By David Crane
defrev (at) gmail (dot) com
October 11, 2011
Last updated on 10/12/11.
While the rest of the United States Marine Corps (USMC) switched to the Beretta M9 (U.S. military version of the Beretta 92F) high-capacity 9mm Parabellum/9x19mm NATO pistol back in the 1980s, U.S. Marine Corps Force Reconnaissance (Force Recon) and other USMC MEU (SOC) units have been kickin' it old-school since the 1990s with a customized/enhanced version of the veneral 5"-barreled single-stack .45 ACP 1911 pistol (M1911 pistol) called, appropriately enough, the M45 MEU (SOC) (also written "M45 MEUSOC") 1911 pistol. MEU (SOC) stands for "Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable". And, the MARSOC operators must like it, because they're gonna' be keepin' it old-school with the new M45 Close Quarters Battle Pistol (or M45 CQB Pistol), previously reported by some as the M45 Close Quarters Combat Pistol (or M45 CQC Pistol) 1911 Pistol. The .45 ACP round is an excellent CQB/CQC round, and the 1911 pistol/.45ACP combo is formidable, provided the guns run.
The M45 CQB Pistol contract from Marine Corps Systems Command (MCSC, or MARCORSYSCOM) will reportedly be for anywhere from 400 to 4,000 pistols. Unlike with the M45 MEU (SOC) custom 1911 pistol, the M45 CQB combat/tactical 1911 pistol is slated to be a commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) product, which would take the heat off the gunsmiths/pistolsmiths at Quantico Weapons Training Battalion Precision Weapons Section (PWS). According to reports, Colt and Springfield Armory are two of the contract contenders.
That all sounds great, except that anyone who knows anything about combat 1911 pistols can tell you, 1911 pistols require more diligence/maintenance and a more sophisticated end-user than modern late-20th-century and early-21st-century polymer-framed striker-fired semi-auto pistols like the Glock (Safe-Action), Smith & Wesson M&P, and Springfield XDM in order to keep them combat-reliable. Tactical shooting instructor, consultant, and retired U.S. Army SF (Special Forces) assaulter/operator Larry Vickers has been particularly vocal about this fact. Vickers prefers the Glock 17/19 platform for its superior reliability, durability, and simplicity vs. the 1911 pistol, particularly under combat conditions (adverse environmental conditions) where an operator can't keep the gun constantly lubed and/or maintained as he would like. DefenseReview agrees with Vickers on this. The U.S. Naval SPECWAR community (Navy SEALs) went with the hammer-fired DA/SA (double-action/single-action) SIG SAUER P226 high-capacity semi-auto 9mm pistol for its "over-the-beach" reliability prowess, even though it has the handling deficit of a higher bore axis and thus more pronounced muzzle flip (muzzle rise) than the aforementioned striker-fired guns.
So, while professional experience and wisdom dictate that if you don't properly maintain a combat/tactical 1911 pistol, it will go down on you at a most inopportune moment–Murphy's Law and all that–DefenseReview (DR) has had a number of very interesting conversations with Bob Marvel of Bob Marvel Custom Guns about this since we started publishing information on his custom tactical/combat 1911 pistols. During these discussions, we questioned him specifically about the possibility of developing a military combat-reliable production/non-custom high-capacity double-stack 1911 pistol that approaches or equals the high-round-count/adverse-conditions combat reliability of a Glock 17/19 (G17/G19) pistol. Marvel has stated to us that this is indeed possible, provided you modify, modernize, and improve some things on it, including the magazine. According to Marvel, a Strayer Voigt /Infinity Firearms (SVI) / STI International-type polymer-framed (polymer gripframe) double-stack high-capacity 1911 pistol requiring minimal maintenance, a la the Glock, can theoretically be developed for mass production. Developing a better and more consistent production double-stack high-capacity mag, however, is a crucial element. Currently, Marvel has to custom-tune all the high-capacity 1911 magazines (particularly the feed lips) that he supplies to his customers.
