So pistols in the infantry are unimportant?


March 29, 2003, 10:20 PM
Well I just saw Marines on the news clearing house to house in Nassyria with the point man leading with his M9, obviously so he could have his off hand free to deal with doors or manhandling the odd surprised Iraqi not sufficiently responding to field Arabic.

Puts a whole new spin on things for me. A Beretta is one of only about five handguns I'd trust to this role with no preference after number 1:

1) MEUSOC 1911
2) M9
3) M11
4) CZ 75/85
5) P-35

What do they all have in common? Heavy metal! Hammers, no strikers please! If I had to pistolwhip somebody CQB, I'd rather not have a plastic club. If I have to deal with mil-spec ammo, I want a harder hitting ignition system than a striker can provide.

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March 29, 2003, 11:09 PM
The M11 (as far as the Military is concerned) is the Sig P228. If you trust that, you'd probably feel happy with a Sig P226 as well.

MEU(SOC) 1911s are new uppers with all sorts of custom parts on old GI frames...made into some nice pistols, from what I hear.

FWIW, I'd feel comfy with a good revolver, too. I know, I know, not as tactical or cool, but what the heck, I'm a freak. ;)

March 30, 2003, 12:51 AM
Yeah, I'd go for a good condition M1917 myself I guess.

March 30, 2003, 01:02 AM
I'd take a CZ-97 loaded with 10 rounds of 230gr. if I had the choice.

March 30, 2003, 03:26 AM
If it was MY choice......

Any Sig Sauer in 9mm or .45 ACP.

Preferably, the Sig Sauer P220ST in .45 ACP or Sig Sauer P226ST in 9mm. Blacken the SS with a finish to keep the pistol glare free.

March 30, 2003, 06:10 AM
Whoa! what a concept! The value of a good sidearm is something which evidently needs to be relearned during every conflict. I've always felt that a pistol should be as much a part of the soldier's kit as a toothbrush. A very personal item used to keep your body in it's best possible condition.

March 30, 2003, 07:37 AM
I thought that ambushed Mec unit sorta showed that a hand-gun would be useful. They ran out of ammo and then the Iraqis closed in it appears. A pistol wouldn't have gotten in the way a lot and it wouldn't add an really burden to your standard kit. The soldiers might have been able to use them as they were over run to capture some AKs.

Of course, I could be wrong. I'm just an Armchair Commando. :D

Double Naught Spy
March 30, 2003, 08:03 AM
In regard to the statement of pistols being unimportant in the military, I don't think you addressed that issue at all, Boats. "Unimportant" might be the wrong word to choose. Sidearms are tool like so many and they have a fairly limited application. I don't know of any military testing on these guns to substantiate their usefulness for pistolwhipping.

Did you notice just how many of the guys were using handguns? Suffice it to say that even in a CQB situation like clearing homes, the handgun is not the preferred tool for all participants.

Have you noticed just how many soldiers have handguns on the battlefield? How many have you seen being used in fighting?

When you said you saw the Marines clearing homes, British or American? If it was the same news clip I saw, they were Brit Royal Marines.

March 30, 2003, 11:47 AM
I saw the clip I viewed on MSNBC and the commentator was following evidently the British Royal Marines, but only said "Marines," so they were using the P-35 IIRC, but also said that similar ops were underway at Najef, Umm Qasr, and Nassirya, so every force in the region is doing these things and probably doing them rather similarly. Anyways, my "unimportant" comment was a bit snide. There has been a noisy contingent of folks here, and at TFL, who, over time, have said, "Long gun, all the time, everytime, except maybe in a tunnel."

"Tunnel only" overstates the "uselessness" of a sidearm as a CQB weapon. I am not saying every serviceman in theater should be packing one, but if no one packs a handgun, what happens when somebody might need/prefer one?

The one thing I do know from experience is this: Clearing houses in the manner that the infantry in Iraq is doing looks an awful lot like searching a ship as a member of a boarding party. I had the pleasure of doing this type duty on two tours of the Persian Gulf during the Iran/Iraq war in the 80s. That duty was distinctly lacking for rifles, (though we had plenty available) as we armed primarily with 1911s and Remmy 870s for such duty, taking rifles only to cover the distance in approaching the vessel to be searched.

