Soldiers from the U.S. Army’s iconic 101st Airborne Division out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky, were the first to field the new M17 pistol this week.
The era of the Beretta-made M9 for Army leaders is over with the introduction of Sig Sauer’s new Modular Handgun System. A select group of soldiers tested M17s on Monday.
Roughly 2,000 pistols were inventoried and inspected prior to the demonstration.
“This is another 101st first,” Maj. Gen. Andrew P. Poppas, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) commander said Wednesday. “Our 75-year legacy is full of landmark moments like this. […] It is an easy, smooth-firing weapon.”
The M17 pistol and the M18 (a compact alternative) are variants of Sig Sauer’s commercially available P320 pistol. The products are the result of the New Hampshire-based company’s $580 million contract with the Army signed in January.
“[M9s are] pretty dated technology,” Lt. Col. Steven Power said of Beretta’s pistol, which was an Army standard sidearm since 1986. “The specific performance improvements from MHS over the M9 include better accuracy, tighter dispersion, and better ergonomics, which combined result in a far more lethal pistol.”
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An official told Stars and Stripes on Thursday that the Modular Handgun System will be issued to 1st Security Forces Assistance Brigade at Fort Benning, Georgia, along with other units, before the end of the year.
The decision to issue the sidearm to team leaders is a first for the service, the newspaper reported.