Skip to comments.The Army Pistol
Posted on 07/14/2014 2:20:50 AM PDT by WhiskeyX
In 1985 the United States Army replaced the Colt 1911 service pistol with the Italian designed M9 Beretta. The first question that came to mind is why? Why not simply order up a few hundred thousand of the then new Series 80 Colts?
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Now if they would just ditch the M16 rifle for something in the .25-.30 cal range. something that doesn’t spit carbon fouling into the chamber perhaps.
Is there anybody who aren’t really satisfied with Beretta’s performance? Was there a situation when it’s ‘knock-down’ power wasn’t enough?
Well, it was probably a bad idea to ditch Colt for that but does it worth to waste money for yet another replacement?
If the author looked at qualification scores he would not ask the question he asked. I used to run a lot of ranges when I was in the Army. It was my observation at the time we switched pistols that a much higher percentage of people qualified the 1st try with the M9 than with the M1911A1. Was it because the M9 had much better sights than the M1911A1 or was it because of less recoil? I don’t know. I had a LT at one range BOLO and complain to me about the pistol. I took the same gun and shot expert with it later that day while he watched. That LT always had issues qualifying with the .45 but no problems once we switched to the M9. I did not have a problem with either pistol but many people just did not shoot well with the government issued 1911s. .45 may have better knockdown power but that doesn’t matter much if people do not hit what they are shooting at. Maybe if they get a softer shooting polymer .45 with better sights non-gun people will do better with it?
“Is there anybody who arent really satisfied with Berettas performance? Was there a situation when its knock-down power wasnt enough?
Well, it was probably a bad idea to ditch Colt for that but does it worth to waste money for yet another replacement?”
Your past anti-Ukrainian and anti-American disinformation rants betray your concern troll tactics with respect to how the U.S. Army should and should not be armed. The M9 pistol was adopted almost 20 years ago and has seen rather heavy usage in that time. Many of the M9 pistols are worn and are arguably due for replacement by something which is not so worn. It is understandable how you would not want Putin, your object of frequent admiration, and his KGB thug buddies to face an American .45 caliber pistol in combat, but that’s just too bad for you.
OMG. Where am I anti-Americananti-American and Putin-lover?
My unit was issued the M9 in 1984. It has been 30 years or so.
I suppose it may stem from the fact that the rounds the military has to use in it (officially) are ball rounds - FMJs. I own several Berettas and they’ve always performed flawlessly. However, I’ve not put thousands of rounds through them nor carried them in a desert environment with sand like talcum powder.
I also own several 1911 variants, including US Army Colt 1911 and a 1911A1. Great weapons. Hefty and solid and good shooters. But they are heavy, and the normal load for them is about 8 rounds unless you go with extended magazines. With the right ammo (not ball) they’d rip most anyone apart.
“My unit was issued the M9 in 1984. It has been 30 years or so.”
[Chuckle] You’re most certainly right. Sorry about that. I was just doing a day’s worth of file management with 2001-2004 files, and I misspoke and dropped a decade there.
Where has the time gone? We were still being issued M1911A1 and Smith & Wesson pistols 30 years after the end of the Second World War. It seems like only yesterday the news of the adoption of the M9 Beretta was just coming out.
You’re as bad as Baghdad Bob and not nearly as comical.
I shot both pistols back-to-back during a cooperative rifle qualification with the Bundeswehr back in 1991. I found the recoil of the .45 to be fairly “slow”, where the 9mm was sharper. The 45 was probably stronger, but didn’t seem so. However, the 45 (at least the one I was issued that day) shot a very wide group despite careful bracing, while the 9mm’s group was quite tight. The 45 I had was, it should be noted, well-worn and probably ready for replacement.
Time does fly by, I was just thinking that it doesn’t seem that much time has passed looking back. Some of the M9s are probably getting long in the tooth now and need to be replaced. I saw a Marine Major carrying one I thought was stainless last week. When I looked closer, it was just a standard M9 with the finish almost completely worn off of it.
The JSSAP completely ignores reality or battlefield experience when it decides what soldiers are going to use in the future and in the case of the M9, pushed the 9mm Luger caliber to make it easier for ladies to shoot. As with other calibers or projects they want to advance, they use bogus computer modeling to "prove" that the 9mm or 5.56mm are savagely lethal rounds compared to all other candidates.
