Marines Choose New Close Quarter Battle Pistol (CQBP)

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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.

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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."

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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.

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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.

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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.

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July 25, 2012  •  01:00 AM
The Colt 1911-A1is a great design, but I think that they (the Marines)should have a double action with a larger magazine capacity sidearm in stainless steel,fully ambidextrous and MADE IN AMERICA. The .45 cal round is a good cartridge. No need to fool around there.
July 27, 2012  •  02:07 PM
Maybe the guns will be like basketball shoes ,where the ones Jordan wears are not the same as the you buy in the store. I've seen cerakote wear off just from handling to much. I love 1911s but not sure if I would bet my life on a gun that for some reason doesn't lend it self well to being mass produced.
July 29, 2012  •  07:04 PM
Cerakote wearing off? How much are you handling it to be "too much"? The cerakoted Colt Rail Gun is Cerakote on top of stainless steel anyway, so there is still a well-protected metal under the coating. Good choice for Marines.

Anybody know what they mean by "double recoil spring?"
August 1, 2012  •  07:50 PM
The M-9 Beretta works very well for the army, navy, air force, and half the world's police.

Makes you wonder why the marines can't seem to make it work.
August 5, 2012  •  07:10 PM

the M-9 'works'... but is far from adequate for combat..
I served long enough in the USMC and the USAF to be very familiar with the 38 revolver, the 1911, and the M-9 as issue sidearms. the M-9 was compromise for NATO compatibility (because they accepted the US 7.62MM and the 5.56MM as their standard), additionally it was a weapon that was easier to use for marginal shooters who could not handle the power of the .45 ACP. The M-9 is fine PFC Amy Sunffbody who's MOS is Quartermaster Corps and who's job is far from any actual confrontation.. But EXPERIENCED troops who will likely actually engage enemy combatants, by a wide margin want the .45 ACP..
August 7, 2012  •  10:09 AM
Gratz to the USMC for getting back their Second weapon of love and I hope one day they return to their first love the 7.67 rifle. 12,000 weapons is enough for the female Marines but Good old Gov't BS at play Sorry. SUPPORT OUR TROOPS Correctly with the correct weapons. Rifle, Pistol and knife... Gov't talk crap about support and we the People let them and except this BS. 12,000 pistol isn't a spit in a rain storm get a grip people. We have over a million solders and of them 202,000 are US Marines. Really 12,000 pistols are you kidding me... Shame on US for letting our Gov't do this to our serivemember. Shame...
August 11, 2012  •  12:35 PM
What a shameful and disgraceful waste of taxpayer money.

Everybody else in the world can stop an enemy with a 9MM, but we can't??? Maybe the money should have been spent on practice ammo.

Sounds to me more like we have a handful of target shooter/ 1911 afficianados/dinosaur types running the corps today, that will never be satisfied until they get back their beloved 1911s. Maybe we should buy them some trapdoor Springfields as well. Ever'body knows them thar .45-70 bullets'll knock a dadburn injun off'n his hoss ever'time

BTW,Bercamel, I carried a 1911 from 1962-1965. I also shot it in NRA Bullseye compititon for about 10 years.
Properly modified, it's a fine target pistol, but I'm not impressed with eitheir the pistol, or the .45 ACP cartridge for a carry gun.
August 11, 2012  •  03:13 PM
Just for a sense of scope, the $22.5-million contract to Colt is more or less about 1/62888th of the $1.415 trillion overall defense budget for FY12
August 11, 2012  •  05:10 PM
Uhhhh,, Don't you mean the 2013,2014 and 2015 triennium??
August 11, 2012  •  05:23 PM
The actual defense budget for 2012 (including DOD spending $707.5 billion, FBI counter-terrorism $2.7 billion, International Affairs $5.6–$63.0 billion, Energy Department, defense-related $21.8 billion, Veterans Affairs $70.0 billion , Homeland Security $46.9 billion, NASA defence satellites $3.5–$8.7 billion, Veterans pensions $54.6 billion, and other defense-related mandatory spending $8.2 billion, and Interest on debt incurred in past wars) is estimated at $1,415T. Thats where the figure came from. Even if you just look at DoD's budget, the 1911 contract is 1/31444th of DoD' other words, is a drop in the bucket. Thats all I, saying
August 13, 2012  •  05:09 PM
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, the largest sheriffs department in the WORLD, still carry the 92FS as their primary side arm. I carried several defferent varients of the weapon for about 75% of my L/E career. The 9MM round, in a hollow point version, kills the hell out of the bad guys.