Having to go up ladders (stairs) take blind corners and cover multi-level spaces made a pistol much handier to take the lead with than any long gun. The shotguns made for decisive fight stopping in a confined space, and just like house clearing, any armed conflict was going to be sharp and contained, not of extended duration or at distance.

Ala Dan
March 30, 2003, 06:15 PM
Well folk's you already know the answer-


Best Wishes,
Ala Dan, N.R.A. Life Member

March 30, 2003, 06:19 PM
with all the sand i'd still take a glock.

March 30, 2003, 06:24 PM
I've always thought that every infantryman should have a sidearm, but I'd lean more to a DAO pistol or revolver. Easy to learn, and safe from the bumps & humps... :cool:

However, I also think that every soldier should be issued a .22 pistol (Mk II or Buckmark--maybe w/ silencers & detachable buttstock) as part of their kit. Accurate & powerful enough for small game, and quiet enough for infiltrations & ambushes....:evil:

Think I prefer the .22 idea more...

March 30, 2003, 09:11 PM
What do they all have in common?

What they all have in common is other soldiers armed with rifles backing them up.

When hunting armed BGs, a pistol is not the best choice.

March 30, 2003, 09:48 PM
A pistol on the point in a confined space is the type of role the modern handgun plays in the military.

As for, "with all the sand i'd still take a glock."

Not if you trust Larry Vickers for the truth on Glock performance in sand, a test scrupulously avoided by the carnival barker tests Glock makes gun rag ads out of.

Mike Irwin
March 30, 2003, 10:43 PM
I don't think anyone has said that the handgun is an unimportant weapon, Boats.

What I do think many people have done, though, is question the overall utility of a handgun in war time.

March 30, 2003, 11:34 PM
Well, I wouldn't argue for the overall utility, only that handguns have their time and place at the front and are not just for REMFs. Some have said they'd rather have another 2+lbs worth of 5.56mm., but in certain applications, I'd rather have my off hand free and a handgun, than another 2+ lbs of rifle ammo and sling that weapon in the meantime.

March 30, 2003, 11:55 PM
Do helmets, flak vest and emergency beacons WIN wars? How about camoflage, hot showers and Coke?

Rifles don't win wars, either. They haven't since the beginning of WWI.

This isn't a question of winning, it's a question of properly equiping soldiers to fight and survive.

March 30, 2003, 11:55 PM
Handguns are defensive weapons. If you need one in an infantry battle, things are not going well. :what:

March 31, 2003, 12:27 AM
Blackhawk pretty much summed up everything my cadre's been telling me.

That said... If the stuff should hit the fan, I would much rather have my M4 and more ammo than an M9. In fact, if you can carry anything else at all when you're suited up and ready to go, it should always be more 5.56 ammo. If not in 30 round magazines, then a belt bag for the 249 gunner.

If I'm chasing Charlie out of a spider hole, gimme a 1911. Otherwise, nah, I'ma trust my rifle.

March 31, 2003, 01:23 AM
Handgun is a personal defensive weapon and sadly, it may be nice to be able to choose your own time and place in the face of a sadistic enemy.

March 31, 2003, 02:53 AM
Just speaking from my own experiance, a handgun is not of much use. But it was a very comforting thing to have when you were in your hole at night and the bad guys were out skulking around. I found that sleeping with it on my chest with my hand wrapped around it was a very comforting thing. I sure slept better for it, and I never once had to use it. Of course this was over 30 yrs ago and in Indian counrty, and things may have changed now.

March 31, 2003, 11:01 AM
I'm of the thought that handguns are of limited use in combat.

And as far as room clearing and pistol whipping goes I'll take a short shotgun ANY day. Far more versatile for urban combat than any pistol EVER.

Pistol whip or buttstroke? my money is on buttstroke.

I'll bet that if you gave that marine an entry type shotgun he would holster that sidearm in about a second and not look back.

