By Kevin Wilson
Alright, we’re gonna have an informal poll real quick.
If you think the Beretta M9 is the absolute best service pistol the Army could ever hope for, I want you to raise your hand.
Okay, good. Now slap yourself, because you’re a fucking idiot.
The M9 is by no means a bad handgun, and at the time it was adopted, it was actually pretty decent. As much as everyone loves a good 1911, handgun technology had marched right along and the beloved pistol that saw America through two World Wars and a slew of other conflicts was showing its age.
The M9 was a good answer for a replacement. The use of the 9mm round allowed for an absurdly high magazine capacity, while still shrinking the grip enough that those with smaller hands could use it without sacrificing their dignity, and the relatively light recoil meant that they could unload it quickly without having to worry about it slapping them in the face. Its double action design and integrated safety features made it safer to carry.
Though you’d be hard pressed to find anyone that actually preferred the damn thing to a 1911, the M9 did its job well enough that it stuck around for 30 some odd years.
The Army, however, realized that, although the M9 was adequate, technology was still marching along, and it was probably time for a replacement. And so they sought out to look for one.
That was a decade ago, and according to the Washington Times, Congress is getting sick of their shit. Apparently, the Senate Armed Services Committee is set to release a report entitled “America’s Most Wasted: Army’s Costly Misfire” that puts them on blast for it. The report claims that, in the last decade, the only thing the Army has done to update its service sidearm is come up with a bizarrely complicated series of requirements that manufacturers will have to put up with.
Okay, let’s ignore the fact that the Army just wasted a decade coming up with the rules for a new pistol without actually getting to the part where they start looking for one, or the fact that one of America’s most powerful leaders can’t pun to save his life.
How hard is it to dream up the perfect pistol?
Granted, opinions and tastes will vary, but I’m sure we can come up with a few simple guidelines that will satisfy the vast majority of the folks that’ll have to use the damn thing.
Let’s start with the ammunition. There are a number of different rounds in use by law enforcement across the country and the world, for that matter. The one thing they have in common is that most of them were designed specifically to address the shortcomings of the 9mm. The .357 Sig, for instance, was designed to match the performance of the .357 Magnum in semiautomatic handguns, and while it didn’t quite live up to its lofty goals, it’s started to gain a reputation from many law enforcement agencies for reliable stopping power above and beyond the traditional 9mm. The .40 and 10mm rounds both offer significantly more power than the 9mm as well, and have their own followings.
However, for the Army’s next handgun, I say we stick with what we know works: the .45 ACP. Why? Because it’s a bad motherfucker, that’s why. Sure it’s not the fastest handgun bullet in the world, but it doesn’t have to be. If you’re packing a .45 on your hip, Jesus is gonna think twice about coming out of the clouds to pick your ass up for the Rapture. Sure you don’t get as many rounds, but them’s the breaks. If you go with a bigger round, you’re gonna sacrifice magazine capacity. Might as well do it right and pick the baddest mofo on the market.
Now onto the frame. Do we want polymer, or should we stick with a metal frame? Polymer frames on handguns have come a long way over the years. Glock and H&K have both made significant strides in overcoming the stigma associated with them, and in many gun clubs, the polymer frame is the preferred choice. Polymer is lighter than steel. It doesn’t rust. On a hot day, it doesn’t burn the shit out of your hand if you grab it without gloves.
I personally like a polymer frame for some things, but I also wouldn’t chose it for the Army’s next handgun. Why, you ask? Because of fucking privates. Privates are, next to nuclear warfare and the ravages of time, the single most destructive force on the planet. You can make the next gun out of solid adamantium and some poor dumb bastard is still going to be standing in front of the 1st Sergeant explaining how he broke his. For all its advantages, a polymer frame is still more likely to break than a steel one, and it is a near certainty that any procurement program will have to take that into account. I can hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth from supply sergeants across the Army already.
So what about the action? Well, a double action design allows a round stored in the chamber to be fired without having to cock the pistol. This can save precious seconds when dealing with a life or death situation. However, it’s well known that a double action requires a heavier trigger pull, which reduces accuracy. If we’re already down a few rounds in the magazine because we’re using bigger bullets, that first wonky shot can make a huge difference, and not for the better. With modern safeties, however, leaving a round in the chamber of a cocked pistol just isn’t that big a deal anymore. If we use a single action, the chances of some poor bastard shooting his dick off are really no higher than they would be with a double, and the chances of him shooting the bad guy’s dick off are even higher.
So to summarize, what we need is a .45 caliber handgun with a metal frame and a single action. I swear I’ve heard about something like that.