Article Archive: Current 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Weapons: 9mm To Nowhere
   Next Article → AIR DEFENSE: Iranian Decoys Decoded

November 20, 2008: U.S. Army TACOM (Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command) has ordered another 20,000 Beretta 92FS 9mm pistols. These will cost $410 each. The M9 is a 34 ounce, 8.5 inch (217mm) long weapon that has a 4.9 inch (125mm) barrel and a magazine that holds 15 rounds. It replaced the M1911 .45 (11.4mm) caliber ACP. This was a 39 ounce, 8.25 inch (210mm) long weapon with a 5 inch (127mm) barrel and a 7 round magazine. Both pistols were only accurate at up to about 50 meters. The M1911 had more hitting power, while the M9 was a bit more accurate.

Numerous and frequent complaints from the troops have led to some U.S. Department of Defense efforts to find a new pistol to replace the current M9 9mm weapon. It's not just nostalgia. When the U.S. switched over from the .45 caliber M1911 pistol, to the M9 in the 1980s, SOCOM (Special Operations Command) went to Heckler and Koch for a more powerful pistol. What resulted was the Mk 23 SOCOM. This .45 caliber pistol has a 12-round clip and the ability to carry a silencer. It is based on the Heckler and Koch USP45, which has been available for the civilian and law enforcement markets. The fact that there are several larger (than 9mm) caliber pistols out there for the law enforcement market gives you a hint at what is going on here.

 It comes down to this. Most of the military people issued a pistol, will rarely have to use it. But those who do, like Special Forces, want more firepower than a 9mm round can deliver. The 9mm has been popular with police forces that don't encounter much opposition. But when the other guy is likely to shoot back, you want as much knock down power as you can get. Thus cops who shoot a lot, prefer 10mm and larger calibers (like the 11.4mm .45). The Special Forces, and SOCOM in general, have the authority to get any weapons they think they need, with no interference from anyone. SOCOM has lots of small unit operations that use pistols. The SOCOM operators believe that the 9mm pistol is not adequate, thus the adoption of the Mk23.

Many key members of Congress are determined that the Department of Defense will not end up with several different new pistols. Congress is telling the brass, If they don't like the M9, then agree on a new one. But so far, the services have not been able to agree. Thus the saga continues.

Next Article → AIR DEFENSE: Iranian Decoys Decoded

Show Only Poster Name and Title     Newest to Oldest
Pages: 1 2
SATXEXCAV    FMJ is the issue   11/20/2008 12:28:04 PM
The stopping power of a pistol round (or any round) is determined by how much force is expended in the target.  The M9 and its 9mm FMJ round tends to remain 9mm as it passes through the target.  It does not expend all of its energy inside the target but wastes energy by passing through its target.  A .45 ACP or a .40 S&W or 10MM Magnum are larger in diameter (and heavier) and therefore deposit much more energy in the wound channel.
If you uses something to allow the bullet to expand, you can put the round's energy into the enemy and not the wall behind him.  The military is married to the Full Metal Jacket Ball ammunition.  If you use an expanding round similar to a hollow point bullet, the 9mm as well as it's contemporary .45 and .40 cal brothers will put more energy in to stoppong the enemy. A FMJ round stays roughly the same diameter when it enters the enemy.  That is the essential problem with the 9mm.  It is a bit more accurate but pistol shots are usually fired within a few meters and I think that is not an issue.  The issue is stopping power.
There are sometimes magazine feed issues with non-ball ammunition, they hang on the feed ramp and increase stoppages.  Some militaries are squeamish about the ligitamacy of hollow points and the damage they do to an enemy soldier.  Hence the use of Ball Ammunition.
Federal Ammunition has pioneered an Expanding Full Metal Jacket bullet or EFMJ that is still a ball ammunition. It feeds well and remains intact when it hits a target.  The bullet is based upon the use of the actual point of the jacket bullet being full of silicone instead of lead.  The jacket is formed, partially filled with silicone and the rest of the bullet is lead cored.  The tip is scored to readilly allow expansion of the silicone allowing the bullet diameter to increase significantly while remaining intact therby depositing a higher amount of energy, hydraulic shock and damage inside the enemy.
Still an FMJ bullet and very much more effective.
I will not suggest that Spec Ops are using such a round but....... The argumemnt against the 9mm is based upon its stopping power not its other strengths.  The EFMJ bullet goes a long way in to solving the power issue.
The 9mm is an easier round for a trooper to shoot.  More accurate. Not a hard hitting recoil that most troops find more difficult to control. It is lighter and the weapon, regardless of manufacturer, will hold more rounds in a magazine. It is compatible with a tone of countries therby reducing logistical issues.  Wait, this is the argument that caused the 9mm to be adopted originally, I don't need to make it. Sorry
From a personal perspectice having spent many years as an aviator in the Army, I was issued a .38 special until I was issued an M9 in 9mm.  It was a great improvement.  15 rounds vs 6.  A no brainer.  I also shoot a great deal in my private life.  Mostly 9mm and .40 S&W.  I can shoot all day with the 9mm and never get tired.  I shoot the .40 and start to feel the full load's recoil soon.  I shoot .45 and lots of rifle but for personal defense, I carry a 9mm with Hollow points and feel that I am much better prepared for what the pistol is intended for.  Stopping the bad guy.  I am more accurate, I have 17 rounds in the gun and  I can hit what I am aiming at.  I have just ordered some of the new EFMJ rounds and I will see how they do.
The 9mm is much maligned by the military for the wrong reasons.  Give it a better bullet, it does what it needs to do.  I will not argue that the .45 M1911 is a bad gun.  The many newer .45's all also come in 9mm and .40 S&W.  By far the most sold are in 9mm.
Hit what you  aim at counts more than missing with a larger more powerfull round of which you have fewer.....
Quote    Reply

