9mm vs .45 cal

The US Army headed back to the 45 cal pistol, at least thats my guess. When the 9mm was first adopted there was ALOT of criticism. I dont go to hot areas very much but when I have I pack a .45 Colt Commander rather than the issue M9.

June 27, 2005

Back to the future
Soldiers’ preferences and better technology could again make the Army’s pistol a .45

By Matthew Cox
Times staff writer

Soldiers have been saying it for two decades — get rid of the M9 and go back to a .45 caliber. Now Army weapons developers want to do just that.

The 9mm pistol has long generated a steady stream of complaints about poor stopping power and other performance problems in combat.

That, combined with the ready availability of alternatives on the market, has convinced planners to start a search for a new service pistol, chambered for the more powerful .45-caliber round.

The Army adopted the M9 in 1985, ditching the M1911A1 .45 pistol after about 70 years.

The M9 was chosen not only because it fires the standardized NATO 9mm round, but also because more soldiers, especially those with smaller hands, found it easier to control than the older .45.

But in a recent round of tests conducted by the Infantry Center at Fort Benning, Ga., soldiers preferred several commercial .45 automatic pistols over similar models chambered for 9mm and .40-caliber ammunition.

“The Infantry Center recently completed a caliber study … that showed soldiers could handle the new, larger caliber pistols, including the .45s available from industry, as well as or better than the current M9,” said Col. Michael Smith, head of Army’s Project Manager Soldier Weapons. PM Soldier Weapons ran the study.

“Soldiers didn’t have problems with the recoil or size,” Smith said, noting that current .45s feature smaller frames with improved buffer systems for smoother shooting.

There are about 180,000 M9s in use in the Army today. The service is no longer buying the Beretta-made pistol, but it is buying spare parts to rebuild the pistols as they wear out.

While not every soldier carries a sidearm, the M9 is widely used by commissioned and noncommissioned officers, as well as by some enlisted soldiers in conventional and special operations forces.

Soldiers have long complained about shortcomings of the M9, ranging from reliability to lack of stopping power, Smith said.

The M9’s lighter 9mm round gives soldiers 15 rounds to a magazine, compared with the seven-round capacity of the M1911A1. But the quantity comes at a cost of knock-down power.

The Army first adopted the the original M1911 model for its greater stopping power after the .38-caliber service revolver often failed to put down determined Moro warriors during the Philippine Insurrection at the turn of the last century.

Soldiers haven’t changed their preference for bigger is better in combat when it comes to pistol ammo.

“Reports from [Iraq and Afghanistan} have shown some issues with lethality and reliability,” Smith said. “Many soldiers have voiced their displeasure with the M9’s performance.”

The Army has worked to improve the magazines to help with M9 feeding problems in the combat zone, but soldiers remain unsatisfied with the weapon, he said.

The Army is working to refine requirements needed in a new .45 pistol and plans to invite commercial pistol makers to compete in an open competition, Smith said, adding that the goal is to release a request-for-proposal sometime later this summer.

“We are confident that industry can provide a commercial off-the-shelf solution under a full and open competition,” Smith said. “We will go directly into testing and don’t anticipate making modifications to the pistol.”

The effort could gain even more momentum by becoming a joint effort with U.S. Special Operations Command, which is also looking for a new .45.

While nothing is certain, teaming up could accelerate the effort, Smith said, the command’s weapons requirement documents can be approved much faster than those for the conventional force.

“They have an expedited requirements process,” Smith said. “It would save anywhere from three to six months.”

“Working independently, along different paths, we had arrived at the same requirement,” said Maj. Glenn Dean, chief of Small Arms Division at Benning. Dean oversaw the caliber study that led to the decision to seek a .45 caliber pistol.

“At the end of the day, our needs were very similar,” he said.

Double-action safety

Army weapons developers have not determined whether the new pistol would operate like the M9, which allows shooters to fire either in double-action or single-action mode. They also are considering a double-action-only model.

The M9 allows soldiers to shoot in double-action mode — pulling the trigger with the hammer in the down position — and in single-action mode, in which the hammer is cocked to the rear before the first shot to make the trigger easier to pull.

In both modes, the hammer remains in the rear position after each shot and requires a decocking device that lets the soldier drop the hammer safely while a round is in the chamber when the shooting is over.

Single-action-only pistols — like the 1911 design that require the hammer to be cocked before the first round is fired — have been ruled out as an option, Dean said.

A double-action-only operation eliminates the need for a decocker because the hammer remains in the down position after each shot.

“Double-action only pistols are inherently safe because the hammer is never cocked, so if you drop it, it won’t go off,” Dean said.

Soldiers said they wanted to make sure the new pistol had a safety switch.

