United States Marine Corps Pistols in Question?

By John Farnam

The Army version, now known as the XM17, sports a cool color and a manual safety lever.
United States Marine Corps Pistols in Question?
Defense Training International, Inc
Defense Training International, Inc

Ft Collins, CO –-(Ammoland.com)- On pistols for the USMC, from a friend in a position to know:

“Most of the USMC has been using the 9mm M9 Pistol (Beretta 92F) for the last several decades, but Force Reconnaissance companies and some other special units, who have sufficient political autonomy to be able to get specific equipment, wanted to stick with the 1911 (and the 45ACP round), and were ultimately able to get their way!

However, new-production pistols were deemed necessary, because 1911 pistols in the existing inventory date from the 1930s. Most have been ‘rebuilt’ so many times, they are little more than scrap metal!

So, Colt won the contract to produce a new 1911 pistol in 45ACP for the USMC. It was an “ID/IQ” arrangement (Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity), hardly a ‘contact‘ at all! Window was 4k to 12k pistols, delivered on an indefinite schedule. Price per copy was $1,875.00 (including spare parts).

A small number of Kimber 1911s also made their way into the system.

The plot thickens!

When SOCOM subsequently ordered, and starting issuing, stock G19s (much less expensive than Colt’s 1911s) to other special operations communities, the USMC quickly joined in!

It is now generally accepted that, with modern high-performance ammunition, arguments over ‘effectiveness’ of various pistol calibers have become mostly outdated and irrelevant.

Again, it is only certain special USMC units who were issued the Colt 1911 (and now the G19). The rest of the USMC has been using Beretta pistols all along. And, presumptively Berettas will now be replaced with SIG 320s, the pistol recently selected by the Pentagon for global issue.”


Will the G19 and the Colt 1911 stick around within special units, or be replaced with the SIG320 across the board?

Stay tuned!


About John Farnam & Defense Training International, Inc
As a defensive weapons and tactics instructor John Farnam will urge you, based on your own beliefs, to make up your mind in advance as to what you would do when faced with an imminent and unlawful lethal threat. You should, of course, also decide what preparations you should make in advance, if any. Defense Training International wants to make sure that their students fully understand the physical, legal, psychological, and societal consequences of their actions or inactions.

It is our duty to make you aware of certain unpleasant physical realities intrinsic to the Planet Earth. Mr Farnam is happy to be your counselor and advisor. Visit: www.defense-training.com

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Just shows you how wrong you can be! I did two tours in Nam and 20 years as a Marine.. A few years as a weapons instructor and shot Competition both Rifle and pistol. Now at 81 years old I sometimes meet people like you. some people never learn thru life. For your information the “PREP” is a Preparatory Attacker. The term is used by Law Enforcement extensively. One of my son’s spent 40 + years in Law enforcement in Las Vegas (lots of action). If you don’t know something you should try to find the answer by research or… Read more »


By the way the purpose of wounding an enemy is to require more people to take care of him there by taking more people out of the fight not to take the fight out of them. >>>> Oldmarine

Wild Bill

@old and rattler, Are there not enough real enemies on this site spreading disinformation? Both of you have different training and experiences based upon your type of unit’s mission. There are bound to be differences, yet both have valid experience. The word from Bn TOC is “knock it off and get back to work”!


Thanks Wild Bill … dido


What is painfully obvious is that you are not only an idiot, but a liar and can’t comprehend what you read! There is no such thing as a “preparatory attacker” in law enforcement (making up shiite doesn’t make you credible), the word used by law enforcement is PERP (short for perpetrator), 2) I did NOT say I was a commander in Vietnam, try reading it again, 3) you repeated exactly what I said about wounding combatants. The reason you meet people like me is because they call you out on your bullshiite claims! There’s only one thing worse than a… Read more »

Wild Bill

@Rattlerjake, The debate that you were having has devolved, and no one from this family of commenters wishes to continue. Please stop. There are trolls, propagandists, paid Violence Policy Center staffers, and many “useful idiot” liberals that need and deserve your attention.




