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.
The Army’s recently announced budget request for the fiscal year 2022 includes at least $114 million for new rifles, handguns, and the next generation of small arms.
While the overall FY2022 Defense Department Budget is $112 billion, most of the non-operational dollars are for high-level R&D and big-ticket items like the F-35 fighter. The Army’s budget book for weapons and tracked combat vehicles meanwhile has a low nine-figure ask when it comes to individual small arms.
The bulk ($97 million) is to go to the Next Generation Squad Weapons, with much of the balance to acquire new Barrett-made Precision Sniper Rifles, and a few crumbs for M4s, M17s, and the like.
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)
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.
The USAF has used the M15, a K-frame S&W .38, since 1956 and continues to issue it for MWD (K9) training as the M9 can’t roll with blanks. It will finally be retired by the new M18, which can.
The U.S. Air Force is rolling out the new Sig Sauer M18 pistol to Security Forces units. The 9mm handgun — the smaller counterpart to the M17 adopted under the Army’s Modular Handgun System contract — replaces the Beretta M9, which has been in service since 1986.
A variant of the Sig Sauer P320 with a number of upgrades to include a coyote-tan PVD coated stainless steel slide and a removable top plate for optics, the more compact M18 can use a 17-round 9mm flush fit or 21-round extended magazine.
Importantly in USAF service, the gun will replace not only the M9 Beretta but also the M11– Sig P228s used by SOI– and old M15 S&W .38s used to fire blanks in military working dog training.
Sig Sauer is making just 5,000 commemorative editions of the U.S. Army’s M17 official service pistol– winner of the landmark Modular Handgun System contract– for sale to the civilian market, serial numbered 1 to 5,000.
The gun ships in the same basic vanilla cardboard packaging used in the military’s contract and comes with two extended 21-round magazines and one flush-fit 17-round magazine. They come standard with a SIGLITE front night sight and removable Night Sight rear plate while the pistol uses a coyote-tan PVD coated stainless steel slide with coyote-tan colored controls.
Once the warranty is registered with Sig, the owner gets a commemorative challenge coin and certificate that matches their pistol’s serial number.
Although it ships in plan cardboard, just as Uncle get it, Sig also sells an optional cherry-wood M17 Collector’s Case for $199 that includes laser placement cuts for the pistol, coin, and certificate. (Photo: Sig)
An active retention holster that is a lot more complicated to work than the old leather flap holsters and the Bianchi UM84s of the Beretta-era, the Army has been flirting with the 7TS for a minute, and issue it with the M9 currently for MP use. On the bright side, your gun is a whole lot less likely to fall out in one of these, although there is a -distinct- learning curve in getting it dialed in.
In other news, Uncle is also ordering smaller quantities of IWB light-bearing holster from a Florida company that I am talking to for more info. It seems they are for the more compact M18 version of the MHS and the first users are at Bragg. Watch this space.
All branches of the U.S. Armed Forces have placed orders for the M17/18 Modular Handgun System according to Sig Sauer. (Photo: Chris Eger)
Though originally a winner for an Army contract, Sig officials report that every branch including the Coast Guard has placed orders for the modified P320 pistol platform.
Sig’s M17/18 pistol, the winner of the Army’s Modular Handgun System contract last year, is set to be fielded by not only the land service but the Air Force, Marines and Navy as well as the Coast Guard, according to company representatives.
The handguns will begin replacing a host of other platforms, including various marks of the M9 Beretta in the Army. As noted in the Navy’s FY 2019 procurement budget justification for the Marine Corps, 35,000 of the Sigs will not only replace M9s but also Colt M45A1 CQB .45ACP pistols and the newly acquired M007 Glock. In Coast Guard service, the gun will augment the Sig P229R which was adopted in 2005. The Air Force has been quietly acquiring the guns and testing their use for compatibility with aircraft ejection seats.
In the above video shot by my homie Ben Philippi, Sig’s Rich Morovitz talked to us at SHOT Show about the U.S. Army’s new M17 sidearm and points out some of the differences between the military’s variant and winner of the landmark Modular Handgun System contract and the standard Sig Sauer P320. Besides the manual safety– an Army requirement– Morovitz also goes into detail on the removable top plate for a Leupold DeltaPoint Pro sight, which is a big move for a MIL-STD handgun meant for the common Soldier in the field.