My Thoughts on the Army’s New MHS Competition

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Released to much excitement, the US Army’s new Modular Handgun system is, in my opinion, a train-wreck going full-bore in a screwup of massive proportions.

Upon my read of the RFP, it showcases Big Army’s failure to do a thorough and comprehensive review of their handgun and is an attempt to get everything done all at once at huge expense to an industry that will produce an OK solution, but will fail to produce the best solution; which is exactly what my brothers and sisters-in-arms deserve.

Author’s note: I have years of experience in defense sales, both foreign and domestic. This RFP is highly unusual in its structure and approach to procuring a small-arm. If I was working for any of the bidders (I am not, nor does the company I work for have any dogs in the fight) I would be screaming bloody murder at the structure of this competition. Its so bad that Ruger, for its size, refuses to participate when it has compelling offerings that meet requirements. 

My beefs with the procurement:

  • The Army is attempting to solicit the handgun and ammunition at the same time, with little guidance to industry on what satisfies performance and no requirement on caliber. 

First, if the Army was going to truly move to hollow-points (“special purpose rounds” (SPR) as called out in the RFP), it would have been much better served to do independent testing on which bullet, caliber, and loading is “best” for the Army. This should have been done on accuracy, ballistics testing, reliability, cost, etc.

Instead, the Army is leaving it to the manufacturer to choose the (SPR) and its only requirement is 14 inches through ballistics gelatin with no requirements on over-penetration, etc. While this may yield a reliable system (as handgun and ammo will be tuned to one another), it does not guarantee that the round will be the best performing in terms of lethality, which is the sole purpose of military small arms.

While the solicitation is set up to encourage the ammunition provider to provide Government Purpose Rights immediately, it is not required (nor do I know a company or partnership that would allow it immediately), thus forcing the Army to choose between the handgun and ammunition.

  • Its set up to favor large companies, not the best technologies

Similar to the argument above that the Army should have run the selection for ammunition first, the Army should also run the selection for the handgun second and pick the design that works, get Government Purpose Rights to the design, and then send it out to industry for quotation.

Instead, the Army has put together massive requirements for eligible submissions and requirements for production.This sets the bar so high that only large companies can bid on the contract (or that small companies have to find a large and willing partner). From there, each company has to find an ammunition partner, test their submission for 150 days, make any changes, and submit the final design. Adding insult to injury (and driving home the first gripe), the final submission even has to be submitted with over 100,000 rounds of ammunition for the Army testing. This is a huge expense.

Author’s note: I estimate that each bidder will spend over $5 million on their MHS submission including parts, ammunition, testing, the bid package, etc. The largest driver is the massive paperwork and contractual requirements that will eat up man-hours to get a package complete. 

Even Smith & Wesson had to partner with General Dynamics to assist with the paperwork and requirements that come with the contract. Ruger is not bidding, and multiple companies with innovative designs are not even touching the procurement.

At least the Army is requiring Government Purpose Rights on the design, but it is up to the bidder on the cost and timeline to release them. At least this will avoid a long-term M4-style debacle for the Army.

  • Dumb things are required in the first submission, driving up costs and eliminating small companies. 

Can someone explain to me why the heck the Army is asking for cutaways of the handgun and ammunition in the RFP? This makes zero sense to anyone with contracting experience as these items are typically only required once the award has been granted and then the contractor should provide them.

Further, the contractor has to provide completely detailed technical data package (drawings, studies, etc) on the product at submission. This is an incredible amount of work that should only be required once a bidder is selected and then is submitted within a set period after award.

  • While it does not spec ammunition caliber, it does spec 9mm training round compatibility

While I could wax on the huge dichotomy this presents, it does make it extremely difficult to offer a caliber in anything other than 9mm, .357 Sig, or .40 (which are easily compatible with 9mm). Seems that .45 is out.

  • The RFP specs the bidder submits accessories as well such as holsters, pouches, etc. 

The bidder chooses the accessories. This can result in sub-par items chosen in the name of cost reduction. The Army should have chosen the handgun first and then moved on choosing the best holster.

I suspect that within 5 years of award, the Army will be going back to tender on all accessories, pouches, holsters, etc.

So what do they get right?

 

I could continue to poke holes in this RFP, but at least the Army does get something right.  Price is (finally) the lowest importance factor in the evaluation of the RFP and the ability of the shooter to be accurate is the most important factor.

This creates a “best value” contract which gives the Army significant leeway in selecting a handgun (on the flip side, also opens it up to shenanigans at the contracting office).



Nathan S.

One of TFB’s resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR’s, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.

Nathan can be reached at Nathan.S@TheFirearmBlog.com

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


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  • The American Crusader

    Outstanding article. Military bureaucracy impedes the ability of our servicemen and women to obtain the tools they need to do their jobs. This debacle will waste money and time, the usual casualties of bureaucratic mismanagement. Worse still, it may cost the lives of our soldiers.