Since you folks have gone from good sense to name calling here’s an opportunity to call me idiot also. Think of the caliber issue this way. Which nation in the last two hundred years has had the most experience with side arms? What bullet did we prefer when we could have used .25, .32, 38, .380 See the direction in which this is going? Which country has had to pull the French’s (they don’t even count once they got past using swords) and English’s (who still aren’t allowed to carry or own guns) asses out of the fire twice, at… Read more »


I’m long past being professional; but the Ruger 1911’s made in AZ are damn fine pistols & I got mine for just under $700. Put one of those with 4-5 Wilson magazines; PRESTO! American sidearm.

Old marine

It’s a good choice… It’s The low end for knock down power which I approve of. There are many more calibers all over or near the 45…the 44 mag I think would be the top end. The reason I put knock down power as the first requirement for a pistol is….When encountering multiple enemies the most important factor is to stop them in their tracks or completely rearrange their attack. If you can knock down a prep ( and it is not a fatal shot ) his whole attitude will change to one of escape. These is the most important… Read more »


The problem is that most people, including “old marines” have been improperly taught. “Knock down power” is a misnomer, and shooting center of mass is SELDOM the best method of stopping an intruder. Everyone wants to do the heart/head, or double-tap, or some other form of “hollyweird” system of taking down a perp, when the best and most effective shot is to the hip/groin area. Even a .22 will effectively “stop” an advance. But if it is “killing” the perp that is more important, then there is nothing better than proper shot placement to the heart/head!


Talking thru your hat…. History proves wrong… Two wars proves you wrong.. A shot is meant to kill IF you hit your target and he is not on drugs. Then the next thing you want is to get your enemy on the graund and thing “how do I get out of this. The principle of using a gun is to kill but even if you hit the prep it may still get to kill you. Head shots don’t always kill proven fact. If you can knock down your target it gives you the advantage of putting the target at your… Read more »


What you have just proven is that you are just using the name “oldmarine” to make people THINK you know what you’re talking about! History has PROVEN that wounding the enemy takes far more out of the fight initially than killing them. It was true in every war since the revolutionary war in the US, and many other wars elsewhere. You also make typical generalized statements about accuracy and ability that also prove you are an idiot. There are examples of people that are not killed or stopped in nearly every shooting type incident or caliber usage there is, but… Read more »


By the way, “oldmoron”, what is a prep?

Chuck Haggard

The amount of derp in these comments makes Baby Odin weep….

stunning lack of any real world knowledge of wound ballistics being displayed…. shocked no one has brought up “The Moros!!!!!” yet….


Exactly, that shows the difference between stopping power (.45) and penetration (9mm).


I hate to rain on the “Urban Legend Parade”…aka “they-all-fall-to-hardball” cult…but, here’s why one police sergeant switched from the “death ray” .45ACP to 9mm…as detailed in an article on Police One’s website…FWIW…and “folks’ mileage varies”: “At the core of his desperate firefight was a murderous attacker who simply would not go down, even though he was shot 14 times with .45-cal. ammunition — six of those hits in supposedly fatal locations.” https://www.policeone.com/police-heroes/articles/6199620-Why-one-cop-carries-145-rounds-of-ammo-on-the-job/ As has been said many times before, “A handgun is merely a weapon of convenience to be used to fight your way to a rifle or a shotgun.”… Read more »


Spray and Pray does not work… If everyone could make a head shot ten it would always be a one shot fight. I have mentioned before that the 1911 45 is the only truly effective combat hand gun. early on the Army was in the Philippines with their standard 38 cal but found that the Huck’s they were fighting wore bamboo armor like the Indians wsed bone chest armor . the 38 could penetrate the Armor but they kept on coming. They tested and found that the 45 cal could knock down the charging Huck and kill him. They changed… Read more »


Welcome to 2017…over 100 years after the U.S. Empire’s war of conquest in the Philippines…from http://www.military.com in 2014 : “SOF PREFERS 9MM OVER .45 CALIBER Posted By: Matthew Cox July 9, 2014 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… Read more »


