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9x23mm/.38 TJ 1911 Pistol Concept: Better Solution than Kimber .45 ACP 1911 Pistol for USMC MARSOC/MCSOCOM Det 1 Unit?

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by David Crane
defrev (at) gmail (dot) com

November 6, 2003
Last updated on 10/11/11.

The 1911 pistol that Kimber is currently supplying to U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) MARSOC/Special Operations Command Detachment 1 operators, according to reports, differs from the Kimber Custom TLE/RL II in several key respects (The following information is, as yet, unconfirmed/unverified):

1) It utilizes Kimber's Series 1 safety system, which is simpler/less complex than their Series 2 safety system featured in all of Kimber's current guns offered to the civilian and law enforcement communities. MCSOCOM Det 1 operators apparently did not want to trust their lives to the Kimber Series 2 safety system. Can't blame them there. Unnecessarily complex safety systems forced on consumers by lawyers have absolutely no business on military operational guns.
 
2) It utilizes the original GI spec half length guide rod(instead of the TLE's full length guide rod), which will allow operators to field strip the pistol more easily and without tools. The half length guide rod will also allow the operator to be able to conduct certain one-handed emergency action drills(including ejection and chambering of a new round/i.e. manual cycling) that are either impossible or very difficult to achieve with a full length guide rod installed. The half length guide rod also allows for the traditional press check.
 
3) It features a Kimber factory ambi-safety (info provided by Bryan Ramsey).
 
4) It features genuine Novak sights, something DefRev hopes will be offered as a factory option on all Kimber pistols in the future.
 
5) It has an Ed Brown beavertail grip safety (info provided by Bryan Ramsey–see "Comments" below).
 
6) It incorporates a lanyard loop.

7) It utilizes a Dawson Precision screw-on M1913 Picatinny rail instead of the Kimber TLE/RLII's integral frame rail.

So the reader is aware, the proper abbreviaton for U.S. Marine Corps MARSOC/Special Operations Command Detachment 1 is, according to noted gunwriter and tactical instructor Pat Rogers, MCSOCOM Det 1, not "MARSOC Det 1", as has previously been used by most publications to describe the U.S. Marine Corps' new Special Operations (read that as SOCOM compliant) unit.
 
The new Kimber MARSOC/MCSOCOM Det 1 gun is chambered in .45 ACP. In my opinion, MARSOC/MCSOCOM Det 1 might be better served with 1911's chambered for either the 9x23mm cartridge or .38 TJ (rimless version of the .38 Super cartridge). The 9x23mm and .38 TJ cartridges are simply more versatile and capable (in several key areas) than .45 ACP, and, in the author's opinion, might be a better choice for U.S. military Special Operations/Counterterrorism use, in general, unless a team is using specialized .45 ACP ammo like the Le Mas BMT APLP (Armor-Piercing Limited-Penetration) 85-grain .45 CQB round, which will penetrate NIJ Level IIIa body armor. The 9x23mm cartridge is superior to the .45 ACP cartridge in the following respects:
 
1) 9x23mm offers at least equal and perhaps even superior ability to put hostile human targets down quickly in CQB engagements compared to the .45 ACP. Winchester Silvertip 9x23mm ammo utilizes a 125 grain hollowpoint bullet at 1450 feet per second. That's true .357 magnum ballistics. 125 grain 9x23mm ammo in +p loadings will probably come in at 1600-1700 fps. Now, imagine what kind of velocity and body armor/hard armor penetration one can achieve with a specialized 75-90 grain projectile in a +p or even +p+ loading and the right bullet construction, material, and shape.
 
2) 9x23mm has a significantly greater effective range than .45 ACP due to its higher velocity, lighter weight, superior ballistic coefficient, and flatter trajectory. Targets can be effectively engaged at a minimum of 1.5 times the effective range of a .45 ACP gun. What happens if the operator's primary weapon goes down in the middle of a combat engagement at a range of 100 yards or more? Why not have a secondary weapon that can still reach out and touch someone at that range?
 
3) 9x23mm exhibits significantly superior penetration characteristics over the .45 ACP round against body armor and hard targets (in similar bullet configurations). 9x23mm would also be more effective at penetrating loaded 7.62x39mm magazines (for the AK-47/AKM series of rifles) that are often carried by enemy forces in chest harnesses. Before the round even gets to the body armor, it has to be able to penetrate these ammunition-filled magazines.
 
