Even though U.S. Navy SEALs carry into battle various rifles, machine guns, submachine guns, shotguns and sniper rifles, they still like carrying a service handgun when they go into harm’s way. The current standard issue service pistol for U.S. Navy SEALs is the 9mm SIG 226. This premiere service handgun of the SEALs is a full size pistol with a 15-round magazine that has a sterling reputation for being reliable and deadly accurate. A smaller number of 9mm SIG 228s—known as the M11—have also reportedly been used by SEALs.
In 1979 the U.S. Armed Forces decided that it was time to select a new service pistol that was 9mm NATO compliant. As a result of JASSAP (the Joint Armed Service Small Arms Program) the 9mm Beretta 92 was adopted as the new general issue M9 service pistol for the U.S. Armed Forces. During the second JASSAP trials, a new contestant, the 9mm SIG Sauer 226 pistol, came in second place in the selection process.
In 1986 the SEALs became dissatisfied with the M9 pistol when it was discovered that there was a problem with slide failure on the new Beretta. Even though Beretta immediately corrected the defective-slide issue, the SEALs decided to look elsewhere for a new service pistol. According to Kevin Dockery, author of The Weapons of the U.S. Navy SEALs, the U.S. Navy adopted the 9mm SIG 226 in January of 1989 after the SEALs conducted their own test and evaluation of several service pistols. Dockery’s book also describes in detail every firearm, weapon and explosive device ever used by the Teams. SEALs are well known for using an eclectic selection of mission-appropriate weapons including various model Colt M16 rifles, Colt M4 Carbines, the Stoner Light Machine Gun, the 9mm HK MP5 submachine gun, the M14, the M60E3 Light Machine Gun and the Barrett M82A1/M107 .50 BMG rifle.
The above firearms trivia illustrates that the SEALs have field tested and used a large and diverse inventory of firearms, including handguns, since they were officially formed in 1961 and deployed in combat in 1962. This means that from a historical standpoint U.S. Navy SEALs are extremely experienced gunfighters in the truest sense of the word.