The U.S. Army announced Thursday they’ve chosen Sig Sauer to build the next service pistol. The contract, worth at least $580 million, will end the reign of the controversial 9mm Beretta M9. While few details about the new gun are available, the decision is already controversial.
There were numerous companies in the handgun trials. Sig Sauer beat the highly favored GLOCK, and entries from FN America and Beretta.
“I am tremendously proud of the Modular Handgun System team,” Army Acquisition Executive Steffanie Easter wrote in a press release. “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.”
Part of the controversial nature of the M9 was its ammunition. The 9mm M9 took over for the .45 ACP 1911 that had been in service for some 70 years before it. Yet there was much more to why so many hated the M9. The open slide let in dirt and debris (though fans note it also lets out dirt and debris). And a subcontractor that provided some magazines for the M9 supplied defective designs that jammed, rendering the gun useless.
The focus of the new handgun trials was geared toward modularity in caliber and frame design. The new gun promises to be available in multiple calibers, and with interchangeable grip sizes and frame lengths, all with the same manual of arms.
Beretta fought hard to keep the contract. The M9 has a long service record, and the company has made upgrades to the design to meet all of the various challenges and demands placed on the pistol. Beretta submitted their redesigned M9A3 to the Army’s Modular Handgun System program, but the Army turned it down.
The new contract calls for 280,000 full-sized pistols and as many as 7,000 sub-compacts.
The other branches of the military will likely follow suit and add additional units to the purchase.