Army To Replace 9mm Pistol


The Army is looking for a replacement for the Beretta M9 and Sig Sauer M11 pistols currently in use.  According to Army officials, the pistols issued to soldiers now are roughly 30 years old, many have seen much use, and they’re looking to replace them with a harder hitting round than the 9mm provides.  Furthermore, many soldiers who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan have stated that the 9mm round just isn’t powerful enough for combat use; that something with more “knockdown power” is needed.  On top of that, there are some reliability problems with the Berettas; the safety is easy to inadvertently put on, and the pistol is subject to jamming due to dirt getting inside it because of the environment and conditions in which combat troops operate.  These are valid concerns, and I’m glad to see the Army, and hopefully the other military services will replace their present sidearms.

I don’t want to be misunderstood – the 9mm is a good round, and it has the added benefit of high capacity magazines for many models.  Although I no longer own it, the Browning Hi-Power I had used a 13 round magazine.  That, in addition to one round already chambered, and I had 14 rounds ready to go instantly.  No, the 9mm isn’t the largest or most powerful round by any means, but it’s good nonetheless.  And the higher capacity magazine gives you the capability for laying down some serious fire when the situation calls for it.

But the Army wants a harder hitting round, and would especially like to look at a .40 or .45 caliber sidearm.  I’m not familiar with the .40 Smith & Wesson round, but I’m very familiar with the .45 ACP I carried on occasion while in the Navy:




The M1911-A1 (pictured above) is what the military was using when I was in the Navy.  Many, if not most of them saw use in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.  They were manufactured by a number of different companies, including Colt, Remington Rand, Ithaca, and even Singer Sewing Machine.  More impressive still is that they were in use, and in good working order until the mid-1980s.  Sadly, the military abandoned them in 1985 for the 9mm.  Admittedly, the .45 Automatic had one disadvantage I can think of when compared to the 9mm; the magazine only held seven rounds.  The big, and I mean huge advantage for the .45 is that this pistol was serious firepower; a large, powerful round.

I want to dispel some myths about the .45, though.  It won’t knock someone down, at least not to my knowledge, but no handgun I know of will, especially if your opponent is enraged, fanatical, or oblivious to pain or danger.  You may have to hit them with multiple shots to bring them down.  The 9mm gives you plenty of those, but in contrast, the .45 hits do more damage, cause more blood loss, and in general, will put your your attacker’s – or an enemy soldier’s system into shock sooner.  In addition to that, the .45 is reliable under some of the worst conditions a soldier or Marine could find themselves in.  A well broken in .45 will function exactly as it should under extraordinarily dirty conditions, so there shouldn’t normally be problems with misfeeding or jamming.  Not normally, anyway.  Things happen, but they can happen to any gun.  I’ve heard all the stories about how you can drag a 1911 through the mud and it will work perfectly, but it’s simply not true – but they will work under far dirtier conditions than many automatic pistols, and they’re well suited for military use.

They’re simple, too.  Easy to disassemble for cleaning, easy operation, and adequate safety devices that are instinctively easy to put on or take off.  Granted, it’s an old design – the 1911 designates the year it was designed.  Sometimes, though, when something works, and works so well, why change?

I can’t say for sure what the Army or any of the other services will do, but I know one thing for certain – if I were in a situation where things turned off ugly and there was no other choice left but to handle it with a gun, I’d feel much better about my own chance of survival if I had the .45 at hand.  If you can still find a soldier or Marine from World War II or the Korean War, just ask them what they thought of the venerable .45.







  1. The .45 went out while I was on active duty in Germany, to be replaced with the Beretta. They had lots of problems with cracking slides at first, but they got it fixed.

    They told us the unofficial official story that the old Colt wasn’t NATO standard, being a non-metric caliber, so it had to go. I didn’t believe it because there were 9mm versions of the Colt floating around long before that. Why change what the troops are used to and have tools for?

    Politics. Pure and simple. Now they’re doing it again.


