By Debbie Gregory.
Firearms manufacturer Sig Sauer has won a contract to make the next service pistol based on the company’s P320 handgun.
The U.S. Army has selected the SIG SAUER Model P320 to replace the M9 service pistol currently in use since the mid-1980’s. Released in 2014, the P320 is a polymer striker-fired pistol that has proven itself in both the United States and worldwide markets. The P320 is the first modular pistol with interchangeable grip modules that can also be adjusted in frame size and caliber by the operator.
There was tough competition for the Modular Handgun System (MHS) contract, worth $580 million, between Sig Sauer, Glock Inc., FN America and Beretta USA.
The 10-year agreement calls for Sig to supply the Army with both compact and full-size versions of the gun.
The firearms will be manufactured at Sig Sauer’s New Hampshire facility.
Ron Cohen, President and CEO of SIG SAUER, said “We are both humbled and proud that the P320 was selected by the U.S. Army as its weapon of choice. Securing this contract is a testimony to SIG SAUER employees and their commitment to innovation, quality and manufacturing the most reliable firearms in the world.”
The decision formally ends the Beretta’s 30-year hold on the Army’s sidearm market. In December 2014, Beretta USA submitted its modernized M9A3 as a possible alternative to the Army’s Modular Handgun System program.
But the Army rejected the improved M9A3, which featured new sights, a rail for mounting lights and accessories, better ergonomics and improved reliability. The company, however, wasn’t finished yet. It developed a new striker-fired pistol, the APX, and entered it into the competition.
The Army began working with the small arms industry on Modular Handgun System in early 2013, but the joint effort has been in the works for more than five years. It could result in the Defense Department buying nearly 500,000 new pistols.
Current plans call for the Army to purchase more than 280,000 handguns, according to Program Executive Office Soldier officials. The Army also plans to buy approximately 7,000 sub-compact versions of the handgun.
The other military services participating in the program may order an additional 212,000 systems above the Army quantity.