Ia Drang pistol engraving and box designs

This is my first time designing engraving for a pistol. It has been an interesting and exciting experience figuring out the layouts and telling a story within the restricted space on the pistol. First came the box art design which helped decide some of the other parts of the engraving. The scene depicts the first few seconds of the Ia Drang battle as Lt. Col. Hal Moore leads his men into the landing zone area. This is when the soldiers and helicopters are the most vulnerable to the enemy, fortunately the first wave of landings were unopposed. Doing the box design first provided better ideas for the engravings and sets the tone for the entire package.


I've always wanted to paint a Vietnam Infill and feel pretty happy with the initial layout which seems accurate and dramatic. Growing up during this time, the Vietnam era of soldiers has always been special to me. I'm extremely happy and excited to have the opportunity to work on this project.

Hal Moore engraving.jpg

For the Lt. Col Hal Moore side I chose a little different version of the infill, emphasizing Col. Moore in size as the troopers disembark the Huey's. There is also his rank and the 1st Cavalry patch to tie this together. The date range was expanded to include LZ- Albany because some soldiers fought at both parts of the battle.

Ia Drang pistol, Basil Plumley side.jpg

For the SGM Basil overrunning side I chose the use the critical part of the battle when he tells his men, "Gentlemen, prepare to defend yourselves!" The close up of SGM is similar to the Col. Hal Moore side but different enough so that the feel completely separate but still the same story. Right behind SGM separate is Col. Moore calling in a air strike "Broken Arrow"on his own position to prevent the enemy from overrunning them . Its a dangerous and desperate move to try and save the command. This side also has the 1st Cavalry patch and SGM rank in the same position as the reverse side.

Ia Drang top.jpg

The top is mostly type of the two landing zones and the copy seen above the engraved sides. The small flight of helicopters is there for effect but subtle. There is any need to fill this space with a scene of any substance. Not every inch of space should have content, the eye needs to have a place and space to move to easily.

2017 July 12th