M1911A1: America’s Definitive World War Two Pistol

The United States adopted the M1911 pistol just in time for the First World War, and between Colt and Springfield Arsenal some 643,000 of these pistols were made by the end of 1918. During that production and the gun’s field service in France, a number of potential improvements were recognized. They were put together in a batch of 10,000 new pistols ordered from Colt in 1924, but not officially designated until years later. A second batch of 10,000 was ordered from Colt in 1938. These were the first guns officially designated M1911A1. The changes were all about improving user handling, with a reshaped mainspring housing, larger sights, longer grip tang, and shorter reach to the trigger.

In 1939 the government put out a tender for M1911A1 education contracts. These contracts were for production of just 500 pistols, and they were intended to pay a company to build the a complete set of production line tooling and then store it in case of future need (similar contracts were also issued for rifles and machine guns). Two companies were granted such contracts – Harrington & Richardson and the Singer Sewing Machine Company. Singer produced a quite satisfactory batch of pistols, but ended up making higher-priority material like artillery sights. H&R was unable to complete its contract, which was cancelled in the spring of 1942.

When the US entered the war, pistols were needed in large number, and three companies were given contracts to produce the M1911A1: Remington-Rand, Ithaca, and Union Switch & Signal. These three new contractors, along with existing production lines at Colt and Springfield, produced 1.9 million new pistols during World War Two, enough to fully supply all branches of the US military until 1985 when the 1911 was replaced by the Beretta 92.

The example we are looking at today is a Remington-Rand, manufactured in April 1945. Remington-Rand received its first contract in May 1942, and delivered its final pistols in July 1945. In total, it made 877,751, in the following serial number blocks:

916405 – 1041404
1279699 – 1441430
1471431 – 1609528
1743847 – 1816641
1890504 – 2075103
2164404 – 2244803
2380014 – 2619013 (the last one made was 2465139)


    • When I was 15, and too young to drive, a man in the same subdivision I lived in advertised a Colt .38 Super. I got permission from my Father and I bought it. The man I bought it from told me he was in the Merchant Marines and bought the pistol on the docks at a harbor in England at the end of WWII. It is interesting in 2 ways. It is a high quality pre-war pistol with a Schwartz safety and it has English proof marks on the rear of the slide. I tried to get a letter from Colt, but they were destroyed in a fire. Some sources I read said that a handful of guns were sent to England before the US entered the war. The ones that were not 45 ACP had the slides painted red to identify them as using non standard ammunition, but I do not see any evidence of this. I sent Sam Lisker (samlisker.com) some pictures and he indicated that it was a “Battle of Brittan” Colt. I.e, one of the guns sent before the US entered the war.

  1. The M1911 and M1911A1 were iconic but pretty well misunderstood pistols. Everyone thought they were merely self-defense tools, but the reality was, they were biased towards being offensive weapons for cavalrymen. As such, they were way “more gun” than the average typewriter-wielding staff creature needed to defend himself with, which led to the usual issues with the pistol during its later years of issue. It was not, I fear, a weapon easily “picked up” by your typical recruit. I don’t think I ever observed any of the various officers or medics on the ranges I supported do very well with it, with one or two notable exceptions. All of whom, I have to point out, were at least as much or more “gun people” than I was. One of my company commanders back then shot IPSC, had his own custom-tuned (by some really well-known ‘smith, back in the 1980s… I want to say Armand Swenson, but I could be wrong…) Colt National Match, and… Yeah, he was the exception that proved the rule.

    Most tyros approaching the M1911 during those years were flatly terrified of it. Unjustifiably, but there was still a “OHMYGAWDTHISTHINGISUNCONTROLLABLE!!!!” mentality prevalent among them. As with a lot of things from that era, the reputation was unjustified. Most of the M1911 fleet by that point were worn out and more-or-less barely serviceable; you could take one of the ones I had in my arms room apart by shaking it really hard. It was only through outright bribery over at Third Shop that I got the damn thing coded out and replaced with something in somewhat better shape. The standards for “serviceability” were really broad, and don’t even talk to the nice people there at Third Shop about accuracy… That first “shake apart” M1911 got put on a Ransom Rest the commander brought in from his civilian range, and the poor thing was literally printing all over a bedsheet at thirty feet. Did that get me much more than sympathy…? Nope.

    I liked the M1911 pistols, but they were not the easiest things in the world to train tyro soldiers on, and they were pretty much on their death-bed, so far as “fleet serviceability” by that point in their service life went. There are only so many rebuilds in a pistol frame, once they start to go. That initial one I finally got turned in was literally running out of room on the frame for rebuild date stamps… It had begun life as a WWI weapon, got rebuilt during the late 1930s, once during WWII, once after WWII, then got re-issued in Vietnam, and rebuilt the final time sometime during the early 1970s. You had to really squint hard and be charitable about things when you gauged it, but the nice people that kept telling me it was “good” did just that… Right up until I brought it in with a half-gallon bottle of Jack Daniels I had to get my commander to buy me.

    Ah, the good old days… Try that sort of “drug deal” during the latter half of my career, and people would have just stared at you and asked “What’s that for…?”

    Qualification rates went way up with the M9, but they weren’t what they could have been. I always found that the M9 “paradigm” was way too complex for a lot of people who saw a pistol as a necessary bit of impedimentia they were forced to carry by the Army; getting them to qualify on that thing was nightmarish, and all too often, I had to provide after-hours tutelage on another pistol just to get the basics across to them. I had zero issues getting a lot of those first- and second-time M9 failures to proficiency on the Glock 19, which was a much, much simpler manual of arms. Once they got confidence on that pistol, transitioning to the M9 was usually fairly easy.

    From those experiences, I think the Glock “system” is a superior one for that specific application, that being “Give someone a tool to defend themselves with” rather than “Give someone a pistol”. Too damn many things for a lot of people to deal with, when there’s all those options for safety, decocking, and trigger pull on the M9.

    • “(…)Glock “system” is a superior one for that specific application(…)”
      I must note that considered place of origin M1911 was developed during reign of William Howard Taft. Years before Gaston Glock was even born. Considering decades of development between each other superiority of later design is not surprising.

      “(…)tyro soldiers on(…)”
      Who are said soldiers?

      “(…)literally running out of room on the frame for rebuild date stamps…(…)”
      This sounds like failure of procedure regarding repair of said fire-arms, not fire-arm design itself.

      • Nearly all the design elements of the Glock were present in contemporary pistols to the 1911. It could have been done, but was not because the “software” of technique and use weren’t there to demand it. Everyone was still on the sheet of music that said “Expert pistoleers only”. The mentality wasn’t present for anyone to say “Yeah, this needs to be designed for the lowest common denominator that’s going to get minimal training and attention…”

        Cultural issue, in other words. Nothing about the Glock was new; everything about it could have been implemented a lot earlier on than it was.

        “Tyro” is from the Latin tiro, meaning “young soldier” or “recruit”.

        And, like I said, the design wasn’t bad, just unsuited for what they eventually wanted to do with it, which was issue as a last-ditch defense tool for people they didn’t want to bother spending a lot of time training. When conceived, the M1911 was still seen as a primary arm for the cavalry, which was why it was designed the way it was. Had someone been able to predict the death of the cavalry, and then closely examined what they really needed in a pistol, I doubt that it would have looked anything like what it was. The earlier Browning/Colt designs in one of the proprietary 9mm calibers would have been more likely candidates for adoption, much as the General Officer’s Pistols were Model M’s in .32 or .380.

        Never having even fired one of those, I can’t speak to the ease of training on them, but… I suspect the smaller caliber would have made instruction a hell of a lot simpler.

        You haven’t lived until you’ve got to qualify a terrified 98lb female medic on her .45 M1911A1, especially when she’s got these tiny little hands that can barely afford her a decent grip on the pistol. I can only imagine her profanity when encountering the M9, and discovering that it wasn’t a hell of a lot better, in that regard…

        The M1911 was really a bit “too much gun”, when it came to what they wanted to do with it during the post-horse cavalry days. Before that, the mass and so forth was justifiable, so as to keep everyone on the same sheet of music, but after the days when we quit making mounted charges on horseback…? We’d have been better off with something else.

        A lot of people really underestimate the issues that arise when trying to train “non-gun” people on some of their favorite firearms. For one thing, you tell the average pistol enthusiast that people coming to the M9 had issues with all the different controls and firing modes…? They’ll stare at you in complete bewilderment, right up until you put them out on the firing line as a coach for M9 qualifications. Then, it’s like a lightbulb goes on for them, and they get why you twitch whenever you’re tasked with that range…

        I’ve had Ph.D holders, outright brilliant people in other aspects of life, completely bolo on the M9. Mostly because a.) generalized terror of firearms, and b.) the controls are not intuitive for them, with their backgrounds. That safety/decocker? The DA/SA shift from first round fired to the rest of the magazine? The hammer going down, when you put the safety on? Yeesh. For someone even vaguely familiar with firearms, it’s simple enough. Everyone else, who might come from a background where firearms were totally unknown? LOL… Yeah, that’s why I have gray hair from a lot of those ranges: “Ma’am? Ma’am… You have to take the safety off, for it to fire, now… That’s the little thing, there on the back of the slide… No, no… Don’t turn around with it and point it at me…”

        I bought a freakin’ police ballistic vest to wear on those ranges, specifically because of some of the things those folks would do, despite hours of training and dry-firing beforehand. It never seemed to matter how much pistol Preliminary Marksmanship Training you did, the minute they had a real pistol with live ammo in their hands, everything they’d been taught and practiced went right the hell out the window.

