January 22nd, 2017

U.S. Army Adopts SIG XM17 (P320) Pistol to Replace Beretta M9

Beretta M9 M17 XM17 Sig Sauer Modular Pistol System

The U.S. Army has selected variants of the SIG Sauer P320 pistol to replace the venerable M9 pistol from Beretta. The Army will purchase the new 9mm striker-fired SIG handgun, designated the XM17, in both compact and full-size versions. The Army will purchase a minimum of 280,000 handguns, with options for another 212,000. This represents a huge contract, worth $580,000,000 through budget year 2027. According to American Rifleman: “The XM17 will likely lose the ‘X’ and be made by American workers in an American factory for American soldiers.”

In adopting the new SIG XM17, the U.S. Army has chosen its first new handgun in three decades. The lengthy Modular Handgun System (MHS) selection process took two years and $17 million, with twelve different candidates vying to be chosen as the Army’s new sidearm. SIG Sauer triumphed over other major pistol-makers (including Beretta, CZ, Glock, FNH, and S&W), by best fulfilling a complex set of requirements. According to Popular Mechanics: “The bureaucracy surrounding the M17 Modular Handgun System contract was oppressive. The Army’s Final Solicitation document, which spelled out the terms of the competition, was whopping 351 pages long. Senator John McCain of Arizona described the rules as ‘byzantine.’ Then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates complained, ‘This is absurd — it’s a handgun for God’s sake’.”

The Army’s new XM17 is fully ambidextrous, with safety and slide release levers on both sides. Importantly, unlike Glock pistols, the new SIG XM17 can be taken down without pulling the trigger. In accordance with the XM17 design protocols, the new SIG features a front Picatinny rail for accessories, as well as interchangeable grip panels to fit various hand sizes. There will be threaded barrel options for use with a suppressor. The Army’s selection of the SIG Sauer XM17 was announced this past week at SHOT Show in Las Vegas.

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September 7th, 2015

Army Issues Solicitation for XM17 Pistol to Replace Beretta M9

M9 U.S. Army Solicitation XM17 HMS Modular Handgun System

It’s official… the U.S. Army is replacing the M9 Pistol made by Beretta. On August 28, 2015, the Army released the official solicitation for the XM17 MHS Pistol, a modular design that will replace the M9, the Army’s version of Beretta’s model 92. This is a big contract — the Army intends to acquire at least 300,000 pistols, all from one manufacturer.

According to Military.com: “One of the major goals of the MHS [Modular Handgun System] effort is 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.” It is unclear what chambering the U.S. Army wants instead of the 9x19mm. Some pundits suggest the Army wants a larger-diameter bullet, while others think the Army is looking for a higher velocity projectile that can penetrate body armor. While the Army has not specified a particular cartridge, the XM17 spec requires that the pistol’s projectile penetrate at least 14″ of ballistics gel at 50 meters. The Army also hopes that the new pistol will be more durable and easier to maintain than the M9.

This XM17 solicitation document, a whopping 351 pages long, contains detailed specs for the pistol, accessories, along with performance standards. Guns.com says the specification includes accuracy standards as well as modular design requirements: “The Army said the handgun should be able to hit a 4-inch target at a 50-meter range at least 90 percent of the time throughout the gun’s lifespan. To compete in the Modular Handgun System, and the XM17 designation, the pistol needs modifiable grips, varied magazine options, ambidextrous controls, and rails for accessories.”

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