M45 Close Quarters Combat Pistol

The legendary Daniel Watters has unearthed compelling evidence that the Marine MEU(SOC) M1911 pistol has now been given the official designation “M45 Close Quarters Combat Pistol”.

A Marine fired the MEU(SOC)

Two documents 1, recently posted on Navy.mil, provide information about the procurement of slide assemblies for the M45. Unlike previous documents these do not refer to the MEU(SOC) designation and refer only to the “M45 Close Quarters Combat Pistol”.

Note the reliability requirements.

Many thanks to Daniel for the information.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


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  • Chandan

    looks like marines got more sense than army .45 better suited suited to put a iraqi insugent high on adrenline out of his misery. i still think .45 is better than 9mm in terms of stopping power and the initial reason for shifting to 9mm frm 45 was that the gun held less bullets than 9mm, Para Ord and Kimber guys have taken care of that and another reasons that US was under pressure frm European Nato guys to shift to 9mm Para a perfect revenge for imposing the 5.56 on them.

  • Matt Groom

    Just in time for the centennial of John Moses Browning’s masterpiece. These things are going to be carried into outer space.

  • Matt Groom

    Upon closer examination, that reliability requirement’s gotta be a typo.

  • Rusty Ray

    So the guy shooting that pistol, his cammo looks to be Aussie??

    Cheers – Rusty

  • Freiheit

    Matt Groom – High or low?

    Don’t want to start a debate, but all I’ve got to go on is my 1911. I’m trying to think how many rounds I’ve sent through it ever and how many I send through it before I have a jam.

    300 rounds without a stoppage seems low to me unless they get issued Wolf.

  • Matt Groom

    @ Rusty Ray
    Sorry, mate, but that’s what we called “Marpat” for “Marine Pattern” camouflage. The Aussies still wear that stupid looking splotchy nonsens pattern called “Picassoflauge” with the stupid overlapping Mickey Mouse heads.

    When I was in, we transitioned to woodland to Marpat, and while I thought it was hideous, I was stoked that they came with an order from the commandant that they were NOT to be IRONED OR STARCHED. I waited in line for four hours to get my first set, which I had to pay for, like every other uniform I ever got.

    The Brown suede boots that came with them were “Rough outs” and they couldn’t be polished, as a combat and utility uniform should be. Anyone who insists that ironing your uniform and polishing your boots three times a day wasn’t an enormously stupid waste of time an resources is an idiot who never had a real job in the military or anywhere else for that matter.

    I probably put 3000 rounds through my first 1911, a Kimber Custom Classic Stainless with night sights (Yea me!) before the first time I CLEANED it and I never had a stoppage. The XM9 trials required a 3000MRBS and 5000MRBF and both the Beretta and the Sig and possibly others surpassed the 5000. The Sigs started to break at approx 6500 rounds, so the Beretta won even though it cost more.

    I think a blowback 45 with a zinc slide could make a 300 round MRBS! A Nambu pistol could do that!

  • AB
    • That’s an inventive answer to an interesting qsuetion

  • Thomas

    “The XM9 trials required a 3000MRBS and 5000MRBF and both the Beretta and the Sig and possibly others surpassed the 5000. The Sigs started to break at approx 6500 rounds, so the Beretta won even though it cost more.”

    I can’t let this pass unchallenged. The Sig p226 did not lose the XM9 trials, but in fact won. Sig beat out the Beretta in the competition and came in with the lower per unit bid. Beretta won the contract OFFICIALLY by presenting a lower cost for spare parts. I’m sure that the country of origin [which was making noises about pulling out of NATO and closing US airbases there, at the time] had nothing to do with the choice.

    In both the XM9 and XM10 trials, there were considerable controversies; particularly with regard to how the performance of the S&W applicant was scored. Shortly after the first Berettas went into service, catastrophic failures, such as slide separations which were occurring with as little as 3000 rounds fired. This led to the development of the Beretta 92FS, a modified version that would keep a separated slide from flying back into an operator’s face. These failures had no effect upon Beretta’s standing during the XM10 trials.