        I blame the presence of that so-called “safety”, and how it affected the way they treated everything with the pistol. If it had been the Glock, it’d be a simple thing: Pistol out of holster? Unsafe. Period. With the Beretta M9, they’d decock the damn thing, put the supposed “safety” off, and think the pistol was then magically inert, despite having a round in the chamber…

        I question the entire concept of the mechanical safety on pistols meant for that sort of operator. I want them to treat everything as though it were loaded, all the damn time, and the presence of that safety switch fools them into thinking that it is, indeed, safe. Which it manifestly ain’t, in their hands…

        • The M9 is basically a Walther P.38 with a double-stack magazine. Having owned and used both, I can say with some authority that neither one has ever been particularly safe in the hands of anybody not intensively trained on it.

          Sooner or later, with wear that “hammer drop” trick is going to fire the piece, guaranteed, due to peening of the safety drum which will cause it to fracture and allow the hammer to hit the firing pin.

          Both have a wonky locking system which, over time, will crack the slide and very likely cause a critical malfunction.

          Let’s not even get into the issue of the trigger return spring, which is too lightly made on the P.38 and waaayy too lightly made on the “more civilized” M9, which can break and leave you with a tied-up weapon right when you need it not to be.

          I suspect it’s not a coincidence that when the P.38 replaced the P.08 as the standard pistol of the Wehrmacht, pretty much anybody who could get away with it stuck to the “Null Acht”. But for the next thirty years until the advent of the Glock, armies and police agencies used pistols with variants of the P.38 lockwork and safety system because “If it’s German, it has to be better”. (I’m looking at you, Smith & Wesson.)

          As previously said, the Glock makes a reasonable police or military service pistol, or civilian pistol, because it’s basically a “point-and-click” proposition. If it has any problems, it’s that the polymer frame doesn’t really like high-intensity cartridges like 10mm Auto, but that one was really designed for the 1911 for people who thought .45 ACP wasn’t powerful enough.

          The new Sig M17/M19 (P320) seems to be basically a polymer-framed P35 HP with an ambidextrous thumb safety and a new striker-fired lockwork system…largely inherited from the Roth-Steyr M1907 cavalry pistol.

          The manufacturers- and Ordnance- seem incapable of coming up with new ideas.

          clear ether


          • The Glock 20 was the original design, around the 10mm cartridge. The .45 ACP Glock 21 was essentially what happened when Glock looked at what they’d done with the various .40 S&W models and realized “Hey… Ya know… We could do the same thing with the big frame and the .45… Americans would buy that…”

            Which is why I’ve never trusted the .40 S&W Glocks or the .45 ACP versions. They’re bored-out derivatives of smaller-frame pistols meant for cartridges with much different characteristics than the ones they were designed for. The 20 and 29, in 10mm? I do believe those pistols are essentially bombproof; I’ve never heard of issues with any of them, unless it was from some idjit exploring the outer limits of reason with his handloads. Not so the .40 S&W and .45 ACP versions… The 9mm ones are pretty hard to break, as well; I inadvertently fired most of a case of Uzi carbine ammo out of my G19, and had nothing to show for it in the way of damage. Other people who fired that ammo from that dealer through their various 9mm pistols had grounds for complaint and lawsuit, because it ruined a bunch of guns. Being as he was a stand-up guy, he owned the mistake and paid for any damage done, being as he’d gotten screwed himself by what were basically nearly proof loads in a handgun.

            I initially loathed the Glocks. After exposure to actually using them, however? I became a firm advocate for them, and once I wrapped my head around the design philosophy, I’m more than willing to recommend them where they’re suited.

            I’ve always regarded their take-up by US police forces as being highly dubious. Given the way that US policing often uses handguns as “I’m really serious now…” threat displays…? I’d prefer something with a manual safety on the pistols they carry for that purpose.

        • What they should have done. Take a Colt Pocket Hammerless, turn it into a FN 1903 (That’s a Colt Pocket Hammerless beefed up to shoot the more powerful 9mm Browning Long) and improve the ergonomics, like they did with the Colt 1900 – 1905. A true rimless cartridge, a longer grip (even people at the time had problems in grabbing the FN 1903 with all the fingers) that would accomodate one or two rounds more, a slightly shorter barrel, an easier to operate safety, a thumb mag release, and you are good to go.

          • I fully agree. Coupled with a rational use-case and training program, something like this could have gone a long way.

            I think a large part of the problem with these issues about “What gun to issue” are that the various realities of the situation are usually hidden from the people making the decisions simply because they’ve got blinders on, stemming from their inability to stand aside and look at problems dispassionately and in the full light of day.

            Raw fact, what is a pistol supposed to be doing? It’s a last-ditch weapon meant to win a fistfight, and that’s about it. It’s not meant to be the ultimate projectile weapon for every situation within 50m: It’s meant to win that fistfight sort of affair, as though you’re caught in a close-combat situation inside a toilet compartment. As such, you have to set realistic parameters for effectiveness and utility…

            Every time I watch someone set a “practical pistol scenario”, I’m left with the feeling that they are really setting something up for a much different weapon; the reality is, the use-case for the handgun is more like “Yeah, I’m sitting on the toilet, and some f*ckwit is trying to kill me for my weapon and go kill people with it…”

            Something that means a much different paradigm of weapons design than what went into the M1911.

            It’d be nice if all the people doing these design decisions actually went out and gathered the data on things like “How did you actually use your pistol? What situation were you in, when you needed it…? How well did your issued weapon work for your needs?”, rather than these idealized “Yeah, you’re gonna be re-enacting Sergeant York’s Medal of Honor scenario…”

            Which, I fear, ain’t exactly realistic.

    • .455 Webley vs .38/200 I thought the other day; said Colt Auto replaced the “Need” cavalry or, well etc… The need, thus the .38 version appeared.

      • During both world wars lots of .38 Special and .45 ACP revolvers and .380 ACP pistols were issued. After the wars US Army procurement went back to dreaming of thr marksman soldier wielding a M1911 and M14 rifle. Shooting bull’s eyes and clover leaves. I would say the M1 Garand in .30-06 was also too much rifle for the average infantryman and especially more so for other MOS.

        The Brits were pretty pragmatic about their requirements and came up with the .38/200 revolvers and issued Browning Hi-Powers and M1911A1 as needed. They learned something, whreas US Army Ordonance continued building guns for their fantasies of the requirements and uses their firearms would see. after WW2 NATO had agreed in 9*19 mm as standard, but there were so many M1911A1 in the arsenals and the replacement trials went nowhere for the US Army and pistols not that important overall the US Army just kept on using the M1911. And also did not really care for them obviously when they were worn out in the 1980ies ibstead of repaired and overhauled and replaced regularly. At the same time a US cult about this pistol formed that i think also kept it in service, because some bureaucrat believed the stories from the conpetition were relevant for general issue in the army.

      • Or else somebody looked at the ballistics and realized that “Hey, the 0.455in has 210 foot-pounds of muzzle energy, and so does the 0.380in. That means we can get the same results with a lighter revolver that costs less to make.”

        Which actually was the correct call to make. If they wanted a more powerful revolver, they could have had the Webley in .38 ACP. (They’d already made the Webley-Fosbery in that caliber.)

        The missed opportunity was the S&W Victory Model. In 9 x 19mm with “moon clips”, it would have had most of the advantages of the Sten Gun, especially for “resistance” and other operations inside occupied Europe. A gun which can use the enemy’s ammunition is always going to be more useful to guerrillas and inserted agents than one that needs airdrops for resupply.

        clear ether


        • Excellent points… You look at a full-moon clip, and you’re left wondering “Why the hell aren’t these things way more prevalent than they are…?”

          I’d love to have a small-frame revolver in 9mm that could accept moon clips, if I had to carry a revolver. I venture to predict that if they ever get their bans on semi-auto pistols put through, then such things will become common.

