WEST HARTFORD, Conn. -- The newest Colt .45-caliber pistol is touted for its durability and design.
It is tested to make sure it can be dropped in water, covered in mud, immersed in sand or ice or left in a dust storm -- and still be able to get off a round when you pull the trigger.
"Virtually, it‚??s indestructible," said Casimir Pawlowski, who works in international sales and technical services for Colt Defense LLC. "You can drive over these things with a Humvee and they‚??re still gonna work. It‚??s like a brick that shoots bullets."
An order last month of new M45 Close Quarter Battle Pistols for the Marines is the first purchase of any Colt handgun in almost three decades by any branch of the U.S. military, though .45-caliber Colts were a trusty sidearm of the Army and Marines for most of the 20th century.
Connecticut‚??s historic gun manufacturer first sold its semi-automatic Model 1911, designed by John Moses Browning, to the U.S. military in 1911. At the turn of the 19th century, the military was looking for a stronger handgun than the .38-caliber revolvers used in close combat during the Philippine-American War. The .45-caliber promised more knock-down power -- more likely to kill than injure -- compared with the .38-caliber.
The Model 1911 Colt has been called the "most respected handgun" and was carried, mostly by U.S. military officers, during both World Wars and in Korea and Vietnam.
But in a controversial move, the federal government switched in 1985 to Italian-owned Beretta to provide 9-millimeter pistols as the new official sidearm for the military.