What pistols do special operations forces use?

Glock 19 pistol is weapon of choice for many special forces units in the world
Glock 19 as favorite sidearm for many special forces operators, domestic and abroad (Photo: Pinterest)

What pistols do special operations forces use is an ultimate question for many civilians in love with firearms. For a long time in the modern world’s history, pistols are used to bring justice or the opposite.  Today, the most popular pistols in special operations forces units are often the most popular pistols on the market.

For today’s members of military or law enforcement special operations forces or to call them operators, the only purpose of a pistol is to fight your way back to the rifle you should have never laid down. In a word, the transition from primary to a secondary weapon in case of need.

It doesn’t mean that a sidearm doesn’t have a niche or cannot fill a role where a long gun is too cumbersome or unnecessary. Here is the list of the 5 pistols currently used in the world with each different country of origin. Used by most notable special operations forces or firearm enthusiasts around the world.

Makarov PM

The Makarov PM is a simple and sound design, which is considered one of the best compact self-defense pistols of its time and one of the most popular pistols in the Eastern special operations forces FSB top units. While not extremely accurate and lethal at ranges beyond 15-20 meters, it is still a formidable and reliable self-defense weapon.

Several versions of the PM were developed for the export market and domestic security use, including IZh-70 and IZh-71 pistols in 9x17mm Browning Short (.380ACP), available in both standard and high capacity variations, as well as Baikal-442, a commercial PM in 9x18mm, also available in standard and high capacity versions, with fixed or adjustable sights.

Makarov PM is one of the most popular pistols among the Eastern military and law enforcement agencies
An SSSR-made Makrov still represents a good choice for a good and reliable service pistol (Photo: Pinterest)

The Makarov PM is a blowback-operated, double-action pistol of all-steel construction. The manual safety is located on the left side of the slide and, when engaged, safely brings the hammer down from the cocked position and then locks the hammer, sear, and slide. The external hammer can be cocked manually for the accurate first shot in Single action mode or can be cocked automatically by the longer and heavier trigger pull in Double action mode. The all-steel magazine holds 8 rounds (12 rounds for PMM pistols), and when the last shot is fired, the slide remains in the open position, thanks to the slide stop.

To disengage the slide stop, one must pull the lever on the left side of the frame down. Magazine catch is located at the bottom of the grip, but some export versions of Baikal-442 are available with button magazine release at the trigger guard’s base. PM is fitted with fixed open sights as a standard, with click-adjustable open sights available to export models.

Today, the pistol is still in use in many former SSSR countries, and it is also one of the most favorable sidearms among Russia’s Spetsnaz units.

CZ 75

One of the most popular and reliable pistols used among many special forces in Europe, mostly in law enforcement. CZ 75 represents a significant step forward in auto pistol design. In the thirty years since it first appeared, the CZ 75 has exerted an enormous influence on service pistol design, and it remains one of the best of the genre despite its age.

CZ-75 pistol
CZ-75 is a good and reliable service pistol (Photo: Pinterest)

CZ 75 has individual versions that differ in their caliber, size, weight, magazine capacity, trigger mechanism operation, safety elements, surface finish, frame material, grip panel types, and other specific modifications and features.

CZ-75 is now in service with the Czech police (in the form of compact CZ-75 P-01). It is also used by Turkish police and by several police departments in the USA. By the opinions of most experts, CZ-75 is one of the best combat pistols in its class.

M9

The word “ultimate” has long been a common currency among firearm enthusiasts. But if there are combat and tactical pistol for which this term is appropriate, it is the Beretta M9. M9 service pistols are the most used pistols in the U.S. Army.

M9 is a 9×19mm Parabellum pistol adopted by the United States Armed Forces in 1985. It is essentially a military specification Beretta 92FS.

Beretta M9 US Army edition
Beretta 92 (M9) pistol is one of the most used pistols in the world (Photo: Pinterest)

The M9 offers a variety of tactical features that make it equally safe, easy to use, and dependable in the holster of military personnel and home or personal defense.

Glock 19

The GLOCK 19 is ideal for a more versatile role because of its reduced dimensions compared to the standard-sized option. Chambered in 9×19 caliber, Glock 19 has found worldwide acclaim with both private and public security agencies. In addition to being used as a conventional service pistol, it is ideal for concealed carry or a backup weapon.

The 9 mm Caliber Safe-Action Pistol features a 15-round magazine capacity and hexagonal barrel rifling. Measuring 6.85″ in length and weighing only 29.98 oz. When loaded, the compact design and lightweight of this gun make it suitable for concealed carry.

Glock 19 pistol is weapon of choice for many special forces units in the world
Glock 19 is a favorite sidearm for many special forces operators, domestic and abroad, including US Navy SEALs (Photo: Pinterest)

It’s used by many special forces units worldwide, including US Navy SEALs, who switched to the Glock in 2015.

SIG-Sauer P226

One of the most popular pistols in the SOF community is for sure the SIG-Sauer P226. This pistol was developed as an improved, high-capacity version of the P220, especially for the US XM9 trials of 1982-84. The Sig-Sauer P226 was one of just two pistols that nominally passed all of the technical requirements for these trials, but at the last moment, it lost to the other design, the Beretta 92SB-F, based on the overall cost.

What pistols do special operations forces use? Navy SEALs favorite pitol SiG P226
While the Sig Sauer P226 is used by many militaries and agencies worldwide, one of the most famous users of the pistol is the U.S. Navy SEALs, which used the P226 up until they switched to the Glock 19 around 2015 (Photo: Sig-Sauer)

Despite this, the P226 quickly became one of the most popular pistols, being used by police, military, and security forces and many civilian shooters around the world. Initially available in 9mm, it was subsequently adapted to .40 S&W and .357 SIG calibers, extremely popular in the USA. The P226 was the first pistol to be chambered for the .357 SIG, a high velocity, high penetration 9mm cartridge, preferred by many American highway patrol services and the US Security Service.

Designed for the U.S. Army and carried by U.S. Navy SEALs, Texas Rangers, and many other elite military and law enforcement professionals, the SIG-Sauer P226 has earned its place in the highest class of production pistols and as a remarkable sidearm trusted by many firearms enthusiasts and Special Operations Forces operators/units in the world.

In 2015, the U.S. Navy SEALs switched to the Glock 19. It is also another excellent pistol featured in this article.

1 comment
  1. Many readers are under the impression that U.S. special operations forces have returned to using .45 caliber pistols since the adoption of the M9 m in 1985.

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