        • “(…)gun which can use the enemy’s ammunition is always going to be more useful to guerrillas and inserted agents than one that needs airdrops for resupply.(…)”
          According to https://sadefensejournal.com/milestone-the-100000th-inglis-automatic-pistol/
          SOE was created by Winston Churchill to coordinate operations against the Nazis in occupied Europe. They wanted weapons to supply the underground. A quick fix was the provision of Lugers and Ballester-Rigauds in 9mm Parabellum. The High Power used the same ammunition and the SOE placed an order for 50,000 guns with Inglis.
          So they acquired existing weapons in 9×19 mm and also ordered new ones. I am not sure how long development-testing-production of
          “(…)S&W Victory Model. In 9 x 19mm with “moon clips”,(…)”
          would require, but if by that time they would get Inglis 9 mm automatic pistol I do not reason why they would need hand-gun for same cartridge with less than half of capacity.

          • According to Clandestine Operations by Pierre Lorain (1972);

            Colonel Maurice J. Buckmaster, in his book Specially Employed (London, 1952) points out that of the 418,053 weapons delivered to France during the war, 57,849 were pistols and revolvers. This represents one-seventh of the total, which would be an unusually high proportion for conventional war operations, but is logical for subversive operations because it is easy to conceal such weapons.

            However, the S.O.E. could not keep up with the demand for (M1911) automatics. Everyone wanted a Colt and accepted a revolver only grudgingly. And wrongly, it seems. But that is another story.

            Starting in 1944, when an order was placed, the S.O.E. specified that pistols and revolvers would be delivered in H-3 and H-5 containers (for armament and sabotage material), but that “these may be either revolvers or (Colt .45) automatics. The latter are in very short supply.” (emphasis mine)

            A July 1944 inventory of containers dropped for the FIREMAN network shows that all Colt pistols delivered had been manufactured the previous year (1943) in the Remington factories and that most of them came from the same batch. The serial numbers ranged between 1,365,590 and 1,365, 988. (i.e., about 398 total.)

            The excellent but scarce Canadian Browning pistols, which offered the advantage of using the German Parabellum 9-millimeter cartridge, were exclusively reserved for the special British Commando and Airborne units. They were available to S.O.E. network chiefs who requested them, but it was unusual for a Maquis to have one in his hands. (emphasis again mine)

            Without a doubt, the representative pistol of the Resistance was the Colt (M1911A1 automatic). Fifty cartridges were usually delivered with a weapon (i.e., one standard box-full).

            -Lorain, p. 117

            In short, there were very few Inglis 9mm pistols sent to France because there simply were not enough to go around, and the British SpecOps troops had first call on what there were. There weren’t even enough .45 caliber Colt automatics for everybody who wanted one. So the delivery of S&W Victory, Webley MK IV, and even Enfield No. 2 revolvers in 0.380in was less a choice made of preference than necessity- in London.

            clear ether


          • “(…)very few Inglis 9mm pistols sent to France(…)”
            I though about your proposal of S&W Victory rework to 9×19 mm and after some investigation I think this might result in unplanned stress.
            S&W Victory (as used by British) is using .380 inch cartridge
            depending on Mark holding 2.5 grains of 3 grains of powder
            British 9×19 cartridge
            is holding 6 grains of powder.

          • S&W built experimental .30 USC model 10s during the war.

            SOE had a prototype stamped-metal 9mm revolver that folded up like the Dolne pepperbox of six decades earlier.

            And Colt began making Single Action Army, New Service, and Shooting Master revolvers in .357 Magnum in 1936.

            After the war, IMI built new 9mm cylinders for Victory models so the school guards could have them. Launching a .355in bullet down a .363in bore didn’t result in great accuracy, but at 10 meters range it was apparently good enough.

            The manufacturers have always been pretty good at heat treatment, and that’s what gets the job done.



    • What you’re saying helps me to understand what they were thinking in 1940 when they commissioned the M1 carbine as an intended replacement for pistols for noncombatant troops. Millions of hours saved in training.

      • That was the plan, at least.

        I understand the intent, but if I give the impression that I necessarily agree with it, that’d be wrong. It’d be my strongly held position that the fact that so many military and police personnel are both unfamiliar and uncomfortable with firearms is something we ought to be addressing through things like a more widespread Civilian Marksmanship Program. I’d also strongly encourage people to pay more attention to these issues in their unattached and unaffiliated civilian lives, because when the time comes, you’re not going to overcome a lifetime of aversion and avoidance to suddenly magically develop John Wick’s firearms skill in the heat of the moment…

        I mean, yeah, I get the reason why so many of the people I had to deal with on the M9 ranges were so completely at sea with a handgun, but… WTF? How do you join one of the armed services, especially the one that deals in ground combat, and then play obliviot about firearms? Does “Basic to the profession” mean something different to these people? It’s incomprehensible to me, that someone would enlist or take a commission in the Army, and not a.) have any interest in skill-at-arms with their basic weapon, and b.) fail to work at developing said skill-at-arms unless someone demands it of them, emphatically.

        Never going to forget one of the staff officers at one of my M9 ranges, who made some comment about not needing to qualify because he’d never shoot anyone, anyway… Which he made the mistake of saying in front of one of our fire-eating former Ranger Battalion senior officers. The former Ranger maintained enough professionalism not to chew ass in front of the troops, but we could all see the gesticulating and the facial expressions from where we were, when he took said junior staff officer off to “have a few words”… Silly goose came back looking like someone had taken his toys away, or something, and the former Ranger was epically rageful for the rest of that afternoon. Pretty sure a certain someone didn’t get a good rating from him, for that period…

        The herbivores among us should really make an effort to remain unidentifiable by the meat-eating community, especially on active duty in the armed forces. Just not a smart thing to do, really…

        • To expect everyone in your profession to be a hardened professional is not going to happen . Desirable but not realistic. I work in construction. There are very few who have the desire and aptitude to excel. The construction industry works well enough due to the people who actually do care to excel. I’m imagining the military works the same way. I never wore a military uniform. Most people I work with are passing through to something else. I imagine most soldiers are the same. It’s not surprising to me that people in the military are averse to its tools. I experience that all the time with the construction industry. We are taught to live transitional lives. Stepping stones will lead us to a better life. Learn only what you need In order to advance to the ultimate success. I’ve had guys who want to know just enough so they can move on to flipping houses and make millions. It’s frustrating and annoying and sad. America.

          • I’m in construction too, and I’d say the situation is like the difference between a real general contractor that came up the hard way, and the “paper contractor” who really has not a clue about what end of the hammer they should be holding…

            Nonetheless, I still find it baffling that people treat weapons the way they do in the Army. For all appearances, the Army is less an armed force, and more an organization that carries around a bunch of guns, ‘cos that’s the expectation.

            You would be baffled at the things I saw over the course of my career, dealing with the specific people who’re supposed to be subject-matter experts. I’ve had combat arms officers whose attitude towards firearms were incredibly out of place for such an individual, basically “Guns? Ewww… Icky.”

            Average combat arms company probably only has about four or five guys in it who’re even interested in firearms, based on my experience. The rest are just there for the ride… The number who actually make an effort to study the things? Few and far between, which is really the primary reason that idiocies like NGSW even happen in the first place. Nobody knows any better… And, they refuse to try and learn.

          • Sounds like your culture is what professional historians call “food.” Fitter Volker will come and dine anon.

          • @ Kirk;

            I saw the same thing during my mis-spent youth in law enforcement. Most “uniforms” spent more time polishing their buttons and badges than they did learning to properly use the tools of their trade, ranging from the sidearm up to the patrol shotgun and back down to the baton.

            (The PR-24 baton is highly effective as a non-lethal takedown tool, assuming you’ve been properly trained in tonfa technique, which few departments were even aware of, let alone bothered with.)

            As a small-arms instructor, I saw service weapons in every state of neglect imaginable. Anybody who thinks “the revolver never jams” hasn’t dealt with the S&W M10 in the holster of Deputy Dawg which has been there for twenty years and never been properly cleaned inside, just had some 3-In-1 oil squirted into it once a year. I’ve had to dismantle and clean ones that had enough seeds, dirt, etc. inside for a mouse nest if there had been room for the mouse.

            Officers who packed 1911s were about as bad. Most of them carried them in holsters better suited to a “walk-and-draw” than service duty. They not only could have the pistol grabbed by a perp, they could lose it getting in or out of the unit. They also didn’t seem to understand that “Condition One, cocked and locked” required the thumb safety to be on

            The “Glock takeover” of American law enforcement happened after I medical’d out, but I was an early Glock adopter because it was one my agency authorized without really realizing they’d done it. (We went from revolvers to S&W 645 .45 autos to Beretta M92 9mms to “oh just carry whatever you want” in about a year and a half. Yes, confusion reigned.) I considered the Glock 20 10mm to be a pretty decent pistol for “countryside” duty; less so for in-town work.

            The more I’ve seen of the various autopistols other than Glocks, the more I’ve come to an appreciation of the double-action revolver, preferably in .357 Magnum. It’s not idiot-proof (no mechanism is), but it’s generally more “cop-proof” than any self-loader.

