Weapons: U.S. Brings Back the .45


January 27, 2006: After two decades of use, the U.S. Department of Defense is getting rid of its Beretta M9 9mm pistol, and going back to the 11.4mm (.45 caliber) weapon. There have been constant complaints about the lesser (compared to the .45) hitting power of the 9mm. And in the last few years, SOCOM (Special Operations Command) and the marines have officially adopted .45 caliber pistols as "official alternatives" to the M9 Beretta. But now SOCOM has been given the task of finding a design that will be suitable as the JCP (Joint Combat Pistol). Various designs are being evaluated, but all must be .45 caliber and have a eight round magazine (at least), and high capacity mags holding up to 15. The new .45 will also have a rail for attachments, and be able to take a silencer. Length must be no more than 9.65 inches, and width no more than 1.53 inches.

The M1911 .45 caliber pistol that the 9mm Beretta replaced in 1985, was, as its nomenclature implied, an old design. There are several modern designs out there for .45 caliber pistols that are lighter, carry more ammo and are easier to maintain than the pre-World War I M1911 (which is actually about a century old, as a design). The Department of Defense plans to buy 645,000 JCPs. The competition could get intense with an order this size, and there are already some good .45 caliber designs out there, including a SOCOM version of the Heckler and Koch USP. The U.S. Marine Corps uses an upgraded version of the M1911, and were also looking at new .45 caliber designs.

SOCOM will, with input from other branches, handle the evaluation and final selection. This will take place this year, and if the military moves with unaccustomed alacrity, troops could start getting their JCPs next year. But don't hold your breath.

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