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The U.S. Army has selected the Sig Sauer P320 handgun as its new sidearm, replacing the Beretta M9. The announcement, which was broken yesterday afternoon by Military.com, was made at the Las Vegas SHOT Show trade convention. The handgun will be known as the M17.
"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 Thursday in a press release.
The compact version of the P320 won the competition, beating out FN America, Beretta USA, and Glock for the contract worth up to $580 million. According to The Firearm Blog, the compact P320 has an overall length of 7.2 inches and a barrel length of 3.9 inches. Military.com reports Army has reportedly chosen the 9-millimeter version of the handgun, which packs a 15-round magazine. The weapon is fully ambidextrous, with safety and slide-catch levers on both sides, and has a bright orange, loaded-chamber indicator. The handgun also features a flap in the trigger well to prevent dirt and debris from entering the pistol. Unlike the Glock, troops won’t have to pull the trigger to disassemble it.
The Army will initially buy more than 280,000 handguns, and may purchase another 212,000. It also plans to buy approximately 7,000 sub-compact versions. The P320 compact has a civilian market price of $597 each that technically be enough to buy 971,524 M320s — and that’s before bulk discount savings.
The Army search began searching for a new handgun in 2013, and announced the XM17 Modular Handgun System competition the next year. The current Army-issue sidearm for more than 30 years, the Beretta M9, has a long history of problems. In a 2006 report on U.S. infantry weapon reliability, troops who had used the M9 in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan ranked it dead last compared to the M4 carbine, M16 rifle, and M249 squad automatic weapon. Only 58% of soldiers who had used it in combat reported being satisfied with the weapon. Of the four weapons, it was reported the least accurate and worst handling.
Most alarmingly, 26% of those who had used it in combat reported the Beretta had jammed on them.
The world of firearms has seen a lot of innovation in the 32 years since the Beretta 92 was chosen, and the XM17 requirements were written to include many of them. The gun was required to have an integral MIL-STD-1913 Picatinny rail, the same accessory mounting system incorporated on other Army small arms, as well as a threaded barrel for the installation of suppressors. The program also called for ambidextrous controls for lefties and a loaded-chamber indicator. The modular-ness of the gun needed be swappable grip panels of different sizes, to accommodate hands of different sizes — an important feature when the number of women in the U.S. Army has increased by 50% since the M9 was adopted.
Oh, and the weapon needed to have low recoil.
The final solicitation, which spelled out what the Army officially wanted in the pistol and how the competition would go down, came in at a whopping 351 pages. Rather than an afternoon, or even a long weekend, the competition would take an estimated two years to cost of $17 million.
Sen. John McCain of Arizona complained the competition rules were “byzantine” and favored large companies used to negotiating government bureaucracy. Then-Sec. of Defense Robert Gates complained, “This is absurd…it’s a handgun for God’s sake.” Even Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley expressed exasperation with the process, saying, “We’re not figuring out the next lunar landing. This is a pistol. … You give me $17 million on a credit card, and I’ll call Cabela’s tonight, and I’ll outfit every soldier, sailor, airman and Marine with a pistol for $17 million.”
Perhaps it was the attention drawn by the the program’s delays in last week’s Senate confirmation hearings that pushed Army to make a decision. In Gen. James Mattis’ hearing, Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst said, “Take a look at their 350-page micromanaging requirements document if you want to know why it’s taking so long to get this accomplished.”
In response, Mattis said, “I can’t defend this,” but added, “I will say that at times there were regulations that required us to do things.”
Your humble Pentagon correspondent has never been one of the "cool kids" in the world of Washington media, and never has that been more evident than in my failed attempts to interview Navy veteran Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and one of the roughly 50,000 Democrats running for president.
To the media, Buttigieg is so hot right now that he could melt the stealth coating off an F-35 – which is actually not as hard as it sounds. He is fluent in more forms of communication than C-3PO – in April, he offered his condolences to the French people for the Notre Dame fire in perfect French. He's had no problem getting media coverage from all sorts of media outlets, including National Public Radio, the New York Times, or even Fox News.
Your intrepid Pentagon correspondent was briefly on Mayor Pete's schedule, when his director of campaign operations Max Harris set up an interview for Feb. 26. But less than an hour later, Harris emailed back to say he might have to reschedule the interview due to scheduling conflicts.
Four months of silence followed. (To be fair, his campaign manager Lis Smith did confirm in March that Buttigieg had formed an exploratory committee to run for president.)
The union representing 260,000 Department of Veterans Affairs employees recently won a "cease and desist" arbitration ruling against the department's posting of lengthy lists of firings, suspensions and other disciplinary actions in violation of the Privacy Act.
The two oil tankers crippled in attacks in the Gulf of Oman last week that Washington and Riyadh have blamed on Iran are being assessed off the coast off the United Arab Emirates before their cargos are unloaded, the ships' operators said on Sunday.
For retired Sgt 1st Class Confessor Bermudez Jr., Pvt. Dorian Bermudez and Capt. Timothy Peters, watching their fathers' military service has helped inspire their own military careers.
For Father's Day, each took time to reflect on what stood out to them during their fathers' careers and how their fathers have supported them as they, too, have joined the military.
A U.S. military drone was shot down over Yemen on June 6, and just a week later, another MQ-9 Reaper was targeted over the Gulf of Oman on June 13, according to a U.S. Central Command statement.