House Threatens To Cut Funding For Army’s M9 Replacement Program

m9pistol-army

The US effort to procure a new handgun design is cursed, it seems. KitUp reports:

The U.S. Army’s effort to replace its M9 9mm pistol with a new Modular Handgun System may be facing another hurdle now that lawmakers in the House want to kill the service’s $5.4 million fiscal 2016 budget request.

The language in the House Chairman’s mark-up of the fiscal 2016 National Defense Authorization Bill comes three months after the Army announced it was delaying the MHS competition in late January.

The program would replace the 30-year-old M9, made by Beretta USA, with a more-powerful, modern handgun. The Army began working with the small arms industry on MHS in early 2013, but the effort has been in the works for more than five years.

The effort to replace the M9 could result in the Defense Department buying 500,000 new pistols during a period of significant defense-spending reductions.

The Army’s decision to delay the launch of the MHS competition followed a Military.com report about the December decision of the service’s Configuration Control Board to deny Beretta USA’s submission of a modernized version of the M9 pistol, the M9A3, as a cost-saving alternative to MHS.

Beretta unveiled its M9A3 in December as an engineering change proposal to the current M9 contract. The improved M9 features new sights, a rail for mounting lights and accessories, better ergonomics and improved reliability, according to Beretta USA officials.

The Army formally rejected the M9A3 proposal in a Jan. 29 letter because it went beyond what a traditional ECP is supposed to do. As a result, Army officials said they could not alter the original M9 contract and the M9A3 would have to be submitted as a brand new pistol, the source familiar with the letter said.

The service decided to delay the MHS program to give Army weapon officials time to improve the formal request for proposal to the small arms industry, according to Army officials.

This news comes after the Army delayed the MHS program competition, back in January:

The U.S. Army announced it is delaying a competition to replace its current M9 9mm pistol with a new Modular Handgun System (MHS).

Army contracting officials released a Jan. 12 special notice on FedBizOpps.gov, announcing the delay of the final Request for Proposals for MHS.

“The purpose of this special notice is to advise interested vendors that the release of the Modular Handgun System (MHS) Request for Proposals (RFP) will not occur in January 2015 as previously stated at the last Industry Day,” the notice states.

The announcement follows a Military.com report about the December decision of the service’s Configuration Control Board to deny Beretta USA’s submission of a modernized version of the M9 pistol, the M9A3, as an alternative to MHS.

The M9, made by Beretta USA, was adopted by the U.S. military in 1985. The effort to replace the M9 could result in the Defense Department buying 500,000 new pistols during a period of significant defense-spending reductions.

MHS is set to cost at least $350 million and potentially millions more if it results in the selection of a more potent pistol caliber, sources said.

We first covered the Army’s Modular Handgun System program back in July of last year. In December, I posted a short overview and exposition on the program for our readers. US Army handgun replacement programs seem doomed to remain in the military acquisition program equivalent of “development hell”, where they continue at a slow place and on a low budget, getting repeatedly cancelled and then re-named until they either eventually bear fruit or don’t. Given the age of the Beretta handgun and the advances made in handguns since it was designed, I hope MHS is the last step towards final acquisition, but only time will tell.



Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


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  • Uniform223

    The M9 is a good enough (just barely in my opinion) side arm but we can do a lot better. Can we PLEASE GET RID OF IT!?

    • Never, ever tell the government you want something else when you are even remotely safisfied with what you have!

      • Uniform223

        So is that why the UCP on our ACUs was around for such a long time? hahaha

  • hikerguy

    Given what happened the last few years with the carbine competition and the search for a PDW type weapon, I am not surprised.

  • 90david

    the milarity needs to cut costs they do not need any more weapons the m9 is just fine and we need to cut troops so we dont need 500,000 weapons

  • Sid

    There is nothing offered in other handguns that is radically better than the current M9. As long as the US military continues to use NATO ammo, why spend money on an unknown? I would rather they replace and restock each gun as needed.

    • billyoblivion

      Most of the competitors are hardly “unknown”.

  • JumpIf NotZero

    I remeber some dumb-dumb here saying that Betetta showing off the M9A3 as an alternative to the MHS wasn’t a shrewd move… Best move (for them, not us) that Beretta has made since undercutting SIG to win the M9 contract to begin with. Their group definitely understands the dynamics at play.

    • That was me, but you’re completely misrepresenting my criticism of the M9A3 and Beretta. My critique was that people were saying that Beretta was trying to kill the MHS program by marketing the M9A3 straight to Congress. That was, and remains, a stupid idea, as evinced by Beretta’s own separate entry into the MHS program. Beretta does not want to kill MHS; they want to milk the M9 program and win MHS. That’s the game plan, and any other plan (like the one you were pushing) was kinda stupid and was going to make enemies.

      The article is horribly written, and draws a false connection between the M9A3 and the delay of the MHS RFP. The Army wanted more time to write the RFP, they’re not delaying the program because the M9A3 is some kind of Congressional or Army favorite (quite the opposite in the latter case).

      For a dumb-dumb, I’m doing pretty good in my analysis of what’s going on. Maybe you should pay more attention?

    • When the M9A3 isn’t adopted as the standard service handgun, are you going to admit you were wrong, or just continue on with your usual toxic behavior? Just curious. Because the M9A3, thus far, isn’t going anywhere. No Congressional funding, and no indication that it’s going to fit in the updated MHS RFP.

      • JumpIf NotZero

        Remind me where I wrote that their shrewd move means the Army will end up with the M9A3?

        Perhaps you should take it down a notch champ.

        • Serious question: if they don’t end up with the M9A3, and the MHS program gets killed and/or delayed in the process, how does that help Beretta at all? I don’t see the shrewd end game here.

    • Except their offering doesn’t meet the requirements it is trying to shortstop, and is well beyond the scope of an ECP – it would have to be a whole new contract, and that requires opening it up for competition, since you *cannot* plausibly claim Beretta is a sole source of 9mm handguns…

  • JumpIf NotZero

    Can TFB pic a worse photo for the lead?

