New Hampshire gun maker Sig Sauer launched a four-part video series detailing how its bid for a contract to provide the Army with a new Modular Handgun System won and entered service. The marketing campaign details how a variant of the Sig Sauer P320 was pitted against a host of competitors for the largest U.S. military contract since 1985.
The search kicked off with the government issuing a Request for Information in 2013, which evolved into a Request for Proposals solicitation in September 2015. More than a dozen competitors — including FN, Glock, and Smith & Wesson — submitted designs. But Sig won the contract, valued at some $580 million, in early 2017.
Though based on the P320 series of modular handguns, both Sig and the military have stressed that the M17/18 series are not the same animal as their civilian predecessor. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley went on record last year, saying, “[T]he 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.”
The first batches of the M17/18 were issued to troops of the Fort Campbell-based 101st Airborne Division last November as part of a 190,000-pistol initial buy.
As noted in the Navy’s FY 2019 procurement budget justification for the Marine Corps, 35,000 of the Sigs will not only replace M9s but also Colt M45A1 CQB .45ACP pistols and the newly acquired M007 Glock. In Coast Guard service, the gun will augment the Sig P229R which was adopted in 2005. The Air Force has been quietly acquiring the guns and testing their use for compatibility with aircraft ejection seats.