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Sticking to their guns: Marines place $22.5M order for the Colt .45 M1911

It’s been called the greatest handgun ever made, and it has barely changed sine 1911, when the legendary John Browning designed it especially for the U.S. Military.

And now, the Colt .45 M1911 is making a big comeback, now that the U.S. Marines have placed a $22.5 million order for the Connecticut-made pistols.

The gun, which has been wielded on film by John Wayne and in real life by Sgt. Alvin York and Maj. Audie Murphy, was the standard-issue sidearm in the military for decades, until it was replaced by the Beretta M9 in 1985.

"It just became an iconic part of military and American history."

- Gerry Dinkel, CEO and president of Colt Defense

"It just became an iconic part of military and American history," Gerry Dinkel, CEO and president of Colt Defense, told FoxNews.com.

The gun, one of the most successful pistols ever used at Camp Perry's National Matches, a competition known to be the main world event in artillery sports, has barely changed since it's creation. Dinkel says that shows the gun's "elegant design" just can't be improved on. And firearms experts agree. 

"You can’t beat a .45 cartridge," Jack Lewis, firearms director for Cowan's Auctions, told FoxNews.com. "Some things are hard to replace," he said.

Colt Defense, based in Hartford, Conn., will supply as many as 12,000 of the 200,000 U.S. Marines with semi-automatic, tan-colored M45 Close Quarter Battle Pistols, and they will include spare parts and logistical support. The gun has long been the weapon of choice for special operations agents, thanks to its reliability and the stopping power of its massive bullets.

"I'm really glad that they're keeping it in the American economy," Lewis, who used the gun while he was in the armed forces, said. "I was quite upset when they went to the Beretta," Lewis said.

Some reports suggest Marines are not happy with their main Beretta M9s for their lack of accuracy and stopping power. With M1911's now supplying Special Ops, growing interest may lead to a better solution.

"To have the 1911 selected again for U. S. Forces 101 years after its initial introduction is just an incredible testament to the timeless design and effectiveness of the Colt 1911," Dinkel said. "This is truly a gratifying contract award."