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Military Pistols & Revolvers

Pistols and revolvers have always been an important component of military firearms. These lightweight and portable weapons have been carried on the belt of officers, military police, and others with specialized missions. While the average G.I. was issued a rifle, the powerful automatic pistol was often decisive in close combat.

M1911 pistol, in U.S. service from 1911 until the 1990s.  Photo taken at Fort Knox, KY in June 1942
M1911 pistol, in U.S. service from 1911 until the 1990s. Photo taken at Fort Knox, KY in June 1942.

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Military Pistols & Revolvers

While rifles, submachine guns, and automatic weapons have been the dominant firearms for ground forces, military pistols and revolvers have also had their important role to play. For officers, guards, crews of armored vehicles, and others the sidearm automatic pistol or revolver has provided portable firepower, easy to carry while quite effective when deployed.

For much of the 20th Century, the signature pistol of the U.S. military was the M1911 or M1911A1 Colt .45 automatic. Revolvers or other side arms were used but in much smaller numbers. In the 1990s, the venerable M1911A1 was at last replaced by the M9 Beretta, a change that many found unsatisfactory.

This section of Olive-Drab.com has individual pages for most of the important pistols and revolvers used by the U.S. military since World War I. A few pistols from other countries are included as well.

Training with the M-1911 service pistol, Air Service Command, Daniel Field, GA, July 1943
Training with the M-1911 service pistol, Air Service Command, Daniel Field, GA, July 1943.

Recommended Books about Military Pistols

Find More Information on the Internet

There are many fine websites that have additional information on this topic, too many to list here and too many to keep up with as they come and go. Use this Google web search form to get an up to date report of what's out there.

For good results, try entering this: military pistol. Then click the Search button.

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