28 December 2005

The Handgun Surprise

I first put my hands on the Army's M1911 .45 Cal. Automatic while being trained as a "Light Weapons Infantryman (Mos 11B), at Ft. Jackson, South Carolina.
We didn't fire it for record, so my introduction to the piece was a lotta fun.

We fired 45's again in O.C.S..
I liked the .45. I found I could shoot it pretty accurately. I loved the fact that the round moved downrange slowly enough that I could see it in flight.

In O.C.S. we learned a little history of the weapon. In the Philippines, American Officers armed with .38's found that weapon would not stop the charge of Moro warriors intoxicated with narcotics. (.30 caliber rifles sometimes had minimal effect too.)
A new, more powerful sidearm was needed.
John Browning came to the rescue. The .45 had nearly twice the stopping power of the .38, and the weapon had an 8 round capacity... 1 in the chamber, 7 in the magazine.
Hit a man anywhere with the .45, and he was mighty sorry he had met your acquaintance!

You can imagine my surprise when I lined up to receive my sidearm in Viet Nam and they handed me a .38 Special... wimpy piece of soiled Kleenex!

But when I questioned the wisdom of issuing us .38's, the answer made sense:
If you are shot down and break an arm in the ensuing crash, you can still fire, reload, and fire again one-armed if you are shooting the .38 revolver.
Reloading and chambering the first round in the .45 with one arm could prove difficult.
It made sense.
I learned to deal with the idea.

Now, Sports fans, your intermittent trivia question:
(No Army Aviators are allowed to participate, obviously)...
When I climbed into my Charley Model Huey with the Western belt/holster style .38, what did I physically do with the pistol?



Once you're in the flight seat, you remove the weapon from its holster and stow it inside your flight suit. That way, in the event of a crash landing (being shot down) it will be with you after you hit the tall grass.

Infinitegtr said...

You mean you didn't just toss it under the seat like I do in my wife's mini-van?

The .38 in question, was it a snubby, or were any issued with longer barrel? Also, not to be a wise-ass, but don't some of the shooting contests today require off-hand shooting and reloading? I know that when I was shooting on a regular basis, at least 20% of my practice time was offhand, one handed shooting (in case of injury, etc)...

I noticed last night while perusing the net for a concealment holster that Galco has a program set up so that common citizens such as I can donate a quality leather holster to troops deployed overseas. Wish I had known before Christmas, but no matter, will throw in anyway.

Is there any latitude in sidearm for troops? I recall hearing stories of guys who carried personally owned .45's after the Army went to the Beretta...

Greybeard said...

These were run of the mill service pistols.....4 inch barrels, I think.

The "official" stand was that we were only allowed to use weapons we were issued. But in truth, no one paid any attention to the ordinance you carried so long as you didn't flaunt it. The tank units had "grease guns"....the .45 cal. stubby machine gun, and I tried to beg/borrow/steal one from the beginning of my tour, to no avail. (No one was interested in trading.)

I still don't understand the recent change to the 9mm. I know the switch was pretty controversial. The Beretta is a fine piece, (I have a Beretta .32 and like it a lot), but nothing has the stopping power of the big slug!
If I wanted to carry my own .45 today in Iraq/Afghanistan, where would I find replacement ammunition? Any active troops out there with an answer?

Here's a hint about the trivia question:
While I was flying, the .38 was passive protective equipment.


I know what you mean about stopping power of the 9mm vs the 45 cal. I have a 380 Beretta with a "cop clip"--15 rounds. What I lose in stopping power, I make up in volume.