April 19, 2013 —
By Monique Randolph, MCSC Corporate Communications
“Reloading!” shouted members of the Marine Corps Base Quantico Special Response Team as they replaced the magazines in their newly issued .45-caliber pistols.
The team, along with Marines from the Weapons Training Battalion at Quantico, participated in New Equipment Training, or NET, for the M45A1 Close Quarters Battle Pistol April 10. The pistol will be fielded to Marine Corps Special Operations Command, reconnaissance organizations and military police special response teams across the Marine Corps.
“The new equipment training is two-part,” said Mike Flanagan, Ordnance Test Facility team lead. “One part is for maintainers. We teach them what they would normally learn at the basic schools—how to care for, maintain and repair the weapon. [In the second part] we teach the operators how to disassemble, reassemble, care for and clean [the weapon], along with weapons handling that may include live fire.”
In addition to conducting NET, the OTF team—part of MCSC’s Infantry Weapons Systems Program Management Office—assists infantry weapons project officers with research and development for future weapons, as well as engineers and logisticians with the lifecycle sustainment of existing equipment. The OTF team also serves as subject matter experts for technical manuals and the development of course curriculum for new weapons.
The commercially produced M45A1 replaces the Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) .45-caliber pistol previously custom made by the Marine Corps Weapons Training Battalion Precision Weapons Section in Quantico.
The Marine Corps began manufacturing the MEU(SOC) .45 pistol in 1986 as a modification to the standard M1911A1 service pistol. By 2009, the pistol receivers had become unavailable through the supply system, and it was determined that another source of supply was needed, said Chris Goins, M45A1 project officer in Infantry Weapons Systems.
One specification for the M45A1 was that it have drop-in replaceable parts, Goins said. This way it would not require the hand or machine fitting for maintenance and repairs needed for the MEU(SOC) .45 pistol.
“With the new pistol, we’ve moved the level of maintenance from an advanced weapons technician to an armorer, so at the unit level the armorer can take a part that’s broken and replace it with a new serviceable part,” he said. “This fits more within the maintenance and logistics plan we have for other weapon systems in the Marine Corps.”
Another feature of the M45A1 is tritium night sights that glow in the dark and do not require an outside power source. The pistol also has a military standard 1913 accessory rail so Marines can attach lights, lasers or other accessories to adapt the pistol to the operational environment, Goins said.
When fielding new equipment to Marines, training them to use it properly and safely is the primary goal of the IWS team, Flanagan said. Over the next few months, members of IWS will field the weapon and complete operator and maintainer training for the new equipment to selected Marine Corps units.
“We’ll get out to the units and teach the Marines who will receive the weapon and ensure they understand all the knowledge we’ve gained on the weapon,” Flanagan said.
“We leave behind our entire training curriculum so they can [provide] small-unit leader training,” he said. “We also go into the schoolhouses, and we teach them what we’ve learned [so they can] turn it into curriculum for new students. We give them 110 percent.”