    You are spot on regarding the correct procedure to identify the best handgun system: find the optimum round FIRST, then the optimum handgun to match to that round.

    I plan on contacting Mac Thornberry and the House Armed Services Committee to register my concern over the gross mismanagement of this program.

    • USMC03Vet

      Going to have to disagree. Minus packs, everything I used while in the service regarding personal gear was pretty top notch, not the lowest bidder, and usually high quality. If anything the US military wastes a bunch of money on overly expensive stuff.

      • The Brigadier

        The last ACUs had string ties for the waist. Not exactly top shelf was it?

        • Kivaari

          Who wrote that spec? The army?

    • joe

      FWIW, military bureaucracy is designed to be as efficient as possible. If “Big Army” just bought whatever they wanted, every competitor to the manufacturer would register complaints and legal challenges to the purchase and tie up acquisition far longer than the current system.

      • Bill

        And if circumvention of this maze had had been carefully written into the Patriot Act there would be nary a peep…but then money talks, doesn’t it?

    • The Brigadier

      Good luck with that. Both parties are in campaign mode and trying to look their best. Beating up on a beaten up Dod will get you nowhere right now.

  • DetroitMan

    From a completely cynical perspective, one could argue that this program to replace the M9 is designed to fail. After all, there have been two recent programs to replace the M16 / M4 platform which concluded that no significantly better weapon is available. Elements of those programs seemed designed to favor the retention of the M16 / M4 platform. It’s not unreasonable to think that the Army is satisfied with the M9 and just going through the motions of a replacement program. Maybe they just want to see what technologies are out there, maybe they are trying to appease somebody with influence, or maybe they just have some excess budget to spend so that it doesn’t get reallocated next year.

    In my opinion, it’s ridiculous to expend this level of resources to replace a weapon of last resort. If the M9 is not sufficiently lethal for their needs, the adoption of a more advanced 9mm round would solve the issue. The only reason to replace the whole platform is to take advantage of the lighter weight of today’s polymer handguns. If the Army really wants to improve the weapons of the average soldier, it makes much more sense to upgrade their rifles. The few troops that actually have a real use for a handgun could be served with a limited procurement of whatever advanced handgun the Army likes. A service-wide replacement of the M9 when it sees so little use seems shortsighted, especially in these times of sequestration.

    • nova3930

      I think the difference with the M4 is that it still technically meets all the operational requirements and that while there are weapons that are better in some ways, none of them are enough better to justify the increased cost. Price/performance was a big push that would have excluded such procurement decisions before budgets started shrinking. Now that they are shrinking, low price technically acceptable are the buzz words of choice that mean the cheapest solution that meets all the requirements wins….

      • DetroitMan

        The cheapest handgun is the one you already have. My point in bringing up the M4 is that the Army ran two replacement competitions for it, neither of which resulted in a replacement. This RFP for a new service handgun could just be more of the same. The M9 is not expensive and is likely price competitive with newer offerings. Therefore I don’t see cost as a reason to replace it.

        For all intents and purposes, the M9 still meets all operational requirements for general issue. The average enlisted and officer are never going to get operational use out of a threaded barrel, interchangeable frame, interchangeable caliber, or any of the other fancy doodads on newer handguns. The only advantage newer designs have for general issue is weight. It’s silly to replace the entire inventory when 99% of users will never use the new features. Special forces can and will use the other features, but they can also procure weapons outside of the Army’s standards.

        So all in all, I think there is a fair chance that the M9 will not be replaced. They may be serious, but the two “failed” replacement programs for the M4 show that sometimes they are just fishing.

        • nova3930

          There’s 2 aspects of it though. There’s the “low price” side and then there’s the “technically acceptable” side. The M4 meets both while the M9 fails on the second. Good, bad or ugly the Army has developed a human factors compatibility requirement of 5-95% male and female. The M9 does not meet that requirement, it fails on the low end of the female spectrum. So no, as currently constituted, the M9 does not meet all the operational requirements as defined by the Army.
          And I see what you’re saying about the requirements being silly. I can’t tell you how many stupid requirements I’ve been forced to include in documents I write for the Army. Fact remains, stupid they may be but they still exist and legally in procurement, you must meet the requirements.

          • Lance

            Your right about females but its a sign not at fault of the M-9 but of Obama putting women it jobs they cant do. I’ve seen women shoot M-9s fine Ive seen some women have issues with other 9mm pistol heck some had issues with Glock 17s and 22s There is no magical pistol that everyone will fit into. This is the sam argument a few years ago with M-4 v SCAR L that tacti cooler went nuts over.

          • nova3930

            Nobody is saying there is a magical pistol. Don’t confuse individuals being able or unable to properly employ the weapon with the specific procurement issue of human factors compatibility. The 5-95 compatibility I mentioned has specific written definitions and testing such that in general if it passes testing it will be compatible with the vast majority of users. There will of course always be outliers.

          • billyoblivion

            As much as I detest Obama, no, it isn’t.

