The FBI, the Army, and 9 mm

The Army is looking to replace its current stock of M9 and M11 9 mm pistols with newer, more modern weapons. One interesting twist in the request for submissions from potential vendors is that the choice of caliber has been left open. This has led to speculation that the Army may wind up joining the Coast Guard in adopting the .40 S&W round or the Marines who have partially readopted .45 ACP. Some have suggested that the .357 Sig round might be chosen.

Meanwhile, the FBI has announced that it will begin transitioning its agents from .40 S&W to 9 mm. Apparently, a significant number of Special Agents have difficulty mastering a pistol chambered for the more powerful round. Given that 9 mm ammunition has been greatly improved over the past couple of decades (and is significantly less expensive than .40 S&W), the change is not unreasonable for a large, bureaucratic organization.

If the Gentle Reader were to spend some time pursuing the comments on various sites reporting on these two stories, he will find them filled with the pontifications of a plethora of Internet arm chair experts, almost none of whom have any real world experience or practical knowledge of combat shooting with a handgun. My personal preference is for a Model 1911 pistol in .45 ACP, but that is based on my training and actual combat experience. I suspect that the FBI will wind up swapping their .40 Glocks for 9 mm Glocks or something very similar. It will be interesting to see what wins the Army’s shootout.

35 thoughts on “The FBI, the Army, and 9 mm

  1. I’m not an expert by any means, but my weapon of choice is my S&W model 5906. The magazine holds 15 rds so what it lacks in power compared to a 1911, makes it up in number of rds down range. It’s just a joy to shoot and accurate to boot. I can put every round in the eight ring with about half in the ten ring, of a silhouette target at 25 yards,

  2. My daily carry is a 1911 .45ACP. It’s what I trained with and carried in the service and it fits my bigger hands nicely. I’m sure I could get used to a 9mm with large grips, but why spend more money when I like what I have.

    Anecdotally, my friends still in the service say they have made it known they want more stopping power then what the current platform provides.

  3. Well, sir; I thank you and your earned combat experience for my lack thereof. However, notwithstanding (one word) the shootability (is that a word?) of these various platforms; ballistics in general is, relatively speaking, a hard science. General dismissal for specific insufficiencies is not merited, there is plenty to discuss regarding the muzzle velocity, flight characteristics, penetration potential, and energy delivery of these ammunition selections.

    • That said, I don’t know jack about the .357 Sig, but I do know the evolution of the .45 ACP and the historical durability of the 1911. For overt combat, it seems to me to be an appropriate solution for the military with .40 S&W a reasonable alternative. For Police and/or personal protection, the arguments for smaller platforms with lighter loads become stronger; i.e. six small holes at center mass may be more effective than three loud reports with no lead on target. Shooter’s choice seems to be best choice if possible.

      FWIW, I’m comfortable with my Remington 870 Tactical (M&P) with 2 oz turkey shot.

      • There’s a old story about a woman who asked a Texas Ranger if he was expecting trouble because he was carrying his Model 1911 cocked-and-locked. He replied, “No, Ma’am. If I was expecting trouble, I’d have my shotgun.”

        • During my concealed carry class they showed us an interview with two world-class pistol shooters. When asked what they would take if they knew they would have a confrontation, both responded “a long gun”.

          • They say a pistol is what you use to fight your way back to the rifle you shouldn’t have left behind.

      • Back in the day, you would hear a lot of grousing about 9mm being too hot, and I guess +P FMJ will still punch through several sides of beef. Given that Geneva wants a solid, non-frangible round, the .45 would appear to offer more energy delivery and remain compliant, with less threat of collateral damage.

        That and $4.98 will buy you a small coffee at the doughnut shop.

  4. The 1911 was the weapon carried by myself and the other BAT/SAF team members aboard my ship.

    During my time in law enforcement, I carried a Taurus PT99 AF (9mm).

    45 has more stopping power… but in my opinion the 9mm was more accurate. Loaded with Black Talons, I have no doubt that the Taurus would have dropped anything that I shot at if it had come to that.

    • I’ve heard a number of really bad things about the Taurus though, particularly quality-control related.

      • Yeah… we heard them all too.

        Never had an issue… not even once. The local PD we worked with had more issues with their Glocks than we ever had with our “Baretta Knock-Offs.”.

        YMMV, of course. 🙂

  5. The two most important factors are presence (you have it when you need it) and shot placement. So carry what you find comfortable to shoot frequently enough to get good with.

    I have a Springfield XD in .45, and a North American Mini. I can’t claim the Mini is accurate, or high powered, but it is a LOT easier to carry.

  6. The effective stopping power of the 9mm round has made leaps and bounds the past 4 – 10 years. My daily carry is the new Glock 43, single stack 6 + 1, 9mm with Hornady Critical Defense rounds with a 115 grain FTX bullet. The main drawback for me is the limited round count of the mags. I have absolutely NO wish to ever be in a situation where I am forced to use a firearm, but I will always be prepared just in case.

    The .45 ACP round is a big hunk of metal with a tremendious amount of energy. It’s stopping power has been proven decade after decade. My city, county and state law enforcement agencies have all transitioned to the .40 S & W over the past 7 – 10 years. However, just this year several of them have started discussing transitioning to the 9mm because of the advancement of the ammo.

    It’s my belief that those who have chosen to defend this Nation, it’s Constitution and it’s Laws have earned the right to choose the tools they wish to use. Great topic Mr Hoge.

  7. OK, if the Army is moving away from 9mm and the FBI is moving towards 9mm, is there any chance the FBI could acquire excess Army 9mm’s? Nah, never happen.

    • One of the reason that the Army need to buy more handguns is that most of its M9 are old and wearing out. FBI Special Agents are issue the compact version of the .40 S&W Glock. The M9 is much larger and much less suitable for concealed carry. The M11 is a Sig 226 and would be more suitable, but the Army doesn’t have enough of them to arm all the FBIs agents.

  8. My daily carry piece is an M1911. I hear the 9mm ammo is greatly improved over the original rounds, but it just feels “right” when I fire my M1911. Not sure I can explain it better than that.

  9. I carry a Glock 23 (.40 cal) every day. I don’t get to the range as much as wish I could, so I’d probably be better off with a 9mm. More bullets and faster acquisition beats “stopping power” any day. That being said, if I had more range time, I’d prefer a .40.

  10. I was in when nothing was happening, and if it was my MOS would have made me an REMF, so all I know is from Basic and the annual qualification on the M16.

    That said, if I had to state a preference, can I go with the M72A2?

  11. I’ve only fired four different handguns, and I’m not knowledgeable on the subject. Out of the M1911 (100s of rounds, expert badge), .357 Magnum (S&W I think, 50 rounds), Glock 9mm (50 rounds) and a Beretta .38 (10 rounds) I much preferred the .45. It was the one that felt instantly ‘right’ in my hand. The Glock 9mm was a distant second, and the other two felt distinctly awkward.

  12. Just speculation but I would expect the choice to be either 9mm or a round with similar size but perhaps a little more power. It is also possible they could use one of the new polymer metal composite bullets or other exotica. The 1911 design does make for a good handgun but the .45 apc is a big round and the guns are expensive to produce, plus the higher recoil would increase time to hit on the second round. I have fired the civilian version of the 9mm and a 911 but only for limited times. Between the two I would pick something else.

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