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When was the last time that the US military issued a sidearm to pretty much all soldiers in addition to their long gun in a combat situation ?

I'm thinking that during the Civil War, only officers were issued the Colt 1860 (at least the Union Army) but not long afterwards with the introduction of cartridge revolvers, but when the rifles were still single shot trapdoor Springfields, all soldiers were issued a revolver. I'm excepting personnel who manned artillery for example and thinking along the lines of infantry and cavalry soldiers.

Were all soldiers in the Spanish American War issued sidearms ? I understand that by WWI handguns were in a shortage situation but the average doughboy private wouldn't have been issued an M1911 or Colt of S&W M1917 correct ? So maybe it was during that period between the end of the Spanish American War and WWI when the general issue of sidearms to privates and above was discontinued ? Could that have been due to the fact that by then they had repeating rifles rather than single shots, or due to a very restrictive military spending budget at that time ?
 

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Decided by “occupation” in the service. Crew served weapon GIs usually were issued side arms. By WWII the .30 Cal. M-1 Carbine were issued instead of side arms. GIs picked up many side arms fro the battlefield. Also the unit CO ( Col. usually) could at his discretion order side arms carried by who ever. In todays service have no idea as from what I hear from those in today, things are “ crazy”….
 

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I've mentioned this a number of times in past threads - not every soldier had a sidearm - their primary weapon is a long gun.

Sidearms went to those whose Military Occupational Specialty required them by the Table of Organization and Equipment of a unit - that part's spelled out.

Officers/NCOs - whose job it is to lead and direct - though many Infantry leaders 'mask' their position by use of a rifle so they blend in - snipers always go for the guy who's 'different'.

Tankers - so they remain armed when dismounting - submachineguns are in the vehicle.

Pilots/Aircrew - though many in Vietnam stuck something alongside their seat.

Machinegunners - their primary weapon is crew-served, but they need to remain armed.

MPs -- shotguns/rifles are in the vehicle.

The vast number will carry the rifle - that's their job - 'to close with and destroy the enemy by fire and maneuver' and that's best achieved by aimed rifle fire.

During past wars, Cavalry carried both revolver and carbine and mostly fought on foot - and yeah, I know all about skirmishes like Brandy Station and Wilson's Creek - the truth of the matter was that 'marksmanship' was not stressed then as it is today and if any accuracy at all was to be expected, then it came from a rifle or carbine.

Hollywood's artistic licence has really skewed the reality of the situation - not every soldier's a sniper - not every casualty's shot by one, either - sometimes, that's the luck of the draw.
 

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There really never was a time where every soldier was issued a pistol.

About the only service that routinely issued pistols to everyone was the horse cavalry and often later wars combat air crews.
Tankers actually had weapons issued to the tank, with a tank getting two pistols, a SMG, and a Carbine. Who actually got them was decided by the crew, with the tank commander almost always taking a pistol for himself.
During WWI General Pershing wanted ever combat soldier to have a pistol, but not enough were available to do that.

As above, since the invention of the revolver who in the military got a pistol was decided by their job..... infantrymen got rifles, officers and crew served weapons soldiers got pistols, so did people who's job was not a combat job but who needed to be armed but didn't need a rifle.
With the invention of the M1 Carbine, most combat officers and crew served weapons men got a more effective Carbine.
Since the invention of the high capacity short assault rifle, few people need a pistol.

Of course every solder WANTED a pistol but few were able to get one.
James Jones wrote two books that included this desire..... in "The Thin Red Line" the story starts off with a soldier searching through a troop ship for a pistol he could steal. He couldn't steal a pistol from a mortar or machine gun crew because pistols were issued to them and the serial numbers recorded.

In "The Pistol" a young soldier is issued a pistol for guard duty on Pearl Harbor day and thinking it's been forgotten tries to keep it.
The book details his efforts to prevent others from taking the .45.
 

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Outside of cavalry troopers in the 19th century, military troops got a rifle/carbine or a sidearm. Prior to the 20th century, officers could carry personally owned handguns and this tradition continued on in certain units [a friend who was a Phantom II driver in Vietnam carried a S&W highway patrolman] and nearly everyone is aware of certain Generals wearing non-standard uniforms and handguns.

Some company/field grade officers felt better wielding shoulder fired weapons and would acquire them in theatre, often seen during WW2, Korea, and Vietnam. Enlisted soldiers/Seabees/Marines picked up war trophy handguns in the past, but rarely were allowed handguns unless mandated by their MOS/rating and their officers allowing it.
 

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I was a 2531 Field Radio Operator while in RVN. My TO weapon was a pistol IF THEY had one in the armory. They did and I received one. Once I became Comm Chief for the company I traded it back in for an M16. A couple of fire fights will convince most people riki tik how next to worthless a pistol is.
 

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I have a 1911 from Siberia that was issued in the field to a Veterinarian. The year was 1919, he was a Lieutenant at the time and it was dangerous there so he was given a pistol. He stayed in the Army until 1953 when he retired as a Colonel. He kept this 1911 all the way through and took it with him when he retired. It has th Carved Siberian Grips with his initials and a mountain of documenting paperwork. It came from his sister.
 

