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US Military, Sidearm Issue Question

672 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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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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