    Maybe we can find a US solider image with even worse handgun training and form? Surely there is a photo out there of a guy hitting himself in the eye, not just close to.

    • I picked it just to upset you, Jump.

    • The 1981 IPSC US National champion Ross Seyfried used a similar compressed stance with his uncomped M1911 to beat a variety of top competitors with raceguns. It was the last time that anyone won a major IPSC match with an uncomped pistol until the creation of Limited Division during early 1990s.

      • Giolli Joker

        Do you really exist as a person or are you a bot running on a supercomputer loaded with gun encyclopaedia?
        😀

      • RealitiCzech

        Do you have a book? You seem to know – well, everything gun-related.

        • My 5.56mm Timeline is nearly book length, but I haven’t published anything in dead tree format.

          • RealitiCzech

            Well, if you do write one, advertise it shamelessly. You’re a fount of knowledge.

      • billyoblivion

        I took a “Extreme Close Range Gunfighting” class in 2006 and there was a guy there shooting a HK P7 that shot from a compressed position like that.

        Dude was faster than a fast thing. You almost never saw him draw–he went from gun in holster (appendix carry) to gun online and a nice little arc of brass in about a blink.

        I’m told (which means I have no sources other than hearsay) that the *original* weaver stance was at least moderately compressed, and that what we now call the ‘weaver’ was a modified by a certain school because the guy running it was really a rifleman and by straightening out the arm it sorta, kinda is more rifle like.

        Dunno the truth about that.

        But I do know that Dude as *fast*, and didn’t miss much.

        It was a great class.

        • There are a lot of variations on the Weaver Stance. Ironically, the stance predates Jack Weaver’s use of it in the Leather Slap events. The following photo is on page 363 in the 1930 edition of J. Henry FitzGerald’s book “Shooting.”

          • billyoblivion

            Interesting. Thank you.

          • I’ve also seen a Weaver style hold used in photos of pre World War ONE Swedish officers doing annual quals. Most were using the traditional “duellist” stance, but a couple looked pure Weaver.

            Don’t have a link to the photo, unfortunately…

    • Grindstone50k

      You should submit a picture of when you did M9 training in the military.

    • milesfortis

      If you’ll check the background, where a rifle is seen in a ground rest, you can easily deduce that the 1LT is firing in the kneeling position and wearing a full set of IBA (notice the upper arm armor) which means he’s probably also wearing not just the groin armor, but the upper thigh armor as well.
      Wear all that. Get in that position and have a picture taken. It’s a good bet that you’ll have a pistol that close to your face.

  • Joshua

    Called it a while ago. Despite pushing stains the ECP submitted by Beretta, they will end up with the M9A3.

    • How are they going to end up with the M9A3? What’s the scenario for that happening?

      • Joshua

        Because if the funding for a modular handgun(whatever) gets cut, the M9A3 can then be once again offered by Beretta as a ECP to the current M9 contract.

        Also according to Beretta the M9A3 will be cheaper in the long run than the M9.

        No new contract is needed to get the M9A3, it can be added on to the current.

        • Did you read the article? The Army rejected it as an ECP because it was so far out of scope that it no longer qualified as an engineering change. MHS existing or not has no impact whatsoever on whether something is in scope as an ECP. It’s literally the opposite of what you wrote: the M9A3 _cannot_ be made on the current M9 contract.

          • Matt

            And that rejection was totally ignoring the significant changes to the M16 platform that went far beyond the changes Beretta is proposing for the M9. Look at an XM16E1 versus an M16A2 for instance. That rejection makes no sense and will probably be reevaluated with MHS funding getting cut.

          • Those changes to the M16 platform were not done under the original M16 program. There were a series of separate programs that made enhancements to the M16 rifle. The rejection made plenty of sense, and isn’t going to be re-evaluated because of anything that happens with the MHS program.

          • Matt beat me to it.

        • nova3930

          Yeah uh no. The changes between the M9 and M9A3 are significant enough that if the PM were to try and do a contract mod to cover it, he’s gonna get slapped down for violating a whole host of procurement laws and regulations.
          Given that there’s a defined requirements gap, they at least have to go through an analysis of alternatives to determine the best course of action between a modified M9 and a new handgun competition. The PM can’t just unilaterally decide that a modified M9 is the best way to meet the requirement.

          • Including getting sued by every company that was planning (or claims to have been planning) on submitting a design to the competition. (BTW, the cost of dealing with those suits might end up costing the government as much or more than just running the competition…)

            As I said when the Army rejected their ECP, Beretta doesn’t get to shut out their competition by convincing the Army to ignore federal law by pretending a comprehensive redesign that doesn’t even meet the previously identified requirements is merely an ECP. The M9A3 proposal is no more a mere ECP than the M16A2 or M4 were.

            I’m an engineer who *generates* ECP packets for DOD programs. This is not an ECP.

  • Dracon1201

    There’s really no where to go with the program. That’s part of the problem. Spending millions to get a gun that is only marginally more effective is not good. The change may need to be ammo, but where could we go with that?

    • Pike0331

      Exactly. Why change the M9? To cut weight and a dd a couple of rounds? The cost would be stupid high

      • Joshua

        You can add a couple of rounds to the No magazine by removing the 15 round limiter in the magazine wall.

  • Wolfgar

    There are so many great handguns out there today a person could throw a dart and get a good one. We need to replace the leadership in this country and go back to constitutional government. Promote the joint chiefs of staff on merit not skin color, PC drones or willingness to toe the line with the muslin in charge. 1.8 billion dollars was spent in Baltimore for the same chronically unemployed who are burning their city today. That was money well spent, “NOT”. Upgrading a soldiers handgun is a no brainer but it seems to be beyond the ability of our ivy league leaders of today. Disgusting.

