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Discussion Starter #1
Personally, I would like to hear comments from actual, uh, "servicepeople" who have been been issued/used/handled/maintained BOTH M1911A1s and M9s in the service. The general concensus so far is that the M9 is a wimpy girlie gun purchased only to acquire Italian real estate for Cruise Missles.

Putting the subject of the military's actual need for issue handguns aside, who here actually has real-world experience with the M9 in military service? Pro or con?
 

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I am no defender of the M9 for a myriad of reasons. However to say that the M9 is more susceptible to desert dust is disingenuous. I had to take care of 100 pistols during Desert Shield/Desert Storm of which half are M9s and half are M1911s. After a mild sand storms, the M1911s are rendered inoperable. You pull the trigger and watch the hammer does the slow motion forward movement. Not only that but the M9 can be easily field stripped (as long as you don't take off the grips and lose the doohickey U-spring on the right side) and cleaned.

As far as slides cracking on the M9, if you use proof loads repeatedly in the M1911, I'll bet something'll crack or break as well. Abuse your weapon beyond its design is asking for trouble.

And the puny-ness of 9mm, well, can't argue with that. But then for a soldier who is usually armed with something that has ballistic of greater than 1200-lbft, I tend to view the .45 as rather an anemic round as well.

But let's address Col. Colt's concerns with the use of the pistols by non-direct combat personnel.

Guard duty - chances are the soldiers are guarding something important. Oh, sure, let's arm them with handguns.

Staff officers - they don't partake in direct combat anyway, so the pistol is just a badge of authority and to satisfy the requirement that all soldiers should be armed. In this case, it matters not one wit if they are armed with a Colt SAA or a single-shot flintlock pistol.

Support personnel - when these soldiers do work that require two hands, they usually stack arms nearby, not to mention having sentries posted. But let's say that they get jumped by commandos, would it be a) easier to grab your rifle, flick on the safety and go at it. Or b) try to fumble the pistol from your nicely secured military holster?

Also, the standard doctrine is for commandos to attack rear echelons. Everybody and their brothers know about this tactic. It doesn't lend itself only to US military doctrine.

So, as a support soldier (mechanic, cook, whatever) would you rather face enemy commandos hell bent for leather with a puny handgun, or would you rather make a grab for your rifle/carbine?
 

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Although I have no direct contact with the M9, a shooting buddy told me his Desert Storm-vet son carried extra mag springs, and changed them frequently - kind of an unusual "maintenance" task. As for firing proof loads in a 1911; during the first "saturday night special" hoo-ha in the late '60's, some agency or interest group tried to come up with quality standards for handguns. Part of the test was firing something like 1,000 rounds through two guns of each type, one getting a proof round every ten rounds, and the other getting a proof round every 100. There were about a half-dozen guns in the test, and I can honestly remember only the Colt Gov't Model, Browning Hi-Power and a Smith .357 (K or N? Don't recall). After the test, only the two Colts, and one of the Brownings, was still in working condition. In the 1980's, there were M1911A1's in the inventory with literally hundreds of thousands of rounds through them. They had probably been rebuilt numerous times, but they were still ticking. The expected service life of the M9, according to Beretta spokespeople, is 5000 rounds. Was the gun designed to go 5000, or was it later discovered that that is all it could handle? The Italians don't exactly have a glorious military history to draw upon in their gun designing.
 

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Having repaired both pistols while in the army, I can say that the M9 is a fragile piece of junk. The ambidexterous safety has tiny detents and springs more fit for a wristwatch than a military-issue handgun. It's clumsy to dissassemble and the parts were not of the good quality I was accustomed to with M1911 repair parts.

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Those that beat their swords into plowshares will plow for those that don't
 

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I've shot the M-9 both while in the Marine Corps and while in the Air Force. The first time I shot the M-9 I had the rear sight fall off into the dirt when I released the slide to chamber a round. (That would explain why I had to aim 8-10" right of center mass for a hit...) HOWEVER, the armorer gave me his and I proceeded to shoot expert with it after never having fired one previously in my life.

Fast forward to the USAF. I qualified with one during training and I was the high shooter on the range that day, despite the fact that it was the second time I'd ever fired one.

Here's the interesting part: In the Marines, we had to keep the weapon on safe at all times unless engaging the target. In the Air Force, they had us keep the weapon off safe even when holstered. I kind of question that now but I may be missing a detail or two... At any rate, the NCO in charge of the range said that the Beretta is safer with a round in the chamber, safety OFF than a .45 on safe with an empty shell casing in the chamber.

