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View Poll Results: future sidearm for the US forces: Which caliber fits best?
5,7 x 28mm 4 5.48%
9 x 19mm 31 42.47%
.40 S&W 13 17.81%
.45 ACP 25 34.25%
Voters: 73. You may not vote on this poll

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Old December 3, 2011, 03:22 PM   #1
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Modular Handgun System (former Joint Combat Pistol): Which caliber would be best?

Given that the search for a new service sidearm for the US armed forces seems to have been resumed with the designation "Modular Handgun System", so should the discussion that somewhat subsided since the cancellation of the JCP in 2006 (or 2007?)

Reckon there are a lot of threads concerning that question, but in my opinion, the first step should be opting for a caliber and then choosing the weapon as a second step. If I'm right, other than the late JCP program, the MHS bidding (or pre-bidding) does not specify any actual caliber. Here are some thoughts about possible options:

5,7 x 28mm: From all I have read about that ammo, it would be the ideal military choice - high cap, low recoil, good penetration and still stopping power due to projectile tumbling in terminal ballistics. On the other hand, a lot of people consider that load rather a pimped .22lr... And, the use of subsonic versions with suppressed weapons seems useless since they a c t u a l l y don't have much more punch than a .22 in terms muzzle energy.

9 x 19mm: Still, the good old Luger seems to have its advantages: Apart from the fact that it's NATO standard (given the state of Europe's defence structures, I'm not sure whether the US should care too much about that issue) and the ammo is pretty cheap, there are also a lot of newly developed loads (including +P+, of course) with improved stopping power and even AP capacities ( Plus: Subsonic loads bear nearly the same energy as standard ones. I daresay that 9mm is one of the most versatile calibers (alongside 22lr...) and far from being outdated...

.40 S&W: Though I have never actually tried it, I guess we can agree that the 9mm is easier to handle in terms of recoil. The stopping power the FBI and a lot of federal agencies rely on seems to strongly depend on the use of expanding bullets which are not an option for a future military sidearm. Furthermore - the actual operators here on this forum may correct me - I reckon a military gun should allow the operator to get a lot of lead towards the enemy in a short time to buy time for a retreat or get the main weapon working again, not to achieve one-hit-Kills. Besides, the basic .40 is nearly as weak against body armor as the basic 9mm. Subsonic loads should be quite powerful, though.

finally: the good old .45 ACP. Most threads here seem to assume that the race will be run within that caliber, which is not unlikely given the JCP's caliber bias. Apart from its sentimental values, I must admit that I can't see too much advantage in the .45: inferior mag cap, strong recoil, less AP capacities even than 9mm or .40 - so what's the deal? OK, the .45 is subsonic by default, but still louder if suppressed than a 9mm due to the larger bore...

Well, these are my discussion inputs as a complete layman (I didn't shoot anything else than 9mm and .22lr, and even that was long ago), so please correct me and don't crucify me (especially concerning my remarks on the .45 ;-) )

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Old December 3, 2011, 05:19 PM   #2
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Don't hold your breath....the M9 isn't going anywhere and neither is the Joint Combat Pistol/Modular Handgun System/Whatever its called this year System.

The mil just bought several hundred thousand more M9's this year.
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Old December 3, 2011, 06:05 PM   #3
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It will take them a very long time to get around to actually doing anything , but I really will not be surprised to see the military end up with the 45 agin. Not in the old 1911 platform but still with the same old slow heavy slugged 45. Many of the military people I know complain about having to carry a 9( though most complain "over weight and under powered"). Seems as though all the special operations groups also have some form of 45 at hand when wanted.
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Old December 3, 2011, 10:49 PM   #4
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Old December 4, 2011, 12:46 AM   #5
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Because of the "modular" system in the name I would assume they want something like a weapon such as the CZ-75B and Kadett kit. (not necessarily that particular combination, but that idea...swap out the barrel, slide and mag, and you have a different caliber pistol.

High Standard did that with their upper end pistols years ago, except it was 22lr coversion to 22 short or VV. High Standard did also make a 1911 that was convertable to 22lr. Brownells has the 22 short conversion kits still available, but they are really pricey...really happy I already own one, would not wont to have to purchase one now.

