Standard-issue pistol-making hopefuls have an extended deadline for their submissions to the future US Army handgun competition, the Modular Handgun System. The program, which will choose a new handgun to be the “M17 Modular Handgun System”, originally had a deadline of February 1st for submissions. Army Times reports:
The final solicitation deadline for submissions for the Army’s handgun of the future is now 1 p.m. on Feb. 12, through FedBizOpps. Army officials could not offer an immediate explanation Monday evening for the latest extension.
The Army had hoped to have final submissions by Jan. 28, but officials extended the deadline to Feb. 1, citing the heavy snowfall that crushed the East Coast. It’s unclear whether the weather necessitated further delays.
Army Times has reported on the delays since January of last year.
Once the deadline hits, the Army will keep a tight lid on the submissions to replace the Beretta M9. However, most of the big handgun players have at least tipped their hands.
The incumbent Beretta will compete. So will Sig Sauer. Glock and Smith & Wesson told Army Times in the fall they would each enter. Heckler & Koch in the fall said they were unlikely to submit. Ruger’s CEO said in a conference call to investors they would not submit, according to a Guns.com article.
Some smaller gun companies are likely to have shied from an expensive, complicated process that Sen. John McCain slammed as “byzantine” and “wasteful” with no guarantee of a payoff.
“It was very long,” Gabriele de Plano, Beretta vice president of military and marketing sales, told Army Times of the 351-page solicitation. “There is a lot of detail. In their defense, they were buying more than just a pistol, but from an industry view it was a demanding solicitation…it was a very challenging project.”
It’s been a long project as well. After years little beyond information-gathering industry days, a draft solicitation appeared in September of 2014. That solicitation projected a January of 2015 final solicitation, but on Jan. 21, 2015, the Army announced a push-back on that projection, citing the need for another industry day for feedback. The final solicitation would not arrive until Aug. 28.
Anyone who has already submitted can revise or supplement their proposal until the new deadline. The competition calls for the manufacturer to submit both the pistol — which it wants to be modular with adjustable grip size and ability to accept attachments — and the ammunition to go with it. The solicitation all but requires a pistol that is striker-fired (with spring-loaded firing pins that don’t need a hammer). Ammunition can be full metal jacket or an expanding or fragmenting round of any caliber. After initial evaluation of proposals and lab testing, three will be tested and will receive soldier feedback.
At least four competitors are reportedly entering the competition, those are Beretta, SIG Sauer, Glock, Smith & Wesson, and very likely Ruger. Glock will likely enter a version of its popular G17 or G22 models of handguns (indeed, the solicitation allows the entry of both into the competition), while Smith & Wesson has reported they will be entering a variant of their Military & Police series of handguns. SIG Sauer has most transparently prepared for the competition, as it began its own ammunition line in 2014, probably in preparation for MHS (the solicitation requires submissions include a whole “system” of weapon, accessories, and ammunition). SIG will reportedly enter the P320 modular chassis-based handgun in two calibers, 9mm and a larger unknown caliber. Beretta has entered its APX striker-fired handgun, announced about a year ago.
Sturm, Ruger & Co. will reportedly not be entering the competition with its American pistol, announced in December. The company cited the low likelihood of winning and the high cost of entry as obstacles to their participation.