“The M45 Close Quarter Battle Pistol is modeled after earlier versions of the semi-automatic 1911 pistol used since the 1980s by Force Reconnaissance units,” marincorpstimes.com reports. “The Corps could buy between 400 and 12,000 as part of a contract worth up to $22.5 million, according to Marine Corps Systems Command.” That’s a pretty big spread there, guys. Maybe that’s why Smith & Wesson and Kimber passed—although they both bitched about tight deadlines and “competing business priorities.” Which leaves Springfield, Colt and Karl Lippard in the running. Hang on; Karl who? Make the jump to enter the secret world of one of America’s most hardcore and innovative gunmakers. Yes, secret. And TTAG’s got the password . . .
Karl Lippard’s a Colorado-based gunsmith who manufactures high-tech, hand-crafted, ornately-engraved over-and-under shotguns for hunters, collectors and anyone else who can afford to pay around $30k per gun. He also builds big bore hunting rifles with completely interchangeable parts, whose barrels are fashioned from single blocks of S7 vacuum arc re-melt steel. Oh, and a multi-caliber handgun of some sort.
Previously on Who Wants to Be John Moses Browning, Karl was the the General Manager of Pachmayr. And before that, he was a USMC Drill Instructor, Jungle Instructor and Hand to Hand Combat instructor. A Marine Corps Vietnam vet with more than a passing familiarity with what the CIA (and CIA novelists) call “wet work.” As Karl told TTAG, “Everybody knows I’ve killed a lot of people offensively.”
Karl doesn’t mean a lot of people would take offense at the way he killed people. He used the term to indicate a distinction between an offensive and defensive weapons. According to Karl, a defensive weapon is one where you “shoot ’em in danger close.” An offensive weapon is one where you take out enemies at 100 yards. Or more. Much more. Which raises the $22.5 million dollar question: with a handgun? A 1911?
Karl is the man behind the legendary 1911 known as the Combat Grade NCO. The design is so different from the John Moses Browning’s 1911 in so many key areas that it’s called the A2 platform. “John Browning only built a couple of his guns. He shot two rabbits with it, period,” Karl says. “It had some extreme shortcomings. I wish I could of sat down and talked with him about it.”
Instead, Karl breathed his own engineering genius on the gun. It became “The world’s only 400-yard open sight accurate production pistol.” Click here for the mods that helped make it more . . . versatile. Karl claims the A2 NCO’s good for killing bad guys from two feet to 400 yards, with the possibility of effective suppressing fire out to 650 yards.
That’ll be $3k or so, $5k for the CQB. Apparently, the NCO’s price tag’s not a barrier to the black ops boys. “They don’t give a shit what it cost . . . My job is to build a gun that will let them survive combat and get back.”
And now the story of the NCO’s genesis can be told. Or read. Click here for TTAG’s exclusive (for about the next ten minutes anyway) access to the brand spanking new military side of Karl Lippard’s website. ‘Cause the NCO, a gun once unavailable to civilians, is available to civilians—for the aforementioned King’s Ransom.
And now Karl Lippard is bidding against Springfield and Colt for the Marine’s 1911 contract, hoping to equip his brothers and sisters in the Corps with a more deadly, reliable, customizable sidearm (fully interchangeable parts).
“It’s no competition as far as I’m concerned,” Karl says. “If the beanpickers buy the Colt they might as well go back to the 03 rifle and the Model T for transportation. The Springfield’s a Brazilian copy of an A1 . . . If I’m in combat, don’t give me an M9. I’d rather have a bloody knife.”
And I bet it would be, too.