  • Matt Groom

    I knew there’d be some Sigboy who came to Sig’s defense on this. Let me put it to you like this Thomas:

    No, Sig didn’t win. That’s why it wasn’t adopted.

    They passed the minimum requirements set forth for durability, but failed in the overtime match up. Smith and Wesson’s 459-A was disqualified for having a blued slide which was subject to rust, even though it was the only pistol in the competition to meet the accuracy requirements.

    Look, the Sig you know and love is NOT the gun that was entered into the XM9 or the XM10 trails. It was similar, but it had a stamped steel slide with a pinned and welded breech and a welded front end, and they were crap. THAT’S WHY THEY DON’T MAKE THEM LIKE THAT ANYMORE! That version of the P226 was entered into at least a dozen Military trials of various countries around the world and NOBODY adopted it, because it was weak and it sucked. That’s why Sig went back to milling their slides like everybody else.

    The “Catasrophic failures” associated with the early M92s had to do with the use of cheap, European steel and the use of +P+ 9mm ammo that was intended for use in the MP-5. I have done EXTENSIVE testing of 9mm ammunition velocites and +P+ ammo launches a 124 grain bullet at the same velocities as REMINGTON PROOF AMMO, which just so happens to ALSO have a 124 grain bullet. SAAMI standards for proof loads are 25% above PMax. That means that the Berettas were failing after THOUSANDS OF PROOF LOADS, which is no small measure of their quality. Since that time, American steel has been used in the slide, and they have held up very well and I defy you to find pictures of a separated Beretta slide. I’ve looked for years and I’ve never seen one. Considering they’ve been in service for 20 years, if it was something other than a fluke, you’d have heard about it.

    I’m sure the Italians, who’d been fighting off Communist Terrorists in their country for the previous 15-20 years, where completely ready to pull out of NATO and join the WARSAW pact because the US Military didn’t want to buy a pistol from one of their companies. Please. That argument is about as realistic as “The moon landing was faked” or “Fluoride is used for mind control” conspiracy theories. It was the height of the cold war, Nuclear Armageddon was a very real possibility, and you think that the entire nation of Italy would destroy their political relevance and endanger their future existence on the sale of a few handguns by one company? Talk about brand loyalty!

    I have personally put THOUSANDS of rounds of +P 9mm ammo through my personal Beretta and I have never had a failure. The same people who told me that the M-16 was an unreliable piece of junk that couldn’t kill an angry raccoon tell me the same thing about the Beretta M9. I’ve got enough experience with both to say that those people are WRONG on both counts. It’s almost like the mainstreaming of Communist propaganda, or the idiocy surrounding Global Warming.

  • SIG-Sauer used stamped slides for all of their P22# models from their introduction in the mid-1970s into the ’90s when the .40 S&W variants were introduced. During this time, the P220 was adopted by the Swiss military as the P75, the P225 was adopted by multiple German state police agencies as the P6, the P226 was adopted by the US Navy SEALs and US Federal law enforcement agencies like the FBI, and the P228 was adopted by the US military as the M11 and by even more Federal LE agencies including the Secret Service. Production of the stamped slide P228 continued even after the milled-slide P229 was introduced in 9x19mm. If your SIG-Sauer doesn’t have an external extractor, it has a stamped slide.

    At the end of the M9 Trials and the completion of the first round of bidding, the SIG-Sauer P226 had the leading score of 853.6 in six evaluation factors, while the Beretta 92 scored 835.34.

    However, in the final bids for the M9 contract, Beretta underbid Saco (SIG-Sauer’s U.S. importer at the time). Saco bid $77,816,000 for the pistols, magazines, and spare parts. Beretta bid $74,762,000. This was controversial since in the original series of bids, Saco had underbid Beretta by just over $9 million. With the final prices factored in, the scores changed to Beretta 858, Saco 847.

