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Remember that Question of the Day asking what handgun could/should replace the Beretta M9 for our troops? Fuhgeddaboutit. Beretta’s Facebook page reveals that “The US Army just confirmed that the Beretta M9 is going to be their official sidearm for the next five years, with an order of up to 100,000 new guns.” Fans of the .45, recently purchased by Marine special forces, are not happy. As TTAG’s Armed Intelligentsia pointed out in the previous post, there’s a more important question than gun or even caliber: why U.S. soldiers can’t use hollow-points? On the Facebook page, the company stresses that “International rules of engagement disallow the use of hollow point.” That would be the Hague Convention of 1899, that worked so well in World War I.

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  1. I’m pretty sure the US never signed the Hague Convention, which makes our adherence to it a century later even more puzzling.

    • I’m not sure if it was signed, but it is taught in military doctrine from basic training to refresher training and briefed at every deployment.

    • Interesting, other things banned by the Hague Convention of 1899 include “bombing from the air” and chemical weapons, both of which the US military has extensive experience with, and were used by just about everyone not too long after this convention was signed.

      • Many things like the bombing from balloons had a time limit set. The main points the Geneva convention and Hague convention both deal with is humane treatment of POWs, fair warning for civilians during bombardment, and excessive force to include chemical warfare and hollow point bullets ( which was expressed as potentially being a more torturous death). A lot of the information is contained in the Avalon Project.

  2. Ammunition choice depends on your objective and any external rules. For whatever reason, military personnel are constrained to using full metal jacket type ammunition. If that’s the case, then caliber and ammunition choice depends on your objective. If your objective is to wound someone with full metal jacket ammunition, then 9mm is as good a choice as any. If your objective is to stop someone from fighting as quickly as possible in a combat situation, then full metal jacket in 9mm is not the best choice.

    If external rules of engagement force you to use full metal jacket ammunition and you want to stop an enemy combatant as quickly as possible, you want to use the largest diameter bullets possible. I would argue that you also want to use truncated cone bullets with large, flat meplats if the rules of engagement allow it. I do not shoot a .45 ACP so I do not know about full metal jacket offerings. If such rounds exist, they would be a good choice for military service personnel. I do shoot .40 S&W and there are lots of bullet choices with truncated cones in full metal jacket. Plus you should get slightly more rounds in a given size of magazine. That is what I would want to carry into combat.

    Regardless, I think all of this is overblown. As many people have said, in combat you use a pistol to fight your way back to your rifle. Well I hope that military service personnel would be able to use and depend on their rifles in combat zones.

    • A corporal in my battalion got the silver star for actions in Haditha, Iraq on May 8, 2005. Another got the Navy Cross, but that’s another story. I last saw him a year and a half ago in Afghanistan as a Staff Sergeant. He reminded me that while waiting for more ammo for the machine gun to be handed up to him, he used his M9 Beretta to kill two insurgents. He was convinced that the 9mm works plenty fine in a combat environment.

      There are many good pistols out there, and the M9 is one of them. The 9mm round does its job. Would I rather have .45? Maybe. But many can’t hit their target as well with that round. There are good points and bad points to each and a blanket claim that bigger is always better is simplistic and ignores the benefits of accuracy.

  3. Maybe it’s time for the Army to “replace” something like the Marines “replaced” the Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) with the M27-HK416 Infantry Automatic Rifle (IAR). They just need something to “replace,” hmm? They could “replace” the M9 bayonet hand-to-hand fighting tool with the more effective close-quarters, hand-to-hand-fighting prevention tool – the HEHA (High-Effect Hand Gun).

  4. Unlike most commentators I like the M-9 (So does my wife. She carries one). It’s reliable, accurate and its open slide design keeps the weapon cleaner. As far as 9mm pistols goes, it is a good weapon. I personally prefer 45 particularly for military applications but 9mm will do.

  5. Unfortunately the DoD is not serious about pistol proficiency.As such ,a 9mm DA/SA handgun makes sense for general issue.The current qualifier is 100 rounds total for support troops.If the military issued 1911s or Glocks,half our units would be non-deployable due to NDs.

    Until the DoD shit-cans the NYPD training manual,I’m all for more M9s in the mix.It beats nothing,and is the safest 9mm money can buy right now.

  6. Honestly, who was shocked by this?

    The Army going through all the trouble to hold trials and choose a brand new pistol, much less a brand new caliber would be a HUGE deal.

    This ain’t a small Marine SF unit ordering a few pistols for their special missions, this is an entire service buying pistols!

