Poll: If you could choose your combat sidearm.

07124353_1At one time each militiaman would supply himself with his own weapons. It worked during the days of the musket because most men made their own lead balls and all that was needed was some cloth for a wad and generic gun powder. However as weapons and ammo evolved, it was no longer possible to keep a militia in ammunition and parts due to the diversity of both the firearms and the ammo that they used. Of course, there was the ever-present problem of needing more men than those that owned firearms. Contrary to the vision of the old days being filled with everyone carrying a rifle, in reality most families only owned one firearm; that ubiquitous rifle or shotgun hanging over the fireplace or leaning against the corner near the front door.

Back then, firearms were expensive and hard to get when you lived in the middle of nowhere. Families tended to share a single firearm rather than own one for the spouse and each child. Many men were reluctant to take their the only means of protection away from their family when they went to war. So the two factors of needing more men than those who owned firearms and the reluctance of firearm owners to take the family gun away from the old homestead, led to the military providing guns. It not only made it logistically easier to deal with ammunition and gun repair but also enabled those without any firearms to join. You also have to consider that most weapons supplied by individual soldiers would not be state-of-the-art at the time since many could not afford the latest design. This was glaring true at the start of the Civil war when many still had muskets that were not rifled. Rifled barrels allowed accurate shots out to about 300 yards while un-rifled ones were good to perhaps 50 yards. It was a great tactical advantage to ensure that your militia had the latest and greatest of weapons, so they issued them.

When I went to Vietnam, a place I previously only knew from watching the news on TV, I was handed an M16 and a 1911.  I had never held or shot a 1911 before and yet I was expected to carry it when I guarded and escorted soldiers who committed crimes. It was on my side when I acted as paymaster. I took it with me when I was dropped off at some dirt runway in the middle of the jungle waiting in a ditch for someone from the nearest fire support base to come and get me. They always thought it funny to make me wait a long time.

self-propel-1024x433You could imagine that large M107 175mm mobile artillery guns would be an attractive target. We could shoot for 20 miles to support the 25th infantry, to whom we seemed to be wed, as well as targets of opportunity. Accordingly, a few times each month we would be attacked in an attempt to get past the wire in order to destroy a gun or two. It was easier to keep my 1911 on me than to carry my M16 every minute of the day. The expression that a handgun is best suited to fight your way to a rifle was more than a saying to me back in those days. Plus it was not very practical in some situations to carry a rifle.

The Army wanted you to carry your 1911 without one in the chamber in a holster with a flap on it. Hardly the method for quickly drawing and shooting. After a while you sort of did things your way as it was your life on the line. However, I was 128 lbs. at the time and a .45 was not easy for me to shoot well. If I had a choice I would have selected a 9mm. I was 19 years old and only learned to shoot in the Army so I only had 07124353_1experience with the light recoiling M16 which was always demonstrated by a Drill Sergeant firing it fully automatic from his crotch to show us how easy it was to shoot. Knowing what I know now I would have opted for a different sidearm if I was able to choose my own.

When I got to Nam there were some officers and even enlisted men that carried their own choice of weapons. It was not as strict as it is now as far as what you could carry although if your squad thought that what you carried would not be good for them, they let you know in no uncertain terms. For a sidearm there were revolvers; both in .38 spl and .357 Magnum in addition to the issued 1911. A lot of that was because 1911′s were not handed out to many. Due to the nature of my various duties I was given an old 1911 and had to figure out how to use it myself. Only the best training for our boys back then.

Now I read about those who do not like the Army issued Beretta M9 and how some special forces went back to the 1911. Others think a Glock would be a great choice for the military due to its reliability and few parts making maintenance easier. Others, like the Navy Seals like the Sig line of guns. From what I have read it appears that the military is strict about what sidearm you can carry and I can understand why. However since I have too much time on my hands at times, I often wondered that if I had to go to war now and could pick my own sidearm, which would it be. Thought I would ask my blog visitors to make their own choices so we can see what would be the popular gun out of a small sample of guns that are often mentioned as possible military issued guns. So vote and give your reason in a reply to this post. I am curious to find out if those of us who served back in the days where we did not have ear plugs, night vision goggles, all the modern tools of today’s warriors; if the 1911 would still be the sidearm of choice. Please pass along this poll to others and post it in any other gun forums you may belong to. Let’s see if we can get a good national sampling. Thanks



23 thoughts on “Poll: If you could choose your combat sidearm.

  1. 1911 for the following reasons:
    1) I am familiar and competent with it
    2) It has the power to stop a bad guy
    3) It is comfortable in my hand

    • When heading into high crime areas my 36 ounce Ruger 1911 CMD is on my hip. I would only consider the diminutive XDs for pocket carry and it is too heavy for that. My Glock 26 is lighter and a better fighting gun in my opinion, than a XDs. I wear a tee shirt and shorts most of the year and I have no trouble concealing any gun. With a hybrid MTAC holster that spreads the weight over a wider area and contacts more of my body, the weight of my various belt guns is not a factor. Size is but if you cannot conceal a gun that is less than a quarter inch eider than an XDs, something is wrong.

