Congress Halts U.S. Air Force Plan for New Handgun
By RICK MAZE
Congressional negotiators have put a hold on the U.S. Air Forceís plans to replace the M9 9mm handgun so the Defense Department can consider the possibility of a joint plan for upgrading or replacing pistols.
The M9 is the standard issue sidearm for the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Special Operations Command, but the Air Force asked for $89.8 million in the 2007 wartime supplemental appropriations bill to start purchasing a replacement.
The request was not included in the compromise version of the bill approved April 23 by congressional negotiators. Instead, lawmakers would provide $5 million for a study of the joint sidearm requirements, including any service-unique requirements, according to a report accompanying the bill.
Because the supplemental bill faces a veto threat over issues unrelated to the handgun purchases, the only certain result of the agreement is that the Air Force will not get money anytime soon for a replacement weapon. Money for the handgun review would not be available unless this bill, or another bill containing similar language, is approved by Congress and signed into law by President George W. Bush.
The study requested by lawmakers, to be completed by Aug. 31, would look at the M9ís capabilities, lethality and ammunition options, as well as how it stacks up against other handguns. The Aug. 31 date was picked because that would allow the results of the study to be considered when Congress puts together the final details of the 2008 defense appropriations bill, which traditionally is not approved until fall.
To conduct the study, lawmakers approved the purchase of up to 50 handguns and ammunition for the guns.
For years, talk has circulated about having a so-called Joint Combat Pistol, most likely a .45 caliber because that is what the U.S. Special Operations Command has been studying. In the early 1980s, the Air Force conducted several handgun tests to find something other than the M9, but no final decisions were made, partly because the Army and Special Operations Command had different requirements and wanted to conduct their own tests. The Army later did conduct its own tests, and did not recommend a replacement.
$89.8 million US? That does seem a bit of a frivolous way of spending tax dollars. Is the m9 bad enough and are there alternatives good enough that would warrant spending so much money? I don't recall ever reading any complaints on this site or others about the m9.
I too find it strange. One, the M9 seems a pretty decent weapon to say the very least (or else why was it chosen to equip all branches of the military), and two, are air force pilots and navigators in such a dire need for a hand weapon ?
If I was into political thrillers, I'd say there some other program behind these 89.8 million dollars, and that the handgun issue is just a nice pretense.
The issue mags for the M9 caused lots of stoppages in the earlier days of OIF- don't know if it's been rectified in the supply chain. Plus the thorny old 9milly v .45 thing. Plus the fact that folk with choice and knowledge on the US side go almost uniformly with Glock or 1911 platforms.
Is that enough reason for a capex of almost 90million USD? Particularly just for USAF? Does seem just a tad excessive- are they buying them for every man and his bleedin' dog? I'm assuming the STS guys have 'ways and means' if they want/need Glocks for instance.
Me? I'd take a couple of extra mags for my primary but then I've always been **** with pistols
Why does there always have to be a "study"? Why does this "study" always have some ludicrous price tag attached to it?
I believe there have been enough studies on the efficacy of a multitude of calibers, why another is needed is beyond me. The only reasonable test would be pitting a selection of pistols from various manufacturers against one another and make a selection. Heck, you could probably do that in a week.
If a .45 was the order of the day, the M&P would get my vote.
Maybe USAF has some unspent funds & decided to spend it on handguns.
Nope...this is part of the supplemental spending bill, not the normal defense budget. Which is ridiculous in and of itself--the supplemental is to pay for wartime operations, not new systems.
$90M does seem high, but remember that the zoomies use a lot more sidearms, proportionally, than the other services. Plus, it means weapons, magazines and spare parts for inventory. Plus manuals and training for the new weapon. That's why a joint service weapon makes a lot more sense--you can share those costs.
Honestly, I love the 1911--we used to shoot them for competition in the USAF--but it would not be my first choice for a combat sidearm. The 1911 mafia be damned, it's just not the right choice.
Some years ago when the armed forces were looking for the next sidearm to purchase, the study came down to two choices: Beretta M9 and a Sig 9mm (not sure model). The Sig beat the M9 in EVERY SINGLE CATEGORY except price, but the prices were fairly close.
But Beretta offered to build a factory here in the US, and build the M9 in that factory. Without offering the same to Sig, congress pressured the armed forces to approve the M9. They did.
I can't believe that congress forced the military to adopt an inferior pistol so they could score points with the public for a fracing factory. But I digress.
The M9 is a very poor pistol by comparison. It wears out easily. Worn M9s are very loose fitting and have problems. The old feeding problems are long gone, but the weapon is so old now that it suffers from maintenance problems. The 9mm cartridge is very weak compared to .45 and .40 calibers. I personally know a Staff Sergeant who had to put (6) 9mm rounds into an insurgent before he would stay down. And to boot, Beretta no longer produces all M9's in the US - they now produce some of them outside of the US in foreign factories.
That brings us to now. EVERY Marine I have spoken to about this topic has made it clear that they do not like the M9, or the 9mm cartridge. I personally can't stand 9mm, but thats because I don't want to shoot an intruder in my house and have the round penetrate the intruder, the wall behind him, and either my kid or the neighbor next door. The .45 round is much heavier and hits harder, but due to its size it has less penetration capability.
What if he has armor? Well I'd hate to have his broken ribs and pulped internal organs. Especially when I shoot him twice more before putting one in his head. But the 9mm round will neither penetrate or cause much internal kinetic injuries.
To conclude: very few members of the military like the M9. Those with knowledge about handguns can't stand the 9mm round. Gunners (CWO5) that I have asked about the M9 say few words with more than 4 letters when describing the weapon.
So lets get a real handgun people. I personally recommend the Kimber .45 or an H&K variant because they aren't as high maintenance as the Sigs. But for god's sake, lets get a .45 caliber handgun.