The New Army Pistol: Decoded

Big surprise. The Army wants a new pistol again. But don’t worry! I’m here to help you through the pain of Army gun-speak. The original article is here

My comments will be in italics. Ready?

The U.S. Army is moving forward to replace the Cold War-era M9 9mm pistol with a more powerful handgun that also meets the needs of the other services.


As the lead agent for small arms, the Army will hold an industry day July 29 to talk to gun makers about the joint, Modular Handgun System or MHS.

Industry day aka “Hey fellas, got anything new?

The MHS would replace the Army’s inventory of more than 200,000 outdated M9 pistols and several thousand M11 9mm pistols with one that has greater accuracy, lethality, reliability and durability, according to Daryl Easlick, a project officer with the Army’s Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, Georgia.

Actually training your soldiers on their pistols will raise accuracy, lethality, reliability, and durability too.

“It’s a total system replacement — new gun, new ammo, new holster, everything,” Easlick said.

Never mind they still have 3 years left on their contract with Beretta.

The Army began working with the small arms industry on MHS in early 2013, but the effort has been in the works for more than five years. If successful, it would result in the Defense Department buying more than 400,000 new pistols during a period of significant defense-spending reductions.

Buying 400,00 new guns they don’t need while reducing spending overall. GO ARMY.

Army weapons officials maintain that combat troops need a more effective pistol and ammunition. But experts from the law-enforcement and competitive shooting worlds argue that tactical pistol ammunition — no matter the caliber — is incapable of stopping a determined adversary without multiple shots in most cases.

I love the “determined adversary” part, it’s like the bad guys aren’t determined sometimes. Just for the record, 5.56NATO also takes multiple shots in most cases. Just saying.

One of the major goals of the MHS effort is to adopt a pistol chambered for a more potent round than the current 9mm, weapons officials said. The U.S. military replaced the .45 caliber 1911 pistol with the M9 in 1985 and began using the 9mm NATO round at that time.

This was the second time the Army replaced the .45 caliber pistol. The first time they went to the .38 and soldiers almost revolted.

Soldiers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan have complained that the 9mm round is not powerful enough to be effective in combat.

Read a stat once that around 300,000 soldiers have actually shot at someone in either Iraq or Afghanistan. So yeah, not a big surprise a few would complain about anything.

“The 9mm doesn’t score high with soldier feedback,” said Easlick, explaining that the Army, and the other services, want a round that will have better terminal effects — or cause more damage — when it hits enemy combatants. “We have to do better than our current 9mm.”

Here’s an idea. .44mag

The MHS will be an open-caliber competition that will evaluate larger rounds such as .357 Sig, .40 S&W and .45 ACP.

What?! No .44 mag? Clint Eastwood is rolling in his grave right now.

The FBI and several major police departments recently decided to return to using the 9mm round after finding that .40 caliber ammunition was causing excessive wear on its service pistols. The heavier bullet and greater recoil over time resulted in frame damage to well respected makes such as Glock and Beretta, according to Ernest Langdon, a shooting instructor and respected competitive pistol shooter who has worked for gun makers such as Beretta, Smith & Wesson, and Sig Sauer.

Love how he trashed the manufacturers he’s never worked for. Good show old boy! He does make a good point. .40 is terrible.

“Most of the guns in .40 caliber on the market right now were actually designed to be 9mm originally and then turned into .40 calibers later,” Langdon told

Right again! So Ernie is growing on me.

Langdon served 12 years in the Marine Corps where he was the chief instructor of the Second Marine Division Scout Sniper School and the High Risk Personnel Course. He’s been a competitive pistol shooter for 15 years where he has won competitions in the International Defensive Pistol Association and two World Speed Shooting titles.

IDPA and speed shooting competitions are mostly a joke. 12 years in the Marines however is no joke.

Larger calibers, such as .40 S&W, have significantly more recoil than the 9mm making them much harder for the average shooter to shoot accurately, he said.

When he says “average shooter” just read “never held a handgun before.” Handling recoil is about technique. My grandma still shoots her .45.

“I don’t think anybody would argue that shot placement is the most important for terminal ballistics,” Langdon said. “Even though you say a .45 is better than a 9mm, it’s still a pistol caliber. Chances are if it is a determined adversary, they are going to have to be shot multiple times regardless of the caliber.”