    • That is the gun I bought to defend my home. Only three semi auto manufacturers I trust. Sig, HK and FNH. Glock used to be on my list but the last two I bought were jamming out of the box so bad that I got full refunds from my LGS who confirmed that they had manufacturer defects.

    • I also feel the love for a Sig P220 as I have owned a few and would have no problem carrying into war with me. However I had to limit the responses and tried to pick one from each major manufacturer and since the P228 is still popular as a combat gun, having been carried by SEALS and several Government agencies, I included it as Sig’s offering although I will modify it to show 228/229 since all agencies have moved to the newer 229.

  2. Beretta. Not because its my favorite gun or caliber. It because its a 9mm, the military uses it and there are parts galore for it. Magazines are easy to find etc….

    Right now it would be a cz85. Because that’s what I have. Those are fantastic pistols.

  3. I’d chose a 1911 – in the lightweight Commander version, using lighter, HP rounds for the decreased recoil and increased velocity. The 5 inch bbl standard weight 1911 is what I was trained on and am most comfortable with, but the LWC version is easier to carry all day, and handier, IMO. BUG would be a revolver loaded with a light .357 load.

    • You’d have to supply your own ammo though as military ammo is FMJ only. Got to consider ammo availability and what you would be allowed to use.

  4. Gosh darn it. Just writing about combat guns got me all hot an bothered about getting one just in case they start drafting us old timers to fight the North Koreans or whoever has oil we need. I just ordered a Sig P226R Combat 9mm. Sweet gun with the new shorter trigger reach which was a factor in why I kept selling my classic sigs. It will join two more Sigs that I pocket carry, my P238 and P938. When I wrote this article I realized that I do not own any full sized guns. Most are pocket pistols or compacts. I really do not have a range gun and quite honestly, I rarely go out much any more. My two outside interests are this blog and ham radio. Both of which are done at my home. Carry guns are not much fun to shoot as I shoot them to get more proficient with them and to check them for reliability. I am not concentrating on the fun part when I shoot them.
    Sig P226R Combat
    This new Sig was going to be my retirement gun in a few years as I need to work because I lost half my retirement money during the last two recessions. However living in a retirement community where you are aware of people dying every day and hear the blaring of sirens running off to try to save a poor soul, you start to feel like there is no time like the present because the future is uncertain. So I bought it and had to promise my wife it would be my last gun purchase ever. More on how to handle the wife in an upcoming article. :)

  5. Another vote here for the G20c. Awesome pistol, lotsa power and a compact package. I don’t carry it daily because its a bit much, but as an “only gun” it can’t be beat. Watched a charging brown bear get dropped with one shot to the noggin with a 175 grain 10mm silvertip from a Colt Delta Elite. I was sold after that.

  6. I picked the 1911 because I carried one in the US Army for main gate guard duty and I owned one before my military service.I would have picked S & W M & P45 if that had been on the list..In my opinion the 9 mm Nato round can not compare to the 45ACP.

  7. Like semi autos and shoot them sometimes, but I’m an old Texas boy and I gotta go with a revolver.

    First choice? The Ruger SP101 in 357. Like Joseph, I don’t like shooting the 357, so I opt for the 38. Don’t like to brag (well, maybe a little) but I’m a pretty dang good shot with my little Ruger. Fits my hand well and there’s just something about an all metal gun – feels right to me.

    Also looking to buy the SP in a 327. Thinking that would be a hoot!

  8. I never recommend a specific gun to anyone, because it’s a personal matter: fit, ability to shoot well, etc. However, the question was, what would I want to carry. I voted for the 1911. It was the issue sidearm when I entered the Air Force in 1953, and I had to fire one every year. I bought one of my own, and carried it in Thailand 1962- 1963 (never had to use it, though). It fits my had well, and I can shoot it reasonably well.I see no reason to change. I have several stashed around the house, and my carry gun is a ParaOrdnance double-stack variant of the 1911. If for some reason I couldn’t have a 1911 I’d choose a HiPower in 9mm. Like the 1911 it fits my hand well and I can shoot it accurately.

    Regardless of my personal preferences, my recommendation to anyone is get one you can shoot comfortably and well. I simply cannot shoot my wife’s .357 Magnum well, despite the fact that it’s a popular gun and caliber. It’s just not for me.

  9. I voted for the M9. I have one, and it has an easy to rack slide. It also has the best double action trigger I have ever felt.

    • I had an M9 and it was a very good gun. Only problem is that the grip was too big for my hands. If I cannot lay my first distal joint flat on the trigger, I do not like it. I have that problem with most DA/SA guns unless they have small grips.

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