One Marine's Perspective: From M1911A1 to M9

Discussion in 'The Okie Corral' started by Edge767, Dec 14, 2015.

  1. Edge767

    Edge767

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    [​IMG]

    I grew up shooting, as I posted earlier, back in the 70's. The pistol of choice by anyone I respected was the 1911 .45 ACP. It was the gold standard against which all other pistols were compared. Next runner-up, and a very close second, was the Smith and Wesson Model 19. These were the two pistols I told my young self I would own one day, and in my mind, then I would own the best of what was available.

    As a young man looking for direction and some self-motivation, I turned down a full-ride scholarship to an Ivy League school and decided instead to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps. It was a decision my father was against, but my mother, whose father and grandfather were both career military officers, respected my decision and felt that I knew best what I needed. I'm glad she did; had I went to college, I surely would have been home by Christmas with low grades and no results to show. I was horribly unmotivated, spoiled, and without any real direction in my life. Suffice it to say, the Marine Corps Drill Instructors fixed that problem for me.

    I spent 12 years in the Corps, attaining the rank of SSgt and turning down a promotion to GySgt to get out for the sake of my children and move closer to my family. While this was very hard for me to do, in the end, it turned out to be the best decision for my family that I ever made. My dad passed away three years after I got out. Had I waited to retire from the Corps, my kids never would have known my dad they way they do, to know how kind, gentle, and wise he was. He also enjoyed taking them shooting and fishing, two things both my kids love to this day.

    As a Marine in 1986, the weapons we were issued and trained with were the M16A2 (brand new at the time, we were one of the first platoons at MCRD San Diego to use them and I still remember my rifle number: 6103938) and the M1911A1. As a Military Policeman, I trained with the M1911A1 at Lackland AFB (MP School) and when assigned to my first duty station, MCAS El Toro, I was issued an M1911A1 as my sidearm. I was ecstatic with both. The M16A2 was easy to shoot, had light recoil, and I mastered it quickly. Having shot flies off logs in Wisconsin as a kid helped with my trigger technique, and shooting pistols near my home helped me master the M1911A1. I felt very comfortable with both, and couldn't be happier. Bonus was when we trained with the Orange County Sheriff's Department at their Laser Village, we got to use Smith & Wesson Model 19's. I was truly happy.

    Then came fall 1989, and while sitting in class waiting for our training on counter-knife techniques, our operations chief and armorers walked into the room with a big green crate. They opened the crate and the Gunny pulled out a single pistol: A Beretta M9. He told us that these were our new pistols, and that we would be going to the range later that day to qualify with them and that we would be changing over from the M1911A1's to the M9's effective immediately. We were all taken aback, and some were quite outwardly hesitant of adopting this new pistol (which, in the Corps, can get you some serious one-on-one private time with the Gunny), but we were told we had no choice and this was how it was going to be. We were taught how to field strip it, clean it, and given time to just get to know it. I liked how it fit my hand a little better than the M1911A1, but it was 9mm, and many of us were unsure about the caliber. We were told it was a NATO requirement, and that's why we had to give up our beloved M1911's.

    There were some Marines who never quite accepted the M9, and hearkened back to the days when we carried M1911A1's. They said that the 1911's fit their hands better, that they felt more confident in the round, or that they were able to shoot it more accurately than the M9. They were in the minority most of the time, as the majority of the Marines I knew preferred the M9's. As for the nostalgia factor, there was nothing cooler than carrying a pistol that was made during WWII by Union Switch & Signal. It was a beautiful pistol and my assigned pistol shot very well.

    That afternoon, I qualified with the highest score I had ever achieved on the pistol qualification range. I always shot expert with the pistol, but this score was just 6 points shy of a perfect score. I wasn't the only one. The vast majority of my peers also shot their best score, and this bolstered everyone's confidence that the M9 could be a pistol we could effectively carry and use. As we sat and talked after shooting, many of us agreed that while the 9mm may not have the stopping power that the .45 ACP had, at least we could get rounds on target more consistently.

    edgerona.jpg
    Me, on the left, as a young Corporal in Bahrain in 1990. On the right is my friend HM3 Peter Rona.

    Where I was stationed, there were a few situations where the M9 was put to the ultimate test, and it performed as expected and with results that, while not as devastating as a .45 would have been, were devastating enough. It was a solid pistol for garrison work, and as an MP, was the pistol lots of law enforcement personnel carried in the communities that we trained with. All seemed well.

    In 1990, I deployed as part of the giant buildup known as Operation Desert Shield. With the exception of the Staff NCO's and Officers, we were issued M16A2 service rifles that were brand new and sticky with cosmoline. We spent hours getting them cleaned up and ready and oiled up. That last part proved to be an issue as we arrived in Bahrain for our first sand storm. We learned to very, very lightly oil the rifles to not attract too much dust and sand. The rifles operated quite well: us Marines were trained well in rifle maintenance, and whenever we had a moment's down-time, we were cleaning our weapons. The vast majority of the time, they didn't need any cleaning, but having been taught that our rifle is our life, we never missed an opportunity to make sure it wasn't operating perfectly. The M9's were a little better in dealing with dirt and sand, but also needed regular maintenance to keep working properly. I had many friends who were air crew that were always cleaning their M9's, but they told me that they were pretty happy with it except for its weight; with 15 rounds, it was a heavy pistol to wear.