I know of an indecent that happened in Vegas where two cops pulled over a car driving erratically and a firefight started. He actually shot the cops (not fatally) and he was shot 32 times all with 9 mm before he died. I believe he would have been on the ground if the cops had 45’s.The reason he wouldn’t go down was he was high on PCP and couldn’t feel anything. This is why you should always pick a handgun that has knockdown power as the first requirement. All other Gun /Ammo choices become secondary. A head shot is only… Read more »

victor j engel

What about the S&W M&P or the new Ruger American handguns. Both American made, both in 45cal or 9mm, both at a very good price and very good quality firearms. Think about it.

Robert T Foy

I earned my cross pistols in the Marines before the 1911 was retired. Let me tell you the switch was all politics. None of us Marines in my Corps wanted that M-9. I still carry 1911’s. I have owned others but none feel right in my hand like JMB’s design, save the Ruger MK 22 pistols.


ROBERT foy, I agree I spent 20 years in the Corps from 1953 and competed in both Rifle and Pistol. In Pistol matches I used two Remington 45’s (aball gun and a Wad-cutter gun. I held the range record at 29 Palms until they got the Beretta 147 out of 150 at 50 yd. I learned to respect the 45 and after retiring I purchased a Colt and a Springfield Armory, full blown. I can say that the Springfield out shoots the Colt. History can be counted on and in the WWI the 45 killed with one shot almost every… Read more »


Sempi Fi to you too, Old Marine. This article was written on February 21st and I’ll be damn we are still here on Monday, March 6th talking about it. I was getting so many damned email comments from this one article, I was deleting most of them, until……. Yours is the Most Valid Post of them all, which is also known as Experience Mudafugin’ Experience! Now could someone, other than myself that is, tell rattlejack from San Francisco, no less, what it’s like out here in a ‘real man’s world’ Thanks again. Hmmmmm, and I thought I was an old… Read more »

ed tully

Parris Island 1967 5th Marines 1/5 alpha company 67 tet 68 Hue City. What this discussion has forgotten is the basics. SHOT PLACEMENT. One in the head, one in the chest. No matter what the caliber, every one of the above weapons mentioned will kill. Prefer the 45 acp; but given whatever the military issues, one must learn to be in control enough to put that first round in the head, cause of assumption that body armour is being used, then a round center mass. More ammo means nothing if you cannot hit the vitals. One round of 9mm in… Read more »

Wild Bill

@Old and all the other Marines, It is so gratifying to read Marines pointing to “Army Heros”!


Years ago; video regards a 9mm round that expaned without being a hollow point; and also let x-ray show fragments for surgeons. Anyone know the outcome?


Another correction to the article: the Army selected the P320, not all military branches as the article infers. Makes me wonder why, though. The testing protocols were less stringent in this round of tests than they were back in the ’80s when the Beretta 92 was selected. Also, Beretta’s M9A3 was banned from the competition. See where I’m going with this? The M9A3 should have been used as the baseline for testing… anything that performed better when subjected side-by-side to the same test protocols should have been considered. However, this did not happen. So, if someone eased test protocols and… Read more »

charles Valenzuela

What does this article have to do with the title of the article?
“United States Marine Corps Pistols in Question?”


Roy F. Wilt

Based on my limited experience! He! He! Having used all 3 of the above, I’d rather have a FNX-45! I do have the FNX-45! The recoil is about equal to a 9mm and I have 16 rounds of 45acp instead of the under powered 9mm! The 45acp was developed to Kill not piss of your enemy! Remember the recent Terrorist that was shot 5 times in France? Well he was shot with a 9mm! He lived! One 45acp round and he wouldn’t have!


My Glock 35 using a 22-round Glock .40 S&W mag for a full 23 rounds OR
my Beretta WC 92G 9mm with Mec-gar 20-round mag for a full 21 rounds are my carry guns
in preference to my Colt 1911 Govt. model with a full load of 9 .45ACP.
As to my comment that the US Military would use 9 mm 124-Grain NATO ammo, I’m just guessing. Since they probably already have a BILLION or more 9mm NATO stockpiled AND NATO Uses it, IT ONLY MAKES SENSE for the United States to use it!

