The AFMC, tasked with equipping the Air Force with cutting-edge weapon systems, late last month issued a pre-solicitation request for information to the industry for "3,015 each modification kits for the conversion of the M18 Modular Handgun System (MHS) to a Sub-Compact design to meet concealed carry requirements."
The RFI details that the required modification kit is Sig Sauer part number WKIT-320XC-9-BSS-R2-MHX. Such kits include roughly all the parts needed to convert a P320 series pistol into the company's XCompact model, including a 3.6-inch barrel and its accompanying slide, complete with X-Ray day/night sights and an optics plate, as well as the XSeries grip module and matching 15-round flush-fit magazines. With such kits, all the Air Force armorers would have to do is swap out the serialized fire control system of their M18s over to the new grip and loaded slide.
The M18, the smaller pair of pistols adopted under the Army's 2016 MHS program, was adopted by the USAF to replace its stocks of M9 (Beretta 92F), M11 (Sig Sauer P228), and M15 (S&W Model 15 K38s), some of which dated to the 1970s. In all, the USAF is acquiring some 125,000 new M18s from Sig Sauer at a cost of $22.1 million, which breaks down to about $176.80 per firearm – proving it pays to buy guns in bulk! A statement by the Air Force says the new M18 costs “about one-third of what it would cost to buy an M9 today.”
The comparatively small number of XSeries Compact kits requested by the AFMC may point to a need to convert guns for specialized use such as by investigators or combat control teams.
Previously unavailable to the consumer market, Sig Sauer announced a limited run of commemorative M18s earlier this year.