My opinion: It is an extremely accurate, safe pistol. As to the reliability/durability issue, you could make the same argument about any weapon out there. As technology increases, so does complexity. I would bet my life on my M-16A2, and with the right training on maintenance and care I'd bet my life on the M-9. (I'm also buying one of each civilian version, which should say a lot.) Of course, as an aircrew member we joke about being issued a pistol, but it does have a big psychological boost I guess!
 

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In my opinion, a range officer who makes a statement like "...a Beretta is safer with a round in the chamber and the safety off than a M1911A1 with an empty chamber..." has an empty chamber in his head.

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Those that beat their swords into plowshares will plow for those that don't
 

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After spending 12 years in the Army serving in both airborne and leg units. I have used both the 1911A1 and the M9. The M9 in my opinion is a more than adequate service pistol. The only drawback that I personnally have with it is the oversize grip and of course the 9mm round. I have never had a failure with the M9. However I was trained in proper maintenance of it upon issue. The M9's that my unit had at Ft. Bragg were some of the first issued. They looked like hell finish wise but functioned perfectly. We even had a couple of them that almost looked stainless!! Still if I had to go to combat today I would prefer the 1911.

Tom Fuller
Washington, IN
B/3-505 PIR
 

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Ok, here's my 2 cents worth. I entered the Army in 1966 and was trained on and issued a .45 1911A1. In 1979 I joined the Air National Guard and was issued/carried the M15 .38 Spec revolver until approximatly 1989 when I was switched to the 9mm M9. Now if we are talking military round nose hardball ammo only I personnaly believe that there is NO measurable differance in effectiveness between the 3 rds as a solid hit is a soild hit and a miss is a miss etc. All 3 rds will usually penetrate the body completely.

The 1911A1 is capable of being stripped of all parts using no tools other than parts of the gun while the M9 & M15 need special screwdrivers and punches. That being said I also remember cleaning all 3 different guns by doing nothing more than field stripping them and dunking them in a bucket of gas or diesel fuel.

The M9 is physically bigger than the 1911A1 and takes more springs to make it work (17 if I remember right)while the revolver was more "delicate" than the other 2.

I carry an M9 every day at work, keep a locked and cocked .45 LW Commander at home and a M36 Chiefs Special in my briefcase. Do I feel undergunned by any of these? Nope, not on your (MY) life.

My only requirement for a weapon issued me by the military is to give me one that THEY can supply ammo for. I don't expect to be able to go to the local K-Mart and get ammo 'cause I want to carry something that's non-standard!

The average American GI is so overloaded with gear now that the idea of carrying pistol & ammo for it as a backup is laughable. Certain jobs in the military make issuing a handgun a necessity but every orginization that I have been assigned to had a rifle in the armory for everyone except the machinegunner.

I tried to keep this short but you asked.
 

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A few things: First, you won't find ANY handgun ammo at K-Mart because they caved to the antis and don't carry it anymore. Second, dunking ANY firearm in a bucket of gas or diesel fuel is not an acceptable cleaning method. When I was repairing weapons for Mother Green, we usually issued statements of charges to guys who used such methods (particularly those who used carburetor cleaner.) In other words, they got to buy a weapon they couldn't keep. Or they got an Article 15. Those are unauthorized cleaning fluids. Yes, it happens. I heard about it all the time and I saw it all the time. But the regs clearly state that only approved cleaners may be used. Lastly, yes the military issues a lot of worthless crap. It is said that during WW2, the quartermasters would follow the infantry and pick up all the discarded gear to re-issue later. But, there is a significant difference between a weapon that might save your life and a mess kit, which is a liability not only in size and weight, but also in the noise it makes (as well as the fact that MRE's don't need a dinner set to be served in.) Nor may one hold most of the rest the of the useless issued crap known as "TA-50" in the same light as an extra weapon or extra ammo. Handguns were not universally issued to infantry, nor are they issued now. But if urban warfare is going to be part of the scenario as the army claims it's going to be, we better start looking at handgun issue along with carbines for such things.

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Just a note to add to the boil.

My job at a FedLEA provided the opportunity to work with DoD's RIA while we developed specs for testing a new pistol to be selected. I received full, serialized, copies of the tests conducted under the XM9 and XM10 selection programs.