    This led to allegations that the Army had leaked Saco’s bids to Beretta for the purposes of undercutting them. This argument was bolstered by the fact that Beretta USA’s general manager delivered their final bid personally. The bid document was type-written with blanks for the final prices, which were then written in and initialed with ink by the general manager. The General Accounting Office investigated this upon request by Congress. The report is titled “Pistol Procurement – Allegations on Army Selection of Beretta 9-mm as DOD Standard Sidearm” (June 1986).


  • stuart

    To the winner go the spoils, or in this case contracts. Beretta won plain and simple. Doesn’t really matter, all of this did happen 20+ years ago. I hope the Marine Corps goes back to the 1911 platform. But being in the infantry and having seen ALOT a single action platform without a decocking system makes most non-grunts( and some grunts alike) very nervous. Like Col. Cooper said “Safety occurs between your ears,” but some people don’t have much up there to begin with. I’d love to see it, but I’m not holding my breath. We’ve been getting this song and dance for years now.

  • Thomas

    Thank you, Mr. Watters for backing me up on this. The Sig scored significantly higher than the Beretta across the board and it was the low bidder on per unit cost. The S&W was disqualified in the XM9 trials for having a blue steel slide [just like the Beretta] even though it was the only pistol to pass the accuracy test. Since the adoption of the Beretta, and especially after the frame and slide failures began to appear [Sig had no problem handling the M882 9mm ammo used by the SEALs], the military had to justify their decision to buy the pistol. Now, the current Beretta M92FS is a good example of a modern 9x19mm semi-automatic pistol. But, the nature of its selection to replace the M1911A1 and the .45ACP cartridge had little to do with any inherent superiority to either the 1911 platform or that of most of its competitors in the XM9 trials.

    Why this is important in this context is because the “combat” arms, the Army, Marines and Navy did not want to adopt the 9mm cartridge at all, but were forced to in order to make the US more NATO friendly. For twenty years they have been trying to return to the .45acp as the standard pistol cartridge for their forces in general and for SpecOps in particular. There must be a logical reason for that.

  • stuart

    I agree, they were testing pistol against something that had far surpassed their wear-life schedules (another reason to praise the 1911) simply because newer has to be better. I am not the biggest fan of 9mm, and when off duty and off base i carry a 1911. but my old duty station still had some of the first run M9’s, they didn’t get shot much and my old unit hadn’t deployed to combat since 1991(this was in 03-04 time frame) they still had the gen-1 locking blocks and those only started to fail when we increased our CQB training across the battalion. But when they broke they all broke and i mean every single one of them.But after they got replaced we didn’t have any more trouble with them. As far as I am concerned any secondary weapon is better than no secondary weapon. I like the Clint Smith philosophy ” The only good reason for a pistol is to fight your way back to a rifle.” Would i cry if the beretta falls by the wayside, hell no. But when your knee deep in it you have to fight with what ya’ brung. Oh and another point I feel bears mentioning the 1911 never officially left the service, the MEU-SOC 1911’s have been around for years, and trust me they are truly awesome machines.

  • Matt Groom

    Beretta’s don’t have Blued Slides. If you’d ever handled one, you’d know that. Beretta uses a Teflon-based coating called “Brunition” which is extremely durable and corrosion resistant. I am not aware of ANY M92s that were blued except the very early one’s built in the 1970’s.

    The Beretta’s which failed were NOT firing +P rated M882, which is standard issue, but were firing the much hotter +P+ rated M905 ammo which is intended for use in MP5’s ONLY. And no, smart guy, you shouldn’t use it in ANY PISTOL.

    If you read the report, you’ll see that each model did well in different tests at different times, and no one pistol clearly outperformed all the others in every battery of tests. Both the Beretta AND the S&W outperformed the SACO/Sig in the Mud tests for example (Page 38). The report also makes clear in the introduction that the Army intentionally went out of their way to make sure the S&W wasn’t in the running for reasons other than the Salt Water Corrosion tests, where it outperformed the H&K and did nearly as well as the 1911 (Page 39). Apparently the S&W was failed because the Army took a very literal interpretation of the ambiguously worded requirements where S&W was concerned, such as firing pin energy, but was more forgiving of those requirements when it came to the European designs for things like accuracy and features.