            Pistols aren’t just for Infantry, they’re used by MPs (Which have been open to wimmen since at least when I was a Marine (1985)) and all officers in bad neighborhoods. Now, maybe the nurses and doctors don’t carry (Don’t know), but from what I remember of Baghdad (circa 2009) everyone else did.

            So really, no, this isn’t about Obama.

            Not this time.

          • Kivaari

            Just about anyone can shoot the M9 in single action. It’s getting it into action for the first shot that creates issues for many shooters.

          • McThag

            Why not just change over to the already-in-the-system M11 if the issue is over human factors?

          • nova3930

            Long story short is that it isn’t legal. There’s a very specific process that has to be followed in procurement once a capabilities gap has been identified. They’d first have to do an analysis of alternatives which would compare the merits of say, the m11, an upgraded m9, and a new pistol competition. If the m11 came out on top then they could make the switch. The fact that an rfp exists tells me that “new pistol” came out on top and for whatever reason the m11 didn’t meet all the identified requirements. And don’t think that the human factors issues are the ones, they’re simply the ones I’m most familiar with having to deal with them on the aviation side.

          • GenEarly

            Women can’t shoot 9mm?
            Shazaam! Too bad we didn’t face this Trannie-Union Army back in my day!
            and Obamy keeps poking that Russian Bear.
            Sorry to be political, but this “technical” reflects the real rot of the USSA, IMO.

          • Kivaari

            Thanks. I knew there are better choices of handguns than the M9 based on grip size alone. GOOD. The M1911 would fail for the same reason, GOOD.

        • Core

          Speaking from personal experience the M9 is a great combat handgun. The issues are however fundamental and would need to be resolved. The frame is too heavy but could be made in aluminum wit stainless rails with the explosive steel bonding process for optimum longevity. The barrel could be ramped to aliviated frame the throat feed issues. The safety could be moved to the frame like the Taurus model. A bushing could be added to the front end similar to the 1911 Govt. The magazine release could be upgraded to prevent mags from randomly dropping. And the extractor could be modernized to reduce stovepiping. The entire pistol can be hard anodized and cerakoted or nitrated. M9MK2 If you want to improve the 9mm they could offer interchangeable barrels and spring sets to . 40,. 45,.38 etc.

          • The Brigadier

            You should request a copy of the RFP. Sounds like you might have a winner in your mind’s eye.

          • Core

            I made one out of a Taurus PT-92 with a Barsto barrel. It was very nice when I finished it. Wilson’s Brigadier is also an amazing offering. I want one. The 5 million is a bit stiff on my budget to make a submission.

          • Kivaari

            The Beretta M9 has an aluminum frame now. The barrel is ramped as much as a 9mm barrel can be ramped. Take anymore metal and the case wont be supported properly. Why would anyone want an unneeded part like a barrel bushing? Those have been found to be unneeded over the last 40 years. Look at muzzle openings on Glocks, SIGs. Rugers and most others. M9s have never needed one.

          • Core

            What I suggested was modernizing the barrels chamber ramp and getting rid of the bullet to frame ramp. If they’ve already done this that’s a great start. I have to get my hands on a new one and check it out. It still needs a bushing, improved mag release, and probably better mags unless they have worked those out already. I think they could also make the lower polymer at that point.

          • Kivaari

            I don’t get the idea of a bushing. Making it tighter is OK for the range, but not a service pistol. The M9 I looked at today has pretty much the same feed ramp as always. I never had the Beretta fail with ball ammo. I had 3 of them, why I don’t know, and all worked fine. I never could reach the DA trigger. They were all slippery and oversized. On SA, when my eyes were younger, it was easy to hit humanoid targets at 125m while just standing.

          • Core

            I like the original but we switched to SIGs for heavy use because they have significantly less stoppages and malfunctions. I did some advanced maritime weapons training with the M9 and we had a significant amount of stoppages and malfunctions. Many stove pipes, slides locking and releasing, and magazines dropping.

          • Kivaari

            In all the M9 or M92FS I owned or saw in police service (WSP troopers) the pistols were as near flawless as I’ve seen. Stove pipes usually result from limp writing – seen in shooters told to “relax”. Well you can’t relax if you want semi-autos to function. Stiff arm the things and they work better. This was common with .40 Glocks – cured with instruction. Little people – not uncommon in police or military (read small women) just had difficulty keeping the arm stiff. You can induce malfunctions. The Barrel could be added to if you want the steel portion to take the duty now done by a little divot in the frame. I never saw an issue with it. Slide locking back? Thumbs in the wrong place? Slides releasing? Thumbs in the wrong place. After using the Glock as a service gun for well over 10 years (add 5 as an instructor) and I found it hard to keep slides on SIGs locked. Reason being is my right thumb was in the wrong place. SIG addressed this issue by enlarging the frame forcing the right thumb lower. It became awkward for me as my brain was so conditioned to the M17. It’s why I suggest to those packing a gun to use the same model almost exclusively. It became so engrained that I sold off dozens of other models. They weren’t much fun anymore.

