Gen. Milley: The XM17 is altogether different than the P320

The Army is conducting an Initial Operational Test of a variant of the Sig Sauer P320 as the new XM17 Modular Handgun System this month at Fort Bragg, N.C. in preperaton for issuing the pistol to troops later this year. (Photo: Lewis Perkins/U.S. Army)

The Army is conducting an Initial Operational Test of a variant of the Sig Sauer P320 as the new XM17 Modular Handgun System this month at Fort Bragg, N.C. in preparation for issuing the pistol to troops later this year. (Photo: Lewis Perkins/U.S. Army)

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley went on record vouching for the service’s new Modular Handgun System and downplayed controversy over its civilian base model.

In an interview with Army Times, Milley detailed the MHS contract winner, a variant of Sig Sauer’s P320 pistol adopted as the XM17 earlier this year, is not the same animal as its civilian predecessor.

“But I can tell you with certainty, the guts and the internals of the military version of that weapon are different than what you’re going to buy in the gun store or what police are going to be fielded,” Milley said.

Sig bested a wide field of competitors including FN, Smith & Wesson and Glock — the latter by more than $100 million — on the Army handgun bid, the largest contract of its kind since the 1980s.

After initial tests on the weapon, Milley said the Army requested modifications on the pistol and were pleased with the resulting handgun that Sig submitted.

“We took the modified version and put it through the test, and it passed with flying colors,” Milley said.

Addressing safety concerns over the P320 series, the company last month said they have, “full confidence in the reliability, durability, and safety of its striker-fired handgun platform,” and that the design did not encompass the model submitted to the armed forces.

The XM17 is set to be issued first to troops of the Fort Campbell-based 101st Airborne Division in November as part of a 190,000-pistol initial buy. The modified P320 will then be fielded to a new installation each month until September 2018, except for next March and April.

Meanwhile, Sig has issued a voluntary upgrade for standard P320 users.