The U.S. Army has already begun the process of fielding its new M17 and M18 Modular Handgun System, but the Air Force is still in the testing phase for the pistol. In one recent experiment, the service wanted to see how the gun would fare when a pilot is forced to eject from the cockpit of his aircraft.
To accomplish this, the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center (AFOTEC) went ahead and equipped a life-size test dummy with the Modular Handgun System—one on either side for right- and left-handed draw—and strapped it into an ejection seat. The seat was attached to a vertical deceleration tower inside the 711th Human Performance Wing, at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.
“The test is meant to demonstrate the safety and durability of the new modular handgun system when exposed to the stresses associated with ejection from an aircraft. This is the first time any service has conducted this type of demonstration to ensure a side arm is safe for aircrew to carry in ejection seat aircraft,” the Air Force said in a series of photographs documenting the test.
There’s no word on how the testing went, but as Guns.com notes, the U.S. Air Force uses the Martin-Baker ejection seat, an underseat rocket motor and catapult system capable of delivering forces up to 14 g, which could in turn cause bone fractures in the pilot. Therefore, ensuring the M17 and M18 Modular Handgun System can withstand an ejection is obviously a big deal.