Marine Special Forces Make A Radical Sidearm Change


This is a huge move. The Marine Raider Special Forces units are swapping out their Colt .45’s for Glock 19 9mm’s.

There are a number of stated reasons for the change, but hopefully the oft cited factor of lower 9mm ammo prices was not one of them. If we can spend over $2 Billion on a bomber, we better be able to equip our soldiers with the weapons of their choice.

Here are some of the reasons for the change according to Mark Keefe at American Rifleman:



And the newly renamed Marine Raiders were issued Colt .45s. But that just changed. According to a Marine Corps Times article the Raiders are throwing their .45s overboard (figuratively, not literally). They have instead adopted the Glock 19 pistol as their standard sidearm. The Marine Corps as whole has not adopted the Glock 19, but the Raiders (as part of U.S. SOCOM) are issuing their operators Glock 19s. Now, the same report indicated some other Marine units will continue to use the M45A1 CQB for the short term, but it comes to Raiders, the .45 is out. Last year the Raiders were authorized to issue 9 mm Glock 19s side by side with the M45A1. This year .45s are no longer in the holsters of Marine Raiders. One of the reasons the Marine Corps gave for abandoning the M45A1 was there are times when Marine operators require a concealable handgun. And while the M45A1 CQB is an excellent fighting pistol in what used to be America’s favorite caliber, it is not a gun designed for concealment. Another reason given for the Raider shift away from .45 was logistics—meaning that having two sidearm chamberings with in the same unit was not a good idea. That makes sense for regular military units, but has not hampered elite operators in the past.

This is another chapter in the recent ascendancy of both the 9 mm Luger cartridge and the Glock 19 pistol. The Raider move away from .45 is similar to the FBI’s move away from the 40 S&W cartridge. Last year the FBI, which essentially created the demand for first the 10 mm and then the .40 S&W cartridge in the first place, abandoned it in favor of a 9 mm Speer 147-gr. Gold Dot 2 loading for its agents.


A decade ago it looked like the .40 Smith and Wesson or the .357 Sig was going to crush the 9mm. Instead the 9mm keeps extending it’s dominance. It was rumored that the Army might move to a larger caliber but now it’s seems like they will stick with the 9mm. Lot’s of law enforcement agencies are going back to the nine as well. Read the entire article here.

You can’t help but to feel nostalgia for the .45, however, if the 9mm is fulling mission requirements more power to it. Watch Colion Noir nominate the Glock 19 as the best urban SHTF gun ever below:

Let us know which gun you would rather have in the comments section (or just level random personal insults at each other, your choice).




    • The .45 has more knock down power, for sure…..someday, I will buy a 1911 .45…….Kimber makes a great pistol!
      Hold onto it.

      • James,
        Save some $$ & pick up the GI version of Rock Island Armory .45 ACP. Has everything any Colt .45 basic Gov Issue model would have without the extra jing for the name. It is nothing fancy but, will get the job done. I think the Marines are looking for NATO compliance & obviously greater mag capacity.

  1. I have served as a Military instructor and as OIC of small arms training. We initially used the issue .45. It is a good gun. It requires slightly more strength than a 9mm to charge and has a short limit on cartridges in the magazine. It is also heavier and more bulky. It is and had been an outstanding handgun. Any change should be made by the users under strong comparative standards. My experience indicates the 9mm is easier to carry concealed and a spare magazine has more content.

  2. I have never met a 1911-based firearm that, sometimes after a little fitting and break-in, I didn’t like.
    Design of new 9mm bullets have made it a viable option, so I don’t feel too bad with any of several of my 1911 style 9mm. But I prefer the .45 by far, either Colt Government, Concealed Carry Officer, or 1991 Compact.

  3. Glocks are good guns. You can find parts for Glocks just about everywhere. I prefer the .40 over the 9MM any day.

    IMHO, the entire US military needs to dump the Berrettas for the Glock in .40 caliber and in this day and time authorize them to be carried to and from the base/camp.

    • I also prefer the Glock .40 in the same size as the Glock model 19, the model 23. I have a match 9mm barrel (from Wolf) that slides right in to replace the .40 barrel, and just use the Glock 19 magazine and I can shoot 9mm rounds! Without replacing the magazine I can shoot 357 Sig rounds with the drop in barrel also! Yes three different rounds out of the same pistol.

