Thursday, October 21, 2010

Submachine gun - Thompson (Tommy gun)

The Thompson is an American submachine gun, invented by John T. Thompson in 1919, that became infamous during the Prohibition era. It was a common sight in the media of the time, being used by both law enforcement officers and criminals.[2] The Thompson was also known informally as: the "TSMG", the "Tommy Gun", the "Trench Broom", the "Trench Sweeper", the "Chicago Piano", the "Chicago Typewriter", and the "Chopper".[3][4][5][6][7]
The Thompson was favored by soldiers, criminals and police alike for its ergonomics, compactness, large .45 ACP cartridge, reliability, and high volume of automatic fire. It has since gained popularity among civilian collectors for its historical significance.
The Thompson Submachine Gun was developed by General John T. Thompson who originally envisioned an auto rifle (semi-automatic rifle) to replace the bolt action service rifles then in use. While searching for a way to allow such a weapon to operate safely without the complexity of a recoil or gas operated mechanism, Thompson came across a patent issued to John Bell Blish in 1915 based on adhesion of inclined metal surfaces under pressure.[8] Thompson found a financial backer, Thomas F. Ryan, and started the Auto-Ordnance Company in 1916 for the purpose of developing his auto rifle. The principal designers were Theodore H. Eickhoff, Oscar V. Payne, and George E. Goll. By late 1917, the limits of the Blish Principle were discovered: rather than working as a locked breech, it functioned as a friction-delayed blowback action. It was found that the only cartridge currently in U.S. service suitable for use with the lock was the .45 ACP round. Thompson then envisioned a "one-man, hand-held machine gun" in .45 ACP as a "trench broom" for use in the on-going trench warfare of World War I. Payne designed the gun itself and its stick and drum magazines. The project was then titled "Annihilator I", and by 1918, most of the design issues had been resolved. However, the war ended before prototypes could be shipped to Europe.[9]

A Marine fires on a Japanese position using an M1 Thompson submachine gun during an advance on Okinawa in 1945.
At an Auto-Ordnance board meeting in 1919 to discuss the marketing of the "Annihilator", with the war over, the weapon was officially renamed the "Thompson Submachine Gun". While other weapons had been developed shortly prior with similar objectives in mind, the Thompson was the first weapon to be labeled and marketed as a "submachine gun".[10] Thompson intended the weapon as an automatic 'trench-broom' to sweep enemy troops from the trenches, filling a role for which the BAR had been proven ill-suited.[11] Contemporaneously, this concept was developed by German troops using their own Bergmann MP18 submachine guns in concert with sturmtruppen tactics.
The Thompson first entered production as the M1921. It was available to civilians, though its high price resulted in few sales. (A Thompson M1921 with one Type XX 20 shot "stick" magazine was priced at $200.00 when a Ford automobile sold for $400.00.) M1921 Thompsons were sold in small quantities to the United States Marine Corps (despite the lore that the United States Postal Service-U.S. Post Office purchased this initial batch of 250 Colt Thompson Submachine Guns from the Auto-Ordnance Corporation to protect the mail from a spate of robberies,[13] the AOC records and the USMC Quartermaster procurement records do not support this contention), followed by several police departments in the United States and minor international sales to various armies and constabulary forces, chiefly in Central and South America. .[14] The Marines put their Thompson Submachine Guns to use in the Banana Wars and in China. It was popular with the Marines as a point-defense weapon for countering ambush by Nicaraguan guerrillas and led to the organisation of 4 man fire teams with as much firepower as a 9 man rifle squad. The major complaints against the Thompson were its weight, inaccuracy at ranges over 50 yards, and its lack of penetrating power, despite the powerful round it used.[15]
Some of the first batches of Thompsons were bought in America by agents of the Irish Republic, notably Harry Boland. A total of 653 were purchased, but 495 were seized by US customs authorities in New York in June 1921. The remainder made their way to the Irish Republican Army by way of Liverpool and were used in the last month of the Irish War of Independence (1919–21).[16] After a truce with the British in July 1921, the IRA imported more Thompsons and they were used in the subsequent Irish Civil War (1922–23). They were not found to be very effective in Ireland however. In only 32% of actions where it was used did the Thompson cause serious casualites (death or serious injury) to those attacked.[17]
The Thompson achieved most of its early notoriety in the hands of Prohibition and Depression-era gangsters, motorized bandits and the lawmen who pursued them and in Hollywood films about their exploits, most notably in the St Valentine's Day Massacre. It was often referred to as the "gun that made the twenties roar."[18]
In 1928 Federal Laboratories took over distribution of the weapon from Thompson's Auto Ordnance Corporation.[19] The cost at this time was US$225 per weapon, with $5 per 50 round drum and $3 for 20 round magazine.[19]
In 1926 the Cutts Compensator (a recoil brake) was offered as an option for the M1921; Thompsons with the compensator were catalogued as No. 21AC at the original price of $200.00, with the plain M1921 designated No. 21A at a reduced price of $175.00.[20]
Nationalist China also acquired a quantity for use against Japanese land forces, and eventually began producing copies of the Thompson in small quantities for use by its various armies and militias.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation first acquired Thompsons in 1933 following the Kansas City Massacre.
In 1938, the Thompson submachine gun was adopted by the U.S. military, serving during World War II and beyond.
There were two military types of Thompson SMG. The M1928A1 had provisions for box magazines and drums (the drums were disliked because of their tendency to rattle and jam). It had a Cutts compensator, cooling fins on the barrel, and its charging handle was on the top of the receiver. The M1 and M1A1 had a barrel without cooling fins, a simplified rear sight, provisions only for box magazines, and the charging handle was on the side of the receiver.
There were complaints from military users of the M1928A1 that the "L" fifty round drum magazine was heavy, noisy and slow to reload, and the "XX" twenty round box magazine was limited in capacity. Two alternatives were tested 6 December 1941 at Fort Knox: an extended thirty round box magazine and a forty round magazine made by welding two twenty round magazines face to face. Testers considered both superior to either the "XX" box or "L" drum. The thirty round box was approved as standard in December 1941 to replace the "XX" and "L" magazines.[21] (The concept of welding two box magazines face-to-face was carried over with the UD 42 submachine gun.)
The staff of Savage Arms looked for ways to simplify the M1928A1, producing a prototype in Feb 1942 which was tested at Aberdeen Proving Ground Mar 1942; Army Ordnance approved adoption as the M1 in Apr 1942. M1s were made by Savage Arms and by Auto-Ordnance. M1s were issued with the thirty round box magazine and would accept the earlier twenty round box, but would not accept the drum magazine.[22]
The Thompson was used in World War II in the hands of Allied troops as a weapon for scouts, non-commissioned officers (corporal, sergeant and higher ranking), and patrol leaders. In the European theater, the gun was widely utilized in British and Canadian Commando units, as well as the U.S. Army paratroopers and Ranger battalions who used it widely because of its high rate of fire, its stopping power and because it was very effective in close combat. A Swedish variant of the M1928A1, called Kulsprutepistol m/40 (meaning "submachine gun model 40"), served in the Swedish Army between 1940 and 1951. Through Lend-Lease, the Soviet Union also received the Thompson, but due to a shortage of appropriate ammunition in the Soviet Union, usage was not widespread.[23]
In the Pacific Theater, Australian Army infantry and other Commonwealth forces initially used the Thompson extensively in jungle patrols and ambushes, where it was prized for its firepower, though its hefty weight of over 10 pounds and difficulties in supply eventually led to its replacement by other submachine guns such as the Owen and Austen. The U.S. Marines also used the Thompson as a limited-issue weapon, especially during their later island assaults. The Thompson was soon found to have limited effect in heavy jungle cover, where the low-velocity .45 bullet would not penetrate most small-diameter trees, or protective armor vests (in 1923, the Army had rejected the .45 Remington-Thompson, which had twice the energy of the .45ACP).[24] In the U.S. Army, many Pacific War jungle patrols were originally equipped with Thompsons in the early phases of the New Guinea and Guadalcanal campaigns, but soon began employing the BAR in its place, especially at front (point) and rear (tail) positions, as a point defense weapon.