    The Beretta had a lower price because the gun costs less to produce. The 1981 retail price of a Beretta was about $75 lower than the Sig’s retail price (Page 48), so it only makes sense that Beretta’s quote was lower. Beretta had a lower parts price because their magazines were lower priced. That’s because they were and are made by Mecgar of Italy, who is still one of the finest magazine manufacturers in the world (Pages 49-50).

    If price was the deciding factor, S&W should have won. It seems likely that Glock would have won the trials, but Gaston Glock didn’t want to enter them because he refused to surrender his production and patent rights to the US Gov’t! All of this speculation is irrelevant, because regardless of what you or I think, the Beretta is here to stay until something replaces the 9×19, and that’s going to be something that does not yet exist.

    Nobody is arguing that the 9mm is the ideal pistol cartridge, but again, this is a decision that was made during the Cold War and one that should have been done in the 1950’s. Colt had a 9mm 1911 in 1949 and S&W released their Model 39 in 1955. “Nuk-u-lur combat toe-to-toe with the Ruskies” was a very real possibility, and in the event of an apocalyptic, extended conflict between the Warsaw pact and NATO it made a lot of sense to have ammunition compatibility.

    The Beretta is fine and the Sig is not better. You may prefer the Sig, but the U.S. Military obviously does not. If you were to ask anybody who had to go into harms way which pistol they’d rather carry, the vast majority would probably want something that starts with a “.4”.

    Of course there’s a desire to go back to the .45, that’s what this post is about! The USMC kept training with the M-14 and eagerly awaited it’s return until 1975, 11 years after the M-16 entered service. The 7.62 NATO will never again be a primary service cartridge (as it shouldn’t have been adopted in the first place) and it’s likely that neither will the .45 ACP.

  • Varangian

    “Beretta uses a Teflon-based coating called “Brunition” which is extremely durable and corrosion resistant.”

    I’ve been using M9s since 1986, and the only part whose finish wears faster than that paint they put on the slide is the Lorcin-thin bluing they put on the barrrel.

    “The Beretta’s which failed were NOT firing +P rated M882, which is standard issue, but were firing the much hotter +P+ rated M905 ammo”

    I’ve never even seen any M905. The two pistols whose slides I’ve personally seen fail were firing standard M882.

    The M9 is, in general, a good pistol. I think it’s too big and heavy for what it is…a 9mm handgun. And I really don’t think there will be any in service 80 years after issue, as some M1911s were.

  • Matt Groom

    @ Varangian

    I used M9s which were probably 1980’s production, and while that “Lorcin-thin bluing they put on the barrrel” was worn to a silver-grey, (in the industry we call that ‘Parkerizing’ and it’s actually very durable, but it does rub off eventually) and the Aluminum frames were literally shinny silver colored from having all exposed anodizing rubbed away, the scratched and ugly Brunition still coated the slides, albeit lacking the initial shininess that new slides have.

    What the guns were firing WHEN they failed is not a important as what made them fail. Unless you can testify that those guns had never seen a magazine full of M905, then you cannot say that it was never put through those guns. When a crack forms it does only one thing; get bigger.

    At 33.6oz, the Beretta M9 is actually marginally lighter than a S&W Model 10 Military and Police .38 Special, which no one has ever called heavy. When the M9 came out, it was wonderfully lightweight for the amount of firepower it offered. And yes, Glocks are lighter, but the 1911 is heavier, and nobody ever complained about that.

  • stuart

    Very True, it is big and akward for a 9mm. But it was supposedly the best of it’s day, the late 70’s early 80’s. M905 is out there, i seen it and shot it, it was supposed to be for sub machine guns (MP5,M11 etc.) and it was a major factor in the early failures.
    Like i stated earlier i have seen the locking blocks fail left and right, but they are all gen 1 and gen 2, i have yet to see any gen 3’s break. When you saw the slides fail where did they fail and what would you approximate the round count for each pistol to be??
    The 1911’s that were still in service when the transition occurred weren’t in service for 80 years straight, they were stored and not used constantly ( i trust my life to a 1911 everyday by the way). I wish i could carry it with me into harms way on govt. work, but they give me a berreta. I might not love it, but it’s better than nothing.