    • Glenn, I totally agree the G19 and G23 are identical in size, G19 holds 15 rds, G23 holds 13 rds. Having fired my G23 and hit the Suspect and saw the devastating effect, my choice is and remains the .40cal round. I don’t know why the FBI has suddenly changed their mind-hopefully it’s not Money, but I am very happy with my situation where my Life was saved in a shootout, plus I am not a follower. My advise is to anyone, find a Gun, Caliber and Ammo that you feel fits your needs and you feel comfortable with and practice,practice and practice…

  4. There are a number of .45 ACP pistols made for concealed carry, even within the Glock family. The G30 comes mind (I carry one when wanting a concealed piece, otherwise, I carry the G21 on my for open/mission carry). Ammunition is heavier in the can, but also provides a heavier hammer when striking soft targets. Ballistics don’t give it as much of a range attraction as the 9mm, but that’s why Marines have a rifle / carbine as well as a fighting blade. The right tool for the right job. Not sure where the expert from the American Rifleman got his empirical data, but it needs updating. .45 ammo (component or COTS) is more expensive than 9mm. Comparatively, .45 is approximately 30% higher for range ammo, a bit higher for mission-built varieties.

  5. If the 1911 is such a outdated firearm, why is gun manufacturing company’s coping it ?t don’t make sense.

  6. I believe and this is only my opinion that the change is due to commonality in the theater of war. If your fighting somewhere other than the good old usa where you gonna reup outside of base. just my humble opinion. Colt, Spring 45 all the way

  7. My preferred carry gun is a Wilson Combat Super Sentinel in .38 Super Auto caliber. It fires a 9mm bullet with considerably more oomph than a 9mmP. Having said that, my “have-with-me-everyday” pistol is a SIG P938 9mmP pocket pistol. Note that they’re both based on the 1911 design, just down-sized. I do have a Glock 19 that I use as a “car gun.” It’s super-reliable and virtually indestructible, but as a 1911 fanatic, I hate its trigger action. I’ve just been shooting 1911s too long (45 years in both Navy and civilian competition), and am too accustomed to its trigger action to be satisfied with anything less.

  8. Mr Muncey I have a PARA ORDINANCE 45 that has magazines in the 15 plus one capacity so it carries as much as the 9mm can and yes you can get 25 and 30 round mags for SOPs teams. As far as knock down power the 45 is superior at longer distances and both are comparable at shorter ranges. Both have the hollow point round for massive knock down. Personally if it were me i would take the 45 round against military and police style body armor any day. The 9mm will not impact as hard or penetrate as far in close combat situations.
    But its not my choice and lets hope it gets the job done for our U.S. MILTARY

  9. I want a round with knockdown! The .45 is a total knockdown round. The 9 mil has very little knockdown! The FMJ round has a terrible tendency to ricochet. If I have to use a weapon, it will be either the .45 or .40 caliber. Your life is a little more important than a few pennies per round.

  10. Having carried the 1911 .45 cal pistol as my only sidearm for 27 years of active duty, it’s my opinion, that a finer pistol doesn’t exist. It’s easy to handle, quick to bring into action, and from my personal experience the .45 round is unforgiving. You only have to hit your target once to neutralize it. I’ve never understood why a 9mm would be preferable unless you’re trying to make someone happy.

  11. You can shoot someone with a 9mm and then shoot’em again. Or you can shoot someone with a .45 and walk over the pieces. Discussion over.

    • HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA sorry I just can’t believe people still believe that kind of B.S. it’s hiliarious

  12. Is the Glock 19 single action / double action or just double action? What lb trigger has it got on the first shot and second shot?

    In the video how many rounds does the magazine have? How easy is it to load the magazine to capacity?

    Does the magazine need a loader to assist the installing rounds into the magazine?

    How much does the weapon weigh unloaded?

    What kind of material is the frame made out of? What kind of material is the slide made out of?

    What is the warranty? What is the cost?

