Thursday, December 01, 2005

Boomsticks: An industry insider looks at the Joint Combat Pistol.

The internet gunblogging community is ablaze with speculation on the new "Joint Combat Pistol" requirement tendered by the US Special Operations Command (SOCOM). Let me go ahead and tender a few thoughts based on my experience in this industry:

1) When we grow up, we are said to become our parents; SOCOM has become the Big Army it was intended to circumvent.

When folks hear that there's to be a new SOCOM pistol, their thoughts turn to images of SFOD-Delta door-kickers crashing through Al Qaeda hideouts with handguns drawn, or DevGroup guys taking down oil platforms held by tangos. What they forget is that SOCOM has become so huge that the primary users of a new SOCOM sidearm are going to be 160th SOAR pilots and mortarmen in the 75th Ranger regiment. These are the kind of users that caused the military to start looking for a double-action pistol in the first place, back in the dark ages of the Viet Nam conflict, when draftees were poking holes in themselves with alarming regularity using the non-decocker-equipped single-action M1911A1. The requirements are set up to yield a pistol with least-common-denominator controls for idiot-resistant safety, yet one that still packs a .45 ACP wallop and can mount a flashlight for use by the door-kickers.

2) Some Ordinance Wonks wrote these specs.

No trigger-puller I know insists on a DA/SA or DAO trigger mechanism. More importantly, not one single snake-eater of my acquaintance has ever mused "You know, I wish our weapons had built-in Microsoft-compatible shot counters." These specs reek of the slide-rule toters who have brought us such previous flops as the HK Mk. 23 "Crew-Served Handgun", the OICW, and the XM8. Every interesting development in US military small arms technology in the last decade has come from small units thinking (and buying) outside the box: NAVSPECWAR getting tiny ammo company Black Hills to develop the Mk. 262 5.56mm load, or USMC Det One taking a purchase order to Kimber for some off-the-rack "Interim CQB" pistols that are now better known as Kimber's "Warrior" line.

3) It ain't gonna be a Glock.

US service pistols need to be domestically-made, if Congressmen want to keep their jobs. SIG, FN, HK, and Beretta all have plants here, and have profited thereby. Gaston Glock, on the other hand, won't license production of his gat, and has shown no desire to build a plant in the US. That, and the Ordnance Establishment loves hammers on pistols the way sixteen-year-old guys love Camaros; they may not be able to articulate why, but they know they're super-bichen.

4) It won't be a ParaOrd.

Spotty QC and fragile lockwork, plus the fact that they've never even had a large LE contract, let alone a zillion-pistol military deal pretty much rules this one out. (...and good riddance.)

I'll lay a wager right now: If a ParaOrd LDA is submitted, wins, and is made general issue to SOCOM troopies, I'll shoot a mag through our Uzi on lane 10, buck nekkid'. I'll even allow cameras.

5) HK and SIG's Jobs Program.

HK and SIG have long considered USSOCOM as their private playground and advertising cash cow. It's no coincidence that SIG hired Matt McClearn and rumors of an HK 1911 started circulating right after there was chatter about NAVSPECWAR floating a potential 1911 contract last year. They will do whatever they need to do to keep their toe in this market, to the delight of Counterstrike Kiddies everywhere.

6) My fearless prediction is:

Most likely? A DAK P-220R ST. Second most likely? A .45 variant of the P-2000/3000, or just a plain ol' USP-45. Dark horse? Ruger's tasted the first hint of FedGov contract success since being snubbed in the Eighties. Perhaps some variant of the P-345? (Rugers are more mechanically accurate than most folks give them credit for.)

The toes of mortarmen in the 75th should be safe if this pistol ever becomes reality.

[EDIT: Much hoohah is being made over the accuracy requirement, without mention of the "out" given by the "Baseline Accuracy" bit.

"3.2.2. Accuracy. When fired from a rest, at a range of 50 meters, the mean radius of a 10-shot group fired from the JCP shall not be greater than A) 3.15 inches or B)1.8 inches over baseline ammunition performance, whichever is less (T). Baseline ammunition performance is defined as the average mean radius plus two sample standard deviations of three 10-shot groups fired from a test barrel at 50m."

Anyone who remembers the RFP that gave FBI SWAT the Springer Pro will remember Wilson's complaint that the accuracy demand the FBI issued with 230gr Golden Saber was only 1/2 inch better than the round would do out of a barrel fixture.]


Anonymous said...

Not sure about the Sig 220 since it doesn't have a high capacity configuration.

Here's a crazy idea, maybe we bloggers should get together and design our own ;-)


Tam said...

The specs call for a minimum of 8 rounds (standard P-220 capacity) and "10 to 15 round magazine capacity in high-capacity configuration". They do not say that "high capacity configuration" can't be a 10-rd mag that protrudes from the magwell.

Chris Byrne said...

I'm thinking almost exactly the same thing, 'cept I reverse the probability of HK and SIG. As I wrote up on my blog 'tother day, HK is "owed" a major defense contract at the moment by their pet congress critters.

Josh said...

I still like the Para LDA's, at least as far as the specs go on paper. Realistically - it will probably be HK. I don't think they'd go with a SIG when the USP is an option. 10rds isn't 12, and they specifically wanted a "snag-free" lanyard loop, so a protruding mag probably won't make anybody very happy.

Addison said...

"If a Paraord LDA is submitted, wins, and is made general issue to SOCOM troopies, I'll shoot a mag through our Uzi on lane 10, buck nekkid'. I'll even allow cameras.

I'm calling my Congresscritters and Senators today.

Alston said...

Glock has already commenced production of their US manufacturing facility...


Windaria said...

alston, that is what I was going to say... the moment I started reading this post I whipped out my handy-dandy Glock Annual '05 and flipped to page 7. For some reason the picture of those executives playing with gun making equipment in suits has stuck with me... Don't get me wrong, I am sure they are more familiar with it than I am... just the suits seem strange.

Anyway, the caveat is that they are producing Frames... no mention of the other parts. So are they making those in the US?

And... for that kind of contract, would they be willing to open a plant to begin making them? I would certainly hope so.

Nonetheless, if they say that portions of the gun are made in the US, something tells me that some senators, and maybe even enough, would be willing to bite.

James J. Na said...


From an entry in my blog:

I'll lay a wager right now: If a ParaOrd LDA is submitted, wins, and is made general issue to SOCOM troopies, I'll shoot a mag through our Uzi on lane 10, buck nekkid'. I'll even allow cameras.

And should that video be available on the Internet, Guns and Butter Blog will do its utmost to bring this important item to your attention as quickly as possible.

Anonymous said...

HK45 is by far the better weapon! Larry Vickers had alot to do with the development of this fine combat weapon. Can't wait to get a hold of one myself. 11 bravo all the way!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Has anyone checked out the new Smith & Wesson M&P? It's pretty sweet. Haven't seen their contender for JCP, but expect it will give HK and SIG a run for their money. Best of all, its borne, raised and made in the US of A.