Some Marines still carry M1911 .45's


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Leatherneck
January 17, 2003, 10:49 AM
”Some MEU's still carry proven M1911 .45's


By Mark Oliva, Stars and Stripes
Pacific edition, Monday, August 5, 2002

CAMP HANSEN, Okinawa — Not everyone in the U.S. military carries Beretta’s M-9 9 mm handgun. A small group of Marines still carry .45-caliber pistols — but they’re a far cry from Grandpa’s World War II gun.

Marine Corps officials keep about 500 .45-caliber pistols, based on the Colt M-1911A1 frame. They’re called MEU (SOC) .45s, specially designed for applications within the Marine Expeditionary Unit’s Special Operations Capable missions.

They’re issued to Force Reconnaissance Marines as secondary weapons to submachine guns for their role as the Maritime Special Purpose Force. This gun shoots up close and personal.

Marine Capt. Jeffrey Stower, project officer for the MEU (SOC) .45 at Marine Corps Systems Command in Quantico, Va., said the .45 is essential to Marines’ direct-action missions as a secondary weapon. It’s so important, in fact, that the Marine Corps plans to upgrade the weapon.

The Corps now builds its own specialized version of the .45-caliber pistol from existing M-1911A1 frames still in inventory.

Armorers at the Marine Corps Weapons Training Battalion in Quantico refit the guns. They install new slides, barrels and internal components to what is called “near match” or “combat accuratized” specifications. Each weapon costs about $600 and is good for 30,000 shots before it needs to be refitted.

The planned improvements won’t affect the .45’s appearance or make it shoot faster or more smoothly. But they should make it more durable.

Stower said the Marine Corps wants to put in “hardened, drop-in parts, which would enhance the reliability and endurance of the weapon, as well as lower the echelon of maintenance.”

“The two biggest reasons we carry the .45 pistol,” said Marine Maj. Tracy Tafolla, “is a single-action loader is a little faster for the Marines to use when conducting close-quarters battle.”

“We get faster, stronger and more accurate shots that we just wouldn’t get with a double-action pistol,” said Tafolla, head of the Special Missions branch, III3rd Marine Expeditionary Force Special Operations Training Group. That means Marines can get off a first round faster, smoother and more accurately.

“Another reason we use the MEU (SOC) .45 is because of its ability to incapacitate a hostile person with one round,” Tafolla said. “We’re much more likely to do that with a .45 than with a 9 mm.”

Tafolla said the M-9 9 mm is a good weapon with good attributes. He said the safety of double-action triggers, high-capacity 15-round magazines and the fact it’s the same round used by other NATO allies makes it a natural fit for standard issue. He labeled the M-9 as a “good personal self-defense weapon.”

In fact, the same Marines who carry the beefy .45s also carry MP-5 submachine guns that shoot 9 mm rounds. But when firing those submachine guns, they shoot “double-taps,” or two squeezes on the trigger, to ensure an enemy soldier is hit with a massive amount of lead. Special Operations Training Group instructors teach a single shot to the head for the .45.

The MEU (SOC) .45 also is better able to survive harsh battlefield environments, Tafolla said. It can fire in dirtier conditions that would gum up the M-9; its heavier frame can take more abuse.

“Look at how many decades we’ve been using the .45,” the major said. “It’s a proven weapon.”

Tafolla said Marines using the specialized .45-caliber pistols expect to be fighting within steps of their enemy, “with very little stand-off room.” The time needed to get off a second shot can be the difference between life and death.

“They need a weapon that will be able to put somebody down now,” Tafolla said. “It all comes back to the energy you deliver to the target. Although the 9 mm is faster, the .45 is able to deliver more energy and achieve greater penetration. That’s what you have to have.

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Leatherneck
January 17, 2003, 10:52 AM
I would think that the process of accurizing the 1911s--tighter bushings and link, etc. would be conducive to jams under dirty conditions. And I also thought the Special Ops guys were all about "down and dirty" close-in fighting where the accuracy of the weapon isn't very important, but reliability is. Can anybody explain?

TC
TFL Survivor

4v50 Gary
January 17, 2003, 10:58 AM
Bought into bells & whistles I suppose. However, glad to hear some guys in the Corps still cherish the 1911. Almost a century old and still going strong.

PATH
January 17, 2003, 11:01 AM
Battle tested and still a great firearm. I like it a lot better than the .9 for bringing something down in a hurry.

Hkmp5sd
January 17, 2003, 11:01 AM
This gun shoots up close and personal.

This one is over my head. Have no idea what an "up close and personal" firearm characteristic is.

Azrael256
January 17, 2003, 11:28 AM
There's actually a pretty good explanation of this pistol in Clancy's book Marine. IIRC, new barrel, better trigger, new grips, ambidextreous safety, and some change to the hammer were made. He said it was a dream to shoot, and it sure looked like fun.

perry
January 17, 2003, 11:33 AM
I carried the 45 in Viet nam with the m-79 in 66&67.

Sean Smith
January 17, 2003, 11:48 AM
OLD article that reappears periodically.

Accuracy and reliability aren't mutually exclusive at all. Almost all accuracy comes from two factors:

1. Barrel quality.
2. Barrel-to-slide-to-bushing fit.

Do those two right, and you can make everything else loose and still have a VERY accurate firearm. Stuff like super tight slide-to-frame fit has almost no effect on accuracy AND is a detriment to reliability.

