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US Military, Sidearm Issue Question

675 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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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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And during WWI every Doughboy and Marine did - they were called 'rifles'...
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