The big news on the eve of the end of Shot show was the SIG P320 was chosen as the winner of the Army’s MHS competition and will be the next M17 pistol. I couldn’t be happier for Sig, the folks at their booth were pretty pumped about it this morning at Shot Show 2017. The P320 will be the M17 handgun. It’s a modular weapon, easy shooting, an excellent trigger, and is accurate and reliable. In my opinion, it’s easily one of the best striker fired guns on the market. “coughPPQrulescough”
The Sig P320 is now the M17
So why did the Army decide to even have a contest to choose a new gun? Hundreds of millions of dollars were spent on this contest and over 500 million will be spent on the pistols. So what was so bad about the Beretta M9? It’s an old design for sure, it’s heavy, has a massive grip for a 9mm, isn’t modular, and has an absolutely terrible safety.
I think the Beretta M9 is still a great handgun. It’s reliable, accurate, and capable. Is the Sig P320 better? Absolutely. Is the Sig so good we are gaining a massive benefit when compared to the Beretta? I’m not so sure. Sure it has a rail, but is their plan to issues a pistol light and a holster for the gun and light?
The M9 is still a contender
The Beretta is a solid service pistol, it’s already in armories, armorers already know how to fix them, and the likelihood of a service member going to their handgun in a fight is very low. Outside of military law enforcement units, the pistol is a rarely issued weapon, and even then it’s rarely used.
Pistols often go to officers, and staff NCOs. In my company, I was one of two troops under the rank of E-5 issued a handgun. The other guy and I were both infantry machine gunners and we only got handguns because we asked and asked and asked because carrying an M240 and an M16A4 was a major pain.
No one ever issued a pistol in my company ever used it in combat either. They sat in holsters and that’s it. Is the SIG P320 such an upgrade to the M9 it’s worth spending the money on over other items? For an item that is rarely ever used in combat? If it comes down to using a service pistol in combat the shit has officially hit the fan.
I only ever used the Beretta in training, and it always functioned. From the sand storms of UAE, to the humid hell of Camp Lejeune. When I pulled the trigger the gun went boom. When I hit the magazine release the magazine dropped. When I pointed it at something and pulled the trigger a hole appeared. The Beretta M9 is a good gun. It has issues but does it really need to be replaced?
The swap between the 1911 and the Beretta M9 was a major change. It was a different caliber and doubled the capacity. The swap to double action / single action was a big change as well. Equally the change to striker fired guns is another massive change, but capacity is hardly different and caliber is the same.
Now, what about the fact the M17 / Sig P320 is going to be silencer compatible? It’s a great feature for some people in certain situations. However holstering a suppressed pistol is a hassle and toting a suppressor for a weapon you’d likely never use is a pain. Certain people in certain jobs will benefit greatly from a suppressor, but they already have and use suppressors and are very few in numbers.
The M9 can still do the job. I don’t think there is a major advantage swapping between the P320 and the Beretta M9. I’m also curious if the other services will follow the Amry’s route? I know my beloved Corps is often too poor to afford nice things, and the Navy really doesn’t care about handguns much. Who knows how the Air Force will handle it?
The Sig P320 is a great pistol and if we have to get rid of the Beretta the Sig P320 is a good choice. It’s honestly the best choice in my opinion of the handguns that entered the test. Are there other items that could be more beneficial to infantry and combat arms in general to spend this money on? I think so. Like modern GPS units for infantry squads? This is just my opinion.
Feature picture courtesy of SIG SAUER