HELP! I have no idea what this is. UPDATE: IT'S REAL!

buffalowinter

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    I am impatient, impulsive, willing to go without food to buy a gun, and not the sharpest tool in the shed. These are all terrible qualities for a collector. So I bought this off Gunbroker last night, THEN did a google search. Is this for real? Here is the add:

    Scarce Vietnam Harrington & Richardson Special Forces 12ga 28" Parkerized​

    This shotgun is a rare model that was produced during the 1960-1970s for use by the Special Forces (Green Berets) during Vietnam. These shotguns were given to the Montagnards of the Vietnamese Central Highlands as gifts of trading stock to gain their support. Most were destroyed after the fall of Vietnam and are difficult to find today. The receiver is marked "SPECIAL FORCES MODEL/ HARRINGTON & RICHARDSON, INC./ WORCHESTER, MASS. U.S.A" on the left side over the serial number. Adjustable rear sight and bead front along with a green canvas sling and a vented recoil pad. Includes a Navy Arms Company box hand numbered to match gun. LOP:13 3/4". Serial Number: 65151 Manufacturer: Harrington & Richardson Inc Model: Single Shot, Gauge: 12, Barrel: 28 inch round, Finish: parkerized, Stock: walnut
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    During my google search I found that this exact same gun has been sold by Rock Island Auction Co. twice...once in 2009 and again in 2020. I've never seen one of these. I've reached out to my SF Brothers and none of them have ever seen one of these...yet here it is. I did find a discussion on "The High Road" blog site about this exact same gun...and I mean same serial number. It went like this:

    1st comment: So, the most bizarre Vietnam era military shotgun has to be the H&R single shot 12ga, "Special Forces Model". These were 28" barreled 12ga models with a parkerized finish and marked "Special Forces Model" on them. The barrel appears to be marked "3 3/4 Full" but that seems quite odd given that the 3.5" shell wasn't produced until the mid 1980s. They were given out by A-Teams to Montagnard and other irregular troops and to friendly villages, not as combat weapons, obviously, but as hearts and minds trade/goodwill goods. There have been a few on GB in recent years. (Note: the chamber is actually marked 2 3/4, it is just badly roll stamped, plus no one ever made a 3 3/4 12 ga shell)

    2nd comment: A friend of mine got one of these as a retirement gift from the office about 20 years ago. He was an advisor to Montangards when he was in Vietnam. He talked about wanting one of these guns and someone found one in excellent plus condition. I can't remember what we paid for it but it was a good deal more than what a H&R single shot was going for at the time

    So here we have two individuals saying they have seen this gun, or one like it. I can find no mention of one of these guns anywhere on the internet, other than this exact serial number 65181 gun. H&R says they turned over all their records to ATF when they were sold. H&R website, collectors site, and Gun Values has no record of this gun. Navy Arms has no record. I looked for old adds, couldn't find any. Yet, here it is. I could see it being a fake if there were others around, but I can't find any. I don't see any indication of fakery.

    There is so much right about this gun and so much wrong. I could see a special contract for this gun as it would be a prized possession given to tribal chiefs or leaders. But why mark it Special Forces model? The serial number is atypical for H&R as it does not have a letter pre-fix...but that would not be unusual for a special contract. H&R has been a military contractor for several weapons. The 65181 serial number is high...but I would guess they might have started the serial numbers at 65000 to mislead the enemy, as in, "shit, there's 65K of these things in Montagnard hands".

    Navy Arms was a major player, as in the only player, in the surplus imported guns market during the time this would have become available, i.e. 1973-77.
    This was before the internet, so it's not like there are pic's or blogs of "what do you think of my SF shotgun".

    A possible theory I have been considering is this is a pre-production model of a firearm made for the civilian market for Navy Arms. Navy Arms, as it was then, is gone. Val Forgett has passed away and the company was sold. However, this is exactly the type of firearm that Val was interested in and may have picked up in his travels.

    Has anyone any more information?

    Lot 352: Scarce Harrington & Richardson Special Forces Model Shotgun​

    Auction Date: November 18, 2020​

    Scarce Harrington & Richardson Special Forces Model Single Shot Shotgun​

    1625162636854.png



    Lot 633: Scarce Harrington & Richards Special Forces Shotgun​

    Auction Date: December 4, 2009​

    1625163128785.png
     
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    Texasflyer

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    I like the rifle sights on it. What is the maker mark on the box? The finest maker in replica arms on the box makes me curious. Possible small production copy?
     