            Just keep the 3-In-1 oil away from it.

            clear ether


          • @eon
            “Most “uniforms” spent more time polishing their buttons and badges than they did learning to properly use the tools of their trade, ranging from the sidearm up to the patrol shotgun and back down to the baton.”

            This would constitute somewhat with R.Mertons sociology theory of ritualism (one of 5 types); the acceptance of the means but the forfeit of the goals.

          • @Storm,

            It’s the actual crisis of the age, in my opinion. Forget everything else; the real issues in society stem from one source, and that would be the utter inability to recognize what is actually important, and then prioritize on it.

            In the military, the usual deal is that the Command Sergeant Major is the “senior enlisted representative” in a unit. This is almost certainly a superannuated political type that never knew his job in the first place, but who could kiss ass with consummate and exquisite grace. That’s how he got promoted, and why all the actual competent types that were part of his cohort did not; most of them made a habit of not kissing ass, calling a spade a spade, and telling authority that they were full of shiite and making mistakes.

            This is demonstrated by what these cretins generally pick out for “important things to emphasize”. Mindless uniformity being a hallmark of “successful” military operations, donchaknow?

            In any event, what they’ll usually do is publicize some “Standard Operating Procedure” about something silly, like how individual soldiers have their web gear set up. They’ll totally ignore the fact that a guy who’s an M249 gunner has totally different needs than a rifleman who’s carrying an M16, and on and on. They’ll focus on the silly things, like “Where’s the first-aid pouch worn”, putting it on the left shoulder and completely forgetting that a left-hander is going to need to be putting his rifle there to fire.

            And, they’ll spend incessant hours harping on these things, instead of actually training or doing worthwhile maintenance on equipment and gear.

            Classic one, I observed? We’re going to Iraq for our second tour. Six weeks before departure, the Army sees fit to drop a full issue of M68 red-dot sights on us, something we’ve got zero experience with.

            Rather than do the required training, ranges, and zeroing sessions that we could have squeezed in (I did the plan up for that, and we had slack to enable it…) the command chose to do multitudinous “Casing the Colors” ceremony practice sessions, so that people wouldn’t screw up the drill and ceremonies when the time came… We were, supposedly, going to do all that during the scheduled train-up in Kuwait, before going north into Iraq again.

            The training time, ammo, and ranges never materialized in Kuwait, and we went into Iraq with brand-new M68 red dot sights on everyone’s rifles that nobody knew how to use effectively. Also, which hadn’t been zeroed. Individual units were told to do their own thing, absent support of any kind.

            We came back from Iraq, and one of the last things I did before retirement was run a qual range for the M16; the vast majority of the troops on that range who had been with us in Iraq had never had training on the M68 sight, did not know how to work it, maintain it, or zero it. That was almost a year post-deployment.

            The decision-maker behind that fiasco? Received stellar performance reviews and a Bronze Star for “Meritorious Service”.

            In my opinion, the minute that stupid f*cking superannuated POS chose to forego doing the training on those sights and instead focus on “looking good” in a ceremony attended by the post commander…? I’d have relieved his ass, forced his retirement, and told his replacement that if he ever did anything that stupid, I’d do the same to him.

            Instead, they all formed a mutual admiration society and wrote each other up for awards.

            The society that can produce idiots like that, and then raise them to high position in its armed forces? That’s the damn problem, and the mentality that creates situations like that is what you need to be worried about. Form over function, smoke over fire, and appearance over substance… They’ll choose the first every damn time, and then wonder why everything goes to sh*t around them.

          • @ Kirk;

            The dirty little secret of Sheriff’s Departments is that the Sheriff’s Chief Deputy is the equivalent of that Command Sergeant Major. His official job is being the XO of the department, as on a ship. His actual purpose is keeping the Sheriff getting re-elected. He’s a political operator, and rarely has many if any chops in the actual policing operations category.

            One I won’t name (but the stupid SOB knows who he is) put himself out of action for a year with his S&W M659. When clearing it, he buggered the procedure. (Remove magazine, rack slide and lock back, ensure you have the chambered round in hand.) Instead he removed the mag, racked it, then put the mag back in and hit the slide release, then pointed it at the floor and pulled the trigger to drop the hammer. Collecting a 115-grain Federal JHP in the right calf and ankle joint. Stupid idiot still walks with a limp.

            The upper echelon of every LEO generally has at least one to four such “political officers”. About all they’re good for is organizing flag-raising ceremonies…and official funerals.

            We were different. We were lab geeks and instructors and were on the Federal payroll though LEAA. That’s why everybody in eleven counties leaned on us so heavily for stuff they had No Fucking Clue How To Do.



        • Kirk:

          It is disappointing to learn of these attitudes in the US military. At least civilians there can actually practice on military style guns before joining up, unlike in Britain, where even pistol practice is banned (unless you be a gangsta).

          I used to think that because most British people are unfamiliar with firearms, we ended up with things like the SA80, but maybe that’s not the case.

          Of course, in a modern army only about 10% of soldiers are infantry, and perhaps the other 90% confidently expect never to have to fight whilst collecting their monthly cheque. I don’t know.

          Having said that, I must say I liked the concept behind the Heckler & Koch P7. I used to read a lot of gun mags in the 80s! You would not choose it as a match pistol, but as a gun to be carried by uninterested personnel it had a lot going for it. I would agree that the Glock is the best modern equivalent.

          • The P7 in all of its various configurations is a gun I want to like, but just… Can’t. The manual of arms is too different, and requires way too much practice with to develop real proficiency with, as well as effectively ruining you for anything else while you’re carrying it.

            I used to shoot on a pistol league with a guy who had fallen in love with the P7, and carried one. What he learned from that was that he could not carry anything else, and that there were distinct disadvantages to the squeeze-cocker setup, mostly centered around consistent grip and the need for hand strength. He was a dentist, so no big deal where that was concerned, but the one cop I know who carried one ditched it as anything other than a safe queen because he’d gotten into an on-duty altercation that left his primary hand badly injured and unable to work the squeeze-cocker properly. Being as his gear wasn’t set up for a cross-hand draw… Yeah. He had problems winning that one, and basically wound up doing a lot more damage to his primary hand making up for it. The doctor involved in fixing everything basically told him that the initial fractures from having his hand slammed in a car door weren’t that bad, but when he proceeded to use his fist to bludgeon is opponent into compliance, he’d basically turned a month in a cast and some rehab into two years of light duty and multiple extensive reconstructive surgeries that only got him back to about 80% of function.

            He swore off the P7 as a duty weapon after that, and went to something he could fire with a broken hand. Also, severely changed how he set his belt gear up…

            Too many people fail to consider all the ways things can go wrong, in close combat. I think the P7 is a really neat pistol, but I’d never carry one due to all the issues with contingency, and the fact that they’re just fussy little bitches about your techniques. Per my dentist friend, who was deadly with them, you had to get everything absolutely correct on your address to the grip and the subsequent draw. Once you’ve perfected that, you’re good, but… Don’t make a habit of swapping pistols around and carrying a mix, or you’re going to wind up with having really screwed up your motor memory for grip and draw.

            Or, so he found. Your mileage may vary; I’ve only played around with them, and haven’t ever made much of an effort to become really proficient with one of them. It is a definite skill you have to work at acquiring, however…

          • Kirk:

            If the grunts don’t know anything different, they will get used to it. The chances of having to use it for real are quite low, and there are no safety catches to learn and a consistent trigger pull. All moot now, as it’s been out of production for years.

          • “(…)things like the SA80(…)”
            If you want to inquire why it did performed under expectations you might find SA80 Assault Rifles by Neil Grant helpful.

          • @JohnK,

            Had a bit of a think about what you say about the SA80 fiasco.

            I think that you’re on to something about the general lack of firearms knowledge in British society being a reason that something like the SA80 got taken up for service. The raw facts about that weapon are that anyone with even a smattering of experience with a modern assault rifle is going to tell you right off the bat that that thing is an abortion on wheels, particularly the ergonomics of the whole thing.

            Now, I’ve spoken to a couple of guys over the years that told me they were part of the testing process; we used to get British Army guys every year at my base for an exercise called Trumpet Dance, and I’d make a point of sticking my nose in with them, if only because about 90% of our combat engineer equipment and doctrine comes from the Royal Engineers. Did a couple of “Let’s play with each other’s weapons…” sessions, as well.

            What those guys that had been involved with the testing process told me was that the SA80 had been universally despised by all of them during said testing, and that they’d had lengthy sessions with the procurement people pushing the things going over what they saw as the issues. None of those things were corrected, until HK got tasked with creating the A2 version.

            The problems with the SA80 program didn’t come from the testing process or the testing personnel not knowing what they were doing, they came from middle management ignoring results from said testing process and also ignoring what they were told about design deficiencies by the troops. The apparent mentality was that if you were a civilian staff person with no firearms background whatsoever, and had never served, then, by God, you just knew better than the squaddies, who’d no idea about what they really needed.