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During my Military career I often had a side arm. Most of my time was Infantry with the last few years as a Cavalry Scout. We got 1911’s in the late 80’s early 90’s, then M9’s. Every tour I did in Iraq I had an M9 and M16 with M203 along with a few other weapons like M590, M240, and some AK’s we picked up and even brought some back as unit war trophies.

My first tour in Iraq we averaged like 4 weapons per soldier. The one weapon every soldier had was an M9 pistol. Not everyone had an M4/M16.

I would assume non combat arms who are not having direct contact with the enemy and fighting them, probably had a single weapon that was not even loaded.
 

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In today's army, the trigger pullers in the Rangers and the Special Forces all have pistols issued to them per the TO&E. Support personnel in these units generally are issued the M4A1 in lieu of the handgun. Other outfits, as noted above, carry a pistol when a long arm is not practical which means that most soldiers are sans a handgun.

I ended up carrying a handgun for virtually my entire career from VN to the GWOT; although I often left it secured in the rear while on ops as I had enough to carry. When we became vehicle mounted much of the time in the GWOT, I wore it all the time.

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In today's army, the trigger pullers in the Rangers and the Special Forces all have pistols issued to them per the TO&E. Support personnel in these units generally are issued the M4A1 in lieu of the handgun. Other outfits, as noted above, carry a pistol when a long arm is not practical which means that most soldiers are sans a handgun.

I ended up carrying a handgun for virtually my entire career from VN to the GWOT; although I often left it secured in the rear while on ops as I had enough to carry. When we became vehicle mounted much of the time in the GWOT, I wore it all the time.

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You spend any time from OIF 9 to 11 at the RPC in Iraq? 2008-2009? My time was with the 5th and 10th Groups.

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1st Group mostly for me, although I was also assigned as an AC staff member to the 19th Group and did time with 7th in Central America in the 80s. Time forward deployed with a couple of the SOCs too. I ended up with tours/ops in 11 different countries.

I always wanted to transfer to the 10th SFG (A) as I rated highly in German and Spanish (both10th Group languages) but the powers to be at SF Command didn't see the logic in that. :)

I retired as an 18 Zulu.

DOL
 

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1st Group mostly for me, although I was also assigned as an AC staff member to the 19th Group and did time with 7th in Central America in the 80s. Time forward deployed with a couple of the SOCs too. I ended up with tours/ops in 11 different countries.

I always wanted to transfer to the 10th SFG (A) as I rated highly in German and Spanish (both10th Group languages) but the powers to be at SF Command didn't see the logic in that. :)

I retired as an 18 Zulu.

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Thank you for your service. Sometimes it’s a small world and you meet people in strange places.

A lot of guys I knew went to the 19th Group in Texas, but not a lot of them made it all the way.

My unit 1-124 Cav (Infantry and Scouts) in Waco TX had some long tabs, a few from Vietnam. We even had a Chaplin that was tabbed SF.
 

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Most general officers wore uniforms to some degree or another, such variations were usually minor in nature, but they were not unauthorized... GOs were allowed to make modifications to uniforms if they felt it was indicated.

I recall around 1970 is was pretty common for Air Force GOs to wear Allen Edmon shoes in black but a scotch grain finish rather than the standard smooth finish... You also saw variations in rank insignia fairly often... usually in the size of the insignia.

Old time pilots would frequently remove the grommets from their hats a'la WWII... Some changed tha angle of the front of the top half so it was more at the angle of the German WWII officer's hat... looks better than the standard Clothing Sales Store hat.

During the Viet Nam war, a lot of senior officers in the AF had their 1505 uniform shirts embroidered with their rank, ratings etc. rather than wear pin on insignia. A few wore the black/silver buckle general officer belts with their uniforms as as well too...

Pilots in the 1970 time frame often replaced the low powered S&W 38 Specials with a personally owned revolver or pistol because the military 38 Special ball load was so weak... Conveniently the S&W M19s sold at the BX would fit in the issue leather gear... You also saw, S&W M39s, Colt's Government Models and Commanders as well... I even saw a few S&W Model 58 41 Magnums being carried by B52 crews... One elderly Colonel wing commander carried a Single Action Army in 44-40 when flying combat missions... Odd choice, but doubtless would work.

FWIW

Chuck


Outside of cavalry troopers in the 19th century, military troops got a rifle/carbine or a sidearm. Prior to the 20th century, officers could carry personally owned handguns and this tradition continued on in certain units [a friend who was a Phantom II driver in Vietnam carried a S&W highway patrolman] and nearly everyone is aware of certain Generals wearing non-standard uniforms and handguns.

Some company/field grade officers felt better wielding shoulder fired weapons and would acquire them in theatre, often seen during WW2, Korea, and Vietnam. Enlisted soldiers/Seabees/Marines picked up war trophy handguns in the past, but rarely were allowed handguns unless mandated by their MOS/rating and their officers allowing it.
 
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