Soldiers from the U.S. Army’s iconic 101st Airborne Division out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky, were the first to field the new M17 pistol this week. The era of the Beretta-made M9 for Army leaders is over with the introduction of Sig Sauer’s new Modular Handgun System. A select group of soldiers tested M17s on Monday. Roughly 2,000 pistols were inventoried and inspected prior to the demonstration. “This is another 101st first,” Maj. Gen. Andrew P. Poppas, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) commander said Wednesday. “Our 75-year legacy is full of landmark moments like this. […] It is an easy, smooth-firing weapon.” The M17 pistol and the M18 (a compact alternative) are variants of Sig Sauer’s commercially available P320 pistol. The products are the result of the New Hampshire-based company’s $580 million contract with the Army signed in January. “[M9s are] pretty dated technology,” Lt. Col. Steven Power said of Beretta’s pistol, which was an Army standard sidearm since 1986. “The specific performance improvements from MHS over the M9 include better accuracy, tighter dispersion, and better ergonomics, which combined result in a far more lethal pistol.” An official told Stars and Stripes on Thursday that the Modular Handgun System will be issued to 1st Security Forces Assistance Brigade at Fort Benning, Georgia, along with other units, before the end of the year. The decision to issue the sidearm to team leaders is a first for the service, the newspaper reported.
Congrats to Sig Sauer for another big win, and congrats to the Army for finally dumping the M9, which I’ve had the frustration of jamming on me more than once. Sig Sauer is a HUGE improvement. That’s why ALL of my personal sidearms are Sig Sauers. Excellent!! 🙂
The U.S. Army on Thursday awarded Sig Sauer a contract worth $580 million to make the next service pistol based on the company’s P320 handgun. Sig Sauer beat out Glock Inc., FN America and Beretta USA, the maker of the current M9 9mm service pistol, in the competition for the Modular Handgun System, or MHS, program. “We are both humbled and proud that the P320 was selected by the U.S. Army as its weapon of choice,” Ron Cohen, chief executive officer of Sig Sauer, said in a statement to Military.com here at SHOT Show, the world’s largest gun show, taking place this week in the city. “Securing this contract is a testimony to Sig Sauer employees, their commitment to innovation, quality and manufacturing the most reliable firearms in the world,” Cohen added. The Army launched its long-awaited XM17 MHS competition in late August 2015 to replace its Cold War-era M9 9mm pistol. “By maximizing full and open competition across our industry partners, we have optimized private sector advancements in handguns, ammunition and magazines, and the end result will ensure a decidedly superior weapon system for our warfighters,” Army Acquisition Executive Steffanie Easter said in a press release. One of the major goals of the effort was to adopt a pistol chambered for a more potent round than the current 9mm. The U.S. military replaced the .45 caliber 1911 pistol with the M9 in 1985 and began using the 9mm NATO round at that time. In their statements, Army and Sig officials didn’t specify what caliber the new Sig Sauer pistol will be. Sig touts the P320 model product as “modular” and “adaptable,” with interchangeable grips, multiple sizes and calibers that can be converted between 9mm, .357SIG and .40SGW. “From calibers, to pistol size, to the grip fit best suited for the shooter, the P320 is the most adaptable pistol available today,” the company says in promotional materials. Two sources confirmed to Military.com that Sig submitted to the Army .40-caliber and 9mm pistols for consideration. One source said the Army ultimately selected the 9mm version. Shortly after the contract announcement, Sig officials celebrated here at the show. Staff at the Sig Sauer booth set out champagne flutes for a celebratory toast. The Army in December down-selected to two finalists for the competition: Sig and Glock, which had submitted its Glock 17 and Glock 19 models for consideration. Given the size of the contract, Glock is widely expected to protest the decision. Brandie Collins, communications manager for Glock, said she had not been briefed on the contract award but wished the winners well. Army officials informed Beretta USA and FN America at the show that they had been dropped from the competition in the recent down-select decision, according to a service source who is not authorized to speak to the press. But confusion reigned as reporters informed company officials of the Army’s announcement. The decision formally ends the Beretta’s 30-year hold on the Army’s sidearm market.
Thank God! The M9 is an awful weapon. But, it was cheap. So, Beretta was awarded that contract back in the ’80s because, well, it was cheap. As someone who has been a “field grade” Army officer, and fired the M9 both on the range here in the states, and “downrange” in Afghanistan, I’m glad to see that piece of garbage retired. The M9 jammed up on me more than once. That’s why all of my personal sidearms (including my conceal carry firearm) are Sig Sauer weapons. Sig is the Cadillac of firearms, and the Army is making a wise choice moving forward with this selection, and awarding the contract to Sig for this far superior sidearm. Our troops deserve to have the best. And, this is a step in the right direction. Outstanding!! 🙂