The M1928A1 variant entered mass production before the attack on Pearl Harbor, as on-hand stocks ran out. Changes included a horizontal forend, in place of the distinctive vertical foregrip ("pistol grip"), and a provision for a military sling. Despite new U.S. contracts for Lend-Lease shipments abroad to China, France, and the United Kingdom, as well as the needs of American armed forces, only two factories supplied M1928A1 Thompsons during the early years of World War II. Though it could use both the 50-round drum and the 20- or 30-round box magazines, active service showed the drums were more prone to jamming, rattled when moving, and were too heavy and bulky on long patrols. 562,511 were made. Wartime production variants had a fixed rear sight without the triangular sight guard wings and a non-ribbed barrel both like that found on the M1/M1A1.
In addition, the Soviet Union received M1928A1s, included as standard equipment with the M3 light tanks obtained through Lend-Lease. The weapons were never issued to the Red Army, however, because of a lack of .45 ACP ammunition on the Eastern Front, and were simply put in storage. As of September 2006, limited numbers of these weapons have been re-imported from Russia to the United States as disassembled "spare parts kits", the entire weapon less the receiver (as required by Federal law).
The layout and ergonomics of the Thompson submachine gun was also considered for the role of a Light Rifle before the adoption of the M1 Carbine. This platform was based on the M1921/27 variants and worked well but due to the war effort was found expensive for mass production and defied the concept of a Light Rifle.[34] However it did form the basis of the Thompson Light Rifle, a development of this variant with a barrel shroud which housed a quick barrel change device similar to the MG42 but was refused in favour of the mentioned M1 Carbine.
Answering the call for further simplification, the M1 was standardized in April 1942 as the United States Submachine Gun, Cal. .45, M1. Rate of fire was reduced to approximately 600-700 rpm. First issued in 1943, the M1 utilized a simple blowback operation, the charging handle was moved to the side, and the flip-up adjustable Lyman rear sight was replaced with a fixed L sight. Late M1 Thompsons had the triangular rear sight guard wings added to the L sight which was standardized on the M1A1 version. The slots adjoining the magazine well allowing use of the drum magazine were removed. The less expensive and more-easily manufactured "stick" magazines were used exclusively in the M1, with a new 30-round version joining the familiar 20-round type. The Cutts compensator, barrel cooling fins, and Blish lock were omitted while the buttstock was permanently affixed.
The M1A1, formally adopted as the United States Submachine Gun, Cal. .45, M1A1, could be produced in half the time of the M1928A1, and at a much lower cost. The multi-piece firing pin of the M1 was supplanted by a simplified firing pin machined into the face of the bolt. The 30-round magazine became more common. In 1939, Thompsons cost the government $209 apiece. By the spring of 1942, cost reduction design changes had brought this down to $70. In February 1944, the M1A1 reached a low price of $45 each, including accessories and spare parts. By the end of the Second World War, the M1A1 was replaced with the even lower-cost M3 (commonly called "Grease Gun").
The Model 1927A1 is a semi-automatic only version of the Thompson, originally produced by Auto-Ordnance of West Hurley, New York for the civilian collector's market from 1974 to 1999. It has been produced since 1999 by Kahr Arms of Worcester, Massachusetts. It is officially known as the "Thompson Semi-Automatic Carbine, Model of 1927A1." The internal design is completely different to operate from the closed bolt and the carbine has barrel length of 16.5 inches (versus open bolt operation and barrel length of 10.5 inches for the full automatic versions). Under federal regulations, these changes make the Model 1927A1 legally a rifle and remove it from the federal registry requirements of the National Firearms Act. These modern versions should not be confused with the original semi-automatic Model of 1927 which was a slightly modified Model of 1921 produced by Colt for Auto-Ordnance.
The Model 1927A1 is the semi-automatic replica of the Thompson Models of 1921 and 1927. The "Thompson Commando" is a semi-automatic replica of the M1928A1. The Auto-Ordnance replica of the Thompson M1 and M1A1 is known as the TM1, and may be found marked "Thompson Semi-Automatic Carbine, Caliber .45M1".
The Model 1927A3 is a semi-automatic, .22 caliber version of the Thompson produced by Auto-Ordnance in West Hurley.
The Model 1927A5 is a semi-automatic pistol version, .45ACP version of the Thompson originally produced by Auto-Ordnance in West Hurley. It featured an aluminum receiver to reduce weight. It has been produced since 2008 by Kahr Arms of Worcester, Massachusetts as the "M1927A1 TA5".
The perceived popularity of submachine guns such as the Thompson with violent gangsters in the 1920s and 1930s was one of the main reasons given for passage of the National Firearms Act by the United States Congress in 1934. One of its provisions is that all owners of any fully-automatic firearm were required to register them with the predecessor agency of the modern Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). The law also placed restrictions on the possession, transfer, and transport of the weapons.
There are several U.S. made automatic and semi-automatic variants, copies, or replicas. The semi-automatic versions are less regulated by federal law.Thompson submachine guns (including all variants or modified versions) are classified as Prohibited Weapons in Canada. Consequently, they cannot be legally imported or owned except under very limited circumstances. For example, to own one it must be "grandfathered" from before the bill was passed against it.

By the time of the Korean War, the Thompson had seen much use by the U.S. and South Korean Military, even though Thompson had have been replaced as standard issue by the M3 and M3A1. Production of the Thompson was over 1.7 million, of the M3 and M3A1 688,975, and the Thompson models remained classed as Limited Standard or Substitute Standard long after the standardization of the M3/M3A1. Many Thompsons were distributed to Chinese armed forces as military aid before the fall of Chiang Kai-Shek's government to Mao Zedong's Communist forces in 1949. During the Korean War, American troops were surprised to encounter Chinese Communist troops heavily armed with Thompsons, especially during surprise night assaults. The gun's ability to deliver large quantities of short-range automatic assault fire proved very useful in both defense and assault during the early part of the conflict. Many of these weapons were captured and placed into service with American soldiers and Marines for the balance of the war.
During the Vietnam War, some South Vietnamese army units and defense militia were armed with Thompson submachine guns, and a few of these weapons were used by reconnaissance units, advisors, and other American troops. It was later replaced by the M16. Not only did some U.S. soldiers have use of them in Vietnam, but they encountered it as well. The Vietcong liked the weapon, and used both captured models as well as manufacturing their own copies in small jungle workshops.
