A GOOD SIDEARM FOR THE NATIONS:
As my tour winds down here in Afghanistan, I have looked back on all the good and bad and pondered a couple things. First, this is my first deployment with a NATO component headquarters and with that brings all sorts of great folks from multiple different nations to the headquarters. All previous tours have just been with the Army only, all US. One of the enjoyable aspects of this has been getting to see the different weapons and gear from the different nations. Most folks are probably familiar with the Beretta M9, the military version of the Beretta 92 which is used by the US military. As you might guess the Italians use a similar pistol here. This article will talk about some of the different side arms I have come across.
Recently the Spanish took over as part of the NATO Joint HQ here, and with them they brought along the Llama M82. I always pronounced these like the animal, but learned it is actually pronounced “YAMA” like the motorcycle without the HA. This Gabilondo y Cia pistol holds 15+1 of 9x19mm, and is a steel construction. It is similar in some regards to our Beretta 92, but maybe just a bit older. The Spanish did say that they will be shifting over the HK P8 as the M82 slowly phases out.
Speaking of HK, the Germans here carry the HK P8. This is basically a military version of the HK USP9, which is available commercially to the US. It holds 15+1 as well, and as you might expect from HK is a very well made pistol.
While we are discussing stuff you can get commercially in the US, our Croatian counterparts carry the HS2000. In America, we would call this the Springfield XD9. As I own an XD and have been a big fan for a while, I have enjoyed talking with the Croatians about their pistol and how proud they are of it. They first started using it in 1996, and are on their third generation for the Army. It holds a standard 15+1 as well. The Croatians love looking through all the gun magazines with me and admiring all the new Springfields, particularly the XD(M). In case you are wondering, the HS in HS2000, stands for Hrvatski Samokres. Which is Croation for “Croatian Pistol”.
There are quite a few Belgians here who help guard the camp. Apart from making our machine guns, I was interested in their pistol. It is the Belgian GP – which stands for Grande Puissance. Which means “Big Power”. Basically it is a Browning Hi Power and given the corny name, it is essentially the same, except made by FN Herstal. It holds 11+1 rounds of 9mm and the current version has been in their service since 1950. The Belgians said they will be getting a new pistol, and as far as I can tell from their description will be similar to the FNP-9.
Speaking of the Hi-Power, the Brits and Australians carry the Browning Hi-Power. This oldie but a goodie is still in service. Although, as newly arrived Brits rotate in they are armed with the P226 Sig Sauer . Most of the British Forces are phasing out the old Hi-Power for this fine piece from Sig.
Another design not too dissimilar from the Hi-Power is the French PA MAC 50. Again from 1950, the PA is Pistole Automatique (Automatic Pistol). It holds 8+1 of 9mm, and is a steel frame construction, single stack pistol. The joke from the French and Belgians here is, if you run out of bullets you can always throw these old pistols at the enemy.
One of my favorite groups here is the Czechs. A great bunch of folks, who come armed with the CZ 75 SP-01 Phantom. This bad boy has an extended magazine that carries 18+1 of 9mm. It has a polymer frame and rail attachment and is one of the more modern pistols that folks carry.
The Turkish Army is another great group of folks here. One thing I found interesting is that upon graduation from the officer academy, you get a pistol to keep in Turkey. New officers have the Sarsilmaz 9mm which holds 14+1 known as the Kilinc 2000. You can get similar pistol known as the ArmaLite AR24 in the states. American officers get a Beretta to keep upon making General. But in Turkey Officers and NCOs get one upon graduation from their respective academies. Older officers have the Kirikkale Tabanca, which looks like a Walther PPK, but is a single stack 9mm (talk about a great CC weapon) with 7+1. Finally, really old guys were given the CZ70 in 7.65mm. Oddly enough, most of them do not actually carry a weapon here. Go figure.
The Mongolians and the Bulgarians here both carry the 9mm Makarov. Probably one of the few folks here not chambered in 9mm Para. The Bulgarian I talked to said they used to carry the Russian TT, but that they changed over to the Makarov. He said something about the 9mm Mak bullet is better, at least that is what they told him when they turned in the old TT. I could have lost something in translation, but I’m not sure I believed him.
Speaking of the 9mm Mak, the Poles used to carry the P83 – which is essentially the same thing but they now carry the WIST 94. This is a striker fired, Double Action pistols similar to a Glock in some regards. In use since 1997 with the Polish Army, it has a 16+1 capacity of 9mm. Don’t ask me how to say it, but it is from Wojskowy Instytut Techniczny Uzbrojenia – Military Technical Institute of Armaments
Finally, probably the most commonly carried pistol here is the Glock 19. As you can imagine the Austrians carry it. The Swedish, Norwegians, Dutch, Italian Special Forces, Romanians, as well as most contractors carry it also. I remember we issued these to the Iraqi Army back in 04-05, and as you can imagine it is probably becoming one of the most popular pistols in the world for military forces.
I’m sure I have left out a few other countries, but this sums up most of them. Next installment I’ll look at the rifles. Which pistol would you carry?