The U.S. Army has chosen Sig Sauer’s P320 as its new service pistol to replace the M9 Beretta which soldiers have used as their sidearm since 1985. Sig Sauer won the US$580m Modular Handgun System contract against Smith & Wesson, Beretta and Glock to provide firearms, accessories and ammunition over the next decade.
Released in 2014, the P320 is a polymer striker-fired pistol, which the Army has selected in both its full size and compact version, according to a statement from the manufacturer.
The P320 is the first modular pistol with interchangeable grip modules that can also be adjusted in frame size and caliber by the user thanks to its stainless steel frame. It can thus be adapted to shoot 9mm, .357 SIG and .40 S&W ammunition, according to Sig Sauer.
Following operational testing, the company will start delivering the pistols, configurable to receive silencers, later this year and continue deliveries over a period of 10 years.
The U.S. Army first announced the competition for the Modular Handgun System (MHS) in 2011, but multiple delays set the most recent solicitation deadline for February 2016.
U.S. Army acquisition executive Steffanie Easter said in a statement she is “tremendously proud” of the Modular Handgun System team. “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,” she said. “As MHS moves forward into operational testing, the due diligence taken by all of the stakeholders will ensure a programme that remains on-budget and on-schedule,” she added.
Even if the Beretta M9 Beretta has been the U.S. Army’s pistol of choice since 1985, other handguns, including Sig Sauers, are also used particularly in special operations. Green Berets regularly use Glock 9mm pistols and in 2016 Marine Special Operations allowed use of the 9mm Glock 19. Navy SEALs generally use the Sig Sauer P226 and, on occasion, Heckler & Koch’s .45-caliber HK45C.