The Offensive Handgun Weapon System Program and the H&K Mk.23 SOCOM

Story


 From the dawn of the 20th century, across two world wars, and a number of other conflicts plus, secret operations, the majority of the US Armed Forces and Federal Law Enforcement used two sidearms: the Colt M1911 .45ACP and the S&W .38 Special revolver. However, that changed dramatically in 1985 after the 9mm pistol trials to select the next combat sidearm for the US Armed Forces. The “winner” of that contest was the Beretta 92 9x19mm pistol and it was the replacement for the bulk of pistols in service across the US military and armed Federal agencies…and not everyone was happy about it. Within a few years, the M1911 was nearly completely replaced by the Beretta 92 (the M9) and the SIG Sauer P226/P228/P229, along with the most popular SMG being chambered in 9mm, the H&K MP5, so it seemed that it was the end of the .45ACP in military service. Within the more elite communities of the US military, there were some that wanted a .45 pistol on their hip and they had the power to do something about that. Some groups, like the US Marines MEU (SOC_ Special Operations unit and the US Army shadowy Counter-Terrorism unit, DELTA Force continued to use the Colt 1911 platform for their sidearms. It was the love and experience with the powerful .45ACP cartridge that fueled a desire for a modern military .45 ACP pistol to reenter service among these elite groups and that give birth to the 1989-1996 Offensive Handgun Weapons System (OHWS) Program. In this installment of

serial, we will be diving deep in both the OHWS Program and the winner of the brutal selection process: the H&K Mark 23 SOCOM Offensive .45 ACP Pistol. 

The Genesis of the OHWS Program: The JSSAP & STANAG-4090

There have been several interesting and futuristic weapons development programs in the history of the US Armed Forces since the 2nd World War, like the 1980’s ACR Program, that FWS covered a few years ago and the current Next Generation Squad Weapon Program, but the OHWS Program was one of the more interesting to me due to focus on a pistol specific for the Special Operations community. While many know the outcome of the OHWS Program, the full program is less understood and less documented within the civilian world. While the OHWS Program began in the winter of 1989, the true beginning of the search for the next generation of military .45 ACP pistols came when the original .45 ACP pistol was relived from its 74 year service on January 14th, 1985 when the US military made the official section for their 9mm service pistol. Thus, the beginning of the OHWS really came when the Joint Service Small Arms Program (JSSAP) was begin way back in 1977 due to STANAG

Since the early days of NATO, the members states have been searching for ways to easy the burden of logistics in case of Article 5 was enacted and the balloon went up. These efforts were called “Standardization Agreement” or STANAG. Here, the member nations agree on standardization of all manner of military hardware and ammunition to better easy the logistical train of supplying the vast NATO war machine. Since the 1950’s, NATO, via their STANAG agreements, have been finding ways to standardize ammunition calibers across the member states and across all types of weapon system ammunitions. 

This is where the “NATO” designation in certain ammunition comes from. For example, STANAG-2310 in 1953 made the 7.62x51mm the standard rifle cartridge, while STANAG-4179 attempted to have all NATO assault rifles feed 5.56mm from a standard rifle magazine, and 5.56x45mm was made the standard NATO assault rifle caliber via STANAG-4172 on October 28th, 1980. Then in 1982, STANAG-4090 made the 9x19mm the standard and official pistol (and SMG by extent) caliber. This was not news to the US military, the writing had been on the wall since the 1970’s that the M1911 .45 ACP pistol would likely be replaced by a 9mm service pistol. There were many in the military and in Washington that wanted that to be a single 9mm pistol. There were several trials to select the 9x19mm pistol for the US Armed Services. 

The program started far early than I thought in 1977 under the name “Joint Service Small Arms Program (JSSAP)”. In the JSSAP, a total of nine pistols entered the selection trial process with H&K submitted two: the P9 and the VP70. Colt did enter their own take on a 9mm pistol in their classic style: the Colt SSP (AKA Colt Model 1971)  These trials were held from 1979-1980 at the Eglin Air Force base in Florida. The reason listed in a May/June 1983 issue of American Handgunner for the USAF testing the trials for the new 9mm handguns was due to the Air Force’s greater need in replacing their old .38 revolvers rather . According to that original trial conducted by the US Air Force, there were three winners by the end of JSSAP in 1980: the Beretta 92F, the S&W 459, and the Browning DA. 

Before the winner of the JSSAP could be announced in March of 1981 and a contract issued for 100,000 pistol for US Air Force use by 1982, the US Army put the brakes on that and they did not agree with the results. 

In that issue of American Handgunner, there was mentioned made of a confused situation between the first trial and the second trial conducted by the US Army. Some of the reason given for the US Army not accepting the results of the JSSAP was that the USAF had conducted the trials and the Army would not adopt a pistol that met the USAF standards alone. In addition, there was much made of the Colt M1911 pistols used in the JSSAP trials and the US Army did not like the sand, mud, and heat testing conditions. 

In September of 1981, a new trial was to be undertaken with the new 9mm service pistol, as well as the US Army pistol trials, to be labeled “the XM9”. Each company that wanted to be part of the tests had to submit 30 examples of their 9mm pistol. There is some debate between the sources I had about which companies and pistols that were in the 2nd 9mm trial. Some sources say 8 while others say just four were in the XM9. It was decided that whatever pistol the US Army selected, that would be the united service pistol moving forward and the USAF agreed and then…in February of 1982, the shit hit the fan when the US Army issued a press statement basically ending the XM9 trial due to none of the pistols meet the requirements of the trial and that the entire selection process along with the requirements for a 9mm handgun be “reexamined“. This caused much hell in Washington D.C. and among the firearm firms that submitted pistols for selection. Rumors flew around Washington that the real aim of the scrapping of the XM9 trial was to either derail the adaptation of the 9mm cartridge entirely or allow Colt to rechamber the M1911 into a 9mm. Investigations, threats of lawsuits, and press coverage caused the decision to hold yet another round of trials under US Army direction again and this trail was called “XM9 Service Pistol Trial”. 

The 3rd round of 9mm XM9 trials were held in 1983 and ran through 1984. During this testing, there were 8 entries: the S&M Model 459A, SIG-Sauer P226, H&K P7M8 & P7M13, the Walther P88, the Steyr GB and lastly, the FN Double-Action High-Power, the FN take on the Browning double-action. Again, there is drama and legal by some of the companies that were eliminated early in the trial and the drama was not over. Interestingly, Colt withdrew their SSP prior to the completion of the XM9 trials, but no explanation for this action is known. On January 14th, 1985, the announcement that the Beretta Model 92 was the winner of the XM9 with the close 2nd being the SIG-Sauer P226. There has been much made of the 92 winning out over the 226 considering how the long-term use of the guns told more of the story. According to some, the real reason that the Beretta was picked over the SIG-Sauer was the price point of the entire package of the SIG. The contract for the new M9 pistol was massive: $75 million for over 300,000 units with agreement that by the 3rd year of the contract that M9 would be made on US soil. This requirement was due to complains by some US Congressmen. Oddly, the primary small arms used by the bulk of the US military currently are made by overseas companies, which is very much on contrast for much of the history of the US Armed Forces. This was thought to be a done deal with two elements arose. 