My fondness for American handguns lead me to be surprised to read that Colt didn't bother to compete and that Beretta performed so well that it made me wonder what I had been missing.

I don't have those papers anymore, but I can assure anybody who cares, that the Beretta was tested and tested, and retested, and beat the cra out of everything else in the tests.

FYI, there WAS a lot of consternation abou the results of the testing conducted under the original XM9 protocol. The DoD then gave everybody a second chance and conducted the XM10 tests. The Beretta outclassed all other entrants a second time. The decision was made to simply keep the M9 designation for the original award. The pistols submitted by Beretta for the XM9 and XM10 tests were identical.

My agency later adopted a Beretta 96D Brigadier in 40 S&W. That pistol, like the M9, outperformed all comers, including a few that simply broke.

There is nothing wrong with a Beretta pistol. When you figure that they are they oldest firearms manufacturer in the world, with about 475 years of continuous family-owned production expertise, all other gun makers pale in comparison.

With regard to the problems suffered with early M9 slide crackings -- look more at the DoD specs than at the pistol. DoD insisted that slides and barrels were to be replaced at 5000 rounds (that spec carried over from the M1911A1) and most of the failures occurred in pistols that had been left in service long beyond the original life expectantcy. My agency set a spec of 10,000 rounds and kept a book on each pistol. At 10,000 rounds a pistol is pulled. The post-use inspection of these pistols reveals very few cracks or breaks and virtually no safety faults.

Regards to a good group,

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MDCalvert
Oak Ridge, TN
 

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Ex Security Police (law enforcement so pistol was primary issued weapon) here. Active duty ended just before transition to the M9 from the M-15. Issued and carried during reserve duty the M-9. Was suprised by how crappy they looked but it was easy to shoot. I have big hands and felt bad for anyone smaller than me. The Ball ammo we shot seemed to have plenty of power (compairing felt recoil to the +P .38 we had been shooting). I was thought a nut when I'd think out loud that as we were conducting LE operations that we should not be loaded with ball ammo.

I heard that there was a nut case shooting up a housing area at one of the bases with a rifle and our SP rode up on his mountian bike (foot patrol in my day.. they laughed when I suggested a bike.. ) and dropped the guy from a good distance away with his M-9.

I'd not feel undergunned with it. Issue pistol now is a .357 Sig and only that cause they won't let me carry a personal piece.

Tony G.
 

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I still prefer the 1911. I'm sure there are lots of pistols around that are very reliable (hell, I just sold a Tokarev that was a very reliable weapon) but for me there is just one---the 1911.

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Tony Gattuso wrote:

"I heard that there was a nut case shooting up a housing area at one of the bases with a rifle and our SP rode up on his mountian bike (foot patrol in my day.. they laughed when I suggested a bike.. ) and dropped the guy from a good distance away with his M-9"

This incident happened at Fairchild AFB, in Washington State in 1994. I was there assigned as a Security Policeman, but wasn't on duty at the time. Yes, it is true the SP was riding a bicycle on patrol, and did take the shot from quite a distance, 75 yards actually. With four shots he hit the baddie three times, once between the eyes. Hard to believe, yes! Especially if you ever saw this guy shoot on the range. But in the heat of the moment he did the best he could, in his eyes he simply did his job. In my eyes he walked away a hero.

Although the incident took it's toll on him, he was eventually discharged from the Air Force for what I suspect was mental problems. Everyone lauded him as a hero, and he would rather have sat in the shadows. I haven't talked to him in quite some time, but hear he is doing fine in the civilian world.
 

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To Kevan:

Why did you guys hand out GPLD's (Statement of Charges) to guys who used solvent, or carb cleaner? As an ex-armorer myself, I had no problems with it, and neither did any CO of any unit I was with. As long as the plastic parts were removed first, it helped the cleaning process along greatly. As a matter of fact, I rather preferred the method. Less scraping on the weapon meant less broken and unserviceable parts--especially inside bolts and bolt carriers.

In keeping with the original post, there's only one consideration for me. The 1911A1 has been carried through more conflicts, in all types of conditions, than any other handgun I know of. From the furnace blasts of the desert, to Arctic killing cold, the closest thing that even comes close to the 1911A1 in reliability is the Glock.

