Canadian troops using 60-year-old handguns


I think not
#1
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- Canadian soldiers embarked on the country's largest combat mission since the Korean War are using handguns that date back even further -- to the Second World War.

The nine-millimetre Browning High Power, which serves as the soldiers' "weapon of last resort" in southern Afghanistan, has been in service with the Canadian military since 1937 and the average Browning -- commonly known as the "nine-mill" -- now being used by the troops is 63 years old, according to Canadian Forces small-arms experts.

Major Gary Vassbotn, the army's section head for small arms, said the Browning was adopted as a sidearm in 1937 and the last pistol was produced by John Inglis & Co. in 1944. But while the handguns may be old, he said they are in excellent condition.

"A large number were immediately stored in unused condition in the CF supply depots," he said in an e-mail from National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa. "While the average age of these pistols is approximately 63 years, these are still in like-new condition."

The bulky, black handguns are used by officers and senior non-commission officers of the 2,000-strong battle group now deploying to Kandahar, as well as by soldiers who need them for "close protection" -- for when the enemy gets within very close range and rifles or machine-guns are impossible or impractical to use.

"They're our weapon of last resort," said Capt. Dave McKeever, the operations officer for the Canadian contingent in southern Afghanistan.

"They're the last weapon you would draw when someone's coming at you at very close range."

He would not say how many sidearms have been issued to the troops arriving in Kandahar, citing operational security, but McKeever said the Brownings are usually issued to commanders of units, warrant officers or sergeants.

But he added they are also handed out to other soldiers.

"A lot of the guys who have to do lifting, loading and carrying are issued nine-mills because carrying a C7 (assault rifle) when you're climbing up and down a ladder would be kind of awkward," he said. "Or the gunners in the turrets (of G-wagon vehicles) who don't have a lot of elbow room, sometimes are issued nine-mills ... Whoever needs them, gets them."

Vassbotn said the military inspects the Brownings regularly "so any problems associated with age such as worn slides and bodies are detected and the pistol removed from service."

However, many of the soldiers who have to use the Browning have little faith in its ability to protect them should the need arise.

"I don't trust them," said one junior officer, who did not want his name used. "They're prone to jamming and I hear they have a habit of going off when you jostle them. They ought to be replaced -- should've been a long time ago."

The handful of military specialties who are more likely to use handguns -- military police, naval boarding parties and the commandos of JTF2 -- switched to more modern SIG-Sauer nine-millimetre sidearms several years ago.

"The nine-mills are junk," said one MP posted to Kandahar Air Field, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"They're too old. Handgun design has passed them by ... and they're always jamming. I was at the range last week firing my SIG-Sauer next to a guy with a nine-mill and his weapon had four stoppages. That'll get you killed in a combat situation."

David Rudd, the director of the Canadian Institute of Strategic Studies, said it is high time the Browning was replaced, especially for use in Afghanistan.

"A replacement is both overdue, desirable and necessary," he said. "Guerrillas and insurgents often cannot be distinguished from ordinary civilians. They can therefore get close to Canadian troops before setting off a bomb or an explosive belt. Purchasing a modern handgun would allow the army to select a model that is better suited to this (Afghan) environment."

Rudd said if the Browning is not good enough for the commandos of JTF2, naval boarding parties or military police, it should be replaced for the army too.

"There must be a reason for that. How strange that the rest of the army should be short-changed."

Warrant Officer Len Aubin, the weapons technician for the Canadian battle group, acknowledged there have been some problems with some of the Brownings. "If you take a weapon and beat it up over a period of years, then yes, it's going to fail," he said. "But the maintenance system has identified those problems and dealt with them."

"If it's used properly, there is no problem ... my personal opinion is that this is an excellent combat weapon, when it's used in the proper context."

Aubin said the heat and ever-present powdery dust of southern Afghanistan may be harder on the Brownings than on other weapons. "If you use it in a place like this ... the sand and the dust, that's just like sandpaper on the weapon's action."

But he added so far, he has seen few problems with the Brownings issued to the soldiers in Kandahar.

"It's a good, reliable combat weapon."

Most of the weapons used by the Canadian troops in Afghanistan are fairly new, "Gucci kit" as the soldiers refer to them. The C7 assault rifle was revamped and improved last year and vehicles such as the LAV III armoured troop carrier are among the best of their kind in the world.

Vassbotn indicated, however, there were no plans at present to replace the Browning, the oldest weapon still in service with the Canadian Forces. "The Browning still meets the sidearm requirement for the majority of soldiers in the field, and there is no plan to replace the pistol in the near future."

However, Rudd said a new weapon is needed and should be able to fire "a larger, more powerful round ... The nine-millimetre cannot impart enough energy to take down an opponent who is determined to get through."

"These are more likely to stop a suicide bomber in his tracks."

