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US Army Wants a Harder-Hitting Pistol

Queue the caliber debates…

Image via Beretta

Image via Beretta

The U.S. Army is moving forward to replace the Cold War-era M9 9mm pistol with a more powerful handgun that also meets the needs of the other services.

As the lead agent for small arms, the Army will hold an industry day July 29 to talk to gun makers about the joint, Modular Handgun System or MHS.

The MHS would replace the Army’s inventory of more than 200,000 outdated M9 pistols and several thousand M11 9mm pistols with one that has greater accuracy, lethality, reliability and durability, according to Daryl Easlick, a project officer with the Army’s Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, GA.

“The 9mm doesn’t score high with soldier feedback,” said Easlick, explaining that the Army, and the other services, want a round that will have better terminal effects — or cause more damage — when it hits enemy combatants. “We have to do better than our current 9mm.”

The MHS will be an open-caliber competition that will evaluate larger rounds such as .357 Sig, .40 S&W and .45 ACP.

The Modular Handgun System is an interesting concept, and one of the reasons I find the SIG P320 so interesting.

Featuring a modular grip frame and removable fire control assembly pioneered by SIG SAUER, the P320 is customizable to any hand size or duty requirement. The P320 can quickly be converted from a Full-size to a Carry pistol. Slide and barrel conversions allow the P320 to change between calibers and barrel lengths as well. The P320 will be immediately available in 9mm, .40S&W and .357SIG, with .45ACP coming later in 2014.

It appears that SIG was/is onto something. At any rate, I think a modular handgun makes perfect sense from a size perspective, but switching calibers depending the mission/shooter? I’m not sold on that just yet.

You can read more here.


22 Responses to US Army Wants a Harder-Hitting Pistol

  1. txfilmmaker July 3, 2014 at 10:09 am #

    Pistol rounds just are not that great. If they won’t let the soldiers use hollow points, then 9mm will stink. 9mm is fine if you use modern hollow points. My guess is that 357sig and 45acp will work better if you have to use ball rounds.

    • Uncomon Sense July 4, 2014 at 1:53 am #

      The problem with .357 sig is that it’s still a 9mm projectile. The case is a necked down .40 S&W case. All this does is give an ineffective cartridge design more velocity without the means to dump or transfer that energy. With the Armed Forces having to stick with FMJ rounds as standard issue then it would be beneficial to make the round as big as possible. Despite all this, there’s no telling what direction the influence of ‘parties of interest’ will take this. I am very curious to see how this all turns out.

      • Uncomon Sense July 4, 2014 at 10:16 pm #

        And when I said, “ineffective cartridge design”, what I meant to say was; ineffective projectile design.

        • Bryan July 5, 2014 at 7:48 am #

          So .357 magnum in ball is going to be just as ineffective as 9mm ball as well, is that what you’re saying? It’s a similar projectile just with more velocity too.

  2. Ray July 3, 2014 at 10:25 am #

    It’s not a secret that 9mm ball stinks. No one will argue with that. But, this is a problem unique to the military because civilians and LEOs have access to very effective 9mm rounds.

    I’m with you Brandon. Logistically, they need to settle on 1 caliber and go with it.

  3. theCRASE July 3, 2014 at 11:12 am #

    The whole reason for going with the 9mm was that they wanted something with a very light recoil so multiple shots could be placed on target. No pistol round minus say a Desert Eagle in .44 mag or .50AE is going to do much damage with all the equipment that another armed force will be carrying. If they want penetration then maybe they need to step up to the .500 and carry a revolver instead.

    They need to figure out if what they want is a round with low recoil or hard hitting, I don’t see them having their cake and eating it too. Their only happy medium will probably be .357SIG or .40S&W.

    As far as the “modular” system for military there is honestly no need for it in a handgun. Members of the armed forces have no need to carry a compact pistol into combat and I don’t see it working out well with the QM having to keep that much extra junk on the shelves.

    • Ben July 3, 2014 at 11:37 pm #

      Or they could just start looking into armor piercing 9×19 like the Russians have (7N21 and 7N31).

  4. TK July 3, 2014 at 11:15 am #

    The “my caliber is better than your caliber” debates crack me up. Inevitably, someone will say something like “.45, because they don’t make a .46” or some other such nonsense. Handguns suck relative to rifles. It’s a backup. Some rounds suck more/less than others, granted, but we’re still talking suck here.

    • InBox485 July 3, 2014 at 12:00 pm #

      Part of the (compound) problem here is both Army and USMC are pushing training programs for using secondaries for house clearing. I could rail on how dumb that is all day, but if they are going to, and they are stuck with ball (and I could rail on how that limitation is void in all current military activities right now, and is nothing more than an antiquated tradition), they need to evaluate what sucks least in ball, and if they could get side perks (like 5.7 AP) while selecting something that in ball performs better than 9mm without sacrificing too much capacity (such as going to 1911’s).

