09 Jul 2014

Firearm Experts Told the Army So

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The Colt M1892 Revolver chambered in .38 Long Colt was found inadequate to stop a hopped-up, charging Muslim terrorist during the Phillipine Insurrection.

Russ Chastain observes that we seem to have a US Army that can’t learn from history, and is therefore obliged to repeat it.

Dear U.S. Army: We told you so.

When 38 bullets (actually .357 caliber, which is pretty much 9mm) failed to stop its enemies, the U.S. Army went in search of a bigger, better cartridge. The result was John Browning’s M1911 semi-automatic pistol and the 45 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol) cartridge for which it was designed.

As you can guess from the M1911 designation, the 45 ACP was adopted into military service 103 years ago.

In 1985, the U.S. Army took a huge step backwards when it summarily dumped the 45 ACP in favor of the underpowered 9mm Luger cartridge (a.k.a. 9mm Parabellum). Irony: The 9mm is not quite as powerful as the cartridge which the 45 ACP replaced about 75 years earlier.

Now, things have apparently come full circle. Citing combat experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, authorities are once again recognizing the advantage of using a more powerful cartridge.

True to form, the government won’t look back at what once worked well and embrace it. Instead they plan to spend billions of our dollars creating and adopting something they’re calling a Modular Handgun System (MHS). And they’re not just tossing out the 9mm ammo and firearms. They’re ditching whole heaps of gear, holsters included, and starting over.

They haven’t yet settled on a caliber, and are looking just about anything better than a nine. This would include a faster same-caliber round (357 Sig) as well as larger-caliber cartridges like the 40 S&W, 10mm Auto, and 45 ACP.

Devotees of the diminutive 9mm Luger cartridge are going to have a hard time swallowing the fact that their Precious has been found to be a bit, er, weak. …

Anybody think they’ll end up with some jazzed-up version of a 1911? Hmmmm…

Read the whole thing.

John Browning’s Model 1911 design, chambered in .45 ACP, was consequently adopted to replace the too anemic .38 revolver.

5 Feedbacks on "Firearm Experts Told the Army So"


The 45 has a following (kindoflike the old VW bug did in the 60’s and 70’s and the Apple II did in the 80’s) that love it and cannot see any negatives. The 9 mm has 383 ft-lbs of energy and the 45 has 416. Not enough to really say it has more stopping power. The 45 was indeed adopted because the older handgun was inadequate BUT there is no real evidence that the 45 was all that great. BUT, ask anyone and if they are one of the followers of the 45 and you will get a long diatribe about how great it is. If they are not a lover and follower of the 45 you will get a shoulder shrug. Because of this the “lore” of the 45 continues. Is it really that great? Not so much, a .357 mag would be much better. The problem is that pistols in general have crappy stopping power. I did an experiment once with a rifle and a revolver of the same caliber. The handgun would barely penetrate a 3/4″ pine board at 20 feet. The rifle would penetrate 3 1/2″ of pine.

My suggestion for what is needed (which will be widely disagreed with I’m sure) is something along the lines of the .223 AR15. That is a small enough bullet/case so that 15-17 rounds can be held in the clip. Powerful enough to get close to the 550 ft-lbs of the .357mag. And as dependable as the Glock family of handguns. Kind of a 9 mm magnum with a 158 grain bullet and a muzzle velocity above 1400 fps.


I don’t intend to argue with the overall premise of the article, but it’s not correct to say that the 9mm Parabellum is less powerful than the .38 Long Colt. The 9mm is significantly higher in muzzle velocity and delivers nearly twice the muzzle energy of the .38 LC. That doesn’t necessarily make it suitable as a combat round but it’s certainly a better choice for that purpose than the .38 LC. By making that assertion, the article implies that selection of the 9mm was an irrational decision . In fact the 9×19 has been widely and effectively used as a pistol and submachine gun round by military and police in a number of countries for many decades prior to and after 1985. The .38 Colt, not so much.


I assume someone must have died at some time after being shot with the Euro-pellet .


Steve Bodio

1911 in.45 full stop– best auto pistol ever, 103 years after invention
After it, long after, MAYBE Glock.

I shoot revolvers myself.


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