A version of the SIG P320 modular pistol has won the Army’s Modular Handgun System contract, and has been tasked to provide pistols, accessories such as holsters and suppressors, and ammunition.
The pistol will replace the M9 and M11 pistols over the next ten years; then those firearms will join the M1911 and M1873 in honored retirement.
Is this what they want? The SIG P320 family. The compact is the “Goldilocks” midsize — about the same size as a G19.
The DOD slipped the contract out on the last day of the outgoing Administration, perhaps because of noises from the Senate that were encouraging incoming Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis to cancel the program, the initial phase of which has already cost $350 million. Alternatively, it could simply be that the Army’s bureaucracy at Picatinny just got done shuffling the papers today. Complete text of the DOD contract announcement:
Sig Sauer Inc., Newington, New Hampshire, was awarded a $580,217,000 firm-fixed-price contract for the Modular Handgun System including handgun, accessories and ammunition to replace the current M9 handgun. Bids were solicited via the Internet with nine received. Work locations and funding will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of Jan. 19, 2027. Army Contracting Command, Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey, is the contracting activity (W15QKN-17-D-0016).
OTR notified us from his sources at around the same time that one of our readers flagged us to Soldier Systems Daily in the comments to another post. Soldier Systems Daily was, as far as we know, the first publication online with the story. CWCID.
The P320 has been well received, more so than the hammer-fired P250 that had teething problems that cost it the Federal Air Marshals Service contract some years ago. Tam Keel put a thousand or two rounds downrange from one last year; the NRA awarded it the Golden Bullseye for Handgun of the Year in June.
Stand by for an announcement from SIG (their PR shop works slowly and indirectly at the best of times). This is where their press release would be, if they had one.
This may fill in some of the blanks that we don’t know from the one-paragraph DOD contract announcement:
- What color? The contract suggested the military preferred a brown or FDE shade of weapon, like the P320 Compact shown dismantled above.
- What caliber? SIG submitted both 9mm and .40 S&W firearms.
- Pure striker-fired, or with safety?
If the news hits before our post goes live in about 11 hours, we’ll add an update below.
Congratulations to the hard-working team at SIG, and condolences to the eight other teams that competed for this contract. The problem with any such competition is that choosing a “best” from a field of very good firearms (or anything else) is inherently subjective and difficult. If you recall the JSSAP trials that yielded the M9, runners-up included SIG’s then-flagship P-series DA/SA pistols, Smith & Wesson’s generation of DA/SAs, and several others that, like the SIG and Smith, found markets elsewhere, just as the rejects, this time including Smith and Glock among others, will this time.
The Firearm Blog has some details from SHOT, still sketchy, and this photo of what is the winning firearm, the P320 Compact, presumably in 9mm, with ambi manual safety. Nathaniel promises to keep that page updated, if and when the SIG bigs issue a statement.
TFB says this is the M17, or as close as SIG has at the show.
Here are some pictures of the P320 MHS manual safety firearm as submitted. These are all originally from SIG sources, although we ganked them from here and there over the last two years of the MHS program. The full size and compact submissions:
There’s a great deal of interchangeability. Eli Whitney, eat your heart out.
Here’s a close-up of the manual safety. It seems well-designed both to avoid snags and to be positive in operation.
This does put the SOF Glock contracts at risk, for budgetary reasons. It would be very hard to quantify the superiority of the G19 over this pistol. Meanwhile, the SOF pistols come out of SOF specific money, Major Force Program (MFP) 11. MFP-11 is a finite amount; if SOF were to specify pistols that were a standard Big Green (Blue, Haze Gray, etc) NSN, the service would buy the pistols out of its general-purpose forces money, and that would leave the MFP-11 money for other SOF uses (other SOF-peculiar weapons, communications equipment, engineeer equipment, etc.).
This contract is big news in Gun Universe but back on Soldier Planet it’s not that big a deal. A pistol is almost always a secondary weapon, and the dirty little secret is that just about any service pistol will do — the SIG, the Glock, the SEALs’ P226, the Beretta, hell, the 1911. In combat, your big killers are your air and artillery, and then, your machine guns, and then, your rifles. The pistol is there for the same reason that there is a reserve canopy in your parachute rig — a backup, and a confidence builder.