Unless of course you teach soldiers to shoot better under pressure. And there’s that “determined adversary” thing again. Where are all the undetermined adversaries?

Many law-enforcement shooting incidents have shown this to be reality, he said.

“I talked to a Chicago cop that shot a guy eight times with a .45 to kill him and that was a 230 grain Hydra-Shok,” Langdon said. “And that guy now carries a 9mm …he realized that handgun bullets suck. “You have to shoot people a lot with a handgun.”

Especially when you can’t shoot. If he couldn’t kill a guy with 8 shots from a .45 he should’ve been fired.

Langdon has trained numerous personnel from all branches of the U.S. military, FBI, Secret Service and other federal agencies as well as state and local law enforcement.

As part of the joint requirement process for MHS, Army weapons officials did a “very thorough cost-benefit analysis” that showed supported the effort, Easlick said.

“We have got an old fleet of M9s right now; it’s costing us more to replace and repair M9s than it would cost to go get a new handgun,” he said.

I guarantee you that’s an outright lie. Unless of course the Army isn’t performing regular maintenance on the guns. Consider it this way. If you run your car everyday for 5 years and never check the fluids or change the oil. Who’s fault is it when the car breaks down?

The Army spent years on an effort to search for a replacement for its M4 carbine, but ended up adopting the improved M4A1 version used by special operations forces.

Hint hint. Beretta M9A1. Which would use all those fancy holsters you bought.

Beretta officials maintain that the company has offered to upgrade M9 many times.

“We have submitted numerous changes or product improvements that really address a lot of the shortcomings that are either perceived or real,” said Gabe Bailey, Business development manager for Beretta’s military division.

He just means perceived.

The Marine Corps adopted the M9A1 in 2006 that 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.

The Marine Corps. Ahead of the curve once again. Every Marine is a pistolero!

Some of the improvements Beretta offered included an enhanced sight system, changing the angle of the slide-mounted safety to avoid inadvertent safety activation and a threaded barrel, Bailey said.

Army officials, however, say the M9 does not meet the MHS requirement.

The M9 was good enough to blow every other pistol out of the water in 1985. Too bad you haven’t updated it for 30 years. Not Berettas fault you won’t let them do the upgrades like they offered.

“The M9 doesn’t meet it for a multitude of reasons,” Easlick said. “It’s got reliability issues; the open slide design allows contaminates in. The slide-mounted safety doesn’t do well when you are trying to clear a stoppage — you inadvertently de-cock and safe the weapon system.”

Easlick I was on your side. You had me. Now I just think you’re an idiot. Basically the Army wants a gun that’s so good they won’t have to train their soldiers. Guns are mechanical objects. Mechanical objects need regular cleaning. Army doesn’t seem to understand this and if they want a weapon system you can’t inadvertently de-cock adopt a Glock.

Well there you go folks. I hope that made you laugh a little and understand things a little better.


3 thoughts on “The New Army Pistol: Decoded

  1. Stan R. Mitchell

    Nicely done. And this sure doesn’t make the Army look good, as you so well pointed out. Let’s see, there’s some other word coming to mind of a similar Army boondoggle. What is that word? Could it possibly be Comanche?*

    I’m going to go ahead and call it… There’s some General, nearing retirement age, with his or her eyes set on a board of directors seat for one of the major gun makers (not Beretta, clearly). Meetings for such a seat are quarterly or monthly, and pay for such work will be about $100,000 a year. Nah, this couldn’t possibly be the case, could it?

    And I’m not saying it’s completely dirty. Just said General at some convention had some high-powered (probably highly decorated) salesmen mention some of the amazing new pistol innovations out there, and then they’ve planted the seed that the M9 has quite a few shortcomings and isn’t it about time a successor be considered? Possibly multiple salesmen from multiple gun makers drove home the point, each looking out for their own interest — and all just hoping for the entire pistol contract to be reconsidered.

    I might be wrong, and I’m probably a little wrong, but I’m more right than wrong about what I’ve written above…


    * For those who don’t know, Comanche was a project working on a helicopter without exterior attack pods (what?!) that, for that lovely sum of a mere $7 billion with a “B,” in the end produced a total of two helicopters. (Oh, and contract termination fees were estimated to total $450–680 million for the main program partners, Sikorsky and Boeing)

    Liked by 1 person


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