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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Gun Stuff

Interesting article on the possible adoption of a new service pistol on Strategypage here.

January 27, 2006: After two decades of use, the U.S. Department of Defense is
getting rid of its Beretta M9 9mm pistol, and going back to the 11.4mm (.45
caliber) weapon. There have been constant complaints about the lesser (compared
to the .45) hitting power of the 9mm.


I am torn on this issue. While I agree that they need a replacement for the Beretta, that opinion has much more to do with the Beretta itself, rather than the caliber. For instance, it is my understanding (I could be wrong) that a good number of the SFOD-D guys are carrying 9mm Glocks over in the desert. A lot of this has to do with reliability, but the fact is, if they can carry anything they want (and I'm pretty sure they can) then why do they "choose" a caliber that is supposedly so inferior?

My own opinion is that if you are down to your sidearm, things are pretty ugly already and it's not going to matter a whole lot at that point other than the overall reliabilty, and the shooters ability to hit the target. But as I said, I am torn on the issue (and by no means an expert), and would love to hear more input on the subject.

Update: I just received some inside intel that SFOD-D guys are actually carrying .40 S&W Glocks, which I was unaware of. This of course throws a little bit of a twist into the whole debate. Pretty reliable info, too.

16 comments:

Jonathan Scott said...

I can't quote him exactly, but Dick Marcinko wrote, "The only handguns I would take into battle are the Glock and the H&K." I appologize that I don't have the direct quote. I am a firm believer that when quoting the Great One, one should not only strive for accuracy, but should also attempt to convey idiom and syntax, in order to avoid misinterpretation.

When using the classical Marcinko interpretation method, as opposed to the neo-modern method, it could be surmised that both the Berretta and the 1911 model are inferior.

Mr. Twisted said...

Yeah, but if you're quoting Marcinko, you had also better be able to bench press 500lbs, cause all his guys could, don't cha know.

I knew you would get fired up about that H&K, Scotty. I'm still not sold.

Kell said...

That's right....

Go Navy!

Jonathan Scott said...

My honest opinions- 1911 is a great gun, but I believe that there's much better platforms to launch the .45 ACP from. The 1911 is a 100 year old model that requires a lot of modification and extra parts just to get it up to combat standards. It has a low magazine capacity (when you're down to your sidearm, fire supression is going to be a lifesaver). If you spent the amount of money that they spend to improve a 1911 on a Glock or an H&K, you would have a superior combat pistol.

Typical 1911ophile comment- but if you keep really clean, it's always reliable! (yeah, well so's a glock after it's been petrified in rock strata for a few millinia).

1911s are great for swat cops, but if I'm going to be reaching for a handgun after a 3 day sandstorm, I want something with few moving parts and high magazine capacity.

Mr. Twisted said...

Ahh, but see here's my problem with your "theory"; You put the H&K in the same category as the Glock, and put the 1911 waaaayyy down below both of them. Wereas I see the H&K as no better than the 1911. Both are great guns, speaking from strictly a "quality" standpoint, but the 1911 is a much more versatile platform on which to make modifications. That's why all the top IPSC shooters use them. And as far as cost, it doesn't take that much to get a 1911 up to speed (nowadays, anyway). How much did you spend on your H&K? I'll bet it wasn't much less (if any) than it costs for one of those TRP 1911's from Springfield (Tac. Response Pistol, all combat ready from the box). Compare that to the fact that a Glock is ready to go, right out of the box.

There is no question that in terms of reliablity and longevity, the Glock is superior to anything out there.

Keep 'em coming, I've got more comments when I get back from school! Ha ha.

plane geek said...

In the immortal words of Elmer Keith "I like big bullets they let lots of blood out and lots of air in." So the .45 ACP is the choice for me. I like my Springfield 1911 it was good enough to kill Germans and Japanese in WW2 so it is good enough for me. And I agree that weapon reliability and putting lead on target are the most important things in a combat situation that has deteriorated to using a sidearm. In that situation I think that big heavy bullets will perform better regardless of velocity and or kinetic energy. But then again I am big bore advocate.

Jonathan Scott said...

All things being equal- an $800 H&K is going to be as accurate, and probably quite a bit more than an $800 1911. A $1200 H&K (Tactical model) is capable of .25 inch shot groups at 25 yards and designed for head shots at 50 yards.

The H&K, with it's patented double spring recoil reduction system, is very easy to control. It rocks back in the hand, as opposed to the sharp buck of a traditional 1911.