Bob Lawrence

When the military adopted the Beretta 9mm in 1985, I approved. It was a great pistol. However, as we know, it narrowly beat the Sig Sauer P226 because of cost. In recent years, firearm and cartridge technologies, materials, designs, and efficiency have greatly improved. Sig Sauer has been, and continues to be, on the front line. The full-size P320 pistol is a premium creation. Glad the Army chose it. Striker-fire technology simplifies things for soldiers, especially new recruits. The modular P320 comes in 9mm, 357 Sig, 40, and 45. I have the 9mm, and it’s the best all-around pistol I’ve… Read more »

Ol' Vet

What soldiers carry pistols? Certainly recruits don’t, and since the M1/2 Carbine, no elister soldier has carried a pistol. I’ve seen women fire the .45 cal M1911A1 pistol with no problems. Since when is small hand a consideration for combat soldiers? I’d rather use the M1911A1 over any German pistol ever made. How many parts is there to the “new” American made German pistol? The only thing a soldier that needs a pistol can do for their own safety is to shoot the bad guy and knock his ass down, and you won’t get that with anything other than a… Read more »

Wild Bill

@Ol’Vet, Often times the U.S. government contracts with other countries in exchange for being our “allies” in our Middle eastern campaigns. That way the government sells our side as “the Allies”. This could be one of those deals.


Have used Glock .40 cal. in full-time LE for years. Now use full-size Sig P320 in .357 Sig for on-duty, “Carry” model P320 in .357 Sig for on-duty backup (seat gun) and off-duty use, and Compact P320 in 9mm for low-profile off-duty carry. I like Sig P320 much better than Glock – mags are steel and more durable / reliable when fully loaded over long periods of time in my experience…better mag springs. The Sig P320 has a great trigger right out of the box…much better than Glock in my experience. As regards the U.S. Military use of handguns, they… Read more »

Don Bailey

As far as the performance of the .357 Sig., that is a great round for just about any kind of use.


While the Sig P320 is an excellent firearm, but to say it is modular is only somewhat true. As it turns out, Sig engineers blew it. There are really 2 platforms. You can convert between 9mm, Sig 357, and 40mm, but the .45ACP platform stands alone. Meaning you cannot convert to any other caliber. You are limited to changing the grip module, which also is not compatible with the other platform.


Modular as in grip size can be changed to better fit almost any size man’s or woman’s hand.
Can that be done with a 1911, M9 or Glock 19?

d.w. lee

Glock 19 can


I’d be interested in Mr. Farnam’s take on this issue to include such questions as: The efficacy of buying and issuing a new model, albeit from Sig. The effectiveness of FMJ rounds from .45 and from 9MM? The proximity of the thumb safety to the slide lock? Weight of the pistol and ammunition loadout? And any other relevant questions/information on the choice of Sig over Glock? And a comment on the choice of Colt over Kimber and SA, including the price of the Colt vs. Kimber and SA guns of the same design.


Modern ammo is irrelevant when you’re required to use FMJ. I’ll take a 230 grain FMJ .45 acp, over a 124 grain FMJ 9 mm everytime given a choice of the two. For up close social work the choice of the two is simple for me. Big hole, massive blood loss, and greater tissue damage wins here. I’d prefer a Glock 19 with expanding HP ammo if ammo choice was not an issue. Actually, my G19 is always chosen over any of my 1911s for EDC.

Bill Mullins

I prefer a 165gr jacketed hollow point .40 S&W myself. My G22 handles ’em just fine. According to published data a .40 has over 97% of the muzzle energy of a .45. I also like having 16 rounds available (15 +1). When I worked armed security I also carried 2 spar mags. Somebody asked me why I carried so much (46 rds) ammo. My reply was simple. I never heard of somebody losing a firefight because of having to much ammo. I HAVE heard of people losing one because they ran out of ammo.