    • T Sheehan

      I concur whole heartedly. But as far as expense goes, small arms is such a small piece of the fiscal pie, especially if you’ve seen what the cost of an M4 is on a 1348-1A versus what is spent on battle rattle, body armor, cold weather gear and other soldier systems such as DRASH tents for the BN TOC. That’s psychotic to short joes on their primary weapon, but consider the unholy money spent on constant uniform and pattern changes.
      Anecdotal note: the guy who actually uses a sidearm on the battlefield isn’t a REMF, it’s the 240B gunner or the Bradley track commander.

  • Lance

    I told you this is ICC all over again and we may end up with the same M-9 as we have now or the M-9A3. Face it the Army really wants another 9mm NATO pistol and so this competition makes no sense then. Its cheaper and better to upgrade the M-9 than spend millions more on a new pistol and have to get new holster manuals mags and parts. If we went to larger caliber then .45 would be the best caliber but Nathan points out that .45 may be out so we end up with 9mm again. This is another billion dollar screw up by tacti coolers in the Army again. Time to clean house at the DOD.

    • The Brigadier

      This has been going since the early 1870s. The hiouse has been changed many times, but the process remains the same.

  • 11B

    Well, I look forward to using the M-9 for another 20 years. Not.

    • Bdpenn

      Your not far off, we replaced our 1911’s in 1997/8 with Sig Saurs as a temp replacement. The gov could no longer provide atequate support for the 1911 recalling all firearm that were still fielded and procurement lagged at that time due to the barrel and slide problems encountered with the M9. (USN west coast)

  • Blake

    So just out of random curiosity: if the army did make the switch to a .45 ACP handgun and completely phased out the M9, would a bunch of surplus 9mm ammo pop up in the civilian market? I’m talking about military stock, not in-process manufacturing runs cancelled by the army. Or is it that once an item has been physically acquired by the army it can’t be removed from their stocks back to the civilian side?

    • Giolli Joker

      While it does not spec ammunition caliber, it does spec 9mm training round compatibility

      I guess it means that they plan to keep on shooting at least all the stock…

      • Blake

        Well yeah in this case that training round obviously makes it not applicable. I mean in general.

    • tt_ttf

      No – since Clinton banned the sale of surplus ammo to civilians.

      We get over runs and reject lots sold commercially from the US plants.

      The only true new surplus ammo here in the US is stuff like Thales Australia ss-109

      • nova3930

        That plus I’d guess we’d ship existing stockpiles to Europe to supply our allies with in case the Russkies got frisky since all our allies would still be using 9mm….

    • Bdpenn

      Depends on who own the inventory. These days the gov is no different than any other consumer. Its all about logistics. They maintain an inventory to satisfy a defined requirement then program replacing the inventory as required. Like monitoring a high and low limit.
      The supplier does the same and then the manufacturer also follows the same model. Bottom line unlike the old days huge inventories are no longer stasthed away in some hidden cave.
      Sometimes the supplier will maintain stock not yet sold to the gov and sometimes manufacturers will maintain material on hand. In the end what ever is left will be sold in some form by each of the stops along the chain. Its all about logistics, everything is available overnight. Or something close to that.

  • Bearing Arms seems to be thinking along similar lines, reading an article they released about a week ago.

    • Good minds think alike. The RFP is complete crap, especially from the actual contracting perspective. The requirements behind it for admin and overhead alone are nuts.

  • Good points on all accounts, but I’d just like to add my tidbit to the conversation. In my opinion, the issue service handgun is really hyped up way too much in general. Why do I say this? Because most servicemen will never draw their handgun in the first place, or they’ll already have a primary weapon to begin with. The special forces, Recon, etc… they have a requirement for a superior handgun because of their skill and mission set, and they already have separate channels in which they procure their own stuff. But for the admin guy on Leatherneck, or the 0311 leading a foot patrol, he doesn’t need a handgun with all these complex requirements. He needs a simple pistol, that is reliable, easy to clean, and works when it needs to. That is absolutely it. All this research, testing, and competition going into a service handgun is such an absolute waste of time and money. Why aren’t we spending that money on equipment that actually makes the difference in a gunfight, instead of stuff that doesn’t? Why aren’t we figuring out ways to make the SMAW lighter and more accurate? Ways to make lighter and more versatile plate carriers? Heck, ways to make MREs taste better and leave less trash? In the overall, grand scheme of things, is a vastly superior service pistol going to truly make the armed services better at bringing death and destruction to our enemies? I would argue absolutely no, it wouldn’t. Handguns have reached a point of reliability these days that we have not seen in the past century, so why are we trying to “push the envelope” so to speak, on a weapon system that has pretty much plateaued in development? Have an off the shelf competition for crying out loud and replace the aging M9s. Problem solved.

    • nova3930

      Given the budgetary environment, I’m surprised this even made it to the RFP stage. It means someone with stars on their shoulders made a decision that a new handgun, if not a top priority, is at least high enough to stay off the cutting room floor.