First, Smith & Wesson was not happy with the results and pressured Congress to conduct yet another trial! This also opened up the XM10 trial for Ruger as well that submitted their P85, which was not ready for the other trials. This next trial was conducted in 1988 at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland and the results were the same: the 92 and the P226 were the top dogs. Case closed. All this did was delay the M9 getting into the hands of the military. The second element was when the Navy SEALs tested the M9 on July 14th,1988 and there was several pistols that had their slides split and testers were injured. The cause was found to be the pressure of the ammunition the SEALs were using. While Beretta addressed the issue with the improved 92FS, The Navy SEALs deicide not to risk it and went with the P226 as the Mk.25. About the time that the Beretta was entering into service, the 92F was seen in the film Die Hard and Lethal Weapon, making it a cinema star (oddly, the NYPD never issued the 92F). By the time of the Gulf War in 1991, the M9 was officially in service, but that was not the end for the story for the .45 ACP in the hands of the American warfighter. 

What about the Glock 17 for the JSSAP Trials?

One of the topics that I researched was why wasn’t the Glock 17 9mm evaluated along with the other popular 9mm of the day? This odd, especially considering how many military organizations use the Glock sidearms today. In 1980, the Austrian army wanted to replace their World War II era P38s for a modern 9mm pistol with trials for selection beginning in 1982. Gaston Glock, founder of the new firearms company assembled a team and had a working prototype of the Glock 17 within months. It clearly won the trial, beating out many of the best 9mm pistols of the day and the 17 became the P80. Shortly after the Austrian adaptation of the Glock 17, the pistol was adopted as the standard sidearm by Norway and Swede as well. This caught the attention of the United States and Glock was invited to submit for the XM9 trials. In late 1983, four Glock 17s were sent for “unofficial” testing, and when the project asked for Glock to join the trials, Glock refused due to the logistics of modifying their Glock 17s for the requirements in the time window. If Glock had entered the XM9 trials in 1983-1984, could they have won? Could the M9 have been an Glock 17? With a vast amount of NATO allies and even units within the Federal government issuing Glocks, it is highly likely that the Glock could have been a serious threat to the Swiss and Italian entries. Honestly, I think the Beretta 92 would have still won due to price and the requirement for domestic US production. 

Going back to the .45ACP

Despite the US Army adopting the M9 9mm, there was another organization in the shadows that still issued and carried a M1911 .45ACP into battle: 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment–Delta (1st SFOD-D). Now, with everything in the world of a TIER-ONE unit like DELTA, we must take everything with a gain of salt. According to some former DELTA Operators, there was a number of sidearms used by the Unit, including the HK45, Glocks, the M9, and the highly customized M1911s. For much of the years of DELTA up until the War on Terror, the M1911 .45ACP were a match grade that were customized by the unit armorer/sorcerer with various platforms and changes over the years due to supply and demand issues. The M1911 was the primary for the Operator up until the Unit changed over to the rumored Glock .40 during the War on Terror. I believe that some DELTA Operators still carry custom M1911 pistols, as we have seen in some photos with the General Austin “Scott” Miller, a former DELTA Operator, carrying a M1911 on his hip. BTW…If you ever wanted a-close-as-possible-DELTA-.45, than a former operator’s company, Pilot Mountain, makes one…for $3,600. However, today, it is widely rumored that DELTA moved to the Glock 17 or 22, depending on the source, as well as the caliber in those Austrian pistols. Of course, there could some operators that likely still use the old warhorse. 

Another group that turned away from the M9 and the 9mm cartridge entirely was the US Marine Expeditionary Unit Special Operations Capable unit. At the time that the Beretta won the JAASP trials, the  MEU(SOC) was being formed and the leadership of the Marines wanted a .45 in the hands of their Marines and that is what they got: the MEU (SOC) M1911. These interesting .45ACP were built by KC Crawford, who was a MOS 2112 Armorer at the Precision Weapons Station at Quantico. Since the original batch of custom updated and modified M1911 MEU (SOC) .45 pistols, there have been several generations of these weapons, up to the more current M45A1 Close Quarter Battle Pistol (CQBP). As of 2016, the MEU (SOC) is moving from the M45A1 to the Glock 19. Does this mean that the book has closed on the M1911 and the .45ACP story? No. There are far too many fans of this gun to allow the platform to die…but, we shall see what future the 113 year old M1911 and the .45ACP have in the military of the 21st century. 

The History of the Offensive Handgun Weapons System Program

The  Forming of the OHWS Program

The United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) was formed on April 6th, 1987 and its mission to unify the various Special Operations units in the US Military under a single command to avoid the issues that occurred with Operation: EAGLE CLAW in 1980. With the unifying effort made by the new SOCOM organization, there was logistical issues to overcome and one of them was the massive amount of small arms used by the various and varied SpecOps units. Under the first commander of USSOCOM, General James Lindsey, a study of all of the small arms used by the various SpecOps units was to be undertaken by Major Gus Taylor. The result was that 120 different small arms were in their armories and this caused General Lindsey to order a plan, around October of 1989, for standardization of the USSOCOM small arms with an eye towards pistols. During this time, the 9mm cartridge was going to replacing the .45ACP with the newly coming M9 and Mk. 25 service pistols, and it seemed like a good time to look into the possible of USSOCOM getting their own standardized pistol. 

This left an opening for the return of the .45ACP. Now, there is some sources that claim that the consideration of using the .45ACP for the OHWS Program was due to experiences that Operators had in Somalia…which is untrue when we examine the timeline. The various US military operations in Somalia were conducted from December of 1992 through May of 1993. The official Request for a Quote to the firearms industry to submit prototypes for the new Offensive handgun system with a .45ACP pistol platform, a sound suppressor, and a LAM were issued in 1991 and SOCOM was thinking of new .45ACP handgun for their Operators back to 1989. Now, that is not to say that during the OHWS Program lifespan that some of the experiences of operations in Somalia may have filter into the OHWS Program is possible. 

The reasons stated for the creation of a SOCOM pistols was that the Operator may have to use their sidearm as more of a primary weapon due to tactical environment, lack of ammunition, need of use of the sound suppressor, or failure of primary armament. 

