Army to ditch M9 in favor of new .45 cal

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by TrinityScrimshaw, Jun 22, 2005.

  1. TrinityScrimshaw

    TrinityScrimshaw New Member

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    I got this from the new ArmyTimes magazine. A lot of us who were in the army twenty-five years ago said the same thing back then.

    Trinity +++

    By Matthew Cox
    Army Times Staff Writer

    Soldiers have been saying it for two decades – get rid of the M9 and go back to a .45 caliber. Now the Army weapons developers want to do just that. The 9mm pistol has long generated a steady stream of complaints about poor stopping power and other performance problems in combat. That, combined with the ready availability of alternatives on the market, has convinced planners to start a search for a new service pistol, chambered for the more powerful .45 caliber round.

    The Army adopted the M9 in 1985, ditching the M1911A1 .45 pistol after about 70 years. The M9 was chosen not only because it fires the standardized NATO 9mm round, but also because more soldiers, especially those with smaller hands, found it easier to control than the older .45. But, in a recent round of test conducted by the Infantry center at fort Benning, Ga., soldiers preferred several commercial .45 automatic pistols over similar models chambered for 9mm and .40-caliber ammunition. “The Infantry Center recently completed a caliber study…that showed soldiers could handle the new, larger caliber pistols, including the .45s available form industry as well as or better than the current M9,” said Col. Michael Smith, head of Army’s Project Manager Soldier Weapons. PM Soldier Weapons ran the study. “Soldiers didn’t have problems with the recoil or size,” Smith said, noting that current .45s feature smaller frames with improved buffer systems for smoother shooting.

    There are about 180,000 M9’s in use in the Army today. The service is no longer buying the Berretta-made pistol, but it is buying spare parts to rebuild the pistols as they wear out. While not every soldier carries a sidearm, the M9 is widely used by commissioned and noncommissioned officers, as well as by some enlisted soldiers in conventional and special operations forces. “Soldiers have long complained about the shortcomings of the M9, ranging from reliability to lack of stopping power,” Smith said. The M9’s lighter 9mm round gives soldiers 15 rounds to a magazine, compared to the seven-round capacity of the M1911A1. But, the quantity comes at a cost of knock-down power.

    The Army first adopted the original M1911 model for its greater stopping power after the .38-caliber service revolver often failed to put down determined Moro warriors during the Philippine Insurrection at the turn of the last century. Soldiers haven’t changed their preference for bigger is better in combat when it comes to pistol ammo. “Reports from {Iraq and Afghanistan} have shown some issues with lethality and reliability,” Smith said. “Many soldiers have voiced their displeasure with the M9’s performance.” The Army has worked to improve the magazines to help with M9 feeding problems in the combat zone, but soldiers remain unsatisfied with the weapon, he said.

    The Army is working to refine requirements needed in a new .45 pistol and plans to invite commercial pistol makers to compete in an open competition, Smith said, adding that the goal is to release a request-for-proposal sometime later this summer. “We are confident that industry can provide a commercial off-the-shelf solution under a full and open competition,” Smith said. “We will go directly into testing and don’t anticipate making modifications to the pistol.” The effort could gain even more momentum by becoming a joint effort wit U.S. Special Operations Command, which is also looking for a new .45. While nothing is certain, teaming up could accelerate the effort, Smith said, the command’s weapons requirement documents can be approved much faster than those for the conventional force. “They have an expedited requirements process.” Smith said. “It would save anywhere from three to six months.” “Working independently, along different paths, we had arrived at the same requirement,” Said Maj. Glenn Dean, chief of Small Arms Division at Benning. Dean oversaw the caliber study that led to the decision to seek a .45 caliber pistol. “At the end of the day, our needs were very similar,” he said.

    Army weapons developers have not determined whether the new pistol would operate like the M9 which allows shooters to fire either in double-action or single-action mode. They also are considering a doubles-action-only model. The M9 allows soldiers to shoot in double-action mode – pulling the trigger with the hammer in the down position – and in single-action mode, in which the hammer is cocked to the rear before the first shot to make the trigger easier to pull. In both modes, the hammer remains in the rear position after each shot and requires a decocking device that lets the soldier to drop the hammer safely while a round is in the chamber when the shooting is over. Single-action-only pistols – like the 1911 design that require the hammer to be cocked before the first round is fired – have been ruled out as an option, Dean said. A double-action-only operation eliminates the need for a decocker because the hammer remains in the down position after each shot. “Double-action only pistols are inherently safe because the hammer is never cocked, so if you drop it, it won’t go off,” Dean said. Soldiers said they wanted to make sure the new pistol had a safety switch. “One thing that came out loud and clear to us was soldiers wanted an external safety,” Dean said. “It matches the way we train on every other weapon system.” he said.

    Other requirements for the new pistol include iron sights designed for shooting in low light conditions, high-capacity magazines and a rail system for mounting accessories such as lights or laser aiming devices. The decision to return to .45-caliber ammunition, however, turned out to be an unexpected twist of fate. “Frankly, we didn’t think the .45 would be a viable solution,” Dean said. The larger caliber had a reputation of kicking severely when fired, making it hard for small-handed soldiers to handle the weapon. Last summer, Dean’s office, as the Army’s proponent for small arms, scoured the commercial pistol market for off-the-shelf options for a Soldier Enhancement Program known as Future Handgun System. Benning officials started out with about 85 different semi-auto-manufactures such as Glock, Sigarms Inc., and Smith & Wesson. They narrowed the choices down to 14 pistols, in a mix of 9mm, .40 and .45 calibers, for soldiers to shoot, so small-arms officials could study how individual features such as calibers and safety devices performed, Dean said.