Even if none of this was an issue, and we accepted that H&Ks and 1911s of comparable price had the same accuaracy and reliability, the fact still remains that the H&K is much more operator friendly. The trigger guard is large enough for winter or neoprene gloves, the capacity is 12+1, and the large chunk of metal that serves as the slide has been designed to take continuous punishment from +P rounds. 1911s are not built with that type of durability.

There's a little bit of opinion mixed in there, but a lot of this is fact. I don't place the 1911 down with Ruger or anything. It's functional, precise, and proven. But there are newer pistol designs for comparable prices that do a better job. Back to the original posting, does every soldier need an H&K? Absolutely not. Glocks would be the better option for standard issue. They're about as easy to maintain and fire as a revolver- and just about as reliable.

The floodgates were opened, and a wealth of combat arms knowledge poured forth.

Mr. Twisted said...

Your theory that an H&K is more accurate and reliable than a 1911 is, at best, sketchy. The fact remains, IPSC shooters - don't use H&K; CAG - don't use H&Ks.
In addition, you are not taking into account Para Ordanance and STI 1911's that are high capacity. Same design, just a larger mag well.

As to "making a bigger hole", which would you rather be, shot with a .45 ten times, or a 9mm 20 times? The difference in wound ballistics is minimal when comparing one round to another. The fact is, a person shot with a pistol round is only going to be quickly incapacitated if a vital organ is hit, not from the shock of the bullet (as occurs with high-powered rifle bullets). Ergo (fancy, eh?), whether using a 9mm, .40, or .45, the results will be very similar. The key, of course, is in hitting your target and doing so multiple times. A hit from a .22 is better than a miss from anything.

plane geek said...

Ahh yes wounding studies are like so much statistical bull. Percentages of one stop shots vary with cartridges. The .357 magnum fairs very well i.e. 96% or better and the lowly .45ACP using hardball ammo scoring a lowly 62%. Of course the lowly .44 magnum scores in the high eighty percentage range when it comes to one stop shots one human targets. Having said all of this my suspicion is that the .44 is the minimum handgun cartridge that is capable of not only producing tremendous penetration, but also producing "hydrostatic" shock in humans that are shot with such loads. Case in point, several years ago we had a patient that had been "accidentally" shot with a .44 revolver that was being cleaned. Said victim was shot thru a wall. The bullet entered thru the left side of her neck and severed the jugular vein, the bullet then passed thru her neck and exited thru her scapula on the right shoulder. Englewood medics picked her up and transported her to a level one trauma center. On the way she arrested three times due to exsanguination. She managed to survive. But I sincerely doubt that a 45, 40, or 9MM would have produced similar results. If one wants quick killing shots I say shoot the person in question in the head. Head shots kill and or incapicitate very quickly. For whatever reason people are squemish about shooting people in the head or face...I am not. In a fire fight kill or be killed..."Kill them all, God knows his own." And I still stand by the assertion that the .45ACP is a proven fighting arm. And Marcinko can get in a lake. How many Germans and Japanese did he kill with a glock and or H&K?

Mr. Twisted said...

Plane Geek - But what are those percentages based on? Last I heard, FBI stats had handgun wounds as fatal less than 10% of the time. It's been a while since I have heard that, so it could be different now.

As for the .44, it is just simply not a practical combat weapon, regardless of it's damage potential. And the funny part is, for all the hype it receives, it is in no way as powerful as even the smaller rifle cartridges such as the 5.56mm.

As to your comment about head shots, there is an incredible book called "On Killing" by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman that I know you would really be interested in that I am reading right now (and will have a review up shortly). He goes into great detail regarding the subject that you just brought up. Powerful stuff.

plane geek said...

Those particular stats are from an FBI wounding study that was done in the mid 90's. The percentages represent one shot stops/kills on human targets. Granted having an LE officer that can shoot well is rare and police shootings where only one shot is fired are seemingly very rare. The data is very interesting regardless. Interestingly the .40SW was also ranked very high in that particular study...thinking mid 90's percentage wise.