I could conceive of a pistol being developed that could fire all 4 of your choices, and maybe 22lr too. That would be a true "modular system"
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Old December 4, 2011, 01:04 AM   #6
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In order to standardize with NATO, the 9mm wont be going anywhere. The Beretta M9 is going to be around for a long time as well.
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Old December 4, 2011, 04:29 AM   #7
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Thanks for the comments so far. I was aware the military ordered quite a load of M9s in 2006, but I didn't know they also did so recently...

Concerning the "Modular" approach: I reckon that refers to th efact that the weapon should be equipped with a versatile accessory rail and operable w/ a flash and sound suppressor (the question occurs whether the comon ground needs a threaded barrel to attach a silencer can...?)

Yeah, maybe after all they should switch to the good old Colt Peacemaker again like they did after the .38 Long Colt performed so poorly on the Phillippines :-)
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Old December 4, 2011, 07:45 AM   #8
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The caliber issue seems to get a lot of play but it is only an aspect of the replacement. Any firearms system replacement for the military is considering the all system aspects and the terminal result of the projectile being launched is often overshadowed by a myriad of other factors. And DoD did recently order even more M9 pistols but as replacements for those that have worn out or do not have the features of the newest mods. Can't forget that even if the M9 is replaced by another model, the military will keep the M9 somewhere in storage as happened to the M1911.
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Old December 5, 2011, 01:19 PM   #9
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Yeah, of course I'm far from denying that the caliber is only ONE aspect out of many in such a project, still it occurs to me that it should be the first to be settled, otherwise it would lead to a comparison of different makes AND different calibers in one go which would be comparing apples and oranges in my opinion.

The fact that the DoD seems to continue to purchase high quantities of M9s indeed seems to thwart the whole MHS project...
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Old December 5, 2011, 01:34 PM   #10
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browning already designed the modular system when you think about it.

the 1911. swap out a slide/barrel/spring assembly. grab a new magazine and you can swap calibers. full weight 1911 with full powered ammo in 9mm not that different weight wise/recoil wise then the m9
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Old December 5, 2011, 01:35 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by 10mm4ever
In order to standardize with NATO, the 9mm wont be going anywhere. The Beretta M9 is going to be around for a long time as well.
I believe you are correct.

Handguns aren't very important in combat anyway. If some special unit feels they need a more powerful handgun for certain operations, they'll get it.

Something else to consider is that most soldiers wear some type of body armor that can stop or slow down a .45/9 mm. If its in close effectiveness you're worried about, shoot them in the face. Three 9mm to the head will work just as good as three .45 ACP to the head.*

*We're discussing military combat, not civilian SD, so save the legal/ethical/moral arguments.
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Old December 5, 2011, 02:30 PM   #12
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Are we talking realistically here? Or if we were calling the shots? Because those are very different things.

Realistically, the M9 and 9mm are going nowhere. They'll keep on issuing ball-ammo, terminal performance will continue to be marginal, and sidearms will continue being unimportant.

If I were in charge, one of two things would happen.
1) We'd keep the M9 and start issuing HP ammo with steel penetrators. They'd expand in tissue but penetrate some armor. I don't care what the international conventions say.
2) We'd do trials on 45ACP pistols and keep ball ammo. I think it's unlikely the 1911 would win again, despite its merits.

I don't have a 45, but if I had to use ball ammo, that's what I'd want. If modern bullet designs were available, the reason to use the large round is less, and additional capabilities might be added.
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Old December 5, 2011, 03:37 PM   #13
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The military is using allot of none nato rounds, (300 win mag, 6.5mm, 300 blackout...) I've seen a big part of the LEO market going to 45acp, at least here in the N/E. I wouldn't be surprised if the 40S&W was adopted by US Military.
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Old December 5, 2011, 05:16 PM   #14
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I see no particular reason to transition away from 9mm. When restricted to FMJ loadings, the difference in unarmored-target performance between 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP is not great enough, IMHO, to offset the advantages of capacity, light recoil, and NATO conformity inherent to the 9mm. While 5.7x28 may have an advantage in the penetration of soft body armor, adversaries who even bother to wear body armor at all seem to be smart and well-funded enough to opt for hard armor that will stop most centerfire rifle cartridges, much less a handgun bullet.