FJV    Hollow points is not PC.   11/20/2008 12:42:46 PM
You may not like this, but source:
The Hague Convention prohibits the use of expanding or fragmenting bullets in warfare (often incorrectly believed to be prohibited in the Geneva Conventions), the additional trauma caused being deemed unnecessary and inhumane. However, hollow points are one of the most common types of civilian and police ammunition, due largely to the reduced risk of bystanders being hit by over penetrating or ricocheted bullets. In fact, in many jurisdictions it is illegal to hunt game with ammunition that doesn't expand, and many target ranges also forbid full metal jacket ammunition.
Quote    Reply

dewatters    These are for Iraq   11/20/2008 12:47:18 PM
If you bother to look up the contract, you'll find that the 20,000 Beretta are for a Foreign Military Sale (FMS) to Iraq.
I take it that it is a another case of the Iraqis wanting to be equipped the same as the US Army.
Quote    Reply

justbill       11/20/2008 1:09:44 PM
I always get a kick out of these articles. "The 9x19mm is too's a poor stopper...we want .45's." IMO it's more American nostalgia than anything else. (And I say this as an American-born shooter, hunter, competitor and general gun enthusiast for 27 of my 42 years.) Why is it that our NATO allies feel no pressing need to replace their 9mm pistols with something larger in caliber? Are they so much better shots than American troops? Do they fight whimpy enemies compared to the superhumans Uncle Sam faces?
Nostalgia. We won "the Big Ones" with the .45, damn it give it back!
Quote    Reply

SATXEXCAV    50 BMG vs The Hague   11/20/2008 5:05:47 PM
While it is fine to maintain a belief and be ruled by ancient laws, the US should work on an agreement that provides for antiquated rules like what the Hague Convention deals with to be updated.
The Japanese where known to use some wooden bullets. "Just nick em and let him die from the infection". That seems contrary to the Hague in terms of its desire to be humane.
Almost all current forces are sniping with the 50 BMG or some alternative from 20MM on down.  They will blow you to bits, hardly a humane way to be shot.
The 5.56 will tumble upon hitting a bone and really tear up a human much worse that a balanced bullet of equal energy will.
The old flesshette 2.75"" FFAR we shot out of the AH-1Cobra (never fired fleshettes out of the Apache) will nail a man to a tree, that is hardly humane.
Basically, war is not humane. 
There has been a constant battle to increase the effectiveness of small arms and all other forms of military killing devices.  Each has done a bit better than its earlier cousin.  I think arguing that the FMJ round is more humane than a bullet that will mushroom or tumble inside you is technically absurd.  Is it better to be shot with a 44 Magnum FMJ or an EFMJ 9mm?
We drop submunitions that will kill or maim indescriminally, that is OK.  We shoot people with bursts from the M134 minigun (7.62 at up to 6,000 rounds per minute).  That is OK. We shoot them with 40MM grenades and we blow them to bits with MLRS and conventional artillery. All of that is OK. 
The fact that we can be very effective with a 9mm handgun using EFMJ or even a hollow point is OK by me.
We seem to be willing to follow the letter of the Geneva Convention and the Hague agreements with little thought about the fact that our terrosist enemies are cutting the heads off of our guys or blowing them to peices with a IED.
In reviewing or recent wars say since 1941.  Our enemies did not behave humanely.  They did not follow the rules of war and we have suffered for it.  The Japanese, Germans, North Koreans, Chinese, Vietcong, Cubans and especially the current crop of Terrorists did not and have no intenetion of following the rules of war and we suffered for it while we obeyed it and they profitted from it. The hague Convention was at the turn of the century a 100 years ago.  It goverened during the first world war.  I think it is outdated and obsolete.  Well intended or not it has done little to help.  Only the western powers have ever been keen on obeying the rules set forth in either the Hague Convention or the Geneva Convention.
Quote    Reply