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    Snuby642

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    An H&R 12g single shot was a brutal thing for a skinny little kid to learn to shoot with.

    You quickly learn not to waste a shot.

    My sons got lucky with a heavy side by side.
     

    Texasflyer

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    Check out Navy Arms Replicas. I did a little looking being curious.
     

    sirhrmechanic

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    We are looking into it now. But I think there’s a good chance this was either a commemorative type thing done for one of the associations. The fact that it lacks a prefix makes it very possible that it could be something they did as a short run.

    Or was some kind of special run done because everyone was Special Forces crazy after the Green Berets movie came out. And what kid wouldn’t want a Special Forces Parkerized version for their first shotgun.

    Waiting to hear back from the SF Museum at Fort Bragg.
     

    roostercogburn98

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    We are looking into it now. But I think there’s a good chance this was either a commemorative type thing done for one of the associations. The fact that it lacks a prefix makes it very possible that it could be something they did as a short run.

    Or was some kind of special run done because everyone was Special Forces crazy after the Green Berets movie came out. And what kid wouldn’t want a Special Forces Parkerized version for their first shotgun.

    Waiting to hear back from the SF Museum at Fort Bragg.
    I drive by that place couple days a week. If you need me to go look at anything just let me know
     

    Texasflyer

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    We are looking into it now. But I think there’s a good chance this was either a commemorative type thing done for one of the associations. The fact that it lacks a prefix makes it very possible that it could be something they did as a short run.

    Or was some kind of special run done because everyone was Special Forces crazy after the Green Berets movie came out. And what kid wouldn’t want a Special Forces Parkerized version for their first shotgun.

    Waiting to hear back from the SF Museum at Fort Bragg.
    My grandfather lived in atoka, i spent so much time around Fort Bragg.... what a throwback to hear that....
     
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    Waorani

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    Or was some kind of special run done because everyone was Special Forces crazy after the Green Berets movie came out. And what kid wouldn’t want a Special Forces Parkerized version for their first shotgun.
    I remember when that was filming at Ft Benning in summer of '67. We lived in Columbus and I'd have been between 3rd and 4th grades. Vaguely remember my mom taking us to Lawson Field one day when they were filming and open to the public. Think my dad might have been in Vietnam at the time?
     

    6.5SH

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    The #51 pic looks like it is stamped 2 3/4 to me, the lower #81 certainly looks like 3 3/4, blem or mistake perhaps?
    I have a 1957 S&W K-22 with an over-stamped logo, such oddities do make it out the door.

    It would be nice if there were digitized copies of the Shotgun News from that era, bet there may have been some ads.
     

    buffalowinter

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    Thanks. I immediately looked on the Internet Movie Firearams Data Base as the gun clearly had a web sling attached to a barrel band like my gun...this is unusual. Unfortunately, all they had was a generic pic of a single barrel shotgun. This raises the question is this shotgun a movie prop. I doubt this was a movie gun as all prop houses clearly mark their property and I have owned several firearms that came from prop houses.
    1625520380012.png
     

    sirhrmechanic

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    Thanks. I immediately looked on the Internet Movie Firearams Data Base as the gun clearly had a web sling attached to a barrel band like my gun...this is unusual. Unfortunately, all they had was a generic pic of a single barrel shotgun. This raises the question is this shotgun a movie prop. I doubt this was a movie gun as all prop houses clearly mark their property and I have owned several firearms that came from prop houses.
    View attachment 7662196
    And they never would have roll-marked “special forces model” on the harder than hell frame of a late ‘80s HR Topper. Back in that era those were all case hardened. Really vivid cyanide case hardening. No way you would have Roll Marked that.

    And by that era I mean late ‘80s/early 90’s when the movie was made. Cheers Sirhr
     

    Threadcutter308

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    Thanks. I immediately looked on the Internet Movie Firearams Data Base as the gun clearly had a web sling attached to a barrel band like my gun...this is unusual. Unfortunately, all they had was a generic pic of a single barrel shotgun. This raises the question is this shotgun a movie prop. I doubt this was a movie gun as all prop houses clearly mark their property and I have owned several firearms that came from prop houses.
    View attachment 7662196
    Launcher of the Golden BB.