Robert T Foy

40 S&W = 10mm short and weak

d.w. lee

How about using polycase ammo in any 9mm pistol the military carries. The bullet has been shown to leave both a larger temporary and permanent wound cavity and not over penetrate without expanding. That would give the service member a much more capable round without violating the international agreements already in place. The choice of the Sig pistol was partially based on the ability to reconfigure the pistol for smaller handed folks. I just can not see a regular Army or Marine CQ or armorer going to the trouble of keeping up with different frames,grips etc.. They are going to… Read more »

2nd Amender

All part of “having a war” where no one gets killed! Anyone knowing the background of the 1911 development knows it was designed to KILL EFFICIENTLY! The carry more ammo theory came around after WWII, obviously with the m-15/16, but so did the idea of “incapacitating the enemy fighter, and taking him/her out of he fight”. So, those who protect us are armed with rounds, and the guns who deliver them, which are measured in millimeters instead of inches, such as .38, .380, but are still 9mm…….a hundred years ago proven to be ineffective. More efficient powders, and higher velocities… Read more »


2nd Amender, Your post was a whole ‘mouth full of RIGHT!’ Thanks. Like you, I’ll keep my G21 .45 ACP, and don’t care about ‘the weight of the ammo’. I was in the Corps and NYPD about a hundred years ago with my .38 spec revolvers peashooter, where they went to G19 .9mm in the late 80’s early 90’s. I’m sure you have heard the disastrous stories where cops shoot/hit a perp (multiple times) with their 9mm and then chase them for 5-6 blocks. Or the cop in Philadelphia who was shot three times in the arm with a 9mm… Read more »


That is why I’ll stick to my girl Kimber and continue to carry enough ammo to drive my kids batty.
And yes, the ammo is already loaded into mags.


Yeah because there are so many case studies where a 45acp single shot has blown arms or other appendages off of people…LMAO


NOT to mention THROWING them back 10 feet THROUGH THE AIR!


You obviously don’t know your ballistics. The 9mm will penetrate further than a .45! A “runaway” .45 will NOT go through the walls of 3-4 apartments! In fact, in SF we used .45 when training for firing inside aircraft because the penetration was less than 9mm.



WOW! “….a 45 when training inside aircraft…. And, here we thought that ‘Whenever your going to SF you had to be sure to wear a flower in your hair… No Mas! You win! There is no point in continuing a ‘rational discussion’ with a fool, who knows everything there is to know about ballistics everything…


There’s always an ahole in every discussion, thanks for point yourself out!

Tony Cash

So can we expect all those trade ins to make there way onto the civilian market now?


“It is now generally accepted that, with modern high-performance ammunition, arguments over ‘effectiveness’ of various pistol calibers have become mostly outdated and irrelevant.”
So does this mean that our troops will be supplied with expanding hollow point ammunition?
Because FMJ bullets are still about the same as they were 70 plus years ago


No, they will just issue ++++++P++++++ ammo and hope for the best.


They will use the 124 grain 9mm NATO standard ammo.


False statement, won’t be using NATO’s ammo


All branches of our military MUST use the 124 grn ball round that conforms to the NATO pact…..no, the ammo is not ‘NATO’s ammo’ as you wrote….we don’t actually have the ammo issued by NATO, but we must use ammo that conforms to those spec’s……if you believe otherwise, you are mistaken sir.


Sarcasm noted but there is no reason why a good bonded bullet should not be adopted.


Doesn’t the Geneva Convention specify FMJ?
Expanding Hollow Point can only be used on U.S. Citizens, not enemy combatants.

Don Bailey

As we already know, they would rather we fight more humane wars. You know, the kind where we hurl sticks, stones, and insults at each other.


No, it is the Hague Treaty that prohibits ammunition that would cause unnecessary suffering.


I’d say give these units the choice.

Personally, having owned both a Glock and a Sig P320 I’d definitely take the Sig.