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US Military, Sidearm Issue Question

667 Views 18 Replies 12 Participants Last post by  cxm357
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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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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