    1. Papi, when the US tries too hard to conform to the standards of the rest of the world, as you’ve no doubt seen, things go to hell quickly. The rifles went from 7.62 mm to 5.56 mm, the sidearms went from .45 to 9 mm, from the reports I’ve heard boot training isn’t at all what it used to be, and on top of all that, the nation’s defense forces are now made to adhere to a rainbow inclusion policy, as evidenced by don’t ask, don’t tell. The enemies of the United States and others are under no such restraints. We adopt these policies at our peril. And you’re right, it’s mostly political. Politically correct thinking, that is, because we try too hard not to offend anyone – even terrorists.


  2. What do we know about sailors? All sailors? The strength in their hands is tremendous. Upper body strength. Solid grip pressures of the hands grasping a ladder, a rope line, a gangway. Weak sailors, are more likely to be dead sailors. Correct? Maybe other branches if in a good fight, can crawl off and lick their wounds. A ship must go on. A ship must continue fighting. The ship, comes first. Where can a sailor run, to the bottom? When I was in the Corp, at 6′ 0″, I was 147 pounds.
    Look at it this way, would you prefer to be hit with a 4″ deck gun, or a 16″ from the USS Missouri? Big difference in damage. But the crew has to hit the opposing vessel. Weapons officer. Loaders. GunnerMates. Read: “Proficiency. Above normal, proficiency”. Shipboard, you exit port, and then it starts. Drills. Drills. Drills. In fact, if you line up motion pictures of 1944 USN under General Quarters, it will most likely appear the very same today, maybe better. Only thing besides being black-and-white cinematography, is that in 1944, actual walls of steel were cast for Meatballs to ram into rather than ramming the deck, leaving homeless sailors in the drink. I had two cousins that were a three star admiral and a two star admiral. Drilling at sea is what they talk about as I remember, and tactics. Night tactics, rigging lights to look like tug boats or commercial vessels, all the while, the entire crew was at the ready. Since their retirement, the brothers sail in sailboats. Tack the wind, unfurl the jib. On a powerboat, they are absolute hell on waves. Orders shouted. The sons toss lines. Motion. Little talk. The boys grew up on the water, drilling.
    Guns are the very same way. Proficiency is gained and maintained by drilling. You remember the drills and skill brings everything into performance. I had to study the gunfighting techniques of William Butler Hickok, because that is the basis of police combat. Gun in the hand, ready. If the opponent is not paper, you damned well better it the SOB before you, get shot. Holster spun to the groin, from when blackpowder .44s did not penetrate heavy leather. Todays cartridges goes right through leather. Heavy barrels for bludgeoning. The revolver crane at the front of a S&W is for driving it through a skull or swinging it and striking the temple area. Semi-auto, you hit anyone with that, they say “ouch”. Hit them with the point of the crane in front of the trigger guard and you will certainly lay them out on the floor. A lot of things goes into what you need to use in a real confrontation, and like you said, a .22 hitting like the day is long, beats the heck out of any gun that the shooter is not proficient with in shooting, maintenance, and general knowledge. When I am off the Harley-Davidson, and getting ready to get back on after being off for some time, back in 1969, my first two motorcycles were Indian Motorcycles. I am ambidextrous, so the left side controls never bothered me. An old rider from the 1920s and 1930s, was my mentor. I walk, and strengthen my body frame. Then work involving something like cleaning the motorcycle to muscles working again. A Harley-Davidson (FLHRCI – Road King Classic) weights in at 750 pounds curb weight. From Highway Patrol School, remember, the motorcycle is a gyroscope. It stand up with speed. The skill, is at the lower speeds, just above a brisk walking pace. Guns, service weapons, require building up to speed. Start small and slow, then increase the difficulty rate, and finally, add stress to the shooter(s). In the Westgate Mall incident, try to understand what goes into training your mind to think clearly under emotional situations and enemy gunfire. The British SAS trooper, was a blessing; An angel sent by God. This is why, the USMC from the very first day, stresses out the recruit. They must learn to think clearly under stress in combat. It’s bad, but the training, was a bit worse. You learn to think straight and steel your nerves. You must hit the enemy, and not be wasteful with ammunition.