In the conflict in Northern Ireland, known as 'The Troubles' (1969–1998), the Thompson was again used by the Irish Republican paramilitiaries. According to historian Peter Hart, "The Thompson remained a key part of both the Official IRA and Provisional IRA arsenals until well into the 1970s when it was superseded by the Armalite and the AK-47" [26]
The Thompson was also used by U.S. and overseas law enforcement and police forces, most prominently by the FBI. The FBI used Thompsons until 1976, when it was declared obsolete. All Thompsons in U.S. government possession were destroyed, except for a few token museum pieces and training models.
The Thompson, or copies of the gun, are still seen from time to time in modern day conflicts, such as the Bosnian War.
Early versions of the Thompson had a fairly high cyclic rate of fire, as high as 1,200 rounds per minute, with most police Model 1921 at 850 and military Model 1928 at 720. Later M1 and M1A1 Thompsons averaged 600 rpm.[27] This rate of fire, combined with a rather heavy trigger pull and a stock with excessive drop, increases the tendency of the gun to climb off target in automatic fire.[27][28] Compared to modern 9mm submachine guns, the .45 Thompson is quite heavy. This was one of the major complaints against the weapon made by servicemembers of militaries that issued the Thompson.[15]
Although the drum magazine provided significant firepower, in military service it was found to be overly heavy and bulky, especially when slung on patrol or on the march.[28] It was also rather fragile, and cartridges tended to rattle back and forth inside it, producing unwanted noise. For these reasons, the 20-round and later 30-round box magazines soon proved most popular with military users of the M1928A1, and drum compatibility was not included in the design of the wartime M1 and M1A1 models. The Thompson was one of the earliest submachine guns to incorporate a double-column, double-feed box magazine design, which undoubtedly contributed to the gun's reputation for reliability. In addition, the gun performed better than most after exposure to rain, dirt, and mud.[15]
The select fire (semi- or full automatic) Thompson fires from the "open bolt" position, in which the bolt is held fully to rearward by the sear when cocked. When the trigger is depressed, the bolt is released traveling forcefully forward to chamber and simultaneously fire the first and subsequent rounds until either the trigger is released or the ammunition is exhausted.
Because of its gangster-era and World War II connections, Thompsons are highly sought as collector's items. There were less than forty pre-production prototypes. The Colt Patent Fire Arms Manufacturing Company in Hartford, Connecticut was contracted by the Auto-Ordnance Corporation to manufacture the initial mass production of 15,000 Thompson Submachine Guns in 1920. An original Colt Model 1921 A or AC, Model 1927 A or AC, Model 1928 Navy A or AC, properly registered in working condition can easily fetch US$25,000 or more. For WWII, approximately 1,700,000 Thompson Submachine Guns were produced by Auto-Ordnance and Savage Arms, with 1,387,134 being the simplified World War II M1 and M1A1 variants (without the Blish lock and oiling system[29]). Post WWII, Numrich Arms acquired Auto-Ordnance and resumed small scale production of both full automatic and semi-automatic only versions at West Hurly. Semi-automatic only versions configured as civilian-legal rifles are currently produced by Auto-Ordnance Company, a division of Kahr Arms, for the collector market at prices ($900.00 to $1400.00) considerably lower than the prices for originals.
There were two main experimental models of the Thompson. The Persuader was a belt-fed version developed in 1918, and the Annihilator was fed from a 20 or 30-round box magazine, which was an improved model developed in 1918 and 1919. Additionally, the 50- and 100-round drum magazines were developed.
The Model 1919 was limited to about 40 units, with many variations noted throughout. The weapons had very high cyclic rates around 1,500 rpm.[30] This was the weapon Brigadier General Thompson demonstrated at Camp Perry in 1920. Almost all Model of 1919s were made without buttstocks and front sights, and the final version closely resembled the later Model of 1921. The New York City Police Department was the largest purchaser of the Model of 1919. This model was designed as an automatic Colt .45 to "sweep" trenches with bullets. Some experimental calibers were .45 ACP (11.4x23mm), .22LR, .32 ACP, .38 ACP, and 9mmP.
The Model 1921 (M1921) was the first major production model. Fifteen thousand were produced by Colt for Auto-Ordnance. In its original design, it was finished more like a sporting weapon, with an adjustable rear sight, a blued, finned barrel and vertical foregrip and the Blish lock. The M1921 was quite expensive to manufacture, with the original retail price around $200, because of its high quality wood furniture and finely-machined parts. The M1921 was famous throughout its career with police and criminals and in motion pictures. This model gained fame from its' use by criminals during Prohibition, and was nicknamed "tommy gun" by the media.
The Model 1923 was introduced to potentially expand the Auto-Ordnance product line and was demonstrated for the U.S. Army. It fired the more powerful .45 Remington-Thompson cartridge from a 14-inch (35.5 cm) barrel, with greater range than the .45 ACP. It introduced a horizontal forearm, sling, bipod and bayonet lug. The M1923 was intended to fill the same role of the M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) which the Army was already satisfied with, and did not give the Model of 1923 much consideration, so it was not adopted.In an attempt to expand interest and sales overseas, Auto-Ordnance partnered with and licensed Birmingham Small Arms Company (BSA) in England to produce a European model. These were produced in small quantities and have a different appearance than the classic style. The BSA 1926 was manufactured in 9 mm and 7.63 Mauser calibre and were tested by various governments, including France in the mid 1920s. It was never adopted by any military force, and only a small number were produced.
The Model 1927 was the open bolt semi-automatic-only version of the M1921. It was made by modifying an existing Model 1921, including replacing certain parts. The "Thompson Submachine Gun" inscription was machined over to replace it with "Thompson Semi-Automatic Carbine", and the "Model 1921" inscription was also machined over to replace it with "Model 1927." Although the Model 1927 was semi-automatic only, it was easily converted to fully automatic by installing a full-auto Model 1921 fire control group (internal parts). Most Model 1927s owned by police have been converted back to full-auto.[33] The original Model 1927 is classified as a machine gun under the National Firearms Act of 1934 (a) by being "readily convertible" by swapping parts and (b) by a 1982 BATF ruling making all open bolt semi-automatic firearms manufactured after the date of this ruling classified as machineguns.
The Model 1928 was the first type widely used by military forces, with the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps as major buyers through the 1930s. The original Model 1928s were Model 1921s with weight added to the actuator, which slowed down the cyclic rate of fire, a U.S. Navy requirement. The Navy Model 1928 has several names by collectors today they are; the 'Colt Overstamp', 'The 1921 Overstamp', '28 Navy', or just '28N'. The "overstamp" term refers to the '1' in '1921' being stamped over with an '8'. The 1928 Thompson would be the last small arm adopted by the U.S. Army that used a year designation in the official nomenclature. With the start of World War II, major contracts from several countries saved the manufacturer from bankruptcy.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Wire-guided Missile - FGM-148 Javelin

The FGM-148 Javelin is a United States-made man-portable third generation anti-tank guided missile fielded to replace the Dragon antitank missile.
Javelin is a fire-and-forget missile with lock-on before launch and automatic self-guidance. The system takes a top-attack flight profile against armored vehicles (attacking the top armor which is generally thinner) but can also take a direct-attack mode for use against buildings or fortifications. This missile also has the ability to engage helicopters in the direct attack mode.[3] The missile reaches a peak altitude of 150 m (500 ft) in top-attack mode and 60 m in direct-fire mode. The missile is equipped with an imaging infrared seeker. The tandem warhead is fitted with two shaped charges: a precursor warhead to detonate any explosive reactive armor and a primary warhead to penetrate base armor. The Javelin was used in the 2003 Invasion of Iraq,[3] with devastating effects on the Iraqi version of T-72s and Type 69 tanks.
