A test dummy equipped with a new modular handgun system makes impact at the bottom of a vertical deceleration tower inside the 711th Human Performance Wing, at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, Dec. 6, 2017. The drop is meant to simulate being ejected from an aircraft and tests 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.
A couple of weeks ago, it emerged that the U.S. Marine Corps had earmarked funds to buy 35,000 Army Modular Handgun System pistols in FY19. Now, Sig Sauer has confirmed that every military branch has placed an order for the Army’s Modular Handgun System. The Modular Handgun System is based on the Sig Sauer P320. The Army awarded Sig a $580 million contract to produce up to 195,000 guns in January 2017.
Services Order The Modular Handgun System
“All services have been involved in MHS since its inception … and they have all committed to ordering guns,” Tom Taylor, Sig’s Chief Marketing Officer, said in an email to Military.com. “The U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, and U.S. Coast Guard all have orders that will be fielded starting later this year and early next year.”
As the War Zone blog notes, Taylor didn’t mention the monetary value of the orders each branch had placed for the pistols. He did, however, say the amount of guns each branch is committed to buying hadn’t been finalized.
Debra Dawson, a spokesperson for Program Executive Office-Soldier, confirmed in a separate email that the other branches could purchase the Modular Handgun System as part of the original Army contract.
“The other military services, who were involved in the entire acquisition process including source selection, can also procure XM17/XM18 Modular Handgun Systems under the Army contract with Sig Sauer,” Dawson said.
The Marines, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard all declined to comment when Military.com reached out regarding the MHS.
Air Force Test
Other than the USMC’s plan to buy the MHS as part of its FY19 budget, the only other confirmation that another service was working with the gun comes from the U.S. Air Force. Last December, the service released photos showing the pistol being tested at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. The test involved attaching the two MHS pistols on either side of a life-size test dummy. The service then strapped the dummy into an ejection seat and simulated a forced cockpit ejection.
“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,” the USAF said in photographs showing the test. “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 U.S. Army has a 10-year deal with Sig Sauer for the Modular Handgun System. The MHS includes the full-size XM17 and compact XM18 9mm pistol. The service began fielding the guns late last year. The MHS is a replacement for the Beretta M9, which in turn replaced the legendary Colt M1911 in 1985.
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