The days of the M9 are, effectively, over. At least with the 101st Airborne Division. The “Screaming Eagles” took possession of their first shipment of Sig Sauer M17 and M18 pistols, thus ending the Beretta Era.
Soldiers of the Fort Campbell-based 101st Airborne Division are now being issued the winner of the Modular Handgun System contract, the M17 and M18 pistols made by Sig Sauer.
The modified Sig Sauer P320 9mm is being fielded at the Kentucky base first in full-sized and compact variants, then will be pushed out to all units over the next 10 years, replacing the aging M9 Beretta.
“The world has changed since the strength and resilience of this division was forged during the maelstrom of World War II,” said Maj. Gen. Andrew P. Poppas, commander of the 101st, in a statement. “In order to maintain our decisive edge, we must continue to outpace our potential adversaries with more lethal capabilities, from the modular handgun system we fielded today to the innovative and adaptive air assault concepts, equipment and training the 101st continues to perfect.”
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley went on record in September vouching for the MHS and downplayed controversy over its civilian base model. The Army conducted operational testing of the platform this summer at Fort Bragg, N.C. with service members from several commands as well from the Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy.
While the Sig P320 has had some issues, to say the least, it appears that the parts causing those issues weren’t present in the M17 or M18. In fact, the fix was apparently to replace the trigger in the P320’s with the trigger group from the military model.
Now that the M17s and M18s are being carried, the venerable M9–a pistol that also suffered reports of issues with early models–will be on its way out the door.
However, the M9’s civilian version, the Beretta 92, is likely to be around for a long, long time. After all, Hollywood loves the blasted things, though that may just be the fact that the 92 reliably functions with blanks while other gun models such as the Glock may not.
Regardless, expect to see Beretta 92s around in your local gun store for quite some time. While demand will likely decrease in the private market because of the new pistol, there should still be plenty of call for the 92 in the years to come.
It’ll be interesting to see how the troops respond to the new pistols. Will they like them? If so, how much?
In particular, I’m interested to see their takes on the comparison between the M9 and the M17/M18. This could be a fascinating bit for gun nuts to discuss on web forums and facebook groups for years to come. After all, it’ll be a fairly sizeable sample that will be going from a steel framed gun to a polymer.
Not that it’ll change anything, mind you, but you know us gun folks. We’re always looking for the next big argument and most of us are sick of the old 1911 vs Glock, 9mm vs .45 ACP, and similar debates. It’s about time we found something new.