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Weapons: Who Makes the Best 9?
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February 9, 2007: Which is the best 9mm handgun in service? Handguns are nowhere near as effective as rifles in combat, but they still have their uses, so this matter is relevant for troops. The bullets from handguns are much slower (about half as fast) than rifles.

A number of nine-millimeter service pistols are in service. In general, these pistols weigh around two pounds, areĀ  about seven-and-a-half to nine inches long, with a barrel about four to five inches long, and usually hold anywhere from 12 to 18 rounds. There are several 9mm pistols in wide service, that can be considered candidates for the best in class.

The Browning Hi-Power (or GP35) is in service with the United Kingdom, and carries thirteen rounds. The British have used this pistol for decades, and it was what the SAS carried in the takedown of six terrorists at the Iranian embassy in 1980. It was designed by the legendary John Moses Browning (who also designed the famous Colt M1911 and the Browning BAR). There are no real bugs in this single-action design (the operator must cock the pistol before the first shot can be fired). This design has been around for a long time, andĀ  was widely used by forces on both sides of World War II.. It will be sticking around for a long time to come, continuing in service around the world.

The U.S. military primarily uses the Beretta 92 (designated the M9). It is a double-action design, which does not require cocking for the first shot - but there is a long trigger pull for the first shot, and a short pull for the second shot (an operator does have the option of cocking the pistol). It has a clip of 15 rounds, and drew controversy when it replaced the M1911, a .45-caliber (11.4mm) pistol.

Germany's Heckler and Koch makes the USP, which comes in nine millimeter, .40 S&W (10mm), and .45 ACP. It comes in a choice of double-action or double-action-only (which requires a long trigger pull each time). The nine-millimeter version in service with the German Army has a 15-round clip.

Perhaps the most notorious nine-millimeter pistol is the Glock 17. This pistol was designed by Gaston Glock and has spawned a family of over twenty pistols in various sizes. The Glock 17 is in service with Austria and Norway, and Glock has a huge following among law enforcement agencies around the world, albeit not all of them use nine-millimeter (the FBI, for instance, uses the Glock 22 and Glock 23 in .40 Smith and Wesson). Aside from its polymer frame, the Glock's other feature is its ability to function like a revolver - to operate it, one just has to aim and pull the trigger.

The nine-millimeter round is kind of weak, especially in the full metal jacket configuration required by the Hague Convention. As a result, the United States Special Operations Command has used the Mk 23 SOCOM, a variant of the USP that fires the .45 ACP round and has a 12-shot clip. The .45 ACP's full-metal-jacket round is felt by many to perform much better in combat situations. The Marine Corps uses an upgraded M1911 called the M1911 MEU(SOC), which has an eight-round clip. American law enforcement agencies use a variety of pistols, from makers like Sig Sauer, Colt, Springfield, and Smith and Wesson. The American law enforcement scene also uses a variety of calibers besides nine-millimeter, not just the .45 ACP, but also the .357 SIG, .40 S&W, 10mm Auto, and the new .45 GAP.

The best of these nine-millimeter pistols is probably the Glock. It is a simple pistol, and very reliable. Glock has done some pretty extreme torture tests on the pistol, and it has continued to perform. The Glock is also widely used, so in the case of a failure, spare parts can easily be acquired. It has worked well in its twenty-two year history for numerous military and law-enforcement customers. It has arguably become the standard by which other pistols are to be judged. - Harold C. Hutchison (

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Herc the Merc       2/9/2007 5:18:58 PM
I thought Sig Sauers were more accurate.
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judicatr    Accuracy in Sigs   2/10/2007 10:02:07 AM
I suspect that at typical pistol engagement ranges accuracy from one platform to the next is more a matter of shooter skills then weapon design. 
With regards to design however...  I am a civilian law enforcement officer, LE  firearms trainer and supervisor for my agency's firearms range.  I've provided firearms training for both military and civilian LE and I recall one winter when it was snowing and really muddy some officers from another agency were using Sigs. Unfortunately their weapons began to bind up and began having an excessive number of malfunctions.  The Glocks just kept banging away.  Its anecdotal I know but...
Personally, I like my Browning HP - sweet shooter that.  But I've become a grudging admirer of the Glock.  Its a very good combat pistol.  We've had at least one Deputy fire his Glock from underwater during a knockdown drag out fight in a muddy ditch.  The Deputy was stabbed several times and fired.   The round grazed the subjects head and buried itself in his scalp.  It didn't put him down but did make him run off.  He got picked up later.  Anyway...  My agency has recently allowed our officers to carry whatever they like (within certain calibers and size) a few guys have gone to .45 Kimbers but most are sticking with their Glocks.
Respectfully submitted.
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Horsesoldier       2/13/2007 11:18:31 AM
Someone got paid to write this?
First, the Glock 17 is "infamous"?  For what?
Second, the article is wildly impressive for what it fails to mention, more than what it says.
And, finally, the Mark 23 was pretty much a failure.  SOCOM ended up buying very few of them, and the units that got them tend to leave them in the arms room to use their 9mm pistols.
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DarthAmerica       2/14/2007 1:55:53 AM

No offense mate but this article is full of holes. No pun intended. I mean seriously, did you consult any of the shooters who frequent this board? Your conclusions are based on absolutely no parametric analysis. For example...

"Which is the best 9mm handgun in service? Handguns are nowhere near as effective as rifles in combat, but they still have their uses, so this matter is relevant for troops. The bullets from handguns are much slower (about half as fast) than rifles."

...Ummm which type of combat are you referring to? Rifles and Handguns are designed for different roles. About the only thing the really have in common is bullets. Other than that they(handgun) are an entirely different type of firearm. FOr some MOS and jobs, Rifles are impractical. You wouldn't expect an F-15 pilot to carry an M-4 would you? Or how about a CG? Or what about an 11B moving through a narrow crawl space in a tunnel network. I mean seriously, you have to put things into context. I won't even get into the the criteria you used to evaluate the pistols as it's entirely subjective. I can find 100 people with different preferences.

The nine-millimeter round is kind of weak, especially in the full metal jacket configuration required by the Hague Convention."

LOL...what??? Weak? Based on what? 9mm NATO is loaded to industry standard pressures and even with ball rounds it's a proven killer when used by a trained shooter. There are huge myths out there that falsely lead people into believing that handguns wounds should be immediately fatal. Understand that a combat handgun .38 SPL or greater does not have the power to immediately stop a man unless it hits the CNS PERIOD. If it hits anywhere else, depending on the individual, the reaction to GSWs are wildly variable. Shoot two guys in the heart. One will drop dead instantly and the other will have 20+ seconds of time to return the favor. Now, I agree that bigger more powerful rounds can have some advantages in some areas. But against human targets those advantages are almost intangible in real world use above .38 SPL.

The best handgun is the one that best handles to specific circumstance. There are just too many specialized requirements and too many different types handguns out there to truly say which is best. Rather some handguns are better than others depending on the role, organization and user.

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