Date:13 December 2017
The U.S. Army’s new Modular Handgun System has started going out to units in the field, with the first pistols reaching the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) in late November.
By Kyle Mizokami
The Army plans to widely distribute the new M17 and M18 pistols to re-equip the force as it retires the 1980s-era M9 pistol. A new video shows the gun’s introduction at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, the home of the “Screaming Eagles” of the 101st.
The Army’s new Modular Handgun System (MHS) is finally entering service, nearly seven years after the competition to replace the older M9 handgun was announced. After multiple delays and false starts, the Army awarded the German gun manufacturer Sig Sauer a $580 million dollar contract in January 2017 for up to 190,000 pistols. The pistols would be based on the company’s P320 full size and compact handguns, a new semiautomatic pistol design introduced in 2014.
The MHS consists of two pistols—the full-size M17 and the compact M18. Both pistols are chambered for 9-millimetre Parabellum and distributed with both 17 and 21 round magazines. The pistols are double action only, meaning a single trigger pull will both cock the pistol and release the firing pin, firing the gun. Both feature 4.7-inch stainless steel, threaded barrels for screwing on sound suppressors, rails for attaching accessories such as lights and lasers, and a flat dark earth finish.
The Army’s pistol, although based on the commercially available Sig P320, has some features the civilian version lacks. The MHS has a manual thumb safety, something missing from many contemporary handguns, Glock included, and the P320. It also features tritium sights not available stock on civilian models, which use radioactive tritium to make the handgun sights easily visible in both day and night conditions.
The “Modular” in MHS refers to the use of interchangeable grip frame modules to accommodate different sized hands. Some handguns are less comfortable held by smaller hands, particularly those that contain large capacity magazines in the grip. The interchangeable modules mean users can swap in the frame size that fits them best. The video shows the handgun fitted with one grip frame module but accompanied by two others that are user-installable.
The handguns are made at Sig Sauer’s facility in New Hampshire, in sufficient volume to equip roughly a new Army base a month until 2018. According to Military.com the Army is planning to deploy the MHS in greater numbers at a lower unit level than with the previous M9, and will beef up pistol training as the new pistol enters service.
From: PM USA