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"Be not afraid of any man, no matter what his size;

When trouble rises, call on me and I will equalize."
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Actually... the Glock is head and shoulders above the rest. You can quite literally freeze one in a block of ice, then bust the ice off and it'll work. Ice doesn't stick to the plastic as well as steel. That the 1911 is probably in second place speaks well for the old design, but if I were Secretary of Defense and had authority to select a new Service Pistol to replace the M9 I would probably choose the Glock 19. The new "M19 US Army" would have steel sights, alloy guide rod, and the "New York trigger" module though.

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D. Kamm
USGI M1911/M1911A1 Pistols Website
http://www.geocities.com/M1911_M1911A1
 

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Discussion Starter #17
When the NYC emergency response unit decided to adopt the Glock there was concern over the light trigger (amazingly enough, even the elite cops were still using the .38 revolver as late as the early 90's!). Glock worked with them to produce a modified trigger bar and connector, and a leaf spring that increased the Glock's initial takeup pull weight, as well as having a heavier breaking point. The NY trigger has an overall pull weight of about 8 pounds or so, and I think there is a "New York Plus" trigger that is 11 pounds.

If I was issuing these to the military, I'd want the heavier pull for obvious reasons as well as the fact that the trigger bar leaf spring is less prone to breakage than the factory coil spring.

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D. Kamm
USGI M1911/M1911A1 Pistols Website
http://www.geocities.com/M1911_M1911A1
 

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I know, I'm a month behind, but I had to chime in. I'm too young to have ever been issued a 1911, but I shoot them myself. I was a pistol instructor last summer at the Naval Academy, so I had a good perspective on the M9. The first time I shot one when I got into the Navy, it was also the first time I'd ever fired a pistol. I got expert, and so did a number of my students this summer, so the M9 is definitely easy to learn. It is also a bit safer than the M1911 for an untrained person.

I would never choose the M9 as a sidearm for myself. The selection of the M9 was largely due to two reasons (aside from not wanting to simply order more 1911s): one, the U.S. thought it would be cool to adopt a high-cap 9mm auto (all the European countries were doing it, and they know more about guns than us, right?) Two, they wanted something that was easier to train people to use. What a sorry excuse. Now, we know better about the 9mm round, and the M9 is an example of the continuing trend of overcoming ignorance with technology. You don't want to spend time training someone properly? That's okay, we'll invent something that takes less time and attention to learn! Doesn't matter if it's less effective!

We had plenty of stovepipe jams due to those wimpy high-school grads limp-wristing the pistol, along with a few FTFs and slide-lock failure due to worn mag followers. This weapon will not last forever, even with meticulous daily cleaning. Still, we had fewer alibis during the rapid fire strings than the rifle range did (don't believe too many M16 reliability stories). Never had any parts breakages on my weapons, but I can't say whether the same was true for all of the M9s.

I really dislike the DA pull on the M9, and manually cocking the hammer is too slow in a firefight. But once you get those SA pulls, they're pretty nice. Not much creep. But they are nothing like the pull on a 1911. Yes, I did get expert on the first time with an M9. But the first time I shot an M1911, my group was better than any group I had ever shot with any other pistol - Glock, USP, Beretta, or Ruger.

As for the training issue, I proved it to be a moot point after I got off of Weapons Detail. I went home, rented a Kimber Custom, and taught my mom to shoot it. She'd never shot before, and I had no trouble teaching her to safely handle and fire the 1911. So much for the idea that you can learn to accurately shoot an M9 more easily. Oh, yeah, I taught my brother and my dad, as well.

Sorry if you found all this a waste of time; it's a minute or two of your life you'll never get back!
 

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As a Navy man I have used both only the 1911s that I used were mainly for deterent value and were modified to shoot .22LR so compared to that I prefer the 9mm beretta. now comparing the Beretta to my own personal 1911 there is no comparison, the 1911 is superior. The only posible plus to the beretta i can imagine is they are easier to field strip and maintain perhaps. I own both types of handguns at home as well and the beretta is much easier to clean but when i am at work i dont maintain the guns the armory does so rating the guns basically on just performance i prefer the .45

the military claims the sa/da beretta is safer but in my opinion any handgun is safe with proper training of the user. also my opinion that military handgun training needs to be better most people i see carrying guns need to be mor familiar with them. the other argument the military seems to make favoring the beretta is the magazine capacity. My opinion again is i dont need as many bullets if you issue me a 1911. i can make each bullet count and with the superior stopping power of the .45 I only need one slug per thug verses the berettas high speed bb effect that wouldnt stop a poodle.
 
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