The missile is ejected from the launcher so that it reaches a safe distance from the operator before the main rocket motors ignite; a "soft launch arrangement".[4] This makes it harder to identify the launcher and allows it to be fired from within buildings; however, back-blast from the launch tube still poses a hazard to nearby personnel. Thanks to this "fire and forget" system, the firing team may move on as soon as the missile has been launched.[2]
The missile system is carried most often by a two man team consisting of a gunner and an ammo bearer, although it can be fired with just one person if necessary. While the gunner aims and fires the missile, the ammo bearer scans for prospective targets and watches for threats such as enemy vehicles and troops.
In 1983, the United States Army introduced its AAWS-M (Advanced Anti-Tank Weapon System—Medium) requirement, and in 1985, the AAWS-M was approved for development. In August 1986, the Proof-of-Principle (POP) phase of the development began, with $30 million contract awarded for technical proof demonstrators: Ford Aerospace (laser-beam riding), Hughes Aircraft Missile System Group (imaging infra-red combined with a fiber-optic cable link) and Texas Instruments (imaging infra-red).[5] In late 1988, the POP phase ended, and in June 1989, the full-scale development contract was awarded to a joint venture of Texas Instruments and Martin Marietta (now Raytheon and Lockheed-Martin). The AAWS-M received the designation of FGM-148.
In April 1991, the first test-flight of the Javelin succeeded, and in March 1993, the first test-firing from the launcher succeeded. In 1994, low levels of production were authorized,[3] and in 1996 the first Javelins were deployed with US Army units.[3]
Development test and evaluation (DT&E) is conducted to demonstrate that the engineering design and development process is complete. It is used to reduce risk, validate and qualify the design, and ensure that the product is ready for government acceptance. The DT&E results are evaluated to ensure that design risks have been minimized and the system will meet specifications. The results are also used to estimate the system’s military utility when it is introduced into service. DT&E serves a critical purpose in reducing the risks of development by testing selected high-risk components or subsystems. DT&E is the government developing agency tool used to confirm that the system performs as technically specified and that the system is ready for field testing.
DT&E is an iterative process of designing, building, testing, identifying deficiencies, fixing, retesting, and repeating. It is performed in the factory, laboratory, and on the proving ground by the contractors and the government. Contractor and government testing is combined into one integrated test program and conducted to determine if the performance requirements have been met and to provide data to the decision authority.
The General Accounting Office (GAO) published a report questioning the adequacy of Javelin testing. The report, called “Army Acquisition—Javelin Is Not Ready for Multiyear Procurement”,[6] opposed entering into full-rate production in 1997 and expressed the need for further operational testing due to the many redesigns undergone.
Previously in 1995 the Secretary of Defense, William Perry, had set forth five new operational test initiatives. These included: 1) getting operational testers involved early in development; 2) use of modeling and simulation; 3) integrating development and operational testing; 4) combining testing and training; and 5) applying concepts to demos and acquisitions.
The late-phase development of the Javelin retroactively benefited from the then new operational test initiatives set forth by the Secretary of Defense, as well as further test conducted as a consequence of the Army’s response to the GAO report. Before the Milestone III decision and before fielding to 3rd Battalion 75th Ranger Regiment at Fort Benning (also Army Rangers, Special Forces, airborne, air assault, and light infantry), the Javelin was subjected to limited parts of the five operational test and evaluation initiatives, as well as a portability operational test program (an additional test phase of the so-called Product Verification Test [7]) which included live firings with the full-rate configuration weapon.
Per initiatives and as a DT&E function, the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA) [8] and the Defense Department’s Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) [9] became involved in three development test activities, including: 1) reviewing initial operational test and evaluation plans; 2) monitoring initial operational test and evaluation; and 3) structuring follow-on test and evaluation activities. The results of these efforts detected problems (training included) and corrected significant problems which led to modified test plans, savings in test costs, and GAO satisfaction.
The Javelin Environmental Test System (JETS) is a mobile test set for Javelin All-Up-Round (AUR) and the Command Launch Unit (CLU). It can be configured to functionally test the AUR or the CLU individually or both units in a mated tactical mode. This mobile unit may be repositioned at the various environmental testing facilities. The mobile system is used for all phases of Javelin qualification testing. There is also a non-mobile JETS used for stand-alone CLU testing. This system is equipped with an environmental chamber and is primarily used for Product Verification Testing (PRVT). Capabilities include: Javelin CLU testing; Javelin AUR testing; Javelin Mated Mode testing; Javelin testing in various environmental conditions; and CLU PRVT.[10]
The All-up-Round Test Sets includes: Extreme temperature testing; Missile tracker testing (Track rate error, Tracking sensitivity); Seeker/focal plane array testing (Cool-down time, Dead/defective pixels, Seeker identification); Pneumatic leakage; Continuity measurements; Ready time; and Guidance sections (Guidance commands, Fin movement).
The Javelin missile’s tandem warhead is a HEAT type.[3] This round utilizes an explosive shaped charge to create a stream of superplastically deformed metal formed from trumpet-shaped metallic liners. The result is a narrow high velocity particle stream that can penetrate armor.
The Javelin counters the advent of ERA. ERA boxes or tiles lie over a vehicle’s main armor and explode when struck by a warhead. This explosion does not harm the vehicle’s main armor, but causes steel panels to fly across the path of the HEAT round’s particle steam, so that the warhead expends its most potent energy cutting through the panels, rather than through the main armor. The Javelin uses two shaped-charge warheads in tandem. The smaller diameter HEAT precursor charge sets off the ERA and clears it from the path of the much larger diameter HEAT warhead, which then penetrates the target’s primary armor.
A two-layered molybdenum liner is used for the precursor and a copper liner for the main warhead.
To protect the main charge from the explosive blast, shock, and debris caused by the impact of the missile's nose and the detonation of the precursor charge, a blast shield is used between the main and precursor charge. This was the first composite material blast shield and the first that had a hole through the middle to provide a jet that is less spread out.
A newer main charge liner produces a higher velocity jet. While making the warhead smaller, this change makes it more effective leaving more room for propellant for the main rocket motor, thus increase the missile's range.
Electronic arming and fusing, called Electronic Safe Arming and Fire (ESAF), is used. The ESAF system enables the firing and arming process to proceed, while imposing a series of safety checks on the missile. ESAF cues the launch motor after the trigger is pulled. When the missile reaches a key acceleration point (indicating that it has cleared the launch tube), the ESAF initiates a second arming signal to fire the flight motor. After another check on missile conditions (target lock check), ESAF initiates final arming to enable the warheads for detonation upon target impact. When the missile strikes the target, ESAF enables the tandem warhead function (provide appropriate time between the detonation of the precursor charge and the detonation of the main charge).
Most rocket launchers require a large clear area behind the gunner to prevent injury from backblast, and thus cannot be fired from within a building without time-consuming preparation work. To address this shortcoming without increasing recoil to an unacceptable level, the Javelin system uses a soft launch mechanism. A launch motor using conventional rocket propellant ejects the missile from the launcher, but stops burning before the missile clears the tube. The flight motor is ignited only after a delay to allow for sufficient clearance from the operator. To save weight, the two motors are integrated with a burst disc between them; it is designed to tolerate the pressure of the launch motor from one side, but to easily rupture from the other when the flight motor ignites. Both motors use a common nozzle, with the flight motor's exhaust flowing through the expended launch motor. Because the launch motor casing remains in place, an unusual annular (ring-shaped) igniter is used to start it; a normal igniter would be blown out the back of the missile when the flight motor ignited and could injure the operator.