      • The generals at PEO Soldier are the decision makers.

        • nova3930

          For their particular part of the DoD budgetary empire. If funding is short there are decision authorities above that which can override those budgets. I had that happen with a program I was working this past fiscal year.

    • Ben Loong

      Amen. The U.S. military could have kept using 1911A1s and it would have barely made any difference.

      • Bill

        Yep-except we “had” to comply with the NATO accords and carry the same caliber as all our European friends.

        • Jackson

          1911’s come in lots of calibers.

          • Bill

            Yes they do-but I never saw one in service chambered in anything other than .45 ACP. I was an Airman attached to the Army and their entire ammo inventory, at least where I was stationed, was in 5.56, 7.62 and .45. My point was that our 1911s weren’t chambered in 9mm and therefore had to either be rebarreled or replaced. We all know what happened with that…

          • Kivaari

            I was lucky to see and handle a WW2 issue M1911A1 in .38 Super. I had never heard of it before the old timer showed it to me. He said he used to fly into Europe. The NRA did an article on those pistols the same month I saw this sample. It was either 300 or 350 made of the OSS. This “operator” had all the issue gear with it as well. He was an operator before there were operators.

          • Core

            Awesome.

        • Kivaari

          No we chose to. Pistols are so unimportant in military service that we could have kept the .45s. Except, they were falling apart and very unreliable. We still issue some .45s. HK and Colt. We chose 9mm as it is much cheaper to produce and the same amount in kilograms and cubic centimeters is so much less. Why keep old, very tired and more prone to ND pistols around when there is a chance to get a lighter, safer less costly and has a NATO commonality cartridge. A round that we can supply to allies and they to us for weapons of lower significance. When we adopted the 9mm more of us and they used SMGs as well. Now that almost everyone has dropped SMGs for suppressed 5.56mm carbines there is even a lower demand for pistols in any caliber.
          Americans love handguns, others not so much. I know I would want a pistol if I were young, fit and still serving. Regardless of my wants if I were again a soldier or sailor, the service branch would tell me what they were issuing or not.

      • Kivaari

        The .1911s were old. There were too many negligent discharges. The army did not like condition one, cocked and locked. Essentially making the pistol a two-handed gun. That is not what was desired. One-handed into action in a pistol that can be carried fully stuffed is a better idea. Even the M9 could be carried safely with the safety on or off. If it fit more hands, it probably would still be in contention.

        • Ben Loong

          Two words: New build. It’s not like companies ever stopped making 1911s. Heck Colt even came out with the Commander which was in 9mm, so they could have just bought those if they wanted NATO compatibility.

          Also, since when was the 1911 considered an unsafe pistol? Especially in condition one? That thing was made according to Army safety requirements, with one more safety mechanism than most modern pistols (the grip safety). Later on they even added that firing pin block in the Colt Series 80.

          And it was always made to be used with one hand: that’s how troops were pistols were trained with pistols up until a couple decades ago. Add in a couple “combat custom” upgrades like an extended slide release and an ambidextrous safety and there you go: a modernized pistol that would have done the job.

          My point is that the U.S. military didn’t need to go through the trouble of getting a completely new pistol for the same reason Miles Vining pointed out.

          • Kivaari

            Well the M1911, that’s Nineteen Eleven, was adopted by army brass with a 1911 mind. Hey, I love ’em, I had about 15 of them.
            The Army doesn’t like its members packing loaded guns except in direct engagement. We could not carry a 5 round magazine load, except in a belt pouch, if you packed a M1911 or M16A1. In the Navy we carried 7 rounds, in a loaded pistol. Both services had negligent discharges at watch change. Teach soldiers and sailors to properly clear the gun, came after they launches a round. The M9 is a better choice, regardless of claims that the M1911 is the most reliable pistol God Himself designed. When 11s competed with Beretta and SIG and a few lesser names like Colt and Smith and Wesson, the 11s fell on their faces.
            Then when actually shooting by test troops, the .45 just like it has always done, was proven to be hard to shoot. 9mm is easier for common troops to shoot. The military takes very little time to train outside of MP and specops units.
            Why adopt the 11 in 9mm when a much smaller and lighter and many times less expensive designS are superior. I’d adopt a Glock-like pistol. Glock 17, S&W M&P, SIG 320, HK VP9 and similar pistols ARE superior to the 1911.
            No matter how one looks at the 1911 in .45, even with the short trigger, scallops, newer circa. 1980 Combat Government sights (bigger and better than A1) it remains heavy, still has too long of a trigger reach for many and handicaps the shooters. I like Clint Smith’s comments about all the 1911 variants at his school. If dedicated civilian and LE shooters keep showing up with 11s that fall apart, and beyond the existing skill set and unlikely to achieve skills, he suggests people buy a Glock 19 and be done with it. A pistol MORE people including soldiers can handle and master. AND the Glocks don’t break like those other 1911s.
            EVERYONE that owns a 1911 thinks they are 1911 pistolsmiths.
            Of all the guns I saw in my shop, the most unreliable post-purchase pistols were 1911s. Why do 11 owners think they need to change parts and file and stone critical surfaces. As Smith noted he’s seen too many aftermarket and OEM parts break.

