons, and all were delivered in unmarked polystyrene boxes with three 9 mm rounds and a series of pictures depicting the operation of the gun. A groove ran down a ramp on top for sighting. The barrel unscrewed for loading and removing the empty casing. A cocking knob was pulled until cocked. The aluminium trigger had no trigger guard.[1]


Instruction leaflet

The Deer gun was loaded by removing the barrel and placing a 9 mm cartridge in the chamber. The striker was then cocked, and a small plastic clip placed around the striker to impede the forward motion of the striker to prevent accidental discharge. The barrel was then screwed back onto the receiver. The gun was fired by removing the plastic clip, placing it on the barrel where it would become the sight, and pulling the trigger. At this point the user would take the victim's equipment if opportunity presented itself, and then flee. Later, the user would reload the gun by unscrewing the barrel and ejecting the spent case with the provided barrel rod, and follow the outlined procedure.[1][2]


One production run of 1,000 Deer guns was made in 1964 as an initial run, with the final cost projected as US$3.95 per gun. Rather than the Vietnam war being a small clandestine war, it became a full-scale war where the Deer gun would not be as useful as foreseen. Some Deer guns were evaluated in Vietnam, but the fate of the rest is unknown. Most sources state that all were destroyed.[1][2][3]


  1. ^ a b c d Hogg, Ian; Walter, John (2004). Pistols of the World. David & Charles. p. 353. ISBN 0-87349-460-1.
  2. ^ a b Fitzsimons, Bernard (1978). The Illustrated encyclopedia of 20th century weapons and warfare. Columbia House. pp. 2052–2053.
  3. ^ Hogg, Ian V.; Weeks, John S. (1991). Military Small Arms of the 20th Century: A Comprehensive Illustrated Encyclopaedia of the World's Small-Calibre Firearms. DBI Books. p. 27. ISBN 978-0-87349-120-4.