In the event that the launch motor malfunctions and the launch tube is overpressurized—for example, if the rocket gets stuck—the Javelin missile includes a pressure release system to prevent the launcher from exploding. The launch motor is held in place by a set of shear pins, which fracture if the pressure rises too high and allow the motor to be pushed out the back of the tube.
As a fire-and-forget missile, after launch the missile has to be able to track and destroy its target without the gunner. This is done by coupling an onboard imaging IR system (different from CLU imaging system) with an onboard tracking system.
The gunner uses the CLU’s IR system to find and identify the target then switches to the missile’s independent IR system to set a track box around the target and establish a lock. The gunner places brackets around the image for locking.
The seeker stays focused on the target’s image continuing to track it as the target moves or the missile’s flight path alters or as attack angles change. The seeker has three main components: focal plane array (FPA), cooling and calibration and stabilization.
The seeker assembly is encased in a dome which is transparent to long-wave infrared radiation. The IR radiation passes through the dome and then through lenses that focus the energy. The IR energy is reflected by mirrors on to the FPA. The seeker is a two-dimensional staring FPA of 64x64 MerCad (HgCdTe) detector elements.[11] The FPA processes the signals from the detectors and relays a signal to the missile’s tracker.
The staring array is a photo-capacitive device where the incident photons stimulate electrons and are stored in the detector as an accumulated charge. The electrons are discharged, pixel by pixel, as currents to a readout integrated circuits attached at the rear of the detector.
The FPA must be cooled and calibrated. The CLU’s IR detectors are cooled using a Dewar flask and a closed-cycle Stirling engine. But there is insufficient space in the missile for a similar solution. So, prior to launch, a cooler mounted on the outside of the launch tube activates the electrical systems in the missile and supplies cold gas from a Joule-Thompson expander to the missile detector assembly while the missile is still in the launch tube. When the missile is fired this external connection is broken and coolant gas is supplied internally by an onboard argon gas bottle. The gas is held in a small bottle at high pressure and contains enough coolant for the duration of the flight of approximately 19 seconds.
The seeker is calibrated using a chopper wheel. This device is a fan of 6 blades: 5 black blades with very low IR emissivity and one semi-reflective blade. These blades spin in front of the seeker optics in a synchronized fashion such that the FPA is continually provided with points of reference in addition to viewing the scene. These reference points allow the FPA to reduce noise introduced by response variations in the detector elements.
The platform on which the seeker is mounted must be stabilized with respect to the motion of the missile body and the seeker must be moved to stay aligned with the target. The stabilization system must cope with rapid acceleration, up/down and lateral movements. This is done by a gimbal system, accelerometers, spinning-mass gyros (or MEMS), and motors to drive changes in position of the platform. The system is basically an autopilot. Information from the gyros is fed to the guidance electronics which drive a torque motor attached to the seeker platform to keep the seeker aligned with the target. The wires that connect the seeker with the rest of the missile have no friction to keep the seeker platform balanced.
The tracker is key to guidance/control for an eventual hit. The signals from each of the 4,096 detector elements in the seeker are passed to the FPA readout integrated circuits which reads then creates a video frame that is sent to the tracker system for processing. By comparing the individual frames the tracker determines the need to correct so as to keep the missile on target. The tracker must be able to determine which portion of the image represents the target. The target is initially defined by the gunner who places a configurable frame around it. The tracker then uses algorithms to compare that region of the frame based on image, geometric, and movement data to the new image frames being sent from the seeker, similar to pattern recognition algorithms. At the end of each frame the reference is updated. The tracker is able to keep track of the target even though the seeker’s point of view can change radically in the course of flight.
To guide the missile the tracker locates the target in the current frame and compares this position with the aim point. If this position is off center the tracker computes a correction and passes it to the guidance system which makes the appropriate adjustments to the four movable tail fins, as well as six fixed wings at mid-body. This is an autopilot. To guide the missile the system has sensors that check that the fins are positioned as requested. If not, the deviation is sent back to the controller for further adjustment. This is a closed-loop controller.
There are three stages in the flight managed by the tracker: 1) an initial phase just after launch; 2) a mid-flight phase that lasts for most of the flight; and 3) a terminal phase in which the tracker selects the sweet spot for the point of impact. With guidance algorithms, the autopilot uses data from the seeker and tracker to determine when to transition the missile from one phase of flight to another. Depending on whether the missile is in top attack or direct attack mode, the profile of the flight can change significantly. The top attack mode requires the missile to climb sharply after launch and cruise at high altitude then dive on the top of the target (curveball). In direct attack mode (fastball), the missile cruises at a lower altitude directly at target. The exact flight path which takes into account the range to the target is calculated by the guidance unit.
Both men carry a disposable tube called the Launch Tube Assembly which houses the missile and protects the missile from harsh environments. The tube also has built in electronics and a locking hinge system that makes attachment and detachment of the missile to and from the Command Launch Unit a very quick and simple process.The gunner carries a reusable Command Launch Unit (in addition to the Launch Tube Assembly) more commonly referred to as a CLU (pronounced "clue"). The CLU is the targeting component of the two part system. The CLU has three views which are used to find, target, and fire the missile. The CLU may also be used separately from the missile as a portable thermal sight. Infantry are no longer required to stay in constant contact with armored personnel carriers and tanks with thermal sights. This makes the troops more flexible and able to perceive threats they would not otherwise be able to detect. In 2006 a contract was awarded to Toyon Research Corporation to begin development of an upgrade to the CLU enabling the transmission of target image and GPS location data to other units.
The first view is a 4× magnification day view. It is mainly used to scan areas for light during night operation because light is not visible in the thermal views. It is also used to scan during times following the sunrise and sunset when the thermal image is hard to focus due to the natural rapid heating and/or cooling of the Earth.
The second view is the 4x magnification night view, and shows the gunner a thermal representation of the area viewed. This is also the primary view used due to its ability to detect infrared radiation and find both troops and vehicles otherwise too well hidden to detect. The screen shows a "green scale" view which can be adjusted in both contrast and brightness. The inside of the CLU is cooled by a small refrigeration unit attached to the sight. This greatly increases the sensitivity of the thermal imaging capability since the temperature inside the sight is much lower than that of the objects it detects. Due to the sensitivity this causes, the gunner is able to "focus" the CLU to show a very detailed image of the area being viewed by showing temperature differences of only a few degrees. The gunner operates this view with the use of two hand stations similar to the control stick found in modern cockpits. It is from this view that the gunner focuses the image and determines the area that gives the best heat signature on which to lock the missile.
The third field of view is a 9x thermal sight used to better identify the target vehicle. Once the CLU has been focused in WFOV, the gunner may switch to NFOV for target recognition before activating Seeker FOV.