          • Ben Loong

            Just to be clear, I meant that they should just get new M9s to replace the old ones.

          • Kivaari

            I made a point to look at one again just today. The Army needs a new pistol, M9s are still too big. I can’t reach the trigger, the new flat backstrap is better. I still can’t reach the trigger. After helping thousands of people buy handguns, most agree that without large-long hands, just can’t use the M9 well.

    • The Brigadier

      Your point is very well taken. I would rule out .40 S&W simply because its not as accurate as .357 Sig and 9mm. .357 Sig and 9mm+P pistols are modern, accurate and can be modified to meet the specs. RFPs have weighted factors and most higher end pistols will probable already meet the specs. I hope the Ordnance folks are not looking for another brand new caliber in this procurement. For heaven’s sake we have enough calibers that can meet the military’s needs. What will be the trick is to take a highly accurate range weapon and make it a field weapon. That will require them to loosen them up. That was an advantage of both Lugers and 1911s. Both of them were a bit temperamental, but it sounds like that will be one of the challenges. Too bad that Ruger is out of the the running, but Taurus came out with a beautiful handgun for SOCOM’s procurement in 2007 and that was their 3/4 length 24/7 DSS .45. Ordnance cancelled the procurement to the loud cries of disgust from our special forces. Many I talked to wanted the Taurus. We’ll see if this Request for Proposal also goes down in flames. If it does given the substantial costs involved, this will severely limit the response for the next one.

      • Kivaari

        I doubt the .357 SIG will make it far, if it is ever considered. Nearly everyone I know with a .357 SIG comments on recoil and muzzle flash. Neither is conductive to training troops or use in combat.

      • Kivaari

        Taurus? Many people I know would not consider Taurus based on the reliability issues. I know a couple dealers that will no longer buy Taurus semi-auto pistols. Sending them back for warranty issues, too often, discourages dealers and buyers. Even Brazilian police have the videos regard shake and fire pistols. The caliber will be 9mm. If they adopt hollow point or Federal FMJ expanding (plastic under the jacket – and likely no lead “to keep it green”) they can get good performance. Just like the M855A1 has gone green.

        • The Brigadier

          Your opinion. It is not gospel.

          • Kivaari

            Take note, It wasn’t just my opinion, it was several dealer I know. It’s been over 15 years since I sold my last gun store. In that era I liked selling M85 Taurus revolvers. I had too many Taurus semi-auto pistols with NIB failures, and too many bring backs. When M85s were $100 less than the S&W M36, and considering I had no trouble with them I liked selling them. The Taurus fitted with plastic grips, especially .45s failed fast, as soon as the grip failed.

  • ClintTorres

    Glock 21 Gen4 with Barnes TAC-XPDs…done! Just saved the Guvmint millions.

  • Cannoneer No. 4

    So the 1899 Hague Convention no longer restrains us? What will the JAG Offs do to soldiers and commanders who cap Privileged Combatants with hollowpoints?

    Let’s think about the true purpose of military sidearms. 99 per cent of the time they are just badges of rank and status signifying the packer as too cool to tote an M4 to the DFAC, but 1 per cent of the time they are Force Protection Emergency Terrorist Extinguishers.

    The Modular Handgun System should be a handy and immediately accessible tool for addressing the Insider Threat, carried concealed as a Random Antiterrorism Measure. A modernized polymer 1903 Pocket Hammerless with .32 ACP hollowpoints that hurt worse than .45 ACP ball would do.

    • Sianmink

      It never restrained us in the first place. We did not sign that segment IIRC. We were mostly using FMJ in order to play nice with cross-nation supply and adhering to voluntary NATO standards which do specify FMJ.

      • Cannoneer No. 4

        We didn’t sign on to the Paris Declaration Respecting Maritime Law, either, but we still didn’t unleash Yankee Privateers upon Spanish commerce in 1898. The USA for the most part abides by internationally accepted laws of war whether we signed or not. That is a restraint.

        • CommonSense23

          The US like every other nation on the earth drops the rules when its necessary. If it becomes necessary to do something we don’t think twice about it. Small arms munitions honestly play such a small part in wars that we haven’t really cared about it.

        • Sianmink

          but we also ignore it where practical. see: cluster munitions, anti-personnel landmines

      • The Brigadier

        The Supreme Court already ruled that the Geneva Convention applies to everyone regardless of whether they are signatories as the treaty requires. No waterboarding and no hollow points.

        • Secundius

          @ The Brigadier.

          That’s not exactly true sir, the Geneva Convention also Outlaws’ Dum Dum’s, Napalm, Landmines and Torture. But the United States STILL employ’s their Usage…

        • Sianmink

          Geneva convention says nothing about hollow points.