    While I was still on active duty, I acquired two pistols: The M1911 (a Springfield; remember, I was active duty, and not rich) and a Beretta 92FS that I received a very healthy military discount on. I never did get the Smith & Wesson Model 19, but one day, I will. If anything, just to make the 10 year old boy trapped inside my memories beam with pride.
     
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  2. MajJamesMcFarlane

    MajJamesMcFarlane

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    I'm 95% sure that's a Rock Island (Filipino) 1911, only because I own the same one.
     

  3. Edge767

    Edge767

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    That's a Springfield, actually.
     
  4. Glock.Man

    Glock.Man

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    Thank you for your service to our country.

    I had a Springfield 1911A1 but stupidly used it as a trade-in on a Sig P-220. It's not that I don't like the Sig, but I missed not having a 1911. It took me a few years, but I now have a Sig 1911 with night sights and no rail, and a Colt Commander all steel with three dot sites. My old eyes just couldn't handle the GI sights on my original S/A 1911.
     
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  5. DaleGribble

    DaleGribble FullClip CANT BREATHE!!!!!

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  6. MajJamesMcFarlane

    MajJamesMcFarlane

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    No kidding? Looks exactly like my 1911-A1. I imagine the Springfield uses a little better quality metal in their weapons.
     
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  7. Diesel_Bomber

    Diesel_Bomber

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    Thank you for posting, and thank you for your service.
     
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  8. mattallamerican

    mattallamerican

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    good review thanks
     
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  9. Berto

    Berto woo woo

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    Thanks for such an insightful post, and thank you for your service.:beer:
     
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  10. KBKEITH

    KBKEITH Problem Solver Platinum Member

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    That was a high-quality post.

    Thanks for your service.
     
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  11. Dr. Bill

    Dr. Bill

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    Fascinating post. Always good to hear about an interesting topic from someone who knows what they're talking about.

    Semper Fi, dude!
     
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  12. Retiredguns

    Retiredguns

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    Thank you for your service. I was a 2111 for 20 years. Getting M16A2s was a treat, but that day in 1986 when a truck pulled up to my armory with 574 M9s, I as well the rest of the armorers were distraught. Yeah it was mostly nostalgia, but no doubt carrying the legendary .45 from previous wars and service was a badge of honor. The M9 was surely a decent shooter, but they were not without hassle. Some needed an immediate modification of a slide stop so they wouldn't knock our heads off and they were not nearly as simple or sturdy as the M1911A1. Marines broke them, lost springs, etc.. Some folks with small hands griped about the wide grip and we couldn't tweak them in 5 minutes like the M1911A1.

    I was glad to see the OP mention Union Signal & Switch. I searched through many .45s to find one and I carried it as long as I could. The only other .45 that would have replaced it was a Singer Sewing Machine Model, but I couldn't find one. I'd give a pretty penny to have the US&S pistol in my collection, but I bet they get weeded out instantly when the public gets a crack at the program.
     
  13. ithaca_deerslayer

    ithaca_deerslayer

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    I like my Beretta 92 :)

    NY National Guard I've seen carry Glocks.

    I'm not a huge 1911 fan, but have a couple and enjoy them.
     
  14. 1smoothredneck

    1smoothredneck

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    Semper Fi, Marine. Thanks for the post, and your service in Uncle Sam's Misguided Children. Merry Christmas from another old jarhead.
     
  15. K. Foster

    K. Foster

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    Excellent post Edge.
    I’ve owned a Springfield 1911 and a 92FS. The 92 is very accurate and mine was 100% reliable. The double action trigger was very smooth out of the box. After a few years with it, I started moving away from double actions and traded it for a G34.
    I’ve had my 1911 about 20 years. I had the occasional ejection issue early on and had to replace the extractor. Since then, it’s been fine. The 1911 platform has stood the test of time and I’ll never be without one.
     
  16. fnfalman

    fnfalman Chicks Dig It

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    I remembered being issued TWO new M16A2s. In one unit I was issued a brand new Colt, and in another unit I was issued a brand new FN.

    Nostalgia aside, I never cared much for the GI M1911A1. Man, they were some serious rattle traps.
     
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  17. mcoe74

    mcoe74 Life is good

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  18. Johnspark

    Johnspark Grumpy Fish

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    I remember the change too. You guys got yours way ahead of us. We didn't get them until 1992 in Germany. We were always last to get the new stuff.
     
  19. Turn4811

    Turn4811

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    Good job on the review.

    I was Air Force in a Joint unit in Florida in the mid 80's. We had the new stuff because of the type of unit we were in. I had a Marine Gunny as a shop supervisor and I was the only AF in his shop. He highly recommended that I get a Beretta 92 so we could practice together off duty (his version of correcting my deficient AF training). He went ballistic when I bought a Taurus 92AF. After he checked it out and I told him I got it for $120 less that a Beretta and it came with an extra magazine he calmed down. I still have the 92AF and it has 30+K rounds through it and all I have ever done is replace the springs about 10 years ago.
     
  20. Diesel McBadass

    Diesel McBadass Tactically Epic

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    custom 1911 vs beretta? Custom 1911 all day.

    GI 1911 vs beretta? Beretta, no contest, GI 1911s are flawed.
     
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