SOF Prefers 9mm over .45 Caliber


I have received a lot of email responses from my July 3 article on the Army’s Modular Handgun System praising .45 caliber as far superior to 9mm.

Pistol-caliber choices are personal and everybody has an opinion. But opinion isn’t fact, and there is some misinformation out there that needs to be addressed.

Many readers are under the impression that U.S. special operations forces have returned to using .45 caliber pistols since the adoption of the M9 9mm in 1985.

This has some truth to it, but in most cases SOF units use 9mm, experts maintain.

The Army’s Delta Force adopted .40 caliber, but the elite unit is having the same problems as the FBI – the heavier caliber is causing excessive wear problems in guns that were originally designed to be 9mm. Delta is now using 9mm Glock 17s, 19s and 34s.


The 75th Ranger Regiment and Special Forces units use M9A1s and Glock 19s.

SEAL Teams mostly use the Sig Sauer 226.

DEVGRU, or SEAL Team 6, does use Heckler & Koch .45 for special occasions when they need a suppressed capability.

Now about two years ago, Marine Corps Special Operations Command awarded a $22.5 million contract to Colt Defense LLC for new .45-caliber Close Quarter Battle Pistols for the service’s elite special operations troops.The Colt 1911-style pistol replaced the fleet of worn-out Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command, or MARSOC, M45 pistols.

The Corps began issuing custom 1911 .45 pistols to its elite Force Reconnaissance units in the 1990s. Gunsmiths at the Quantico Weapons Training Battalion Precision Weapons Section hand built them from old 1911s that had been replaced by the M9 in the mid-1980s.

The creation of the first MARSOC units in 2006 caused the requirement to grow from 400 pistols to 4,000 pistols. Finding enough surplus 1911s for the Precision Weapons Section’s custom rebuilds became impractical, Marine officials maintain.

Most MARSOC operators, however, are not carrying their nifty new .45s because units are having a problem getting .45-caliber ammo in theater for some reason, sources maintain.

The rest of the Marine Corps uses the M9A1, an upgraded M9 the service adopted in 2006. It features a rail for attaching lights or lasers, checkering on the front and back of the grip and a beveled magazine well for smoother magazine changes.

It’s a fact that larger .40 caliber and .45 caliber rounds are very accurate in the hands of a well-trained shooter and create a larger wound cavity in the body when compared to the 9mm.

But that doesn’t mean they make a better choice for a military pistol caliber than the 9mm round – especially when you consider that the majority of the military’s most elite units continue to use the 9mm NATO round.

About the Author

Matthew Cox
Matthew Cox is a reporter at He can be reached at
  • Lance

    Seems to show Matt that 9mm and even the M-9 will stay alot longer than may tacti-cool hype is saying now. The USMC in particular army not dump the newer M-9A1 or current M-9s in service sense most of there M-9s are new. Many Army M-9s are new too. Seems many SOF still use M-9s and Glocks over the fancy large caliber handguns. 9mm is easy to find all over the world except maybe Russia, the CIS, and China which use either 9×18 Makarov and 7.62 Tokerov ammo. No one’s regular Army/Military out side of the US Morocco or the Philippines used M-1911s for .45 ammo. .40 is even rarer out side of US LE. Face it like I found out with my local Washington Co Sheriffs they used .40 for a decade but had to dump it for 9mm because there Glocks got worn out too fast. This is a major factor like with ICC last year why MHS will die in testing no point in replacing a 9mm with another 9mm waste of major money. Same went for ICC when 5.56mm stayed and it made no sense to goto another 5.56mm carbine.

    Matt saying Army SOCOM using M-9A1s too shows the G-17 and M-9A! will remain top 9mm pistols of choice in SOCOM for a while. Army has not adopted M-9A1 instead its still buying first gen M-9s, fact Army SOCOM uses them shows its still a very valid and good design.

    • DBW86

      The troops do need a round with knock down power and the .45 proved to be that round against the Moro in the Phillipines! The Colt 1911 and 1911 A1 have stood up to usage for close to a 100 years now. Granted simply upcalibreing a weapon designed as a 9mm simply won’t work and will wear out quickly with heavier rounds. The 9mm doesn’t have the stopping power and often simply goes straight through bodies with little affect in stopping them. The answer is to design a .45 calibre semi automatic pistol that is also double action and with the 1911 as a starting point to design one it shouldn’t be all that hard. The only reason we converted to the 9mm was because of NATO! If we convert to the .45 round and a new .45 semi automatic double action pistol then the supply chain will have that ammo in quantity needed, so that won’t be a problem either. The weapon could be made in both a “short” form for concealment and a regular version. Even extended magazines could be made to provide more sustained firepower when needed.

      I still have a Colt 1911 built in the 1920’s that my father gave me as a birthday gift in 1963 before I left for Viet-Nam. I had it worked on by our armorer and rebelled on Okinawa and carried it as my off duty and civilian clothes weapon for many years in police work. It has had countless rounds through it and is still deadly accurate and has very little rattle to it when shaken. I also own the Berretta 9mm which is a fine weapon but just no knock down stopping force!

      • Axel

        I can tell you one thing. ITS NOT BECAUSE OF NATO

        • Lance

          No one reason is that it would be. Face it were stuck as part of it one and two we got a President who uses NATO for his own selfish gains (ie Libya 2011).

        • Charles

          Beg to differ. Read Army/Marine.Navy/USMC Times newspaper of 1984/85 and they quote DOD sources as saying that inter-changability of the 9mm round, additional ammunition carried, faster velocity and easier handling for hose with smaller hands- were all primary advantages to the 9mm round being adopted.

          BTW- the 9mm round is very lethal, IF it is loaded with the proper bullet expanding bullets, which are not allowed for military services that signed the Geneva Convention. Also, the 9mm cartridge adopted by Germany in the early 1900s (circa 1908), was not the optimal round that the German army desired, but it was a case size that could readily be sized from the existing 7.65 die components and Germany was preparing for a future war and thus equipping its armed forces with a ‘good enough’ cartridge and pistol 0 P.08 was made to make do.

          In the 1950’s NATO should have designed and adopted a completely new pistol and SMG cartridge just as they did for the rNATO rifle and machine gun the 7.62 X 51 cartridge.

      • Have a good’n

        I don’t pretended to know it all, I know very little in the grand scheme of things, I just know what I’ve seen with my own eyes. As far as the 1911 MARSOC guys were issued, I wasn’t there, but one of the people instructing them when it was introduced to MARSOC told me they kept saying… “Why do I have to use this POS, my G19 works fine?” What that article didn’t mention is how they don’t like the new issued 1911 because of all the problems they kept having and that was just regular range work, not down range work…
        Shot placement is everything, when I hear knockdown power, especially referring to a pistol round, that’s like calling a magazine a clip to me.
        I will say, 9mm ball sucks, like every ball round, but in slo mo, a 9mm compared to a 45, almost look the same… As the difference between the two rounds are .005.
        We need to get around an agreement we never signed with the 9mm ammo (with all our ammo for that matter) like what we are doing with BTHP rifle rounds (however that would work). I know for a fact there were quite a few guys using Hornaday TAP ammo in their M9’s, G17, and G19’s in Iraq and they worked well…

        Alpha Mike Foxtrot

        • Marine1957

          You state that the difference between the two rounds (9 mm and .45 cal.) is .005.

          9 mm x (1.00 inch/25.4 mm/inch) = .354 inch.
          .45 inch – .35 inch = .100 inch, not .005 inch (your error is therefore 20 x off)

          Marksmanship Training Instructor (1966), U.S.M.C. Quantico, Virginia

        • Charles

          The ‘Pig Test’ prove otherwise, the .45 ACP was able to consistently knock down or outright produce lethal shots on pig tests that were done in the ear;y 1900s by Colonel Thompson, father of the 1921 Colt Thompson SMG! The ordnance officers knew a few things back then before PC entered the lexicon of the English language and when the MIC (Military Industrial Complex) was an alien abbreviation.

        • Charles

          Ah well from my experience, soldiers not previously familiar with a variety of firearms only know and usually grow fond to the service weapons that they are issued. The Brits thought that the Enfield .303 rifle was the greatest, as did the Germans using the Mauser 7.92 rifle and Russian did with the AK-47. The American thought that the Springfield was God’s gift to the infantry UNTIL the M1 Garand was issued to them.

          So some USMC or soldier who has only had experience with the M9 pistol is naturally going to contend that any other pistol foreign to him is ‘junk’. Defer judgement unless one gets multiple data from multiple troops who have used a variety of firearms before placing great faith in their opinion.

          Finally, shot placement is everything- no hits means no kills or wounded and a live, fight-ready adversary. A .19 cent round fired by a professional from a old western Colt 1873 revolver is deadlier than a modern Glock 9mmm holding 19 rounds and being sprayed aimlessly or inaccurately.

      • winslow

        Knockdown power is a delusion created in the minds of the church of JMB (and may the lord smite thee who blaspheme against him! :P )

    • Brain

      The poor grammar and spelling in this comment are far more lethal than any pistol round.

      • Brian

        I agree Apart from the subject at hand, some of these responders need to put down their weapons long enough to pick up an English text book and grade school spelling book to learn how to compose coherent sentences.

    • benji

      Lance which Washington County? I heard that Wa. County, Oregon was using Gen. 4 Glocks. I also heard they went back to 9mm. Seeing this comment from you strongly suggests you live in Oregon. I started in the USCG using the 1911. I did not see much difference in a side arm in 1965, since the only holster was the old leather flap type. Later the USCG got serious about armed boarding using tools that truly worked. The M-9 for a side arm for LE including boarding was OK, but I like the SIG 229 more. The USCG for at least domestic use is armed with the .40 version with DAK feature. Personally, a 9mm is fine. You hit your target and the person is going to be very sick. Most of the targets are combat radiusdistances on boats will rate at least one more round, so the hurt is going to be put on the individual. 9mm is a lot easier to obtain. Things were so bad in the late 1980s that the .45 ammo for the 1911s used for qualification was made by IMI-yes IMI!

    • Jody Lawrence

      How is the advent of bringing back the 1911, or a .308 battle rifle “Hype?? ” These are battle tested and time true firearms. I spent 12 years in the Army, and watched the advent of the M9, being brought into the system, even though the 45’s that were in service were loose toleranced and made people that didn’t know how to shoot look really bad, in my opinion it still felt better in the hands and was easier for me to shoot, with today’s technology the availability of 45 parts, there is no better time than to switch back to these life saving firearms. The TAVOR has condensed the 308 caliber rifle down to a very efficient battle rifle for CQB combat. You see someone behind a brick wall, just shoot through it with a 308. All the “Hype” to me is people within the system, trying out these new fancy calibers that come out of the shoot, the issue with these is this, while most of these “Better” calibers are good, try getting parts or ammo for them in the field of battle, especially in the Military Supply system, which is slower than a 45 degree angle of molasses running down a track in the middle of February. Whereas you can just simply go online on e-bay and get 1911, M1A parts all day long and keep your fleet going until the parts get here. My message is this,these calibers will never lead you falsely, or leave you stranded in the middle of a firefight with a firearm that is going to take 6 months to a year to replace parts on, you can carry spare parts in a cleaning kit bag attached to your ruck and have it serviceable in minutes. The system with these weapons was never broken, so , why did you have to fix it??

      • Charles

        As in all products that are subject to the disciple of engineering (just about every man-made product) every item is at the mercy of ‘compromise of components/elements’, that is, a given item may have a few items that cannot be compromised, while there’s always at least one design element that must be sacrificed for the benefit/existence of the others. So too in firearms. The 9mm and 5.56 caliber bullets are fine for certain condition and not optimized for others. In the desert and mountains, a larger, heavier and faster caliber bullet perform better than a small light bullet. In WWII it was discovered that as opposed to the long-range rifle shooting of the trenches, most soldiers engaged and fired on targets at the 300-500 meter/yard range and this the MP-43/44, AK-47 and M-16 were born. Now when the war environment changes, so too should the weaponry, so in the siege of Berlin, the Russians took away the long, awkward rifles and liberally issued PPSH SMGs, bags of hand grenades and brought up large direct fire artillery guns.

        If the US had kept its original inventory of M-14 rifles instead of cutting these up or selling these off as Foreign Military Sales- then the US would have had an option of issuing long range, proven rifles for Iraq and Afghanistan. We never learn do we?

        • Charles

          By that logic, all US troops should be issued AK-47s. Funny. large nations never had a major issue with using battle rifles, pistols, SMGs- that used exclusive ammunition for their given country of origin. Sounds like another lazy excuse to me.