Pistols have thier use but I think the troops would be better served by replacing that weight with more food/water/5.56 ammo.

just my .02


Double Naught Spy
March 31, 2003, 11:23 AM
A handgun is neither a defensive or offensive weapon. It is the application that determines whether it is defensive or offensive.

Here, the application of handguns to the structure searhes is that that the handguns are better for CQB situations, but that they are easier to manipulate in very tight quarters situations (small rooms, halls, tunnels, etc.). Tight quarters may be CQB situations, but CQB situations definitely are not always tight quarters.

From what I have seen of the Brits and now the US guys searching structures, they really could use some SWAT training. I counted 7 entries where the door got popped open and two or more entered before somebody ever bothered to check behind the door, if they ever bothered. These guys looked to be flying in and not securing territory as they go and not even knowing what is behind them...both pistol and rifle carriers were doing this.

March 31, 2003, 11:29 AM
All I know is what I see on Fox News, just like most everyone else here... And what I see is that, when there's "Spec Ops" guys or any of the special teams that might qualify for "the best" equipment (combat search & rescue, etc) those guys always seem to have a pistol in a "tactical" thigh holster, and an M4 in hand...

I just don't see how a pistol and 2 spare mags is enough weight to "outweigh" the potential usefulness.

Personally, I'd feel much warmer and fuzzier with a USP45 on my left side, but I wouldn't leave my tent without my issue rifle.

Mike Irwin
March 31, 2003, 01:00 PM
"I just don't see how a pistol and 2 spare mags is enough weight to "outweigh" the potential usefulness."

No doubt about that. It's possible to become separated from your primary weapon when things go south, or if it becomes disabled, it's nice to have that secondary option.

My point & contention is, however, that the handgun just isn't used that much in warfare, and hasn't been for a LONG time, probably since the days of heavy Dragoon cavalry riding up to the enemy lines, touching off 2 shots with their .75-cal. dragoon pistols, and then wheeling and flying.

It always amuses me some of the rhetoric that I see here regarding handguns in American military service, especially if you bring up the .45 ACP and Colt.

I swear there are times when it appears that some posters believe that every American solider was armed ONLY with a Colt .45, and that's how we won WW I and WW II.

March 31, 2003, 02:18 PM
I have seen pictures on the web of our troops using M9s as point man entry weapons in Iraq. If I can find them, I'll post them.

I think that answers the question of a handgun's usefulness in combat. . . our troops have them and are using them. Obviously, for whatever reason, some of our guys feel more comfortable doing that particular task with a handgun. Good enough for me.


March 31, 2003, 04:25 PM
I look at it this way. Handguns are not main battle weapons, nor should they be the only weapon a soldier is issued, except in certain cases. After all, the proper weapon for a grunt, be he soldier or Marine, is a rifle.

However, handguns have always had, and will continue to have, their little niches in military service. For times when soldiers DO need handguns, they should have the best available.

Many special operations type units use handguns frequently. Marine Force Recon (the actual Recon Marines, not necessarily the support elements that go along with them), Special Forces, Delta, SEALs, PJs, etc.

April 1, 2003, 01:04 PM
I too would take a glock, if you have to pistolwhip them, make sure you hit them with the slide. And as far as Larry Vickers is concerned, I know he is a great pistolsmith but do really expect him to praise a glock over a 1911, I don't think so. You can field strip a Glock so fast and clean a little sand out, not the case with a 1911. Not to mention, a glock 17 with standard (read: hi-cap) mags with a +2 baseplate and 1 in the pipe gives you 20 rounds on tap vs. how many with a 1911, or anything else. I know what I would trust my life to. YMMV

April 1, 2003, 03:31 PM
Actually Mr. Vickers gave the nod to the HK USP on the sand test. So much for the 1911 favoritism.

Given that the handgun is a CQB "New York Reload" for a rifle or shotgun I'd rather have eight .45 FMJ rounds than 20 9mm ball rounds on tap before a reload.