    Although I despise the Beretta M9, and I’ll tell any Beretta fan that to their face, I could care less if the Army wants to use them.

  7. I qualified with the 1911 early in my military career then transitioned to the M9. For me the 1911 was more intuitive than the M9 for a newbie. I simply did not like the placement of the safety as my thumb is too short to reach it without adjusting my grip. The movement is not natural compared to the 1911. I also did not like the automatic decocking when the safety was applied.

    The functions of a HK variant 1 would be a good idea. With all the new pistols out there, it is kinda sad the Army has selected them again. Just my 2 cents on the M9.

  8. There is a bigger issue here. This is NOT a 9mm-vs-.45ACP moment. 100,000 new pistols. Think about that for a moment. Adding 100,000 pistols to the current inventory.


    Is the US Army finally accepting the concept that our soldiers should be armed at all times? I don’t know. Blue-on-green violence? Again, I don’t know. But that is a shit-load of additional pistols for a force that will be 540,000 active soldiers in a few years.

    Why so many new pistols? That is the story.

    • That’s a non story. There’s attrition rates for everything from the soldiers themselves to their socks and bootlaces. Guns are no different. Normal wear and tear combined with combat operations results in equipment being scrapped at a higher rate than peace time garrison duty.

      As for the 9mm vs. 45, if I was restricted to fmj I would want the 9 for the reasons that are really simple. A soldier is much more likely to meet a hostile wearing body armer than a civilian would. The higher muzzle velocity and narrower front of the 9mm gives it a slightly better performance agaisnt harder targets. And having twice the number of shots when using your 9 as opposed to the 45 is a plus when your at contact range and even a quick reload could mean being defenseless at the wrong moment.
      Remember most soldiers aren”t trained for quick mag changes with their pistols and their support gear, such as mag pouches aren’t tailored for that event.

      • Both the 9mm and .45 ACP will be easily defeated by any modern body armor. The difference will be in energy transfer to the target, which using ball ammo, is significant.

        Shoot the bad guy in the face and it’s not going to make a difference. Clip him somewhere less vital, or in a vest, and it will. Bigger is better, which is why the SF guys screamed for something of the sort.

        • The M9 is mainly issued to support troops. Combat soldiers use rifles. As a gunner I was issued an M4, M2, M249, M240 and a MK19. When I became a DM, I had a M4 and an M14. If I needed an M9 I borrowed it from the LT or PSG. Use of weapons is dependent on the mission. Extra mags for my rifle was more important than having a handgun. The M9 was a cheap solution for those where carrying a rifle would be burdensome.

        • I was a combat photographer in the Corps. When my orders to Iraq were being cut, my Staff Sergeant was trying to make my pistol qualification disappear because that was all I was going to get when I shipped, no rifle. My orders changed and I didn’t go but many others in my MOS did and were weren’t in the rear. So please stop with the it doesn’t matter comments because I could have been clearing buildings with the Beretta and I wouldn’t have been happy.

        • No worries Average_Casey, whatever troop your attached to will make sure your not under gunned. We had many reporters/ photographers ride with us. During mission briefs, we always let them know where everything was and how we operated. We take care of each other. I’m Army, but I’m sure the guys in the Corps are no different.

  9. Maybe they are replacing the older m9s. My m9 was pretty beat up and had to be sent to third shop twice while I carried it.

  10. I have mixed feelings about the M9. I don’t have a problem with a 9mm sidearm. As someone has already pointed out, the only time you’re likely to use one is if your rifle is down. I don’t like the fact that the high capacity mags the military has are generally unreliable due to overuse and no replacement or maintenance.

    I also have a problem with the fact the military wouldn’t let me carry my far superior personal weapon due to a perceived need for “uniformity.” All the way through Viet Nam chains of command typically had no problem with a soldier carrying a personal sidearm in addition to their issue weapon. They might not openly condone it, but they’d look the other way. No detail is too trivial for the jerks who run things now, though.

  11. Well US forces are using expanding bullets. Snipers are using Sierra 168 grain Match Kings which not only expand, they more or less explode. Every hunter knows not to use them on animals as a likely superficial wound will result and the animal will die later unrecovered. On humans they are devastating. They were OKed on the disingenuous theory they were not designed to be expanding bullets and therefore OK. However they even threw that out when they OKed the use of Fail Safe bullets in some instances saying that terrorists were not an army therefore the rules did not apply!

