Goodbye To The M9, Hello To The ?

It has been the object of a firestorm of debate.

The United States Army and Air Force are dropping the Beretta M9 sidearm they have used for many years. Under what is called the Modular Handgun System, gun manufacturers will be competing to have the next pistol that will be used by our troops.

Along with receiving the government contract to provide these handguns, the company will also have to supply the ammunition. It is also up to the manufacturer on what caliber they will enter in the competition. Many have felt that the 9 millimeter just does not have the stopping power. But, it is also open to fragmenting rounds, or full metal jacket rounds. This will break the 1899 Hague Convention which barred fragmenting rounds on the battlefield.

Some of the debate

Senator John McCain says he believes the Army should halt the plan until they can figure out what size of bullet they actually want. He also believes that soldiers should be able to choose their own sidearm from ones that have already been tested and approved. He states that the Army is wasting millions of dollars over a simple handgun choice.

U.S. Army Chief of Staff, General Mark Milley jumped into the debate ring when he said that the Army should just give him the money and he would go to Cabellas and would buy Glocks. He criticized the $17 million, 2-year-long testing program to find the right handgun.

And I, along with the House Armed Services Committee wonder why the Army isn’t saving money by having Beretta just redesign the M9.

If you have another side to the debate, feel free to tell us in the comment section at the end of this post.

Handgun requirements

While the caliber is open on the manufacturer’s end, there are some requirements the Army has in place. They include:

  • The adaption for different pistol grips.

  • Alternate magazine options.

  • The use of Picatinny Rails to mount target enablers.

  • A minimum of recoil.

  • Ambidextrous design.

These are just a few of the requirements.

What the manufacturer will have to deliver

The choices of 3 guns should be made sometime in 2016. These will be tested throughout 2017, and production will begin in 2018.

The manufacturer will have to deliver approximately 280,000 pistols for the Army, 212,000 for other services and 7,000 compact versions.

Along with that, they also have to deliver a large quantity of ammunition.

So, who is in?

Ruger stepped aside, as did CZ (a Czech firearms manufacturer).

The ones who are absolutely in the competition are:

  • Beretta

  • Glock

  • Smith & Wesson

  • FN Herstal

  • SIG Sauer

  • Carl Walther

  • Kriss USA

  • Heckler & Koch

  • Steyr

So what did each enter?

Beretta: The APX

Glock: The 17 Generation 4 and 22 Generation 4

Smith & Wesson: M&P

FN Herstal: Five-Seven MK2

SIG Sauer: P320 MHS

Carl Walther: PPQ M2

Kriss USA: Sphinx SDP

Heckler & Koch: VP9?

Steyr: G8?

Narrowing down the field

Courtesy of Smith and Wesson, Beretta and SIG Sauer

Ok, now we are down to my opinion because there is no news at this moment on how any of these stand.

They are going to choose 3 to test, so I will do the same:

  1. Smith & Wesson: Smith & Wesson made a smart move teaming up with General Dynamics for the production of ammo. General Dynamics has had many government contracts, and they know how to play the game.

  2. Beretta: They had the M1911 and the M9…How can we not test their APX development? It only makes good sense to allow Beretta the opportunity to keep supplying the Army.

  3. SIG Sauer: Everything I read about the pistol SIG Sauer entered tells me it is a winner. It has an ergonomic design like no other. I really wish I could test fire one of these experimental sidearms.

Final Thoughts

If I were a gambling man, I would put the odds on the Smith & Wesson winning this contest. I don’t believe it is because they will have the best gun, but because of the ability to deliver. With General Dynamics in their corner, they have the contest ¾ won already.

Now, if I were to pick the best design, the SIG Sauer would probably take the prize, but I have not had the advantage of holding or firing it either.

I remember back to my sidearm which was the tried and true M1911. I never had the opportunity to fire the M9, but many told me there really was very little difference.

What are your thoughts? Do you think the Army should stick with the 9 millimeter, or jump up in caliber? What pistol do you think will win this contest?

Feel free to spout your side of this debate. Thank you for visiting, and be sure and sign up for the Part Time Commander Newsletter.


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chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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