In our previous reporting on Marvel Custom 1911 pistols, including our "Sandbox Field Report" piece, we've concentrated Marvel's steel-frame single-stack custom 1911 pistols, which feature his signature "bull nose" bushingless barrel design and go through a 2,000-round test-fire torture test before being shipped out to the customer, who's sometimes a U.S. military Spec-Operator working OCONUS/overseas. However, for a future military Special Operations Forces (SOF) 1911 pistol, Defense Review is more interested in a modular high-capacity 1911 pistol with a rigid, durable polymer-framed high-capacity gun. The key word there is "modular", as, ideally, DR would like to be able to swap complete slide assemblies and magazines between .45 ACP and 9x23mm (or .38 TJ, whichever can be standardized more easily for U.S. military use and will function better in hi-cap mags), just like a tactical AR carbine like the Colt CM901/SP901 allows the user to swap out complete upper receiver assemblies and mags between 7.62x51mm NATO (7.62mm NATO)/.308 Win. and 5.56x45mm NATO (5.56mm NATO)/.223 Rem. calibers.
Why the 9x23mm (or .38 TJ) in addition to .45 ACP? DR actually wrote about this in late 2003 in this piece, although we covered low-capacity single-stack mags, not high-capacity double-stack mags, in it. While DR likes .45 ACP very much as a combat pistol cartridge for serious martial applications, the basic upshot of that piece is that:
1) You can carry significantly more 9x23mm (or .38 TJ) ammo than .45 ACP (in the gun and on your person).
2) With it's tapered case and narrower, longer profile, the 9x23mm cartridge, specifically, is inherantly more reliable than the .45ACP cartridge out of the 1911 pistol platform.
3) 9x23mm ammo shoots significantly flatter and farther. A 125gr round at 1400-1450 fps out of a 5" barrel is the rough equivalent to a .357 Magnum round, and you have significantly more rounds at your disposal.
4) You can shoot it faster (accurately) against multiple targets.
5) It can punch through third-world body armor (loaded AK-47/AKM/AK-74 magazine chest rigs).
The only major downside of it is the usual supply/logistics issue of a new and/or non-military-standard cartridge being introduced into the supply chain and the likely significantly higher ammo cost until you get to a certain level of production. This is the same issue that's plagued the 6.8x43mm SPC (6.8 SPC) cartridge, even now that everyone appears to have settled on the Spec II chamber for it–and it's a pretty big issue.
Again, DR is a big .45 ACP fan for CQB/CQC applications, and we like it for a combat round, but having the ability to switch over to 9x23mm for a different mission profile would be pretty cool.
Here's the mag capacity info for Strayer Voigt/Infinity Firearms (SVI) double-stack hi-cap mags:
|Magazine/Tube Length||.38 acp, 9×21, 9×23||.40 S&W, 9×25, 10mm, .357 Sig||.45 ACP, .400 corbon|
|Short Grip Compact – 113mm||16||10||10|
|Duty – 124mm||17||15||12|
|Standard – 131mm||19||17||13|
|Long – 140mm||23 w/4mm Aluminum Basepad||21 w/4mm Aluminum Basepad||14|
|Extended – 170mm||28 w/ 3mm Aluminum Basepad||24 w/ 4mm Aluminum Basepad||18|
Of course, for any military-grade pistol, the polymer gripframe would have to be adequately strong and stiff. If there weren't an adequate and affordable super-polymer available for the application, they'd probably have to go to a fiberglass, carbon fiber, or kevlar-reinforced polymer frame.
DR would also want to add a self-lubricating/self-lubricitous and/or anti-corrosion/anti-rust internal/external coating to the pistol like FailZero nickel-boron, Next Generation Arms or STS Arms internal and external ceramic coating (Cerakote ceramic coatings, including Micro-Slick), IonBond (also written "Ion Bond") Diamond Black, or salt-bath nitriding/nitrocarburizing (technical equivalent to Glock Tenifer finish).
Obviously, if the proposed tactical/combat pistol can be successfully developed, we'd want it made available for civilian/commercial purchase, as well.
It should be noted that Midway USA currently carries Winchester Super-X 125gr Silvertip hollow-point ammunition. A 50-round box of this ammo is currently priced at $39.79.
It's DefenseReview's understanding that in the last few years, Marvel has assisted Nighthawk Custom with optimizing their custom (and semi-custom?) 1911 pistols.
Company Contact Info:
427 North Shamrock Street
East Alton, IL 62024
Midway USA Ammunition (Winchester 9x23mm Ammo)
Attention: Customer Service
5875 West Van Horn Tavern Rd.
Columbia, MO 65203
Toll Free: 800-243-3220
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