    Are you saying that you bought/possess that specific firearm ? :)
     

    buffalowinter

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    It says replica on the box. They wouldn't put SF on it in Nam as a gift. That would be asking for trouble.
    Whatever it is, it's not a replica (There would have to be a real one for it to be a replica...it's a paradox.). That is a generic Navy Arms period box. They sold all kinds of replica weapons but also lots of military surplus and one of a kind items. I have three second hand accounts of individuals having seen these and that they are real.
     
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    Whatever it is, it's not a replica (There would have to be a real one for it to be a replica...it's a paradox.). That is a generic Navy Arms period box. They sold all kinds of replica weapons but also lots of military surplus and one of a kind items. I have three second hand accounts of individuals having seen these and that they are real.
    The Remington M40 SSA is a replica of the first M40 in Vietnam. They may have made some parkarized for the military but these are replica models after the fact. SF and SOG didn't go around with Special Forces stamped on firearms.
     
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    Downtown

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    Whatever it is, it's not a replica (There would have to be a real one for it to be a replica...it's a paradox.). That is a generic Navy Arms period box. They sold all kinds of replica weapons but also lots of military surplus and one of a kind items. I have three second hand accounts of individuals having seen these and that they are real.
    I can certainly back this up. Those years were my heyday for imported stuff and I've a few of those identical boxes that cool things came in. Fun times.
     

    sirhrmechanic

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    So putting " collectable" guns in a box that clearly says replica is a loss prevention technique?
    Back then Harrington & Richardson made a replica trap door Springfield. And a couple of other oddball things that were I think made in Italy and imported. They merely called them selves number one and replica firearms because they were importing strange cowboy guns and stuff. I remember one of their catalogs from the 80s with the topper shotguns but also some really bad pistols and possibly some Hawkens and the trap door.

    As BW said, box was generic. A topper was $89. You didn’t get special boxes for that!

    Sirhr
     
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    sirhrmechanic

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    so looking closely at that gun whoever pointed out that it says 3 1/2 inch shell certainly appears to be correct. That definitely looks like a three.

    The 3 1/2 inch shell wasn’t developed or made available until 1988. That would put the box and the gun in the late 80s.

    BW can you measure the chamber length? Because that might actually be a clue. If that is cut for a 3 1/2 inch magnum then it’s definitely a later piece.

    Also goes back to the theory of it being for one of the associations. Which would make sense in the late 80s. Cheers
     

    buffalowinter

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    so looking closely at that gun whoever pointed out that it says 3 1/2 inch shell certainly appears to be correct. That definitely looks like a three.

    The 3 1/2 inch shell wasn’t developed or made available until 1988. That would put the box and the gun in the late 80s.

    BW can you measure the chamber length? Because that might actually be a clue. If that is cut for a 3 1/2 inch magnum then it’s definitely a later piece.

    Also goes back to the theory of it being for one of the associations. Which would make sense in the late 80s. Cheers
    LISTEN UP! Below is a close up of the chamber marking. 3/4 is clearly visible...it is not in question. There is no such thing as a 3 3/4 shotshell. I think it's pretty clear that this is a crappy roll stamped 2. Your choices are 2 3/4 which exists and 3 3/4 which does not. If it said 3 3/4 I'd really have something!:) (Here's a smiley emoji so you don't think I'm yelling at you (I'm yelling at you)). :)

    hr sf.jpg
     

    sirhrmechanic

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    LISTEN UP! Below is a close up of the chamber marking. 3/4 is clearly visible...it is not in question. There is no such thing as a 3 3/4 shotshell. I think it's pretty clear that this is a crappy roll stamped 2. Your choices are 2 3/4 which exists and 3 3/4 which does not. If it said 3 3/4 I'd really have something!:) (Here's a smiley emoji so you don't think I'm yelling at you (I'm yelling at you)).

    View attachment 7663161
    Yup… a bad 2. I could have sworn when I looked earlier it looked like a 3.
     

    Random Guy

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    Bruce Canfield is probably the authority on 20th century US military shotguns and all the various permutations. I have his book on US Military Combat Shotguns, and will check it tomorrow, but I don’t recall anything like this in his book.
     