    • Joshua

      The issue is that nothing in the market really slings 9mm ball better than a upgraded M9.

      They May offer better ergonomics, maybe better ancillary item mounting options.

      In the end they still sling 9mm ball.

      • Lance

        You said it. Unless we did goto a new caliber it makes no sense to goto a new pistol. A Glock will shoot a 9mm ball the same as a M-9 the same as the tacti cooler most loved SiGs all the same. Same as the M-4 vs SCAR debate was years ago in ICC.

        • billyoblivion

          Yeah, but you put that 9mm in a H&K and it becomes THE DEADLY DEATH RAY OF DOOM!!!!

          Won’t hit what it’s intended to, but it’s still THE DEADLY DEATH RAY OF DOOM!!!!

          (only 4 !. 5 is the mark of a disturbed mind.)

  • Pike0331

    Good. The M9 may not be cutting edge but it’s still a viable fighting handgun, especially when you consider using your pistol in war is essentially a unicorn. Is all of the cost really needed so we can get 17 rounds and a polymer frame?

    • Joshua

      The main issue with the M9 is most are old.

      Locking blocks and broken slides stopped with the gen 3 locking block and haven’t been a problem in ages.

  • Vitsaus

    Sounds like Beretta ran and cried to mommy.

    • Grindstone50k

      Took a page out of Boeing’s playbook.

      • And Colt. Just because you’ve had a lock on a program for years doesn’t mean you’re entitled to shut out your competition by ignoring the law.

  • Will

    Who taught the guy in the photo how to shoot?????

  • Will

    The government needs to get off the “Stuck on Stupid” button and actually poll the soldiers who ACTUALLY USE the pistol and do not poll anyone above the rank of E-7.

    • valorius

      theres nothing wrong with the m9.

      – A Former US Army Infantryman, E-4

      • Zebra Dun

        Upgrade the 9 mm bullets and you got a basic military pistol.

      • Nagurski

        As a former Army Blackhawk crewchief, E-5 these are my problems with the M9; 9mm is great with JHP terrible with FMJ, the slide mounted safety is awful, the trigger pull on double action feels three times as heavy as the SA, they only hold 15 rounds while most of it’s competition holds 17.

        • valorius

          DA trigger pulls are three times heavier than SA, by design.

          I’ve never really had a problem with slide mounted safeties, but i suppose it’s a legit gripe. No reason the safety couldnt be deleted on future purchases.

          The difference in the size hole made by .45 vs 9mm in flesh is as follows:

          .45= .225″ diameter hole
          9mm= .18″ diameter hole

          (FMJ’s leave a hole 1/2 the diameter of the projectile in soft tissue)

          Seems pretty insignificant to me, really.

          • Steve_7

            Just spring load it, it’s called the 92G.

        • rklk

          m9’s can accept 17 round magazines…

  • nova3930

    Given the fact that a large chunk of the M9s are somewhat old, if they want to maintain capabilities, Congress has to pay for something eventually, whether that’s a new pistol or more M9s from the factory.
    Given that there is an identified gap between capabilities of the M9 and and current requirements, my $ is on a new handgun….eventually. With the sequester in place there are a limited number of procurement dollars to go around each year. Given that a service pistol is used relatively little compared to other weapon systems, I’d bet it’s a lower priority in a big picture way and gets pushed into out years as a consequence.

    • Joshua

      Why do you think they let the M9 get to this point?

      Cost wise the difference between a new handgun and more M9’s is not huge.

      • nova3930

        As far as I’m aware the capabilities/requirements gap is relatively new at least as far as the ergonomics and human factors issues with females go. You have to have a capabilities gap before you can start down the material solution road. The guns themselves being old can be handled with various maintenance actions that don’t require a procurement program. As an example the 1911 served for 50+ years with arsenal rebuilds along the way.

        • J.T.

          The 1911 has a steel frame, not an aluminum one. The frames on the older batches of M9s are pretty much worn out and need replaced.

          • nova3930

            Almost anything can be repaired, it’s just a matter of what resources you want to put into it. In the context of the appropriated budget, funds for refit and repair are different from those designated for procurement, there’s less oversight and are generally much easier to use, especially as far as relatively low cost systems like small arms go. So from a budgetary perspective, refit and repair can sometimes be accomplished much easier than procuring new equipment.
            The primary driver of the push to get a new handgun is the defined capabilities gap and the requirements that stem from it.

          • buzzman1

            It is also easier to get reset/recap dollars to fix/upgrade existing systems than it is to get congresses approval to buy a whole new system.

        • valorius

          The girls can use the M11 (Sig P228/9)

          The Army doesnt need any new guns.

          • nova3930

            JCIDS disagrees and that’s who matters in terms of requirements. In theory their assessment of the capabilities gap is based on what actual users are telling them.
            As far as the M11 goes, do you have enough in inventory to equip every female who needs a pistol? I don’t think you do given the limited acquisition of the weapon.
            Secondarily, do you have enough to replace all the M9s as they wear out? That’s a 100% no as far I’m aware….

          • valorius

            So just buy more M11’s for the soldierettes, right? This is really only as complicated a problem as the Army wants to make it.

            Of course, the DoD absolutely loves to complicate things.

          • nova3930

            Going out and just buying more M11s to meet the requirement is a violation of the laws and regulations governing procurement. When you have generated a requirement based on an identified capabilities gap you have to go through a formal analysis of alternatives (AoA) to determine the best path to meet the requirement.
            In this case, your capabilities gap is compatibility with female soldiers, so you get a requirement to have human factors compatibility with 5-95% male and 5-95% female body types ( I don’t know the actual requirement but for example). Then you go through the AoA and study the options to meet that requirement. A modified M9 might be an option, M11s might be an option and a new pistol entirely might be an option. The AoA is tasked with determining which of the options best meets the benchmark metrics for cost, schedule, performance and risk.
            If buying more M11s comes out on top, then you just go buy more M11s. But until it does you can’t go buy any to meet the requirement. In this context, it’s not just the human factors requirements that are at issue, it’s all the requirements for a sidearm since the M9s are wearing out. They have to take into account all of those requirements and determine which option best meets the metrics.
            I’d really encourage anyone who has questions about why something is done the way it is in procurement to go study the formal process that DoD has in place. All the documents governing it are publically available. DoD Instruction 5000.02 provides a lot of useful if confusing information…

          • valorius

            That’s about 250 words of goobledygook.