There was also the belief that the near-future of Special Operations would be in close-quarters situations and with this new battlespace, the newly formed SOCOM needed weapon systems to fit that CQC environment.  Of course, that is nice and all, but one of the real reasons was that the SOCOM leadership wanted a .45 and not 9mm and they had the power to do something about the 9x19mm being accepted as the new pistol cartridge and the OHWS Program was the result of that desire. Now, for some other context with Federal agencies choosing more powerful rounds than a 9mm. 

From 1987-1989, the FBI tested replacement cartridges for the .38 after the deadly 1986 shootout in Miami and the decision was made to go to the new 10mm cartridge in a reduced velocity 10mm round called “10mm Lite”. For a time, the new FBI standard issue was a S&W 1076 and this why H&K was asked by the FBI to create a special variant of the MP5 SMG in 10mm. This is also why Mulder and Scully of The X-Files are seen carrying S&W 5906 for a time (mainly Season 3) to stand in for the S&W 1076 models Out of all of this, the S&W .40 cartridge was developed. More on that and how it relates to the Mk.23. Oh, and there were rumors I read that said that the 10mm cartridge was entertained for the OHWS Program, but was ruled out due to many years of actual combat use and Operator experience with the .45ACP.  Anyways…back to the Mk. 23. Later, the In December 1989, Chuck Zeller was selected as the head of the OHWS Project Manager and the US Navy Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) in Crane, Indiana would be the site for the project. 

Phase I:

In February of 1991, USSCOM sent out their proposed requirements for their unique offensive handgun to the firearm industry. Some of those requirements in the Request for Quote were:

– .45ACP cartridge with a minimum capacity of 10 rounds

–  The pistol had to go 2,000 rounds fired between stoppages with the M1911 ball ammo and the +P (1,100 FPS rated) 185-grain jacketed hollow point  ammo. This would be the first military issued weapon for this type of ammunition

– Had to be fitted with a sound suppressor that reduced the noise by 30dBs 

– Had to have a slide lock feature to allow for a single round to be fired and the slide not to cycle to reduce sound (this was dropped between the Phase I and Phase II guns. 

– Decocking lever, adjustable sights, and be able to be carried cocked-&-locked.

– Had to be able to survive in harsh seawater conditions for maritime operations

– Had to be fitted with a Laser Aiming Module

– The fully loaded pistol, with LAM and suppressor attached could not weight over 5.5lbs

Between February and August of 1991, when prototype development contracts and funding was rewarded to the companies bring their pistols to Phase I testing, there is a cryptic line in an article I read on the Mk.23 in Small Arms Journal. It seems that Colt and H&K were the only two firearm firms issued those contracts in August of 1991 “after testing several designs” (Small Arms Journal “MK23 MOD 0: the Crew-Served Pistol by Christopher R. Bartocci). This is just one sentence, but might hint that there were more than just two designs from companies in the initial pre-Phase I testing. There is nothing more on mysterious part of the pre-testing for the contracts for development. 

Both companies had one year to assembly 30 prototype guns for delivery to NSWC-Crane for Phase I testing. Along with the pistols themselves, both Colt and H&K would have to develop a sound suppressor and LAM for evaluation as well for the complete OHWS package required by the contract. Colt would contract with S-Tron from the LAM and Knight’s Armaments (KAC) for the sound suppressor. H&K would develop their square suppressor inhouse, but the LAM was contracted out. In some sources, the LAM was developed by either by UITC Armament (now Wilcox Industries) or Insight Technologies or even an H&K developed unit inhouse. 

If the UITC LAM was used, it was the “Nightstalker” model, which is now very rare, that was also used on a specially modified SIG-Sauer P22X series as seen in this picture. This identification process for the LAM module used on the H&K pistol as been maddening. However, it seems that both UITC and Insight were involved with the OHWS Program at some point. Given the harsh requirement for the OWHS pistol system and who would be using it, both companies had their work cut out for them. Both needed the infusion of cash from a juicy military contract. Heckler & Koch was in need of money due to the cancellation of their adventurous G11 caseless assault rifle for the West Germany Army and possibly the US Army under the ACR Program. When Germany reunited in 1990, the futuristic G11 was cancelled and all of the R&D money was lost. 

Much like H&K, the iconic Colt firearms company was also in finical hardship due to mismanagement, debt, loss of the M1911 contract, lack of sales in the civilian gun sales. Both companies were monitored by quarterly visits by a representative from SOCOM, and Troy Smith from SOCOM was the person tasked with visiting Colt to check on their progress. Out of both companies, Colt was in the worst position due to H&K basing their entry to OHWS Program on their in-development USP pistol. For the sake of time, Colt borrowed elements from three of their current pistols (Double Eagle, All American 2000, and the 1911) to forge a rather Frankenstein’s Monster entry to the program. Due to the passion of a Colt collector name Alex Young and an article on theFirearmblog, we have some dates for the Phase I testing. It seems that in late August of 1992, the Colt and H&K entries were tested by NSWC-Crane from August to December of 1992 in Indiana. 

Phase I H&K Package 

According to an interview with former Navy SEAL Dave Hall, he and his fellow Special Operations test member spent a week firing 30,000 rounds of both +P and ball ammo in both the H&K and Colt entries with all failure recorded. At the end of the week, the Special Operator test members submitted their input on the guns and their associated hardware. At the end of Phase I, it was clear that the Colt OHWS was not going to move forward and only the H&K entry would be moving on to Phase II. There were several major reasons why the Colt entry was eliminated from OHWS Program after Phase I: there were barrel failures due to cracking, the LAM by S-Tron did not function and the company went out of business shortly after this, the gun was too tall, too heavy, and the Colt barrel had issues with attaching to the suppressor made my Knight’s Armament. 

Phase II:

Phase II H&K and the new KAC Suppressor 

For Phase II of the OWHS torture test, the only pistol standing, the H&K, was improved based on testing and shooter input via AARs. While the new Phase II gun was tested along with the new suppressor design by KAC rather than the square sound suppressor developed by H&K. One element of the package that was not tested in Phase II was the laser aiming module. The more blocky LAM unit that most of us know from Metal Gear Solid was to be changed and Insight Technologies would be getting the contract for the more slimmed down unit that was actually issued as the AN/PEQ-6 Integrated Laser Light Module. Again, I am still unsure who made the more blocky LAM unit that was on the Phase I H&K pistol. Insight? H&K? Wilcox/UITC? 