The result is that our services end up with less-than-optimal weapon systems to fight our wars (and to risk their lives with) while the JSSAP members make their money and go home. The army research, development, and engineering organizations at Picatinny Arsenal, Aberdeen Proving Ground, and Fort Benning aren't any better and go along with these half-baked projects, mainly because most of them are also civilians who never wore the uniform and they get their pride up when challenged.
The latest goofiness from JSSAP and army developers is the XM-25 25mm grenade rifle with its $25K each aiming system - heavy, kicks like a moose, short effective range, expensive to acquire and to shoot, and relies on the insane-in-combat method of sticking the upper part of the shooter's body above cover to range the target for each shot so the aiming system can compute the firing solution. Even if the system actually gets the range right, the "grenade" round has a tiny warhead and frags the size of grains of sand. Yet the army and JSSAP continue pushing that pig.
I would encourage everyone to visit the infantry museum at Fort Bragg. They have a collection of JSSAP failures in one wing of their weapons display. Enjoy.
My experience pretty much matches what you wrote. The Army M911A1s I dealt with were not like the ones people can buy now. Even the low end ones you can buy now are easier to shoot well than the old M1911A1s were. They were functional, but pretty loose and had very crappy sights on them. I was in one unit that switched and then I PCS’d to another unit before they switched. Range scores in both units improved markedly with the new M9s. I am guessing it was probably the very usable sights on the M9 that made a difference more than anything else.
Drew the heavy .45 everyday and never was confident I could hit anything with it if I had to. MP dog handler 1979-1982, Kaiserslautern, for most of it. I was sure it would knock everything down if I did !
I have owned both the Beretta 9mm, Taurus 92 knock off and the series 70 Colt. During my police years on a tactical team we carried the colt in .45 auto. I still own a browning highpower which is a fine single action auto, but in 9mm. I spent a few years in Iraq in 2005 and 2006. I carried a Glock in 9mm, a decent 9mm, but i just did not care for it. I came across a colt series 80,in .45 with extra mags and ammunition and swapped out straight away. Give me something that has the best potential to put the lights out or disable quickly. The .45 auto has that potential. The 1911 configuration would be my choice even today.
HAving been in civilian law enforcement, military police, combat vet from OIF I, and a Blackwater PSOC, I have used 9mm, .40 CAL S/W, and .45 - out of running ranges in the US Army and conducting qual’s and seeing what occurs in teh field compared to what occurs at the range - the US Army needs to issues no less than a .40 cal handgun. As far as recoil and control, I have seen females shot a Springfield (weapon of choice for CC) better than a double stacked 9mm or .40 cal semi-auto...the 1911 (.45 cal) ran smooth...who ever designed that weapon system with the tension on the spring..got the math right...it is a superior combat weapon and should be issued...if nothing else - it’s intimating!
as far as a combat pistol round goes, the .45 is superior to the 9 mm in all aspects save one, the number of rounds you can stuff into a magazine and with the advent of double stacked magazines, that advantage has been lessened considerably. I have 10, 13, and 28 round magazines for my Glock .45s for example.
The Glock 21 is an extremely accurate pistol. Kt is scary accurate in fact. recoil is not just mild, it's pleasing. It's ability to put large diameter holes into chest cavities is unquestionable. Standard magazine capacity is 13 rounds. It may well be the most rugged pistol platform ever designed and built. It is built and designed for combat. As such, there is truly no other sidearm that I would prefer to take into combat. It is indisputably superior to both the M9 and the 1911 and it's cheap.
It can be concealed more easily than you might think too incidentally.
Our ordnance dept. has a long history of bad calls when it comes to infantry weapons. During the Civil War, they refused to adopt weapons like the 7 shot Spencer rifle,
over the single shot muzzle loading Springfield pattern.
They rejected the Maxim machine gun. They did not allow the Browning Automatic rifle (BAR) to be used in Europe during WWI. IMO the real impetus for adoption of the 9mm was its commonality with all of the other NATO armed services. In the mid 80, ladies were not to be found in combat units.
The biggest problem with the 9mm round is that it uses a full metal jacket bullet. A 9mm round with a some of the modern hollow point bullets available today is very effective in damaging the human body.
I own a couple of both, and I love each for different reasons.
The heft and feel of a .45, and what it does downrange speaks for itself, if you hit it, it goes down. I love them to death and is what I keep in my vehicle as a knock-around gun.
