(RNN) – The 101st Airborne is the first unit to receive the M17 and M18 pistols that will become the standard sidearm for the U.S. Army. The new pistol will replace the M9 Beretta, which has been the service’s primary handgun since 1986.
The 101st received more than 2,000 M17s and M18s, some of which have been unpacked and test-fired since their delivery late last month.
Selected soldiers fired the weapons straight out of the box and turned in glowing reviews.
“It is easier to fire and simpler to operate,” said Sgt. Matthew J. Marsh, a member of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, comparing the new pistol to the M9. “The pistol felt very natural in my hand. I am excited to take my experience back to my unit and share it with my soldiers.”
The Army calls the new weapons its Modular Handgun System (MHS). The military pistols are a variation of the Sig Sauer P320. The M18 is a smaller, more compact version of the M17.
All Army units will replace the M9 with the M17 over the next 10 years. The Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force are expected to follow suit.
The new pistols will fire 9mm rounds, just like the Beretta. But they can be easily modified to change caliber, size and fit based on the requirements of a specific mission.The military pistols have an external safety and integrated rail that enables the attachment of light and laser systems, as well as self-illuminating night sights that maintains combat effectiveness in all lighting situations. The pistol can also accept a sound suppressor.
Sig Sauer won a $580 million, 10-year contract to manufacture about 195,000 pistols for the Army. They will be produced at the company’s manufacturing facilities in New Hampshire, Sig Sauer said in a news release.
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