Sig Sauer recently announced plans to make a small number of the U.S. Army’s new Modular Handgun System (MHS) pistols available for commercial purchase. The M17 pistols that will be sold will be nearly identical to the platform that won the U.S. Army contract, beating out entrants from other quality firearm manufacturers like Glock, FN America and Beretta USA.
“We are planning to do a limited release of about 5,000 of the Army variant of the M17 for the commercial market,” Tom Taylor, Sig Sauer’s chief marketing officer said. “The timing is not finalized yet, but it looks to be late spring.”
The M17s sold commercially will be very similar to those that are already being fielded by units like the 101st Airborne Division, though they will lack the anti-tampering mechanism for the striker action, as well as some of the special coating on internal parts. That coating is intended to help maintain reliability under brutal field conditions, and Sig believes its absence likely won’t affect the pistol under most domestic circumstances. While the military version of the M17 comes equipped with a frame-mounted thumb safety, the commercial variant will be available with or without it, depending on the customer’s preference.
As for the price… that’s still undecided. Because Sig intends to only sell around 5,000 of these pistols, they will likely be in high demand, but Taylor made it clear that Sig Sauer doesn’t want to set the price higher than the pistol warrants.
“It’s high in demand, but if we price it too high, they will say ‘I really want it, but it is just too expensive.'”
The M17 (full size) pistol and the comparably smaller M18 already bear a strong resemblance to Sig Sauer’s modular P320 series that is available for civilian purchase, though both Sig and the U.S. Military have made a number of statements emphasizing the differences between the military and commercial pistols.
“But I can tell you with certainty, the guts and the internals of the military version of that weapon are different than what you’re going to buy in the gun store or what police are going to be fielded,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said of the two pistol platforms.
If you’re not fortunate enough to get your hands on one of the 5,000 M17s expected to hit the market early next year, don’t fret. There’s a good chance the other entrants in the Army’s Modular Handgun System (MHS) competition will hit the market in the near future as well. Companies like Glock devoted a fair amount of money to producing quality, budget-friendly, modular pistol platforms to be considered by the Army for adoption, and after losing out on the contract to Sig Sauer, it can be expected that they’ll try to recoup some of that money by making their pistols available to the market.
Richard Flur, head of international sales for Glock GmbH in Austria has already gone on record as saying that Glock intends to put its own version of the MHS up on the commercial market, though a timeline for those sales has yet to be announced.
Images courtesy of the U.S. Army