    • DBM

      I used to do a lot of work with SOF and some of te things they did material wise didnt make sense until I realized they did it for logistics reasons. The M-9’s can be repaired about anywhere. Like you said ammo is available almost anywhere. Many people probably feel that large capacity mags are better than smaller capacity mags even if the round is more effective.
      If Big Army were to go to any other pistol/calibar SOF would go to it also just because of the above. Probably the reason they stuck with the M-4A-1. Availability of maintenance support and ammo.

    • leog1968

      Bullet placement what’s most important, just the 9mm FMJ is less effective then 45 ACP FMJ. Would take a high capacity 45 over 9mm any day of the week due to larger diameter. Unlike a rifle round hand gun rounds are far less effective. 9mm is easier to shoot and grouping is usually smaller the the 45 acp, you can also carry more 9mm ammo then the larger 45.

    • Frank E. Keyes, Jr.

      I used to shoot the 9mm exclusively but later switched to the .45. Why?

      I reached puberty.

      • Pops


  • Joshua

    You forgot to mention the M9A1 has the Recoil buffer.

    But yeah we still use the M9 and honestly I never had any issues with mine. It’s also worth noting MASOCs M45A1 has a habbit of breaking lights.

  • seans

    He is a little tip most SOF guys do, bring some hollowpoints, yet to see anybody get searched on the way to the Stan. Box of 50 and you are good for deployment.

    • moondawg

      That would mean that the SOF guys are cheating. They are using effective 9mm espanding ammo, instead of ineffective FMJ. No wonder they are OK with the 9. I like the 9 also, but than I don’t have to carry military ball in mine.

    • Old MP

      So you cool with War Crimes? Who needs the Geneva Convention right????

      • Mike in Fort Worth

        Actually the Geneva Convention makes no mention of weaponry at all. It only deals with POWs and enemy combatants, etc. The Hague Convention deals with weaponry.

        • Bkreutz

          And the US didn’t sign the part of the Hague Convention that deals with ammunition (but it generally follows the part about ball ammo)

          • The US didn’t sign the Hague conventions but abides by them and requires its military forces to do so. It just like the Ottawa treaty on mine warfare that we didn’t sign. Go ahead and put out some M16 “bouncing betty” mines and see what happens if anyone is killed with them.

          • tiger

            Been enforced for 100 years.

          • Logan

            The MK262 Mod1 5.56 77Gr OTM ammunition is a hollow point.

      • seans

        Dude, “war crimes” happen all the time do you really think Sof plays by the rules. And the Hague conventions state that the expanding bullets only apply to signatories which we are not one, and the US military has already stated that the use of hollowpoints is allowed when it is a military necessity, what ever that means.

        • “the US military has already stated that the use of hollowpoints is allowed when it is a military necessity”

          Reference please?

          • seans
          • Thanks for the link.

            I’m always leery of citing the International Red Cross on what US military policy is. I always prefer to go to the source. Humanitarian groups seem to have a way of interpreting US policy different than what it actually is and often in ways that make the US look bad.

            I went and looked at the reference you cited. The ICRC seems to interpret the Army JAG Memo DAJAIIO of16 Feb 93 United States, Department of the Army, Legal Review of USSOCOM Special Operations Offensive Handgun document as applying to the whole US military. It does not. It specifically addresses and limits the use of hollow tip to special operations forces which are less than 4% of the US Military.

            A more informed explanation can be found on p 439 of International Law Studies – Volume 73 Annotated Supplement to The Commander’s Handbook on the Law of Naval Operations A. R. Thomas & James C. Duncan (Editors) It also mentions the specific finding and reason (accuracy) snipers are also allowed to use match grade open tip ammunition.

            Further, even the International Red Cross acknowledges “during the negotiation of the Statute of the International Criminal Court in 1998, the United States did not contest the criminality of the use of expanding ammunition.”

          • pops

            For awhile, some Air Force pilots of cargo and tanker aircraft were authorized hollowpoints for “anti hijacking” purposes, only while on the aircraft. I think they stopped this practice because of the hassle of dealing with swapping out for ball when they landed.

          • JT

            It it against the Geneva Convention to use hollow point ammo in combat. That is any ammo designed to shrapnel upon impact. We went through this with some ignorant JAG Officer a while back. We were using OTM rounds in our sniper rifles and we were forced to switch to ball ammo for a short period of time because the JAG officer didn’t know what he was talking about. OTM is designed that way to make the round more stream lined and accurate not to expand on impact.

        • Crash

          It only becomes a War Crime when Liberals dislike it since they are NEVER the ones in Combat anyway they cry about everything.. Just maybe they need to spend some time with Haji and his peaceful friends as they behead men and women and rape and kill children.. Oh yeah that’s right Liberals DENY these things even happen…

          • DMAC

            Well you have the lefties getting mad when the righties authorize the use of task forces with kill or capture authorization and all the targets on the lists are civilians then you have the righties get mad when the lefties authorize drone strikes in foreign countries that kill more civilians than ‘terrorists’, including 2 U.S. citizens witnout due process. It’s not a left or a right thing, a liberal or conservative thing. It’s a entire political spectrum thing. Republicans will do something that pisses off the democrats and republican supporters will be okay with it. Then you’ll have democrats do the same thing that republicans had done, which pisses off the republicans, and the democrats supporters will be okay with it. Same script, just a different set and cast.

      • tiger

        Hague Convention for the 500th time

      • Crash

        Since when has Haji ever cared about the Geneva Convention?? Seriously maybe some people need to wake up to the real world…

      • David

        War crimes? I’m an Army vet and a retired State Trooper. My department used hollow points for over 30 years. Back in the 70’s, a shootout occurred with a biker who took 15 hits with our then issued FMJ rounds and still managed to get on his bike and ride away. He ended up dying of a heart attack a few miles away but he was still a threat till the end. The department then switched over to hollow points from then on. It’s not a war crime to want to stop an aggressor who is trying to kill you.

    • Johnny

      The military has and does use hollow point ammunition. There are no laws being broken by doing so. Take a look at a box of M118 sometime…

      • Stefan S.

        The M118 isn’t a hollow point for expansion in tissue. It is for ballistic reasons. Do your research. Mkay?

        • daveginoly

          Correct. The laws of war do not permit a percentage of expansion over a bullet’s diameter, and outlaws bullets that are intentionally made to fragment. There is nothing wrong with hollow points per se.

          • Grandpa Flip

            Yep. Sierra Match-King HPBT’s are for downrange BC accuracy for 7.62’s and the larger .300 Mag or even .338. I get the same benefit in a “milspec unchanged” Norinco SAS using the heavier belt-fed 154 gr 7.62×39 for target. The only “mods” are new springs (then you DON’T need a buffer…Simonov is smiling) for recoil and trigger…with parts polishing. The standard 123 gr. rounds aren’t as accurate. The tiny HP creates a “hyper cavitation” around the rotating bullet somewhat like the updated Submarine and torpedo propellers. Makes for tighter groups downrange past the apogee. That’s a factor in why RPK gun teams are to be respected “out yonder.”

        • mIdlGrp

          Research might do YOU some good, specifically the comments you respond to. The OP mentioned hollow points, period. You responded to a comment about hollow points, period. Eliminating a subset does not eliminate the whole. Additional details do not invalidate facts.

    • daveginoly

      Special operators are often permitted to use JHPs because they’re officially combating “terrorists” and not engaged with enemy “soldiers.” So the use of JHPs by operators is legal. 9mm, with a modern defensive round, is adequate, although, depending on the round, .45 and S&W .40 can be superior. (In commercially-available ammunition, .40 cal. edges out the competition.) So if you’re allowed to use suitable ammunition, the 9mm can beat the others if for no other reason than magazine capacity, which is certainly a concern in a high-threat environment.

    • John Z

      I like the 9. More bang in the magazine.

    • Grandpa Flip

      Ditto that! Mom always thought sabot rifled slugs were “essential” in geedunk packages for those 100 yd pests when she found out there were way-cool surplus “trench sweepers” available for guard. She was a true Semper Fi Mom!

    • Marshall

      Remington steal jacketed hollow points, 185 grain, with 7 grains of unique powder, does the trick…980 feet per second, equals KNOCK-DOWN! period. Marshall

  • bap45

    So does that mean that SOF prefers those weapons? Or that it’s just a simplicity factor?

    • Crash

      In reality you get used to ANY Weapon you eat sleep and take a shower with day in and day out.. The weapon and its stopping power really depends on the shot… a 9MM to the head is the same as a 45 just less messy.. None the less the Target is down… But if you’re fighting an enemy who is body armored and you need more stopping power to the body sometimes its not just to KO the target but to put it down to finish it.. The body is naturally an easier target because of size BUT a 9 does not always have the punch to put it down… However the Operator is the real weapon the gun is just an extension…

    • charles

      Please make and note the distinction between the SOF ‘rank and file’ and the SOF ‘leadership’- these are not the same, ask any police or military person their views vice that of the official leadership, which is political in nature. Many Police Chiefs are anti-firearms, while most police officers are pro-firearms, so note the distinction and who is doing the talking.

      • charles


        The ‘rank and file’ 95% do as they are told, are given the equipment issued to them without objection and get the job done somehow. It kind of like those ‘opinion polls’ that are taken and in all my tears on this planet I have never gotten a poll from Gallop about TV shows that I , my family or neighbors watched. Polls are funny things I guess, so are ‘official statement’ and ‘official policy’.

  • anon

    We need to track these pistol engagements to get good data. SOF uses it as a tool for what it does and maybe someone should ask a SOF dood his thoughts on a pistol engagement. Its great fun. Or we can go on hearsay.

  • seans

    Rangers use the M9 for the most part, suppressed Glocks for the Recce guys. Special Forces use 9mm Glocks. Cag uses 40cal Glocks. Regular seal teams get 226 standard and 4-6 HK45s per platoon. Damneck guys run whatever they want, typically stick to Sigs, with the 300 Blackout as they suppressed weapon of choice.

  • there

    As always, define the problem before seeking a solution:

    Problem: .40 cal pistols are wearing out too fast.

    Cause: Pistols are not engineered to function with comparable lifetimes like other calibers.

    Solution: Engineer the pistol for the .40 cal ammo.

    Sounds easy IF and Only IF we can justify the .40 cal over the 9mm.

    But that begs the question on why the swing from .45 to 10mm to .40 to 9mm in LE.

    Which bullet is better. My answer is I’ll aways go with my carbine w/ hollowpoints over a pistol. LOL. Think quality hunting ammo.

    For military, NATO standardization will drive the caliber..unless we get NATO to agree to a different caliber. We can go it alone but that costs big $$$$ which is unlikely in a post war resource constrained environment.

    I remember the 1980s Airland Battle Doctrine–No FEBA, 360 degree warfare, and even after Desert Storm, the complete failure to armor our support capability (HUMMVEEs, etc) and soldiers (flak jackets don’t work against bullets). A complete failure to follow through. We didn’t implement the effects of the doctrine and lessons learned due to $$$$–anyone remember the RIFs of the 1990s and the “peace dividend”

    We are facing similar times ahead.

    I predict a 9mm handgun or no change. It costs too much to go against STANAGs.

    Smaller, unique forces can, may, and will likely continue to develop niche weapons for particular missions—it’s relatively affordable.

    Why don’t we develop a portable high power UV laser weapon that delivers a lethal shock over two ionized conducting paths created by the 2 lasers. Over 15 years ago, HSV Technologies had working backpack prototypes? But it quite doesn’t provide the psychological impact of suppressive fire…however, speed of light death touch does have it’s advantages…even if limited to xxx meters….

    • jose

      The M&P WAS designed/engineered around the ,40 S&W. There have been little to no problems with the sidearm because of the caliber. Plus the transition to 9mm and .45 with the pistol was gravy. The .45 M&P may be the best of the genre on the market, particularly the price point they can be had.

      .40 is a bastard round designed for American LE to fill a non-existent void for a caliber with superior and elusive “stopping power”.

    • Agree with much of what you said but NATO standardization is not the driving force it once was.