Link
 
#juan
No Party Affiliation
#2
If it ain't broke, don't fix it. These pistols are very reliable and they are not prone to jamming in a dusty, sandy, environment, unlike some of the new ones. It is a solid automatic 9mm pistol with a 13 round clip.

 
FiveParadox
Liberal
#3
If this particular weapon continues to serve its essential purpose effectively, then I see no reason to decommission them from the Canadian Armed Forces ; however, perhaps it would be prudent to begin to research into an alternative, in the event that the need for their decommission does at some point in the future arise.
 
Sassylassie
#4
At least they armed them this time, I wonder do they have any bullets to put in them.
 
Finder
#5
Well one thing I learned in the Canadian forces when I was in it, that if it came down to using handguns, we would have already lost anyways. The C7 is so far more advanced weapion and the weapions we'd be facing from any force, any hand gun would be utterly usless. I know the officer I had, hated the idea of having a hand gun in combat. It's really only a status symbol of an officer these days.
 
JomZ
#6
Lets be serious here,

How often is the need to draw a side arm necessary in a combat scenario. Only when your primary (and secondary) weapon is out of ammunition, disabled, or incapable of being used (ie really close quarters combat).

I do agree that using a gun that is three times the age of the average Canadian soldier, is unnerving. Yet the enemy commonly uses the AK47 or similar model rifles, and they are usually older models as well.

Yet, combat is highly chaotic and uncontrollable, if I were a soldier I would be happy to know my last resort weapon won’t jam. It would be prudent to address this problem and consider the reliability of the weapon and if necessary upgrades are prudent.
 
Colpy
Conservative
#7
Quote: Originally Posted by #juan

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. These pistols are very reliable and they are not prone to jamming in a dusty, sandy, environment, unlike some of the new ones. It is a solid automatic 9mm pistol with a 13 round clip.

Yeah.

I've owned a commercial P-35 High Power since 1977, and I've fired thousands of rounds through it, a lot of then HOT handloads.

What a marvelous weapon it is!

But these ones (the newest ones were purchased in 1944!) must be getting a little tired.

There is also a small problem with bringing the weapon into action. It is a single action, so must be carried with a round in the chamber, fully cocked, with the safety on (as shown in the pic) to be ready for immediate action. I don't think the military allows this as a usual carry mode.

A double action pistol, in which pulling the trigger cocks and fires the gun, would be quicker into action.
 
thulin
#8
Swedish army uses the Glock 17, from what I heard itīs the most reliable there is. I donīt know about itīs accuracy though, since I never used it.



Didnīt the US army use the Colt 1911 untill 1990:s?
 
farasha1118
#9
i'm surprised they have guns at all...my father was in the un peace keeping duties,,and they was place where they had guns but no bullets
not it's that crazy
 
farasha1118
#10
ops i mean they were in places where they didn't even get bullets to put in there guns
 
Finder
#11
I know in some cicil war's in Africa, the battle or even holding a town depends on the ability to supply ammo.
 
TenPenny
#12
It's nice that someone is making an issue of using old, but perfectly function handguns.

Now let's hear a discussion of the UAVs (unmanned air vehicles) that the Canadian troops are using in Afghanistan, and leading the world in deployment and use of these particular models. We won't read one of those articles here, will we, because certain people only post articles slanted to show how we aren't supplying our troops properly. They leave out all the positive stuff.
 
sanch
#13
This is really ridculous sending them out there with these old pistols. I'm not into guns but it seems this is much preferable.



Brief Information on GLOCK / 18

All Glocks (except for ones chambered in 9x17 - .380ACP) are recoil operated, locked breech pistols. Glocks feature Browning-type linkless locking system with barrel interlocking with slide via ejection port. All Glocks feature patented "Safe action" striker-fired trigger mechanism. After the each cycle of the slide the striker is set to half-cock position and is safely blocked by internal safety. When shooter pulls the trigger, he disengades the trigger safety first, then cocks the striker to the full-cock and then fires the gun. This results in constant trigger pull (ajustable from 2 to 5.5 kg) and, unlike the traditional DA or DAO pistols, unavailability of the "second strike" option in case of the misfire. All Glocks has no external controls except the trigger and the slide stop (the only different is Glock 18, which has slide mounted fire mode selector).

All Glocks feature polymer frame, steel slides made by precision moulding process and had Tenifer heat-threatment to increase rust and wear risistance. early Glocks had plain grips with slight serrations. Modern variants has finger grooves on the front strap of the grip, and ambidextrous thumb rests. Also, modern versions featured underbarrel acessory rails. Barrels has hexagonal rifling in all calibers. Both front and rear sights are dovetailed and usually had white or luminous inserts. Ajustable sights are available for competition models.