aki009    45 is life insurance   11/20/2008 7:34:39 PM
We have the 45 because some targets didn't drop from other calibers. It's the same reason we still use the 308, even though 223 has been around for some time. Many of us have experienced (or perhaps seen on video) targets that drop from a burst of 223 and start getting up. I don't recall ever seeing the same behavior from targets after a burst of 308. Yes, 9mm (just like the 223) is smaller, lighter and you can carry more of it, but if you are betting your life on a target staying down after a tap or two, the 45 is far better suited for the job than 9mm.
Quote    Reply

cowboy11c       11/21/2008 12:04:38 AM
The effectivness of carrying extra ammo is reduced when it takes more rounds to put and keep your target down.
Quote    Reply

SATXEXCAV       11/21/2008 11:44:46 AM
We are back to the old debate that bigger is better.
So... Why not go back to the 45/70 as the rifle cartridge?  It is very effective at putting the bad guy down.......
Those arguments are not as valid as they used to be.  We can stay at smaller caliber ammunition and be just as effective as the big bore rounds and we can get the bennefits from the other issues.  Lighter, carry more, less recoil, therefore better marksmanship as well.  I am not arguing against the stopping power of the larger caliber ammunition.  I am just not blinded by it.  
My dad carried an M1911 as a fighter pilot during WW2.  He wanted the stopping power.  He was also a highly trained marksman who could handle the 45.  Pilots were issued a .38 Special then (WW2) as I was issued one in 1978 in the 1st Cav.  It is still a fact today that a SOCOM operator will be able to shoot a lot more and train a lot more.  For them, they can use what is best for them.  For Joe Snuffy, we sort of want him to use what is best overall.
The US ARMY has adopted the 9mm M9 and it works well.  Upgrade the ammo and it will do great as an overall Army handgun.  Not the best, easier to shoot than most larger caliber guns, therefore the "normal" soldier will be a better shot, carry more ammo and actually maybe hit what he aims at.
The argument was valid when 9mm was chosen in the early 80's, it remains valid now.
How well will the stopping power argument stand up against the 5.56 and 9mm when they get effective cartridges?  More rounds carried, more accurate fire, so on and so on.
Why did the Russians adopt the 5.56 round in the AK-74? 
There are valid arguments on both sides of these issues. Bigger is better .. FOR SOME.  Smaller lighter more accurate is better for the masses.
Quote    Reply

BasinBictory       11/23/2008 3:03:46 AM
I think in the general scheme of military budgeting analysis, the choice of pistols and pistol calibers is such a small consideration compared to allocating money for tanks, trucks, supplies, and other heavy equipment that it's almost an afterthought. I believe the thinking is that 9mm pistols are, on a per unit basis, much cheaper to buy/manufacture/supply/maintain than most .45s Couple that with the fact that it is far easier to train a raw recruit to shoot a 9mm pistol well than a .45 pistol well (and yes, I own a 9mm as well as a .45) and you've got the M9.
I think on the average, pistols play an extremely small part of a military force's "force projection", but it is telling that among units that use pistols quite extensively in their operations (SpecOps guys) they almost invariably choose .45s, when they're permitted that kind of choice.
Quote    Reply

theBird       11/23/2008 3:05:56 PM
Ive fired .45 and own .40 with 9mm aftermarket barrel, and I really have never found a big difference between recoil of .45 and 9mm, while there definitly is a noticable change with 40.  Instead of a "push" the .40 recoil feels more like a "punch".  .357 sig felt similar, but even more so.  Maybe its just me.
Quote    Reply
1 2