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U.S. Army Special Forces: "The Green Berets"

Special Operations Handgun

The Offensive Handgun Weapon System (OHWS)

In August 1991, Heckler & Koch, Inc. and Colt's Manufacturing Company were awarded contracts with the US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) for the development of an Offensive Handgun Weapon System (OHWS).

USSOCOM directs the activities of some of America's most elite military units, including the Navy SEALs, Air Force Special Operations Wing, and the Army Green Berets, Rangers, and Special Operations Aviation.

The "OHWS" consists of three components: a .45 caliber pistol, a laser aiming module (LAM), and a sound and flash suppressor. The program is divided into three phases, with development and testing during Phases I & II and production during Phase II. At the end of Phase I testing, USSOCOM was to select one of the two candidates for continued development in Phase II.

In August 1992, both companies delivered 30 prototype systems to the US Navy for extensive testing and evaluation. Testing was completed in March 1993 and both companies submitted final technical and cost proposals for Phases II & III in October 1993. In January 1994, the HK system was selected and a Phase II contract was awarded. A letter contract for Phase III production was also awarded at that time, to be finalized during Phase II.

During Phase I, Heckler & Koch GrnbH of Oberndorf, Germany developed the pistol and suppressor components and Insight Technology Inc. (ITI) of Londonderry, NH developed the LAM, a combination flashlight and visible and invisible laser sight.

During Phase II, HK GrnbH continued the development of the pistol and Knight's Armament Company of Vero Beach, FL, a world leader in suppressor technology, joined the project to design and develop the suppressor component. The LAM component development was not continued in Phase II but will be separately developed and produced during Phase III.

In November 1994, 30 pre-production pistols and suppressors were delivered to the Navy for final developmental and operational testing. Testing is expected to be complete in April 1995 and a Phase III production contract is scheduled to be exercised not later than July 1995. The Special Operations Forces (SOF) Offensive Handgun (as it is now termed) will meet some of the most stringent operational requirements ever demanded of a combat handgun - with match grade accuracy (2.5 inch maximum extreme spread in a 5-round shot group at 25 meters) in all operational environments and endurance and reliability providing a service life of over 30,000 rounds of +P ammunition.


This page is an unofficial document and does not represent information endorsed by the United States Government, the United States Special Operations Command or the United States Army Special Operations Command. However, most information is derived from those sources and has been checked for accuracy. For comments, questions, and suggestions, please go to the Communications Center.

Gunnery Network - SOF