    • David Hoffman

      “But that begs the question on why the swing from .45 to 10mm to .40 to 9mm in LE.”
      Actually the shift was before that, from .38Spl to .357Mag. The someone proposed using .41Magnum about the same time as 9mm semi-automatic Law Enforcement(LE) usage increased. The .41 was too much for most LE users, so 9mm came into widespread usage. The lousy 9mm bullet expansion compare to 125 grain .38 or .357 hollowpoints led to consideration of the 10mm. But it proved to be way too much gun for most LE users and it cost too much to maintain. So we end up with a low powered 10mm called the .40 Smith and Wesson. The .45ACP was always used by some LE organization somewhere in the USA, as long as it was in a double action firearm. Going back to 9mm, from .40S&W, may have to do with badly designed and engineered conversions from 9mm. If so then we need to pay for better design, engineering, and manufacturing. I supect some of the converison though is due to the idea that with all the plugged up .40 S&W hollowpoints that did no better than plugged up 9mm hollowpoints, why not go back to more bullets per magazine, a little less recoil, less cost per cartridge, an maybe an easier feeding/ejecting tapered cartridge case.

    • DBM

      First screw NATO. Make them buy their own damned bullets for a change. I used to be a theater level ammo office duriing the cold war and most of our so called “allies” had 1 days worth of small arms ammo. They expected to roll up to our ammo points and arm up while we did the fighting. Oh my! Thats exactly what they did in the first gulf war. The euros thought we were nuts for going to the 9mm anyway,

      Also Flack jackets were never meant to stop a bullet. Guess that “Flak” part went over your head. Most battlefield casualties come from Arti and Mortor fire.

      HUMMVEE’s were never meant to be combat vehicles. They were procured to be cross country trucks.

      And it none of this is driven by $$ its driven by personalities.

      • neanderthal75

        Congrats DBM,

        Yours is the FIRST comment from start to finish that was not only logically, but empirically based.

        I used to live in Germany, visited 20 countries repeatedly over a 15 year period, and many Europeans always tried to bad the US about our ‘high’ military spending and our ‘low’ spending on ‘health care’. I kept shutting them down, reminding them that our ‘high’ military budget was what kept them and Europe SAFE from the Soviets for nearly 50 years, which allowed their European govts, to spend horrific amounts of money on socialized medicine and ‘cradle to the grave’ handouts.

        Didn’t get a lot of biers bought for me, for some reason.

        • DBM

          :-) Everything you sad is true but you left out the part about it was all of that spending that propped up the German economy for decades and allowed them to sink all of that money into social welfare. I love Germany (was just there for two weeks drinking beer) but their politics suck.

          If you prefer a Lager to a pilsner then next time your in Germany go to Wildflecken to the Kreuzberg Monastery. The beer they make is easier to drink than water. And you can get drunk and get saved at the same location:-)

    • Grey Wolf

      I remember those days as well. I see the same things your saying.

    • Charles

      Good copy and you are ‘spot on’! You definitely served in the Green Weenie machine. Pistols issued to most soldiers are mere back-up, secondary weapon (save SPs/MPs), ‘yep’ a carbine makes one the equal of a very proficient pistol shooter and any two-handed aimed and fired firearms beats a two-hand held pistol 9 out of 10 times. Carbines are easy to used, control and carry. It can also be used to butt someone in the face!

  • Mike

    I think one aspect the author forgot to mention was that 9mm is cheaper and more plentiful around the world as well. You can have a lot more 9mm in a one magazine that you can .40 or ,45. Also, in my experience, guns that fire .45 ACP are substantially heavier than those that fire 9mm because they need to deal with more recoil. If these soldiers and marines are always complaining about being loaded down with a lot of gear, than maybe this isn’t the best choice to change calibers? If I’m wrong feel free to reply :)
    PS: Don’t just officers and some NCO’s receive pistols and not all the marines? And honestly, unless your SOF, how often would your average infantrymen use his PISTOL to engage an enemy who is usually more than a 100 yards away when he has a rifle in Afghanistan. I mean unless your clearing a house.

    • Riceball

      Really? I have an old G22 and it holds something like 15 rounds in the mag which is about the same as any 9mm Glock. .45 you have something of a point but there are pistols out there that are chambered for .45 that hold more than just 7 rounds,

      • neanderthal75

        Yeah, my American made Para hold 14 in the mag and 1 in the pipe…..all this blather about ‘more round capacity’ is so much hyperbole, because so many folks stick to the 3 main manu’s: Glock, Sig, and Beretta.

    • Burocracy

      I was in the paramilitary forces in Italy, way back when the m9 was still in the future, but the Beretta 92 SB was my standard issue weapon ( we obviously did not have a “personal” rifle/smg). It was all CQB training, and the response was a mixed bag; we were trained to do fast engagements at 10 yards(!) with a double tap. True, it was “peacetime” service, but those were the lessons learned through engagements. This is THE scenario for pistol engagement, so even 25 yards is right out of the question, if that was likely there was another primary weapon, in our case the Beretta m12 SMG.

    • Brett

      All MP’s are issued a 9mm pistol that is carried both in theater and in a garrison environment. I can tell you from personal experience that our M9’s were unreliable at best. We were required to qualify at 35 meters, 25 meters, 15 meters, and 7 meters. We also had to qualify left and right handed. Shooting with your off hand at 35 meters with an unreliable weapon is no easy feat. Shooting tight groups was difficult even under the best of conditions. Now, I can take my Glock 21 (.45ACP) and shoot the same course maintaining very tight grouping with either hand. Also, my Glock has 13 round magazines vs. 15 rounds in the M9 and when you take into account the polymer construction of the Glock there isn’t much weight difference either. I’ve had one of my Glock 21’s for over 13 years and it still shoots as true as the day I bought it so I don’t see how the wear out faster than the M9. All this being said I would still prefer a carbine in combat, even when clearing buildings. Your side arm is meant to be a backup weapon in theater not as you primary means of defense/offense.

    • John

      ALL MPs are dual carriers, regardless of least Army Mps are.
      SIG P220, DA/SA made for .45ACP

      • SRTMP556

        SIG P227 is a 10-12 rd .45 not much mider than a 229.
        If the Military/Army stuck with 9mm, why not just switch all to the M11.
        I used one at PSD school, fell in love with it. Althought since I am a fan of .45 I do carry the Sig P220 w/rail as my concealed carry

    • the diff. in weight of pistols in negligible, but having to carry so many more rounds of 9 due to its lack of power, requiring 2-3 shots vs 1 shot of 45, the large pistol/ammo is actually a net weight saver

      • Old crew served

        The .45 will certainly leave a longer trail of bodies than a 9mm. I believe your point is very accurate. I’d rather carry heavier ammo that gets the job done than mess around lugging lightweights which are questionable. As a gunner on a 50 lb 57mm recoiless rifle, pistol weight was irrelevent.

    • Charles

      The 9mm is only ‘more lethal, not powerful’ if it uses hallow-point type ammunition and not military ball ammo, that was the reason for the original adoption of the .45 acp ball ammo.

    • Randy

      your pistol is not your primary gun….even for house clearing, only Jack Bauer clears a house (or any structure for that matter) with a pistol

      • jt

        I had to clear a few houses with just a pistol because of the close quarters and inability to maneuver with an M4. I would have preferred an MP5SD for the rate of fire or a shotgun but my 1911 did the job just fine.

  • Allen

    I thought hollow point bullets were contrary to The Hague Convention of 1899, Declaration III…and so US forced don’t use them. Depleted uranium bullets, yes; napalm, yes; , nuclear weapons…sometimes. Hollow point bullets…nope, because they are bad

    • Riceball

      They are but as pointed earlier here and in other articles, we (the US) never actually signed the Hague Convention although we do generally follow it.

      • Blue

        We did sign the Geneva which requires the Hague be followed. However, they are required for counterterrorism operations.

    • burocracy

      FYI, we were a military outfit, and the old hands bitched about that for a different reason: FMJ 9 mm is a real bouncing ball, so irrespective of terminal ballistics, everybody freaked out about civilian casualties and such. Frag bullets or hollow point would have been the preferred issue because on impact the fragments would slow down and do minimal collateral damage.

    • daveginoly

      The restriction on ammo is on bullets that expand a certain percentage over their original diameter, not on hollow points per se. As I mentioned elsewhere, special operators are often allowed to use expanding bullets because they’re officially fighting “terrorists,” not enemy “soldiers,” so the laws of war do not apply. This may be why special operators prefer 9mm – they can use a modern bullet design in a pistol with a higher capacity than similar weapons in other calibers, with a lower weight per round, so for any given weight they can carry more..

    • The Shadow
    • charles


      Precisely and thus the critical comments about 9mm ball ammo. Police however can use non-ball ammo and this works well.

      E = mass X velocity

      Yet when dealing with human flesh, it is best to instantly empty as much energy onto the subject as possible and not simply have the bullet pass through cleanly. So civilians use dum-dum/hallow points to instantly mushroom up upon impact, slow down, deform and cause horrific wounds. Ball ammo does have the possibility to turn on impact, but only if the bullet is marginally stable. The original M-16 5.56 bullet had a 1-in-14 turn which was very unstable and very lethal; it was changed to 1-in-12 turns per barrel length and this was marginally acceptable and produced very bad wounds. The new 5.56, 62 grain and higher weight bullets fired from the standard 1-in-7 twist is very stable and this was done to make the round more effective to targets out to 700 meters using the new light machine guns such as the M-249/SAW.

    • DanH

      The US did not sign onto it, the Geneva Convention does not require the Hague be followed either. Two VERY different things. Cost is the driving factor..that’s it.

  • SGT D

    Some MARSOC Marines are indeed using Glock 19’s as well.

  • Mike this is a great follow up article! I’m not sure where the Army’s head is at, but instead of spending scarce budget dollars on studying new pistols and calibers (holsters, magazines, etc.) they should be spending those dollars on training soldiers how to shoot pistols. The same horse poop is going on with the replacement camo initiative. And, no one has published anything to support operationally and financially the need to replace either one.


    Two birds is exactamundo. I say the some thing about civilian shooters, they’re gadget happy and can’t shoot what the hell they’ve got. As a veteran of five Army pistol teams and 32 years in and out of service, I say if you learn to do it right to start with, you only have to train up periodically. Course, the Army doesn’t train troops adequately on the M16, so realistically forget the training on the pistol. I can take a strange M16, crank in a 300 meter battle sight zero, and fire six rounds to complete zeroing. How many times have we all seen a company of trainees take all day to zero? The problem is, the instructors can’t do it either. On expanding bullets, don’t do it. Best reason? Ivan or Mohammed won’t take long to notice it on their end, and then you and your buddies are the ones with gaping, horrendous wounds. We fired on average app. 1,000-1,200 rounds through our 1911s per week. Even the issue pistols would break down. Get a good 1911 designed for .45 ACP, you won’t fire anywhere near that amt. It’ll hold up. Interestingly, the Germans used two strengths of 9mm in WWII.The plain ammo was for the Luger, P38, satellite weapons,etc. For the burp gun ( Schmeisser) the 9mm had a black tip and a black primer. Lot stronger. The AMU at Benning spent a hell of a lot of time and effort to develop techniques to get soldiers trained up for combat. Problem is, you’ve gotta read the manual and teach it. The universal problem.

    • neanderthal75

      Hey there,

      Never was in the military (for some reason they don’t like to take folks born partially blind and deaf, go figure), and all my shooting experience is solely civilian oriented. However, I studied history professionally, specifically NLM’s (National Liberation Movements) as a sub-area of interest within Modern African/Modern Russian-Soviet History (sub-specialty in the later was Party history until Stalin’s death) as my main areas of interest.

      Naturally, military history was a part of my studies and I ended up pursuing my MA in Modern German Military History. Got my first year done, then doing my research in Koblenz, my body finally collapsed on a hill in that city on the way to the Archiv.

      I’m babbling all this to you concerning one point you made: exchanging magazine capacity for training in accuracy.

      Regardless of the age of combat, ACCURACY was one of the key/primary points of training for any ‘civilized’ army/navy I ever studied. The same was true whether the weapon was a sword, lance/spear, bow, ballistae, etc.: hitting the right point to down the enemy was the primary goal.

      I’ve lost count of the arguments I’ve heard in coffee shops and gun stores about this caliber and that caliber ‘being best’, and of course, the need for more magazine capacity. I always raise the ire of many of those around me when I point out that all the magazine capacity in the world won’t help if you can’t hit your target in a lethal area.

      “Slinging lead without hitting what you need to hit doesn’t help anyone, least of all the person being attacked.”

      There are a few smiles from those who train for accuracy (which I do as often as my pocketbook will allow), but there is a lot of derision as well. Is this the same response you’ve had within the military? Is accuracy a bygone concept in favor of mag capacity and sheer luck?