Back in ‘85 just after the switch I bought my first Beretta and have put literally thousands upon thousands (and I’m not exaggerating here) of every type of round cheap and expensive I could get my hands on through it. I can count the number of times it failed to feed on one hand, and that was after a full days use of cheap ammo without cleaning. I cannot say anything similar with my 1911 frames at all.
That being said I then think about being downrange on the other end of either of these and the choice between the two becomes much easier. If someone was armed and coming to kill me would I rather face a 9mm or a .45? Neither if course, but in all honesty I would hands down pick the 9mm every time, and I imagine so would our enemies as well.
(Putting on my flame proof undies here and also admitting that if you do go back to the big-bore I think they just say screw it and adopt a 10mm instead, the Delta Elites I have would scare me more than either of the choices above)
I had much the same experience in about 1980. Two of us were on the Combat Handgun Pistol Team. We were good and maintained groups in the 10X ring. We would have moved on to Nationals but our team captain shot a snake.
Because of our expertise we had the pleasure of taking our officers to the range to qualify on the 45. We heard the old trite comments about how useless the 45 was. We taught them how to strip and inspect the weapon. We taught them the Weaver grip, sight picture and alignment. They only had to hit 50% of the popup targets to qualify. They all managed to qualify but with low scores. We each took two 45s and used two lanes each. We mowed down all the targets but being popups and not bulls eyes it was no great feet. After our demonstration their opinion of the 45 changed. It seemed their prior opinion was formed by all the old rumors they heard about the 45. It affected their performance.
With a new pistol (in .40 cal no less), they have something to shoot those millions of “spare” rounds they have stock piled.
It would be easier to convert the M-16 to a better caliber. There isn’t a battle rifle fielded that is more accurate than the M-16.
40 years ago we had a sidearm that had a lotof knockdown power. It was called a Colt 45.
When I was on active duty in the early to mid 1980s, the 1911A1 was the only game in town. Before my final stint on the Division staff I served as a platoon leader and for a short while as the XO of the Division Pistol Team (Composite Bullseye). I never found our supply of 1911's to be wildly loose or inaccurate and I fired a fair representation of brother officer's assigned pistols in my Brigade when I was at the unit level. On the team we got match grade pistols (including S&W M41's) and ammo as well as Olympic grade coaches. That was a pretty fun time. I never found the 45 to be an exceptionally hard kicker and actually the recoil impulse is more of a push. But it can be pretty heavy and that tends to task the arms and wrists of some female soldiers or folks whose background in life doesn't include a familiarity with firearms.
The big push to change the status quo was blamed on several things:
1. 1911A1's were running on the ragged edge of the life span.
2. There was the issue of training the females and others of limited shooting backgrounds to handle the pistol.
3. But the overriding excuse was logistics to bring our military into line with our NATO allies, the 9mm being the sole caliber of choice for Europe. Of course at that time we were all training to be in combat with the Russians, so that made sense.
However as in everything that ultimately makes a significant change in the TO&E, it came down to the greed factor. Just as when the M16 was pushed over the M14 and before that the Garand and so on, the ever present military industrial complex got geared up to offer up a "needed replacement." It is interesting to note the factors in common with the progression of our military battle rifles: Decreasing caliber size and increasing numbers in terms of capacity. Why wouldn't the same hold true for a sidearm?
The Beretta and the Sig Sauer P226 were the leading contenders. I personally own both (plus 3 1911 styles) and I prefer the Sig. But in terms of the competition the Beretta was cheaper in the bidding process. I don't have the stats from those tests on the numbers of malfunctions for any of the pistols tested, but the "cut-out slide" on the Beretta has to be a factor in reducing the number of stove-pipe style jams resulting from perhaps underpowered ammo or springs too strong on the pistol.
The money for private business is often made in the accessories arena: Sights, ammo, magazines, grips, small parts, etc. Plus I'm sure the manufacturers involved were amping up the lobbyists to push their product lines to the procurement divisions.
There are extremely good arguments to be made in favor of accuracy over volume of fire. Stopping power is quite a nebulous term. Which shot offers more power: A 45acp hit in the palm of the hand or a 9mm on the upper lip at the base of the nose, traveling straight line at over 1,000fps? Accuracy = finality. Some folks might argue that given similar ball ammo, just based on the cross sectional density of the 45 being greater than the 9mm most all hits on the center of mass the 45 will be the better stopper. Well, maybe or maybe not.