    During this test ten soldiers – male and female; officer and enlisted – participated in two weeks of shooting test. Their job specialties ranged from infantryman and military police to drill sergeants and signal soldiers “What we basically learned was accuracy across the range of pistols was the same. There was a general preference for a .45.” said Dean.
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2005
  2. Shooter45

    Shooter45 *Administrator* Staff Member

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    Who would have ever thought it. :D
  3. Marlin

    Marlin *TFF Admin Staff Chief Counselor*

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    It's about time they woke up!!!!!!
  4. berto64

    berto64 Active Member

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    I still believe our military should be using weapons that are domesticly produce to insure a safe supply.

    1911A1 is my choice!
  5. llama.45

    llama.45 New Member

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    i dont know what they were thinkin goin from a 45 to a 9 anyway
  6. Carl S

    Carl S New Member

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    They weren't. It was a feel good move to be standard with NATO. I never carried the M9, although I fired it on the range. I did not care for it. My son carries it (pilot) and does not like it. He also carried an M16 in his chopper while in Iraq.
  7. 155gunner

    155gunner New Member

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    I'm glad to hear they are getting rid of that Beretta POS! I've been out of the Army for 21 years so I never had to use it but I hear complaints all the time around Ft. Sill about the problems with the M9 in Iraq. I have only heard one GI praise the M9 around here.
  8. Ruger.44

    Ruger.44 New Member

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    I don't like the M9, having had to carry it on AD. I'm not opposed to the 9MM round, I just don't like Beretta 92's. I used to own a Taurus PT-99, which looked just like a Beretta but was much better, I liked that.

    As far as going to .45... I suppose. I would much rather see us go to the .357SIG. Better capacity, good knock down, very inovative. Again, having carried a combat pistol in combat, I want to have a few rounds in the magazine. You can get 12-15 in an average .357SIG mag, as opposed to 7-9 in a .45 ACP. I understand that .45 GAP chambered pistols may hold 1 more.

    Jim
  9. Vom Kriege

    Vom Kriege New Member

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    The 9mm is just fine when using expanding ammo and good loadings such as the Winchester Ranger 127gr +P+ and the Remington Golden Sabres. However, I wouldn't want to carry the ball ammo the military is forced to use. Limited to ball ammo I would rather have the .45.
  10. TrinityScrimshaw

    TrinityScrimshaw New Member

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    The ball ammo will be the only thing used in any pistol approved for combat. Because of this the M9 will never be able to match the .45.

    Go figure, this post was deleted from GB, but the Sugar Bear post keeps marching on???? :rolleyes:

    Trinity +++
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2005
  11. Tony Mig

    Tony Mig New Member

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    The one good thing for those of us with 9mm pistols is.....once the change is implimented, there's going to be a ton of mil-surp plinking ammo available on the civilian market.
    I have the XD-9, and it's a good gun for the range, and loaded with Federal 124gr. expanding full metal jacket +P's, it's a good urban home defense weapon. Whoever, if I was in the sandbox fighting terrorism, I'd have a cocked & locked 1911 on my hip, and an amble supply of loaded magazines in my pockets. In an enviroment where one shot knockdown power is essential, the big bore .45acp is probably the best choice.

    Ruger.44, the .357Sig would be "OK" if our military wasn't held to the Haig Accords, and standard ball ammo. That round would suffer from over penetration without knockdown power with an FMJ bullet, however if we would stop abbiding by these historic treaties, and start using more effective ammo, the .357Sig would be an effective alternitive, just as the 9mm would. Being stuck with standard ball ammo, big and slow beats small and fast.....
  12. indynotch50

    indynotch50 New Member

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    Old topic but any update?
  13. 17thfabn

    17thfabn New Member

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    I read recently that the idea of going back to the .45 was dead except for special operations units.

    I wonder how often the hand guns are actualy used in combat?
  14. LurpyGeek

    LurpyGeek Active Member

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    Who is this guy? Return to .45 unexpected? This has been discussed ever since the standard issue was changed to 9mm. Kicking severely? I'm one who likes less recoil than more, and I have no problems handling a .45.

    I'm sure that most European NATO members will be pretty upset about this.

    So does anybody else have the impression than in fifty to seventy years the military will change to a smaller caliber once again and then realize once again their mistake?
  15. We definitely need a military sidearm that is more effective than a 9mm, and that basically means a return to the .45 ACP. Unless we are willing to junk the Hague Convention provisions of July 29, 1899 and issue expanding ammo instead of ball ammo, the only way to make the issue sidearm effective is to fire a larger slug--essentially, make a bigger hole! Personally, I like the 9mm when it is loaded properly with hollow points, but with ball ammo it is next to useless. Another relevant factor is that the current issue sidearm--the Mod 92 Beretta--is too large, too bulky, and too complicated to function well as a military sidearm. It's an accurate firearm--I have one and shoot it often--but it it much, much larger than it needs to be for the round it fires. Finally, I agree that whatever replacement we choose, it definitely should be an American-made pistol! If a contract were let to the major American firearms companies, designating the requirements clearly, I have no doubt at all that one of them would come up with a design that would meet our needs for the next 70 years. I think we should go to a basic, simple, double/single action pistol design, in .45 ACP caliber, not larger in size than the Ruger P-Series, and of all steel or nearly all steel construction.
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