      I believe an argument can be made that the US Military voted in favor of more lead down range in exchange for accuracy, when it decided to transition from a .30 caliber rifle, to .22 caliber weapon. The logical argument was that ‘more ammo’ could be carried, and that the lower recoil and lighter weapon was easier to carry and shoot by the ‘average soldier’.

      This argument made and makes sense, but only if a Draft Environment, and if accuracy is no longer a primary training goal.

      There is more I’d like to ask, but I’ve already written war and peace and didn’t mean to do.

      Great post and thanks for taking the time to make it.

      • 30 year vet

        To answer your question about the military’s attitude concerning accuracy over “capacity and number of rounds down range”, I direct you to history. WWI, WWII, Korea and admittedly most of Vietnam saw personnel trained in marksmanship on KD ranges. These were known distance ranges with scores made on bullseye style targets. These ranges and targets required usage of the eight steady hold factors and an ability to utilize the same sight picture during each shot. This meant too much time and effort to properly train a common soldier to hit the target in a vital area with the first one or two rounds. I am sure that someone also believed that the majority of soldiers failed to use their weapons as taught in a combat situation. Point in fact is the film clips from Vietnam showing soldiers praying and spraying 5.56 rounds without even remotely looking over the barrel. Someone with stars on his collar apparently decided that it was good enough to train with pop-up targets where a bit of dirt hitting it would knock it down, vola you have today’s personnel being trained on trying to hit a semi-man shaped target that gets knocked down when the wind blows hard enough. You CANNOT kill the other guy if you do not take the extra two seconds of time to properly aim your weapon and hit him where it incapacitates him or her. Of course, there is times when you must over power the enemy with a high volume of fire just to get the edge on him and then take him out. Now having said that, I would submit that muscle memory and repetition has a great impact upon an individuals ability during life and death situations, the more often you shoot, the more accurate and consistant you shoot. In the ’80’s my SF unit got only 100 rounds of 5.56 and 30 rounds of .45 ammo per year per man for training. Money talks and B.S. walks. Even mainstream SF Groups get the short end of the stick during peacetime due to budget problems in more ways than one. Those times are coming back, I saw it in the ’70s after Vietnam and during the 80’s. Some officers also consider range time to be too difficult and time consuming to schedule or just plain goof off time and hinders thier units ability to do more important training which makes their unit readiness look better for their OER. Sorry for such a long winded comment, the Army is eternally doomed to keep making the same mistakes in cycles, same thing, different generation.

        • pete

          Your sf unit had less than 50 dollars of ammunition for a year of training for each person?

    • charles

      Correct. In WWI, rifle training was 8 hours a day 6 days a week for one or two weeks. The Doughboys of WWI were great shots who could hit targets out to 700-1,000 yards. Yet in al fairness, firing a rifle is just one mere aspect of a USMC/soldier’s fighting skill set. Radio operations, navigation, first aid, LPGPMG, etc- all are skills that need to be taught and maintained in additional to specialized MOS skills.

      ‘In all things, maintain one’s perspective, words and analysis.

  • Daniel

    The one thing that amazes me is no one is focusing on the real problem and that is training. Whether you put a 9mm or a .45 cal in the hands of the typical soldier they are both going to be ineffective. Standard military training does not teach the soldier how to defend himself in war time. All the military does is put the soldier on a shooting line, tells him to load his weapon, and finally tells them to fire. That is ineffective training. As an Ex-Army Soldier and current IDPA shooter, I know the necessity of how training should be. When I came back from Iraq in 2008 I thought I was an amazing shot, I had expertise in rifle, pistol, and grenade. I thought no one was better then me but then I was introduced to IDPA and oh my god did all of that go out the window. I shot like S**t and couldn’t hit a dang thing but after learning how to proper shoot and move. I am now a decent shot. I feel the Army, if they focused more on training, could save a lot of money from not changing platforms….. Just my two cents

    • I think that varies based on the individual’s experience. There are soldiers who have come out of the Army and demonstrated competent shooting skills they learned in the Army. There are also units that do very good marksmanship training. It is always a function of the unit’s leadership and what commanders emphasize. No doubt there’s a lot of crappy experiences and some real plain old abortions out there but the Army is a H U G E animal in comparison to the other branches. My experience is the combat arms units (especially Infantry) and some support units like combat engineers and MPs do emphasize marksmanship training. It’s not across the board but it’s not as bad as some make it out to be though I will state the Army does a poor job of training most troops at engaging beyond 300m. The flip side is the stats are something like 80% of engagements happen inside 250m.

      • Common Sense

        I’d like to see those stats. Perhaps in Iraq that would be accurate- but in Afghanistan it was generally 300m plus, so I don’t see the 80% being accurate.

        • Those were the stats used by the Infantry Battle Lab and is based on numerous studies of US conflict over the last half century. The US Army TRADOC Analysis Center at White Sands Missile Range is the keeper of all weapons data (unclassified & classified) used by the Army to conduct analytical studies and experiments to determine the effectiveness of new weapons, equipment, doctrine etc.

          Where besides anecdotal experience did you get that 80% of engagements (assuming you are talking small arms) in Afghanistan occur in excess of 300m? To my knowledge there have been no studies done to document and catalog engagement ranges in Afghanistan. My experience is these studies are usually done after the conflict. Historically speaking, conflicts in mountainous terrain do have more long range engagements but by no means are they predominant. All one has to do is look at the major firefights to get a feel that most engagements are happening WELL within 400m e.g. Roberts Ridge, Wanat, Kamdesh, Gangal valley etc. On the face of it. you should be skeptical of believing 80% of engagements in Afghanistan are occurring beyond 300m when the enemy is overwhelmingly equipped with the AK47.

          Finally, don’t limit yourself to Afghanistan. It’s common to plan to fight the next war like the last one. The enemy rarely obliges. We won’t be fighting there forever and the next conflict will most likely not be there.

          • Matt W

            agreed. All of my fights in RC south (2011-2012) were within 200 meters. 40MM and GPMGs dominate the fight there. We put way to much focus on Individual carbines and pistols.

            I think when folks think Afghanistan, they think of the mountains and long range. I can tell you form experience that the taliban likes to fight close in order to negate our CAS and indirect fires

          • “I can tell you form experience that the taliban likes to fight close in order to negate our CAS and indirect fires”

            Great point

    • dHoleman

      I couldn’t agree more. I did force simulator training and live training (with snap caps) for traffic stops gone bad. in close quarters it’s all about training and muscle memory. What to do when and in what situations. You would be surprised at how hard it is to hit the intended target when they are erratic and charging you. That’s nothing like being at the range shooting stationary targets at your leisure.

    • SRTMP556

      After gong through Protective Service Training (PSD)and Speacial Reaction Team (SRT) trainig, I was like ‘WTF!!”, This is how we should train to shoot ALL the time. I hate the basic M9 Combat Qual, there is nothing”Combat” about it.

    • charles

      Once again, training is one of trade-offs. The SF community must train continually on a variety on a variety of skill sets. An professional pistol shooter can outshoot a SF person any day of the week. A professional mountaineer can outperform an SF person consistently. A professional swimmer can out-swim an SF person. However probably no single civilian can outperform an SF person in a broad range of specialized skills and that is what the SF trains to do. There’s only so many hours in the day to devote to any skill or task, the person who singularly does only one skill is bound to be more proficient than the SF person who needs to be proficient in 10-15 skill tasks.

  • doyletoo

    Good point. More time with effective and regular shooting will develop skills.
    Sadly budget constraints limit this greatly for the average soldier.

    • Surprisingly budget isn’t the greatest factor, it’s leadership. Leaders who care learn how to train marksmanship, make it a priority and maximize the limited resources they have.

      Tough to do in today’s checklist environment riddled with all the mandated PC training.

    • Dan

      During my 3 years in the Old Berlin Brigade during the Carter years, I got to qualify with my M-16 ONCE. That’s right, once in 3 years, and I’m afraid that those days are coming back.

    • charles

      As the old military saying goes, “there’s never enough time to do it correctly the first time, but there’s always enough time for re-training the 2nd or 3rd times/.

  • fuzznose

    So, they’re having difficulty getting .45ACP ammunition into theater……that doesn’t affect the performance of the firearm. The argument that the majority of the military’s elite units still use the 9mm is also something I would ask ‘so what?’ about. Just because 7 out of 10 units use that particular pistol, doesn’t make it right for the other 3 units, does it? As you said in the beginning of the article, caliber is a personal choice. But in the Marines and the Army, they don’t give you that choice….here’s your M9A1, I know we promised you a .45, but we decided you didn’t need it……after all, you’re not smart enough to have an opinion, you’re just paid to follow orders……

    • Common Sense

      Units don’t get a personal choice, because it’s impossible to keep up with logistics for everyone’s preference. It’s not about smart enough, it’s about practicality. Also, soldiers ARE paid to follow orders, that’s what makes an Army.

  • KStorm64

    The problem with the M9, is that as a design it is outdated. It is weight forward, I personnally like the GLock due to its modularity. I can convert my glock from .40 to 9mm, to a .22LR fairly easily. I would love to see the service pistol have that capability. Teach the soldier how to shoot properly with low cost .22, become very profiecinet with it, then move up to the 9mm or what ever the next caliber is going to be. The advantages are huge, Reservists could train more often for less and be far proficient at it. Active duty could go over to short ranges and practice more often as well. The more you shoot the better off you will be. As for the Uniform issue, the ACU needs to go…straight in the garbage can

    • BillJ

      .22s not cheap anymore, you now buy 9mm cheaper and .45 for about the same…Just try to even find any .22- Aguila or Eley is all there is…

      • pete

        22lr doesn’t cost 40 cents a round for fmj ammunition. not even close.

    • dsj556

      I agree completely why pay someone to develop a new pistol when the glock is proven, readily available, and more reliable than most pistols and certainly the M9. Also I didn’t see it discussed in the article but being able to load 19 rounds of ammo in a glock with 9mm is certainly an improvement over the m9 and something you start to lose when you start bumping up to .45. I personally carried a m9 as a secondary weapon for about 9 months in Iraq and would have traded it for a second for a glock 17

    • DanH

      “Train with ‘low-cost’ .22…then move to the next caliber”…probably the worst idea I’ve ever heard. So we’re going to buy double the amount of ammunition now, conversion kits for all the weapons, and require two qualification sessions at the range. Yeah…and money and time grow on trees.

  • William_C1

    .45s and .40s are wearing out too fast? Build the gun a bit heavier then, do more than just up-scaled the 9mm design in question.

    The M1911 is not the perfect pistol, the design is 90+ years old and we can indeed create a better gun these days. But I’ve never heard about the M1911A1 wearing out faster than any other gun. Many that were worn out in service simply got that way simply due to the sheer amount of use they saw over decades.

    What about the FNP-45, is that worth the military taking a look at? The HK-45 and even its older brother the USP seem to be rather well liked although I’m sure the price tag is rather high.

    The .40 seems like it could be a good compromise but whatever happened to the 10mm it was based on?

    • tiger

      Dead round in the market place & industry. Few make guns for it at all.

      • Grey Wolf

        Not as dead as you might think!

    • BillJ

      From my Army experience, MP in the 60s, most of the .45s we had were worn out just from cleaning and disassembly – not from shooting. Barrels were fine, slides super sloppy. Any down time and someone would come in and say go get your .45 or M14 and clean it… And a personal story: I was a cop when drafted. Stationed at Ft. Riley, the MPs patrolled some areas of Junction City, especially 9th where the grunts would go for hookers and booze (Sunday’s, Kansas was closed) There had been several robbery’s and 3 murders there in just a couple of months in ’68…We, MPs patrolled there with JCPD and I got caught by my XO one Sunday wearing Khakis and sporting a civilian Sam Browne and my trusty Smith .357. He was not very happy but I told him I wanted to live through the time there (he said ‘don’t let me SEE you like this again). He never SAW me with the Smith again. BTW I love 1911s, just not the WWII junk we had.

    • Michael Wade

      The Glock MDL21 will out last the Colt 1911A1. The polimer frame on the glock will not crack like the 1911A1’s did. The Glock also uses a 13 round magazine. The Glock 21 is a bigger and heaver gun than the Glock 19,17 or the 22 .40 cal Glock. It has been used by a lot of cops and it works well. I am sure if the military wanted to they could get it there after all we did it from 1911 thru the mid 1980’s and almost everyone was using 9MMs during that time. No gettinf .45 ammo to our troops is just plain lazieness by our military supply people.

