In early 2017, SIG Sauer picked up the largest and most important military handgun contract in 30 years and had to meet requirements far more rigorous than previous generations.
The New Hampshire-based company came out on top in the U.S. Army’s $580 million Modular Handgun System award, one that stood to replace the service’s dated M9 (Beretta 92F) and M11 (SIG P228) series 9mm pistols.
The new MHS guns would be the full-sized M17 and the more compact M18, both models of SIG’s P320 series pistol but fitted with different grip modules and barrels.
Then the Navy/Marines and Air Force went with the gun to replace not only the M9 but also the Glock M007 and Colt M45A1 with the former and the M15 .38 K-frame with the latter.
Almost all of the larger M17s have been delivered, with the production of the M18s still underway
With more than 200,000 guns delivered and all four services almost complete with the build-out, while visiting SIG Sauer’s New Hampshire factory recently, I checked out the inspection and certification process to which the military submits each MHS series pistol.
This includes a strict accuracy test, with each pistol required to fire 10 shots into a 2.85-inch circle at 25 meters. For reference, this is about the size of a tennis ball.
The prior standard was 10 shots inside a 9×11 rectangle – an area just larger than a sheet of copy paper.
Sig Sauer has been trucking right along with deliveries of the Modular Handgun System pistols– the full-sized M17 and more compact M18– since 2017 and just announced they have delivered the 200,000th such 9mm sidearm to Uncle.
Of note, the M17 and M18 are in use by all four Pentagon-reporting service branches and some 451,586 are on the schedule.
The MHS system is a P320-based platform, featuring coyote-tan PVD coated stainless steel slides with black controls, utilizes both 17-round and 21-round magazines, and are equipped with SIGLITE front night sights, removable night sight rear plates, and manual safeties. The M18 is shown in the foreground while the M17 is in the back. (Photo: TACOM)
In an effort to bolster our capacity and presence in the Indo-Pacific region, in Fiscal Year 2021, the USCG plans to evaluate the feasibility of basing Fast Response Cutters in American Samoa. If the survey is favorable, the United States could further expand its presence in the South Pacific.
Of note, the U.S. is responsible for the defense of not only Samoa and the territories of Guam (where four FRCs are already to be based) as well as the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, but also the American associated states of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republic of Palau, covering the bulk of the old Trust Territories of the Pacific.
In other words, most of the real estate between Hawaii and Japan. All they are missing is Wake Island, French Frigate Shoals, and Midway.
With that being said, the Hawaii-based Fast Response Cutter Oliver Berry (WPC 1124) just returned to Pearl Harbor following a 6-week nearly 10,000 nm patrol of many of those western islands in conjunction “with the governments of Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia strengthening maritime domain awareness and resource security within their Exclusive Economic Zones.”
Official caption: The crew of the Oliver Berry travel in a round-trip patrol from Sept. 12 to Oct. 27, 2020, from Hawaii to Guam, covering a distance of approximately 9,300 miles during their journey. The crew sought to combat illegal fishing and other maritime threats across the Pacific to protect the United States and our partner’s resource security and sovereignty. (U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of the CGC Oliver Berry)
As we have talked about extensively before, the 154-foot $27 million-per-unit FRCs have a flank speed of 28 knots, state of the art C4ISR suite, a stern launch and recovery ramp for a 26-foot over-the-horizon interceptor cutter boat, and a combat suite that includes a remote-operated Mk38 25mm chain gun and four crew-served M2 .50 cals. The addition of other light armaments, such as MK-60 quadruple BGM-176B Griffin B missile launchers, MK19 40mm automatic bloopers, and MANPADs, would be simple if needed, provided the Navy wanted to hand it over.
Sept 24, 2020: Coast Guard Fast Response Cutter Myrtle Hazard (WPC 1139) arrives in Guam, where four of her class will form a squadron in the U.S.’s most forward-deployed territory, so to speak.
The $27 million-per-unit FRCs have a flank speed of 28 knots, state of the art C4ISR suite, a stern launch and recovery ramp for a 26-foot over-the-horizon interceptor cutter boat, and a combat suite that includes a remote-operated Mk38 25mm chain gun and four crew-served M2 .50 cals.
The addition of other light armaments, such as MK-60 quadruple BGM-176B Griffin B missile launchers, MK19 40mm automatic bloopers, and MANPADs, would be simple if needed, provided the Navy wanted to hand it over.
Based on the Dutch Damen Stan 4708 platform with some mods for U.S. use, Louisiana’s Bollinger Shipyards won a contract for the first unit, USCGC Bernard C. Webber (WPC-1101), in 2008 and has been plowing right along ever since.
It is thought the ultimate goal is to have 58 FRCs for domestic work– where they have proved exceedingly capable when operating in remote U.S. territories such as Guam, in the Caribbean, and in the Western Pacific– and six hulls for use in the Persian Gulf with the Coast Guard’s Patrol Forces Southwest Asia, a regular front-facing buffer force with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
Guardsman on patrol somewhere along the Atlantic coast shown in the new uniform of the U.S. Coast Guard Mounted Beach Patrol, 1943. Note the M1917 revolver holster S&W Victory Model in .38 Special and Army-pattern tack
While under the Treasury Department, from 1790 to 1968, the Revenue Marine/Revenue Cutter Service/Coast Guard most commonly relied on pistols for their day-to-day work in countering smugglers, pirates, and other assorted scoundrels. These guns usually came from commercial sources. In fact, the old Revenue Cutter Service was one of the first organizations to buy large numbers of Mr. Colt’s revolvers, long before they were popular.
By WWI, the Cuttermen started using more standard handguns in line with the Navy, switching to .45ACP revolvers and pistols, which they utilized until switching to Beretta M9s in the mid-1980s– becoming the first branch of the military to be issued with the new 9mm.
In 2006, with the Coast Guard transferred to Homeland Security, they went with the then-common pistol used by the Secret Service and Federal Protective Service (the old GSA Police with better funding)– the Sig Sauer P229R DAK in .40S&W.
In honor of today’s anniversary of the founding of Alexander Hamilton’s Revenue-Marine in 1790, a force that evolved over time to the USCG, I penned a 2,000~ word piece on the service’s small arms over time.
Sig Sauer has a small number of military surplus M17 pistols that have seen varying degrees of genuine field use and is passing them on to collectors.
As explained by Sig, the guns were early military models with coyote tan surface controls. Since then, the M17 has been updated to black controls and the Army arranged to return those early guns to Sig for new ones. The now-surplus guns still have government control numbers and have seen a mix of action, with some pistols saltier than others.
Sig says these guns were previously fielded by the U.S. Army and their condition will vary, “making each one uniquely different, and making this truly an opportunity to own a piece of history.” (Photo: Sig)
New Hampshire-based Sig Sauer announced last week that they have reached a milestone in delivering new pistols to the U.S. Armed Forces.
Since winning the contentious Modular Handgun System contract in 2017, beating out big-name pistol makers from around the globe to replace the M9 Beretta, Sig has exceeded performance standards and recently delivered the 100,000th MHS series gun to the military.
The MHS system comprises the Sig Sauer M17 full-size, and M18 compact handguns, each based on the company’s P320 series pistols, as well as Winchester Ammunition’s 9x19mm M1152 Ball, M1153 Special Purpose, and M1156 Drilled Dummy Inert cartridges.
Over the coming five-to-seven years, upwards of 350,000 handguns and 100 million rounds of ammunition are scheduled for delivery to the Pentagon.