For the past 30 years the Army’s pistol of choice has been the M9 Beretta. It served the men and women who used it well, but all great things must come to an end. In January the Army announced it was leaving the M9 for a variant of the German-Swiss gun manufacturer Sig Sauer’s P320.
The soldiers with the 101st Airborne Division have been told that their unit will become the first to receive the new Modular handgun. Units that are stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky will also slowly start to receive their new sidearm as funding allows.
“The latest budget was our first real knowledge of procurement dollars, which will adjust fielding schedules,” Lt. Col. Steven Power, product manager of Soldier Weapons for Program Executive Office Soldier said Wednesday. “However, we will definitely field Fort Campbell this year.”
Other companies were in the running to replace the Beretta, including Smith & Wesson and Glock, but in the end, the Army decided to go with Sig Sauer. Since the new handguns will be variants of the P320, it means the weapon will come with interchangeable grip modules and can be adjusted for caliber and frame size, according to the Army Times.
The contract awarded to Sig Sauer will cover firearms, accessories, and ammunition for the next decade and is reportedly worth $580 million.
Army acquisition executive, Steffanie Easter, said: “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.”
The m9 has bee criticized for quite some time now, according to CNN. During confirmation hearings for Secretary of Defense James Mattis, former officer of the Iowa National Guard, Senator Joni Ernst made the statement: “The joke that we had in the military was that sometimes the most effective use of an M9 is to simply throw it at your adversary.”
Politicians critisized how long it took to find a replacement for the M9. “A decade for a pistol?” Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina asked at the same Mattis confirmation hearing. “They’re relatively simple devices … This is a great testament to what’s wrong with defense acquisition.”
The thing politicians don’t realize is when your sidearm becomes your last means of defense, you want it to work. But politico see dollar signs opposed to human lives. Regardless of how long it took to find a replacement, it sounds like the Army made the right decision.