Tag Archives: Rock Island Arsenal

Ever Seen a General Officer Beretta?

Typically, the only way to get one of the coveted and extremely rare General Officer pistols is to become a general in the U.S. military. About that…

The Army’s General Officer Pistol program dates back to at least 1972 when the service’s Rock Island Arsenal began producing M15 pistols for general officers, a gun that led to the now-popular Officer series of M1911s.

U.S. Army issue an M15 General Officer pistol (S/N GO481). The M15 pistols were manufactured solely by Rock Island Arsenal starting in the early 1970s through approximately 1985 when the US Army adopted the Beretta M9 pistol. This gun was sold at an RIA auction a few years ago for $6,900.

Marked with serial numbers prefixed with the letters “GO,” the program switched to issuing M9 Berettas in the 1980s then in 2018, in a story I previously broke for Guns.com, to Sig Sauer M18 GO models.

Other than the special serial number range, GO models are issued for operational use and are essentially no different from standard-issue pistols. However, the average Joe can’t buy his gun when out-processing from the military, whereas generals can.

According to U.S. law, at the end of their service, generals can purchase their issued pistols, which are unfathomably rare, museum-worthy collectibles if not retained by the family. As noted by the Army, famed WWII Gens. Omar N. Bradley, George S. Patton, and Dwight D. Eisenhower all purchased their guns when they left the military

A rarity, the General Officer M9 I’ve been checking out lately was obtained directly from a retired U.S. Army general who had more than thirty years of successful military service spanning the Cold War and Desert Storm, including more than five years with the famed 82d Airborne Division.


More in my column at Guns.com. 

How short can you get on a 1911?

I give you the Micro Compact GI, an M1911-style pistol produced by Springfield Armory between 2004 and 2011.

Isn’t it cute?

The Micro Compact GI ran a 3-inch barrel, which seems to be the lower limit on John Browning’s famed Government Model.

More on the trend to whittle such pistols down to a more stumpy format in my column at Guns.com.

Sig Churning out .300 Win Mag…for the Army

U.S. Army Spc. Kristofer Encinas, a sniper with the 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment, engages targets with an M2010 Enhanced Sniper Rifle during an advanced rifle marksmanship event as part of the 2019 European Best Sniper Team Competition at the Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, July 22, 2019. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jeremiah Woods)

While standard small arms rounds in the U.S. military are 5.56 and 7.62 NATO, the Army and SOCOM units have fielded precision rifles chambered in .300 Win Mag for over a decade, noting that it allowed for shots at ranges past 1,300 meters. Current platforms chambered for the round include the M2010 ESR, the AICS/Remington Mk.13, and the new Mk 21 Precision Sniper Rifle (MSR).

And with that, Sig just won a $10 million contract to supply the rounds to the Army.

More in my column at Guns.com. 

‘Damn Yankees’ was born at Rock Island, but will live at Quantico moving forward

On 21 January 1991, the M198 155mm howitzer “Damn Yankees” was part of Battery F, 2nd Battalion, 12th Marines during the Battle of Khafji on the border between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait and fired the first U.S. shell of the conflict, going on to support coalition efforts until the cease-fire at the end of February.

And it has been found, restored to its Desert Storm/Shield configuration, and has arrived at the National Marine Corps Museum for display.

More in my column at Guns.com

Making the Doughboy

Infantry Soldier with full equipment (proposed) was adopted as the Model 1910.


Compare the leggings, web gear and campaign hat differences.

The Infantry Equipment Board convened at Rock Island Arsenal, on April 28, 1909. The purpose of this board was to decide on the number, kind, and weight of articles to be carried by the Infantry Soldier. The board examined samples of infantry and cavalry equipment in use by the U.S. Army and fifteen foreign countries, as well as experimental models submitted to the Chief of Ordnance for consideration. The board made its final report to the Adjutant-General of the US Army on April 5, 1910. Two months later, in June 1910, manufacture of the newly designed equipment began at Rock Island Arsenal.

These images and text are from a copy of the Report of the Infantry Equipment Board in the collection of the Rock Island Arsenal Museum– who still maintain the T&E equipment shown in their collection.