Last year, the Pentagon released guidelines for the Modular Handgun System (MHS) – a contract competition designed to find a replacement for the much-maligned Beretta M9 service pistol. To qualify for the bidding process, candidate handguns must first outperform the M9 in terms of reliability, maintainability, durability, accuracy and ergonomics. They must also feature modular grip systems and integral military-issue picatinny rails to accommodate different tactical accessories.
Just about every major firearm manufacturer in the country has been vying for the contract on the Army’s new sidearm, and after months of the deliberation the Department of Defense has finally started to whittle down the competition.
Last week, Smith & Wesson notified its investors that its pistol – the M&P – will not advance to the next round of MHS testing.
This is the first time a company has been publicly eliminated from the competition, and it could mean that the Pentagon is nearing a decision in the search for a new sidearm.
With Smith & Wesson out of the running, just a handful of competitors remain.
Other candidates include the Glock 17 and 22, Sig Sauer P320 and Beretta APX. In recent months, many analysts have pointed to the Sig Sauer P320 as the most likely winner because it is the only truly modular handgun in the competition. It has also been widely praised for its performance and reliability in the consumer market since it was first released in 2014.
The M&P, meanwhile, has been a popular option on the consumer market since 2005, but it lacks some of the modular features of the P320 such as the ability to change frame sizes and slide/barrel lengths on a single chassis.
The P320 certainly seems like an ideal choice for the MHS, but it will likely be a while before we hear the Pentagon’s final verdict.
Once a sidearm is chosen, it will be subject to a few more years of rigorous testing before it can become the Army’s new service pistol.
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