  • JumpIf NotZero

    lol.

    All this silly speculation and nonsense is forgetting one thing.

    Someone has already picked a winner. Or maybe the competition is between two. This is how it works. If you haven’t realized EVERYTHING is bought and paid for by now, I don’t know what to tell you.

    There will be a competition, and they’ll use the results to tune the “winner”, but it all likelyhood, it’s practically already been selected.

    All the fuss about Beretta, it was a shrewd move they tried, and in reality, had a good chance of working, if someone high up hadn’t already selected something else. Considering GD is working with S&W, that’s my guess.

    But what is GD/SW going to do?! Test all combinations of ammo, attachments, scenarios, and modifications? No! The competition will show some aspects like this slide veloicty, or that sight picture, or xyz ammo, or whatever that the finalist will consider for production releases.

    If anyone thinks this is all above board, no favorites, they are fooling themselves. This was drafted with a winner in mind.

    • In almost all cases on major RFP’s, I would agree that this is largely correct.

      While not necessarily picking one winner, program offices do have preferences and its hard if you are not a preference to win… especially in a “best value” contract.

      Technically acceptable, lowest-price contracts are a whole nother, typically more fair, contracting mechanism.

    • Giolli Joker

      Does the S&W M&P have the requirements of modularity as Sig and Beretta (APX)?
      Wouldn’t it be “suspect” that Beretta came up with a modular new handgun just few months before this RFP?
      I would believe that they have enough insiders not to waste such an effort knowing that the decision is already made… unless they have to keep boosting their image as defending title holder.

      Anyway, just doubts… what you say is pretty much consistent with many governments tenders I’ve heard of.

    • The Brigadier

      Yes indeed.

  • nova3930

    I haven’t read the entire RFP but the criticisms seem reasonable. I will take a small issue with the following. “with no requirements on over-penetration, etc” I just doubt that issue is one DoD is concerned with at all. We are talking about an org that routinely shoots .50BMG at dismounted infantry after all :p

  • 2wheels

    This should surprise absolutely no one.
    Our procurement system is insane.

  • Diek

    My company works with many large federal gov’t agencies and I find that when an RFP is structured in such an unusual way, that means they already have someone in mind and that this RFP is tailored toward their capabilities

    • The Brigadier

      Yup, as a former contracting director in the civilian sector that’s the way it works usually. The solicitation can’t list all the specs of only one particular unit, because the courts are filled with challenges over this, but one or two can get you what you want. Fair, maybe not, but then again if the one you want is the best, then its up to the competition to upgrade. Sometimes procurements drive new technology. Maybe that is the intent of this one. I hope the presenter can keep us posted on this one.

  • Ted Unlis

    Sounds to me like the specs are written heavily in favor of Sig Sauer.

  • Chi Wai Shum

    Typical corporate management style which seeks a total package from vendor which seems easy to manage only because the corporate side takes less responsibiliity. This is never a good thing.

    • FarmerB

      Exactly. Very “modern” approach.

  • Don Ward

    “Seems that .45 is out.”

    • GenEarly

      Why would you put a picture of Martin Dempsey on your comment?

  • joe

    RE: pistol and ammo as a simultaneous developmental effort. It’s how we do big stuff, why not small arms? The inital crop of 120mm ammo was developed concurrently with the M256, likewise the M242, etc. Even SS109 was reportedly developed in concert with and specifically for the Minimi. I’ve felt the pain of a gun that wouldn’t reliably feed JHP.
    RE: provide holsters. How else can the competition phase commence? If your gun doesn’t fit the M12 and M9-specific Serpa holsters in the inventory, then Joe needs a holster for the competition. Why would the Army provide that for the guns it’s not going to procure. If the holster itself is part of the system or COEI, that might be an issue.
    RE: technical packages. Is it unreasonable that ease of production is a factor in deciding what system is chosen? How else is that determined if TDPs are only available once the system is procured? And back to holster requirements and load considerations in general. Without a TDP, how can anyone verify a claim M12 is good enough without putting an actual item in one? How do we know you’re not providing a 3 lb monstrosity (looking at you, Mk23)?

  • Russell Phagan

    These requirements are ALWAYS written so that the winning company was likely preselected before it even started.

  • Tim Pearce

    On the price factor, my first thought is: “Congratulations! The Army has selected your pistol. Now make it 50% cheaper.”

  • Will

    I’ll bet they never talked to, polled, quizzed the individuals who ACTUALLY CARRY the handguns on a daily basis. At LEAST talk to the firearms instructors!
    Typical military procurement boondoggle. Let the chair warmers make all the decisions about war fighting materials that REAL war fighters bet their lives on every day.

