An M4 with an aftermarket Government-type spur hammer fitted.

The M4 is a compact M1911-style pistol used by the US military as one of their two standard-issue sidearms, with the other being the H&K M86.

Weapon Designation:Pistol, 9mm, Semiautomatic, M4
Place of Origin:Phillipines
In Service:2037-present
Production History:
Weight:1.625 lb (0.737 kg)
Length:7.5 in (190.5 mm)
Barrel Length:4 in (101.6 mm)
Cartridge:9x19mm Parabellum
Rate of Fire:Semiautomatic
Muzzle Velocity:1,550 ft/s (472 m/s) with M990D fluted round
Muzzle Energy:480 ft/lbs (651 Joules) with M990D fluted round
Effective Range:50 m (55 yd)
Feed System:10-round detachable box magazine
Sights:Iron sights


Several years after the Sig Sauer P320 MHS was accepted by the US military as the M17 pistol along with a compact variant, the M18, complaints began to surface from some users about the size of the M18. Although it was intended to be lighter and easier to carry than the full-sized M17, certain users, like plainclothes agents in the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Army Criminal Investigation Command, and Naval Criminal Investigative Service, as well as some aircrew members and other personnel in non-combat roles wanted a lighter, more compact handgun. Most specifically cited the large magazine capacity of the M18 as unnecessary for their role and the double-stack magazine and resultant grip size as making the gun too wide. After almost twenty years of these complaints, the military began a search for a similar compact, lightweight handgun with a single-stack magazine. Although several designs were submitted, including Sig Sauer’s P239, in the end the competition was won by Armscor’s P1911C9, largely because it performed just as well as all the competing handguns during trials but could be obtained for a lower price. With the adoption of a low-profile safety reminiscent of the traditional M1911 Government model safety instead of its factory-standard extended safety, the P1911C9 was adopted as the M4 pistol in 2037, and was soon the only standard-issue sidearm in the US military apart from the FN Herstal M58.

As of the 2170s, the M4 still serves as one of the military’s two primary sidearms, although now alongside the M86, and is actually more common than the M86 among conventional infantry. The reason for this was that changes in regulations allow regular infantry to carry sidearms if they choose to, and while many feel that the extra weight isnot worthwhile, other service members consider having a backup weapon to be an excellent idea and the smaller, lighter M4 is more popular than the M86 with most of these troops. However it is still fairly common to see regular infantry carrying the M86 and most Special Forces personnel, especially Reconnaissance In Force Teams, prefer it to the M4.


Most of the features of the M4 can be determined from its factory name, P1911C9, where P stands for “polymer”, meaning the gun uses a polymer frame, 1911 for the pattern, C for “Compact”, as the gun has a four-inch barrel, and 9 for “9mm”, the caliber the gun is chambered in. The polymer frame makes the gun exceptionally light at only 26.3 ounces, and the short barrel and single-stack magazine make for a short, slim weapon compared to the M17 and M18. Although the M4’s magazine can only fit ten rounds compared to the M18’s seventeen, this is not considered an issue as the lower capacity and narrower magazine were specifically requested as features for the new pistol, while a user who does want to carry more ammunition can actually carry as much or more ammunition than the M18; for example, a person carrying an M18 with a loaded magazine, a round in the chamber, and two spare magazines in pouches will have fifty-two rounds at their disposal. A person carrying an M4 with a loaded magazine, a round in the chamber, and four spare magazines in double pouches only a fraction of an inch thicker than a single pouch for an M18 magazine will have fifty-one rounds available in a more convenient pistol.

Most M4s are fitted with Commander-style round hammers and a Government-style low-profile grip safety, but some have been retrofitted by their users with aftermarket Government-type spur hammers for greater ease of cocking. Although the P1911C9 featured an extended thumb safety, the M4 is fitted with a Government-model safety that is much less likely to snag on clothing or equipment when drawn. The M4 is also available with interchangeable grip panels to accommodate users with different hand sizes, while some users have been known to install aftermarket grips with built-in laser sights instead.

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