Once the best target area is chosen the gunner presses one of the two triggers and automatically is sent to the fourth view. The Seeker FOV is a 9x magnification thermal view. This process is similar to the automatic zoom feature on most modern cameras. This view is also available along with the previously mentioned views, all of which may be accessed with press of a button. It is not as popular however, because a high magnification view takes longer to scan a wide area. This view allows the gunner to further aim the missile and set the guidance system housed inside the actual missile. During this view is when information is passed from the CLU, through the connection electronics of the Launch Tube Assembly, and into the missile's guidance system. If the gunner feels uncomfortable with firing the missile, he can still cycle back to the other views without having to fire the missile. When the gunner is comfortable with the target picture he pulls the second trigger and establishes a "lock”. The missile launches after a short hesitation.
A great familiarity of each control and swift operation needs to be achieved before the unit can be deployed efficiently. American troops are trained on the system at the Infantry School in Fort Benning, Georgia, for two weeks. The soldiers are taught basic care and maintenance, operation and abilities, assembly and disassembly, and the positions it can be fired from. Soldiers are also taught to distinguish between a variety of vehicle types even when only a rough outline is visible. The soldiers must accomplish several timed drills with set standards before being qualified to operate the system in both training and wartime situations. There are also smaller training programs set up on most Army bases that instruct soldiers on the proper use of the system. At these courses the training program might be changed in small ways. This is most commonly only minor requirements left out due to budget, the amount of soldiers vs. simulation equipment, and available time and resources. Both types of training courses have required proficiency levels that must be met before the soldier can operate the system in training exercises or wartime missions.
The portable system is easy to separate into main components and easy to set up when needed. Compared to more cumbersome anti-tank weapon systems, the difference is noticeable. For example, a TOW requires a heavy tripod stand, a bulky protective case for the thermal sight, a larger, longer launch tube, and requires much more time to assemble and prepare. The Javelin (although still very heavy) is lighter than the other missiles and their necessary parts.
Although the CLU's thermal imaging may hinder aiming, its thermal targeting allows the Javelin to be a fire-and-forget system. This gives the firer an opportunity to be out of sight and possibly moving to a new angle of fire, or out of the area by the time the enemy realizes they are under attack. This is much safer than using a wire-guided system where the firer must stay stationary to guide the missile into the target.
Another advantage is the Javelin's power at impact. The missile's tandem shaped charge warhead is made to penetrate reactive armor. The Javelin was created with the intent to be able to penetrate any tank armor and was tested on the M1 Abrams.[citation needed] With the top attack mode it has an even greater ability to destroy the tank because it can attack where most tanks are weakest.[3]
The soft launch capability of the Javelin allows it to have only a minimal backblast area. In addition to reducing the visible launch signature from the enemy, this enables the Javelin to be fired from inside a wide variety of structures, which gives the Javelin advantages in urban fighting over the widely used AT4 (which has a very large backblast area, although this is lessened in the AT4 CS). A large backblast area would seriously injure personnel if fired from inside a small structure, and may betray the location of the launch to enemy observers.
The missile also has a greater range than the system it replaces, the M47 Dragon.
The main drawback of the complete system (missile, tube, and CLU) is its 49.2 lb (22.3 kg) total weight. The system is designed to be portable by infantry on foot and weighs more than the original specified weight the Army called for.[13]
Another drawback of the system is the reliance on a thermal view to acquire targets. The thermal views are not able to operate until the refrigeration component has cooled the system. The manufacturer estimates 30 seconds until this is complete, but depending on the ambient temperature, this process may take much longer.
Also, Javelins and Javelin missiles are rather expensive. A single Javelin unit costs about $125,000, and a missile costs about $40,000.[citation needed]
The system can fire only at targets in line of sight, which casts doubt on its advantages over 2nd generation ATGMs (Metis-M, Kornet) at ranges of more than 1000 meters. At distances up to 600 meters there is a similar problem - rational use of lighter and cheap hand-held rocket launchers, also realizing the principle of "fire and forget".
The operator of the complex has no opportunity to correct the flight of the rocket after launch (when the target contrasts poorly with the terrain, the missile can miss).

Monday, October 18, 2010

Semi-automatic Pistol - M1911 pistol

The M1911 is a single-action, semi-automatic, magazine-fed, and recoil-operated handgun chambered for the .45 ACP cartridge.[1] John M. Browning designed the firearm which was the standard-issue side arm for the United States armed forces from 1911 to 1985. The M1911 is still carried by some U.S. forces. It was widely used in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Its formal designation as of 1940 was Automatic Pistol, Caliber .45, M1911 for the original Model of 1911 or Automatic Pistol, Caliber .45, M1911A1 for the M1911A1, adopted in 1924. The designation changed to Pistol, Caliber .45, Automatic, M1911A1 in the Vietnam era.[1] In total, the United States procured around 2.7 million M1911 and M1911A1 pistols in military contracts during its service life.
The M1911 is the best-known of John Browning's designs to use the short recoil principle in its basic design. Besides the pistol being widely copied itself, this operating system rose to become the pre-eminent type of the 20th century and of nearly all modern centerfire pistols. It is popular with civilian shooters in competitive events such as IDPA, International Practical Shooting Confederation, and Bullseye shooting. It is also a popular civilian concealed carry option due to its slim width.
The M1911 pistol originated in the late 1890s, the result of a search for a suitable self-loading (or semi-automatic) handgun to replace the variety of revolvers then in service.[2] The United States of America was adopting new firearms at a phenomenal rate; several new handguns and two all-new service rifles (the M1892/96/98 Krag and M1895 Navy Lee), as well as a series of revolvers by Colt and Smith & Wesson for the Army and Navy were adopted just in that decade. The next decade would see a similar pace, including the adoption of several more revolvers and an intensive search for a self-loading pistol that would culminate in official adoption of the M1911 after the turn of the decade.
Hiram S. Maxim had designed a self-loading pistol in the 1880s, but was preoccupied with machine guns. Nevertheless, the application of his principle of using bullet energy to reload led to several self-loading pistols in the 1890s. The designs caught the attention of various militaries, each of which began programs to find a suitable one for their forces. In the U.S., such a program would lead to a formal test at the turn of the 19th to the 20th century.
During the end of 1899 and start of 1900, a test of self-loading pistols was conducted, which included entries from Mauser (the C96 "Broomhandle"), Mannlicher (the Steyr Mannlicher M1894), and Colt (the Colt M1900).[2]
This led to a purchase of 1,000 DWM Luger pistols, chambered in 7.65 mm Luger, a bottlenecked cartridge. During field trials these ran into some issues, especially in regard to stopping power. Other governments had also made similar complaints. Consequently, DWM produced an enlarged version of the round, the 9mm Parabellum (known in current military parlance as the 9x19mm NATO), a necked-up version of the 7.65 mm round. Fifty of these were tested as well by the U.S. Army in 1903.
General William Crozier became Chief of Ordnance of the Army in 1901.
