Another look at the Marine Corps' search for a new 1911 pistol


At left, Springfield Armory's entry in the Marine Corps' competition for a new .45-caliber 1911 pistol. At right, a copy of Colt Defense's prototype entered in the competition. (Photos by Dan Lamothe)

By now, many of you may have heard about the Marine Corps’ search for a new 1911 pistol.

I first reported about it for Marine Corps Times in the fall when a Request for Information was released by acquisition officials, and followed up by walking the floor at SHOT Show last week to discuss the competition with many of the gunmakers assumed to be in the fight.

As outlined in this story, Colt Defense and Springfield Armory have submitted samples to the Corps for the competition, while at least two other bigtime pistol makers — Kimber and Smith & Wesson — have not. Officials with the two companies that bowed out cited competing priorities and the small window of time that the Corps provided to develop and submit samples after a Request for Proposals was issued in the fall.

Another gunmaker, Karl Lippard Designs, has since contacted Marine Corps Times to express its interest in the competition, even though they didn’t meet the deadline to submit samples. Company officials boldly say they have developed a new 1911 A2 design capable of accurately dropping targets at 400 yards — rifle distance. And the guns don’t even look like this.

It has been interesting to see the attention the story has received online in the last few days. Everyone from the to The Truth About Guns has weighed in, with opinions ranging from excitement to frustration that the Corps is looking at more 1911 pistols, which get dinged on occasion for being difficult with maintenance.

I put it to you, friends: What should the Corps do? Keep in mind the service wants an off-the-shelf solution, and that most of the weapons will likely be fielded to special operators with Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command and door-kickers with Force Reconnaissance units.


About Author

I'm a senior writer with Marine Corps Times, covering ground warfare, manpower, weapons acquisition and other beats. I embedded in Afghanistan in spring 2010, and plan to return at least once in 2011.


  1. Toss both of those platforms out the window and go with either the Glock platform or Springfield’s XD platform. Simple maintenance and simple operation.

  2. Why? Government should scrutinize whoever is pushing this project. We are so on top of everything, everyone is afraid to fight us. That’s why the terrorist invented IED. I believe we are fine with what we currently have (M4 & 9mm pistol). We don’t need a better pistol because the majority of the military will never use it for combat. I’m not trying to sound arrogant here but it really is a waste of money.

  3. Khlaud,

    Force Recon and special operators have been using the 1911 for years because of the increased stopping power. In your opinion, was that a waste of time, too? This is really a continuation of an existing practice, but with MARSOC growing, the Corps can’t keep up hand-assembling .45-caliber pistols at Weapons Training Battalion.

  4. As stated above, with MARSOC’S growth over the past few years, the ability to hand assemble 1911s for the end user couldn’t be continued. The current platform is reliable, accurate and proven. Both Springfield and Colt make fine offerings. Either choice should serve well and fit in almost seamlessly.

  5. Why stick with the 1911 platform at all? For ease of maintenance, arguably better reliability, and less cost they should be considering the HK45 or USP series or Glock 21. I know one of the arguments for staying with the 1911 is the continued use of the magazines they already have, which is a stupid reason as magazines are consumables.

  6. What happened to the MARSOC pistol made by Kimber, did they not work out? It seems to me that it wasn’t all that long ago that the Corps adopted the Kimber so why are they already looking for a replacement or will these be more for standard issue as a replacement for the M9?

  7. 1911 are great but with hundreds of .45 acp pistols out there, linking the gun with the caliber is nonsense. A more rugged, reliable pistol in .45 should be considered. Glock, Springfield XD ( if it can be made in us), SW m&p, Hk’s in my mind too pricey for what you get, same with Sig although both are good. any piece of equipment worth having is worth being the best there is.. “good enough” is for beer, shaving cream, and condoms not for combat equipment.

  8. My time with First Recon was before the 9mm. We had the Colt 45 and I would prefer it over the 9mm for sure when it comes to putting someone down and making sure they stay that way. In recent years I have really come to admire the Springfields, so that’s my vote for what it’s worth

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