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Still No Word On New Army Handgun

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“Handgun technology has advanced significantly thanks to lighter-weight materials, ergonomics and accessory rails since 1986 when the M9 entered the Army’s inventory. The Army is seeking a handgun system that outperforms the current M9 system. It also must be modular, meaning it allows adjustments to fit all hand sizes.” PEO Soldier spokesperson Debi Dawson, July 2015

It is with no surprise that we report absolutely nothing new on the new Army handgun, despite tacit assurances that decisions were being made and rumors we'd hear something last week. As you may recall, last month we advised that Smith & Wesson had been dropped from the competition. That word came some 14 months after the official announcement of the XM-17 Modular Handgun Competition; the XM-17 (whatever it turns out to be) will replace the venerable, frequently contentious Beretta M-9 platform in Big Army's inventory. Certain SOF (Special Operations Forces) units have already transitioned to Glock 19s.


Maj. Gen. Scott Zobrist, USAF, shooting the M9 during a visit Moody AFB ths month. Zobrist commands the 9th Air Force. Photo credit Amn Daniel Snider

Many people were expecting some sort of update at the AUSA (Association of the United States Army) annual conference this year, but they left disappointed.

According to's Kit Up, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley (a vocal critic of the program) did address the topic, but provided very little information about the acquisition effort except to say, “I’m confident as chief of staff of the Army that it’s on the right track.” He later vowed to provide more information “in due time.”

No additional information about the remaining four manufacturers has been forthcoming.


1Lt Candice Summers shooting an M9 during the Gunga Din Competition at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in 2012. Photo credit spc. Adam Mathis.

The XM-17 is intended to leverage improved manufacturing processes and materials to build a modern, more effective handgun. Initial rumors the new sidearm would be .40 or .45 caliber dispelled when word came down from PEO Soldier in 2015 that the XM-17 would utilize “ammunition capable of greater lethality” in order to continue using the smaller, lighter 9mm. This would benefit both the soldier's individual load and the logistics efforts required to support them.

The Army reportedly plans to buy over a quarter million new handguns, with delivery originally expected in 2018. Continued delays may change that date, however. In the meantime soldiers will continue to use the same sidearm they've been using for 30 years.

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Cover photo: Rachelle Leah of the Ultimate Fighting Championship on the range at Contingency Operating Base Speicher. Leah and Randy Couture visited the 101st Airborne there in 2006. Photo by Spc. Michael Pfaff.

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