    • Grey Wolf

      The 1911 has stood the test of time. It may not be the “perfect” pistol as you put it but it was designed from the ground up for War where most of the ones today were not.
      The original 1911 only had the thumb safety.
      I carried that old war horse many years ago along with a M-60 and later a 90mm recoiless.

      For your question on the 10mm many pistols had the same problem the .40s have now. A properly designed pistol designed around the cartridge didn’t have many problems. Those that were just scaled up from the 9mm did. The 10mm round was redesigned with less power and became the .40 cal as most FBI Personnel could not handle the round. Now I see they are going back to the 9.

      Just like the old saying Condition1, for those who can.

      Like others have said it all comes down to training. I’d love to see the .45 come back. However with the Allies and our own Government and culture being too politically correct and not wanting to hurt the sensibilities of the world at large we will never be what we once were.

  • emb120_av

    Daniel hit the mail on the head: proficiency through training. Having been in a gunfight or two (military and as a civilian LEO), without trying to sound like a Wild West gunfighter, it is a requirement that the shooter meet the best nexus of speed and accuracy. Caliber is not really very relevant (although a 9mm would be at the low end of my acceptable calibers, I carry a .380 backup gun). I was armed with an issued 9mm (M9 or 11 – military and S&W – civilian). The 9mm worked just fine, and was very effective, so long as I hit my target.

    • neanderthal75

      Hey EMB,

      Considering civilian LEO uses, bullet tech has gotten so proficient, that even the decried .380 can get the job done, if one is to look at ballistic reports from Gel Tests.

      Military is different however, due to limited bullet choices.

      I fully commend you on your call for ACCURACY in training, rather than spending plethora rounds in the ‘hope’ that the shooter hits something!

      I made a point in another post about just how dismal is LEO training, particularly in big cities, in citing the shoot by NYC LEO’s wherein 11 CIVILIANS were wounded by just TWO cops, because the cops couldn’t shoot straight. Severe lack of training time and rounds spent, on the range.

      Until that changes for both LEO’s and the military, a hand held howitzer won’t make any difference.

      • David

        I was lucky, in that my first agency trained very intensely. We did Hogan’s Alley, way before it was commonplace. Though we had to stand and shoot at a paper target for the state qualification, I credit one of our range masters with saving my life, due to the inherently unpredictable nature of what range scenario you’d find when called at random from the road. It was a medium sized department, so the nightmare of trying to train thousands and thousands of officers was not a problem. Although the site was sending updates, I was unable to log in on this account, so I made another and replied in detail regarding the biggest bullet is better argument, and people spin if hit in a finger with a .45 caliber round. That commentary is here:… as David.

      • David

        I forgot to add that your last sentence says it all.

  • phil

    heres the win all forces should use the fnh usa tac .45 it has more than enough fire power 15+1 of .45acp can adapt a silencer/suppresor has raised sights has a special groove cut out of the slide to attach an optic and a pictany rail

    • tiger

      It is but one of several new pistols made for the 2005 JCP trials. Good choice, not the only one. Taurus, Beretta,sig, Ruger, HK,Springfield all have designs.

  • ChuckO

    Love the M9A1

  • JLR

    RE Hague …
    I thought it only applies to actions involving a uniformed military. IE. taliban goat herders do not count.

    • CDS

      Technically, a number of treaties only apply between signatories, too. But the motto is “hold yourself to the higher standard so everyone will think you’re the model to aspire to.” Of course, that’s easy to say in the halls of a government building, instead of the battlefield where it’s all too apparent that all “the other people” want is your death.

  • Leggy Fishnet Jill

    Lots of “experts” blah, blah, blah!

  • ronnie

    A .45 cal pistol is not an accurate weapon. but if you hit what you are shooting at it will die. because it will tear you apart. hit some one on the tip of the little finger and it will just about take their hand with it. a .9mm is a good weapon. more stable to aim and fire . but the knock down power is less. So if given the choice of which weapon to use I’d take a .45 cal M1911 .and that is a fact jack. the .45 was developed back when our soldiers were in the Philippines . to help slow the Moro warriors that would use hashish and get so pumped up that a normal bullet would not stop them. so the .45 was created . it did the job at close quarters. and that is what I like.

    • tiger

      100 year old myth, hype, some facts in your post.

      • moondawg

        Surely you are joking. You are not being serious, are you?

    • defensor fortisimo

      Setting aside for a second the accuracy of said origin story, the rifles that were in the field at the time were also equally ineffective. All the Moro rebellion proves is that metaphorically speaking, cocaine is one helluva drug.

      • Joseph

        Outside of video games, you obviously haven’t seen many shootings, son.

      • DBM

        Dude just were do you get your info? The Pre WW2 1911s were quite accurate. The 1911’s built for WW2 would be concidered junk nowadays. They gov’t loosened up the manufacturing tollerences so much that you could take one of each of the pistols made by each of the (I believe) 15 manufactures dump the parts into a barrel of solvent and randomly pick up parts and make a complete working handgun. The pistol was required to last only 500 rds and had only one part made of tempered steel the slide lock. They wore out quickly.

        And who told you the rifles of the time were ineffective? Thats BS and BTW they smoked OPIUM and not Cocaine.

        • ResoluteOne

          DBM, the statements in your quote, as shown below, are completely false.

          “They gov’t loosened up the manufacturing tollerences so much that you could take one of each of the pistols made by each of the (I believe) 15 manufactures dump the parts into a barrel of solvent and randomly pick up parts and make a complete working handgun. The pistol was required to last only 500 rds and had only one part made of tempered steel the slide lock.

          • DBM

            I did make ONE mistake I meant to say 5000 rds not 500. But that’s the only mistake.

        • defensor fortisimo

          All hail the immortal legacy of the Krag Jorgensen. Also the Cocaine line was a joke, hence the phrase metaphorically..

          • DBM

            Everyone makes mistakes or repeats bad information (including me).Some things no one knows what really happened. But unfortunately to few people actually read actual history anymore and someone has probably taken your cocaine statement as fact.

    • Stefan S.

      OMG. The Moro rumor. Sorry the .45 ACP was designed so the elite branch of the US Army, the Cavalry had a round that could drop a charging horse. Look it up. Not because some drugged up Moro warrior with wet rawhide round his nutsack.

      • balais

        when you actually read the results of the test, the old 9×19 luger when it was first introduced didn’t perform much differently than 45 ACP.

        455 handily beat everything. 45 didn’t even come close

      • DBM

        Your talking about the wrong war. By the time of the Philippian Insurrection the US Army was no longer using the .45.

    • len

      I am now older, wiser & well experienced. The 45 ACP is an effective firearm but it will not take a hand off. A federal LEO Sgt shot his left hand with a 45ACP and removed his thumb and forefinger. It required surgery to remove the digits because bones were crushed, not because the bullet did so. He was removed from service!

      Stay vigilant, stay alive.

    • Mike

      Short of speaking about a howitzer there is no such thing as “Knock down power”. Newton’s third law of motion: For each and every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. I.E. if you knock someone down then you will get knocked down as well.

      Shooting the human body will kill and or incapacitate via one of two methods:
      1. Hitting a vital organ
      2. Shock

      Since the average shooter is under extreme duress, and most vital organs (head and heart) are extremely small we look at the most likely injury mechanism of shock. The bullet creates an initial hydraulic disruption (fluid moving out of the way) and a permanent wound cavity that will eventually fill with blood that can’t be used by other organs (heart, lungs, brain) and hastens shock.

      So the most important attributes are accuracy and wound cavity creation.

      If we look to Newton’s second law – F=ma (Force = mass times acceleration) we find that we need to greatly increase acceleration (which is hard due to the size of the casing and the short barrel which produces a slower velocity when compared to a longer rifle barrel) vs increasing the mass of the projectile – this turns out to be much easier.

      Thus a heavier slower round will produce a much bigger cavity than a smaller faster round.

      One might ask then why the military wants to use a smaller faster round (9mm and .223) vs a larger more devastating round (.308 and .45). In their infantine wisdom the military likes suppression. Shoot a lot of rounds at a target (fire) and maneuver to kill them at close range. In this case the size and speed of the projectile matter far less and accuracy is much less important.

      You will find many experienced military folks that complain bitterly about the lack of actual marksmanship and combat training and an over reliance on external power (arty and air) used to kill the enemy.

      Please also understand that Standard Army training is not about hitting accuracy – It uses a concept called “Challenge, Response, Reward” to get soldiers to actually fire their weapons (which they did not before – I.E. WW2, and they did a lot after Vietnam).

    • Guest

      You are perpetuating myths. Modern 1911s are as accurate as any handgun out there in the right hands. As for the little finger hit taking the hand off. Unless you hit a person in an area like the shoulder, hip or knee, there are very few instances where a single shot will actually knock someone down.

    • Charles

      The statement that a .45 acp bullet is totally false and unfounded. The firearms that shoot the .45 acp bullet are also reliable and accurate, more so than the person handling the pistol.

    • Bob

      .45 will knock down anything on two legs, believe me. This comes from a Vietnam Veteran that witnessed the power of the 1911 .45.

    • Randy

      I don’t know what 45’s you’re referring to, mine are highly accurate

  • moondawg

    It just goes to show the 9×19 is equally ineffective as the 45acp when both are shooting a RN FMJ bullet.

    • Fred Freep

      Let me put this in a way even you will understand. Would you rather throw a tennis ball at somebody or a baseball. The 1911 used a 230 gr bullet the 9mike mike is 125gr.

  • bloke_from_ohio

    I can do one bettter. Lets take the 1911 and upsize it to a 105mm round! That my friends is knock down.

    • Pete

      May as well just use the main deck guns on a battleship. I’m not sure if that’s knock down or blown up though.

  • Sgt Hard as Nails USMC

    I own a Colt 1911, Glock 17, Glock 19, and a Glock 23 .40.

    I don’t shot my 1911 anymore.

    My Glock 17 has had 7k rounds through it easy. Still runs like a fine tuned machine.

    My Glock 19 doesn’t get as much trigger time, but its essentially the same weapon as the 17; smaller.

    I carry my Glock 23 .40 as my personal carry at the moment. I fell into the trap of needing a bigger round for stopping power just like alot of people. Mainly because my brothers gave me hell for carrying 9mm. All 3 of them swear my .45 ACP.

    The 9mm JHP rounds out now can do more damage than a .45 slug, are cheaper and more widely available, and I can carry much more ammo than any other caliber.

    I carry the G23 .40 because its my newest shooting peice. I’m just saying I wouldn’t be overly upset if I were forced to go back to one of my 9mm for personal carry.

    • Why compare 9mm JHP to a .45 slug? They make .45 JHP?

      This is the only way the case for 9mm superiority can be made, comparing two totally different rounds because when you compare the same type of round 9mm loses.

      I’m not so much against 9mm as I am against inaccurate comparisons.

      • Sgt Hard as Nails USMC

        Yeah, alright. I hear ya. Bad comparison.

        I suppose I just like a weapon with higher ammo capacity. I was a SAW Gunner for most of my non-NCO days. I like lots of rounds.

        • I hear ya and I believe that’s a valid approach. I can see and appreciate an argument that favors quantity. It’s why I transitioned to a double stack. BTW, they make .45 double stack that carry the same or comparable numbers of rounds vs. your mis-statement “I can carry much more ammo than any other caliber”. Is one or two rounds qualify as “much”? Seems you are again applying one standard to the 9mm and fail to apply it to the .45.

          Where I break from that school of thought is where those that promote shot placement for 9mm over the same argument for shot placement for the .45. It’s the same type of bad comparison. They do it for one but not the other.

          It’s all a strawman to promote one side of an argument without fairly addressing the other side or creating a false narrative about the other side instead of fairly stating pros and cons. This is often why I jump in and point out the double standard.

  • Super Tex

    As long as the US Military fights 3rd. world countries the 9mm, 40 cal. are fine. However……when we fight a near peer or even a group that is well funded. Those calibers will be useless up against even soft body armor. If your talking about providing arms to soldiers that don’t shoot for a living. The Military really should look at the MP 7. If you are talking about a back up sidearm. The FN Five Seven will penetrate body armor.

    • ldwalaska13

      So will a .22mag at close range, level III vest.

    • DBM

      Just what are you talking about? Soft body armor? Depends on what level. A 9mm has a better chance than a .45 but the .45’s blunt trauma injury will be greater.