4) Single-stack magazine capacity for 9x23mm is 10 rounds as opposed to 7 rounds for .45 ACP(giving an operator a total of 11 rounds in the weapon). Military operators tend to use 7 round magazines for their .45's, not 8-rounders, due to the increased reliability of the 7-rounders. 9x23mm ammo is also lighter than .45 ACP, so an operator can carry more of it at the same weight.
 
5) In trained hands, the 9x23mm allows for faster engagement of multiple targets compared to .45 ACP, due to the reduced felt-recoil and muzzle flip generated by the 9x23mm round. The 9x23mm also creates a faster cycling time than .45ACP.
 
6) And, last but definitely not least, 9x23mm feeds more reliably through the 1911 than .45 ACP, even though the 1911 was originally designed around the .45 ACP cartridge. This translates to less stoppages and jams. The 9×23's tapered case and narrower profile most likely contribute to this.
 
The .38 TJ cartridge essentially offers all of the advantages of the 9x23mm, except it uses a straight-wall case, instead of a tapered case, so it doesn't offer the same chamber feeding advantage that the 9x23mm offers. However, it's straight-walled case, it could be argued, aids in consistant stacking inside the magazine.
 
So, the gun I would really like to have in the future is a Kimber MARSOC/MCSOCOM Det 1 configured gun in either 9x23mm or .38 TJ, provided I have access to either factory or high-quality reloaded ammunition that won't "break the bank" to purchase. Now, that just might be combat pistol perfection.
 
At the very least, I hope Kimber eventually offers the MARSOC/MCSOCOM Det 1 1911 pistol to civilians. Frankly, I think we deserve it. After all, we made Kimber what it is today.
 
By the way, in case anyone reading this article disagrees with my assessment of the superiority of the 9x23mm round over the .45 ACP round for U.S. military Spec-Ops use, I would refer them to someone who is much more knowledgable about 9x23mm than I am, one Dane Burns. Dane is an established pistolsmith and an authority on the 9x23mm cartridge. You can visit his website at BurnsCustom.com. An entire section of Dane's site is dedicated to the 9x23mm cartridge. And, yes, Dane knows how to build a 1911 in 9x23mm for serious social purposes. He also makes some of the best 1911 components, in case you're looking to upgrade your own 1911. You can check them out by clicking here.

9x23mm/.38 TJ 1911 Pistol Concept: Better Solution than Kimber .45 ACP 1911 Pistol for USMC MARSOC/MCSOCOM Det 1 Unit? by
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About David Crane

David Crane started publishing online in 2001. Since that time, governments, military organizations, Special Operators (i.e. professional trigger pullers), agencies, and civilian tactical shooters the world over have come to depend on Defense Review as the authoritative source of news and information on "the latest and greatest" in the field of military defense and tactical technology and hardware, including tactical firearms, ammunition, equipment, gear, and training.

4 comments

  1. The American Armed Forces have a century of experience with what works in the field and what does not.  The US Army played the key role in the development of the original Calvalry Pistol that happened to be an automatic, was easy to reload, and was easy to operate and maintain in the field from the desert to the jungle.  The USMC has employed this weapon in every operational environment.  John Browning’s engineering has proven to be not only solid, reliable, and (in the .45 claiber) have superior stopping power, but transcends new designs with its superior performance over such a long period of time.  If ever there was a poster child for “if it works, don’t mess with it’, it’s the standard 1911A1 internal configuration.  No amount of engineering will ever make mistakes by the operator . . . right.  I prefer a strait 1911A1 weapon in reasonable condition.  Earned my expert on the ship with a rattle trap right out of the armory.  My Rock Island Armory 1911A1 CNCed in 4140 Chromoly Steel is accurate, 100% reliable, and easy to use for this well trained individual with 21 years of experience carrying one.  As usual, the USMC ‘no nonsense’ approach was to stick with what works.

    I wish the US Army had the same sentiment.  Every argument that ushered in the NATO 9mm M9 sidearm has been refuted.  When introduced, the M9 literally injured users until additional modifications were made.  Operators in the field who carry the .45 do not complain about its performance.  The same cannot be said of the M9 users.  

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