I would suggest the 9MM FMJ round the military is using is the real problem. That and all the Internet hype on how "Weak" the 9MM round is. I NEVER had one malfunction from ANY of my Beretta 92 platforms. What's the problem with our Marines? I'll take a well maintained M9 over an old worn out 1911 anytime. Round type be dammed!

Now a Glock in the desert, well that's another fine weapon. Better than an M9. One can just about run a Glock without ANY lube. A great service pistol for the desert. The place where most of our future wars will take place!

On another note, I have spoken with many, many bad guys when I worked in the jail system at the beginning of my time with the department who have been shot by the police with all kinds of rounds, the .45ACP included. ALL said they never felt the round hit them. (Except for one who was shot in the chest with a .45ACP while wearing a vest) He said "That hurt like hell!" All lived to talk about it.

When you are going to go to a gun fight, don't take a pistol of any kind. Take a rifle or a shotgun!!!
August 13, 2012  •  05:35 PM
@locutus SEALs don't like the Berretta M9. That is why they use the Sig. They also use S&W 357 Magnums. The .45 Cal is making a big comeback as well. DEVGRU has used it and so have the regular TEAMs.
August 13, 2012  •  07:15 PM
Maybe you can give us a detailed explanation as to why the SEALS don't like the M9? Actually, one of the current pictures of a SEAL operator I just found on the Internet showed him armed with some model of a Glock on a rig that holstered the weapon across his chest. Intresting,,,,.
August 13, 2012  •  10:04 PM
As far as JHP use by the military, its banned by the 1899/1907 Hauge Convention which prohibited so called dum-dum bullets as being inhumane to use in warfare against civilized armies. However the USSOCCOM can used them against terrorists...." This practice began to change subsequent to a 23 September 1985 opinion issued by the Judge Advocate Genera2, authored by W. Hays Parks, Chief of the JAG's International Law Branch, for the signature of Major General Hugh R. Overholt, which stated:

"…expanding point ammunition is legally permissible in counterterrorist operations not involving the engagement of the armed forces of another State."

So no matter how good 9mm JHP rounds are....the US DOD cant use them....unless its against non state actors.
August 13, 2012  •  10:11 PM
One thing for sure, if this pans out, it will give the 1911 platform and the .45ACP a huge boost! As the SEAL teams seem to already like the SIG P226 platform, I wonder why they did not just go with the P220 or one of it's varients? I own an early stamped slide P220 in .45ACP and it's a nice weapon. The best acuracy in an "Out of the box" stock pistol I have ever owned! Bar none. Reliable also.
August 13, 2012  •  10:18 PM

"A" typical for a government answer to a non existant problem! I've never been able to understand where they came up with that description of a good hollow point round! Anybody knows the faster and cleaner you kill somebody, the less "inhumane" it is!

Also, if your in close quarters with people behind the target, like your own people, an expanding round is less likely to exit your intended target! Simply amazing!
August 14, 2012  •  01:20 PM
If you read the book, "Lone survivor" written by and about a navy seal,PO-1 Marcus Luttrell, and an operation where All three of his teammates were killed by overwhelming Taliban forces, you'll find that all of the seals carried the M-9 and the M-4 (Luttrell carried a MK12, the sniper version of the M-16, but still in 5.56 MM)

These guys had access to any weapon made. They could have carried Desert Eagles and Barrett M107s if they so chose.