Ebbtide
January 17, 2003, 11:50 AM
I would think that the process of accurizing the 1911s--tighter bushings and link, etc. would be conducive to jams under dirty conditions. And I also thought the Special Ops guys were all about "down and dirty" close-in fighting where the accuracy of the weapon isn't very important, but reliability is. Can anybody explain?

They install new slides, barrels and internal components to what is called “near match” or “combat accuratized” specifications. Each weapon costs about $600 and is good for 30,000 shots before it needs to be refitted.

I think this is another way of saying "not so tight as it would effect reliability". My SA loaded is a lot tighter than a surplus 1911, yet I have not had any failures after the initail break in period. Seeing that it was metioned that they are "drop in parts" I don't think things are as tight as you might think.

As far as an "up close and personal weapon" I would take a the sweet SA trigger of the 1911 over the M9 any day. Plus, it sounds like they have the training to back up the round count difference.

Then again, I'm sure there are some die hard 1911 fans in the military who just can't let go....and for good reason as seen here on a daily basis (9mm vs. 45).

stans
January 17, 2003, 12:54 PM
You might be surprised at how accurate a loose 1911 can be, if it has a good barrel.

cdbeaver
January 17, 2003, 02:37 PM
I want one of those .45's. Do you have to be a Marine to get one? I may be just a tad past the enlistment age.

Jesse H
January 17, 2003, 02:49 PM
I didn't know they carried C&L.

Mike Irwin
January 17, 2003, 05:35 PM
Seeing that they're for a highly specialized unit, I'm wondering if those .45s will have something else that you don't normally see on a 1911...

A threaded barrel for a suppressor...

Bob A
January 17, 2003, 08:03 PM
They’re issued to Force Reconnaissance Marines

That says it all. These troops are not everyday grunts. They're the USMC version of Rangers/SEALs/Special Forces. That's what the SOC (Special Operations Capable) means behind the MEU. They can conduct what the spooks call "black bag" ops, do recon behind enemy lines, commando raids, air support, assassinations, and pretty much anything else they get ordered to do. They aren't as well known as SEALs or Rangers, but they do much of the same jobs.

I'm wondering if those .45s will have something else that you don't normally see on a 1911...

A threaded barrel for a suppressor...

It's likely. When I was in the Corps, I had a friend in Recon who showed me some stuff they have access to. 9mm revolvers, silenced MP5s and such. I'm sure they have all that type of gear.

Mike Irwin
January 17, 2003, 09:33 PM
Bob,

Yep, which sort of points to the reason why these units are using .45...

It's subsonic, 9mm isn't.

JerryN
January 17, 2003, 10:23 PM
Sounds like a dream gun. But out in the field you always have to question the closed slide design. It traps dirt like a dirt magnet.

Not that the 1911 is a bad design. Its been around for a long time and is a proven hard hitter. But for dirty field conditions, I'd want a design that lets crud fall out as well as in.

I carry a .45 daily, but then again, I don't drag it through the mud. If I had to drag my secondary firearm through a turd storm I'd want an open design that lets crap fall out. Its the accumulation of stuff that most often hinders performance.

Mike Irwin
January 18, 2003, 01:37 AM
"But out in the field you always have to question the closed slide design. It traps dirt like a dirt magnet."

Apparently that was never really a consideration with the 1911, though, as it went from the trenches of Europe to the rice patties of Vietnam with few complaints about its reliability or servicability, even in the worst of conditions.

Viking6
January 21, 2003, 09:33 AM
For pure practicality, I think the M9 would make more sense because of the compatability of the ammo with the MP-5 for ease in cross loading, etc. Whatever.

mso
January 21, 2003, 02:58 PM
Now that the Marines have proved the 45 is best, and the 1911 is the best 45...

Do they wear boxer's or briefs? Roll their TP over the top or under the bottom? T or A? Less filling or tastes great? The blonde or the brunette? ;)

Viking6
January 22, 2003, 08:16 AM
Erick Gelhaus, I found this at the same link that you posted. Good shooting.


MP-5N Heckler and Koch 9mm Submachine Gun


Manufacturer: Heckler and Koch
Length:
Collapsed stock: 19.29 inches (49 centimeters)
Extended stock: 25.98 inches (66 centimeters)
Weight: 7.44 pounds (3.38 kilograms) (w/30 round magazine)
Bore diameter: 9mm (.355 inches)
Maximum effective range: 328.1 feet (100 meters)
Rate of fire: 800 rounds per minute
Unit Replacement Cost: $894

Features: The MP5-N fires from a closed and locked bolt in either the automatic or semiautomatic modes. This gun is recoil operated and has a unique delayed roller locked bolt system, a retractable butt stock, a removable suppressor, and illuminating flashlight integral to the forward handguard. The flashlight is operated by a pressure switch custom fitted to the pistol grip. This is the same basic weapon used by the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team and other world-class counter-terrorist organizations.
The present inventory includes both suppressed and non-suppressed versions of the MP5. The basic configuration of this weapon makes for an ideal size, weight,and capable (accuracy, lethality, reliability, etc.) close quarters battle weapon system.

Background: This weapon is manufactured by Heckler and Koch and is presently fielded to Marine Corps Force Reconnaissance Companies and Marine Security Force Battalions. It is currently considered the main weapon in the close quarters battle (CQB) environment.

FPrice
January 22, 2003, 08:19 AM
"Do they wear boxer's or briefs? Roll their TP over the top or under the bottom? T or A? Less filling or tastes great? The blonde or the brunette?"

You forgot the most important one.

MaryAnn or Ginger??


:p

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