Last military unit to use Colt 1911s drops them from service

A U.S. Marine with Force Reconnaissance Platoon, Maritime Raid Force, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), reloads the M45-A1 pistol during a deck shoot aboard the USS Arlington (LPD 24), Oct. 12, 2015. The Arlington is deployed as part of the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group to the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility as part of a regularly scheduled deployment. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jeraco Jenkins/Released).

The 1911 and the .45 ACP cartridge that gave it fame are officially dead- at least when it comes to standard issue in the US military.

In a move that will no doubt put fanatics of the 105-year-old pistol on suicide watch, the United States Marine Corps Special Operations Command has given the official word that they are dumping the .45 caliber M45 1911s for the 9mm Glock 19.

While technically, the Marine Recon battalions still have the 1911 in stocks, the units deploy much less than their MARSOC brethren and will likely have word come down the line to switch over to the M9 (which is currently also in their inventory) or make the change to the Glock 19.

While the .45 ACP has often been historically touted as superior to 9mm by way of old salt’s tales and the (partially mythical) concept of “stopping power”, the sentiment for both the caliber -and the legendary pistol that has been in every major American war since its birth- is not powerful enough to override the 9mm’s dominance in magazine capacity, logistics, cost and modern improvements (such as Expanding Full Metal Jacket and leaps in Hollow Point technology). Lastly, the 9mm has more penetration capabilities than the .45 ACP round.

“Based on lessons learned in our operations, we also took into consideration how well a round could penetrate objects of varying densities and in different environmental conditions,” Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command Major Nick Mannweiler said. “We concluded that a 9mm round suited our needs.”

As far as the 1911 is concerned, the large pistol suffers from limited magazine capacity, and current service models with MARSOC have had their company of manufacture lose face after reports of cracked frames in reliability tests. According to TheFirearmBlog, the Glock 19 will provide more (over double) magazine capacity in a concealable package that is known worldwide for ruggedness in all conditions.

In regards to the 9mm versus .45 ACP debate that has raged on since at least the 1980s, Mannweiler stated that “We put our money behind the 9mm round fired by an extremely well-trained marksman carrying a Glock 19.”

The Glock 19 has already been on the inventory lists of Special Operations units within the US military, including Naval Special Warfare Command, Air Force Special Operations Command and US Army Special Forces. In addition, it is an extremely common pistol platform among America’s allies.

With the M9 service pistol facing replacement across the US Military, the switch over to the Glock 19 by “tip of the spear” forces may be a foreshadowing of acquisitions to come.

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  • Andy Wolf

    Andy Wolf is an Appalachian native who spent much of his youth and young adulthood overseas in search of combat, riches, and adventure- accruing decades of experience in military, corporate, first responder, journalistic and advisory roles. He resides in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains with his K9 companion, Kiki.

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