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Old 06-24-2004, 10:55 AM   #1
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Why 9mm for armed forces?

Here is a question from a newby to pistols. I was wondering why the Navy Seals use the p226 9mm? I know they use lots of different firearms but why the 9mm? Wouldn't a .45 or a .40 SW be a better choice? Also the Army uses the M9 which (to my understanding) is a 9mm. Is it because of the higher ammo that can be carried? Anyone with experience who can help a newby undertstand would be appreciated.
 
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Old 06-24-2004, 12:02 PM   #2
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This is a LOOOOONNNNGG story, far to complicated for an internet post.

The short version:
Europe went to the 9mm pistol in the 1930's, and it became the "standard" caliber over most of the non-communist world.
The US wanted to standardize our firearms calibers with NATO.

NATO used the 9mm, so we wanted to use it too.
The Army set out to justify the 9mm, and among the arguments were:
The 9mm was used by NATO, and we needed interchangeably calibers in case of a war.

Pistols were no longer really used much in actual combat, and the 9mm was suitable for such a pistol,

The military were getting more smaller men and women in larger numbers, and they had problems handling the "huge" 1911 pistol, and the heavy recoil of the .45 ACP.

The last 1911 was made for the military in 1945, and the guns were wearing out. Since we needed new guns, it would be smart to buy a newer, more modern gun, AND change the caliber to one women could shoot better than the .45.

To make a long story short, the Army wanted to buy the 9mm AND they wanted the Beretta pistol.
In spite of being caught on several occasions actually cheating on the tests to insure the Beretta won, the Beretta was adopted as the M9 service pistol.

The Army never had an adequate answer to the question, "If one reason for the 9mm was to supply a smaller gun that fit women's small hands, WHY did the Army buy the largest 9mm pistol made. one that has a BIGGER grip than the 1911"?

So, the reason we adopted the 9mm and the Beretta M9, was basically because a small group of people within the Army WANTED the Beretta.

With 20/20 hindsight, the Beretta doesn't look too good.
The early issue M9's had problems, which required "fixes" and the 9mm, which wasn't supposed to be a combat weapon in the "modern battlefield", was put to that very use in Afghanistan and Iraq, and has been found wanting.

As for SEAL use, the SEAL's are a special forces unit that are allowed to buy pretty much whatever weapons they want.
As such, they use a wide variety of firearms, in a variety of calibers.
The SEAL's use the 9mm in the Sig, but also use the .357, and 45 ACP, and probably other calibers as well.

The SEAL's have a long relationship with the 9mm going back to the Vietnam war when many SEAL units used the Browning 9mm.

For whatever reason, the SEAL's like the 9mm Sig.

Following the experiences in the current war, some special units are acquiring 1911 pistols, and there are moves to re-adopt the 45 ACP as our service pistol.
Whether this happens, it's unlikely it would be the 1911, and it's uncertain if it would be the .45 ACP. Some people think the .40 S&W might be a better caliber.
 
Old 06-24-2004, 06:03 PM   #3
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Thanks dafariswheel. I really appreciate your insight into these questions. It makes a lot of sense what you are saying and I apprecite your responses. Thanks for taking the time to answer them.
 
Old 07-11-2004, 04:24 PM   #4
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International politics also supposedly played a part in the choice. There was somthing that the USA wanted from Italy, if I recall correctly. I just can't remember the details.

Part of the deal with Beretta required that the guns be built here.

Sig was one of the finalists in the competition but didn't make it. I've fired both and the Sig, IMHO, is the better of the two.

John
 
Old 07-11-2004, 06:35 PM   #5
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Word was that Beretta was chosen so that USA could keep airbases in Italy. Sig was the better gun but was slightly more costly. I have never shot a Beretta that I prefered over a Sig. No offence to Beretta lovers intended. That's just been my experience.
 
Old 07-12-2004, 12:02 AM   #6
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I believe that when most of europe signed the original Hague Peace Conference in 1899, there were specifics on the bullet form (the U.S. did not sign this). The later Hague Convention of 1907 (which the U.S. signed) did not specifiy. With most European countries limited by what they can use in war, the U.S. went along mainly for logistics.
 
Old 07-12-2004, 11:59 AM   #7
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balistics...

I read an article by a fellow by the name of Chuck Hawks about the 9mm and the .45 ACP interms of 1 shot stops on humans and the ballistics of the two rounds. What the articles boiled down to is that for the added size, weight and recoil of the .45, you gain little to nothing interms of stopping power over the 9mm.

check out Chuckhawks.com for the info. There is TONS of info on shotguns, rifles, pistols, and revolvers there as well as information on every round in every caliber out there. MOUNTAINS of great information.
 
Old 07-12-2004, 06:07 PM   #8
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I wonder if Chuck Taylor would agree?
 
Old 07-14-2004, 02:48 PM   #9
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Ah, but why do the SeALs use a 9mm pistol so often when they can choose from among a pile of options?
That's what I asked a former SeAL I had working for me. (I know- How many times have you heard that phrase- "a former SeAL I used to work with"?) But he was. Really..... Really.

Basically, the answer was: There was always 9mm ammo- everywhere. Everywhere they were training, or deployed. From the Navy. From the Marines. From the Army, local law enforcement, enemy's bodies, from their own MP5 mags, everywhere.
My next question was: Couldn't they just ask for more? Not always, no. They might well be in a situation where they had to use what they could find. And 9mm is what they could most always find.

The SeAL teams travel light. Unlike many "options", they are usually used for quick operations like raids, rescues, etc. But they also run the chance of being stuck for an unknown length of time, and might have to forage.
They are used for longer operations, but by nature of their transportation (submarine, rubber Zodiac boat, even regular old cars) they don't have a lot of space to carry equipment- especially if they have SCUBA gear on. So they have to be space efficient with what they start with, and be able to replenish on-site as needed.

As a side note: He is the only "professional" I've heard say they like the Beretta, although most liked the Sigs, he said. His reason for the Beretta preference was fit- he was tall and skinny with long fingers- just what the Beretta requires.
Also- they were able to pick and choose from available stock to find the newest and freshest guns, and if you can do that, the Beretta will probably be OK. I like Berettas also, when new. I just don't think they hold up long-term. I guess with everybody liking the Sigs, the Berettas would stay like new, huh?
I would think that if he ever had to use an old, worn Beretta, he might not have liked them as much.
 
Old 08-18-2004, 06:03 PM   #10
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9mm for Military.

There are several parts to this answer.
1. The 9mm is the most prevelant pistol round in use around the world. Its great if you can capture enemy ammo and use it your guns!
2. The most rounds in the same size package as a .40. or .45
3. The military uses NATO spec ball ammunition. The difference in stopping power between the 9 and the .40 or.45 in ball form is not significant.
4. The 9mm ammo is generally loaded to a higher velocity/pressure and provides reliable functioning in a variety of short barrelled military carbines and also provides ammo commonality for easier supply logistics.
5. And finally, the long narrow shape of the 9mm, especially in Nato ball form, provides easy chambering/feeding and improved weapons reliability (theoretically)


And yes, someone in the military wanted Berettas. We buy the guns we want and like, they are human too. Besides after 4 years in the Marine Corps and many years of shooting the Beretta 92. I have never once experienced or seen a malfunction of the weapon. One dummy I know did a home trigger job and turned it into a full auto (pulled the trigger once and fired 15 rounds, the look on his face was priceless!) but I don't blame the weapon for that!
 
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