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Newest Kool-Aid Drinker: The US Army

Seems they’re once again setting gun nut rumors ablaze with talk of switching sidearms. There’s a list. And this, I tend to agree with:

“It’s kind of hard to beat the Smith and Wesson M&P right now,” said one industry insider from a competing company, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “It is a polymer gun with high-capacity steel magazines. It has a positive safety and ambidextrous controls … they simply came out of the gate with the right gun.”

33 Responses to “Newest Kool-Aid Drinker: The US Army”

  1. Cargosquid Says:


    No Kel-tecs?

  2. SD3 Says:

    You know, the M9 is no panacea, but I seriously doubt they’re going to find an overall better ‘fit’ for less money. And let’s not forget, they can’t just buy sidearms for the 6’2″/220lb soldier. It also has to work for the 5’1″, left-handed, female MP.

    All those “limitations identified are B.S. Either basic failures to train or basic failures to maintain. 5k rounds is not the end of service life for the M9.

    People who think they’re going to fight a war with a handgun might as well just lay down and die. Sidearms should only come into play when some aspect of “the plan” has gone horribly, horribly wrong.

  3. Bram Says:

    I roll my eyes every time I see a heated debate over military pistols on the internet. Nobody in the infantry cares. A pistol – any make or model – is damn near worthless on a battlefield. It’s a paperweight.

  4. HL Says:

    Still no love for the Machete Slingshot…

    Unless they are going to a new caliber, I don’t see why they should bother changing sidearms. The M9 holds 17 rounds now of 9mm. Yeah it is big, but it is a duty pistol. Who cares?

    They should use the money they would spend on a new pistol to buy another Commanche Helo instead, or develope some new Mecha.

  5. Bubblehead Les Says:

    Forget it. DOD doesn’t have money to feed the Berettas they have now, nor Deploy Carriers, Air Wings, Armor, etc. Hell, they’re doing even MORE Lay Offs.

  6. Boyd Says:

    That article is from 2011.

  7. Geodkyt Says:

    SD3 — they aren’t claiming that a Beretta wears out in 5K (although the report seems to think so). The milspec MINIMUM service life is only 5,000 rounds. The Army wants the next milspec minimum service life to be at least 25,000 rounds, which the current M9 isn’t far off.

    There are other issues with the Beretta that have been apparant from Day One — namely, a small bullet and a large grip.

    The Beretta is also simply too large for many people with smaller hands to learn to use WELL with the minimal training that the military has time to devote on handgun training. That’s why, in addition to its issue as a concealable pistol to plainsclothes CID agents and such, the M11 (Sig P228) is also issued to some female servicemembers (when M11s are available).

    Since Big Green cannot use JHP or frangible ammo in most combat roles, 9x19mm ball is ALREADY plenty powerful enough to hit the desired penetration levels, and NO handgun round is going to go fast enough to cause “hydrostatic shock” or other wound multipliers that kick in with really fast rifle rounds, the ONLY way to increase lethality is to increase the caliber. .45ACP is nice, but .40S&W isn’t much smaller, yet can put a lot of rounds in a reasonably sized magazine.

    I do love the “industry insider” who insists that the Sig P229 is unlikely, because it doesn’t have an external safety. Despite the fact that the M11 is pretty much the SAME DAMNED GUN with a different slide, and the rate of NDs is actually lower. (And the M11’s rate of “failure to fire” due to inadvertently flipping the safety on when racking the slide is zero, in huge contrast to the M9).

    Nevertheless, I suspect the new winner will be a Plastic Fantastic, with the M&P having a huge lead because it is American made, is available with an external frame-mounted safety, and is currently the “noo hawtness” with police agencies.

  8. Adam Says:

    I’m a 5’7″ male and can’t shoot the 92FS worth beans. Grip is too large and awkward. I can shoot the 229 and the FN series of guns, the pro-9, with little problem. Ditto for the M&P 9 with the medium or small back strap installed. Best of all can I shoot the 1911, but I’m not even going into that debate. If my medium sized hands have issues with the M9, then a smaller framed woman would be SOL.

