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Sig Sauer wins $580M contract to replace Army’s M9 sidearm

By WYATT OLSON | STARS AND STRIPES Published: January 20, 2017

Firearms-maker Sig Sauer has won a $580-million contract to supply the Army with its next standard sidearm, based on the firm’s P320 pistol.

The contract for the so-called Modular Handgun System, which includes the handgun, accessories and ammunition, is slated to run for 10 years.

“The P320 is the first modular pistol with interchangeable grip modules that can also be adjusted in frame size and caliber by the operator,” the company said on its website.

Soldiers will begin using the Sig Sauer pistols this year.

The award follows an industry-wide competition and replaces the Beretta USA-made M9 9-millimeter pistol, which has been in service since 1995, the Army said Thursday.

Other bidders for the contract were Beretta, Glock Inc. and FN America.

The P320, first marketed in 2014, is striker-fired, meaning it has no external hammer. Its internal polymer spring-loaded firing pin is a highly sophisticated version of the launcher on a pinball machine that propels the ball into play.

All Army-issued P320 pistols, which can be outfitted with silencers, will be produced at the Sig Sauer’s New Hampshire facilities, the company said.

Complaints about the underperforming M9 have circulated among soldiers for years.

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, who was an Army transportation company commander in Kuwait during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, browbeat the pistol during a nomination hearing last week for incoming Defense Secretary James Mattis.

Ernst said she and her fellow soldiers were assigned both the M9 sidearm and an M16 rifle “because 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.”

olson.wyatt@stripes.com
Twitter: @WyattWOlson
 

Army Spc. Riley Collins of the 235th Military Police Company combat reloads a magazine into his M9 Beretta during pistol qualifications in Guernsey, Wyo., June 16, 2016. The Army has announced it is replacing the M9 with a version of the P320 handgun made by Sig Sauer.
MICHAEL BRITT/U.S. ARMY PHOTO

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