It’s Official: US Army ditches Beretta for the Sig Sauer P320

The Sig Sauer P320 RX FULL-SIZE

It’s official- the unpopular Beretta M9 is finally on its way out the door as the US Army declares Sig Sauer’s P320 the winner of the Modular Handgun System (MHS) competition.

Although the results were predicted last summer, the news was officially announced on Thursday by US Army officials.

The Sig Sauer P320 was the only truly modular handgun in the MHS program, with the Army’s side of the MHS competition dating all the way back to 2015, though the US Air Force initially set up a list of requirements as far back as 2008- with one of the requirements demanding that the services pick an “off the shelf” weapons system already available to civilians and law enforcement.

Several pistols competed in the program (with big names such as Glock, Smith & Wesson, CZ and FN in the competition), as well as Beretta, who desperately tried to hang onto the military contract with an “improved” model of the widely-unpopular M9 and the newer APX pistol.

In the end, a final round between Glock and Sig Sauer resulted in the Sig P320 coming out as the victor.

“We are both humbled and proud that the P320 was selected by the U.S. Army as its weapon of choice,” Sig Sauer chief executive officer Ron Cohen said at SHOT Show 2017, which is taking place in Las Vegas, Nevada. “Securing this contract is a testimony to Sig Sauer employees, their commitment to innovation, quality and manufacturing the most reliable firearms in the world.”

Army Acquisition Executive Steffanie Easter recently explained the end results of the MHS competition, which nodded to the modular nature of the P320.

“By maximizing full and open competition across our industry partners, we have optimized private sector advancements in handguns, ammunition and magazines, and the end result will ensure a decidedly superior weapon system for our warfighters.”

The P320 model can be switched between calibers, sizes and grips with little efforts. While original specifications discussed on switching away from the 9x19mm Parabellum round, a source within the US Army said that the branch ultimately decided to stay with 9mm.

The caliber choice appears to coincide with the fact that the traditionally anemic performance of the NATO-approved 9mm round (with most complaints stemming from a low-grain, Full Metal Jacket variant of the round) has since been beefed up over the years with advancements in technology, resulting in even leading law enforcement agencies such as the FBI to return to the caliber after the subpar performance of .40 S&W. Since the US never signed Article IV of the Hague convention (which prohibits the use of hollow point ammunition), the potential future use of Jacketed Hollow Point or even Expanding Full Metal Jacket is shaping up to be a very real possibility.

According to Fox News, the contract -which was awarded to Sig on Thursday- is worth around $580 million and could result in over 280,000 of the “compact” P320s to be purchased, as well as 7,000 subcompact variants, which may replace the Sig Sauer M11s in limited service with the Army.

“As MHS moves forward into operational testing, the due diligence taken by all of the stakeholders will ensure a program that remains on-budget and on-schedule,” Easter said.

While the handgun’s time in service is now only in its infancy, one thing is for certain- there are going to be a lot more purchases of the already-popular Sig Sauer P320 on the civilian market as well.

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  • Andy Wolf

    Andy Wolf is an Appalachian native who spent much of his youth and young adulthood overseas in search of combat, riches, and adventure- accruing decades of experience in military, corporate, first responder, journalistic and advisory roles. He resides in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains with his K9 companion, Kiki.

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