  3. A few things… The US Military, used the Model 1911 service pistols as an excuse to maintain the military bases at Sigonella, Sicily, and in Naples. It was also a time when an F-14 hit a ski lift, if I remember correctly. The Model 1911 was the sacrificial goat to Italy and their government. It was never stated that, the last Model 1911 .45acp service pistols, were delivered to the US Military under a contract in WW2, and the very last Model 1911, was delivered in, 1945. When the weapons loosen up, they will fire under mud and ice, but accuracy is no longer present beyond a few yards. At maybe seven yards, they will not be tack drivers. I used one once, overseas, and it was under horrid conditions of excessive rain and mud. The subject was an NVA Regular, maybe, 125 pounds (?). FMJ 230 M2 Ball, at 15 feet, found the mark, the soaked uniform shirt puffed and steamed and the exiting round struck mud, raising a little splat of the wet stuff in the air as the enemy spun his eyeballs and fell face first into the earth, never to rise again. Years later, while at the morgue, I had a brief conversation with a pathologist, who reminded me of something that I had forgotten. Someone was an old time cop in the pathologist’s family. I was reminded that inside of the uniform cap, there is a plastic sew to the top. Cops keep family photos there, I kept a Miranda card in mine. The pathologist said, “Do you remember being told, if you were shot, rip the plastic out and cover the wound?” Yes. The reason is, The plastic from the hat, a cellulose, or even plastic from your wallet insert, will form a seal once blood gets all around it. Thoracic vacuum required to put an adult into shock, require .40 of an inch. The seal prevents shock for a minute or two, until help can get there or, you kill the assailant. You go into shock, and it might be an execution. The 9mm is .352 inch. The .38 Special is .358 inch. More than one round is needed to open thoracic vacuum where hot air comes out, and cold air goes into the lungs. If an artery is struck, that is another matter as hemorrhage is another matter and .357s did better. A slower, heavier round, will do better. Knockdown power, rather than ice pick puncture wound. There is no magic caliber. Only the hits count. A vital organ hit with a weak bullet, is better than nothing struck, by a howitzer.
    Taking into consideration that the US Military no longer trains as it once did, instead of looking for a mythical technological frying pan, to slice, dice, and fold the laundry (“Just set it.., and forget it”), nothing takes the place of basic skills, and basic drills. I would prefer the military armed with a revolver. In fact, chose a revolver of your liking. Hone the action. Throat the cylinder, polish the forcing cone. It will still be less expensive to purchase and shoot over the long run, and give much superior service life and accuracy, than the new “dream team” guns being considered. For that matter, a custom accurized .45acp, would really be on top of the competition. When the Beretta was selected, allegations that service personnel were smaller and weaker than the hairy arm gorillas of yesteryear (Who, ME?), but then, it would be that in the mid-1970s three out of the four branches, watered down training, to get people to enlist, and the Old School, was feared but, all the branches were very close in training. An Airman, is a Soldier, first, as is a Marine, a Sailor, first. Traditions and skills must be learned. Trying to get promoted in elementary school without being qualified for the next ascending school grade generally does not work too well. Calculators are fine, provided the battery doesn’t die, or if you drop the calculator, or are not allowed to use it. Then, basics must come into use, in your head or with pencil and paper. Formulas. Previous knowledge developed into a skill base. Same thing with a firearm. Relying on technology, may prove to be a bad bill of goods, particularly if fighting a highly skilled opponent. Then the black Hitler uniform and face mask means absolutely nothing. Develop skill base, forget the technology rubbish.


    1. Good points, Brittius. Although I’ve given a cursory look to various ballistics numbers for different rounds, I never really paid much attention to the numbers because it just seemed to be a no-brainer that the .45 with it’s slower speed, larger diameter, and blunt nose was a far better option than a supersonic 9mm which is likely as not to zip right through someone with less actual damage that will be immediately effective.

      Also, I wasn’t aware of the thoracic cavity vacuum, but what you said makes perfect sense. If you can make it happen, a bigger hole in an enemy is always preferable, especially if ballistics come into play at all and more of the energy of the round is transferred to the body of the attacker. But you know, there’s something else you mentioned above that I agree with – any gun is better than no gun, and if all I’ve got is a .22, I’ll use that sucker for all it’s worth.

      On a final note, you mentioned that when the military chose the 9mm it was partially due to service personnel being smaller and weaker. That may have been their thinking, but at 5’7″ and about 130 lbs, I’ve never had a bit of trouble shooting the .45. Indeed, to this day it’s still my weapon of choice.


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