Questions and Answers:

Q: Hello Sir,
I am a Sergeant with a small Police Department in So. California. Currently, our officers are issued an AR-15 and a Mossberg 590 12 gauge. The AR-15 has the standard aperture sights. The shotgun has ghost ring sights. These weapons two weapons are individually issued to each officer, with the thought being that each weapon must be sighted in by the individual who will be using it to achieve the utmost accuracy. My Lt. recently advised me that this was nonsense and that once a rifle, pistol, or shotgun was sighted in, it would be go to go for anyone firing it. He is a former Marine and is relying on his former training and experience in the Corps to support his position, which is what brought me to your sight. My experience indicates he is dead wrong. What do you gentlemen think? Thanks,

Sgt. D. Henderson

9mm The M9, .9mm pistol currently used by the United States Marine Corps

A: Sgt. D. Henderson,
I am aligned with you in strongly believing that all weapons should be maintained by the person who has Battle Sight Zeroed (BZOd) them. However, I would also say that IF all things are equal between shooters; a weapon that has been BZOd should be good to go for whomever picks it up, to a point. That point is distance and confidence.

For short-range engagements, such as with a shotgun, a trained individual can point-and-shoot most weapons with relative accuracy. At longer ranges, or where accuracy matters, such as with the AR-15, I would highly suggest firing the weapon that has been BZOd by that shooter. I believe individual marksmanship factors, such as stock wield, eye relief, and weak hand placement, contribute to accuracy at longer ranges, and those change with each shooter.

Furthermore, additional equipment, such as lights or scopes will change the way the weapon is handled, contributing to the accuracy with which a shot may be fired.

m249b The M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) used by the United States Marine Corps

Confidence and familiarity are strong reasons to issue to the officer the weapon that has been BZOd. When I fire my weapon, I know the trigger cycle and pull, I can control the recoil and I know the feel of the round being chambered. With a new weapon I have to guess that the feel is right. I lack confidence in that weapon, merely because it is unfamiliar.

Simply put: BZOs are general mechanical adjustments that could be done by an armorer while the weapon is in a vice. Fine tuning that adjustment for the individual shooter is still necessary to gain the utmost accuracy.

If I were with any unit, I would want to draw out and carry on duty each and every day, the weapon I have BZOd. If I were to get a new weapon, I would want to BZO it to make sure it is adjusted correctly before I have to rely on it in a firefight.

Thank you for your question. -David, Author,

M1911A13 The M1911A1, .45 pistol used by the United States Marine Corps

Q: Hi, I saw a reference to the AR 9 shotgun at I take this to be something like an m16 chambered in 12 or 20 ga but so far can find any more references or even a single picture of this firearm.
Any Chance you know anything about the AR 9? I know that saiga makes shotguns based on the ak-47 system, why not an M-16 variation?
I also wonder how come the Military Does not use removable magazine shotguns. I can only speculate that a 10 round box mag for a 12 ga is more bulky than the standard under barrel tube mag?
Thank you for any info you provide.
Semper Fidelis

A: Richard, the only references to the AR 9 that I have found were are below. It appears there was an AR 9 12-guage shotgun manufactured at one time, however it is no longer in production. I will keep my eyes open and talk to a few people to see what else I can find.

References to the AR 9 that I have found:

A.A. Arms AR9 Semi automatic Rifle, Kimel Industries AR-9 rifle or carbine,- Restricted or banned weapons

AR-9 – 12 gauge self-loading shotgun with aluminum barrel and receiver (5lbs) 1955: Reference on the AR-15 page

-David, Author,

Q: In 1995, I believe that then-Commandant Chas. Krulak had thousands of M1911A1’s accurized and re-issued as the “new” Marine sidearm. Are they still being used? The M9 parabellum has severe limitations as a military sidearm.

Michael Omohundro
Centennial, Colorado

A: Michael,

According to what I have seen, and what I was able to find in an article from National Defense Magazine, the .45 is still being used in certain units. The following is an example from National Defense Magazine, which cooberates what I have seen and heard from Recon and Sniper team members. I doubt that these are the only instances. Units working in special teams or special circumstances are likely to have greater flexibility with their weapons selection, as long as the weapons are in the Marine Corps inventory, or can be justified.


National Defense, March 2003, “Marine Corps Sets Sights On More Precise Shooting”, by Harold Kennedy. The entire article can be found at the following link:

Hope this helps! Thanks for the question. -David, Author


Reply: Dear Mr. Savage:

Thanks so much. I didn’t expect such a detailed answer, with a website reference, even! Your information will be used as background for my forthcoming book, Rivers of Fire: a Sailor’s Story.


Michael Omohundro

Centennial, Colorado

Q: Do you know what pistol(s) are air crews carrying now in the USMC?



A: Bill, Currently the Marine Corps is issuing the Beretta, M9 mm pistol to air crews. This is the standard side arms for the Marine Corps. If you go to you can read an article I have written about the M9.

If you have any other questions, please let me know and I will be happy to answer them for you.

Thanks for the question! -David, Author,

Q: Hello:
I am a former 0302, working as an instructor for the US State dept, training personnel in Afghanistan. What I am looking for is reference material on the saw-249…..I have developed a fam fire shoot with it for prone, standing, hip, and mounted on a vehicle…and engaging multiple targets at distances and lastly fire and maneuver with it. I just need reference material I can download to my computer or get off a unsecured website to develop a POI with it.

Jim Halinski

A: Jim,

All of the following links will provide you with the basic FM for the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon. Additionally, all of the material is public domain and unclassified. If you are looking for anything more, let me know. or or or

Have fun with the shoot! -David, Author,

Q: My dad was is a Marine, he was in 1970 to 1977. I was wanting to get him a.45 cal pistol same make and model that he carried during that time period. He was a mechanic on the Phantom and Harrier jets. I have been told by different people that the manufacturer of the .45 was Colt and another told me Berretta. Could you please clarify the specific make and model of this weapon for me?

Thanks, M. Cross

A: M. Cross,

The M1911A1 .45 pistol is the side-arm that most Marines carried in the 1970s. The .38 cal revolver was also carried by some Marines during this time, but relatively few compared to the .45. The .45 was manufactured by Colt for the armed services for several decades.

If you are interested in purchasing this weapon for your father, one option is to go to, and search for the M1911A1 (Colt suggests a retail price of $990). Colt does offer the option at the bottom of the page to search for a dealer near your zip code or in your state. Chances are that you can get it for a bit less then the suggested price if it is used.

The Berretta you refer to is a 9mm pistol that the armed services has moved to since the late 80’s to be more in line with the NATO standard weapons.


Q: I am trying to contact my son, Robert W. E. Rogers. He is a Marine recruit and was transferred to Camp LeJune on March 25th after gradating from Parris Island MCRD. How can I contact him via e-mail, phone or by mail? Can you contact him and tell him to call his Dad. Thank you for your assistance.

Robert D. Rogers

A: Sir,

My best advice is to refer you to the Marine Corps World Wide locator. Base locators are also available at all major USMC commands and will be able to locate your son based on the information you provide. The information below can be used when writing or calling the locator. Be advised that to locate a Marine a Social Security Number may be required. Please advise me as to your progress after contacting the locator or if you run into any problems. Their Hours of operation: Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (EST.) Their Phone number: 703-784-3941 / 3942 / 3943. Address: HEADQUARTERS U S MARINE CORPS PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT SUPPORT BRANCH (MMSB-17) 2008 ELLIOT ROAD QUANTICO, VA 22134-5030