      The 5.7 will penetrate soft body armor but only if its loaded with steel core ammo. The it makes a small diameter hole in the person. Armor piercing ammo has a place but not for general use as a man stopper. If it was so great believe me when I say that’s all the army would issue.


    If a gun has a wear factor because of caliber like i am seeing here, then why not develop new metal characteristics and/
    or design that would make the weapon more resistant to the heavy use it is being put thru…..nothing last forever but dependability is mandatory for military…time for the Ol’ competition factor to show up……

    • charles

      Someone is not relating all the information in the assertion that one caliber outlasts another. Except for certain naval and land artillery guns which have a high rate of barrel liner erosion and for which a strict log must be maintained for barrel re-lining purposes, a given caliber pistol is not more ‘durable’ than another in terms of longevity, however, it one takes a pistol designed for a given caliber and replaces it with a larger, more powerful caliber, that exchange of caliber can cause some longevity issues from a material science perspective. Yet parts do break in all firearms and the metallurgy is among the best of all times in the short history of firearms. Alloys and pure metals have different characteristics and this factor must also be taken into consideration.

  • ldwalaska13

    Ok. Using the 9mm means shooting the other guy several times more than one would with a .45. Shooting a 9mm is a nice way to impress your girlfriend, as she can shoot the weapon without worry of recoil. However, a 9mm will penetrate farther through wood or steel than a .45. And–ricochet off of slanted surfaces, as will most high velocity rounds.
    The wear would be my last worry–lot of .45 1911s still hanging around out there, many more mods and spin offs than any 9. For a reason.
    Cops used to carry the .357 magnum, but stopped in favor of a ‘less intimidating’ pistol. Some depts. allowed .45s. Some, even 10mm.
    I like the 10mm. However, the 9mm is politically correct and our NATO allies like PC. Girly rounds.
    Like the 5.56mm, a round that the new rifleman can handle. Not the 7.62mm or the old 30-06 . . .
    smaller rounds, higher velocity, on and on.
    Materials tech will deal with higher wear factors.
    The only qualification should be what does the most damage to the target, when its needed. And, is it made here?
    Stupid to give your spares and mfg capability to a potential enemy . . .

    • charles

      The .357 was developed to help LE officers deal with motorized, fleeing offenders, the belief being that a regular .38 special did not possess sufficient penetration for the heavier metal being used in automobiles. Clyde Barker noted the robustness of the Ford sedan to withstand numerous .38 caliber bullets. The .357 magnum was a 38 special on super steroids.

  • Chris

    Each to their own, but I prefer the .45…….. Never have trouble qualifying with either…. But in a close in situation, I would prefer the .45

    • DBM

      Chris, I prefer a .45 also. My pet peeve is when people complain about the recoil on a .45. What recoil are they talking about? I see the same guys shoot Glocks and complain about their pistol not fully ejecting a round which answers my first statement. If your so limp wristed you cant shoot a Glock then a .45 would be to much for you.

  • Roscoe

    Semi-auto handguns do NOT have “knock down” power. If they did, why would you still carry a rifle? Whether the handgun is 9mm, 10mm or 11.43mm(aka 45). 2.43mm and a .0164# difference in bullet weight does not create a magical manstopper. In combat, I’ll take 19 rounds of 9mm without a manual safety or exposed hammer over 7 rounds of 45 with a manual safety and exposed hammer any day.

    • neanderthal75


      Newsflash: there are SEVERAL quality handgun manufacturers which make DOUBLESTACK 1911 style semi-autos in .45ACP, .40S&W, 10mm, and yes, 9mm, as well was .38 Super.

      The capacities vary, but at least 13 and one in the pipe (14 total), with the FN and I believe one other (can’t think of it now) with 15 in the mag and 1 in the pipe (16 total).

      Some modern 1911’s are Double Action, most single action, and there are even a few WITHOUT an external safety, though I don’t particularly like this feature.

      When 1911 style shooters train, muscle memory to thumb the safety off is part and parcel of the draw and fire technique, so no big deal to us.

      I would add that the US Military used the classic 1911 for some 60 plus years, and it seem to do quite well in combat. The only reason we switched to the 9mm was to make the US military compatible with NATO, which in my view, was a mistake (the US carried 90% of the water in defense of Europe, so THEY should have adapted to our standard, not the other way around).

  • JohnD

    SPECOPS guys get a lot of trigger time in all weapons. The regular army shoots a few times a year. The average soldier with a pistol is usually not getting enough range time. It is more a badge of rank. When used in house clearing or PSD missions, there should be more range time. Never liked the M9, still shot expert, did same w/ 1911A1. SPECOPS has More leeway with weapon choice but the SF community knows that for most missions, the 9mm is very available. The pistol choice will be up to,the boondoggles!!

    • Charles

      The soldiers and Marines are out doing a lot of PT/fitness testing. Weapon qualifications come twice a year and the training is very ‘lock-step’ , it never mimics reality, more attention is paid to not having a ‘range incident’ than providing real world training. Ammunition quotes are also limited.

  • Mike

    In most cases the use of a handgun in combat means that the combatant’s long gun is not available. As one outstanding shooter and Marine related, that means you’re “******”

    He has no problem with the 9mm round, but carries a Glock 17. When I ask why he carries the Glock, his reply is because “I carried the M9”. Reliability (wen you pull trigger it goes bang) is the number one priority with #2 being simplicity and ease of maintenance.

    I asked him about accuracy (can’t stress enough how well this guy shoots) and his reply was that at the range of most handgun engagements, accuracy of the weapon, isn’t the issue. Proficiency of the shooter is the issue. Proficiency is much more than being able to shoot in competition or on the range, it includes the ability to not panic and retain control under duress. Shooting so much (like SOF) that it is a reflex action is part, but SOF isn’t made up of ordinary people…they keep the freaks and eliminate those who aren’t. Freaks don’t have adrenaline dumps (adrenaline reduces fine motor control and decision making ability) like the rest of us do.

    It is the shooter first and the weapon second. A great shooter with a mediocre weapon beats the hell out of lousy shooter with a great weapon.

    • MikeB

      As Jerry Miculek once said…There is no such thing as an inaccurate weapon…only inaccurate shooters.

    • charles

      Very true. Shooting paper is not shooting flesh and blood! Panic, fear, etc- all contribute to poor marksmanship. Unless weapon firing is instinctive, its vale is greatly diminished and only long constant hours of practice makes one proficient with weapons, especially pistols.

  • David

    As I read some of the very ignorant commentary, I detect that some people commenting on this subject watch way too much TV, and assess their gun and ammunition requirements from the latest episode of insert crime drama name here. What I stated previously still applies (emb120_av): it is a requirement that the shooter meet the best nexus of speed and accuracy. Caliber is not really very relevant. Proficiency comes through training, and I was appalled at how lacking my training was when I began to work with PSD Teams in the Army, providing protection for real VIPs (school trained and ASI awarded; not just a bunch of yayhoos the BN or BDE commander selected to guard him, then used the term PSD because they heard it elsewhere). I was even more amazed as I entered the civilian LE field, worked on specialized units, was in shootings and witnessed shootings, and I credit one of my first police range officers with the training that saved my life. The people that make a big deal out of caliber have, clearly, not seen a lot of shootings (in my experience, there’s typically a .09″ – .14″ mm difference in expanded 9mm vs. .45 cal. hollow points – yes bigger variations, as well as smaller variations can apply, depending on the bullet type, manufacturer, etc., and bigger might be better in some situations). I have adhered to the following and it seems to be a consistent set of principles noted by others, who also survived gunfights, I can agree on: 1. Being the fastest to draw will not save your ass in a gunfight. I am not a SOF Soldier, but I like the saying I used to hear from some of the guys we worked with that were. They’d often say “fast is slow, and slow is fast” which comes from proficiency through training. 2. Being the most accurate will not save your ass either, especially if you take a long time to shoot your assailant. 3. A nexus of #1 and #2 is required and #1 is variable in every gunfight. #2 is not as variable, but accuracy is required, and it is affected by your assailant’s desire to attack you, combined with their intestinal fortitude (read balls), and speed of the attack. Though the nexus of #1 and #2 MAY save your ass, regardless of caliber, humans do very strange and unexpected things when shot. It ain’t the movies, and a big round in the assailant’s wrist or even the shoulder might not stop them. Contrary to the movies and TV, I would not plan for them to spin from a shot in the hand or shoulder – it might dissuade them from attacking, but it probably is only a temporary deterrent if they are motivated to kill you. A small round (.22 caliber shootings are very common), when well placed is preferable over a .45 caliber round that is not well placed. 4. You’re probably gonna miss once, twice, or even several times. Adrenalin will affect you, as well as your attacker. I’ve seen gun battles take place in very enclosed spaces where very few rounds hit their intended target. Gang bangers are notorious for this. They often miss their intended target, though they do usually hit a bystander or two. If on target, the larger caliber is preferred, but it’s a BIG if. Given the choice, I’ll take more bullets over bigger bullets. 5. Even if you do hit your target, don’t let your guard down. Watch everything and everyone around you. Seek cover, assess and reload as necessary. The bad guy may get up again, or others may be with him – here’s where more bullets versus larger bullets will be important. Lastly, speaking from experience, I would not personally select a caliber of less than 9mm although, as a civilian LEO I did carry a .380 caliber backup gun, because the small size frame was more important in the guns selection. Select the caliber you like, compensate for anything else lacking if you need to, and get as big a caliber as you like and can effectively shoot. Select a highly regarded gun YOU like and is comfortable in YOUR hand, and become proficient with it. I cannot effectively carry most .45 caliber double stack handguns either, due to my hand size. I own a Sig Sauer P229, in 9mm, because it mirrors what I carried most recently in the Army (M11). I am not a fan of the M9, but if that is what I used most often, I’d damn well become much more familiar with it. My opinion comes from my real world military and law enforcement experience of over 30 years, which is very highly specialized and from which I have received very advanced firearms training, when compared to my peers (active duty/reserve component/law enforcement). I agree with what the guy in the attached article says, and he says it all better than I could. Check out what he says:

    • David

      I really wish I had seen this earlier, as it directly illustrates my point. Things don’t go as expected, the guy was only hit in the knee, though they sure shot the hell out of the building.

      • 1LT INF (RET)

        Do you know any other URL for whatever you were pointing folks at? Liveleak reports it was taken down for copyright issues.

        • David

          It looks like it’s gone. It was a shooting wherein the police fired multiple rounds at a suspect. They did, eventually, hit the suspect, but they did a much better job of shooting the building behind him – another hit or two, and the building might have collapsed.

    • Grey Wolf

      This has been all heard before.

      It all comes down to shot placement and training, training, training. 2 to the heart and 1 to the head will stop the fight.

      • David

        My point exactly. 12 gauge pistol rounds won’t help, if you cannot hit anything.

    • charles

      Agreed. Also in the military and LE- ‘point & shoot’ techniques are almost impossible to acquire or use unless one takes a lot of outside, on-your-own-time firearms classes and taking the time to raise a weapon to aim-and shoot can be deadly. Indoor gun ranges also discourage this practice, so it is hard to self-train on point & shoot at most indoor ranges.

      • David

        Agreed, but maybe we could aspire to hitting a target in a vital area. As I noted above, a 12 gauge pistol rounds won’t help, if you cannot hit anything.

  • Frank

    I ran a range that was a combination zero and qualification range for the M16A1. There was a berm between the two part of the range so you could run both at once, safely. The key was to have incoming troops go directly to the bleachers on the opposite side of the road, where we taught a class on zeroing and marksmanship. We then led each group to the zero range. There were three iterations of three rounds each. Anyone who did not zero, no matter what reason, including “jams” or “alibis” went back across the road and repeated the class. We had no problem zeroing and qualifying a whole battalion in less than three hours. the key is not to take any BS. There are no alibis, and jams mean you do not qualify. Go back to square one. It does not take long for everyone to get it.

  • Frank

    Marksmanship is a lot less expensive than logistics. It takes a lot of money and blood to get ammo to the front line, so if you only need half as many rounds to achieve the same results, then you can avoid half the ammunition logistics cost. Getting ammo to a training range is a lot cheaper than getting it to a front line unit.

    • DBM

      The more ammo you have, the more you waste. Marksmanship goes out the window.