            Like i said, this is only as complicated as DoD (and congress) make it.

          • nova3930

            You asked why so I explained it. If you don’t really want to know why, then why ask? For all the problems the system has now, of which there are many, it did correct the major problem of the previous system of buying weapons that did not actually meet the needs of soldiers.
            Like it or not, as a Program Manager you’re legally culpable for following acquisition law and regulation. If you just “go buy your favored system” you stand a fair chance of spending a little quality time in federal prison, on top of having to pay back the dollars you blew on your out of reg program.
            If you don’t like that system, then call your congress critter and get them to change the law. Till then, we’re beholden to a system that competitively selects material solutions based on previously defined requirements.

          • valorius

            The M-11 obviously meets the Army’s needs, and has been meeting the Army’s needs for about 20 years.

            This goofy procurement system is obviously why units buy their own weapons (75th Rangers purchasing commercial G19’s for instance) off the shelf to avoid all this red tape.

          • nova3930

            The M11 meets the same requirements the M9 does, from nearly 40 years ago. It has not been demonstrated to meet the requirements of today. Part of what the procurement system is about is demonstrating that requirements are met instead of just assuming.
            As far as units buying their own gear, only certain relatively small units get that leeway. SF and similar are given leeway to define their own requirements and purchase small numbers of weapons to meet those requirements, on the assumption that their needs are highly specialized and different from the needs of “big army”. They get a pot of $ to buy and/or modify the gear they need, applicable to anything from boots to helicopters. That’s why if you compare an H-60 attached to the 160th SOAR it looks nothing like a big army H-60 and why that look changes regularly….
            In the budgetary and acquisition world there’s a HUGE difference between buying 20 pistols to outfit a SEAL team and buying 20,000 pistols to make general issue. If a standard infantry division tried to go out and buy their own gear like that, they’d get slapped down in a heartbeat…

          • valorius

            The M11 meets every requirement a person could ever reasonably have in a pistol.

          • buzzman1

            SOF can do a lot of things that big army is not allowed to do like buy whatever they want.

          • buzzman1

            Unfortunately, Nova has it correct.

          • valorius

            Yes, it is very unfortunate.

          • buzzman1

            Making things complicated keeps PM offices open thus relevant.

          • valorius

            The beaurocracy always feeds itself first, right? LOL

          • buzzman1

            That is a to true statement. PM shops are like charities. They don’t go away, they just change their names.

      • billyoblivion

        I don’t think they “let”, I think they set up the initial contract in the 80s, expected a *much* lower ops tempo. They had a (relatively) low tempo through 2002, then the GWOT kicked things into high gear.

        At some point after that someone realized that an aluminum framed pistol just won’t last as long as a steel framed one in a high use environment, and cannot be rebuilt/maintained as long. Then they had to get the upper levels interested in the problem, put a program together etc.

        That was a few years ago, and the usual suspects with their usual agendas (the .45 worshippers, the various fanbois && marketing weasels) had to have their say, so yeah, we’re right about on track for a government program like this.

      • Curious_G

        Yes – it is huge. It is not just the unit cost of the pistol, but all of the spares, training (huge tail in and of itself), acquisition costs, etc. It is an enormous endeavor.

    • valorius

      A new handgun is an uneeded waste of money for a weapon with almost no real combat value.

      • nova3930

        I don’t disagree. Most soldiers who’s primary armament is currently a pistol would probably be better served by a PDW of some sort….

        • valorius

          I agree that the P90 or MP9 or some similar weapon would be an enormous upgrade over a pistol.

          Im not sure why they don’t just give everyone M4’s and call it a day.

          • nova3930

            It all boils down to requirements. The formalized procurement process does not produce a requirement for every soldier in every MOS to have an M4. That’s basically the answer to every “why don’t they” question.

          • valorius

            Red tape is the answer to every question.

          • nova3930

            I suppose we could go back to the old system where it was 50/50 whether or not what we bought would work, based entirely on “what the generals want” instead of defined capability needs.

          • valorius

            Well lord knows the ‘system’ that has produced the Zumwalt class destroyer, the LCS, the F-35, the B-2 and the F-22 is as completely broken as a system can be.

            Putting on a blindfold and simply throwing darts at a target would be a better and more efficient way to buy weapons.

          • nova3930

            What exactly is the problem with the B-2 and F-22? They both work exactly as intended. Both the B-2 and F-22 fell victim to reduced budgets and REQUIREMENTS for lower numbers of systems.
            The F-35 has issues, primarily because of budgetary requirements that it be a joint program to save $$$. In any event, it’s not even at the stage of initial operational capability so it’s effectiveness as a weapon system us unknown at this point.
            Zumwalt fell victim to the Quadrennial Defense Review in which the overall military strategy of the US is developed. The QDR determined that we didn’t really need a large near shore combatant with the capabilities of DD-21, so DD-21 funding was reworked into the DD-X/Zumwalt program, a ship somewhat smaller and less capable, to be bought in lower numbers. Like F-35, Zumwalt is not even at IOC stage so it’s effectiveness as a weapon system is unknown at this point.
            The LCS is the one failure I’ll give you from the list. Lack of discipline in requirements changes and additions led to a design that is sub-optimal to say the least. That’s why future LCSs are going to be reworked into frigates with significantly upgraded capabilities.
            Please, go research what you call failures and compare them to some high profile foreign failures. Foreign procurement all to often results in guns that don’t fire, ships that don’t float and planes that don’t fly….