The site of Phase II of the OWHS trials was held at Roger’s Shooting School in Ellijay, Georgia. Former SEAL Dave Hall, told 1911 Syndicate, that he had recent experience at Roger’s Shooting School and knew it would be a harsh testing environment for the massive pistol that the testers had their doubts about. It seems that Dave Hall was the only returning shooter-tester from Phase I at NSWC-Crane and he was joined by legendary SEAL RJ Thomas who won a Navy Cross in Vietnam and a DEVGRU Operator that he didn’t name for OPSEC, but said he was the best shooter in the Teams. I do not have a date for this Phase II that I can cross-reference, but according to Dave Hall, it was held in early 1995. He was one of the several sources that said that the LAM was not at Phase II and he also does not think that the new KAC suppressor was either. He was issued a holster and mag pouch made for the Phase II gun. Some of the changes on the Phase II gun was of the ditching the slide-lock for the single-shot for more quiet operations when firing with the suppressor. The grip pattern was changed as well as a magazine change with some changes to the mag-well in the handle. Phase I and Phase II magazines are not interchangeable. 

One of the bigger changes was the finish of the Phase II pistol. According to Ian from Forgotten Weapon, the Phase II pistol was subjected to 96 hours of a saltwater bath before being fired and to survive this, the steel slide of the pistol was “parkerized” and then paint the slide in a black lacquer finish  to prevent corrosion for this brutal test and as Ian explained, this was the same process the French used on their MAS 36-51 rifle for their war in Vietnam and was also used by the US for their weapons for the 2nd World War. Again, we do not have a date for the end of Phase II. 

Phase III:

Out of all of the testing phases we have information on, it is Phase III that we know nearly nothing about or even where the final phase of testing was held. I personally believe that Phase III was back at NSWC-Crane. In the 1911 Syndicate video with Dave Hall, they mention Phase III very briefly and it seems that Phase III had more close quarters combat testing along with testing all of the components of the complete OHWS pistol package together. Here, at Phase III, the finalized KAC suppressor by Doug Olson, the Insight AN/PEQ-6 Integrated LAM, and the finalized H&K pistol were married together and ran through the torture of further testing. One of the changes made to the Phase III  pistol from the Phase I & II pistols was the deletion of those forward gripping grooves on the sides of the frame. That is one of the best ways to identify the Phase I & II Mk.23 from the finalized gun. On June 28th, 1995, Phase III was over and H&K was officially issued the contract for the new USSOCOM Mk. 23 Mod 0 Offensive .45 Handgun for Special Operations. H&K would be paid $1186 ($2,345 in today’s money which is about the retail price for the civilian Mk.23) for 1,950 Mk. 23 handguns (all of the SOCOM Government Mk.23 models were made in Germany). I believe that the dollar figure mentioned is just for the Mk, 23 Mod 0 handguns and not the KAC Suppressor nor the Insight LAM. On May 1st, 1996, SOCOM would get delivery of their new Mk.23 Mod 0 weapon systems. 

Two There Are: The Candidates of the OHWS Program and Where there others?

One of the questions I was left with during the research phase of this article was why was there only two and no more. With the extensive research I did for the ACR Program several years ago and the amount of candidates that were in the JSSAP, I could not believe that there was only two candidates for the entire OHWS Program: the Colt and the H&K. During the 1911 Syndicate video on the development and operational life of the Mk.23 Mod 0 SOCOM, they discussed the pistol and the program with former SEAL Dave Hall who was in all three phases of the program testing and H&K expert James Williamson of Teufelshund Tactical. 

James Williamson stated that at the time when the OHWS Program requirement document for prototype submission was issued to the firearms industry only two companies put forward prototypes for Phase I testing due to the seemingly impossible requirements and standards for this special operations pistol laid down by USSOCOM. Personally, I believe that prior to the August 1991 rewards for contracts to Colt and H&K, there was other companies’ designs under some sort of consideration that were tested by NSWC-Crane, but we do not know the context of those other companies and we will likely will never know.   

The COLT OHWS

In August of 1991, Colt was one of the two companies selected to submit 30 prototype pistols, LAM, and suppressor for the OHWS Program Phase I testing at NSWC-Crane. Colt had basically one year to get those guns, laser modules, and suppressors to OHWS. But, Colt could not use their tried-and-true M1911 design for the foundation of their OHWS pistol entry. Instead, in the interest of time, the Colt team assigned to this daring project would borrow from no less than 3 Colt pistols to form their OHWS prototype. The Colt team was led by Mike Marciano, with the rest of the  team being: Mike Gamache, Bill Shine, Paul Hochstrate, and Scott Ladd. The OHWS Program monitor of Colt was Troy Smith, who made quarterly visits to Colt due to the US government giving money to both companies for the development of the 30 prototypes.  The only reason we know these names was that Small Arms Review did an article by Christopher R. Bartocci over the Colt OHWS and wonderfully documented this forgotten weapon.  
The Colt All-American 2000 9mm

Due to this year-long timeline from being accepting into the OHWS Program to delivering the 30 prototypes, Colt was rushing to get their OHWS pistol ready and out the door. To do this, the team cannibalized three Colt pistols already in production or near production that matched the requirements for the OHWS pistol. Each one of the 3 Colt pistol had a piece in the OHWS puzzle and they were fused together to form the Colt OWHS .45ACP pistol. The Colt All-American 9mm pistol, which was not yet released, the Colt Double-Eagle, and an 80-series 1911. All of these gave parts and pieces to the prototype gun and took three months to construct the first prototype. Given Colt looming finical issues, management wanted to use as much inhouse as possible to reduce the cost of their prototype and they were already having to contract out for the LAM and suppressor. According to the Small Arms Review article, Colt’s submission came just three hours before the OHWS Program deadline! 

The Colt Double-Eagle 

The other two elements of the Colt OHWS entry was the sound suppressor and the LAM. One of the best things about the Colt entry into the Phase I trials was that their sound suppressor was designed by Doug Olson of Knight’s Armament Company and the Colt/KAC suppressor was very close to the KAC suppressor on the issued Mk.23 Mod 0 system. One of the biggest issues with the sound suppressor on the Colt OHWS entry was that the rotating barrel made the traditional threaded screw-on/screw-off suppressor of most pistols impossible due to the barrel moving. To solve this, Colt enlisted the genius of Eugene Stoner. Stoner came up with the idea that the Colt OHWS team and Reed Knight of KAC developed into reality. 

There was an L-shaped under-the-barrel attachment that fit on the frame of the pistol rather the extended barrel, like in the H&K submission. This attachment had a muzzle break/flash suppressor as well and was locked onto the frame via two spring pins that fixed the attachment to the frame of the Colt pistol in the factory prototype that Ian reviewed on his Forgotten Weapons video. In the finished prototype sent to the Phase I trials, it was changed to a thumb latch under the L-frame attachment. One thing of note was that the KAC suppressor worked better wet than dry with an advantage of 10dBs with just 5mls of water. Feeding the Colt OHWS pistol was a single-column magazine that held 10 rounds (+1 in the pipe). It was thought by Colt that single-column magazine were better for desert environment reliability.