    For all of you macho “handguns are paperweights” type guys, there are a lot of units in the military that go into hostile territory with sidearms, specifically the Army has a unit of electrical linemen that are issued 1 rifle and 3 sidearms per 1 bucket truck of 3 soldiers. I think they would care an awful lot about what hand gun they are issued! It’s not all about light infantry.

  9. comatus Says:

    When the Finns invented biathlon, it was called “Military Patrol” and had a squad of rifle-armed skiers and an officer — who had to shoot a pistol.

    And everybody knows what a bunch of paperweighted pansies the Finns are amirite.

    If the Olympics had a lasting relationship with the real world, there’d be a sport of Electrical Lineman by now.

  10. Spade Says:

    Never understood the “too big” argument.

    I’ve 6’1″, 170 lbs. I CCW a 92FS in a CTAC with no problems.

    Seriously, stick it next to a G17.

  11. Huck Says:

    Anyone who thinks that a handgun is a “paperweight” to a combat trooper needs to talk with combat vets, you’ll learn different. As a example my late Dad, who served in the SW Pacific during WWII (11th AB division) carried a M1911A1 everywhere he went and said that everyone else who could get their hands on a handgun did so too.

    As he put it; “In close quarters fighting it’s easier to draw and shoot a pistol than it is to reload a rifle or SMG.”

    I could add similar comments from a Uncle who served in the Korean War, a Cousin who served in Vietnam, and a Nephew who served in Iraq but I think that I’ve made my point. No combat vet is going to turn down some backup firepower.

  12. Matthew Carberry Says:


    Too big is referring to the gun being bigger than it needs to be to hold the same number of rounds and have the same or better endurance and shootability. Why have metal you don’t need?

    Aside from that, the grip diameter and trigger reach suck on the M9 for even people like me, 6’2″, 200 but with short fingers.

    The goal of efficient design is nothing wasted, any dimension larger than the bare minimum given the material properties is waste. Folks with big hands can add bigger grips, folks with small hands can’t remove frame material.

  13. mikee Says:

    Any legitimate sources out there suggesting the sidearm is being replaced by the combat tomahawk or khukri?

    (Just trying to start an interesting rumor here, folks!)

  14. Mike M. Says:

    No, we’re going to issue swords.

    Seriously, part of the question is whether or not you need a high-cap magazine in a sidearm. There’s a strong argument that compactness is worth more.

  15. Adam Says:

    I think you can retain capacity and make it friendly to those of us with small or medium sized hands. The removable backstraps in the S&W and the FNP series of handguns go a long way in doing this. My FNP Pro 9 holds 16 in the magazine too.

  16. HardCorp Says:

    The Barretta is a total piece of shit, what moron would design a handgun to engage the safety when racking the slide. No wonder the actual warfighters, the Marines, are expanding their 1911 contracts.

  17. Ted N Says:

    “The removable backstraps in the S&W and the FNP series of handguns go a long way in doing this.”

    Knowing they Army, they’ll make changing the backstraps a Depot level task. CSM says, “You get your non-standard bullshit out of here!”

    Hell, we were forced to pull the lasergrips we got off our M9’s, because…just because.

  18. comatus Says:

    Beretta has to go. Too hard to spell.

  19. Charlie Don't Surf Says:

    Anyone notice that this article is from 2011?

  20. Skeptical_Realist Says:

    Link is to the wrong article (two years old), as others have noticed.

    Here is the link to the article that ran in the July 2013 Army Times:

  21. cspradlin Says:

    My experiences while deployed were that only the POGest officers got sidearms, because god forbid they have to carry a rifle with them from their tent to the chow-tent then to their office.

    Not the guys living two tents over who spent more time OUTside the wire then in the tent they “lived” in.

    Great scott, it was a personal favor from the armorer to get me an actual M4 rather than an M16! It was supposed to go to a new LT who was going to work in an office.

  22. Paul Says:

    I vote they get the Ruger LC9 for their standard issue and then let all GIs who are authorized to carry a sidearm be allowed to by their own 9mm, be it SIG, Beretta, HK, Ruger, S&W, etc…. if so desired.

    It would save money for everyone. Both DOD and tax payers.

