After 32 years without a pistol upgrade, the U.S. Army has decided that to first begin distributing its new Sig Sauer P320 handguns to troops with the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell in Kentucky.
Fort Campbell will be the first installation fully outfitted with the P320, adopted as the M17, Lt. Col. Steven Power with Program Executive Office Soldier told attendees at the National Defense Industrial Association's armament symposium on May 3.
“The latest budget was our first real knowledge of procurement dollars, which will adjust fielding schedules,” Power said. “However, we will definitely field Fort Campbell this year.”
The Army plans to eventually outfit all sidearm-carrying soldiers with the P320, but the timeline of the rollout will depend on availability of funding.
On January 19, the Army first announced it would purchase Sig Sauer's version of the Modular Handgun System to replace the M9 Beretta, which has been the military’s primary handgun since 1985. Sig Sauer outshined Beretta, Glock, and Smith & Wesson for the contract during field testing..
So why the P320? In an earlier report for Task & Purpose, Matthew Moss laid out the details of the Army’s new go-to sidearm:
The Army was adamant that the new sidearm must be more accurate, reliable, lighter and, most importantly, more modular than the current Beretta M9. The P320’s rivals all approached this differently, with most offering the option of adjustable grip backstraps.
Sig Sauer, however, offered a more innovative system. The P320 has a fiberglass-reinforced polymer grip-frame module which acts as the weapon’s lower frame. Within this module there is a removable internal stainless steel frame holding the fire control unit. This fire control unit combines the trigger assembly, striker and spring groups into a small unit. Users can place their fire control unit into any grip module of varying sizes to fit different hand sizes.
The handgun also features an ambidextrous frame, boasts a Picatinny rail, and can be adapted to fit a suppressor. And with a standard 17-round magazine or an extended magazine of 21-rounds, the P320 is an improvement on the M9’s 15-round capacity.
The Army is the first branch to adopt a new pistol in decades. The Air Force, Marine Corps, and the Navy will continue to use the M9 for the foreseeable future.