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Exclusive: Air Force Revives .45-cal Handgun

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Twenty years ago, the US Department of Defense decided to replace the .45-cal M1911 handgun with the 9mm M9 Beretta as the standard-issue sidearm.

To say this decision was controversial is an understatement.

You will find plenty of defenders of the M9, such as this one, but also many, many critics. The critics say the M9's 9mm bullet lacks the "knock-down" power to immediately disable a human being. If this human being is shooting at you, you'd also prefer a bullet that could make this person stop.

I give you the Air Force Future Handgun program, which has just entered the market survey phase. The air force says it "may specify" a .45-caliber round, which is larger than the 9mm and the same size used on the M1911 phased-out in the late-1980s.

The air force program comes several months after the army and Special Operations Command cancelled the Joint Combat Pistol program, which also sought to bring back the .45-calibre sidearm.

History may be repeating itself. Legendary Air Force Gen. Curtis LeMay kept interest alive in the Colt M16 rifle while the army hopelessly pursued the Springfield M14. Will the air force now usher the .45-calibre sidearm back into the inventory, with the army again forced to play follow-the-leader?

-- Stephen Trimble

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