            About the only thing on the SA80 I found worthwhile was the sling; that was a handy bit of gear I promptly stole and made my own version for the M16, keeping it on my rifle throughout the rest of my career. Whenever I wasn’t on the parade ground with the damn thing, that is…

            Root of the actual SA80 “problem” wasn’t firearms knowledge or the people doing the testing not knowing what they were doing, it was the arrogance of middle management. Which, from what I’ve been told by a bunch of different informants over the years, is the bane of British industry and governance across the board.

          • Kirk:

            A very interesting insight, it is always good to hear of actual experience.

            By definition, the sappers you talked to would have been used to the L1A1 SLR, so they knew what a good rifle was like, hence they knew the SA80 was not. But new recruits would not have known this, as access to modern rifles is forbidden in Britain. Now, everyone in the British Army only knows the SA80, they have no other yardstick, though at least the Marines are dumping it.

            I am sure you are right about the management at Royal Ordnance. Although the SA80 is nothing like the EM2, there must have been some folk memory there that they wanted a bullpup rifle. The only way they got it was by mangling an AR18 in ways they did not understand.

            Your points about management are well made. Here in Britain we are currently having an enquiry in a scandal at the Post Office, where hundreds of postmasters were prosecuted over accounting frauds which never happened, being solely down to faulty computer software. Needless to say, for years, management refused to accept this, preferring to believe instead that they employed hundreds of crooks. Shameful.

          • @Daweo,

            ‘Cept for the fact that management is precisely where such creatures can do the most damage, as well as where they congregate because that’s also where they can get the most pay for the least work… You have one of these things work their way into the woodwork, and they’ll soon be helping as many other weasels as they can into similar positions.

            It’s not just the UK, either: Any sufficiently stratified and long-lived work culture will gradually succumb to these bastards. It’s why, I suspect, that all the grand waterworks of Cambodia and the Mayans eventually ceased being maintained and then collapsed: A surfeit of the bureaucrat.

            Human beings do not do long-term organization very well, at all. We keep setting up these vast reef structures of governance and bureaucracy, which are then colonized by parasites that run them into the ground, while most of the normal people just stand around and let it happen. I guarantee you that most of the really damaging types get where they are after an early career of kissing ass and being despised by their peers, but the clueless upper levels who are having their asses kissed don’t recognize actual merit, and think these sorts are wonderful. Which inevitably leads to them being put in charge of the organization and then running it into the nearest mountain…

            The Peter Principle ain’t quite on point, with regards to this, nor is Dilbert’s. This is a far more inimical sort of thing, part of the natural life and death cycle of any organization. It’s precisely why we should not allow ourselves to set these things up, in the first place.

            Observe, for example, NASA. Got us to the moon, they did… Then, as soon as that got done, the bureaucratic organizational syndrome took over, and what’d they do afterwards? Why, they settled on the Space Shuttle program, ‘cos that was a long-term sinecure, never mind that it made limited engineering sense. When Pournelle, et al suggested doing what SpaceX is doing now, but back during the 1980s, NASA allowed a limited test of the DC/X concept, and then promptly abandoned it as soon as it showed a chance of success…

            Right now, we’ve got another incipient disaster in orbit, Boeing/NASA’s “Starliner”, which never should have launched until they figured out all those leaks. Observe what happens there… I suspect there’s a really good chance that sucker burns in from high altitude, or that they have to have SpaceX crank up a Crew Dragon mission to go recover those poor bastards NASA sent up, while they’ll be forced to dump Starliner into the graveyard of the Central Pacific…

            Bureaucracy bad, ‘mmkay? I’ve reached a point in my life to where I look at bureaucracy the same way that Frankenstein’s monster looks at fire in most of the movies…

  2. @ Kirk

    According to Bill Gunston in Early Supersonic Fighters of the West (Scribner, 1975), those “middle managers” plus Defense Ministers buggered up every single British jet fighter program from Meteor on.

    By doing things like refusing to OK putting ferry tanks on the Lightning F.2. Being overwing tanks, they didn’t take up hardpoints under the wings. Meaning a Lightning could have nearly the radius of an F-4B Phantom II with a heavier bombload because all its hardpoints were available to hang them on.

    English Electric designed it that way, BAC wanted to build it that way, but the button counters said, “No, can’t work”. They finally got the overwing tanks on the F.3 and F.6- after they’d lost a dozen export contracts to Lockheed with its shorter-legged and less versatile F-104G.

    It’s not a coincidence that the only export customer for Lightning was Saudi Arabia, because they were embargoed by the U.S. for years for being “insufficiently authentic” in the Islam department.

    Gunston’s chapter on the Saunders-Roe SR.177 mixed-propulsion interceptor could have been written in acid on a certain PM’s back, Fu Manchu style.

    Even in later years, stupidity reigned in procurement. The Tornado F2 ADV interceptors early on flew with concrete ballast instead of actual radars because there were just too many “managers” each with their own ideas on how to build the radars cheaper. Meaning, it took years to get any radars built, at all. With typical RAF dry humor, the ballast was called “Blue Circle” in keeping with the RAF doctrine of “color” code names. “Blue Circle” was actually the commercial name of the brand of cement used to cast the ballast blocks.

    Another source stated that when the first heavy-duty stamping units arrived in Britain from Sperry in the late Fifties, they were immediately sequestered and the boys at Farnborough barely got a look at them. They’d have been ideal for doing the wing skinning on the Lightning and etc. instead of hogging them out of aluminum slabs.

    Rather, they were used for commemorative medallions on every political subject under the Sun.

    When one engineer commented that this seemed a rather counter-intuitive use of such expensive equipment, a Deputy Defense Minister essentially yelled at him “There is always a need for commemorative medallions!”

    Brains seem to be in short supply in the upper echelons. Everywhere.

    clear ether


    • Eon:

      The demise of the British aircraft industry, second only to that of the USA in the 1950s, is indeed a sad tale. It is terrible to think of the damage done to British industry in this period, and the ways in which politicians decimated so much talent.

    • “(…)lost(…)Lockheed(…)F-104G(…)”
      Well, considering that Lockheed was using bribery at that time, even objectively better product might lose.

      • Daweo:

        You are right about that. The Germans wanted a naval strike bomber. The British offered the Buccaneer, which was a naval strike bomber, Lockheed offered the F104 Starfighter, which was an interceptor. The F104 won.

        • And F-104G in strike role was supposedly designed as a nuclear delivery platform, the one thing the FRG Luftwaffe was not supposed to have.

          As the Italian AF found out with the “S”, hanging missiles larger than Sidewinders under its tiny wings turned it into a cow. The FGL learned the same lesson with G plus Komoran. F-104 was a fast-climbing point-defense interceptor, and that was really the only thing it was halfway good at or for.

          Ironically, the developed-but-never-built Lockheed Lancer would have looked like an odd cross between the F-104 and a Harrier, except determinedly CTOL. But it would have been almost the size of an F-4 due to its huge afterburning turbofan engine. And all the hardpoints, payload, and range F-104 did not have.

          It might have given the F/A-18 a run for its money.



  3. There is no way the Glock pistol would have past the XM9 trial. In the 1980 it had a terrible reliablity record see:https://youtu.be/Ux8A4nPJJWs DA/SA is not German invention. DA/SA predate cartridge era. Most revolvers is DA/SA. This was the standard for centuries. The problem is to have a trigger mechanism that have both the speed of operation and safety. The cocked and locked methode of carring a 1911 is slower than DA/SA. There is nearly no difference between swiping of the safety and charging from an empty chamber. I fail to see how a precrocked pistol is more safe than double action. Glock is accidental discharge waiting to happen. NYPD experience comfirm this. It is hard to beat DA/SA interms of safety and speed of opperation. Neither a Glock nor 1911 can do that.

    Cost and cost of opperation also a consideration. Twin vs. single engine. How many F16 was sold vs. F15/F18?

    What is more reliable a M4 or Sa80 ?

    • M4, hands down. Even after Heckler & Koch took it over there really wasn’t much they could do to improve what was essentially a “Chinese copy” of the Armalite AR-18 bastardized into a bullpup.

      As Nigel Grant relates in the Osprey book on the SA80 program, the rifle was developed in-house at Enfield as a straight ripoff of the Armalite, but without things like engineering drawings and etc. that would have shown them the weak points in the AR-18 design, which were the reasons it was rejected by among others the U.S. State Department for the Military Assistance Program (MAP). The idea there was that AR-18 could be built by stamping and etc. methods in allied Second and even Third World countries that did not have access to the aluminum casting and etc. technologies needed to build the AR-15.

      What killed that was the fact that AR-18 simply was not as durable or trouble-free as AR-15. Yes, you heard right; the AR-18 was worse than the FUBAO (F**ked Up By Army Ordnance) M16. Among other things, it was way too easy to dent or even bend its upper and lower receivers, which stonewalls the whole production.