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    buffalowinter

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    Bruce Canfield is probably the authority on 20th century US military shotguns and all the various permutations. I have his book on US Combat Shotguns, and will check it tomorrow, but I don’t recall anything like this in his book.
    I wouldn't expect something like this to be documented...that is why the "Special Forces Model" marking is so damning. If it didn't have that marking I'd be fairly convinced this was a special contract to provide a "Hearts and Minds" gift to tribal leaders by SF. As it is, I don't know, although I have found 3 people who said they've seen them before and that they existed.
     

    sirhrmechanic

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    Bruce Canfield is probably the authority on 20th century US military shotguns and all the various permutations. I have his book on US Combat Shotguns, and will check it tomorrow, but I don’t recall anything like this in his book.
    Everything I’ve seen on the web goes back to what Buffalo Winter posted in his initial post. It all seems to come out of an auction company catalog that claim these were given to Montagnard’s.

    There is stuff on the highroad. there’s other auctions, like Gunbroker. But it all seems to come back to that one auction source. Which seems to be like an auction company that sold the story not the gun.

    And all the pictures are of the same gun asBuffalo Winter said in his initial post.

    That said why would anyone fake this? There’s not enough money in it. It would cost you more to make the roll stamp. And you couldn’t stamp that hardened receiver anyway? Way too much work to fake something like this. So it Has to go back to being some kind of factory p

    Someone with an expertise in H&R has to know what’s going on.

    Have you tried the NRA museum yet? I can ask Doug Wicklund or Jim Supica.

    Sirhr
     

    cornhusker86

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    And they never would have roll-marked “special forces model” on the harder than hell frame of a late ‘80s HR Topper. Back in that era those were all case hardened. Really vivid cyanide case hardening. No way you would have Roll Marked that.

    And by that era I mean late ‘80s/early 90’s when the movie was made. Cheers Sirhr
    I can't attest to HR's methods, but generally speaking, stamping is done prior to heat treating. At least in the shops I've worked in. 🤷‍♂️
     

    Random Guy

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    I looked in Bruce Canfield's excellent book, Complete Guide to United States Military Combat Shotguns (2007), which is based on his review of the US gov't archives and related procurement documents of shotguns throughout the 20th and early 21st century. Per Canfield's book and the available gov't archival info, it does not appear that H&R had any contracts with the US gov't for shotguns.

    There were tens of thousands of non-'U.S.' marked shotguns sent to Vietnam beginning in the early 1960s specifically to arm the indigenous population, but they were all of the riot/pump-action configuration. The 3rd attachment, second column discusses the fate of those tens of thousands of unused shotguns. Apparently in the early 1990s, an Australian importer/researcher went and catalogued thousands of these US-made shotguns (including their serial #s) - that had been in storage in Saigon for 25 years. They were in very poor condition due to poor storage practices and Vietnam's humid climate, and only the best ones were purchased and exported in the 1990s.. Attached are the relevant excerpts from Canfield's book. (The last attachment are the dozen types of 'non-standard' shotguns that were in US gov't inventory in the pre-WWII era. No such records exist in the gov't archives for H&R, so my guess is the 'Special Forces Model' stamp was a marketing thing. Sorry.)

    PS: The only weapon that I am aware of that was manufactured in 1964 for 'covert' deployment and usage by the Vietnamese natives, such as the Montagnards, was the unmarked 9mm 'Deer gun.' They were to be issued with 3 rounds of vintage 9mm ammo that was not-traceable back to the USA. (Camp Peary may or may not have one of these still in its original Styrofoam package for historical purposes).
     

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    shoobe01

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    I just wanted to say that the way to post is as @Random Guy has here. Too many doing the research would say "I looked, nada." This is not just interestingly on topic, but super interesting stuff to read itself. Thanks for the time taken to type that, and scan the pages also!

    👏
     

    Random Guy

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    Glad you found my post useful. My only reservation is that those excerpts are copyrighted material, but I have credited the source.
    I am not a collector of US military shotguns (I have only 1 reproduction), but I highly recommend his excellent book:
     
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    Texasflyer

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    View attachment 7660691

    Atoka, OK to Fort Bragg, NC?
    Atoka tn, but apparently me as a kid saw the local vfw tank and plane display and the name of an army surplus store my grandfather used to take me too and thought thats where we were.... but im kinda embarassed that thru all these years i thought ft bragg was in Tennessee. I deserve the laughing at i get lol.
     