  • Varangian

    “I used M9s which were probably 1980’s production, and while that “Lorcin-thin bluing they put on the barrrel” was worn to a silver-grey, (in the industry we call that ‘Parkerizing’ and it’s actually very durable, but it does rub off eventually) and the Aluminum frames were literally shinny silver colored from having all exposed anodizing rubbed away, the scratched and ugly Brunition still coated the slides, albeit lacking the initial shininess that new slides have.”

    Been issued M9s for well over 20 years and have never seen a phosphate-finished barrel. They’ve all had a dark finish that looks a lot like blue and lasts about 10 minutes.

    As for whatever you’re calling “Brunition”…if it’s below the black paint and thin, crappy anodizing, then it’s pretty useless to me.

    “What the guns were firing WHEN they failed is not a important as what made them fail. Unless you can testify that those guns had never seen a magazine full of M905, then you cannot say that it was never put through those guns.”

    The first failure I saw was on day two of our first range after being issued brand-new pistols in 1988. Slide came off the pistol and hit the guy in the chest. The round count was probably in the hundreds, but certainly less than a thousand. The ammo I received during the range was standard M882.

  • Mark

    Here is the December 2009 Marine solicitation record formally tie the designation “M-45” to MEUSOC pistol. Looks like its official now.

    • Mark, well spotted.

  • AK™

    I’ve always heard (and read somewhere in print) that to offset the high cost of UH-1s to Italy was the adoption of the Beretta 92 by the US Military.
    Could be just some armchair general spouting off,but it could have truth to it.

    Granted I don’t want to get shot by any gun..but if i had to choose being on the receiving end..Id chose the 92 over the 1911..unless it was John McClane because he could kill guys with a 92. 😉

  • Question: Any idea why the caliber of 357SIG was never looked at during the change over?
    Stopping power is much greater than the 9mm.
    Penetration is much better – needed during war time.
    Feed from the shoulder of the SIG round improves reliability.

    My guess is ammo availability ???

  • 6677

    P226 has also been adopted by british military but not in enough numbers in service to be standard issue. Mostly only special forces with them

  • Ed

    Look guys, We can sit here for years griping and complaining about what gun the military should switch to. I swear by .45 cal and I swear by 7.62mm. The bigger the bullet the more knock down it has. As for the difference of the 92 and 1911: the 92 is bulkier but it holds more rounds which is good. But it shouldn’t take 8 well placed center of mass shots to drop someone. Anything smaller than a .40 cal is garbage when it comes to pistols. The 1911 has 6 different magazine sizes if you want more lead (7,8,9,10,12,&20) and that’s single stack and if you want to go bigger they make drum mags for 1911s. It all in the punch the bullet has when it hits.

    357, 38 special, and 9mm can all be fired through the exact same barrel. There is hardly any size difference. Yes they can kill people but not as effectively as the .40, .45 and so on. I’ve got a lot of family and family friends in the military and being a grunt myself we all swear by the 1911 as would any delta boy out there.

    Now, since the subject of the m-16 came up, how would you like to carry a really cool looking 22 into combat? All the 5.56mm is, is a extremely hot 22. Yes it causes unbelievable trauma when it starts to tumble but that’s if you get lucky. In Vietnam when the rifle was first introduced it was calculated out to take roughly 8 rounds to com to kill on VC grunt. Where the M1A or M14 was calculated to 2 rounds. Don’t get me wrong it’s a reliable weapon but again stopping power is everything. So I hope to see the 1911 come back to into full service, and I hope someday I don’t have to carry 180 pounds of garbage on top of the other 90 pounds of gear that is useful so I can carry a rifle that will drop someone with the first shot at center of mass. (I.e. 7.62 navy seal issue m-4 mod)