  13. When I was a Navy officer (shortly after they decided that sails, even as “auxiliary equipment”, were probably not necessary), officers had the right to select and use their own sidearm (of course, you had to buy it and buy the ammo for it, then again, we also had to pay for our meals, even tho’ they came off the same mess line as the enlisted sailors ate from). Altho’ I regularly qualified with the 1911 .45, I always detested the weapon. It was big, it was heavy, it was clunky. Altho’ it fired a respectably heavy bullet, it did so at a relatively low velocity, which severely degraded both range and accuracy (problems further exacerbated by the fact that, by that point – late Vietnam era – the ones being issued were shot out relics from the Korean War and even WWII, so worn out that you could almost hear the bullet bouncing down the barrel). Unfortunately, the only real alternative, at the time, was the 9mm Luger/Parabellum, a round which I always considered inadequate, particularly when it came to stopping power. The end result was that I equipped myself with a .357 Mag. revolver, on the basis that I knew I could hit what I shot at and knock down what I hit (while reasoning that the difficulty of reloading was offset by the fact that, by the time I was reduced to using a pistol, reloading was probably the least of my worries). The .357 Mag round remains one of my favorites (one wishes that the Desert Eagle, in that caliber, were reliable enough to use or that there was some other, semi-auto, magazine fed pistol which could handle the round) and is my usual “go to” round. Even a middling .357 Mag load yields at least as great a muzzle energy (and considerably greater muzzle velocity) as even a fairly “hot” .45 ACP load and the drop-off in both energy and velocity is far less than with the .45, meaning greater lethality and accuracy at greater ranges. Perhaps, fortunately, I never had to put that decision to the “acid test”, but, given the same considerations today, I’d make the same decision. What has changed is the competence and capability of the 9mm round. What, heretofore, has been a “lightweight” is now able to do some serious damage. The Browning BXP or G2 Research RIP rounds are real killers and there are other 9mm options out there which make the caliber an acceptable substitute for the .45 ACP in a way it wasn’t even a decade ago, let alone 4 decades ago. Given the magazine capacity, lightness, quickness, and accuracy of 9mm platforms such as the Glock 19, the changeover to it, from the 1911 .45 ACP seems, to me, long overdue. However, at least when it comes to “Special Forces” (such as Marine Recon/LRRP), I am a big believer in “operator choice”. If these guys want to retain the .45, then the Marines need to accommodate them. Period. For the rest of the forces, I’d go with the 9mm, while hoping for even further improvements in the ammo.

  14. My gun at home is a 45, always…
    I do own a Glock 19 and an HK both in 9mm. While I know the Glock is a good gun, given the choice, I’d take the HK every time.

  15. I like the 9mm with the great ammo we have today the 9mm has the power to to put bad guys on their buts and I have twice as much ammo capacity as the 45. Not to mention that the 9mm is more accurate and much faster follow-up shots just to name a few reasons there are plenty more reasons to use the 9mm.

  16. There is a reason the military went from a .38 to the .45. Ya’ll can read up on the Boxers in China and the Moros in the P.I. yourself. The M1911A, in the early 70’s a bunch of us NCOs were called in for our input on the possibility of going from the M1911A1 .45 to a proposed new design in 9mm. At the end of this circus, we all voted to stay with slabsides AND the .45. The gig was up when the class coordinator disclosed that the military was going to shift to the 9mm as it was the standard NATO pistol cartridge. Our group input was just so much window dressing Beieve me, we weren’t happy. By the 80s, it was announced there wasn’t sufficient QMA (qualified male applicants) to meet rising manpower needs of the military, I know of one CPO who was rotated from Sea Duty to “preferred Sea duty” because all the shore billets were staffed with females who they could not put aboard combatant ships. The M1911A1 is not the softest recoiling sidearm around but when one hits the target – the target knows it! Smaller size? Colt Combat Commander, Higher capacity – been done (I have a 15 round magazine for my single stacker.) Easier to hide? Colt Commander. I started shooting at age 12, bought my first .22 at age 16 (it was legal then) and my first handgun at the ripe old age of 18. Heck – now, the whole “Mama” world turns out about “child endangerment” for allowing anyone under the age of 21 for even seeing one of these things. People do have a hard time shooting the .45. They also have a hard time shooting the 9mm! One guy suggest they get more range time, I say, take em out and let them shoot an M-1 instead of the Mickey Mattel M16! Let them handle a real high-powered firearm! The Colt Commander is easier to conceal BECAUSE it is a short barreled single stack (unlike the double stack Glock 19). Recoil? A little more recoil, but on the range, my personal Colt Commander out shot the worn M1811A1 every day. Three of us shooters who used it to qualify made Expert, 2 by wide margins. In the Sand Box, what I hear back is it takes 3 shots to put down the bad guy to every shot by a .45. In Special Ops, give them anything they want! I am a little tired of “well, NATO does it!” Good Grief, we invented the .45! It Works and takes some training but is relatively easy to clean and will chew through any ammo you want to feed it. Not so the Glock!

