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Reconnaissance Marines train with close-quarters battle pistol

22 Jul 2013 | Cpl. Mark Stroud

CAMP HANSEN, Okinawa - Reconnaissance Marines with Force Reconnaissance Company, III Marine Expeditionary Force, completed M45A1 close-quarters battle pistol training July 3 at Range 15 near Camp Hansen.

The M45A1 replaced the M45 Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) pistol and the M9A1 service pistol as the issued sidearm for Marine Special Operations Command, force reconnaissance units and provost marshal’s office special reaction teams because of the unique demands of their mission profiles. 
One of the key differences is the pistols’ caliber. 

“The M45A1 is supposed to provide more stopping power and it provides a slimmer, more user-friendly grip than the M9A1, and I think that lends itself to accuracy,” said Staff Sgt. Benjamin D. Pollock-Jacobson, a team leader with Force Recon. Co. “It is built better, and it just feels better in your grip.”

A platoon of force reconnaissance Marines recently returned from deployment with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, where they gained experience with M45A1, and served as instructors during the training.

“The coaches and (combat marksmanship training-certified Marines) attended a weeklong instruction on the new 45s, so they would be able to teach the shooters in the battalion,” said Staff Sgt. Justin R. Davis, a range safety officer with Force Recon. Co. “They got off the MEU in June, so they have been through the (Special Operations Training Group, III MEF Headquarters Group, III MEF) shooting package, and they are out here as positional safety officers to help this platoon.”

The training included familiarization and instructional periods, annual pistol qualifications, and firing drills to build on marksmanship fundamentals.

“Focusing on the front sight post is a fundamental they teach you in boot camp, so is lining up your front sight post and rear sight aperture … all these things are basic and instilled in us throughout training,” said Pollock-Jacobson. “This may be more advanced shooting, but the fundamentals remain relatively identical, it is all built on a foundation.”

The Marines used shooting drills to identify and address flaws in their firing technique, including the ball-and-dummy drill. The Marines paired-up during the drill with a non-firing Marine in charge of loading the pistol, leaving the firing Marine unaware of whether the pistol was loaded.

“Anticipation, especially with the caliber of weapon we are shooting, is something your body naturally does because of the stress of firing a weapon,” said Pollock-Jacobson. “You try to offset the recoil and end up pushing against the weapon while simultaneously pulling the trigger.

“With the ball-and-dummy drill, it is like a lie detector. You can say that you are not anticipating the shot, but when you have no round in there and you squeeze the trigger and your body naturally pushes the weapon down and to the left, it is obvious. It makes you realize your mistakes, so you can start correcting them.”

The Marines put the capabilities of the M45A1 to use, gaining proficiency and confidence.

“We applied the fundamentals, and it was very accurate at the various distances we shot,” said Pfc. Bryan M. Seese, a motor transport operator with Headquarters and Service Company, 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III MEF. “It’s a great pistol.”

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