    • Bdpenn

      Actually, the end user, the soldier will make all of the decisions for final fielding of the item. Every step of the way select uniformed sme’s will review, make recommendations and decisions. Basically steering the process. These sme’s will be users, maintainers, instructors and suppliers. Any and all that are effected will participate and they will be from across the entire rank structure.
      Usually the final process is a selection board consisting of qualified uniformed sme’s that following a final breifing by the contracting authority and legal counsel will review all materials and provide an outline of justification both pro and con for each bidder as how each of the requirements are satisfied by the bidder. The board is then debreifed by the authority and the lawyers. Once the ducks are dotted, crossed and legally aligned, the board is temporairly dismissed to be reconvened to perform a second review following the appeal for selection.
      After reading the article and all the comments here I feel there is a huge misunderstanding of the process for procurement within DOD. The process is very comprehensive and this one is just beginning. Maybe if we are very lucky by this time next year we may hear of some ideas of evolving prototypes. Don’t hold your breath.

  • Bill

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: contracting is a quality failure every single time it is tried, and yet here we go again. I know whereof I speak, as I worked for a succession of federal contractors over a period of 16 years and I have in fact seen it all. Just wait until the winning bidder decides it needs more money, and more money, and still more money after the contract is awarded (this overage will not make the presses, trust me) and the end result will be that by the time the product trickles down to the Warfighter it will have been cheaper for Uncle Sam to build the thing himself (and we’ll be hearing that it’s obsolete to boot). The illusions of savings, “best value” (read: low bidder) and concern for a quality product are just that, illusions, and if anyone believes that this is about equipping our men and women with the best thing yet they need to come out of the 1940s and take a look around. It’s all about the Benjamins, folks, and I don’t mean GIs with the same name.

  • Bdpenn

    Look, calm down and take a deep breath. A Request for Proposal is a document of theroretical, hypothethetical and all legal beagle things relevant to the need. Also 351 pages is just the begining. It will be refined throughout the period due to Q&A. Also remember that there has also been a Research for Development process which involves originators and suppliers or something that qualifies the requirement prior to the event.
    Next vendors interested in the request will research all the points and articles and contracting jargon and provide to the Contracting Authority reams of information as how the company will comply to each line. Then somewhere in a back and comfortable room a select number of Army (military) experts after have been breifed by the contracting Authority and legal beagles will gather for an indefinite period of time and select and justify after reviewing this mouuntain of reams of information the suitable vendors. Next comes the appeal process usually a number months that will create another mountain of reams of information from which the same select experts will have to review and justify their decision once again. Then it continues, there are, ah well you get the picture.
    As far as cutaways, all aspects of the item are addressed in the RFP including training. That document so specific it may even request instructors by name.
    Bottom line this is a long process that is only in phase 2 maybe.
    The product is usually the easy part, training, maintenance, accessories and logistics is the time consumer and head scratcher.

  • RPK

    It’s a GOVERNMENT CONTRACT! What did you expect? Streamlining and a specific goal in mind? Flush out your head gear, FNG!!!
    Continue to issue the Beretta M-9 and procure Speer Gold Dot JHP rounds, Federal GuardDog ammo or some other off the shelf ammunition. If you want LETHALITY…then use a round DESIGNED for that purpose.
    5 million dollars and years of procurement crapolla to re-invent the wheel is ridiculous. But, again, this is a GOVERNMENT CONTRACT were are talking about.
    Or, issue what the Soldiers fashioned for use in WWII…a “dum-dum” round. Standard lead nose projectile with an “X” notched in the front of the projectile. DEVASTATING EFFECT! If it worked against the Nazi regime and Tojo, it ought to do just fine on ISIS and the rest of those third world Goobers. The hell with the Geneva Convention or Haag Doctrine…when you are hunting murderers and assassins, the rules seem to lose thier luster.
    Or better yet, lets just open the doors and allow 10,000 Syrians to enter our country. What a concept? An ammunition debate doesn’t amount to much when you give our enemies the keys to the city on the public dime. Just sayin’…

  • anomad101

    Can you say “taxpayer’s money”?

  • supergun

    This is what happens when people who should not be elected are elected by people who should not be allowed to vote. Idiots breed idiots. That is why they should not be allowed to have children.

  • Steve_7

    It’s all bullshit, they want the TDP as well. Personally I think it will just go nowhere as similar previous tests did and they’ll stick with the M9 and maybe buy the M9A1 in the future.

  • idahoguy101

    It’s a Charlie Foxtrot, IMO. They have the M9 and the M11. If you want better performance get better 9mm ammo

  • Secundius

    If the US Army is going to “Stick With” the 9-mil, the should consider using the 960 Rowland Round instead. A 9.6x23mm in place of the 9x19mm/Parabellum, Why use a “Golf Club”, when you can have a “Baseball Bat” instead…

  • Kivaari

    That’s painfully explained. The R&D costs seem excessive. There are smaller companies, with bigger brains, that may have a better product. Mixing gun making with ammo production seems odd. Ammo has been developed in the 9mm-.357-.40 that meets what should be the state of the art. There are good pistols out there right now. Get on with it.

  • Core

    Impressive bio