    I think we have lost our moral bearing in this war. Bullets are the least of it. Google drone double tap attacks. Don’t bother with the bloggers because their sources can’t be trusted. Go to one of the British papers such as the Guardian, a leftist paper for certain yet they are not too happy with Obama on this.

    Obama brags about picking the drone attack targets. Most Americans are unaware that they are doing what is called a double tap. First they attack the targeted terrorists and then when the aid workers come they attack again. Not only that, they are attacking funerals of terrorists!

    Not even the Nazis during WWII would attack medics. Now the Japanese did and in fact targeted medics. I guess we have become like them.

    Really I never thought our country would do such things. If Bush were in office there would be an uproar from the left but since it is their man not only allowing this but picking the targets, it is OK. What the hell has happened?

    The bullets are nothing. We use all sorts of weapons that make expanding bullets seem docile by comparison. We have bigger problems than bullets. The Founding Fathers decided to have the C&C be a civilian because they saw the danger in having no civilian oversight of the military. The military will win at any cost. It is up to the C&C to hold them back and make sure they are doing the correct thing. That isn’t happening. We are becoming what we despise.

    I went to school in Europe and time and time again people would tell me how well American troops behaved during occupations during WWII. It was something they didn’t expect. Sure there were incidents but there was never any sanctioned mayhem such as Stalin’s rally cry to his troops entering Germany “The only innocent Germans are the unborn.”

    It made me proud to be an American when I heard these things not least because my father fought in that war along with my uncles. Now we have a situation where we are using expanding bullets in violation of the Hague Convention, but they say they are not expanding and targeting medics and funeral attendees directed by a Commander and Chief that is a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.

    OK, not exactly guns but it bugs the hell out of me. And if Romney gets elected, well I expect no changes whatsoever. This is the course we set so to speak. It is sad in my opinion.

    • If your objective is to kill as many unlawful combatants as possible why would the “double tab” be morally wrong? Aiding and abetting unlawful combatants in a war zone gives you the same status and you place yourself at risk. Targeting funerals? So what. You are still killing unlawful combatants.

    • I think you have a large dose of unreality. It has always been a military tactic to wound someone and then kill anyone coming to help. They are only protected if they have the appropriate symbol (red cross) prominently displayed. Minus the symbol, they are legitimate targets.

  12. Meh…it could be worse. If you are going to stick with a 9mm, the M9 is probably as good as any in the most situations.

    At least they didn’t switch to something really awful, like an antiquated .45 cal design with a crummy sights, a measly seven shot capacity that weighs more than a boat anchor.

    (putting flame retardant suit on now)

  13. Like I have said before, the Beretta is a fine handgun. With proper shot placement, 9mm NATO ball will do the job. Can it be better? sure.

    We effectively walked around the Hague Convention with open tip match rifle cartridges (Mk 318 and 262). Why cant we do the same with pistol ones?

    • I was wondering that myself. The MK 318 expands and pnetrates. It’s actually a decent short range white tail deer round.

  14. In war, wounding your enemy can be more effective than killing him. A dead soldier can be left where he fell, then you can pick up the bodies later. A wounded soldier requires immediate medical help and evacuation from the battlefield. Killing an enemy takes one soldier out of the fight. Wounding an enemy takes several soldiers out of the fight.

    FMJ rounds are more likely to wound than kill. Hollow-points are more likely to kill the enemy. FMJs are also more likely to over-penetrate, possibly wounding two or three soldiers with one bullet. FMJ rounds are more effective in war, because they take more enemy soldiers out of the fight.

  15. I think the use of fmj ammo has a lot less to do with humanitarian considerations and more to do with practical reasons. Remember that true automatic weapons did not become a reality until the invention of smokeless powder and fmj bullets. The dirt and residue buildup of high volume sustained auto fire made black powder and lead the enemies of reliability.
    And it’s only been fairly recently in the timeline of these things that we’ve come up with weapons and ammo that make reliable feeding of hollowpoints in the sustained fire military role feasible.
    Last and not least is that fmj ammo is cheaper than hollowpoints. When you purchase ammo by the train load cost matters.

  16. As a sidearm, a handgun, the .45 has an “edge” over the 9mm. You don’t want to get hit with either, least of all the .45

    Shooting submachine guns at distances of 100 meters +, the 9mm in say, an H&K or a Swedish K [remember them?], has an “edge” over a Thompson, via velocity and downrange drop. Inside 75 meters though, give me the Thompson.

    The .45 in 1911-A1 configuration has been called the American Fist, and there’s a reason for that. It worked fine for us. We weren’t Special, but we did use force.

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