      Howa Machine Co. in Japan sweated bullets trying to re-engineer the Armalite into something that would work in anticipation of contracts from MAP. Those contracts never arrived.

      Sterling Armaments in UK tried the same thing. Neither one could ever really make the AR-18 reliable.

      Then along comes Enfield and tries to not only build an AR-18 without access to Howa and Sterling’s manuals on “Here’s what’s wrong and this is what more-or-less fixes it”, they try to make it a bullpup. Because bullpups are COOOOOLLL.

      The IFV issue was and is BS. You want to get an AR-18 into an undersized IFV? Fold.The.Damn.Stock. Yes, you can fire an AR-18 with the stock folded. (And even reach the safety/selector, unlike a Galil.)

      The AR-18 was a problematic design at best. Couple that with a questionable redesign, even more questionable choices of materials, inadvisable tactical concepts, and simply and categorically non-existent quality control, and you get…the SA80 “family”.

      To that time, there hadn’t been a military small-arms program that screwed up since the Chauchat. Since then, of course, we’ve been afflicted with the American ACR program, and the HK G36 and its red-headed nitwit offspring the XM8. (“Melts First Time, Every Time.”)

      I’m still withholding judgement on whether or not the SiG M7 (aka SCX Spear, Son of SCAR-L) is going to be an actually useful infantry arm, or yet another SPIW style debacle’.

      Time will tell.

      clear ether


        • Actually, if you look closely at SAR 80, it’s basically a completely new design that just looks a bit like the Armalite. Less than 10% of the parts are interchangeable.

          Also, the shape of the stamped components were drastically simplified, causing the SAR 80’s odd “slab-sided” appearance.

          As I understand it, the SAR 80’s genesis began with Howa, who proposed a “product improved” Armalite to the Japan Ground Self-Defence Force, that was looking for a 5.56 x 45mm rifle to replace the 7.62 x 51mm Type 64, which pretty much nobody liked.

          Like the CETME that gave birth to HK’s G3 family, Type 64 was designed around a reduced-charge 7.62 NATO with roughly 7.62 x 39mm ballistics, pressures and recoil, and it still kicked too hard.

          Howa gave up on their Armalite version when JGSDF turned it down in 1969, and kept turning out Type 64s until 1988, when they finally came up with the 5.56mm Type 89, which was a bastard cross between the Stoner 63 and the Sig 530. It entered service in 1990, and is now being replaced by the 5.56mm Type 20, which is basically an HK 416 with some bells and whistles borrowed from the FN SCAR-L.

          Meanwhile, Chartered Industries of Singapore developed the SAR 80 from Howa’s original version of the Armalite, simplifying as they went. It ended up being a bit too simple, and flimsier than the original AR-18.

          They according set about “improving” it, and the end result was the SR 88, which deletes most of the Armalite features and is even more like a Stoner 63, minus the “Swiss Army Knife” features. (I.e., it’s strictly a rifle, not a rifle/LMG/MMG/A Horse, A Spoon, And A Basin sort of thing.)

          It’s been compared to the South Korean Daewoo K2, but the resemblance is superficial. K2 is basically an AR-15 lower receiver with an upper receiver gas piston system largely based on the Kalashnikov.

          About the best that can be said of SAR80/SR88 is that like an alley cat, it has an obscure ancestry.



          • From what I remember, Sullivan had a lot of input into the SAR-80 program, as well as the Ultimax. Being as he was the guy who did most of the conversion work from the AR-10 to the AR-15…?

            I’ve got little love lost for the patent system, because the primary reason that the M16’s gas system didn’t proliferate had a lot to do with the way Colt managed its patents and licensing. The main reason that Daewoo did what it did with the K2 was more due to the fact that they didn’t want to have to worry about Colt coming after them for “copying” the M16 that they were building under license, and the fees were too damn high to keep paying them. As well, there were export restrictions on their manufacture of the M16, so they were more-or-less forced into doing a clean-room version of the M16.

            The K1 happened because the Korean Army wanted a carbine/SMG version in a hurry, and they said “Screw it, we’ve got a Stoner-system version in testing already, we’re gonna go with that…”

            I honestly don’t think that the various flavors of M16 alternatives derived from the AR-18 are all that inherently bad; they just needed a lot more development work done before they were ready for prime time. I think I handled most of the various versions in Iraq, and they did not strike me as great weapons, but ones that could have been very serviceable with a bit more time and effort put into them. The Taiwanese M16 derivatives are quite nice…

      • I have always found the buffer system on the M16 series to be a serious flaw. If the design put the recoil springs and buffer in above the bolt carrier, as in the AR-18, I think that the ability to have a folding buttstock on the weapon would have improved ergonomics and handling immeasurably. Having to try and get in and out of a damn vehicle with the M16A2 and its full-length stock was a nightmare, particularly if you weren’t a damn hobbit.

        The more I think back on it, the M16 got screwed when they didn’t field it properly and essentially tried to sabotage the whole process. The assholes responsible should have been identified and then given fair trials, followed by executions for treason. Screwing around like that with the basic infantry weapon that men’s lives are going to have to rely upon in combat? Unforgiveable.

        I do think that the AR-18, like the Stoner 62/63 were systems they should have done more with, rather than halfway developing them and then abandoning the process. A perfected Stoner 63 family could have been an amazing system, but we’ll never know because they abandoned it before completing the process. I do think they needed to do a bit more in the way of building the receivers differently… One somewhat lighter-weight version for the individual weapon/PDW/magazine-fed support weapon, and then another heavier one entirely for the belt-fed and the sniper version… Sort of like what the Russians did for the AK/RPK.

        In any event, the AR-18 is not a bad design; it just needed a lot more work before being let out for issue. I don’t think that it was inherently bad, and the fact that so many have copied it that it’s practically the most successful least successful designs in history is telling. Ain’t nobody copied Stoner’s AR-10 gas system, despite its many virtues.

        NGSW is a massive failure on multiple levels, and I fully expect there to be a major scandal when it all shakes out. Nobody is calling for “overmatch” weapons in Ukraine or anywhere else they’re fighting, soooo… Do the math. NGSW is an answer to a badly posed question that nobody should have been asking in the first place, and I suspect that this recap of the 7.62 NATO/M-14 debacle will work out similarly, more than likely the same way that the Infantry wound up with all the supporting branch M4 carbines rather than the “musket” they envisioned them needing… The basic needs of the infantry are better answered by something like the M4, rather than the ridiculously heavy NGSW “solution”. The cartridge ain’t helping matters, either… Too heavy to carry the ammo load you could with the M4, and too powerful to control on full-auto when you really need it for close-in combat. The machinegun could be improved immeasurably by simply getting a better tripod and fire control system under it, but the rifle? That thing is the M-14 for the 21st Century.

        • It’s not really that people had copied the AR-18, it’s that in the AR-18 for the first time ad been put together three charateristics that are nowadays considered useful. A frontal locking bolt (that allows to use a lightweight receiver) a short stroke gas piston (clean, reliable and relatively lightweight) and an over-the-bolt recoil spring (allows folding stock).
          the multilug bolt is a so proven design (thanks to the AR-15) that there’s no need to modify it (even if it had been demonstrated that you can simplify it to three lugs and it works just fine), so every modern military 5.56 rifle becomes a AR-18 copy.

      • Eon:

        Royal Ordnance ripped off the AR18 design for the SA80. The AR18 was being made by Sterling, but RO would not work with them. This was because years earlier Sterling had sued RO for making Sterling SMGs without paying royalties. Sterling won, and also got RO’s undying enmity. Thus there was no way RO would have ever cooperated with Sterling on this bullpupping of the AR18.

        I once read the memoirs of James Edmiston, who ran Sterling. When they agreed to make the AR18, his engineers identified a few changes they wanted to make. They were told by Gene Stoner to change nothing, the gun had to be made exactly as it had been designed. Now imagine RO, who had basically stolen the design and were trying to make it into a bullpup. The chances of disaster were 100%, and so it proved. Gene Stoner might have made a bullpup AR18 work, even Sterling might have done it, but there was no way RO was ever going to be successful. They were not.

        • I read about that in several magazines at the time. Anyone who knew the “issues” could have seen what was coming.

          RO decided to go the bullpup route solely on the basis of AR-18’s folding stock. “If the stock isn’t necessary, we can dispense with it.” Umm, no, rifle design does not work that way.

          RO’s first attempt at a “searage” was pretty much a camera-type cable release behind a faux trigger “up front”. It pushed on the real trigger tucked away behind the magazine well. It was the kind of thing I’d expect to see on one of those mail-order $99.95 “muzzlelite” stocks they used to sell for Ruger Mini-14s.

          Later on they came up with a more-or-less “proper” mechanical drawbar setup, but it was noted for the SA80’s horrid trigger pull.

          Let’s not even go into the choice of plastics for the furniture, which did not react well to desert environments and tended to crumble when exposed to issue insect repellent. That’s something that should have been caught in environmental tests in trials stage- but wasn’t. Because nobody at RO thought to make such a test.