A very close friend of mine, just retired as the senior officer in charge of all army special forces education and he swears BY (not "at") his M9. He says the ODA's are equally happy. The USMC seems hell bent on replacing the M9 with the Kimber 45. But how much of that might be a tried and true sense of traditionalism? The marines are very big on their traditions. The idea that Chesty Puller carried a 45 probably carries a lot more weight than some of the other factors. That's just my impression though. I might be totally off base, there.
I own a mkii and a mkiii browning hi power.
The mkii has the older sights, just like the older
1911’s had, and yes, in other than bright sunshine,
they are hard to see. The mkiii has a three dot,
one forward, two rear, setup. Much easier, much
quicker in any sort of light.
Yes, they are 9mm, and not .45acp. Stilll, I would
not stand, to catch either one.
I do concur that the newer 1911s, would work
Ah, a wise man on a stopping power thread. Rare as hen's teeth. Better get your flame suit on.
You lost me...a Springfield what? They make 1911s, double stack 9mms and .40's. (maybe even .45s but after shooting the polymer 9mm it was off my list)
True, but the projectile tumbled in the air and was so slow, you could see it going through the air... and inaccurate. (or, at least the shooter is)
As their eyes met, the ski mask guy turned to point a small pistol at Charley, who left go with three rounds, which all missed.
The ski mask guy dropped his pistol and ran toward a idling Chevy. Charley let loose with four more rounds which neatly drilled the trunk and rear window but missed the perp.
As this was happening, an Urbandale police cruiser happened by; the cop had heard the shots. The officer found Mr. ski mask, soiled and whimpering on the front floor of the car. Handcuffs were applied.
The next afternoon, the Urbandale police chief dropped by and invited Charley to the police shooting range for a little target practice with the Hi Power...
This is one thing that has me scratching my head, why the military doesn't do more "continuing" contracts, where pistols which are getting worn out get sold on the "used" market, and new ones are bought, on a yearly basis.
As far as the 9mm/.45 debate, really, how often do military people (outside of certain special ops units who do their own procurement) actually use their handguns to fire at an enemy?
Not sure why he says the Sig P220 doesn’t have a manual safety...
Mine does, and with a standard 4.5 lb. trigger I’ll take that glass smooth action over my Series 70 Gold Cup any day.
I've seen a lot of people shoot .45 but I've never seen their bullets. A .45 doesn't tumble generally, and it's not an inherently inaccurate round.
There is nothing inherently inaccurate about the 45. The trajectory turns into a rainbow at distance but that is a different discussion.
You are correct. The early M-16s were finicky...
Its potential for good accuracy is primarily within 100-300 yards. Accuracy degrades beyond that due to the light bullet and the low ballistic coefficient. It's ability to cause devastating wounds beyond 300 yards also degrades especially from shorter barreled rifles.
Furthermore, oh8eleven, the routing of hot gasses into the chamber remains a design flaw. Even after about 50 years, it remains a poor design.
Bottom line, it has been fifty years now and the shortcomings of the M16 have been well documented after every conflict it has seen. I think we could do better and I think the 5.56 mm NATO round has proved repeatedly that it kind of sucks in general.
If I had to rush out to meet an enemy, I would absolutely grab my FN FAL in 7.62 mm before I would grab any of the direct gas impingement 5.56 mm rifles in my collection.
What pistol did you carry?
To be honest I’m mostly familar with Makarov and TT. I also used Stechkin, PB and MP-443 but I like TT best though.
Best of both worlds: The Smith & Wesson 40, 155gr Gold Dot at 1250fps, or a 180gr FMJ at 1150fps. As powerful as any 45 round, as fast as any 9mm round, and the approximate size of the 9mm to hold 10+ rounds in a magazine.
I have it in the Beretta 96 (Same as the 9mm version), and it works great.
I have the first generation Glock Mod. 22 in .40 S&W. It’s a hammer !
Was the Makarov standard issue in your unit?
I’ve been looking at 40 S&W, the components are much more reasonable than 45 and sometimes cheaper than 9mm.
I wish the military would go back to 45, it would make once fired brash much less expensive.
Let's not confuse the round with the rifle either. The government decided to use 5.56, but the AR/M16 platform can be built using a wide variety of rounds, from .17HMR to .50 Beowulf. Only government stupidity stops them from adopting a better caliber that would further enhance the superiority of the platform.