    Of course .40’s are wearing out too fast. they started life as a .10mm on a heavy frame and got downgraded to .40 because the geeks would not learn to handle the recoil of the 10mm. Less powder, shorter case, put the new bullet in a 9mm frame. Weaker than the 10mm but much stronger than the 9mm, the .40 is too high pressure for the 9mm frame. That makes it fine for law enforcement. They shoot very little. For military? Not so good. The .45 was designed to be a .45 and that makes it a good choice. The 10mm was designed to be a 10mm and that makes it a good choice if you want a very powerful round and are willing to handle the recoil. Training. The recoil isn’t that bad.

    • David

      I assure you, unless budgetary constraints or poor leadership dictate it, LE shoots way more than the military. Every agency I served with shot considerably more than the military, excluding specialized units, sich as SF, Ranger, SEALS, SRT, PSD, etc. My range time, simply to qualify, at the police academy consisted of a week of live fire training, and a week of live fire qualification; the first week with some ball ammunition, and the second week with duty loads. Even as a patrol officer, I shot considerably more than I was able to in the military. Also, because mu gun went home with me, I could show up at the range and shoot for free on my own.

    • jose

      Exactly which sidearm are you referring to that “started life as a 10mm on a heavy frame and got downgraded to a .40′?

    • charles

      Vet Teacher

      True, however, a 40mm in a 10mm designed frame (Glock 20) is sweet and there is almost no recoil and the Glock 20 will last generations of owners firing the 40mm round through it.

  • gunluvr

    Well back to this old tired argument again, 45 vs 9mm. The 45 is a great round that’s preferred by the old timers still in the army and the 9mm is generally more accepted because of reduced recoil & broader availability within NATO thereby mitigating logistic concerns. I’d stick with the 9mm personally, only because I carried the Beretta from the beginning and it’s a very good and accurate gun.

  • jducharme

    “prefers” is the wrong word, they like chocolate but since the army only has peach flavor they eat peach flavor. this concept bleeds over into many many other aspects of govt life

  • neanderthal75

    Hey all,

    I’ve noticed that a BEVY of folks on here keep talking about ‘mag capacity’ as if it were the Holy Grail, making the comments it would seem, from within a Close Market mindset!

    What I mean by ‘Close Market’ is that from what I’ve read, far too many think the ‘quality pistol’ world begins and ends with 3 names: Glock, Beretta, and Sig.

    Newsflash folks: a couple little companies with a fairly superb historical reputation for producing quality firearms, by the names of Smith&Wesson, and Colt, just happen to make some fine semi-auto pistols in .45ACP, .40S&W, and yes, 9mm too!

    The point has been made by a couple people, who seem fairly knowledgeable in their remarks, that S&W in particular produces a hi-cap semi-auto in .40 S&W that was DESIGNED specifically for the caliber, and because of this fact, could easily handle the wear and tear from the .45ACP and certainly the 9mm!

    I’ll throw in a personal favorite of mine, subjective bias on my part fully acknowledged, the American made Para-Ord. 14-45, which is a Hi-Cap Double Stack mag design with 14 in the mag and one in the pipe, and you can find ammo from 165gr to 230gr (some specialty outfits go to 250gr I believe) right off the shelf.

    The second thing I’ve noticed amidst the hollerin’ about the ‘need for hi-cap’ is the ability to sling lead ‘downrange’, and this ‘need’ seems to cross over from the military field of endeavor, to the LEO environment.

    Newsflash again folks: do those folks touting the hi-cap need refuse to see the LACK of training in ACCURACY for both military and LEO’s?

    I’ve lost count of the times I’ve see HORRENDOUS ’rounds expended’ numbers when LEO are involved in shootings. The one in NY City comes to mind, where 11 Civilians were wounded, as TWO cops sought to drop an assailant!!!!

    I’m not Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp, Bill Cody, or Bill Hickock, when it comes to accuracy, but I also do not train to just sling lead downrange either; I do my best to make EVERY shot hit ‘center mass’, just like I was trained to do! Just because you HAVE more rounds in your mags, does NOT mean that every round has to be fired at the target as fast as possible.

    How about we discuss the issues at hand IN CONTEXT of the objective: putting down the target as efficiently as possible, THEN discuss what tool we want to use to get that accomplished.

    Just a thought people, just a thought.

    • DBM

      That cop shooting was the guy who shot and killed a co-worker at the empire state building. Two officers fired 15 rounds at the assailant at less than 30 feet. They missed twice, wounded 11 bystanders and hit him 2 times.

  • The Grunt

    You know what my favorite weapon is???? It’s the one currently in my hands no matter what it is?. “shot placement” from sling shot to .50cal and beyond!!!!!.

  • Scojen

    OK, people heres a thought how about trying a 38 super caliber pistol, more knock down than a 9mm, very accurate, check the ballistics, Give them a compensated pistol they will love it. I had many veterans and active personnel shoot mine in a comparison between the 45 acp and the 9mm. No contest 38 super hands down.

    • Don

      I shoot and reload in the 38 super. I have a Colt 1911 in 38 super. Ballistically the 38 super +p has it all over the 9mm and 45 acp. Shooting 115 gr bullets the recoil is far less than the 230 gr 45 acp. I have shot several thousands of rounds through my pistol without any signs of wear. It only holds 10+1 but i don’t see that as a disadvantage because I can shoot well. I was a small arms instructor for over 20 years in the military. I trained for many years with the 45 acp then for 14 years with the 9 mm. I can tell you this, you will never be able to train the majority to shoot well given the time and numbers of rounds dedicated per year.

      • David

        Don, the end of your commentary, as well as all of my posts says it all. Some of my historical perspective involves the 38 Super, in that it was considered by our agency when transitioning from .357 Magnum revolvers, which many smaller framed officers could simply not shoot. Scarcity of ammunition led to the choice of a 9mm pistol, even back then when .38 Super was somewhat more common. Bottom line though, as you noted, is you gotta hit what your shooting at, or it’s all for nothing.

  • Goshawk

    What about the Colt Commander 1911 in .38 super automatic caliber? Penetrates body armour and knockdown is on par with a .40 with a .355 diameter bullet. Weight and firepower issues solved in one easy compromise.

  • JimL

    The first issue is whether there is any significant tissue effect difference between 9mm FMJ and 45 ACP FMJ. The military shoots goats to measure these effects, so that can be done to generate objective data. The reality is FMJ bullets tend to ice-pick folks. Maybe the real solution is to use some of the Black Hills 556 77 grain bullet design features to enhance bullet effectiveness.

    The second issue is expectations. Some/many folks have seen Bad Guys blown across the room from a hit with a pistol round in hundreds of movies. Sadly, the laws of physics have not been repealed. The reality is humans are full of lumpy voids and require hits in vital areas to get a relatively quick kill.

    Thirdly, can some/many/most hit a moving target in a dynamic situation? Very few train to do this. Tests with experienced rifle shooters show they can’t hit moving targets well. The untrained shooter trying to hit a running target will usually miss then blame the gun.

    Fourth, issue pistol sights are pretty bad and useless in poor light. You can dramatically improve pH with red dot sights and/or lasers.

    Fifth, real world shooting requires shooting multiple times until the target is stopped. Ideally, we need ballistic targets that require multiple hits in key areas to go down.

    Until we look at the entire system performance (training, bullet, pistol design, sights, etc.) TOGETHER, then we’ll keep on calling folks names and just pretend we’re having a useful dialogue.

  • JT

    I spent 4 years in Group during the mid 2000s and never carried anything other than a 1911 in my holster. Other then qualifying during the Q Course I don’t remember ever even handling a 9mm pistol. My pistol was reliable every time that it was drawn and fired with 100% of the shots hitting their target when they needed to.

  • 27mike66

    In middle of firefight in nam m6c0 jammed, saw nva 40 ft. in front , fired 3 quick rounds at chest. He did complete forward flip. he was then shot in head. After fire fight, i looked at body. turns out i hit him once. right above his rt knee. MAN, I LOVE ME SOME 1911 A1

  • GunDude

    The baby desert eagle chambered for the show stopping .44 mag might be the way to go. Anything less than a .40 is a waste of time and money.

  • HerpinDerpin

    I like how most just take the word that .40 sucks and is detrimental caliber.

    So it took law enforcement 20 years to see the detrimental effects of .40 in poorly made firearms? That means .40 can never be used because some cheapo glocks have issue with it?

    Get real. Law Enforcement doesn’t get enough trigger time for that to actually occur and if it did they are using decade old weapons to begin with believing norm wear and tear wouldn’t exist if they stayed 9mm.

    military would be looking at a pistol that shoots armored piercing rounds because body armor is so common now days. Bare min soft body armor outright kills 9mm being an effective caliber for any use which is why all submachine guns in pistol calibers are a thing of the past.

  • Fred Freep

    The problem is not the recoil of a 1911 as we have trained 10 year old kids to shoot a full load 1911. The problem is the Beretta is a flimsy piece of crap, only capable in .22 LR. If your in a fight with pistols and need more than 10 rounds,which all 1911’s can use, is you probably shouldn’t carry a pistol at all. Jeff Cooper answered the LA police
    ,that had an officer shot in the street after emptying his revolver and was killed while reloading. was ” If he didn’t hit with the first 6, What makes you think the next 6 would do any better?”

  • Paul

    Any pistol caliber chosen should be remembered its not the primary weapon, that’s the rifle. I’ve heard the 9 vs 40 vs 45 debate for many years, it’s still practice, good hits and multiple holes that count. Any pistol is a pill dispenser to keep dosing until the job gets done. What is over looked is how fast can it clear leather and put rounds on the target, how many rifle mags am I giving up to have a back up. Lastly since most are stuck with NATO ball we might want to look at truncated tin core bullets to get the highest speed for the most splash.

    I hunt and am in law enforcement. The large handguns are for those who have time, aim, and already have the handgun out. Military/Law enforcement often doesn’t have that advantage.

    We have several good pistols in all those calibers, my choice would be the Glock 19 3rd gen. Not to be too dishonest the 3rd gen Glock 21sf is my chosen duty weapon, Glock 19 for off duty. Been that way for a few years and I own several handguns. Sig, H&k, Browning, CZ and several others also put out good pistols. I would not feel disadvantaged with any of them but practice, practice, practice the handgun is the hardest weapon to master.

  • slappy

    We tested the Glocks in the Marines in the mid 90’s guess what they failed in salt water!!!!! Build a gun out of steel instead of plastic and they will last. I had an original issue 1942 production 1911, in Iraq in 2008. It was reworked and guess what never failed me and the accuracy was through the roof . Unless it’s a head shot an insurgent jacked on Morphine, Adrenalin, or Amphetamines, will still fight you with multiple 9mm holes. A .45 tends be more efficient with less holes on human targets. This is based on first hand experience not guessing.

  • Jim T.

    No matter HOW clean my 45 is or the ammo I use, there is STILL a chance of a round hanging up on discharge, , ,

  • MikeB

    I’ve often wondered why the Springfield XDm pistols were never seriously considered for our Military.
    13 rd carrying capability in .45. Accessory mounting capability. Accurate, durable and reliable.

    I’ve shot alot of pistols in my life, and I honestly think the 4.5″ XDm in .45 is one of the best I’ve ever used.

    • jt

      I carried an XD45 Tactical for a while after I got out of the Army. I have to agree with you. Great Pistols!

  • 18Z5Ret

    I know of two guys that ever engaged targets with their pistols. One was using a .45 and the other a 9mm, guess what? Both worked fine to put down the target at close range. Fact is, except in tight quarters … usually if your transitioning to your pistol your main long gun is down, which means get out the way and let your brother take the shot!

  • Joe

    If it doesn’t start with .45 it isn’t a gun for me. A 1911 is just as accurate as an M9. It just depends on who is shooting it. Of course if you really want to get picky, the old Super ,38 tops them all.

  • Bringing_the_rain22

    After reading this article I’m wondering if the author knows what he’s talking about. First of all, we don’t like using 9mm, it’s what we are issued. My pistol round of choice is .45 ACP. Secondly, NATO mandates that is what we use and we seem to be the only country that follows NATO’s stupid ass rules. Third, a .40 is a great round but is not made to shoot on a 9mm frame. If you engineer it correctly it won’t have the wear like the author states.

    9mm is not the preferred round of choice for most of the service members, it’s what our government says we should use.

  • Tank

    Have owned and shot thousands of rounds of 45acp thru my colt Modified GC, and also my 9mm model 19…My training was combat tactical, competed in matches for several years using the 45. The Glock is easier to carry, holds more rounds, and is more effective for double taps, as the lower recoil allows for faster sight recovery. Both guns have been very reliable, however, the Glock did not require the extensive mods I had to make to the Colt to improve the accuracy and reliability. It cost me double the $ to own and shoot the Colt over the Glock, and the round performance of the 45acp doesn’t mean anything if you can’t hit the target. BTW, double tap is the taught method of tactical shooting regardless of the round. do the math.