Then that brings us to the laser aiming module for the Colt entry. This was made by a California company called “S-Tron” and it was a big black box of various laser and light emitters in a similar manner to the H&K LAM. According to everything I read on the S-Tron LAM, it was not made well and the majority of units that were delivered to NSWC-Crane did not function or died during Phase I. Added to this, the S-Tron company went out of business during Phase-I and they could not send any of their team to NSWC-Crane to address the issues with their LAM. This also means that there were no spare parts or repairs possible. This did not help the case for the Colt OHWS entry. While some of the Colt OHWS pistols have made onto the civilian market, as far as I could research, there are no S-Tron units, nor is there any entry for the California-based company on the internet.   

The Hecker & Koch .45 OHWS Candidate Pistol

There can be no discussion of the Heckler & Koch entry into the OHWS Program trials without discussing the development of the USP. Both of the pistols were developed under the helm of Chief Designer and absolute100% legend Helmut Weldle. At his time at H&K, he involved with the VP70, PSP, P7, USP, and the MK.23 pistols. No less than two of his pistol projects that were involved in US Military pistol trials for acceptance: the P7 & Mk. 23. Of course, the USP pistols have have used by US Federal law enforcement and Armed Forces. Much like the development of the 10mm and .40S&W cartridge, the USP has it roots in the Miami Shootout of 1986. At this time, H&K pistol lineup was all chambering 9x19mm and with the firearms market shifting in American law enforcement toward new pistols and new calibers, H&K had to adjust. After an extensive study and research on American shooters in both LE and civilian circles was completed in summer of 1989, H&K was ready to develop a new pistol platform. 

During the summer of 1991 as the development of the basic design of the new pistol was coming together, H&K decided to enter the OHWS Program, this might H&K could double dip and spread the cost. The requirements of the OHWS pistol shaped the new pistol called “Universelle Selbstlade Pistole” or “Universal Self-loading Pistol” (USP). The USP would be one of the first pistol developed specifically for the new .40 S&W cartridge that itself was seen by public on January 17, 1990 along with the S&W 4006 pistol; the first pistol to chamber the .40 S&W cartridge. It is interesting to think that the H&K entry to the OHWS Phase I trials beat the USP .40 S&W to finalized development and release. As the Mk.23 was in-between Phase I and Phase II testing at Roger’s Shooting School, the USP .40 S&W was first shown at the SHOT Show in January 1993. The H&K entry into the OHWS trials was a big weapon that came in at an overall length of 9.65 inches and coming at 2.66lbs loaded and without the suppressor and LAM. For the OHWS entry trial guns, the slide was stamped with: “Hk US-GOVT. Cal. .45” and had serial numbers between 23-001 & 23-099 and the handle was labelled with “HK 45”. When the H&K entry was official adopted as the Mk.23 Mod 0, the slide was stamped with “Hk Mk. 23 USSOCOM Cal. .45.”. The construction of the H&K entry was polymer and steel with only minor changes from the Phase I gun to the final approved model. 

Moving onto the other elements of the OHWS package: the LAM and sound suppressor. As I said above, there is some debate and/or confusion on which company built the laser aiming module that was featured on the Phase I entry. Or were there two companies that submitted LAMs to Phase I? Because by Phase III, the Insight Technologies LAM was no longer a box, but something more akin to modern the L3 Harris (who bought Insight in 2010) PEQ systems. I think we need to discuss what the hell is a LAM anyways? While lasers and flashlights on guns is nothing new and goes back to the 2nd World War prototypes and the first laser aiming device, as we understand it, goes back to 1979 with the Laser Products Corporation. 

Night vision technology was a game changer for Special Operations and it allowed them to own the night. However, they were proper big devices that prevented aiming down the iron sights of their assault rifles, pistols, and SMGs. One solution was IR lasers and lights that were invisible to the target, but to the user. This allowed you to paint the target for you and your fellow hunters to see and engage without your victims realizing that they had a laser beam on their forehead. The leader in this technology was Insight Technologies of New Hampshire. In the 1990’s, they would develop the AN/PEQ-2 ITPIAL device that would be seen in War on Terror and the AN/PEQ-6 (AKA: LAM-1000) that would be finalized form of the LAM for the Mk.23 Mod 0. 

The purpose of the OHWS requiring a LAM was an attempt to marry new technologies with this new tactical stealth pistol. The user of the LAM on the Mk.23 can switch between visible laser and light to IR laser light. Then that brings us to the last element of the OHWS pistol: the suppressor. For the Phase I entry, H&K designed their own sound suppressor, nicknamed “the Pelican Bill”, and it was one of the more unique sound suppressor designs of all time. The Pelican Bill suppressor was threaded onto the extended barrel and inside the suppressor, thanks to Ian’s amazing Mk.23 video, we can see that much of the bulk is an extra expansion chamber. Given the oddball design, there was a locking ring so you can get the Pelican Bill into the correct position. 

Now, this suppressor was not as good as the KAC model developed for the Colt OHWS entry and that was the only element from Colt’s entry that was better than the German entry. By the time of Phase II, KAC had a prototype suppressor to test. According to the developer of that suppressor, Doug Olson, it took KAC 18 months and $250,000. KAC used springs in the suppressor design to boost the recoil of the slider to help with the cycling of the slide due to the use of the Browning design as well as the addition of that O-ring to help with alignment of the barrel and suppressor. This was such an affective suppressor that when Mk.23 Mod 0 was tested in 1997, it suppressed 42dBs of sound when wet, and the Doug Olson made the statement: “the MK23 Suppressor, has set a new standard in suppressor technology. It has been tested with more rounds than probably any other suppressor ever built“(https://smallarmsreview.com/birth-of-the-offensive-handgun-suppressor/). I  think one thing that really stood out to me while researching way too much about this pistol was how little the Phase I gun itself changed to the approved weapon. Just goes to show how good the H&K team did when making this beast of war. 

 

The Offspring of the OHWS Program: the H&K USP .45 Tactical

One of the most common complains about the Mk.23 by shooters, civilian & military was that too big and some gunsites have labeled the Mk.23: “the thicc USP”. Somewhere, Sir Mix-a-Lot is writing a song. This size argument was made more clear when the LAM and suppressor were mount on the Mk.23 Mod 0. For those that like their Special Operations pistols on the more trim side, the wizards over at H&K developed the H&K USP Tactical 45. In the early 1990’s, H&K had basically secured the OHWS contract, had preimered their next-gen pistol: the USP to great acclaim and LE/Military orders. In 1995, the favorite pistol of assassins that look like Tom Cruise came out: the USP .45, with the compact variant coming two years later. 