April 1, 2003, 05:45 PM
I was suprised to hear Andy McNab (captured by the Iraqis in Gulf war 1) say of all his gear they took, he wanted a pistol more than a land rover. Apparently their pistols were lost in transit to the Gulf and they only had 1 pistol in the entire team of Bravo 2-0. He changed his mind about wanting a rover later as they carjacked a citizen for a lift.

Also on "Profiles from the front" I've seen a lot of 'house clearing' done with m-4's, shotguns, and handguns by guys in shorts and no shirts looking more like bikers than spec war operators.. all while armed afghanis (friend or foe?) kind of stood around watching disinterestedly. Very odd. Seems the 'bad guys' were a couple of allied militiamen who stole a gas truck from uncle sam.

April 1, 2003, 10:21 PM
I saw a U.S. Marine clearing a house with an M-9 on the Tele. I saw plenty of M-9's during the mission in Haiti. Handguns and Police type missions go hand in hand. It allows a soldier to hold a CQB weapon while doing other tasks. The handgun is always on your person while eating,sleeping,ect. We learned the hard way that there are no front lines and soldiers need sidearms. Rifles do jam and if I ran out of rifle ammo, I'd be glad to have a M-9 and 30 rnds of 9mm.

April 1, 2003, 10:42 PM
Rifles do jam and if I ran out of rifle ammo, I'd be glad to have a M-9 and 30 rnds of 9mm.Yea, absolutely. Lots of people carry a BUG to their primary handgun, why not carry an M9 as a BUG to your primary rifle? (and maybe a Kel-Tec as a BUG to that too!)

Island Beretta
April 1, 2003, 11:30 PM

Reality check!!:( What some of you are saying is that Armies have been wasting millions of dollars over hundreds of years equipping their troops with handguns!!:scrutiny:

Handguns are backup weapons and for special purposes. They have proven themselves in this role time and time again.. Assess them within this role so as to keep it in context.

In Vietnam many American soldiers had to crawl through tunnels. They had to arm themself with handguns as the rifles could not be carried in the cramped spaces. In Somalia having lost their rifles in a shootout a team of soldiers resorted to their M9s and it saved their lives etc. etc.

Tactically in a perceived low threat environment where your rifle ammo is running low, you would sling the rifle and go for the handgun. For certain clearing operations where overpenetration is a concern (e.g. some of the building clearings you saw taking place in Iraq) a handgun or shotgun is the preferred choice. For the soldiers there they had rifles and handguns so they used the handguns. The M16 is firing its round about 3-times the velocity of the 9mm round and given the high potential for 'genuinely innocent civilians' to be around you have to be careful.:cool:

April 2, 2003, 12:25 AM
Another possible reason for the handgun in CQB is so that the bogies don't grab onto the forend of it and pull you to him as he sticks you with something sharp.

Admiral Thrawn
April 2, 2003, 12:54 AM
If the US military codename is M11 for the SIG-Sauer P-228, then what is it for the P-226? :confused:

April 2, 2003, 01:45 AM
Thrawn, IIRC the reason the P228 is known as the M11 is because it was adopted for military issue, primarily for use when the M9 would be too cumbersome, the 226 does not have a designation because it hasn't been adopted for military service.

April 2, 2003, 02:14 AM
The SEALs use the P226, but such small numbers have been acquired for the Teams that it doesn't warrant an "M" designation.

Al Thompson
April 2, 2003, 06:51 AM
I think it depends on who does the procuring. The Army uses the "M" designation, the Navy the "Mk" or Mark designation and the Air Force uses (IIRC) something like "GAU".

The 226 may indeed have aa designation like "Mk 20". Isn't the big H&K a Mk 23 ?

Admiral Thrawn
April 2, 2003, 10:01 AM
Thanks for the replies people. That question has been bugging me for ages!

And yes, the large H&K used in the US Armed Forces is called the MK23 SOCOM Pistol, 0.45ACP. The ones that are sold to civilians are just called the Mark 23.

April 2, 2003, 10:48 AM
All the services use the same designations for the same guns. An M9 or M16 is just that, across the board.

