I have received a lot of email responses from my July 3 article on the Army’s Modular Handgun System praising .45 caliber as far superior to 9mm.
Pistol-caliber choices are personal and everybody has an opinion. But opinion isn’t fact, and there is some misinformation out there that needs to be addressed.
Many readers are under the impression that U.S. special operations forces have returned to using .45 caliber pistols since the adoption of the M9 9mm in 1985.
This has some truth to it, but in most cases SOF units use 9mm, experts maintain.
The Army’s Delta Force adopted .40 caliber, but the elite unit is having the same problems as the FBI – the heavier caliber is causing excessive wear problems in guns that were originally designed to be 9mm. Delta is now using 9mm Glock 17s, 19s and 34s.
The 75th Ranger Regiment and Special Forces units use M9A1s and Glock 19s.
SEAL Teams mostly use the Sig Sauer 226.
DEVGRU, or SEAL Team 6, does use Heckler & Koch .45 for special occasions when they need a suppressed capability.
Now about two years ago, Marine Corps Special Operations Command awarded a $22.5 million contract to Colt Defense LLC for new .45-caliber Close Quarter Battle Pistols for the service's elite special operations troops.The Colt 1911-style pistol replaced the fleet of worn-out Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command, or MARSOC, M45 pistols.
The Corps began issuing custom 1911 .45 pistols to its elite Force Reconnaissance units in the 1990s. Gunsmiths at the Quantico Weapons Training Battalion Precision Weapons Section hand built them from old 1911s that had been replaced by the M9 in the mid-1980s.
The creation of the first MARSOC units in 2006 caused the requirement to grow from 400 pistols to 4,000 pistols. Finding enough surplus 1911s for the Precision Weapons Section's custom rebuilds became impractical, Marine officials maintain.
Most MARSOC operators, however, are not carrying their nifty new .45s because units are having a problem getting .45-caliber ammo in theater for some reason, sources maintain.
The rest of the Marine Corps uses the M9A1, an upgraded M9 the service adopted in 2006. It features a rail for attaching lights or lasers, checkering on the front and back of the grip and a beveled magazine well for smoother magazine changes.
It’s a fact that larger .40 caliber and .45 caliber rounds are very accurate in the hands of a well-trained shooter and create a larger wound cavity in the body when compared to the 9mm.
But that doesn’t mean they make a better choice for a military pistol caliber than the 9mm round – especially when you consider that the majority of the military’s most elite units continue to use the 9mm NATO round.