For decades, Marines heading out for Annual Pistol Training were carrying one of three pistols: the classic .45-caliber M5A1, the Beretta M9 or the M9A1 variant. But that changed in February, 2015, when the Corps announced it was including the Glock-19 in its list of Authorized Individual Weapons—at least for some Marines, that is.

The Marine Corps Times reported on February 17, 2015 that the Glock-19—a semi-automatic firing 9mm rounds—had been authorized for use, but only by Marine Corps Special Forces Operators. Over the eighteen months following the decision, Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command purchased more 1600 Glocks, issuing them to Marine Corps Raiders as secondary weapons because of its suitability for conceal-carry situations and its low-visibility profile when drawn.

But the positive response generated by the decision to expand the number of handguns from which Raiders could choose was dampened somewhat by a September, 2016 announcement by Major Nick Mannweiler of the Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC) that the Glock will be the only handgun they could carry into combat. While the Glock has many undeniable advantages over the M1911 from cost and availability standpoints, the mandate that  the Raiders can carry only Glocks naturally rekindled the decades-old debate over the merits of the stopping power of the 9mm round versus the .45-caliber.

But while there’s likely to never be agreement over which pistol is the best for combat situations, one thing is beyond dispute: Special Forces Operators still have to achieve a score of at least 364 out of a possible 400 during their Annual Pistol Training qualification to earn the Pistol Expert badge.
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