          • valorius

            Let’s see, the B-2’s cost about $2bn a piece and the F22’s over $300m each….BECAUSE of they system.

            Each Zumwalt will cost about $4.5bn…it will never be cost effective, no matter how good it may or may not be.

            The system is a bloated, useless piece of crap.

          • nova3930

            B-2s cost $2 billion because Congress cancelled most of them. The $2 billion includes R&D, construction and other fixed costs spread over 21 aircraft when the program was originally designed around 132 aircraft. The actual cost to procure an airframe is about $737 million in 1997 dollars. If we had bought all 132 aircraft originally planned, the cost would be $958 million per aircraft in 1997 dollars. For a total program cost of 2.8X more, we could have gotten over 6X as many aircraft, but congress doesn’t understand such budgetary issues.
            F-22 is the same way. The R&D and fixed costs are spread over 195 aircraft when the original program called for 750 aircraft. I don’t know the numbers for the F-22 as well as the B-2 but you can see how the situation is roughly similar.
            Zumwalt is the same story again. They initially planned over 30 of them. Now there will be 3. So instead of amortizing the fixed costs over 30+ hulls, it’s amortized over 3 so the unit cost is astronomical. Following the standard model of cost reduction over production, if the original number were bought, unit cost be approx. 25% of what it is now.
            Congress is just too stupid to recognize the negative feedback loop they put themselves and DoD in. They see the cost of a program, freak out, cut the number of units, this drives up the unit cost, at which point they promptly freak again and cut even more, and round and round we go till you buy very few at astronomical cost….

          • Ditto for the F-35. And, between the cost overruns from problems (several due to Congress cutting funds from “wasteful” parallel tracks, many due to a very ambitious plan) and cutting buy numbers, our F-35s (which were supposed to be a significantly cheaper partner for our F-22ss, so we could buy them in large numbers, a LA the F-15/F-16 team) will end up costing almost as much per bird (TCO) as our F-22s…

          • valorius

            Exactly.

          • buzzman1

            Nova, Thats exactly how the system works. Thats a large part of the reason for $500 hammers.

          • MichaelZWilliamson

            For comparison, a 777 airliner, fully equipped, is about a half billion dollars. It cannot carry 70,000 lbs of bombs, isn’t stealth, and can’t exceed a 70 degree bank.

            4X that cost seems reasonable for capabilities, and as others have pointed out, at full planned production, it would have been comparable in cost per unit.

          • valorius

            TODAY a 777 cost 500m.

            The B2 cost 2-3 bn each (depending on source) in the early 90s. If you adjust the B2’s cost for today’s dollars, they could be in excess of 4bn each.

            If you think that is “reasonable” then i guess you’re getting what you the tax payer paid for.

            I think i can speak for the overwhelming majority of us when i say that the price is obscene.

          • valorius

            BTW, i do appreciate your knowledge of the system. What boggles my mind is that you seem to be defending it.

          • nova3930

            I’m defending it because there’s not really an alternative. The system you describe is what we had in the past and it fundamentally did not work. Look back through history at the scores of marginally effective weapons systems that took several revisions to be useful, or the list of ones that never were useful.
            Put it this way, I’ve worked standard acquisition programs and I’ve worked quick reaction capability programs which don’t have all the formality of a standard program. QRC style can field stuff really quickly and cheaply but the end result is they’re hard to live with if they work at all. They’re not refined, they break more often, hard to maintain etc etc etc.

          • hikerguy

            I can see the need for a P90. MP7, or MP9 type weapon for operators of wheeled/tracked vehicles, helicopters, cooks, MPs and the like. I feel they would be more advantageous that an M4 in those cases in tight quarters. They would be more effective than a pistol.

          • valorius

            I was in the mechanized infantry when the M16A2 was standard issue, i really never felt like it was a burden. The M4 is handier, but i would prefer the longer weapon for the enhanced lethality and effective range.

            That being said, a P90 or the like would be quite handy for a vehicle crew, etc. And lightyears better than any pistol.

          • Robert Kalani Foxworthy

            Because it is still a clumsy weapon. For some mos like medics.

          • valorius

            What is still a clumsy weapon?

      • I do not understand why they eliminated the 1911 A1 from the mix and went to a 9mm. The 1911 A1 served the military very well for many decades. It is dependable and delivers much higher muzzle energy than any 9mm. Just saying.

        • MichaelZWilliamson

          It was getting old, and NATO required a 9mm. That was their revenge for the US insisting on .308 when everyone else knew a 6-7mm round would do everything necessary.

        • valorius

          US .45 ACP ball delivers significantly less energy than 9mm NATO, and with higher recoil.

          Any 9mm gives you twice as many bullets as the 1911 holds.

          During my time in the service we had both M1911A1’s and then M9’s. I have great fondness for the 1911 design, but the M9 is a better general issue pistol. IMO the M11 is better than both.

        • You and I completely agree on the 1911 Jim. Most of the Marines that I’ve talked with agree also. It served us well in four wars.

        • The overwhelming majority of the 1911s were getting worn to the point of unservicability, NATO standardization dictated we buy a 9mm, since we were having to replace pretty much *all* of our handguns (there were still .38 revolvers issued to some units, due to a lack of 1911s, and I don’t mean just aviators) at the same time, an we had already jammed one NATO round down the throats of our partners, then quickly switched to a different one.

          A modern service pistol also could be carried fully loaded and ready for immediate use much safer than the 1911 (that was the plan, despite the fact that morons ended up dictating a DA/SA pistol that had a *mandated* decocking safety be carried chamber empty, like it was a 1911. And more modern designs like the M9 are easier to maintain than the 1911. That’s due in large part to the limitations of the 1911 design that are artifacts of *when* it was designed.

      • Exactly. Look how long we used the 1911 Colt.