In response to problems encountered by American units fighting Moro guerrillas during the Philippine-American War, the then-standard Colt M1892 revolver, in .38 Long Colt, was found to be unsuitable for the rigors of jungle warfare, particularly in terms of stopping power, as the Moros had very high battle morale and frequently used drugs to inhibit the sensation of pain.[3] The U.S. Army briefly reverted to using the M1873 single-action revolver in .45 Colt caliber, which had been standard during the last decades of the 19th century; the heavier bullet was found to be more effective against charging tribesmen.[4] The problems with the .38 Long Colt led to the Army shipping new single action .45 Colt revolvers to the Philippines in 1902. It also prompted the then-Chief of Ordnance, General William Crozier, to authorize further testing for a new service pistol.[4]
Following the 1904 Thompson-LaGarde pistol round effectiveness tests, Colonel John T. Thompson stated that the new pistol "should not be of less than .45 caliber" and would preferably be semi-automatic in operation.[4] This led to the 1906 trials of pistols from six firearms manufacturing companies (namely, Colt, Bergmann, Deutsche Waffen und Munitionsfabriken (DWM), Savage Arms Company, Knoble, Webley, and White-Merril).[4]
Of the six designs submitted, three were eliminated early on, leaving only the Savage, Colt, and DWM designs chambered in the new .45 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol) cartridge.[4] These three still had issues that needed correction, but only Colt and Savage resubmitted their designs. There is some debate over the reasons for DWM's withdrawal—some say they felt there was bias and that the DWM design was being used primarily as a "whipping boy" for the Savage and Colt pistols,[5] though this does not fit well with the earlier 1900 purchase of the DWM design over the Colt and Steyr entries. In any case, a series of field tests from 1907 to 1911 were held to decide between the Savage and Colt designs.[4] Both designs were improved between each testing over their initial entries, leading up to the final test before adoption.[4]
Among the areas of success for the Colt was a test at the end of 1910 attended by its designer, John Browning. 6,000 rounds were fired from a single pistol over the course of two days. When the gun began to grow hot, it was simply immersed in water to cool it. The Colt gun passed with no reported malfunctions, while the Savage designs had 37.
Following its success in trials, the Colt pistol was formally adopted by the Army on March 29, 1911, thus gaining its designation, M1911 (Model of 1911). It was adopted by the Navy and Marine Corps in 1913. Originally manufactured only by Colt, demand for the firearm in World War I saw the expansion of manufacture to the government-owned Springfield Armory.
Battlefield experience in the First World War led to some more small external changes, completed in 1924. The new version received a modified type classification, M1911A1. Changes to the original design were minor and consisted of a shorter trigger, cutouts in the frame behind the trigger, an arched mainspring housing, a longer grip safety spur (to prevent slide bite), a wider front sight, a shorter spur on the hammer, and simplified grip checkering by eliminating the "Double Diamond" reliefs.[4] Those unfamiliar with the design are often unable to tell the difference between the two versions at a glance. No significant internal changes were made, and parts remained interchangeable between the two.
Working for the U.S. Ordnance Office, David Marshall Williams developed a .22 training version of the M1911 using a floating chamber to give the .22 long rifle rimfire recoil similar to the .45 version.[4] As the Colt Service Ace, this was available both as a handgun and as a conversion kit for .45 M1911 pistols.[4]

[edit] World War II

World War II and the years leading up to it created a great demand. During the war, about 1.9 million units were procured by the U.S. Government for all forces, production being undertaken by several manufacturers, including Remington Rand (900,000 produced), Colt (400,000), Ithaca Gun Company (400,000), Union Switch & Signal (50,000), and Singer (500). So many were produced that after 1945 the government did not order any new pistols, and simply used existing parts inventories to "arsenal refinish" guns when necessary. This pistol was favored by US military personnel.[6]
Before World War II, a small number of Colts were produced under license at the Norwegian weapon factory Kongsberg Vaapenfabrikk (these Colts were known as "Kongsberg Colt"). During the German occupation of Norway the production continued. These pistols are highly regarded by modern collectors, with the 920 examples stamped with Nazi Waffenamt codes being the most sought after. German forces also used captured M1911A1 pistols, using the designation "Pistole 660(a)".[7] The M1911 pattern also formed the basis for the Argentine Ballester-Molina and certain Spanish Star and Llama pistols made after 1922.
After World War II, the M1911 continued to be a mainstay of the United States Armed Forces in the Korean War and the Vietnam War. It was also used during Desert Storm in specialized U.S. Army units and US Navy Mobile Construction Battalions (Seabees), and has seen service in both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, with U.S. Army Special Forces Groups and Marine Corps Force Reconnaissance Companies.
However, by the late 1970s the M1911A1 was acknowledged to be showing its age. Under political pressure from NATO to conform to the NATO-standard pistol cartridge[citation needed], the US Air Force ran a Joint Service Small Arms Program to select a new semi-automatic pistol using the NATO-standard 9mm Parabellum pistol cartridge. After trials, the Beretta 92S-1 was chosen. The Army contested this result and subsequently ran its own competition in 1981, the XM9 trials, eventually leading to the official adoption of the Beretta 92F on January 14, 1985. By the later 1980s production was ramping up despite a controversial XM9 retrial and a separate XM10 reconfirmation that was boycotted by some entrants of the original trials, cracks in the frames of some pre-M9 Beretta-produced pistols, and also despite a problem with slide separation using higher than specified pressure rounds that resulted in injuries to some US Navy special operations operatives. This last issue resulted in an updated model that includes additional protection for the user, the 92FS, and updates to the ammunition used.
By the early 1990s, most M1911A1s had been replaced by the M9, though a limited number remain in use by special units. The United States Marine Corps in particular were noted for continuing the use of M1911 pistols for selected personnel in MEU(SOC) and reconnaissance units (though the USMC also purchased over 50,000 M9 handguns). For its part, the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) issued a requirement for a .45 ACP handgun in the Offensive Handgun Weapon System (OHWS) trials. This resulted in the Heckler & Koch OHWS becoming the MK23 Mod 0 Offensive Handgun Weapon System, beating the Colt OHWS, a much modified M1911. Dissatisfaction with the stopping power of the 9mm Parabellum cartridge used in the Beretta M9[citation needed] has actually promoted re-adoption of handguns based on the .45 ACP cartridge such as the M1911 design, along with other handguns, among USSOCOM units in recent years[citation needed], though the M9 remains predominant both within SOCOM and in the US military in general.
Some military and law enforcement organizations in the United States and other countries continue to use (often modified) M1911A1 pistols including Marine Force Recon, Los Angeles Police Department S.W.A.T. and L.A.P.D. S.I.S., the FBI Hostage Rescue Team, F.B.I. regional S.W.A.T. teams, and 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment—Delta (Delta Force). The Tacoma, Washington Police Department selected the Kimber Pro Carry II or Pro Carry II HD as optional, department supplied weapons available to its officers.[8]
A basic version of Smith & Wesson's SW1911 with user-installed Pachmayr grips.
M1911A1 by Springfield Armory (contemporary remake of WWII G.I. Model, Parkerized).
The M1911A1 is also extremely popular among the general public in the United States for practical and recreational purposes. The pistol is commonly used for concealed carry thanks in part to a single-stack magazine (which makes for a thinner pistol that is therefore easier to conceal), personal defense, target shooting, and competition. Numerous aftermarket accessories allow users to customize the pistol to their liking. There are a growing number of manufacturers of M1911-type pistols and the model continues to be quite popular for its reliability, simplicity, and patriotic appeal. Various tactical, target, and compact models are available. Price ranges from a low end of $250 for an imported model to more than $4,000 for the best competition or tactical models from such as those by Wilson Combat, Ed Brown, Les Baer and Nighthawk Custom.