I do, however, think that, even when restricted to FMJ, that a much better 9mm loading could be devised than the current-issue M882 loading (112gr RNFMJ at approximately 1263fps). Personally, I think something along the lines of a FMJ-FP at 1200+fps or even a 100gr FMJ-FP at 1400+fps would be a superior loading to the M882.
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Old December 5, 2011, 05:46 PM   #15
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Our new handgun should be nothing less than a 155mm with a 200 round magazine and a 3" barrel with radar sights in a fast-draw holster!

Get real! The 9mm is here to stay. Even if the U.S. did go to a different caliber and replace all its handguns, NATO won't go along. Some forces may buy/issue something else, but the service pistol is going to remain the M9 and the ammunition will be th 9x19 for a good part, maybe all, of our lifetimes.

Also, there is a small matter of money. Neither we nor NATO has money to replace much of anything in the military line. Do you guys who hype this or that super weapons system think we should "borrow" (beg) MORE MONEY FROM CHINA to fund it? Or do you think we should have a 200% tax increase? Anyone who suggests either is smoking something, and it ain't tea.

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Old December 5, 2011, 05:59 PM   #16
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With NATO requirements 9MM is the only way...sorry.
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Old December 5, 2011, 06:23 PM   #17
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If they were serious about changing handguns, and wanted to do so economically, they already have a contract with Sig on the p228, so, they could just expand it. I am not going to hate on the M9, but, personally, I'd pick a Sig or the CZ over it every time.
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Old December 5, 2011, 06:51 PM   #18
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You should have included the 357 SIG as an option. Doesn't it perform better than the 9mm, 40, and 45 against body armor? The secret service carries it in their SIG 229's. Why not make it the official caliber of Homeland Security and Military?
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Old December 6, 2011, 08:03 AM   #19
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Seems there is now a slight lean towards 9mm, which would be my suggestion too yet surprises me, given that here are Americans (I reckon they are?) I would have figured a clear vote for the .45.

As for the 357 SIG, I learned that it's not easy to tame for the common shooter, so maybe not the best choice for a weapon that would be issued accross the armed forces from assault teams to echelon staff... Actually I didn't add it because though adopted by certain federal agencies, I reckon it's far from being as popular as the .40 S&W.

In general, of course the sidearm is far from being the most important issue in modern weaponsry, but I guess it's still an interesting topic out of two reasons:
> being a weapon of last resort makes the sidearm choice a rather emotional issue apart from the fact that it is not too important in actual warfare
> in the US, handguns may still have some symbolic value reaching back to the "cowboy" days, thus being connected w/ individualism and activism...

well, enough inputs for now...
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Old December 6, 2011, 08:47 AM   #20
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10mm. Really, why use .40 for combat when you can use 10mm and fit the same number or rounds in a magazine.
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Old December 6, 2011, 09:15 AM   #21
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10 x 25mm, hmmm

hell of a recoil and similar hellish expensive, I guess more or less the same pros and cons that are true for the .357 SIG, maybe with the exeption that the 10mm would give a reasonable performance in a subsonic version for SOCOM pusposes (bearing in mind that the bid also includes a sound suppression set)
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Old December 6, 2011, 04:09 PM   #22
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The mil just bought several hundred thousand more M9's this year.
That's too bad. The 9mm is only good for women and Europeans.
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Old December 7, 2011, 08:40 AM   #23
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That's too bad. The 9mm is only good for women and Europeans.
I like that comment (though actually I'm European lol)
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Old December 7, 2011, 01:55 PM   #24
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I don't mind 9mm. It's that stupid Beretta they expect me to shoot it in, that I don't like.
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Old December 7, 2011, 02:20 PM   #25
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Question becomes what is the handgun supposed to do? Is it a "low intensity conflict" gun, where you would probably use it if your M4 fails; to shoot down an unarmored suicide bomber as quickly possible, while firing as few shots as possible. If that is the case you probably want something bigger like a .45 or .40

Or is it a sidearm that needs to defeat some level of modern body armor that you are likly to see a Chinese or Russian "regular" equipped with? In that case I am not sure even the 5.7mm would be good enough.

This is kind of symptomatic of the military today: what kind of a military are we building and who is it designed to fight

PS: From a logistics standpoint; I imagine 9mm has a big edge not only because we have droves of it here in our stockpiles, but so do out NATO allies over in Europe.
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