Then two offspring of the H&K entry into the OHWS Program: the civilian variant of the Mk. 23 Mod 0 coming in 1996 and the USP45 Tactical in 1998. Basically, the USP45 Tactical is a smaller Mk.23 Mod 0. In terms of length, the USP Tactical 45 is 8.58inches in length, while the Mk.23 is 9.64inches. When it comes to weight, the USP Tactical is 1.80lbs unloaded and without suppressor, the big boy comes in at 2.64lbs unloaded and without the suppressor. Damn, that is less thicc. This is why some Special Operations groups and individual operators selected the USP Tactical 45 over the Mk.23 Mod 0 when they had a choice. 

Why is the Mk.23 called the Mk.23? 

Many assume that the Phase I H&K prototype pistol was called the “Mk.23”, however, that label was bestowed until after the H&K USP .45 pistol passed the trials and was approved in 1995. The US Navy uses the “Mk” label for tested and approved weapons, as the US Army uses the naming convention of “Model”. As stated above, the Phase I prototype H&K submitted to the first trials was based on their developing USP platform that would come out in 1993 in .40 and it likely that the pistol was know simply as the “HK 45” as was stamped on the Phase I guns by the testers. When the civilian firearms market variant was released, H&K used the name “Mk. 23” for the coolness factor and to separate it from the USP line…and to charge much, much more than a standard USP .45. However, there is more to the story. On the frame, near the trigger guard of the H&K pistols used in Phase I testing is the serial numbers that all began with the number 23. The Colt OHWS pistols were labeled with serial numbers beginning “X29” and in the testing documents, they were labeled “RB000X”. There has to be something to this and I know that the Mk. 22 Mod 0 was the iconic Smith & Wesson M39 “Hush Puppy” used by Navy SEALs during the Vietnam War to silently kill sentries and their dogs. Given that pistols mission and the mission of the winner of the OHWS Program, it makes sense that the numbers are so close. Odd…very odd. 

The SOCOM Mk. 23 Mod 0 vs. Civilian MARK 23

Scan of the HK 2004 Catalog

If you have the cash, and it is legal in your country, you can buy your own copy of the legendary Mk.23 Mod O: the MARK 23 for about $2500 for the standard black edition of the OHWS German entry. But, what is the difference between the USSOCOM version and the civilian model? For one, the civilian model is called the MARK 23 instead of the Mk.23 and this name is seen labelled on the slide. In the initial run of civilian pistols in 1996, they were stamped as “Mark 23” and later on in 1996 all the way up 2024, they are stamped “MARK 23”. The real military models are stamped: “MK23 USSOCOM”. Another difference is/was the magazine capacity. Back when the civilian version was released in 1996, the magazine capacity was 10 and today, depending on the current laws and state restrictions, can be 12. While there is information on the barrels being different, others debate that. Lastly, it is the colors that civilian model comes in. At one time, H&K made a limited run of 500 black/desert tan in 2004. These are the most expensive MARK 23s However, Omaha Outdoors currently makes the MARK23 in a variety of colors for all of your tactical camo needs: Taupe, Flat Dark Earth, OD, that green-brown RAL8000 color, urban grey, and for the Snake Eyes in all of us: black MultiCam. 

The Operational History of the Mk. 23 SOCOM and Why is Not Used Anymore? Or is it…

There has been one main question that has surrounded the Mk.23 Mod 0 for much of its operational life: was it ever used in combat? This questions runs directly into the common narrative around the Mk.23 Mod 0, that is was not wanted or loved by the operators it was developed for. Other, more common, 9mm pistols were used by the operators that could have used an Mk. 23 Mod 0 and for much of the lifespan of the Mk.23 Mod 0, it was a range queen, a show-n-tell piece, and a bench warmer. There are many keyboard commandos that have labeled this stellar weapon a “boat anchor” and “crew-served pistol”. Other popular opinions online are that he big German .45 was barely used operational. This is a sad narrative to a weapon that was able to go through hell and back, and only take a coffee break before going back into hell again. But, it is true? Is the Mk. 23 Mod 0 just a range queen and a fancy paper weight? While it is highly likely that the Mk.23 Mod 0 has seen more “combat” in virtual battlefields and on AirSoft courses along with more civilians have experience with the MARK 23 than the Special Operations community; but according to one source, it has a richer history than known previously. 

During the in-depth video from 1911 Syndicate video, former SEAL Dave Hall discussed that he carried his issued Mk.23 Mod 0. While he did say that some of the SEALs he knew in the Teams and in TIER One unit did not like the Mk.23 Mod 0 due to its size and the SIG Sauer was fine, there were others did like the Mk.23 Mod 0 due to its suppressed abilities when suppressed M4 carbine were less common. He also said that Mk.23 Mod 0 was carried by SEALs in operations in the early days of The War on Terror. When Dave Hall went to SDV Team 2 in 2002/2003, he discovered that SDV team used the Mk.23 Mod 0 pistols, given the nature of their operations (RECON) and method of insertion. He also shared, with permission, that a DEVGRU operator he knew said he carried a Mk.23 Mod 0 in Afghanistan in 2001-2002 and other members of his team did as well. With some internet searches on the subject, there have been some hints that the Mk.23 Mod 0 were taken and likely used during operations in the former Yugoslavia, hunting down war criminals. Some articles point to the Mk.23 Mod 0 pistols and other .45ACP pistols were broken out for use in Afghanistan when some warfighters pointed to the lack of power in 9mm pistols. Some online have said that private military contractors in Iraq carried the civilian MARK 23. One of the mysteries of the Mk.23 Mod 0 pistol I’ve wondered since working on this article, did the Air Force Special Operations sections use it? I know from Dave Hall that there were some Air Force guys were at the Phase I trial of OHWS Program…so did USAF Special Tactics get the Mk.23 Mod 0 as well? I cannot find hard information on that. From everything I could find, it is highly likely that the Mk.23 Mod 0 service is pretty much over and there were some issues with getting .45ACP ammo for them as well. However, that gun will be ready for action for generations, because it was overengineered to go to hell and back. 

What Makes the Mk. 23 Futuristic?

Given that this pistol has links to the Metal Gear franchise very early in its history and its presentation of the Mk. 23 associated technology, like the LAM, the Mk. 23 as an air of being 20 minutes from the future. This is especially true of the original LAM and square suppressor. With that, the massive pistol was inserted into science fiction and to me, it seemed like a real-world blaster of a sort that would be in hands of our favorite space pirate or space fighter jock.  Maybe it is the size of the Mk. 23 and how the pistol was to be used on the battlefield as a primary weapon and not a backup or secondary as most pistols are. You can image the Colonial Warriors of the classic Battlestar Galactica or Han Solo or even one of the crew of the Serenity having one of these large-frame pistols on their tights. We have to remember that unlike today with lasers for all manner of weapons, real-steel or toys being easily available of all price points, the LAM was something state-of-the-art and inaccessible to us civilians. The complete package of the Mk.23 somehow screamed science fiction and adding to the mystery of the Mk. 23 pistol. Even today, the SOCOM Mk. 23 is a source of inspiration for creators within in the science fiction community when thinking of combat pistols for their soldiers.  