    Just make a new rule, any AD/ND will result in discharge that is less than honorable. I bet THAT lowers the AD/ND rate.

  23. Beaumont Says:

    Any military member who wants a sidearm should be able to provide their own, along with ammo, mags, holsters and accessories. Thus, no supply chain needed for pistols. I would favor having them qualify with the gun of their choice.

  24. Bram Says:

    I was a radio operator in the Marines in ’90. They transferred me from a regimental headquarters to a battalion being deployed. When I got to the battalion, the Armorer tried to issue me an M9. I slide pistol back through the hole in the door and requested an M14. Turns out the old Vietnam Vets had already grabbed all the 14’s and I had to settle for an M16. I wasn’t leaving the armory with a pistol.

    During Desert Storm, we came across an MP Company guarding hundreds of prisoners. They had decided the .45 was better and were all carrying Colts. Out of earshot of the prisoners, they admitted that they didn’t have a single round of ammo. None had been shipped over. We gave them some AK47 we had picked up in case they really got into trouble.

    The Saudi Army had the right idea – officers and senior NCO’s in combat units were issued MP5’s.

  25. Stretch Says:

    Again with the pistol competition?
    The Marines have the right answer; the 1911A1 upgraded with rails.
    Want to stay with the 9mm? The Hi-Power is made by a USG contractor.
    Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go clean my .30-06.
    And stay off my lawn!!

  26. .22lr Says:

    “They had decided the .45 was better and were all carrying Colts. Out of earshot of the prisoners, they admitted that they didnt have a single round of ammo.”

    How the hell does no ammunition make the .45 better?

    “Just make a new rule, any AD/ND will result in discharge that is less than honorable. I bet THAT lowers the AD/ND rate.”

    Because all of the negligent discharges were by choice / lack of punishment? Lack of training has nothing to do with it?

    I love my 1911, but it requires *COMPETENT* maintenance. The M&P / GLOCK / other modern pistol requires a parts swapper, not a quality gunsmith.

    “No, were going to issue swords.”

    So long as we go with the last issued Calvary sword, none of this katana or broadsword foolishness. (Please let this turn into a full blown caliber war!)

  27. Bram Says:

    .22lr – To be fair, this was the first real war since Vietnam, so nobody really knew what to expect. We flew to Saudi Arabia with no ammo, then were issued what came off the cargo ships. Apparently .45 wasn’t coming off those ships.

  28. .22lr Says:

    I think I came off worse than I intended.

    Logistics are more important than caliber in many ways. Having ample supplies of the so-so solution beats running out of the “better” option.

    Logistics are the same reason I think the 1911 isn’t the best option for department or larger issue. The Beretta M9 is heavier and bulkier than makes sense. But since we are hearing chatter about RIF in fy14; I don’t think we have to worry about what pistol to switch to (utter lack of funds)

  29. comatus Says:

    Was that “Calvary” sword forged by “Barretta”?

  30. Geodkyt Says:

    Upcoming RIF will have very little to do with acquisition of a new sidearm, actually.

    1. Different pots of money.

    2. TCO numbers favor replacement rather than maintaining current inventory.

    3. In the overall picture, the cost of entirely replacing every single DoD owns is still smaller than even a small RIF.

  31. Geodkyt Says:

    “Every single pistol DoD owns”

  32. HL Says:


    Barretta was Longinus’ middle name.

  33. Patrick Says:

    This will go nowhere.

    The Army plays this game where they want something from the incumbent and as part of that negotiation they threaten to get a “new gun”.

    The incumbent then gets serious about making stuff work better/providing more spares/lowering cost/whatever and then the Army cancels the competition before it reaches final phase. Typically because the logistics are too tough or some such.

    They have done this multiple times and there is little doubt they will do it again here.

    So put away the caliber arguments and the magazine size concerns or whatever we like to argue about. Because this is nothing more than a feint by the Army that will go nowhere. They have done it too many times and at great expense to all involved (I have a friend who runs a firm that was one of the final competitors in the last go-around and the treatment all the competitors got was less than spectacular).

Remember, I do this to entertain me, not you.

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