  17. I’ve carried both 45 and 9mm, the 9mm is more accurate and more capacity for concealment or open carry. I have a glock 23 and a 9mm. That alone gives me a choice of capacity and power. The 45 was designed as is all pistols, for fighting close quarters, not long range. If long range is what you want buy a rifle.

    • You are so correct sir! Close quarters are for pistols and the .45 will not blow a hole through you and lose some of the knock down power when it exits you! The .45 if it don’t kill you hits you like a lead pipe and you absorb all the energy and if it does not kill you it’ll put you into shock and you still can’t return fire. If you need more rounds you must need more target practise, lol! Get hit by 1 .45 and you don’t have to worry about that person returning fire, period! 9mm can’t boast those effects!

  18. I personally do not understand the issue with concealability issues cited with the 1911 45 ACP carried for over thirty years mostly long slide 45’s never an issue with concealability, shoulder holster, waistband up to ten magazines. Have even been stopped by police with no awareness on their part that I was armed. Maybe it was more attitude, not acting as if I was armed. Currently love my 1943 production Remington Rand US Service issue 45 used in WW II and Korea. It is a family heirloom, action is tight shoots as well as I do at 25 meters with service sights. Also have two Taurus 92 FS for those occasions where more shots may be necessary. Just me and my opinion.

  19. I carry a 1911 because of one reason, that reason is I have used one in combat against enemy soldiers and it puts them down, period. I had the displeasure of using a 9mm in combat and not ply did it take more ammo to stop the bad guys it often didn’t make them go down. One enemy soldier fired his AK47 at us and then ran away, I fired my 9mm and hit him 4 times in the back he turned around and let a 1/2 a mag of 7.62mm rounds back at us before he fell down, not dead just badly wounded. One enemy soldier rushed me w/bayonet fixed and stuck me in my right arm w/ the bayonet and hit me in the mouth with his steel buttplate breaking most of my teeth and as I fell to the ground I unholstered my 1911 and put one in his chest he fell back and I shot him again to make sure I killed him and that is the reason I carry a 1911 .45acp auto loaded with 9 rounds. 1 in the pipe and 8 stacked if you can’t kill your enemy with 9 rounds you should not be there.

  20. I was in Israel in the mid ’70’s working for the US Government. While there, I was approached several times by soldiers from the IDF, who asked me to get them .45’s. The reason? Their 9mm wasn’t stopping the Arab terrorists, even when hit at close range with 7 – 9 rounds. In every instance, I was able to procure, legally, 1911’s for the soldiers. Every time I heard back from them after a mission, they were ‘happy as clams at high tide’ . They were stopping the terrorists with 1 or 2 rounds….every time.

    I’ve been a gunsmith for over 35 years. I build custom 1911 .45’s. As a Marine, I carried a .45 in Vietnam, along with my M-14.
    I carry a 1911 concealed. I’ve had a carry permit for over 30 years. It has NEVER been detected on me To say it’s not concealable is just stupid.
    I work on all sorts of weapons. I’m a certified Law Enforcement Armorer. I’ve had less issues with the 1911’s than I have with the Glocks. That’s not to say the Glock is a bad weapon, it just has it’s own set of issues. There are problems with the barrel, among other things.
    So, it’s simple. I stick with the .45, a proven veteran.
    Oh, and btw, I have a very good friend who is a retired ATF agent and is classified as a firearms expert. He doesn’t carry a 9mm either. He carries either a standard Colt 1911 or a ParaOrdnance 1911.

  21. I don’t believe the Marines themselves want the change it seems more like the One World Order wants it because the 9mm is a Europe round and the 45 is American round

  22. Unfortunarely when having a satanicaly minded terriorist charging you in a real fire fight, and after emptying your 9mm magazine in his direction but he’s still coming your way, if you were carrying your old slab sides, he would have been decked after his first step in your direction even if you hit him in his arm or leg.

