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.
After a decade rocking a bone stock third generation Glock 19– finger grooves and all– I thought it was time to give the gun a little upgrade.
As covered in previous articles the Gen 3 G19 is probably one of the most popular compact(ish) 9mm pistols ever made and I’ve been carrying the same one off and on since at least 2012.
Sure, sure, the pistol had been released as far back as 1998 and I was late to the party, but I still got in the door during the model’s heyday. Although surpassed generationally by the Gen4 and Gen5 variants, the Gen3 remains in production likely due to a combination of the fact that it is still on California’s roster and folks just dig it. After all, it is “old reliable” in the 9 milly game– akin to a Toyota Tundra– with about the worst thing people can say about the Glock compact it is that it is boring or that it carries a lackluster trigger and sights.
I recently decided the time was right to refresh my old Gen3 G19 as it had passed its (still very young) 15K mark. This meant a teardown and swap out of all the small springs (firing pin spring, extractor depressor spring, mag catch spring, trigger spring, slide lock spring, and slide stop lever spring) just to be sure it would keep going bang for at least another 15K. This was the next level up from my normal post-range cleaning and swapping out a new recoil spring every 3K rounds or so. For the record, I always just went with the same old OEM Glock parts.
Then I thought to myself, how about some new sights, and maybe a barrel, and maybe a trigger…
The differences are subtle to the overall aesthetics, but ring true when you start her up
Back around 2012, my carry choice was a SIG Sauer P229R, a 13+1, a platform that I had lots of experience with as I carried one and instructed others on it in my “day job” as a contractor with the Dept. of Homeland Security. While I owned Glocks already, they were in .45 GAP and .40S&W (hey, it was 2012).
Downshifting to the more compact G19 in 9mm, I picked up a brand new Gen 3 model and found it easy and even fun to shoot. Soon, it was my everyday carry. The reason was obvious. While roughly the same length and height as a Glock 19, a P229 loaded with 14 rounds of 147-grain JHPs hits my kitchen scales at 37 ounces. The G19, with 16 rounds loaded, weighs 31 ounces. Plus, with the striker-fired action, there was no need for working a decocker or the hassle of a hammer catching on clothing. The Glock was point-and-shoot while at the same time being more snag-free.
Fast forward a decade and the question is: is it still a valid carry gun? The answer may surprise.
If you don’t care about a red dot-equipped pistol or fingergrooves, the Gen 3 G19 still stacks up despite being a lot older. Not bad for a pistol introduced the same year the Beastie Boys released Intergalactic.
So I am back from a brand-new firearm industry event, this year’s inaugural Shooting Sports Showcase. In a year where SHOT Show was canceled, the SSS was like a breath of fresh air.
The event was put on by the Professional Outdoor Media Association, the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association, and the National Association of Sporting Goods Wholesalers and held at the Civilian Marksmanship Program’s superb 500-acre Talladega Marksmanship Park on Monday.
Like you really need an excuse to hit the CMP Range…
While small compared to SHOT– there were only about 60 exhibitors– you still got to spend lots of quality time with the big boys like HK, Glock, and Sig Sauer, but also with the smaller guys like Sol Invictus, Century, and Taylor’s.
And they all had lots of interesting stuff on hand.
Out of the thousands of firearms that Guns.com sold this year, the most popular category was for semi-auto handguns, which is not surprising as that category has consistently seen the highest production numbers by the domestic firearms industry for the past several years.
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.
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)