“One thing that came out clear to us was soldiers wanted an external safety,” Dean said. “It matches the way we train on every other weapon system,” he said.

Other requirements for the new pistol include iron sights designed for shooting in low-light conditions, high-capacity magazines and a rail system for mounting accessories such as lights or laser aiming devices.

The decision to return to .45-caliber ammunition, however, turned out to be an unexpected twist of fate.

“Frankly, we didn’t think the .45 would be a viable solution,” Dean said. The large caliber had a reputation of kicking severely when fired, making it hard for small-handed soldiers to handle the weapon.

Last summer, Dean’s office, as the Army’s proponent for small arms, scoured the commercial pistol market for off-the-shelf options for a Soldier Enhancement Program known as Future Handgun System.

Benning officials started out with about 85 different semi-automatic handguns from major manufacturers such as Glock, Sigarms Inc., and Smith & Wesson.

They narrowed the choices down to 14 pistols, in a mix of 9mm, .40 and .45 calibers, for soldiers to shoot, so small-arms officials could study how individual features such as calibers and safety devices performed, Dean said.

Ten soldiers — male and female; officer and enlisted — participated in two weeks of shooting tests. Their job specialties ranged from infantrymen and military police to drill sergeants and signal soldiers.

“What we basically learned was accuracy across the range of pistols was the same. There was a general preference for a .45.”
A double-action-only operation eliminates the need for a decocker because the hammer remains in the down position after each shot.
Boll*cks (the above statement is only true in regard of Revolvers not Automatics which is what are being discussed)

“Double-action only pistols are inherently safe because the hammer is never cocked, so if you drop it, it won’t go off,”
Neither will any modern Handgun go off if you drop it.
tomahawk6 said:
June 27, 2005
Tried looking for the article, couldn't see it. Then I realised why. Tom6 has posted an article from the future! I'm impressed!
tomahawk6 said:
Actually if you go to the pic on the left you will see the current articles, many are subscriber articles.

Thanks Tom6. As I'm not a subscriber, I can't see what the date of the article is. I'm surprised you don't see articles about how the .45LC outperformed the .45ACP!
I have fired the .45 Colt and 9 mill on ranges here in Thailand and the 9 mill back in my days in the forces.
The 9 mill 'seemed' to have more kick of the hand in my opinion, I found the .45 was no problem very solid feel.
I am not qualified to say which would be a better man stopper, the high speed lower bullet wieght of a 9 mill, against a slower heavier round of a .45.
The extra ammo capacity of a 9 mill would be attractive if things got sticky.
Supose I'd go for which ever was most acurate.
I prefer the 9mm,but i supose i'm biased as my weapon of choice would be a 9mm Browning.I've used it for years & i know it like the back of my hand.however,the US should have stuck with ironsides! As the saying goes,if it aint broke.....
Prefer the .45 every time, whatever I`ve fired in 9mm seems to want to twist out of my hands, the .45 is more like firing a shotgun, a nice solid kick up and a lot more controllable and accurate :)
The 92FS is great as a LE gun, but a piece of shit to the military. Too much barrel exposed meaning too much shite gets in. Cover that up, give it a stronger spring and a metal guide rod, and it will be a bit better. Oh and build it out of steel, not the shit aluminum castings as some of them have been made.
The biggest problem with the 9mm/.45 debate is the choice of bullet design. With the military, you're stuck with FMJ (ball) rounds. A .45 FMJ will dump you on your arrse, as the frontal surface area is such that it will expend most of its' energy onto the target, often stopping inside the target. A 9mm ball can kill you, but it has a tendancy to punch straight through without expending its' energy on the target due to a smaller frontal surface area. This is inefficient. In order to utilise its' energy, it needs to dump all of its' energy onto the target. This requires expanding ammunition. Great for the police, not so great fort the military.

That's all the theory cr@p. In my opinion it's whichever one that you're going to hit the b@stard with. With any pistol round, good shot placement is a must. A 9mm in the medulla is better than a .45 in the arm any day. Seen hits with both. Neither leaves you with a happy face if you're on the receiving end.

Armourer, got to disagree with your statement about DAO pistol hammers. In a DAO, the hammer DOES drop back into the hammer-down position after each shot. It was designed that way to 1. create an equal trigger pull for each shot, as opposed to the 1-hard-pull-then-14-easy-pulls of a conventional DA pistol which causes inaccuracies and 2. to make the weapon more revolver-like for the old and bold of the spam police who were complaining about SA and DA. I think you're probably thinking about conventional DA, like on the Beretta 92F or the SIG P226. Common mistake. Hope this helps.
If we had hollow point .45s we'd be whining about lack of penetration through cover (car doors, light body armour at close range etc) and small magazine capacity. No songle round will do everything.

Similar threads

New Posts

Latest Threads