As for comparing power of various hand gun cartridges vs. rifle cartridges one must remember that while energy numbers, velocity, and the like do manage to sell quite a few weapons. The current rage of short magnums comes to mind...the important part of any weapon is the terminal performance of the bullet on the target. Take for example shooting an enraged coastal grizzly at close range. I'll take my .44 loaded with premium Garret cartridges over any 5.56 rifle. Conversely one can find and read stories of .45-70's going thru Indians and horses at half a mile. I am sure that there are cartridges today that will easily shoot thru Indians and or horses at half a mile, but could they do it at the same muzzle velocity of a .45-70? My guess is no, and yes I used to be a big fan of muzzle energy and velocity...even had a nice Winchester Model 70 in .375H&H ask cuz about that rifle. Then one day I stumbled onto Garret cartridges website and it was down hill from there. I still really really want a rifle chambered in .458 Lott. Ruger makes a nice one in their Heavy Tropical line.

I will concede that a .44 magnum is a poor choice for a fighting arm. But it sure would be fun to kill terrorists with....speaking of which I certainly look forward to hearing the book review. By the way what would happen if we stampeded two hog farms worth of pigs thru Mecca, Medina, etc at a certain time of year, or at any time of the year for that matter?? I predict easy and concise victory shortly and a tasty BBQ to follow. Now I just need to talk the federales into using my pig plan.
Regards,
plane geek

Mr. Twisted said...

You're killin' me, Plane Geek. I've got nothing but love for you, but... If you are trying to convince me that your .44 mag is somehow more powerful than a 5.56mm, you are spending too much time behind the crack pipe. Go here - http://www.firearmstactical.com/wound.htm - for a rundown of wound ballistics studies and why most of them are flawed. There is actually no such thing as a "one-shot stop" study that has been accurately done. To paraphrase one of the articles, there is only one way to produce a one-shot stop, and that is a direct hit to the brain or brain stem. As there is no way to accurately test (on human beings) reactions to gun shots, we are left with scientific testing (ballistics gel and cadavers), and eye witness accounts. If we go on eye witness accounts (not known for their accuracy), the general reaction of a person when shot with *any* bullet is to fall down (not accounting for people severly amped on chemicles), thus indicating a one-shot stop. These "studies" however, do not take into account 1)Whether or not the person was shot more than once, or 2)if that person *needed* to be shot more than once. This is impossible to test though, as there is no way to perfectly recreate the scene of the shooting.
If we go with the more scientific testing (ballistics gell, cadavers, etc.) we see that by and large, handguns produce very similar results, regardless of the caliber (depending, of course, on ammo selection) i.e. a FMJ .357 Mag is not a whole lot different than an FMJ .44 Mag. When compared with a high powered rifle cartridge, on the other hand, the difference in results is quite dramatic. The 5.56mm, of note here, tends to fragment in several directions only a few inches into the body, as well as a complete directional change, producing a massive cavity as well as inflicting maximum damage to a number of vital organs that happen to be in the path of one of the projectiles.

Check out the link when you get a chance. Good stuff on there.

plane geek said...

Twisted you are killing me as well. My point is that a .44 will with out doubt penetrate further than a 5.56 period. Regardless of all the semantics and verbal sparring my point is that it is better to poke big holes in targets. Lots of blood comes out that way. As a matter of curiousity do we shoot softpoints or FMJ at the enemy in our 5.56 chambered rifles. Me hopes we shoot solids and not soft points. I read an interesting article about the difference in cartridge development between ourselves(NATO) and the Russians etc in this new millenia. I'll have to go and dig it up. The point is this...Special Operators, regular army, etc all need an adequate cartridge to kill bad guys with. And to me a .45 with heavy for caliber bullets fills that bill very well. Beyond that I don't care what bad guys are killed with...so long as they are pushing daisies at the end of the day.

Mr. Twisted said...

I can't leave this with just 13 commments, it's unlucky.

You didn't read anything off that link I put up in my last reply, did you? I'll send you some stuff via email. I think we're the only one's still paying attention to this post. Ha.

Dave said...

I just found a reference to SFOD-D testing and even adopting .40 S&W as their new standard caliber and (I presume) getting a new gun to go with it.

Now, I don't believe everything I read, but your reference to Delta using .40 Glocks supports the above.

My question: what can you say about your "pretty reliable info"? Do you know if it's a unit-wide adoption or is it just their choice for arid/sandy environments?

Mr. Twisted said...

Dave,

I know from a first-hand source that most (if not all) CAG guys are carrying Glocks in the sandbox. Reliability wins over every other factor when you have massive amounts of sand blowing around.

And when you know how to shoot well, caliber isn't nearly as big of a deal as most people make it out to be. Just my humble opinion.