With the U.S. Army’s Modular Handgun System program underway and thousands of Sig Sauer M17 and M18 pistols delivered, the guns have been given a Full Material Release by Picatinny Arsenal.
As explained by the Army, material releases fall into one of five categories: full, conditional, training, urgent, and interim. Full materiel release is given “when the system meets all of its operational, safety, and suitability requirements.” With the FMR designation on June 27 by Picatinny U.S. Army Program Executive Office Soldier, the Sig pistols and the Winchester-manufactured ammunition they use are regarded as having been fully tested to meet all of the service’s requirements and are logistically supportable.
“The Army’s announcement of Full Material Release is the final stamp of approval for the MHS Program, and a true testament to the successful collaboration of the U.S. Army, Sig Sauer, and Winchester Ammunition to deliver the highest quality MHS program to our soldiers in the field,” said Ron Cohen, Sig’s president & CEO. “The FMR notification really highlights the safety and quality of the M17 and M18 handguns, and the success of the MHS program in its entirety.”
The MHS system, first awarded to the Sig/Winchester team in 2017, comprises the Sig Sauer M17 full-size, and M18 compact handguns, each based on the New Hampshire gun company’s P320 series pistols, as well as Winchester Ammunition’s 9x19mm M1152 Ball, M1153 Special Purpose, and M1156 Drilled Dummy Inert cartridges. Since the initial award, Sig reports that over 59,000 MHS pistols and over 44 million rounds of ammunition have been delivered to the government. Over the next five to seven years, an additional 350,000 handguns and 100 million rounds of ammunition are scheduled for delivery to the Pentagon.
While the Army is the primary user, with a reported 231,586 MHS pistols — mostly M17s — ordered over the past three years, the platform is also being acquired by the rest of the U.S. military as well. As noted in the Navy’s FY 2019 procurement budget justification for the Marine Corps, 35,000 M18s will not only replace aging M9 Berettas but also the Colt M45A1 CQB .45ACP railgun and the newly-acquired M007 Glock.
Likewise, the Navy is set to purchase 60,000 M18s to replace its current M9s.
The Air Force is also going all-M18, using the compact 9mm to phase out their M9s and M11s, the latter a version of the Sig Sauer P228 used by the Air Force Office of Special Investigations. Further, the M18s ability to use blank firing kits and Simunitions will allow it to replace the venerable .38-caliber Smith & Wesson M15 revolver, which is still used to train military working dog teams.
As previously reported by Guns.com, the MHS contract also includes a small quantity of specially designated General Officer models for flag officers while the Tomb Sentinels at Arlington National Cemetery’s Tomb of the Unknowns are issued a quartet of unique ceremonial M17s for use in their duties.