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Gunsmiths at the Quantico Weapons Training Battalion Precision Weapons Section hand built them from old 1911s that had been replaced by the M9 in the mid-1980s.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 has been a defense reporter since 1998 and is an associate editor for He traveled to Afghanistan and Iraq numerous times from 2002 to 2008, covering infantry units in combat. Matthew was an infantryman in the 82nd Airborne Division.

74 Comments on "SOF Prefers 9mm over .45 Caliber"

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

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

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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….

  8. 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.

  9. 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

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

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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

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

  15. 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……

  16. 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

  17. William_C1 | July 10, 2014 at 5:48 pm |

    .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?

  18. 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.

  19. 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

  20. Love the M9A1

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

  22. Leggy Fishnet Jill | July 11, 2014 at 7:06 am |

    Lots of "experts" blah, blah, blah!

  23. 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.

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

  25. bloke_from_ohio | July 11, 2014 at 11:11 am |

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

  26. Sgt Hard as Nails USMC | July 12, 2014 at 2:29 am |

    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.

  27. 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.

  28. 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……

  29. ldwalaska13 | July 13, 2014 at 4:48 pm |

    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 . . .

  30. 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

  31. 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.

  32. 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!!

  33. 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.

  34. 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:

  35. 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.

  36. 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.

  37. VET TEACHER | July 14, 2014 at 2:55 pm |

    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.

  38. 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.

  39. "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

  40. neanderthal75 | July 14, 2014 at 6:31 pm |

    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.

  41. 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!!!!!.

  42. 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.

  43. 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.

  44. 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.

  45. 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.

  46. 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

  47. 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.

  48. HerpinDerpin | July 16, 2014 at 3:25 am |

    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.

  49. Fred Freep | July 16, 2014 at 9:27 pm |

    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?"

  50. 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.

  51. 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.

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

  53. 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.

  54. 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!

  55. 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.

  56. Bringing_the_rain22 | July 17, 2014 at 10:01 am |

    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.

  57. 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.

  58. 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.

  59. 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.

  60. 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.

  61. 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.

  62. 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!

  63. 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.

  64. "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

  65. 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..

  66. 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.

  67. Old crew served | July 20, 2014 at 1:02 pm |

    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.

  68. 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

  69. 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.

  70. 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……

  71. 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.

  72. .45 cause shooting some pos twice is jut silly.

  73. Leggy Fishnet Jill | August 11, 2014 at 5:42 pm |

    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.

  74. 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.

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