Monday, July 30, 2012

Born In The USA

“If the Army and the Navy ever look on Heaven's scenes; They will find the streets are guarded by the United States Marines.” And they'll be packing American-born, American-made Colt .45 M-1911s. The Marine Corps never took to the Beretta M9 which officially replaced the Colt for the Army, Navy and Air Force in 1985 and went into actual service in 1990.

The Marines grudgingly accepted the change, though the Colt remained the choice of Marine special ops. The single-action, semi-automatic, magazine-fed Colt was good enough for Sergeant York in WW I and Audie Murphy in WW II (not to mention John Wayne in innumerable war movies), and as far as the Marines were concerned, it remained good enough for them. The M-1911 was designed by the renowned John Browning in, well, 1911. It has remained largely unchanged ever since. Many have termed it the greatest military handgun ever made.

The pistol is manufactured by legendary Colt Defense (the military division of the Colt Patent Fire Arms Manufacturing Company) located in Hartford, Connecticut. The replacement Beretta M9 (pictured, left) is a very good gun. But it is not a native son of America. It uses 9mm ammunition, which the Marines consider inferior to the .45 cartridge. After the comparison tests for the military contracts were completed, the Beretta was chosen as much for political and international reasons as for performance. The Beretta wasn't actually proven to be superior to the Colt, but it was the gun used by NATO, and interchangeability of parts and ammo were part of the formula.

The Marines want accuracy and stopping power. They don't see the Beretta as having enough of either. The most common description of the Beretta by Marines is “that pissy little gun.” Most of all, the Marines really don't give a flying fig what NATO uses. They consider themselves a thing apart, and have a bit of contempt for the armed services which are not wholly dedicated to all things American. The talk of “serviceability” of the Beretta among the NATO allies doesn't particularly impress a Marine. The most common thought is “compared to us, how many of today's Belgians, Hollanders, or Danes have had to fire their sidearms, repeatedly, in a shooting war?”

So the Colt is making a big comeback for the Marines. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. The latest contract with Colt will immediately provide nearly 12,000 non-special ops Marines with the Marine version of the gun, known as the M45 Close Quarters Battle Pistol. And though this was largely a military decision, it doesn't hurt that the initial $22.5 million order will put money back into the American economy.

Let's hope that the Army, Navy and Air Force follow suit, and soon. It will help considerably if the current Commander-in-Chief is retired in November. Of course if that happens, he will be going into a war zone of his own—Chicago. Hope he owns a Colt M-1911.

23 comments:

Tennessee Jed said...

Bond loved his Beretta, but Q made him replace it with the Walther PPK. How can one not love a Colt 45

T-Rav said...

Whoa! America still makes stuff? Get out.

LawHawkRFD said...

Tennessee: I must admit I've been a Colt fan since I was a little kid watching cowboy movies. I used to have a .38 police special until I traded it in for a .357 Magnum Trooper V revolver. I haven't had a semiautomatic since I sold the .32 pistol my father left me. I should have kept it. But I needed the money for school. It fit nicely in a pocket without leaving a big bulge, and it was effective at close range. It is probably a collector's item now, since it was originally manufactured in the 20s. It was fascinating watching him disassemble it, clean it, then reassemble it since he only had one arm. I couldn't do it that efficiently with two hands.

LawHawkRFD said...

T-Rav: As Ripley said, "believe it or not." LOL

The Beretta used by the Americans forces have had some jamming and backfiring problems. That doesn't make it a bad gun. But to keep at least some money in the American economy, Colt and Smith & Wesson make replacement parts and ammo for use with the Beretta. Naturally, Beretta blames all the problems on the "poorly-manufactured" American products. I might believe that if it were a criticism coming from a German gun manufacturer, but Italian???????????? Remember, Italy is the nation that brought us the Fiat. (First person who mentions Ferrari gets a tongue-lashing)

AndrewPrice said...

I got nothing. Whatever works.

LawHawkRFD said...

Andrew: They both work, so I opt for the classic American product (as do the Marines).

K said...

About time to get more American guns being manufactured by American companies. The anti-gun nuts' tactic of suing gun manufacturers took it's toll and they need to get built back into something respected internationally like HK and FN.

Patti said...

Marines and Colt for the #WIN!

