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“ZIP ZAP… YOU’RE A DEAD VC”: The CIA’s Dear Little Dear Pistol in Vietnam

By J. David Truby

Dan Shea got it wrong, Robert Bruce got it wrong, Chris Eger got it wrong, Ian Hogg got it wrong and so did Gary Paul Johnson, Jack Krcma, Dick Meadows, Keith Melton, John Minnery, T. C. Smith, Don Walsh and Yours Truly … until Jonathan Liu of the CIA’s office of Public Affairs kindly told me the truth about the mysterious CIA “Deer” Gun, as it has been known since 1962.

“This weapon is actually known as the CIA DEnied ARea Pistol, hence DEAR Pistol. It was designed for distribution to foreign fighters willing to operate behind enemy lines,” Mr. Lui informed me, sharing with me data from the Agency’s own files, including a CIA photograph of their original production DEAR Pistol.

And, it all began with the fabled OSS Liberator.

The World War II Liberator was a small, nifty, behind-the-scenes pistol. It wasn’t meant for the battlefield, though; it was meant for use as a sneaky behind-enemy-lines killer for an ally friendly OSS. About 20 years later and half-way around the world, its successor, the CIA’s Deer Gun, as it has been incorrectly known for over 55 years, hoped to continue that legacy, yet inadvertently created a puzzling reputation of its own.

The DEAR Pistol was conceived as an updated version of the Liberator pistol, a gun built by General Motor’s Guide Lamp Division. Developed for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) during the Vietnam conflict, the DEAR Pistol was a very simple, single-shot 9mm pistol designed to sneakily bring better weapons to the U.S.’ South Vietnamese allies fighting against their invasive local Viet Cong and the invading North Vietnamese soldiers. It was designed to be purely one-on-one deadly.

“The idea was to supply this glorified zip gun to our friendlies who weren’t afraid to carry the war close and personal to our enemy,” the late U.S. Army Major Dick Meadows, a true Special Forces icon, explained. “They’d get close, take him down with the Deer Gun, then strip him of everything usable, including his AK47and...

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V21N8 (October 2017)
and was posted online on August 18, 2017

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