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Army Considering .40 caliber as FBI Returns to 9mm

130606-A-NQ567-052I posted an update story on this morning looking at the Army’s Modular Handgun System effort. The service is holding its second MHS industry day July 29.

This is not the first story I have written about the Army wanting to replace the M9 9mm pistol with a larger-caliber weapon, but the weapons officials seem set on doing just that.

Army weapons officials from Fort Benning, Ga., say the joint MHS effort will result in a “new gun, new ammo, new holster, everything," according to Daryl Easlick, a project officer with the Army's Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, Ga.

"We have to do better than our current 9mm."

The MHS will be an open-caliber competition that will evaluate larger rounds such as .357 Sig, .40 S&W and .45 ACP.

The story also points out that the FBI and several major police departments recently decided to return to using the 9mm round after finding that .40 caliber ammunition was causing excessive wear on its service pistols.

The heavier bullet and greater recoil over time resulted in frame damage to well respected makes such as Glock and Beretta, according to Ernest Langdon, a shooting instructor and respected competitive pistol shooter.

"Most of the guns in .40 caliber on the market right now were actually designed to be 9mm originally and then turned into .40 calibers later," Langdon told

Langdon served 12 years in the Marine Corps (1985-1987) where he was the chief instructor of the Second Marine Division Scout Sniper School and the High Risk Personnel Course. He’s well known in the small-arms community. Langdon has been a competitive pistol shooter for 15 years where he has won competitions in the International Defensive Pistol Association and two World Speed Shooting titles.

Langdon has worked for gun makers such as Beretta, Smith & Wesson, and Sig Sauer. He said he keeps going back to shooting the Beretta 92/M9 design because that’s what he’s used to, not because he thinks it’s better than Glock, S&W M&P, Sig or other models.

And just so it’s clear, Langdon isn’t endorsing the M9 or arguing that the military should keep it forever. Langdon does, however, believe that the 9mm is suited for general-purpose military use and doesn’t buy into the argument that caliber size equals “stopping power.”

Larger calibers, such as .40 S&W, have significantly more recoil than the 9mm making them much harder for the average shooter to shoot accurately, he said.

"I don't think anybody would argue that shot placement is the most important for terminal ballistics," Langdon said. "Even though you say a .45 is better than a 9mm, it's still a pistol caliber. Chances are if it is a determined adversary, they are going to have to be shot multiple times regardless of the caliber."

Army officials wouldn’t get specific about a timeline for MHS, but said that they did a "very thorough cost-benefit analysis" that supported replacing the M9 for all the services, Easlick said.

If you recall it was just last year that the Army awarded contracts worth more than $73 million to Military Hardware, LLC for G-Code holsters and $24.3 million contract to ADS Inc. for Serpa holsters for the M9.

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