Tuesday, July 05, 2005

The Devil's Right Hand

The Devil's right hand
The Devil's right hand
Mama says a pistol is the Devil's right hand
— Steve Earle


Well, to make up for absenteeism, I've been trying to think up some scurrilous gossip meat in Gun World to throw to you ravening wolves out there. I may have found just the tidbit...now, you didn't hear this from me, and I'll deny every saying it...but the cherubs and seraphim are singing about a new military-wide contract for sidearms. Not just the Marine Expeditionary guys, who got Kimber .45s in natty desert colors, but the Whole Shebang, the Big Enchilada, the Giant Cammie Salad Bar.

It's not much of a secret that no one has been happy about the 9mm M9 Beretta's performance in the Sandbox. A lot of the problems are endemic to 9mm ball ammo (it is a world-class crappy manstopper and always has been; soldiers don't get to use trick rounds like the Hornady TAP I carry in my nine) and double-stack magazines. Double-stack magazines work by having all the cartridges roll as each round is stripped off the top by the slide. Dump a bunch of sand in there and it's like trying to make hot, passionate love on the beach...lotsa sandy friction!

Friction means the magazine spring is working some serious overtime. Lots of stories of soldiers stretching their tired M9 mag springs (although the Army seriously discourages this practice). Ask any IPSC shooter about the care and feeding of big stick mags, and you'll learn more than you ever wanted to know about spring tension!

Realistically, the solution is...long drum roll...some sort of single stack semiauto, a la the 1911, in 45 ACP. Forty-fives don't have to expand to knock one on one's ass. It is a proven, reproven and proven yet again manstopper in all sorts of military arenas. Single stack magazines don't suffer like the double stacks...each round is just pushed up by the magazine spring, no cartridge calisthenics required.

The Teams use 'em; the Marines use 'em; hell, LAPD SWAT uses 'em. Every gunmaker on the planet (and probably on most of the nearby solar systems) make some sort of single stack .45 that they sell the hell out of. It is debugged technology!

Betcha the specs for the trial guns — which should be handed down on marble tablets from Mt. Olympus in anywhere from two to six months — will be for a .45 single stack (or some other magazine with proven deep-sand reliability) with a rail for picnic accesssories. I figure there's about 50% chance of seeing a polymer frame as part of the spec, or at the very least a weight limit that would mandate polymer or aluminum frames. I'd also be surprised if the spec didn't push for some sort of non-traditional DAO trigger, a la Glock, SIG, the Springfield XD, whatever, which would put the heat on pure 1911 guns and their SA trigger systems.

Notice the Personal Defense Weapon (PDW) has sort of slipped off the table. Turns out that in addition to being the Devil's Right Hand, a pistol is damned efficient!

4 comments:

Patrick Sweeney said...

Mike,

There is a lot good to be said about "mature technology." If you're looking to cut people with knives you have to consider a Bowie. If you're looking for durable boots, go leather. If you're training a unit to fight with edged weapons, the Roman gladius has a lot going for it. (Oops, slipped into classic mode there.)
And if you want a sidearm as a backup, to make bad people cease their bad habits, the 1911 goes to the head of the list.
I've read of small arms experts using the "Sten Gun ruler" as a measure. How much more does this SMG do, and cost, than a Sten? If the answer is not much, and a lot more, then don't buy it.
You want a new sidearm? Use the 1911 as a measure. If yours can't beat it, by a whole lot, we ain't buying it.

Overload in Colorado said...

While I love the 1911, and own a few, I think the idea of a DAO or DA trigger is a good one. Personally, I like the LDA: double action and a 1911 style, available as single or double wide mags. The only thing it, as most of the new fancy DAO don't have is double strike ability. In the 80s when the 92 was picked, Browning submitted the BDM. It failed in the market, but as a modified Hi-Power it had a lot going for it. Still a 9mm though.
On the other hand, if you want it to work every time, be simple, tough, and work it adverse conditions, why not a large caliber revolver? Is .357 enough of a manstopper with ball ammo? If it is you also have the lighter .38 rounds training.

But, I thought the current theory was to go smaller and faster, and that NATO was planning on going for a FiveSeven or some .17 HK pistol to replace the 9mm? The idea being that a pilot, tanker, etc, would have this on her body, and not sitting under the seat, so if emergency egress was needed, a gun would be with them.

Me, if I were going over there as a contractor, I'd carry a Para P7.45 LDA of some style (ambi safety) with a round in the chamber, safety off.

Rob said...

A return to the M1911A1 would be welcome IMHO. Then again, I also see nothing wrong with arming our troops with M1917 revolvers, a bunch of moon clips, and proper training. As a concession to modernity, we can throw in more ergonomic stocks, a ramp front sight, and the short-throw lockwork.

Anonymous said...

By the Teams I assume you mean SEAls. They do not use 1911's. I also think you are completely wrong about the comeback of the 1911 in the miltiary. Time will tell.