  5. HillBilly Bob July 3, 2014 at 11:25 am #

    This “Search” will be interesting and I agree, settle on one caliber and be done with it

  6. InBox485 July 3, 2014 at 11:54 am #

    M9 is fine for what it is (I hate DA/SA, but for that category, the M9 is very well built). 9mm is fine for what it is as well, but as bad as pistol rounds are already, they are even worse in FMJ, and worse yet in the more narrow caliber selections. If I were doing selection and could ensure availability, 5.7 would be a consideration consistent with the general desire for high capacity in a small package, and they could standardize on the load that defeats IIIA armor as a bonus. Second choice would be either .357 or .45 and would be a girth vs capacity debate. Between the two .45 would likely win as being a prior standard.

    • egsmachine July 3, 2014 at 12:49 pm #

      i like where your heading. 22TCM is another fair option that has real potential. i belive the russians are trying out a 9×21 cartridge as well, maybe some better bullet profiles to eek out some more ballistic performance?

  7. Dustin July 3, 2014 at 2:09 pm #

    If the military did adopt the 5.7 that would increase the thru put to the civilian market and cause that caliber to grow and companies like glock and others would perhaps release pistols in that caliber. I think it would be interesting to say the least, I’m not very familiar with the ballistics of 5.7 ball ammo though. How would it compare to the main three pistol calibers?

    • Uncomon Sense July 4, 2014 at 1:59 am #

      There is a channel on YouTube you could check out and get an idea. Brass Fetcher. Basically, all ball ammo performs the same taking into account the type of projectile, rather than case capacity and difference of size between the calibers.

  8. Mike July 3, 2014 at 3:30 pm #

    The Russians use 9×19 AP bullets that work well against armor and soft targets, why doesn’t the military just change ammo to something like 7N21, 7N31 or 6.5×25 CBJ? All it would require is a barrel change for the M9 or the SIG P320 in 9mm.

  9. Patrick July 3, 2014 at 5:45 pm #

    FNP Tactical would be a solid choice, in my opinion.

  10. Reginald July 3, 2014 at 11:28 pm #

    The cold war was over when the M9 was adopted. It was chosen because the NATO boys wanted us to use their round. The 45 had too much recoil for their delicate hands. Our old 1911 were worn out and needed an update but changing to a 9mm was the wrong approach. In my opinion pistols are for when you are out of rocks to throw. My answer to our military would be less women and more shotguns. FYI MSG ret 19Z50.

  11. Tumbleweed July 4, 2014 at 8:53 pm #

    Hornady Critical Duty 45ACP!

  12. Bryan July 5, 2014 at 7:52 am #

    Honestly they need to drop the idiotic convention of using ball ammo for pistol rounds. Their current M9 will feed anything you give it, so it’s not a reliability issue like for most weapons, in that level of bulk HP stuff can be gotten for nearly the same price, and FMJ is still good for training, and the original intent of the whole thing was to get rid of the more devastating rifle rounds, and has a side effect of making pistols have next to no stopping power. It’s time to modify the convention to not include sidearms. JHP ammo is the way to go in pistol ammo.

  13. Stitch1870 July 5, 2014 at 1:39 pm #

    The idea that they will adopt a non-standard (See: non-NATO) cartridge is just hopes and dreams.
    1) We share FOBs/COPs/PBs with other NATO forces and usually the US forces have the more reliable log train so if the Brits or whoever ran out of pistol ammo then they’d be screwed because they wouldn’t be able to borrow ours and vice versa if the opposite happened.
    2) Just the sheer retardation of military acquisition processes would make adopting a non-standard caliber a nightmare and then you have to figure in the phasing out/in process of who gets what and when and then somehow schedule it to be a smooth process (gov’t efficiency is a pipe dream)
    3) Cost difference of ammo to replace 9mm, the military is cheap when it comes down to it. Thats why cool-guy units have all sorts of fancy stuff and regular line unit guys have to pay out of pocket if they want something better than what CIF’s retards have.

    If the selection process wasn’t riddled with people who posess terrible decision skills then I could see either the 9mm FNS (with safety) or FNX going far because of it’s ease of use, easy field stripping, and high magazine capacity. Glocks, XD’s, and the Sig 320 probably wouldn’t be selected because of lack of a manual safety and if M&P’s were to be adopted then it would most likely wear a safety on it.

  14. ensitue July 6, 2014 at 6:52 pm #

    I was a 11B2H in the mid-1970s, the 1911s were mostly WW2 Mfg, even though they were rarely fired they were all in need of depot rebuilds or replacement. The US switched to the 9mm due to a deal where NATO adopted the 556 round (the M-16 was touted as a handgun replacement in the same way as the M-1 Carbine was meant to replace the same handgun) and yet the handgun lives on

  15. James Bryant July 13, 2014 at 11:11 am #

    If you have to use a ball round, it should be a big round. Either go back to 1911 or go to a modern polymer pistol with a thin grip.