          Nobody tested the Sight Unit Infantry Trilux (SUIT) for environmental conditions either. Not all the world is as pleasant as Brean Down in high summer, but you couldn’t tell RO that.

          Royal Ordnance didn’t get one solitary thing right about SA80, and the squaddies have been paying the price ever since.

          clear ether


          • Very true, its success is reflected in its international sales.

            The irony is that it is possible to bullpup an AR18, as Steyr managed with the AUG. But they were gun people, and RO were not. The only good thing about the SA80 debacle is that we no longer try to design our own small arms, but just buy them off the shelf. If you have no domestic arms industry you have no choice in the matter. Sad though.

        • I have to question the narrative about Eugene Stoner telling the folks at Sterling “not to change anything”, because Stoner had about zip to do with either Armalite or the AR-18 by the point Sterling was involved with them. AR-18 was a derivative of the Stoner AR-16, which was his work after the AR-10 with its patents were sold to Colt, and he could no longer use his preferred gas system. That got turned into the AR-18, when Armalite figured out that the 7.62 NATO, another Stoner favorite, was a non-starter on the market, and if I remember correctly, it was Sullivan and a bunch of the other guys at Armalite who were most directly involved in the design.

          Armalite, notably, did not ever do real industrial engineering for production. They did not have sheet metal stamping or design skills; they were a subsidiary of Fairchild, that did aviation stuff like forged aluminum. For a design like the AR-18 to really succeed, it needed extensive massaging by someone who knew stamping and sheet metal, like the guys at Grossfuss who turned the MG42 into a mass-producible proposition. Neither Sterling or Howa had those skills, either, so… Yeah. It ain’t no wonder the AR-18 had issues.

          What they should have done with the AR-18 was turn it over to someone who had extensive experience with stamped weaponry… Like HK. And, oddly enough, the L85A2 is a product of just that sort of handover to subject matter experts.

          You come up in an industrial firm noted for cast and machined products, shifting your thoughts over to sheet metal stampings ain’t likely to come easily… There are ins and outs, nuances of design, that you have to learn the hard way. That’s why the initial stamped versions of the AK failed, by the way: The entire industrial complex behind the AK at that point was a little less than brilliant at stamped sheet metal design, and all the folks who were were busy elsewhere. It was more efficient to shift over to a machined-receiver AK than to try and make up for those deficiencies, until the time of the AKM.

          • Kirk:

            My copy of Edmiston’s book is… somewhere. It’s been a long time since I read it, but I think it was Stoner who told them not to change the AR18 design. It does make sense, as if you change one thing, you start changing another, and pretty soon you are in a world of hurt, at which point RO walk in and think “that’s a good idea, let’s start”.

            Sterling were treated very badly by RO, and Edmiston continued to have problems when he ran a more conventional shotgun making business. Some bureaucrats are petty tyrants with long memories.

          • Even Stoner’s involvement in the AR-16 is questionable. He could have had something to do only with the very initial designs.

    • Your “facts” on the Glock are delusionally erroneous.

      The reason that it didn’t join the M9 program was more down to two reasons: One, the JSSAP test criteria were written in such a way that the Glock did not qualify for the competition, being striker-fired and not a DA/SA weapon that could hit the primer a second time with an additional pull of the trigger. As well, Glock at that time did not want to do the mandatory licensing/production process in the US, mostly due to the fact that the Tenifer nitrization process was something they couldn’t then do in the US due to EPA regulations.

      The contention that the Glock would have never met the standards for reliability is patently ridiculous on the face of it: Glock blew the Steyr GB out of the water in Austrian Army testing, against all expectations, and further won every military procurement competition it entered across Europe and around the world. One of the initial prototypes for the Austrian competition actually fired enough rounds (somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000) that the Austrians gave up on the “test-to-destruction” phase of their tests.

      Glock is by no means “perfect”, because nothing is. But, as a military sidearm, they’ve come a hell of a lot closer to that mark than many others, particularly things like the Beretta 92. Much of the problem with the idea of the Glock boils down to the majority of people encountering them failing to understand the reasoning behind the design paradigm, and then embracing that reasoning. I do not believe that the Glock should be seen as a “classic”-mode pistol, wherein it is seen as an end, in itself. It’s not a weapon for the “Sergeant York” uber-pistoleer, which is a fundamentally flawed model to begin with. What it is would be a pistol perfectly suited to the “lowest-common-denominator” pistol user, the person who has minimal time and opportunity for developing the excellent pistol skills that an M1911A1 or Beretta 92 almost mandate. It’s a “pull, point, and shoot…” proposition, and as such, represents superior weapon for issue to those who cannot or will not be able to put in the tuition to build expert skills with another pistol.

      You have to have the time and training to “get good” with an M9 or M1911A1, whatever that takes. Which is almost certainly going to be a hell of a lot more time and ammo than you’d need to “get good” on the Glock family, which you’d be way better off issuing about 99% of the “average Joe”.

      Interestingly, with all those Glocks we put into use in Iraq, taking them up from the Iraq Police stocks? I’m told, by parties that tracked such things, that the US soldiers who were carrying those “unauthorized” pistols were having drastically lower rates of negligent discharges and the like, mostly due to that whole “…since there ain’t no safety, the pistol is always dangerous…” thing. They didn’t screw around as much with the Glocks, not having the false sense of security lent by that manual safety/decocking lever abortion.

      This was apparently true across the board, both for the US and the UK in Afghanistan and Iraq. It was one of the reasons why the UK chose the Glock 19 as their emergency procurement pistol of choice for issue to just about everyone…

      • The same holds true in police use.The Glock works very well with Rule One Of The Revolver; Keep Your Finger Off The Trigger Until Your Sights Are On The Target.

        Even people completely ignorant of firearms (yes, I had a few as students) can be taught that simple rule. If the officer understands that when his or her finger is on the trigger, the weapon is all set to go, they’re less likely to AD.

        It’s the ones who don’t get that who AD. And in my experience, the King Of All ADs is the DA/SA selfloader. People who pull through on the heavy double-action for the first shot often yank off a second because when the trigger resets, the “short” single-action pull gets seared off by a finger-quiver caused by their surprise reaction.

        I found some officers learning on DA/SA autos got in the habit of shoving their trigger finger hard up against the inside of the front of the trigger guard to avoid this. It was a habit I had to break them of; it is the equivalent of a flinch, slows down follow-up shots, and told me the shooter was frightened of their weapon.

        I never had that kind of problem with shooters using double-action revolvers, or straight single-action autos like the 1911. I also has very few ADs with either set of students. Rule One works very well with both.

        Given a pistol or revolver with a consistent, manageable trigger, a decent set of sights (no, they don’t have to be adjustable, just visible), and a decently thought out holster (for either open or concealed carry, the Threepersons or Trimble style in the kidney position is still probably the best all-around choice), it’s possible to teach almost anybody to shoot effectively and safely, unless they just don’t want to bother learning.

        And I’ve run into those, as well.



  4. I think it’s a significant point that the same people who came up with the DA/SA semiautomatic pistol concept are also the same people who designed and issued the excretion known as the Reichsrevolver…

    Casting back through my memories, I think the first DA/SA auto I owned was a Smith & Wesson 559. Kinda a cool gun, looked like one of the developmental “Hush Puppy” silenced versions from Vietnam. Did not shoot very well for me, however, and soured me on Smith & Wesson automatics for life. My stepdad’s Model 39 was a better gun, all the way around.

    Notably, the three actual negligent discharges my family has had came directly from those two pistols. My stepdad did it twice with his 39, and I managed it once with my 559, which I swear should not have been loaded when I dry-fired it to confirm clearance. That was (knock on wood) my one lifetime negligent discharge… Learned a good deal from the experiment, and I’m convinced that the complacency I had with the manual safety/decocker on that gun, coupled with the transitional confusion of having gotten used to the M1911A1 single-action automatic in the Army, and the Browning Hi-Power I’d acquired… Yeah, lots to be taken away from all that.

    I don’t think it’s at all “accidental” that the M9 had the rate of negligent/accidental discharges that it had. The damn things are almost designed to produce them…

    • My only S&W DA/SA was the 645. I have to say that for a “crunchenticker” as Cooper used to call them, it had a decent pull on both DA and SA.

      I was part of the evaluation menage’ when the Sigma came along. I also have to plead guilty to being part of the study that resulted in the .40 S&W after the 1986 Miami debacle’.

      The Sigma was a disaster on every count. The .40 cartridge should have been the self-loading answer to .357 Magnum; instead they turned it into a .45 ACP target load.

      I haven’t had a S&W auto since then.



