Replacing the Cold War-era M9 9mm pistol, the U.S. Army is making strides towards the purchase of a more powerful handgun that can meet the needs of other services as well.
Fox News reported that as the lead agent for small arms, the Army will hold an industry day July 29th to talk to gun makers about the joint, Modular Handgun System or MHS.
The Army currently has an inventory of more than 200,000 outdated M9 pistols and several thousand M11 9mm pistols. Their goal is to replace these with MHS, which has greater accuracy, reliability, lethality, and durability.
Daryl Easlick, a project officer with the Army’s Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, said, “It’s a total system replacement. A new gun, new ammo, new holster, everything.”
According to Fox News, Army weapons officials, who began working on the MHS project in 2013, feel that combat troops need a more effective pistol and ammunition. However, experts from the law-enforcement and competitive shooting worlds argue that tactical pistol ammunition alone is incapable of stopping a determined opponent without multiple shots in most cases.
Many law-enforcement shooting incidents have shown this to be reality.
Soldiers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan have expressed concerns that the 9mm round is not powerful enough to be effective in combat.
“The 9mm doesn’t score high with soldier feedback,” said Easlick, explaining that the Army, and the other services, want a round that will have better terminal effects when it hits enemy combatants. “We have to do better than our current 9mm,” he said.
The MHS will be an open-caliber weapon that will use larger rounds such as .357 Sig, .40 S&W and .45 ACP.
As part of the joint requirement process for MHS, Army weapons officials did a “very thorough cost-benefit analysis” that supported the effort, Easlick said.
“We have got an old fleet of M9s right now. It’s costing us more to replace and repair M9s than it would cost to go get a new handgun,” he explained.
Beretta officials maintain that the company has offered to upgrade M9 many times.
“We have submitted numerous changes or product improvements that really address a lot of the shortcomings that are either perceived or real,” said Gabe Bailey, Business development manager for Beretta’s military division.
“Some of the improvements Beretta offered included an enhanced sight system, changing the angle of the slide-mounted safety to avoid inadvertent safety activation and a threaded barrel,” Bailey said.
Army officials state that the M9 does not meet the MHS requirement.
“The M9 doesn’t meet it for a multitude of reasons,” Easlick said. “It’s got reliability issues. The open slide design allows contaminates in. The slide-mounted safety doesn’t do well when you are trying to clear a stoppage. You inadvertently de-cock and safe the weapon system.”