One of the first things I did at SHOW Show in Las Vegas was to hunt down the various companies vying for the U.S. Army’s Modular Handgun System (MHS) contract and try to get a sense of who was submitting for the January 28th deadline.

Official requirements for the XM17 program include:

  • non-caliber specific
  • modular grips
  • grip that accepts a wide-range of hand-sizes (5th to 95th percentile)
  • ability to accept different fire-control devices/action types
  • ability to accept various magazine sizes
  • suppressor compatible
  • ability to mount “target enablers” (lights, lasers, etc) on a picatinny rail
  • match-grade accuracy (90% or better chance 4″ circle at 50 meters)
  • low felt recoil impulse

Predictably, every single company was very, very tight-lipped about their submissions, the conventional widsom is that that the following companies are going to participate.

  • Beretta will likely submit a variant of their APX.
  • Detonics/STI will submit their STX, a striker-fired 1911/Hi Power-based hybrid.
  • General Dynamics/Smith & Wesson will likely submit a next generation variant of their M&P.
  • Sig Sauer will submit a variant of their P320.

Glock has stated in the past that they’re going to compete…but I frankly think they’re bluffing unless they been able to keep something radically unlike anything they’ve ever developed under wraps. None of Glocks existing designs come close to meeting the specs of the RFP.

We’ve also heard rumors that Heckler & Koch were considering submitting a pistol, but later backed out after determining that, like Glock, they didn’t have a handgun that met RFP specs.

Ruger has previously announced that they would not compete.

None of these companies has openly stated which caliber they’ll submit in this open-caliber submission, but the smart money is on modern jacketed lead hollowpoints or solid-copper hollowpoints 9×19 cartridges, due to a requirement in the RFP to be compatible with some existing 9mm equipment in the military inventory.

We were hoping to discover which firearms were submitted on the 28th, and then the submission deadline was pushed back to February 1 because of the snowstorm, and pushed back yet again until February 12, for reasons that don’t appear clear.

Each company is submitting more than 30 pistols and 200 magazines for testing, along with ammunition and other accessories.

If anything like prior attempts to find the military a new handgun, we can expect years of testing, lawsuits, appeals by the companies who failed to win once a winner is declared.

Meanwhile, the military is being forced to make do with M9s that are literally wearing out.