Due to an increased demand for M1911 pistols among Army Special Operations units, who are known to field a variety of M1911 pistols, the Army Marksmanship Unit began looking to develop a new generation of M1911s and launched the M1911-A2 project in late 2004.[9] The goal was to produce a minimum of seven variants with various sights, internal and external extractors, flat and arched mainspring housings, integral and add-on magazine wells, a variety of finishes and other options, with the idea of providing the end-user a selection from which to select the features that best fit their missions.[9] The AMU performed a well received demonstration of the first group of pistols to the Marine Corps at Quantico and various Special Operations units at Ft. Bragg and other locations.[9] The project provided a feasibility study with insight into future projects.[9] Models were loaned to various Special Operations units, the results of which are classified. An RFP was issued for a Joint Combat Pistol but it was ultimately canceled.[9] Currently units are experimenting with an M1911 platform in .40 which will incorporate lessons learned from the M1911 A2 project. Ultimately, the M1911 A2 project provided a test bed for improving existing M1911s. An improved M1911 variant becoming available in the future is a possibility.[9]
The Springfield Custom Professional Model 1911A1 pistol is produced under contract by Springfield Armory for the FBI regional SWAT teams and the Hostage Rescue Team. This pistol is made in batches on a regular basis by the Springfield Custom Shop, and a few examples from most runs are made available for sale to the general public at a selling price of approximately US$2,500 each.
Marine Expeditionary Units formerly issued M1911s to Force Recon units.[10] Hand-selected Colt M1911A1 frames were gutted, deburred, and prepared for additional use by the USMC Precision Weapon Section (PWS) at Marine Corps Base Quantico.[10] They were then assembled with after-market grip safeties, ambidextrous thumb safeties, triggers, improved high-visibility sights, accurized barrels, grips, and improved Wilson magazines.[11] These hand-made pistols were tuned to specifications and preferences of end users.[12]
In the late 1980s, the Marines laid out a series of specifications and improvements to make Browning's design ready for 21st century combat, many of which have been included in MEU(SOC) pistol designs, but design and supply time was limited.[12] Discovering that the Los Angeles Police Department was pleased with their special Kimber M1911 pistols, a single source request was issued to Kimber for just such a pistol despite the imminent release of their TLE/RLII models.[13] Kimber shortly began producing a limited number of what would be later termed the Interim Close Quarters Battle pistol (ICQB). Maintaining the simple recoil assembly, 5-inch barrel (though using a stainless steel match grade barrel), and internal extractor, the ICQB is not much different from Browning's original design.
The final units as issued to MCSOCOM Det-1 are the Kimber ICQBs with Surefire IMPL (Integrated Military Pistol Light), Dawson Precision Rails, Tritium Novak LoMount sights, Gemtech TRL Tactical Retention Lanyards, modified Safariland 6004 holsters, and Wilson Combat '47D' 8 round magazines. They have reportedly been used with over 15,000 rounds apiece.[13]
Numbers of Colt M1911s were used by the Royal Navy as sidearms during World War I in .455 Webley Automatic caliber.[4] The handguns were then transferred to the Royal Air Force where they saw use in limited numbers up until the end of World War II as sidearms for air crew in event of bailing out in enemy territory.[4] Some units of the South Korean Air Force still use these original batches as officers' sidearms.
Norway used the Kongsberg Colt which was a license produced variant and is recognized by the unique slide catch. Many Spanish firearms manufacturers produced pistols derived from the 1911, such as the STAR Model P, the ASTAR 1911PL, and the Llama Model IX-A, just to name a few.[14] Argentina produced a licensed copy, the Model 1927 Sistema Colt, which eventually led to production of the cheaper Ballester-Molina, which is based closely on the 1911.
The Brazilian company IMBEL (Indústria de Material Bélico do Brasil) still produces the .45 in several variants for military and law enforcement uses.
The Greek Hellenic Army issues the M1911 as a sidearm. These are WWII production American pistols supplied as military aid in 1946 and afterward as the US aided Greece against Communist expansion.[15]
The Royal Thai Army still uses USGI M1911s that were supplied as military aid during the Vietnam War era.
The Rapid Action Battalion (RAB Forces), an anti-terrorist tactical team in Bangladesh uses this weapon.[16]
The Armed Forces of the Philippines issues Mil-spec M1911A1 pistols as a sidearm to the special forces, military police and officers. These pistols are produced by Armscor and Colt.
A Chinese Arms manufacturer, Norinco, exports a clone of the M1911A1 for civilian purchase. Importation into the US was blocked by trade rules in 1993. Norinco also manufactured conversion kits to chamber the 7.62x25mm Tokarev round after the Korean war.
Since its inception, the M1911 has lent itself to easy customization. Replacement sights, grips, and other aftermarket accessories are the most commonly offered parts. Since the 1950s and the rise of competitive pistol shooting, many companies have been offering the M1911 as a base model for major customization. These modifications can range from changing the external finish, checkering the frame, and hand fitting custom hammers, triggers, and sears. Some modifications include installing compensators and the addition of accessories such as tactical lights and even scopes.[17] These guns can cost over $5000 and are built from the ground up or on existing base models.[18] The main companies offering custom Colt M1911s are: Springfield Custom Shop, Ed Brown, Nighthawk Custom, Wilson Combat, Kimber, and Les Baer.
Browning's basic M1911 design has seen very little change throughout its production life.[1] The basic principle of the pistol is recoil operation.[1] As the expanding combustion gases force the bullet down the barrel, they give reverse momentum to the slide and barrel which are locked together during this portion of the firing cycle. After the bullet has left the barrel, the slide and barrel continue rearward a short distance.[1]
At this point, a link pivots the barrel down, out of locking recesses in the slide, and brings the barrel to a stop. As the slide continues rearward, a claw extractor pulls the spent casing from the firing chamber and an ejector strikes the rear of the case pivoting it out and away from the pistol. The slide stops and is then propelled forward by a spring to strip a fresh cartridge from the magazine and feed it into the firing chamber. At the forward end of its travel, the slide locks into the barrel and is ready to fire again.
The military mandated a grip safety and a manual safety.[1] A grip safety, sear disconnect, slide stop, half cock position, and manual safety (located on the left rear of the frame) are on all standard M1911A1s.[1] Several companies have developed a firing pin block safety. Colt's 80 series uses a trigger operated one and several other manufacturers, including Kimber and Smith & Wesson, use a Swartz firing-pin safety, which is operated by the grip safety.[19][20]
The same basic design has also been offered commercially and has been used by other militaries. In addition to the .45 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol), models chambered for .38 Super, 9mm Parabellum, .400 Corbon, and other cartridges were also offered. The M1911 was developed from earlier Colt designs firing rounds such as .38 ACP. The design beat out many other contenders during the government's selection period, during the late 1890s and 1900s, up to the pistol's adoption. The M1911 officially replaced a range of revolvers and pistols across branches of the U.S. armed forces, though a number of other designs have seen use in certain niches.
Despite being challenged by newer and lighter weight pistol designs in .45 caliber, such as the Glock 21, the SIG Sauer P220 and the Heckler & Koch USP, the M1911 shows no signs of decreasing popularity and continues to be widely present in various competitive matches such as those of IDPA, IPSC, and Bullseye.[9]
The slide stop pin of the 1911 can be depressed with firing if the index finger is placed along the side of the gun to assist in aiming the gun. That is an effective method of aiming which was known of since the early 19th century. Cautionary language against using that method of aiming and firing was included in the initial manual on the 1911 which was published in 1912. It also is found in other military manuals on the 1911 up to the 1940s.