New pistol brings new capabilities

New pistol brings new capabilities

MSgt Bill J. Shaw Jr. aims at his target using the new three-dot sight of his M9A1 July 26 at a pistol range at Camp Hansen for qualification. Photo by Sgt. Anthony Kirby.

CAMP HANSEN, OKINAWA, JAPAN (Aug. 16, 2013) - A proposal from the combat marksmanship symposium to permit the use of the M9A1 9 mm pistol during annual pistol training was approved by LtGen Richard P. Mills, deputy commandant for Combat Development and Integration, in accordance with Marine Corps Administrative Message 124/12 in fiscal year 2012.

The M9A1 has a few upgrades to enhance its capability as a side-arm for military use, according to Chief Warrant Officer Scott A. Justus, an ordnance maintenance officer with Marine Corps Systems Command, Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.

The testing for the M9A1 Pistol began in 2007, according to Justus.

"The capability enhancements definitely benefit the operator," said Justus. "It improves the shooter's ability to operate in close quarters and low-light conditions."

Even though the pistol has gone through some changes, the fundamentals of shooting it remain the same.

The pistol now has a three-dot sighting system that allows the handler to engage targets more quickly, but the fundamentals still need to be applied, according to Cpl Sheilds L. Woods, a small-arms technician with Headquarters and Service Battalion, Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley D. Butler, Marine Corps Installations Pacific.

"It's much easier to sight-in with the new pistol," said Woods. "You just put the three dots in a line and fire, simple."

Another upgrade from the original M9 pistol is that the M9A1 pistol frame is equipped with an integral rail system located in front of the trigger guard.

"The most significant improvement is the integral rail," said Justus. "It affords the operator the flexibility to use high-intensity lights or laser-aiming devices as needed."

In addition to this, the front and back areas of the pistol grip are checkered to offer better grip support.

"I can get a better grip with this one," said MSgt Bill J. Shaw Jr., a supply administration and operations specialist with MCB Butler. "It feels more comfortable, better than the old pistol."

Even though the comfort has improved, the M9A1 trigger-pull is heavier, according to Woods.

"The parts are new, so the trigger isn't as sensitive and worn-in as the old pistols," said Woods. "Also, the parts used to make the M9A1, make it more durable. When units fired the old pistols on the range, some would always come back broken. Since we've been issuing these new ones, we haven't had them come back broken or malfunctioning."

Sand-resistant magazines have been developed for desert environments, such as Iraq or Afghanistan. In addition, the M9A1 magazine well now has an aggressive internal bevel, designed to ease fast tactical reloads in combat situations.

"The reload portion of the course of fire, for some, is the most difficult part," said Woods. "So, that change can help anyone who has a problem in that area."

The enhancements made to the pistol are definitely a step up from the old M9, according to Woods. The improvements make it a better weapon for both maintainers and shooters, and it will help many shooters when itis their turn to squeeze the trigger.

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