The select-fire version of the Glock, called Glock 18, available only in 9mm Luger and only for Military / Law enforcement sales. The theoretical rate of fire in full-auto mode is 1200 rounds per minute.
 
TenPenny
#14
The Glocks are well known for having very touchy safeties.

Furthermore, what, exactly, do you think a soldier in a war zone is going to do with a handgun?
 
sanch
#15
Are Canadian troops fighting in Afghanistan? They are there as peace keepers I thought. They need to have proper equipment (meaning up to date not obsolete museum pieces) to do their jobs and protect themselves. Right now they are being called in to assist with major riots in Afghan urban centers. They need proper hand guns and for peackeeepers that is their main defense.
 
Colpy
Conservative
#16
Quote: Originally Posted by TenPenny

The Glocks are well known for having very touchy safeties.

Furthermore, what, exactly, do you think a soldier in a war zone is going to do with a handgun?

The Glocks don't have a safety. If you look at the pic, you will see a tiny lever on the trigger. Depressing that lever in the act of pulling the trigger actually fully cocks the gun. No safety.

The only Glock I ever fired extensively was ammunition sensitive. Dirty, mis-shapen ammo, or a very slightly protruding primer, and she no go. My Browning would fire anything that faintly resembled 9mm ammo.

MPs, crews on crew served weapons, just for starters, would use pistols for close-in defense.

It is probably time to buy them SIGS or Berettas.
 
JoeyB
#17
Browning HiPower 9mm still good enough for SASR to use, and in terms of operating environment, dropping it in the mud and being able to pick it up and fire immediately without stress is more important than some other considerations. besides, it also makes a useful kosh. It's not light. It's proved itself in many sand / dust environments over the years. a sensible choice.
 
sanch
#18
What is disturbing here is the comments of the officers whose lives depend on the guns. They appear to not have confidence in the pistol and the impression is that this is a general sentiment. It is not clear if anyone made a sensible choice or conducted any kind of review or just gave them what is in the closet. On a budgetary level it probably made sense to send US troops into Iraq without proper vehicle armor. We are talking about the human factor and Canadian troops should have the best or there should be a written report as to why they are using pistols this old.
 
I think not
#19
Good post sanch, that was the point of the article, the human factor. Sending men and women to war without the proper equipment to defend and protect them is terrible.
 
#juan
No Party Affiliation
#20
In the army,

the pistols are normally issued only to officers. Enlisted personal very rarely are given handguns. If you are up against an enemy with a modern assault rifle, the pistol, any pistol, is not very useful. In an extreme situation, at close range, a soldier, with a Browning, should be able to put just about all his bullets into a two foot circle from fifteen or twenty feet. Is the Sig, or the Barretta so much better that we should dump the Brownings? BTW, we still have Brownings that have never been used and these guns are fully serviced before they are issued.

In the Airforce, the ejection seat pack in most jet fighters contained a pistol that you could use to defeat the enemy after your aircraft was shot down...

I agree that the special commando units should have the best that is available but I don't agree that the Browning should be dumped. There are higher priorities than replacing the Brownings.
 
Colpy
Conservative
#21
Some of the Brownings have never been issued?

Made in 1944?

Boy, would I like to have one of those.
 
#juan
No Party Affiliation
#22
Hi Colpy

I don't have guns anymore. In my younger days I had a few and might have jumped at the chance to get a brand new Browning. I never owned a handgun. My only experience with handguns was in the military.(Airforce) We used to go out to the range and fire off a few hundred rounds at leat once a month. I still know a few military people and I'm told they still have many new Brownings, packed with grease and wrapped in oilcloth.
 
sanch
#23
#juan I am reacting to the comments in the article which you have not addressed. The soldiers quoted do not have the same confidence that you have in the Browning. You are very much an arm chair analyst in this case and they are on the ground facing real danger. So what you are saying is that if you ejected over Afghanistan you would feeling secure with the Browning. What about a Uzi pistol?

The three main threats to Canadian peacekeepers in Afghanistan are landmines, suicide bombers and snipers. Outside of Kabul buildings are mostly one story and so sniper attacks are not that common. Pistols would not protect them from landmines. A pistol might be useful in stopping a suicide bomber and here one would want to be able to release as many rounds as possible.
 
#juan
No Party Affiliation
#24
sanch

You are right that I pretty much only run an armchair these days as far as the military is concerned but the people in the topic header didn't even agree with each other. One said the 9mm Browning was too light a weapon and the soldiers needed a more powerful gun. One said the Browning was unreliable. Another said it was a very reliable weapon. It is interesting to note that some of the guns being touted as replacements for the Browning are also 9mm. I have fired many thousand rounds with the Browning and never experienced any problems other than those things Colpy mentioned.

If I ejected and ran into the opposing army, the best thing to do is put my hands up whether or not I had an Uzi.
 