    • hikerguy

      Agreed Nova. we are talking about a weapon that with the exception of Military Police, silenced ops, and a last ditch weapon it is not used near as much as the M4/M16 family of weapons. It is probably on the sequester backlog list for sure.

  • MountainKelly

    Nope, need another 17 trillion for the F35.

    • MichaelZWilliamson

      Very few enemy are ever killed with sidearms.

      Also, if they’re stuck with NATO’s 9mm, how can any pistol be “more powerful”?

      • There are several pistol cartridges far more powerful than the 9mm. i.e. 40 cal., 44 mag., just to name two.

        • MichaelZWilliamson

          NATO currently requires 9mm. Effecting that change would have to come first.

          And they will never go to a .44 magnum for a military sidearm.

        • brian

          To use the 40 cal you would need to beef up on the slide spring and swap out the upper slide and barrel

      • Robert Kalani Foxworthy

        The us doesn’t have to use NATO round. Generally What ever the USA goes to NATO follows. 40 seems to be the preffered round.

      • idahoguy101

        Not necessarily. The M9A3 could be in 40 S&W

  • Brian M

    Uh-oh, look’s like somebody’s pork is in trouble.

  • Blake

    “Due to the sequester & various other Congressional incompetencies, the M9 will be replaced with “Italian Police surplus tactical” edition of the Beretta 92S.”

  • Grindstone50k

    We’re probably not going to get any new toys until we get a new war to rally the budget…

    • billyoblivion

      Shoot, we ain’t finished THIS one yet!

      • Grindstone50k

        Has that stopped us before?

  • forrest1985

    At a guess would it be cheaper in the long run to purchase M9A3 kits that a whole new system, especially a .45? I think you have as much chance of getting a new pistol than we do replacing the SA80!

    • Anonymoose

      The M9A3 isn’t simply a kit. It’s a whole new handgun with a new frame and barrel. The slide from the M9 and some small parts might be able to be reused, at the most.

      • forrest1985

        Wouldn’t that still result in a saving $$$ wise vs a whole new system? I’m guessing their would also be additional set up costs in switching from 9mm as well? Don’t really like the M9 but i can see the logic in updating it.

        • Anonymoose

          They could keep the old M9s around for spare parts, I guess, but they’d likely want to dump them in some Third World country, or sell them through the CMP like they’re trying to do with the M1911A1s they’ve been storing for decades.

        • billyoblivion

          This is the Military Procurement System. ANYTHING that you or I would thing “that’ll save money”, the contractor, integrator, or someone in the chain will add a “conversion part” at an order of magnitude MORE than it should be.

        • Not after the Army deals with the lawsuits by every pistol manufacturer who could have plausibly competed for the contract that Beretta wants to be gifted with.

      • Nope, the slide is different, too.

  • Yellow Devil

    I am confident this will go as well as the efforts to replace the M4/M16 rifle….

    • Joshua

      The M9 is a decent handgun, but it’s not hard to find one with better parts life. Especially the trigger return spring, which is just an atrocious design by the way.

      Glock rings a bell.

      Most of the M9’s issues were fixed with the gen 3 locking blocks, but certain things will always be slightly worse than other guns.

      The frame material means it has lower service life than other frames from modern handguns.

  • Christopher Edward Penta

    Yeah, spending millions to replace the least vital piece of weaponry on the modern battlefield with something not demonstrably better… especially when they barely train or practice with handguns in the first place seems silly. Fix the ones we have, and spend those millions training folks how to use them properly. Not like in the photo up there.

    Stop wasting your proverbial breath talking about “going back to the 1911” or “we ought to use .40” and junk like that. It AINT gonna happen.

    • joe

      Spending the cost of one M1A2. 5.4 million. It’s one tank. How many was the Army required to buy over the 5 year period before they projected a need for new hulls?

  • Esh325

    I can’t honestly blame them since the M9 does the job and pistols aren’t very relevant to most infantryman anyways.

  • hydepark

    Just a question for anyone who cares to answer it. What better handguns are out there for me to buy? I was hoping to get my hands on an M9A3, but I’m open to suggestions. I’m looking for metal frame (steel or forged aluminum is fine), 9mm (double-stack is preferable), and not Sig (just not impressed with the few I’ve shot including a few p226’s).

    • Southpaw89

      I have a CZ-75 clone that I am very pleased with, it seems to be a good platform all the way around and some are very affordable, I also had a Bersa Thunder Pro in 9mm, the only complaint I had about that was that the grip wasn’t lefty friendly, although the controls were ambidextrous.

      • hydepark

        Thanks a ton for the reply. I was looking at the SP-01 Tactical and that may be right up my alley. I have basically grown sick of my Glock (for now) and after shooting my friend’s M9 fell in love with the idea of an all-metal pistol. Aesthetics are somewhat of a consideration, and the reliable lineage of CZ pistols along with their good looks and decent price may have just locked me in. I’ll have to see if I can get my hands on one to fondle and dry fire for sure.

    • billyoblivion

      Given your constraints, Southpaw pretty much nails it with the “CZ-75” suggestion.

      I would question your constraints though–you’re basically asking for yesterday’s technology.

      I’d strongly suggest taking a hard look at modern striker fired polymer pistols.

      • hydepark

        Thanks for the reply. I’ve already got a Glock that has served me flawlessly for nearly six years now, and I recently was able to try out a friend’s M9. Pretty much fell in love, except I will absolutely not pay for (or use defensively) a firearm with a safety, especially one as ridiculous as the M9’s.

        Also, getting away from the heavy and expensive .45 and into the (statistically) just as effective (but lighter and cheaper) 9mm has been a desire for a few months now.

        That being said, a Gen4 17 is on my list, just not my short list.

        • LT Rusty

          You want a Beretta 92G, then. It has a de cocker, not a safety.