  • Sedgwick

    This discussion can go on forever. My std pistol these days is the FNH FNX40 D/A-S/A great weapon and made in the USA. Prior Marine and deputy sheriff and have carried Glock, Beretta, S&W, Colt and Browning pistols and revolvers. Nothing better at close range than the old Winchester model 1897 shotgun. Rack a round at night and eyes show the white.

  • Andylit

    Yeah, right. See how much the SOF guys love the 9mm if you take their JHP away. FMJ 9mm is not very effective in stopping your opponent unless you get a major organ hit or some head shots.

    • Mike in Fort Worth

      The same can be said for .45 ACP FMJ. Despite anecdotes about people “flipping head over heels” from one hit of .45 the fact is that FMJ in a pistol round regardless of caliber is less than ideal. Pistols poke holes in people, they don’t knock them down. Rifles and shotgun rounds macerate tissue and can do much more damage which is why they are primary weapons and pistols are not.

      • Andylit

        Uhhhhh….not so much. Substantially more bullet weight, mush lower velocity and substantially more power at impact all make the .45ACP FMJ a much more desirable pistol round than the 9mm FMJ.

        The debate here is about a PISTOL, not a rifle, nor a shotgun. I made no mention of weird properties attributed to the .45.

        My point, which you completely ignored, is that the SOF guys who supposedly love their 9mm love it because they are carrying illegal ammo most of the time. Illegal on the battlefield, common sense anywhere else. Those boys do NOT carry ball ammo in the field, and anyone who believes they do likely has a few bridge deeds as well.

  • David

    So many have, incorrectly, come to believe (from TV and movies), that people just fall down if hit anywhere with a .45 caliber, I can assure you that is not the case. Accuracy – shot placement is all that will bring an adversary down. Bigger is only better if you hit your target. Though I have not tested this premise, I suspect that a baseball or tennis ball, when both are shot at a very high velocity, would have appreciably the same effect on the target. If you hit it center mass and, ideally in a vital area, it will be killed/damaged badly. If, however, you just wing the target, because you did not aim well, then you may find the damage is negligible. Civil War battlefield history seems to suggest that wounding someone might remove the adversary from the battlefield, but it might not be immediate, unless hit center mass, where most of the vital organs are located. Historically too, the wounds produced by firearms of that era were quite devastating too. I guarantee that, generally speaking, a .22 caliber is better than a .45 caliber, so long as my shooting is on target (headshots would be the exception, if any distance is involved). If you can’t hit your aggressor, then a 40mm pistol isn’t going to be of any use. Also, as I said previously, if you expect your assailant to drop or spin around, simply because you shot a .45 caliber round his general direction, then you’re gonna be greatly surprised. If not hit in a vital area, your assailant is certain to continue their attack, if they possess the ability to do so. I have almost always been issued a 9mm, and it has saved my life. Choice isn’t really an option for most military and LEO personnel, so you better get proficient with whatever you have, and quit worrying about caliber. I know I can shoot well at a paper target, a Hogan’s Alley, and I have shot well at assailants. I’m here. They’re not. It’s because of shot placement, not caliber, and that came by way of training, training, and training. Training led to proficiency. I WILL put rounds ON target, and I WILL survive any future shooting engagements. Anything else is a waste of your time, as well as that of your brother’s in arms, even if you have a double stack .45 caliber 1911.

  • John

    Good Lord. Why does it matter what SOF is using, in regards to picking a new issue sidearm? SOF is going to use whatever they want/need to in order to perform their mission; whether it’s a 7.62mm, 9mm, Glock, Beretta, or zip gun. It has no bearing on what the Regular Army uses.

    FWIW, the .40 runs almost the same pressure as 9mm, so how it’s “wearing out” guns faster is beyond me.

  • Tom

    A 9mm in a carbine is fine….longer bbl means more velocity. Why not 45 carbines too? Make both CQB weapons in 45. They are available. Long range M4 is good as is.
    Breakdown issues? Only if weapons are not properly designed and manufactured. Americans can build guns that do not break. Ask any cop on the street. Old guns are everywhere.
    We still shoot pistols from the 1930s. Remember, powder has changed and the Military can demand a proper load for it’s weapons to enhance it’s reliability, accuracy and knock down.
    HP does not trade off when a miss feed can get you killed…….hardball ammo all the way!

  • Sly

    In the end you use your pistol to fight your way to your rifle. The best round is the one you can put on target consistently.

  • merlin40

    “I don’t always shoot….but when I do, I shoot .40” Let’s be rational for a moment. (is that possible?) It’s a proven fact, (Google it) that when loaded with the right ammo, a .40 very closely hits and expands like a .45. And Sig has been making reliable handguns that would fit the bill. ***REALITY CHECK*** How many combat soldiers are ever going to use their sidearm enough to wear it out? The M4 is used to clear a house. Sidearms would be a last-ditch “save-my-life” option. I know what I’d carry, if they gave me the option. A Sig in .40 carries 12+1. Hornady 135 grain Critical Duty is plenty of penatration

  • Wayne

    In my opinion handguns are weak. I carried both 45 and 9mm in the military as a secondary. I carry 45 acp (bonded) in law enforcement along with my long gun. This is not because I feel the 45 is a wonder round. I once had to shoot through a vehicle to get at the bad guy and the 45 still had enough juice to get deep into the bad guy, which stopped him quickly. That being said, on another incident I once center punched a bad guy with a 45 and he ran for several miles before we got him. I once shot a bad guy several times center mass with a 40 and he yelled at me before he sat down. So again the 40 plus round is not the man stopper it simply retains weight better on barriers in my experience.

    Humans are the most dangerous animals and I try and grab a long gun if its looking like it’s about to go South. In Iraq we never worried about carrying 9mm for our secondary because we all had long guns (and bigger) along with radios to get even bigger guns into play. That being said in the LE context I prefer the 45 acp as my handgun simply because with a bonded bullet it retains weight to get through the sometimes encountered barriers that bad guys use and its a low pressure round which is easier on parts wear.

    On a side note watch a match such as a 3 gun, DMG or IDPA match and watch the guys shoot a stage with plates. I guarantee you will see the guys shooting plates with 9mm will sometimes have to service the plate with 2 or maybe 3 rounds to get it to drop. I seldom see that with a 40 and above round. It flat drops. Just something to consider..

  • James

    How is it relevant to anyone what caliber the military uses for their handguns? How often would anyone in the military use a handgun in combat? That’s what rifles and sub-machine guns are for. They might as well carry a .22, since they are not likely to use a handgun in a life-or-death situation.

    Handgun caliber and stopping power are only important to police and civilians.

    • JT

      They are used more offer then you might think. I had to use mine along with at least two other guys on my Team to clear a few small homes where maneuvering with an M4 was nearly impossible. I would have preferred an MP5SD for the rate of fire but my 1911 preformed admirably and got me home.

  • Old crew served

    I’m and old guy, ex grunt from the 50’s and I learned to shoot one handed with the M1911A1. I fired expert with it the first time I took it to the range. I did it with self training. Every day when we returned from the field I’d field strip it in the barracks and then dry fire it for approximately 30 minutes before I returned it to the arms room. I worked constantly on trigger squeeze and maintaining my sight picture.

    I was constantly inundated with comments about how worthless the .45 was and how I’d be better just throwing it at an opponent, it kicked like a mule and was just a miserable lump of iron. I was apprehensive about the recoil, so much so that the first table I fired I flinched every time I fired. I soon learned that it didn’t really kick much worse than a .22, what it did was twist and as soon as I figured that out and worked on reacquisition of the target things really improved. I had fired so poorly on my first few targets that my score was not exceptional but after the first qualification had been fired (I qualified as First class) I went to the range officer and asked if I might draw another ration of ammunition and try again. He granted permission and after firing that ration I had qualified as expert.

    I am of the idea that the only reason for carrying a sidearm is to take out an enemy. If you use a light weight like a 9mm you may or may not succeed but if you hit someone with a .45 you’re going to take him off his pace. No question!! So why fiddle with a marginal round. In the years since, I like to fire on a 100 yard range. If you can hit there (and its pretty difficult) you can sure enough hit at 35 or 40 yards and be absolutely deadly at 15-20.

    By the way, what parts are you going to wear out early? It seems to me that the barrel bushing and maybe the barrel and/or extractor are about all that are going to get enough wear to become unserviceable. So 90% of your repairs are probably going to be one of the three. I don’t believe the replacement of those three items are going to be prohibitively expensive or difficult to stock.

  • Snuffy

    I love all the tacticool mall ninja comments about how cool their custom 1911’s are with their .45 and the typical 9mm is worthless rants. Unfortunately, they didnt read the article which pretty much said that A. SOF uses 9mm because “spoiler alert” the military is inefficient and it is a pain in the ass to get .45 ammo, and B. its not worth the bs of trying to get a new caliber and handgun with their current weapons do the job. Nobody cares about how tactical your 1911 is or what you think they should use. Its just like the 6.8 argument for rifle caliber. It sounds really cool, but it will never happen. Big changes for big armies are slow, painful, inefficient, and many times do more harm than good

    • Ben Joseph

      “the military is inefficient and it is a pain in the ass to get .45 ammo”

      Kind of a dumb thing to say given that the Army doesn’t use .45 ammo. OF COURSE IT IS A PAIN TO GET IF THAT IS THE CASE!

      “its not worth the bs of trying to get a new caliber and handgun with their current weapons do the job.”

      The Army is soliciting a contract for a new pistol. It would be foolish not to consider a new cartridge with better performance characteristics using ball ammo since we’re starting from square one.

      • jt

        The Army does have 45 ammo available for Special Operations personnel. I know that for a fact! I carried a 1911 for 4 years and in 3 separate operations and always had 45 ammo at my disposal. As a Senior 18c, it was my job to requisition our ammo and never had trouble getting it. We even carried 6.8spc for a while and had it stockpiled for operations.

  • Mark

    Pistols are primarily back up. You can use them as the elite forces do, for combat ops, but your average Joe, Marine, et. al. doesn’t get or take the range time learn how to fire them effectively. Small unit purchases of specialty weapons is much more affordable and effective for the unit involved.
    Another point of common ammo weapons is just that – your ammo fits mine. If your wingman goes down, you at least have his ammo, and vice versa. And if you get to that point where you are down to handgun ammo, you are in pretty deep kimchi anyway.
    Ball vs. Hollow point? Dead is dead, a double to the heart = a single to the head. Learn how to shoot. No one gets 10 to 20 seconds to line up a pistol shot.
    As for hollow point in theater: I didn’t know forensics combed the battlefield afterwards. Did the back of the bad-dudes head get blown out by a 7.62 or a .45 hollow point? And who fired it? Geneva and Hague won’t save you from getting your head chopped off by a machette.

  • Steve

    I took an active shooter course from an ex Israeli special forces guy a few years ago. They do probably as much pistol work as anybody and he said they still prefer the 9mm. Of course they train a lot even at longer ranges. My agency is using a Glock 22 in .40 and they do have problems even with the limited amount of rounds we have through them. One frame broke on the range last month. We are converting to the Glock in .45 soon. This gun was originally designed to shoot that cartridge. In reality though I am old fashioned. I still prefer a metal gun over a plastic one……

  • David

    The only pertinent point made in this article is the quote that “Most MARSOC operators, however, are not carrying their nifty new .45s because units are having a problem getting .45-caliber ammo in theater for some reason, sources maintain.” Whether 9mm is or is not the “choice” of SOF is immaterial if they cannot resupply in theater with any other cartridge (which, I suspect, is highly likely. As such, the conclusion, based on the title that there exists any “preference” is misplaced, at best.

    • Leggy Fishnet Jill

      David is correct. Logistics not choice……Piss Ants SOF wannabes

  • Grunt

    .45 cause shooting some pos twice is jut silly.

    • Leggy Fishnet Jill

      how original and a stolen quote!

  • Leggy Fishnet Jill

    Ok, “experts” would any of you arm chair generals and SOF wannbes care to take a 9mm round to your thick skulls? No? Didn’t think so….”experts.” HA! This Goth Gal is LOL at you.

  • scott

    Any caliber is better than none. 9mm carries more bullets ,less recoil ,faster follow ups.If you can shoot your 40 just as good,then great.