Mogz
Conservative
#25
Man I missed this post, my two cents and a few shoot downs of peoples opinions:

The 9mm Browning was designed in the 30's, that doesn't mean the side arms carried overseas are from the 30's as well. We just sent a shipment of almost-new brownings overseas with our HSS Company that deployed last week.

Quote:

How often is the need to draw a side arm necessary in a combat scenario. Only when your primary (and secondary) weapon is out of ammunition, disabled, or incapable of being used (ie really close quarters combat).

You do realize that some troops don't carry rifles right? For example a medic usually only carries a sidearm. Your take on this situation is a hollywood view, something you see in movies where the hero empties his mag at the enemy then pulls out his sidearm loaded with exploding rounds and blows up the building.

Quote:

i'm surprised they have guns at all...my father was in the un peace keeping duties,,and they was place where they had guns but no bullets
not it's that crazy

Yeah i've heard that "story" too. It's a joke you fool. Every mission we deploy on we go armed, peacekeeping or otherwise. Look up the word gullible.

Quote:





Reply with quote
Are Canadian troops fighting in Afghanistan? They are there as peace keepers I thought. They need to have proper equipment (meaning up to date not obsolete museum pieces) to do their jobs and protect themselves. Right now they are being called in to assist with major riots in Afghan urban centers. They need proper hand guns and for peackeeepers that is their main defense.

*Sigh*, Afghanistan (for the millionth time iv'e said this is a year) is not, I say again, NOT a peacekeeping operation. It is a combat operation against a declared enemy. The news, for some reason, keeps delcaring Afghanistan a peacekeeping mission. A peacekeeping mission is defined by troops with blue berets, under U.N. control, under U.N. rules of engagement. Those 3 things don't exist in Afghanistan. We're at war, we've got a combat Brigade deployed, our troops are shot at daily. That's war...please, tell your friends, i'm sick of explaining this to every Canadian I meet.

Quote:

I agree that the special commando units should have the best that is available but I don't agree that the Browning should be dumped. There are higher priorities than replacing the Brownings.

The Browning is being replaced, with the Sig Sauer P228, eventaully. The MPs and some units use the Sig, while JTF-2 uses whatever the hell they want.

Quote:

What about a Uzi pistol?

An UZI is not a pistol, it is a submachine gun

Quote:

The three main threats to Canadian peacekeepers in Afghanistan are landmines, suicide bombers and snipers. Outside of Kabul buildings are mostly one story and so sniper attacks are not that common. Pistols would not protect them from landmines. A pistol might be useful in stopping a suicide bomber and here one would want to be able to release as many rounds as possible.

Canada isn't even in Kabul anymore, we've moved South to Kandahar, the most dangerous part of Afghanistan.

To sum up, I have fired a browning several times and only ever had one (1) stoppage. Granted I wasn't firing as frequently as some soldiers do, however I fail to see a major problem with the browning. Yes it jams, but let me share a quick tail with you:

February 14, 2005, Combat Training Centre Gagetown. Soldier Mogz is on a recce patrol and comes under hard contact. He and his patrol begin a section attack on the enemy machine gun nest. For those soldiers on the forums, you'll know what I mean when I say double tap dash down. While Mogz is doing a double tap, he only releases one round then his C-7A1 jams. He clears the jam (bolt partially forward stoppage) and begins covering his fire partner. 2/3 through the magazine he gets another stoppage (bolt partially forward), which he clears and begins to fire again. He then gets his turn to move. When he goes down again to cover his fire partner he gets this third stoppage (bolt partially forward). After clearing that he carries on and has no more stoppages during the engagement.

Moral of the story; every weapon jams. Granted yes I was using blank ammunition and it isn't the same as firing FMJ through a weapon, however the jams were caused in the chamber due to a poor feed each time. The C-7 is an excellent weapon, but as I said above, jams happen in every weapon.
 
EagleSmack
#26
When I was a Marine we just started replacing the 45 caliber pistol with the 9MM. The 45 goes back to WWI.

Blank ammunition always jams. When we had war games my M-16 always jammed using blanks. However when shooting 5.56mm it never jammed. I hated firing blanks because you were constantly pulling the bolt back to eject the jammed shell. I prefered to yell

"BANG BANG... I got you MF*er.... You know I did... no I got you first... you're dead man... D-E-A-D..."
 
Mogz
Conservative
#27
The .45 COlt 1911, a good pistol. Hell it was the mainstay of the U.S. Military during World War II.

As for blanks, I rarely get stoppages with blanks in a C-7, unless of course the chamber is caked with carbon, then it's jam central. I have fired M-16A2s ( a few years back) and I did find they jammed alot even when putting live rounds through them. Maybe it was just the weapons we had (could be old and have had thousands of rounds put through them).