My Opinion on the Mk.23 SOCOM Pistol

The Mk.23 is one of the most mysterious, magical, and frustrating weapons in modern history. It was a weapon that was overdesigned, overengineered, and underused by others it was designed for. It was a unicorn and a symbol…and it pisses me off. We, the American taxpayer, spend nearly $3 million dollars in 1996 ($4.5 million in 2024 money) on the pistol system itself, let alone the cost of the OHWS Program itself and for what? The operators it was lovely designed for did not use, some made fun of it, and other pushed to the back of the armories, only to be used on range days or to show off. This pistol and H&K went through hell and back to bring to life a pistol that earned its place in the armories and holsters of those special operators as much as they did during selection…and it was barely used. To me, this was an amazing weapon system and far better than any other pistol then and even now. 

If I was in the Special Operations community, and had the opportunity to carry a Mk.23, I would have because, even for a small dude like me, I like large handguns and I cannot lie. This is likely due to my experiences carrying around paintball pistols for over a decade, like the iconic Splatmaster, the 32 Degrees DELTA .68, and my current and beloved sidearm, the Tiberius Arms T8. Oddly, while I like full-sized pistols, I use commando-length carbines for my primary in paintball and a MP5 shaped paintball marker for Speedball engagements. Besides all of that, I just really wish this weapon had been given its time to shine and been used for what it was designed to do, giving a more fulfilling operational life by the Special Operations community. Of course, we civilians know little of the Mk.23 actually operational history and the pistol could have been used in A-Stan and other black operations that we will not know about. But, somehow I doubt it for some reason. 

Sci-Fi and the Mk.23

Since the first public information on the H&K Mk.23 came out in 1990’s, the world of science fiction, gaming, and Airsoft have paid close attention to this unique and badass weapon system. Within the first years of the Mk.23 being in the SOCCOM armories, the pistol would appear in movies like 1996’s Executive Action and 1998’s Soldier, both in the hand of actor Kurt Russell. The Mk.23 would also arrive on the civilian market in 1996 as well. However, the it was the inclusion of the Mk.23 SOCOM into the iconic Metal Gear Solid in 1998 that introduced most of us to this unique and badass firearm. 

In many gaming magazines at the time, there was information on the real-steel Mk. 23 along with the OHWS Program itself. With the small information sections, me and many others were also introduced to the real-world weapon. For many, the gun became a life goal of either owning or firing…which I have not down either at this point. To many in the gaming, science fiction, and AirSoft communities, the Mk.23 represented a real life sci-fi blaster that we would find on the hips of our sci-fi gunslingers like Han Solo, Captain Reynolds, the Colonial Warriors of the 1970’s Battlestar Galactica. In addition, the advanced (at the time) LAM triggered creators to look more into adding similar devices on their blaster designs. One of the best examples of a sci-fi Mk. 23 offspring is the M6C/SOCOM from 2009’s HALO 3: ODST. To this day, the Mk.23 still  fuels the imagination of creators and it likely will until there is a true successor…if there will be ever. 

Examples:

The SOCOM Pistol from Metal Gear Solid (1998)

For many of us, the appearance of the Mk.23 in 1998’s legendary Metal Gear Solid was the introduction to the pistol itself along with the LAM. Oddly, MGS is not the first video game to feature the Mk.23 Mod 0 SOCOM pistol. That honor would be given to Time Crisis II, where a Phase II Mk.23 is seen in the cut-scenes and art for the the same. MGS would be the 3rd game to feature the Mk.23 Mod 0, with RAINBOW 6 coming out one month before MGS in the summer of 1998. What made the “SOCOM” pistol of the Metal Gear Solid different and memorable was that the entire SOCOM OHWS was being seen and used in the game. 

To many at the time, including me, the LAM seemed so futuristic and different than other pistols at the time. In the iconic 1998 game, the SOCOM, as it is called, is acquired in two pieces in two locations. Solid Snake would acquire the unsuppressed Mk. 23 with the LAM at the start of the game at the heliport with the suppressor coming later in the game. At the time, gaming magazines did including brief information on the real-steel gun in their article and that is how I learned of the massive German .45. Little did I know in 1998 that I would be discussing this gun at length. Oddly, the SOCOM in the game was based around the Phase II H&K entry with the KAC suppressor and the original Insight Technologies LAM design before the refinement into the AN/PEQ-6 model on the issued gun. The SOCOM pistol would appear in other Metal Gear games, but it would never rise to the level as in the original game. For many, the SOCOM is the gun of Solid Snake and the Mk.23 Mod 0 pistol is forever infused with Metal Gear Solid

The Mk. 23 from Tears of the Sun (2003)

I know…its not a sci-fi film, but it one of the best uses of the Mk. 23 Mod 0 in its intended role in the Naval Special Warfare community is seen in the 2003 Bruce Willis modern war movie Tears of the Sun. I have a soft spot for this film and the appearance of the Mk.23 in it. For the small SEAL team sent to rescue the American doctor, all but two of Lt. Water’s team was carrying the Mk.23 Mod O with KAC suppressors and no LAMs. This might be how the guns were used in some cases. Doc and Silk carry the P226. It is amazing how good the Mk.23 looks in the is film and how much presence it has one screen. This is best appearance of the Mk.23 in any film and will likely always be. Bruce Willis would wield the Mk.23 again in excellent 2012’s Looper.  

The Mk.23 in Soldier (1998) and Executive Decision (1996)

Let us just get this out of the way, 1998’s Soldier is not a good movie and was a waste of the talent of Kurt Russell, who turns in a great performance as the training-from-childhood-to-be-soldier Todd. The abandoned Todd would load and carry the Mk.23 that he took off a dead soldier on Arcadia 234. It is never fired, but it does, according to IMFDB.org, count as the earliest appearance of an actually Mk.23 on film. However, the earliest appearance of a “Mk.23 SOCOM” was an actually a mocked-up USP .45ACP with Mk.23 trimmings make the USP45 look like the Mk.23 in 1996 film Executive Decision. 