It's interesting that none of them chose an M-14, or a 1911, even though those weapons were readily available.

One of my problems with this purchase is buying a century old obsolete single action pistol.

If they felt that they couldn't get it up without a .45, they could have chosen a SIG P220, Glock 21, Hk, CZ, etc,etc,etc.

It appears to me that this whole affair was a rather underhanded operation be someone with a few stars on his shoulders that is a big 1911 fan.

BTW, it's been a lot of years since I srtudied world history, but IIRC, we never ratified the Hague Convention, so legally the JHP restriction doesn't apply to U.S. force.

We normally abide by it, but there's no legal requirement to.
August 14, 2012  •  01:51 PM
Not to nit-pick, but we did ratify the 1899 Hague Convention :

Laws and Customs of War on Land (Hague, II), July 29, 1899

The Hague, signed by the representat the United States on July 29, 1899

*Ratified by the U.S. Senate on March 14, 1902*

The section on hollow-points:


Besides the prohibitions provided by special Conventions, it is especially prohibited:

d. To employ arms, projectiles, or material of a nature to cause superfluous injury
August 14, 2012  •  08:10 PM
I agree on the choice of the 1911. I own and shoot a SIG P220 in 45ACP with a stamped slide. Fine weapon. For close in combat it should be just as good, if not better than a 1911. This is combat, not target shooting. I like a double action quick first shot, rather than carrying cocked and locked. Also, the Glock MOD 21 is one fine weapon that holds 13 rounds, not seven and one or eight and one. I think some one likes the 1911 and wanted the weapon in. Much more modern weapons in .45ACP are available. But like the old saying goes, opinions are like a,, holes, everyone has one!
August 14, 2012  •  08:19 PM
Christopher, I stand corrected. Thank you.

But the 1911 is still a very interesting, very fun to shoot, very obsolete, piece of history.
August 14, 2012  •  09:10 PM

I have to admit, it would appear that the MARSOC would be better served by a double-stacked high-capacity designed sidearm. I have owned and shot several 1911 variants do feel that it's magazine capacity is a handicap
August 18, 2012  •  06:56 PM
I simply like my ability to point and shoot fairly accurately with my 1911 pistols. Other than 1911s, I own/have owned Sig P220, Sig P238, Sig P938, Taurus model 66 .357 Magnum, Keltec p-11, p 3at, Kahr PM 45, Kahr PM 9.
August 27, 2012  •  07:22 PM
I was issued a m9, and to me it felt like a underpowered brick. Ther are by far better choices if they were to stick with a 9mm. That being said i have always been more of a 45 advocate. I am not a 1911 fanboy and believe that yes, they may be good pistols, but they are to finicky for combat and are outdated in design. Like others stated, a glock 21 would be a better and by far cheaper choice, as well as an m&p or fnh 45. Throw on some cercoat finish and poof, problem solved! All also have more capacity, are proven reliable, and can be abused and still function.full size models are just as accurate, and in combat, why do you want a "tuned" trigger. I would rahter have a constant double action 5-6 lb pull. Now the transition from 9mm to 45, that is a debate in itself, but rounds being same design, hardball fmj rounds, both have overpenetreation but... the 45 makes a bigger hole!
May 10, 2014  •  09:53 AM
Well well, the great .45 ACP (inspired by the .455 Webley) is coming back. Proof that the Brits knew what they were doing when they developed a cartridge. One shot one kill.
Whats the point of a gun if when you have to use it, it is inadequate to the task.
The British had the old fashioned notion that if you could connect just once with the target and it knocked them down, that was enough. Never mind the high cap mags and bullets sprayed all over the countryside.
Good on the marines and more power to them.
Now, on to getting rid of that piece of s%$t the 5.56x45 NATO that the US saddled us with.
Sorry but the .276 British was a cartridge destined to go down as the future of modern weaponry.
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