The MK23 is not a Navy gun, it is a Socom gun. Socom is largely funded through the Army. The Navy, on it's own, couldn't afford to have Seals.

I think the 226 and MK23 both have "mark" designations, since they are not "service" weapons. I don't know if that is a rule, or not, since I've never heard those designations applied to other specialty weapons like the Stoner 63.

I believe "GAU" usually refers to something that is not a small arm, like a crew served or aircraft mounted weapon.

Al Thompson
April 2, 2003, 02:58 PM
That's not quite accurate Handy. When the Air Force FACs stored their Car-15s in our arms room, the nomenclature was "GAU" something. That (or something close) was what was on our property book. FWIW, they were skinny barreled ones and the true XM-177 version as well.

The Navy when it procures a weapon (usually through Crane NWS in Indiana) gives it the MK designation. Case in point, the MK 19 automatic grenade launcher was a Navy system. Although the Army adopted it, it's a Mark 19. IIRC, any service can tag on to a contract, just seems like it's too much of a problem to adjust the designation.

April 2, 2003, 03:41 PM
Well, sounds like it's a free for all with the naming stuff, unless the weapon is to be adopted DOD wide. All Navy weapons used in other services bear the same M designation (M14, M60, M16, M11 etc.).

I had never heard that use of GAU, the minigun on Marine Hueys is a GAU something. It's not surprising that the AF had their own name for the not quite standard CAR/XM-177. But an M4 is an M4 everywhere you go.

Dave Markowitz
April 2, 2003, 08:58 PM
I believe "GAU" usually refers to something that is not a small arm, like a crew served or aircraft mounted weapon.

"GAU" = Gun Automatic Unit, or something very similar. I believe it's used by the AF to designate automatic weapons.

April 3, 2003, 06:33 PM
From what I see on the tv, they aren't going to need rifle or pistol. If they keep running into houses with dirt floors, without checking for mines, they are going to be blown to hell anyway! Those A-rabs aren't smart enough to think of doing that yet apparently; but they might wise up after watching our entry techniques on the tv. I hope not, but the idea of kicking in a door and running inside really seems stupid to me, that is what grenades are for.:banghead:

April 3, 2003, 07:50 PM
The situation is complex. You have Baath party fanatics holding civilians hostage in many cases; you can't simply toss in a frag and forget about it. Fragging a bunch of Iraqi civillians is detrimental to the cause.

April 3, 2003, 08:33 PM
"Bath party fanatics holding civilians" In that situation, neither can you run in the door shooting. If you have to worry about hurting an Iraqi citizen being held by a fanatic with a weapon, you are going to be dead. Sorry, just the way it is; toss the grenade.:)

Gerald McDonald
April 3, 2003, 08:55 PM
If your going to frag every door you open with out looking inside, why bother opening them, using that logic wouldnt it make more sense to just carpet bomb the whole city. That would be the easiest. Just drop the bomb:D

Al Thompson
April 3, 2003, 09:34 PM
Throwing grenades is fine when your attacking soldiers. The way to really alienate folks and lose your moral edge is to do that if civilians are in the picture.

Makes us like them, huh?

April 3, 2003, 09:42 PM
Thank you, Mr. Thompson. Really, we could've just launched an ICBM at Baghdad, and another at Basrah. Syria doesn't like it? We've got plenty of the sauce to go around. What's that? Iran stepping up? We should convert them...TO RADIOACTIVE DUST! LAUNCH THE NUKES!

The war'd be over real quick. All for the low-low price of having committed mass-murder. Nevertheless, it would be the easiest way to win the war, and zero (0) Americans would be lost in the fighting.

But that's just not the American way.

Gerald McDonald
April 3, 2003, 09:50 PM
Nightcrawler, I agree, unless of course we were going after the french. then the big boom would be easiest. :evil:

April 3, 2003, 10:08 PM
as a member of the Military (and i'm in an MI company that does support for infantry and other types of combat arms troops) I hate that damned m9, worthless jamming 9mm pea shooter, i'll carry the m4 anyday, let me pick my own sidearm for military combat and i'll take the 1911.

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