I believe that the mockup was done by Long Mountain Outfitter. For the film, the USP45 is fitted with an tactical light system (not LAM) and a fake KAC-looking suppressor. Oddly, this means that Kurt Russell has the honor of being the first actor to handle the Mk.23 in film history, both mock-up and actual. Why did the prop department on Executive Decision not just use a civilian H&K MARK23? According to the IMFDB.org entry, there was no civilian MARK23 on the market at the time and the only Mk.23 pistols in existence were at USSOCOM. Executive Decision would coming out in March of 1996, two months before USSOCOM got their first deliveries of the Mk.23 Mod 0 from Germany. And when the film was under production in 1995, the H&K entry into the OHWS Program had just won the contract. 

The UNSC M6C/SOCCOM from HALO: 3 ODST (2009)

When HALO 3 dropped on the new Xbox 360 console (it was a great time to be a gamer! The 360 is still my favorite gaming console of all time!), we all believed that it was the end of the Master Chief saga and that Bungie would be moving on. But, they did not at first, and it instead, we got this moody, jazzy, urban warfare game centered around the ODST SPECOPS unit. You were the rookie, new to the unit of space assault troopers, and these ODST wielded unique firearms, and one was the Bungie take on the Ml.23 Mod 0: the M6C/SOCOM. This is one of the best Mk.23 Mod 0 themed sci-fi weapons in the genre and it was fun to use in the game. It is the special missions variant to the standard issue M6C 12.7x40mm pistol that is only issued to members of UNSC SPECOPS units and ONI units. Designed for stealth and single-shot takedowns of the lesser alien species of the Covenant, the specialized ammunition for the M6C/SOCOM was designed for long shots with minimum sonic report due to the integrated sound suppressor. Often coupled with the M7S 5mm PDW for ODST operations requiring suppressor weaponry. 

The Mk.23 from Terminator Salvation

There have been few film franchise that experience such heights of success and cultural impact than fell back down to Earth in a pillar of fire right into dumpster as the Terminator franchise. Out of everything in the Terminator library, we got two films and a mostly good TV series and one good video game. Everything else is pretty much terrible. Of course, the ALIENS franchise may ask the Terminator franchise to hold its Weyland-Yutani branded beer. For most of us fans of the franchise, we just wanted a 3rd film set completely in the dark future war showing the events described by Kyle Reese. We nearly got that with 2009’s Terminator: Salvation with Christian Bale playing John Conner. And…it wasn’t good. If FWS had been around, I would have bitched about it back then. There were parts of this film that were okay, but there were no plasma rifles in the movie! Heresy! Throughout the film, Conner carries an H&K 416C and his sidearm being a H&K Mk.23 Mod 0. In one interesting scene in the film, he fires about six rounds of .45ACP into a T-600 endoskeleton’s face. No effect. Then he uses an M60 door gun and terminates that fucker. Another Mk.23 was used by a helicopter pilot later on in the film.

The Mk.23 from I Am Legend

One interesting entry is Flat Dark Earth painted version of the Mk.23 seen in the hands of Will Smith character in the 2007 zombie apocalypse film. Unlike the other two film adaption of the original book, there is more of a military edge to I Am Legend and adding an Mk.23 made sense. The model seen in the film was a FDE variant of the base civilian gun likely from the 2004 special edition and was supplied by Weapons Specialists Ltd. Save for one sequence in the film, the Mk.23 is holstered and according to IMFDB.org, the copy in the holster was an AirSoft copy. I always really liked the way that Flat Dark Earth looks on the polymer portions of the Mk.23.  

The HK Mk. 23 .45 from RAINBOW 6 (1998)

In yet another legendary video game title from 1998, we would get the 2nd appearance of the Mk.23 in a video game with RAINBOW 6. In the original PC release, the select screen for the weapons has same computer graphic for the H&K USP .40 and the Mk.23. However, the game does identify the handgun as the Mk.23 Mod 0. In the PlayStation One port, the weapons are actually seen in the Operator’s hands. Here the Mk. 23 is beefier and has more power, however, it is called the “HK45” and not the Mk.23. Also, why do the members of RAINBOW look like Speedball paintball players instead of elite 1990’s urban commandos in the style of FBI HRT? The PSX port was so odd…and yes, I had it. 

The MARK 23 from The X-Files episode “Agua Mala” (6×13)”

It is odd to think of The X-Files has having one of the earliest, or even the earliest example of a Mk.23/MARK23 in a live-action TV show, but here we are. In the excellent and creepy 6th season mid-season episode “Agua Mala” or “bad water”, Mulder and Scully are in Florida (of course) during While the reviews of this episode are not good, I like this one. In the apartment building where Mulder and Scully take cover from the hurricane, one of the oddball tenants of the building has the civilian MARK23 pistol.   
The OSA Police Sidearm from Planetes (2003-2004)

One of the other futuristic takes on the Mk.23 is the machine pistol version used by the OSA Police as seen in the 26 episode anime TV show Planetes. Planetes was based on the hard science fiction manga of the same name that is centered around members of an orbital debris station. In the 2003-2004 series features a futuristic take on the Mk.23 and is seen in the hands of the OSA Police in the episode “Debris Cluster”. 

The Best Videos on the Mk. 23 and the OHWS Program



Sources: 

A big thank you for all these creators for their very informative articles, videos, and blogs about the OHWS Program. Could not have done it without you! 

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xnY6FSLFy3c
  • https://smallarmsreview.com/colt-offensive-hand-gun/
  • https://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2022/11/30/alex-young-acquires-colt-ohws/
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lJeTkgMKqo&t=439s
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3Hfm2OoCNo
  • https://sadefensejournal.com/mk23-mod-0-the-crew-served-pistol/
  • https://www.remtek.com/arms/hk/civ/mark23/mark23.htm
  • https://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2021/05/29/hk-kac-mk23/
  • https://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2018/06/28/review-hk-mark23/
  • Future Weapons by Kevin Dockery (Penguin Publishing Group 2007)
  • https://www.imfdb.org/wiki/Heckler_%26_Koch_Mark_23
  • https://www.mdshooters.com/threads/firearm-history-ever-heard-of-the-colt-ohws.116668/
  • HKPRO
  • https://smallarmsreview.com/hk-usp-past-present-future-part-i/
  • https://smallarmsreview.com/birth-of-the-offensive-handgun-suppressor/
  • https://sadefensejournal.com/the-heckler-koch-usp-and-the-evolution-of-the-hk-45-auto-caliber-handguns/
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9MoEbbmHrL0 “Plaid Daddy talks USP Tactical 45” 

Next Time on FWS…

It is finally time to finish the military drugs article that FWS has begun and attempted to finish for like half-a-year. Coffee is replicated and we are hard at work on this. See ya soon and stay frosty! Oh…given the size and amount of research required, FWS might have some “filler” articles between this article and the military drugs article. 

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