Marines Choose New Close Quarter Battle Pistol (CQBP)
The US Marine Corps Systems Command in Quantico Virginia made it official July 19, 2012. They are going back to the Colt .45ACP as a standard sidearm.
The Classic Devil Dog Colt 1911
The US Army adopted, after an epic and legendary series of tests, the Colt prototype semi-automatic .45ACP pistol on n March 29, 1911 and dubbed it the M1911, a designation that it retains to this day. By 1913, the Navy Department likewise adopted the Army's pistol to replace underpowered 38S&W caliber revolvers. This began a nearly 100-year love affair with the distinctive John Browning-designed hog leg. Through two world wars, the Korean conflict, Vietnam, and dozens of forgotten Banana Wars, the Marines carried the M1911 in combat and in peacetime service.
World War One poster by James Montgomery Flagg, for years the leathernecks depended on their 1911s and made an iconic image.
In 1985, with most of their inventory of Colts on hand being elderly WWII era remnants, the Marines along with the rest of the Department of Defense, adopted the Italian-designed Beretta 92-F as the M9 pistol. This ended 72 years of faithful service of the design to the Marines. Or did it?
The MEU (SOC) Pistol
Even after the new Berettas appeared in the Fleet, many small units in the Marines retained and lovingly customized their legacy M1911s. These units, mainly Force Recon, were issued the modified weapon. Using 1945-era frames that were stripped to the bone, armorers added "barrels, bushings, link pins, sear springs, ejectors, firing pin stops, mainspring housings, and mainsprings, all from Nowlin Manufacturing. Slides were ordered from Springfield Armory, with front sight pins, beavertail safeties and recoil spring guides came from Ed Brown. Novak was contracted for rear sights, Wilson Combat provided extractors, and mag release buttons, while King's Gun Works supplied ambidextrous thumb safeties."
In short, even though the frame and serial number may be from World War 2, the actual weapon was more modern than most of the ISPC race guns carried by competition shooters. These modified beauties have seen tough service in Grenada, Panama, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
However, after another 27 years of use for a weapon system that had been ostensibly 'replaced' by something better in 1985, the Corps stock of 1911s was dwindling. Quantico's Weapons Training Battalion's Precision Weapons Section basically hand-built them from the frame up and continued rebuilding them every 10,000 rounds. Rumors abound that some frames had as many as 500,000 rounds through them.
Force recon Marines conduct a live-fire exercise off the deck of an amphibious assault ship. (Marine Corps photo)
In 2003, when the Marines set up the experimental commando group MCSOCOM Detachment One (or Det 1), they had to buy commercial Kimber ICQBs outfitted with Surefire Integrated Military Pistol Light (IMPL), a Dawson Precision rail and Gemtech TRL Tactical Retention Lanyards to equip the 150 operators with.
The M45 Close Combat
In a three way battle between Colt Defense of West Hartford, CT, Springfield Armory out of Geneseo, Ill., and Karl Lippard Designs of Colorado Springs, CO, the Marines awarded a $22,500,000 contract for up to 12, 000 new M45 Close Quarter Battle Pistols to Colt.
Basic math using the contract amount divided by the estimated number of pistols, it would appear that Uncle Sam is paying about $1875 per unit for his Misguided Children's new sidearm. For the price, they are getting a custom-quality M1911A1 80-series Colt railgun with a Cercoat finish, stainless internals, Novak sights, and a dual recoil spring assembly borrowed from their 10mm program.
Of course the contract amount includes that Colt provide logistics support for the firearms they produce. (I wonder what kind of warranty they give the Marine Corps?)
The new 2700-man United States Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC), along with the Force Reconnaissance Companies and the organic Deep Reconnaissance Platoons will be the first users of the new pistol. Although figures as high as 40,000 frames possibly being ordered for Colt could mean that the entire corps could see the Beretta finally retired by the Marines across the board.