I'm keeping Colt in mind for reasons I can't post here because of the low-flying helicopters that eat comments...

LawHawkRFD said...

K: The anti-gun nuts aren't particular about whom they sue. Beretta has felt their ire as well. They have offices and some manufacturing facilities in several American states, and that's enough for the courts to find sufficient jurisdiction over the cases. These frivolous lawsuits are now regularly being dismissed in most jurisdictions because of common practicality and the two most recent Supreme Court decisions on gun ownership. But knowing the gun-grabbers, they'll quickly find something new to sue about.

LawHawkRFD said...

Patti: Here we just shoot down any helicopter that isn't dropping water on a brushfire. But keep that a secret. LOL

T-Rav said...

LawHawk, technically you were the first to mention Ferrari, so....

LawHawkRFD said...

T-Rav: Don't go all lawyer on me! LOL

Patriot said...

LawHawk......was at the Marine Corps museum and there is a nice big display on the 1911 Colt. Also in one of the exhibits, they talk how when the Marines were in a battle in Asia, some Marines were using the .38 and they pumped the attackers with a full magazine from their pistol and were overrun. The Marines who were using the Colt .45 were stopping the attackers with one round strategically placed.

The rest of the Marines then adopted the .45 for it's stopping power.

BTW........thanks for the shout out to the USMC.........Semper Fi !!!

LawHawkRFD said...

Patriot: That's the story I heard. It is also the reason that police departments switched from the .38 to the Beretta and 9mm parabellum load and are now considering joining the Marines and bringing back the Colt 45.

tryanmax said...

I don't know nuthin' 'bout none o' dis. I can't recall ever having held a pistol. I've taken my dad's Colt Single Action Army out for the weekend a couple of times, but off the top of my head, I can't even tell you which cartridge it takes. Sorry.

LawHawkRFD said...

tryanmax: That's an oldie but a goodie. It was also known as The Peacemaker. The first ones off the line were .45s, but they have been manufactured over the years to load many different cartridges. The Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear arms, but it doesn't say you have to, or that you have to know how to use it. However, if it is a .45, and you ever decide to learn how to use it, I recommend you talk to someone used to firing a 45. That particular gun is known for having a kick that could be pretty disconcerting for a novice. Alternatively, you could just send it to me, and I'll treat it with great respect. LOL

LawHawkRFD said...

As much as I'm a fan of the Colt Company, and in this case, the Colt .45 Semiautomatic Pistol, what I was really trying to emphasize for non-gun aficionados is that this is an opportunity to spend American taxpayer dollars on a quintessentially American product. Take my word (and the Marines' word) for it--it's a great gun. But more importantly, it's an American gun. How much more basic could it be to expect American troops to be armed with American guns and ammunition.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

I'll verify that the Colt .45 is a much better choice than 9mm anything.
It's reliable, accurate and does what it's intended to do: knock down n' kill.

I was sad to see the Navy opting for the 9mm sissy guns. I hope, like the Marines they go back to the tried and true Colt .45.

Well done, Marines! Semper Gratis!

LawHawkRFD said...

USSBen: And the Navy had a long history with Colt. Though it was originally designed for the Navy, the Colt M1851 and M1861 revolvers (known even in their landlubber version as the Colt Navy) were "the guns that won the West." When the self-contained cartridge came along and higher firepower was required (the 1861 was a .36 caliber), the Colt Navy was retired. But the gun saw considerable use by both sides during the Civil War.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Lawhawk: Indeed! Colt has a long and distinguished history with the Navy and Marine Corps (Army too).

We should keep going with Colt since they are American and they make excellent, reliable products.
Whoever suggested we should drop Colt and go with Baretta 9mm oughtta be keelhauled!
Then they should walk the plank!

LawHawkRFD said...

USSBen: Keelhaul first, plank next. LOL It truly was more a political accommodationist move than a practical decision. We're expected to hold hands with the Europeans and share our weapons (and military secrets) with NATO. Phooey. Work together, yes. Become drones in a supranational beehive, no. Trust Euroweenie nations whose military are unionized and might decide to take their lunch breaks and quitting times just as the enemy attacks--hell no!

tryanmax said...

Hawk, it may be a .45, then. As I recall, it has quite a kick, and was a little overkill for soda cans.

LawHawkRFD said...

tryanmax: Sounds like a .45

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