  • Mmmtacos

    I’m sorry, this is off topic but does it bother anyone else that any time someone mentions in an article that a weapon has pic rails they ALWAYS have to explain that it’s for “mounting lights and other accessories”?

    I think we are all aware of what a pic rail does by now. It’s like constantly reminding people, “Oh yes, my car has a hitch for mounting trailers and other things to tow around.”

    We know, if you don’t you probably don’t care anyway.

    • Southpaw89

      Don’t you know anything, hitches are for bruising shins, not towing things.

    • billyoblivion

      We know. JQP doesn’t. A lot of Fudds might not.

  • John

    I dunno. Make it ambidextrous and thin enough for small hands, and beyond that I don’t see a problem with the Beretta M9.

    There’s already an M4 “plus” program, may as well make one for the M9. And put a rail system on the MP5 subguns in stock while they’re at it.

  • valorius

    This program is a total waste of money anyway. I hope they cut it.

  • valorius

    I remember once during a field problem, my squad hit the BLUFOR CP in a night raid, and “wiped them out.”

    Afterwards, we were all standing in a circle BSing about the event, and the 1st Sgt said, “When i heard that M60 open up (ours, OPFOR) i looked at my pistol (an M9) and thought to myself, ‘what am i going to do with this? Throw it at them?’

    That comment has always summed up the value of pistols in an infantry combat situation to me. I’d rather carry an extra belt of linked ammo or a few extra grenades than -any- pistol.

    The M9 is perfect(ly useless). As is any handgun. 😉

  • Zebra Dun

    As stated before, due to political, share and stockholders reasons the next pistol will be the standard M-9A1 in 9 mm. Not because it’s best or more lethal but because it’s cheaper.
    And I agree they want to fund more F-35 Brewster Buffalo II’s

  • john huscio

    Assuming the program goes ahead at some point, the p320 should win it. Beretta has been a nonfactor outside the military while Sig has kept steady on big federal LEO AND military contracts with its classic line of pistols and is building momentum with the p320…….who knows, maybe the new apx cheesgrader Beretta has in the pipe will shock and awe us all, but I’m not counting on it….

  • n0truscotsman

    There needs to be a fundamental change in pistol and rifle marksmanship and practical training conducive to close combat before we should even consider looking at newer hardware. It doesn’t make any sense to me.

    More puzzling is the army’s decision to purchase those horrid G-code holsters.

  • Mazryonh

    Have those running the MHS program tipped their hand as to whether or not they’re considering calibers other than .45 ACP?

    And if the House succeeds in getting the MHS program cancelled, will the M9A3 just be adopted instead (and possibly get renamed to M9A2)?

  • Bowserb

    I’m a bit at a loss. One point. At the time the M9 was adopted, the newest M1911’s in service were made in 1945. They were used to the end of WWII, in Korea, In Vietnam, and in all the routine uses that sidearms get in the military. So the newest M1911’s in service in 1985 were forty years old. Right now, the oldest M9’s in service are 30 years old, and a large portion of the M9’s are probably much newer, since we’ve been buying them for 30 years, and the last I read, Beretta was still making them in Maryland. My point. Age-wise, the M9 handguns are much newer than the M1911’s were when they were replaced.
    Second point. The rationale for going to the 9mm in 1985 should be even more valid now that the quality of 9mm ammo is so improved. Law enforcement all over the U.S. seems to be abandoning the .40S&W and the .357Sig, in favor of the new and improved (and less expensive) 9mm. And for most LEOs, the sidearm is their primary firearm, unlike the military.
    So, we have newer handguns than we did in 1985, and they use the preferred round of armies and LEOs worldwide. I’m told, the M9 is a very reliable and durable handgun, and it’s not even the main weapon for the military anyway. Why are we all in a twit about changing? Sounds to me like not all the politicians are in the capitol…must be a bunch in the Pentagon, too.
    For the record, I served 3 years in the army. M-14, M16, M79. Never even touched a pistol. I carry a Sig P227 (.45acp).
    And besides, we can’t afford the military. There are still some luxury items that have not yet been put into the welfare benefit programs. I’m told that not all welfare families have 60″ 3D TV’s. Oh, the shame!

    • Doom

      9mm Quality doesnt matter when you have to shoot 9mm ball ammo, no hollow points allowed. M9 is fairly reliable. However since women are pushed harder and harder on the military each year they want guns that woman can handle, and the M9 is a handful of a gun for even men with normal/largish sized hands.

    • petru sova

      The U.S. has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the industrialized world because of our inferior medical benefits system. When small countries that are 50 times smaller have much lower rates of infant mortality there is no counter argument that is of any merit by the far right. Many retired Americans must choose between buying food or buying medicine because American has squandered all of its GNP on endless wars of economic conquest or military domination of foreign countries and in the process lost every one of them. Our educational system has not kept pace or equaled many smaller countries which have given free higher education to their children and our economic situation has fallen far behind the other industrialized countries and we may never again be the country that enabled the working man to live under the previous high economic standard of living. We are paying the price of having a large military and just as the Roman Empire collapsed because the corrupt rich took jobs away from its citizens and fought endless foreign wars of military conquest so too have we made the same mistake. History does not lie.

  • LazyReader

    Why spend money, when we have a 100 year old technology that still works. The 1911.

  • Chuck Burns

    Maybe the ARMY and Congress should talk with the FBI. They just finished another study to settle on 9mm as their caliber of choice. Just go with Glock. Use the Glock 19 or 23 frame and can use either the 9mm or the .40 cal slide and barrel. So simple, proven, used by more military and police organizations than any other system and it is inexpensive too.

  • Hyok Kim

    Dear Nathaniel F, pistols don’t really matter when it comes to winning wars. Have seldom been if ever. Why even waste your time and effort on this?

  • bobh

    No matter what the primary weapon is, it’s always a good idea to have a backup in the event there is a failure or you are simply out of ammo for the primary. It’s called redundancy.