    I purchased a Glock 9mm a number of years ago while serving with the S.O. and within a year traded it for a Colt .45.

    However, because our military chiefs must comply with NATO rules and regulations, and because the 9mm has been the norm for decades with our European allies we’ll fall in line with everyone else regardless of the cost.

    Yes I know that the Glock has undergone rigerous tests and been bathed in salt water, mud and grime to the inth degree and still came out on top, but as my Dad who served as a Lt. In the 29th Infantry at Omaha Beach once said, the .45 did us all well at Normandy, the hedgerows and the Pacific, but if anyone can screw things up and redo something that don’t need fixin, you can count on the higher ups to f..c things up every time.

  23. What about the G21 or the G41 they have more rounds, and use the modern ammo for the 45 ?
    Just saying!

  24. Right on, Mr. Noir! But you will never turn the antiquated thoughts of the die-hard .40 caliber or .45 caliber fans, and ditto for the 1911 fans, etc. The anecdotes and surmising can make one dizzy.

    Notwithstanding the plethora of new, provable, statistical information concerning terminal ballistics of today’s 9mm cartridge, some cannot escape their time warp, even though many of the “experts,” some of these sorts cite from time-to-time (to prove their preferred cartridge best), have changed opinions with the times. This article reflects but one of many examples.

    Clearly, there was a wide gulf in performance between the 1980s .45 caliber and 9mm. (I used to carry nothing but a 1911 style—Colt Commander— in .45 ACP.) But in today’s world, as you obviously know, that difference has become very narrow, and the added benefits of carrying a Glock 19 in 9mm more than offset that difference.

    For whatever reason bullet advancement in .45 & .40 calibers has not been as dramatic as what’s been seen in 9mm. Not sure why that is (perhaps the physical characteristics of 9mm are better suited to advances), but I have little doubt that sooner or later there will be pronounced improvements in .45 & .40. It remains to be seen whether either of those calibers will ever catch the continually evolving 9mm ballistics upticks.

    I think your choice of a Glock 19 is spot on, though it’s not MY favorite gun, but my favorite is not as well suited the circumstances you describe. I should add that I think John Moses Browning was singularly the most brilliant gun inventor EVER. But as with bullet technology, time marches on with gun evolution as well, and Gaston Glock was no slouch.

    Good video and analysis!


  25. Great article promoting the Glock 19 and the 9mm caliber ammo. I’ve never actually fired a Glock so I can’t personally say whether or not it’s a good weapon. I’ve seen plenty of Youtube videos showing a Glock in action and I have to say they are mighty impressive. Kind of like the A-K47. You can put it in the mud and it will shoot all day long. Now concerning the 9mm? I’ve talked to quite a few police officers and some other seasoned shooters that have stated that with a 9mm they have had to put several rounds into a suspect to put him down. Now so far as that is concerned, I will readily say that I like the high capacity magazine. With a 9mm, you can have a double stack mag without any real bulk which is nice. Less weight too which isn’t too bad. Me, I’m kind of an old school kind of guy and I personally prefer my trusty 1911 .45acp as I believe it’s got a little more knockdown power in spite of having lower capacity magazines and a heavier weapon. I think in a SHTF situation, choosing solely on availability then I think that the 9mm would be a better choice. It’s all a matter of choice though.

  26. Im not a big fan of Glock’s I’ve shot them many times and just don’t like the trigger, I perfer the SIG Sauer .40 . I do have several 9mm and ammo is cheaper.

  27. The fact that the Glock 19 does NOT have a safety or a checkpoint safety, is why I prefer the Springfield Armory XD. I know that when I use my XD, I am ready to fire with the safety off and my palm pressing the grip safety, I know that I am ready for contact. The Glock 19 will perform just as good as my XD from this point on, BUT when the XD is dropped or grabbed and wrestled, I am confident that I am not going to get shot by mistake or accident. The XD is my preferred CCW handgun for its safety and accuracy. That said, as my primary full size sidearm, I own a , a Sig 226, a Beretta 96, Springfield and a Glock. They all serve their purpose.
    As far as caliber, I prefer 40 S&W. My wife shoots a 9mm.

    I’m just saying.!

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