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    shoobe01

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    Don't worry about copyright for things like this. Straight from the government even:
    Under the fair use doctrine of the U.S. copyright statute, it is permissible to use limited portions of a work including quotes, for purposes such as commentary, criticism, news reporting, and scholarly reports. There are no legal rules permitting the use of a specific number of words, a certain number of musical notes, or percentage of a work. Whether a particular use qualifies as fair use depends on all the circumstances.

    The screaming about piracy from the music and movie industries has made everyone paranoid (and DMCA takedowns are way over-reaching) but it's actually fine.
     

    sirhrmechanic

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    I looked in Bruce Canfield's excellent book, Complete Guide to United States Military Combat Shotguns (2007), which is based on his review of the US gov't archives and related procurement documents of shotguns throughout the 20th and early 21st century. Per Canfield's book and the available gov't archival info, it does not appear that H&R had any contracts with the US gov't for shotguns.

    There were tens of thousands of non-'U.S.' marked shotguns sent to Vietnam beginning in the early 1960s specifically to arm the indigenous population, but they were all of the riot/pump-action configuration. The 3rd attachment, second column discusses the fate of those tens of thousands of unused shotguns. Apparently in the early 1990s, an Australian importer/researcher went and catalogued thousands of these US-made shotguns (including their serial #s) - that had been in storage in Saigon for 25 years. They were in very poor condition due to poor storage practices and Vietnam's humid climate, and only the best ones were purchased and exported in the 1990s.. Attached are the relevant excerpts from Canfield's book. (The last attachment are the dozen types of 'non-standard' shotguns that were in US gov't inventory in the pre-WWII era. No such records exist in the gov't archives for H&R, so my guess is the 'Special Forces Model' stamp was a marketing thing. Sorry.)

    PS: The only weapon that I am aware of that was manufactured in 1964 for 'covert' deployment and usage by the Vietnamese natives, such as the Montagnards, was the unmarked 9mm 'Deer gun.' They were to be issued with 3 rounds of vintage 9mm ammo that was not-traceable back to the USA. (Camp Peary may or may not have one of these still in its original Styrofoam package for historical purposes).
    Great info.

    I was going to bring up the Deer Gun (The Vietnam era Liberator) as an example of a 'real' weapon.

    Also the toothpaste guns.

    There are some of both around. Not many. But some.

    Again, great material sir!

    Sirhr
     

    Hollywood 6mm

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    Flori-duh.
    Atoka? Never heard of it. One of those bizarre little NC towns that was a place inside a town? I thought I knew all the little towns around that place. But maybe not all the places... around the place.

    Sirhr

    Atoka tn, but apparently me as a kid saw the local vfw tank and plane display and the name of an army surplus store my grandfather used to take me too and thought thats where we were.... but im kinda embarassed that thru all these years i thought ft bragg was in Tennessee. I deserve the laughing at i get lol.

    I was sitting here scratching my head over Atoka, too. The real answer is pretty funny, though.
     
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    sirhrmechanic

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    I was sitting here scratching my head over Atoka, too. The real answer is pretty funny, though.
    Well, he is from Texas. We laugh at them anyway.

    When I lived down there, this guy told me that he would get in his pickup in the morning and drive all day... and never get to the far side of his spread. I told him "Yup, my truck up in Vermont was like that, too. But I scrapped it."

    Sirhr
     

    Hollywood 6mm

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    Flori-duh.
    Well, he is from Texas. We laugh at them anyway.

    When I lived down there, this guy told me that he would get in his pickup in the morning and drive all day... and never get to the far side of his spread. I told him "Yup, my truck up in Vermont was like that, too. But I scrapped it."

    Sirhr

    I'm just glad I don't have to go back very often any more, and when I do I can avoid the 'Ville entirely.
     

    Downtown

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    Great info.

    I was going to bring up the Deer Gun (The Vietnam era Liberator) as an example of a 'real' weapon.

    Also the toothpaste guns.

    There are some of both around. Not many. But some.

    Again, great material sir!

    Sirhr
    Toothpaste guns? I'm intrigued. Are you referring to the CIA's .22 Stinger that would conceal in a toothpaste tube? I least I think that was the CIA. I could be mixing up my covert agency's.