  • efred1

    This just stinks of Beretta tampering with the process, since they have been (rightly) excluded from the competition; they want to stay in there, no matter how inadequate and ineffective their weapon is. Besides, since they are the oldest, biggest firearms manufacturer in the world, they hold a lot of clout. The U.S. military should be supplying our soldiers the best weapons in the world, period. And Beretta isn’t one of them.

  • So what’s wrong with the M9. I may not be a 1911, but it gets the job done. This sounds like retribution from Barry because Beretta is moving to Tennessee.

  • wuzup40

    Cut back on some social programs, free cell phones, food stamps etc how come we never see cuts there, and that would pay for them. its always cut threats to social security, medicare, Military etc.. Our service men and women deserve the best whether it be that weapon or another.

    • petru sova

      History has proven just the opposite. While America has went the way of the Roman Empire by squandering its resources and GNP on endless wars of economic conquest and military domination the rest of the civilized industrial world has pored its money into free higher education for its children, updating its infrastructure, increasing its retirement and medical benefits so that old people do not have to chose between buying food or medicine. America has fallen so far behind in the economic race we may never be the prosperous country of the working man ever again.

  • idahoguy101

    The easiest way to make the M9 effective is to use explanding 9x19mm ammo. We haven’t been in a declared war since WW2. And terrorists do not follow “the laws of armed conflict”.

  • Steve_7

    What are you talking about, the age of the design and the “advances” since? What advances? Plastic frames? Half the time people seem to be arguing to go back to the 1911!

    The M9A1 has a rail, not particularly hard to come up with a customizable grip.

    What is the problem with the M9 exactly? The slide separations were traced to overpressure ammo (and Beretta was compensated by the DoD for the design changes) and the locking block thing was fixed ages ago. The main criticism seems to be that you can accidentally put the gun on-safe while cocking it… ooooh… well that’s clearly worth spending hundreds of millions on buying a replacement. Or, you could just do what the French did and have it spring-loaded.

    There’s nothing really any better than 9mm ball in terms of terminal ballistics (from a military standpoint), so as I suspected, the whole thing will go down the plug hole.

  • petru sova

    I think the Army is right on. Due to the absence of knowledge of small arms development they would probably end up choosing another weapon not even as good as the Beretta and the new weapon may have problems as well. Lets face facts when the Military made the Glock a substitute pistol for Marine special operations it really showed they had no knowledge at all of the reliability or safety problems with this gun. When the Military chose the Remington 700 as a basis for their sniper rifle and rejected the post-64 Winchester once again they showed they had no knowledge what-so-ever in regards to the history and especially the reliability of the Remington rifle.

    Here is an example of how little the U.S. Military knows when it comes to choosing a handgun.

    The Glock 19 simply shows that the people who ok’d the adoption know little or nothing about the mechanical deficiencies and design deficiencies of this weapon.
    1. The Glock has weak ignition system easily proved by the high primer test. It will not fire a high primer while hammer fired guns like the Browning High Power will drive the primer down into the pocket and still have enough energy to crush it setting it off. Under adverse conditions of cold, ice and mud the Beretta is superior.
    2. Carrying a Glock is like walking around with a single action revolver with the hammer cocked back. If you bump or snag the trigger it goes off as the trigger safety is useless. Just what the Military needs in combat, an unsafe pistol.
    3. The take down system is unsafe as it requires you to have the slide forward and you have to pull the trigger and while doing this your arm and hand is in the way of the muzzle when it accidentally goes off when you forgot to check the chamber to see if it is loaded or not. Compare this to the Beretta 92 which requires you to pull the slide back which would eject a loaded round if you forgot to check the chamber and it also has a manual safety which can be applied when you do this procedure. Any Moron can see the vast difference in the safety of the Berretta either when you carry it or when you strip it down for cleaning.
    4. The Glock has plasticky sights that are know to crack off when bumped or dropped.
    5. The Glocks loaded chamber indicator is almost invisible as compared to the pin that pops up in the Berretta which is easily seen and even felt in the dark. Try determining if a Glock has a loaded chamber in the dark.
    6. The Beretta has a cocking indicator which is the hammer cocked back. The Glock has no cocking indicator.
    7. The Beretta has the ability to de-cock the hammer into the down position, while the Glock does not have a de-cocker.
    8. The Glock has less support at the rear end of the Chamber as compared to the Beretta because of the Glocks generous throating makes a failed case explosion more likely.
    9. The Glock will fire out of battery while the Beretta will not making again an explosion more likely.
    10. The Glock has an inferior trigger pull being rather creepy due to its pre-loaded striker design as compared to the Beretta.
    11. The Glock will fail to fire if too much lube or burnt power clogs up the pre-loaded striker system while the Beretta does not suffer from this design defect. In conclusion the Military once again has proven they know little or nothing about the technical aspects of a firearm they are about to adopt. After all they were dumb enough to chose the Remington 700 as a sniper rifle instead of the superior Winchester Post -64 Model 70 but that is another long sad story. –
    Now lets take a look at the Remington 700 and what a disaster of a rifle this was and is.
    1. Remington bolt handles were merely brazed on. A good hard bump on the handle will cause it to fall off. The post 64 model 70 had a pressed on as well as brazed on bolt handle making it very unlikely it would fall off.
    2. Remington extractors were made of cheap stamped sheet metal and originally were riveted in which caused two problems. The sheet metal extractors broke off with great regularity and the extractor was not readily replaceable in the field without special tools.
    3. Remington trigger was the enclosed box type housing which proved in Viet-Nam to be unreliable under severe conditions of dust, mud and even under severe cold weather encountered in artic conditions when used in Alaska. The Winchester had an open face trigger that was far more reliable and did not trap dirt or moisture. The trigger also proved to be unsafe and in some cases would fire off when the safety was taken off.
    4. The ejector was unreliable under sever conditions.
    5. The feed system could cause double feed jams.