After a lengthy review process, in which the Army decided to choose Sig Sauer’s modified P320 handgun for the XM17 Modular Handgun System contract, the Army has decided to begin fielding the XM17 pistol.
The Army chose the pistol in January but the contract was briefly interrupted by a bid protest filed by Glock a month later. The protest halted the Army’s plans to begin testing of the Sig Sauer pistol because of a “stop work order” that is required by law once a protest is filed.
After the protest was denied, the Army tested the pistol at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. According to Lt. Col. Steven Power, product manager of Soldier Weapons, the pistol received overwhelming positive feedback.
“That’s an uncommonly positive thing,” Power said, explaining that there’s typically some reluctance with any new system. “Typically even in our own households, when you’re buying a new car, there’s things that people like about the old car better than the new one,” he said.
Despite the Army’s positive reviews of the XM17, Sig Sauer announced a recall or “voluntary upgrade” for its civilian counterpart, the P320, on Tuesday.
“Recent events indicate that dropping the P320 beyond U.S. standards for safety may cause an unintentional discharge,” stated a press release by Sig Sauer. When the pistol falls at a thirty degree angle it can allegedly cause an accidental discharge to occur.
Private testing has shown the firing pin to engage during a drop -which can be replicated by dropping the pistol while holding the trigger guard- more times that not.
The firearms manufacturer said the decision to offer the upgrade was made after input received from law enforcement, government and military customers.
Sig Sauer assured the Army’s pistol is not affect by the recall but did not state whether the XM17 is prone to accidental discharges under similar circumstances. Unlike the P320, the XM17 does have external safeties, which were required by the government contract.
“The M17 variant of the P320, selected by the U.S. government as the U.S. Army’s Modular Handgun System (MHS), is not affected by the Voluntary Upgrade,” stated the press release.
“Sig Sauer is committed to our approach on innovation, optimization, and performance, ensuring we produce the finest possible products,” said Ron Cohen, President and CEO of Sig Sauer. “Durability, reliability and safety, as well as end-user confidence in the Sig Sauer brand are the priorities for our team.”
The 101st Airborne Division, at Fort Campbell, KY, is scheduled to receive about 2,000 XM17 pistols to begin using in November.
The Army contract requires Sig Sauer to supply weapons and accessories to the Army for a period of 10 years. The civilian P320 comes in variants firing different ammunition loads but the Army has decided to continue using 9mm ammunition and has sub-contracted Winchester for the ammunition.
Sig Sauer is expected to announce details about the voluntary upgrade program on Monday.
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