A couple of weeks ago, one of the guest posters over at Ace’s place asked for advice on what type of pistol to buy. He got about 175 comments. I thought to myself, “That’s a lot of responses to a question with only one right answer.”

Behold, the M1911A1 .45 caliber semiautomatic pistol. From 1911 to the mid 1980s, the .45 was the standard pistol for the US armed forces. When the last production run from WWII was wearing out in the early 80s, the Army, under pressure from Congress to adopt the NATO standard 9mm cartridge, selected the Berretta Model 92 as the replacement. This pistol, now known as the M9, is still the standard sidearm of the US forces.

Now, the M9 isn’t a bad pistol, per se. It is reliable, easy to shoot, and carries 15 rounds. The problem is that it isn’t a .45. You hear a lot of stories about people with small hands having trouble with the .45. Women were said to be intimidated by it. Frankly, I think that’s a lot of crap. I used to take a lot of women shooting, and none ever had any problems with the .45.

Truth be told, though, not a lot of people in the service will shoot a pistol. Most folks will carry either an M16 or an M4, or something heavier. I only qualified with a pistol a couple of times during my service. I fired a rifle for qulification at least every six months. I used to do an awful lot of pistol shooting on my own time though. I used to be a driver forย  a Lieutenant Colonel in Germany. When the time came for him to qualify with his weapon ( a .45) I challenged him to a match. Side by side, we fired the standard qualification. He was a little peeved that I beat him. He was really peeved that I spent the whole time chatting with the Range NCOIC.

21 thoughts on “Gunfight!”

  1. I’ve fired a number of rifles (not just for Uncle Sam), but never a handgun. Lack of opportunity more than anything else.

  2. Why do I really like the .45? Well, the thinking answer is that I like the stopping power of a .45. The Army uses an FMJ bullet for both it and the 9mm. That dinky little 9 goes right through people. The .45 has a pretty decent chance of dropping them. The 9mm doesn’t have much more stopping power than the .38 that the .45 replaced in 1911.

    The real, honest to goodness reason is more familiarity than anything else. I grew up on .45s and carried a couple as my personal carry weapon for a long time. I’m just used to it, and it works. Why change. I’m very conservative that way.

  3. CZ.

    My Cold Dead Hands.



    I like the .45, it’s great gun (and the less said about the trigger on the Beretta, the better), but growing up in Canada, I was never a part of the culture of the .45 auto that seems to permeate the U.S.. A lot of which pistol is the better than others is personal for each shooter: I mean, some people are crazy enough to actually prefer Glocks! ๐Ÿ™‚ Truthfully, though, I carry my .380 Kel-Tec eighty to ninety percent of the time because it’s lighter and smaller than any other pistol I own and yet loaded with Golden Sabers or DPX, it gives me a reasonable chance to end any encounter in my favor. Is it my competition CZ? No. But it’s with me all the time and will hit what I point it at, and that’s enough for me.

  4. That’s sweet, exurbankevin. Do you keep it in your purse?

    I kid, I kid…. Better than no gun in the gunfight. But maybe one day you’ll come into the light of the cult of .45

  5. A .45’s on the list, along with a Peacemaker and a Bersa Thunder (I just can’t justify paying twice as much for a PPK when the PPK has a worse trigger) and a whole lot more. As for the Kel-Tec, I carry it ’cause I’m a white-collar schlep and it’s utterly unnoticeable in the front pocket of my pants.

  6. Once you have a .45, you are allowed to get something else. You just have to start out right. I’ll admit to buying all sorts of different guns, but always coming back to my true love. And I’m pretty agnostic on any clones. Given my choice between a 60 year old Colt or a brand new Kimber, I’d probably go new.

  7. I’m not sure what the term is to quantify stopping power but the 230-grain .45 ACP vice the 115-grain 9mm will make me go with the .45 ACP everyday. But I typically carry my H&K USP 9mm.

    Because I thought a few days ago that I was going to be in a really shitty part of town for work purposes I put both my 9mm and my Kimber in my back pack. You really notice the weight of the Kimber when added to that bag.

  8. cranky, stopping power is usually measured in foot/pounds of force. It isn’t really accurate, but it is a evenhanded method of comparing weapons. If both use a similar design hollowpointed slug, the greater foot/pound force is shown as having greater stopping power.

    I haven’t carried a weapon in years. I live in the safest city in America. That doesn’t mean there is NO threat, just that my risk assesment is that the likelihood of something happening where I would want a weapon is extremely low.

    Having said that, there was an incident right before or after I moved here where a nutjob went into Albertsons and started decapitating people with a sword. Took a couple of minutes for the cops to get there and kill him (with an M-4, by the way).

  9. Cranky,
    you are right the Kimber weighs a ton.
    However every time I take it to the range I can put 3 mags in one 2″ – 3″ hole at 7 and 15 yds. I do not know about you, but that makes me confident.
    My little Kahr shoots 1/2 a head to the right. I would never attempt a shot with it that required any kind of accuracy. I still carry it, but confidence is important if you ever have to pull it.

  10. For those of you who do not know why people love the .45 acp, law enforcement keeps stats on shootings. (I have not seen recent ones, and if anyone finds a good link would appreciate it) the .45 and the .357 were virtually tied at about 97% in 1 shot stops. The 9mm was around 67%

  11. “and the less said about the trigger on the Beretta, the better”

    Second. I was going to go off a rant about how much I hate the Beretta’s DA trigger pull, but I will restrain myself thanks to that voice of reason. However, I will say that going from a Kimber 1911 (the first handgun I shot) to qualifying on the Beretta at FT (the second handgun I shot) was quite a shock. I qualified, of course, (three shots away from shooting a perfect round) but that doesn’t mean I enjoyed it. Like you said, it’s fairly obvious that the 1911 wasn’t broken, so fixing it was a bad idea. However, logistics always wins the day, which is why 9mm is the handgun round and the rifle is still the direct impingement AR chambered in 5.56, when ideally it would be either the HK 416 or the FN SCAR chambered in something like 6.8 Remington SPC. But I digress.

    ExUrbanKevin, like Brad said, better the light/small gun you carry than the heavy/big one you leave at home. But better still the heavy/big gun you carry.

    As for .45 ACP, bigger holes = better, especially in a military environment where you have to shoot FMJ and don’t get those nice expanding JHPs.

  12. I wouldn’t mind if logistics won the day, but switching to the 9mm was politics.

    I like what I’ve seen of the 6.8SPC, but don’t have a big problem with 5.56. I would like to see the force switch to HK416. Congress is starting to sniff around because the army basically replaced the M16 with the M4 without a competition. That annoyed Congress, because they can’t spread the pork.

  13. Did you read about the Chinese 5.8mm?

    It looks like our 5.56 has been outclassed. However the current situation in Iraq and Afghanistan means that the DOD will wait before switching.

  14. Well, the basic 5.56 is about 50 years old, and the current M855 round is what? 25? 30 Years old? I doubt that the 5.8 is a order of magnitude better, but sooner or later the army is going to rethink it’s ammo. The trend for a century and half has been smaller, but we may actually see that reverse.

  15. i agree with you about the 45. personally ive always perfered the colt over the m9 just out of familiarity. but my favorite pistol is the one i own, a sig sauer p220 carry. it is a very accurate pistol

  16. exurbankevin you said, “I mean, some people are crazy enough to actually prefer Glocks!” I have never fired a glock, but they seem like quite decent weapons. Could you explain what the problems with the glock are when compared to other weapons?

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