      • The .40 S&W suffered from the fact that the guys designing it were fairly schizoid about the whole thing, and they really screwed up by making it just barely possible to squeeze the cartridge into an already-existing 9mm formatted frame and mechanism. That’s what Glock screwed up; they believed the BS about “It’ll just go into a 9mm…”, and most of the problems with their .40 S&W models stemmed from the fact that they should have taken the time to upscale said designs and then work on all the lockwork to make sure it functioned properly under the .40 S&W pressure curves… The whole “Yeah, it’s a one-for-one substitution in a 9mm design…” idea was just… Wrong. Too many examples out there to prove “Yeah, no… Just… No.” was the universe’s response to that particular bad idea.

        Here’s a free tip to anyone designing a handgun or other weapon: Figure out WTF you want to fire out of it first, then design the weapon around that cartridge. Do not get the idea into your head that “every cartridge is the same, only dimensionally different”. The raw fact is that those mere “different dimensions” influence a lot of things like how the powder you choose deflagrates, which makes the pressure curves different, and on and on and on… Cartridge first, then mechanism.

        If you get lucky, in the course of designing several pistols in different calibers, you’ll find a sweet spot that you can use as a template. The M1911 basic design was one of those, where you could put a 9mm, a .45 ACP, and a .38 Super into kinda-sorta the same basic gun, but you had to jimmy around with esoteric things like feed ramp angles and the internal timing of the pistol to get each variant to really work well. I had a long conversation with a regionally-famous gunsmith on the .45 ACP, and he was going on at length about all the different tuning factors that went into each M1911 chambering, and how it was virtually impossible to get a multi-caliber variant to work perfectly with more than one caliber. End of the day, he said he’d had one client that had gotten frustrated with the process of trying to come up with “one gun to rule them all”, caliber-wise, and he just did up three different frames for each of the calibers he wanted.

        The fantasy of multi-caliber weapons is so much of a minefield that it isn’t really funny, when you’re talking about serious calibers above things like the .32 ACP. I’d go so far as to say that it’s a fool’s game…

        • The amazing thing about 10mm in the 1911 is that it works at all, let alone working as well as it does. Whit Collins did say that the original “.40 G&A” was designed along the lines of the 9.8mm Browning that JMB tried to sell the British on in 1912-13. (They weren’t all that interested in automatics at the time.)

          There were several .40 caliber wildcat cartridges between Browning’s and Collins’ times, almost all designed for the 1911.

          For that matter,the .41 Remington Magnum was predated by almost a decade by the .401 Herter PowerMag, which was almost a duplicate of it except being a true .401in diameter.

          The biggest mistake Cooper ever made was trying to shoehorn the 10mm Auto round into the Bren Ten, a CZ75 clone of basically 9mm dimensions.

          (Yes, I know. I said Jeff Cooper screwed up. Hell will no doubt crack open and take me this instant. Oops- still here.)

          The Star MegaStar was far more to the point if you wanted a modern double-stack, DA/SA 10mm autoloader. The fact that it was almost the size and weight of the over-hyped Desert Eagle sort of shows that at least Star’s designers understood what sort of cartridge they were dealing with, basically a rimless .41 Magnum. You don’t put that in a pistol little bigger than a P35 High Power and expect it to work.

          The exact tactical role of the 10mm has always been a bit of a puzzle. I’d say it’s a round best left to the game officers who need something that can put down a fairly large animal with one or two shots. Hence my previous observation about it being best for “country” duty.

          Of course, my preferred solution for that, short of a rifle, has always been a .44 Magnum revolver. If you have a .44, you probably don’t need a 10mm, and vice versa.

          The great “missed opportunity”, IMHO, was the 9mm Winchester Magnum. Being a 9mm, it would fit in something like the Glock 20, and having ballistics similar to the old 9 x 25mm Mauser it would give an officer 9mm firepower and .357 Magnum stopping power, all in one package.

          And being a 9 x 29mm, you couldn’t get it into a .38 Super Auto or worse yet a 9 x 23 Largo by mistake. Unlike the later 9 x 23 Winchester, which has to be one of the dumbest ideas they ever had, right up there with .375 Winchester.

          (Just as 9 x 23 Winchester will go in a .38 ACP, .38 Super, or 9mm Largo, .375 will go into a .38-55 Winchester. Please, don’t anybody do it. I don’t want to read your obituary when it blows up in your face.)

          clear ether


          • Eon said:

            “The amazing thing about 10mm in the 1911 is that it works at all, let alone working as well as it does.”

            I’ve a friend, who was an early adopter of the 10mm and would have likely been a huge Bren 10 fan, had they ever actually gone into mass production. As it was, he had to be satisfied with the Colt Delta Elite, and… It was not a happy-fun experience, for him. That pistol went back to Colt at least three times that I know of, and it got replaced completely at least one of those times. He had this unfortunate belief that you ought to be able to fire SAAMI-specification 10mm out of it, you see… And, insisted on firing about a thousand rounds a month.

            I know for a fact that the local distributor supplying his preferred gunshop offered to buy him out of all his 10mm gear, replace it with anything else he pleased, if only he’d quit causing problems for them. I think that particular sale of a Delta Elite likely wound up costing Colt significant money, given as much effort as he put them through trying to get the thing to live up to the promises it made.

            My friend is still a big, no… Massive believer in 10mm. He just fires it through his Glocks, which contrary to all the other early 10mm pistols on the market, just worked.

            If you were to give the man a moment or two, you’d probably become a born-again convert to 10mm as a carry cartridge. He had a lot of success with his in many roles, up in Alaska, where he was a part-time game warden/enforcement officer. The stories he told? I dunno about factual, but they were entertaining. There was this moose that got hit by a semi, see, and he was assessing the condition of the moose down where it had been thrown by the collision. He’s off in the brush, very dense brush, that you can’t get through easily, and when he’s at arm’s length with the moose, it lunged to its feet and made like it was going to stomp him into the ground… Whole time it’s doing this, one of its antlers is broken off, a front leg is obviously broken at the shoulder, and there’s blood spraying everywhere from the various spots that the moose had broken skin when it went into and through the trees. Very much a zombie-moose situation, and “There he was, alone with his trusty Glock 20…”

            From what I understand, he emptied two magazines into the head and torso of that moose, before it went down and stayed down, all at about telephone-booth range.

            Only comment I ever heard him make about that incident, besides using it to proselytize for the 10mm, was that he “…went out and bought me one of them telescoping poles they use fer paintin’, and I used that to check for signs of life every time after that…”

            As he put it, while he wouldn’t touch things with a ten-foot pole, a twelve-footer could come in right handy…

          • @Kirk;

            I never saw a Colt Delta Elite or Double Eagle that worked consistently, in 10mm or .45. Most people I knew who bought one or the other got rid of it and got a S&W 645, 4506 or 1006. At least they worked.

            Springfield Armory’s 10mm 1911 seemed to work. But then they went to the XDM, more like a Glock. That seems to be where everything is going now.

            As for revolvers, 10mm or otherwise, someone should tell Colt and S&W that this is the 21st Century, and 19th Century leaf mainsprings aren’t going to cut it anymore. They need to look at Ruger and Taurus- closely.

            What police need is a new 9 x 24mm cartridge. One with .357 Magnum power and 9mm magazine capacity- that can’t go into a “shorter” 9mm by mistake. (like the 9 x 23 Winchester can…)

            The Glock 20 would seem to be just the thing to put it in.



          • I think it’s hilarious that the FBI went all-out to find the “ultimate handgun” after Miami (which was really more a tactical FUBAR than something they should have blamed on the pistols carried… Typical of American bureaucratic thought, when it comes to weapons.), tried the 10mm, wound up deciding it was “too much gun”, sparked the development of the .40 S&W, and are now mostly carrying 9mm.

            I mean… WTF? It’s like they just looked at what the Army had been doing since the M-14, said “Yeah, that’s a great idea, let’s do it just like that…”

            The parallels are disturbing, when you look at it. I mean, I love me some 10mm, but… It’s not a cartridge that’ll fit into the lowest common denominator pistol for the average user. It’s basically the 7.62mm NATO of the semi-auto handgun world. And, we’re stuck with the 5.56mm variant, the 9mm, mostly because nobody with any sense will try to actually design something that’d work better, the way you’re suggesting.

            Swear to God, this is the dumbest possible timeline. Somewhere in an alternate universe, the NATO individual weapon standard is a fully-developed derivative of the .280 British, the MG cartridge is something like a blown-out .30-06, and the standard handgun cartridge is one of the .357-equivalent 9mm automatics. And, the people are sane, there…

        • “(…)fantasy of multi-caliber weapons is so much of a minefield that it isn’t really funny, when you’re talking about serious calibers above things like the .32 ACP. I’d go so far as to say that it’s a fool’s game…”
          Most users simply do not need that, nonetheless such weapon could be designed from scratch if so desired and would take form of Medusa Model 47 https://guns.fandom.com/wiki/M47_Medusa and require advanced materials (mil-spec 4330 vanadium steel…8620 steel hardened…4150 chromemoly steel) to be made

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