BREAKING: Army Chief Seeks Purchase of Glock Handguns Instead of MHS, but Is There an Alternative?

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After criticizing the Army’s Modular Handgun System program last week, Army Chief of Staff Mark Milley spoke again about the program, further refining his desire to select not just any new pistol, but specifically to piggyback Army purchases of new handguns onto SOCOM procurement of the Glock 19. Via SoldierSystems.net:

Milley recently asked the Army Special Operations Command’s G-8 office, which oversees fielding of equipment, if there is room for the Army to join its pistol contract to buy Glock 19s, according to a source who asked to remain anonymous because he is not authorized to speak to the media.

The compact Model 19 is one of Glock’s most popular handguns. The striker-fired, 9mm pistol features a four- inch barrel and has a standard capacity of 15 rounds, although 17-round magazines are available. The polymer frame features an accessory rail for mounting lights.

New Glock 19s retail for $500-$600 each. USASOC is currently paying a base price of about $320 for each Glock 19, the source said.

With that price, the Army would pay about $91.8 million if the service were to buy 287,000 pistols, the quantity requirement outlined in the MHS effort.

TFB has been following MHS since the program was announced , and I think now is a good time to editorialize a little, since Gen. Milley’s comments have broken open the realm of possibilities for the next Army handgun. Given the state of handgun technology, I think there are at least three promising paths for procurement: One is “MHS-Lite”, which would be a shorter, more efficient, cheaper program that would involve a shoot-off between the competitors. This would be moderately costly, but unlikely to produce a bad result. The second would be Gen. Milley’s suggestion, selecting a proven design after perhaps a perfunctory trial, or maybe citing a trial that has already been conducted, and simply procuring it. This would be the least expensive approach, and is still probably fairly low-risk.

The third option is my own suggestion (though not necessarily my choice): Treat handguns as complete items, which would be surplussed back to the manufacturer, or a distributor, once they break or are no longer desired. Continually procure handguns in a given caliber (9mm) from the lowest bidders, provided they meet the requirements, without worrying about make or model.

Handguns are auxiliary weapons, so while having multiple different kinds of handguns in service at any given time would cause logistical problems, those problems likely wouldn’t be anywhere near as severe as for other items, like front-line rifles. Modern handguns are extremely good at sitting in holsters for long periods without being shot, so the primary concern would be keeping a rotation of functional handguns around for training, and ensuring that they can be surplussed properly to a civilian outfit that can repair and resell them, once they break. Since procurement would be ongoing for multiple manufacturers all the time, that affords some interesting opportunities as well. First, handguns could be procured now, or very soon, while mitigating cries of favoritism from the industry. Second, if a given pattern of handgun has a critical flaw, those handguns can be retired and another pattern substituted immediately, while the other manufacturer works on perfecting their offering, or qualifying a substitute. Third, it would open the doors to the industry standardizing on a magazine pattern. If the Army adopted a revolving-door model of handgun procurement, they could have as a requirement compatibility with a given magazine (my personal choice would be Glock’s, as I believe it’s the best design), and the industry would be much more likely to respond to such a requirement, as each individual manufacturer would be more likely to get a contract, as opposed to the winner-take-all model.

Finally, it would solve a problem that the handgun industry has, that the rifle industry does not. Modern semiautomatic handguns, unlike the current M4, are usually subject to style patents that protect their unique look or image, rather than their functional characteristics. That means, if the Army adopts, for example, the SIG P320, they cannot seek a second-source contract for that handgun. However, with a revolving-door model, they would be able to buy handguns from any manufacturer, regardless of style patents.

Now, this model still introduces logistical issues that are worth discussing. However, there is precedent: In times of war, many militaries procured any and all handguns that they could. In fact, the Americans, British, French, Germans, and Russians all did this during both World War I and World War II. Actually, it was the motley assortment of revolvers, M1911s, and other handguns that led directly to the US Army pursuing one standardized handgun, resulting in the Beretta M9 that has been procured for over 30 years. Those handguns had become old, and maintenance extremely problematic given the variety of models, but the revolving-door model avoids that: If a handgun breaks, simply surplus it and buy more.

Anyway, that’s just one alternative.

 

Thanks to Daniel for the tip!


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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  • Xavier Ramos Santoni

    Sig P320 FTW!

    • mechamaster

      Yes, the modular internal trigger group is great concept.

      • James B.

        If you use the modularity, sure, but 99% of the handguns the Army buys will spend their entire operational lives in the same configuration, and probably half of them will never even have the backstraps changed, so extra flexibility is nice, but not worth extra money.

  • GUNxSPECTRE

    Cue that one extra-salty guy who brings up that 1911s should be standard issue handguns again.

    • Don Ward

      BUT THE 1911 FITS MAH HAND AND I’VE BEEN SHOOTING IT SINCE 1969!!!

      *Kapow*

      I THINK i SHOT MEHSELF!

      • Uniform223

        • Stan

          With a Glock….

          • Nicks87

            Don’t blame the equipment, blame the operator.

          • Twilight sparkle

            But he was a “professional”

          • LCON

            Lesson 32 of Life. Even so called Professionals can be complete and total morons.

          • Twilight sparkle

            Psh usually the people that know the least about firearms are self proclaimed professionals.

          • rob in katy

            He said so!

          • Uniform223

            Travis Haley is a professional… and even he had an ND.

          • Twilight sparkle

            At least it wasn’t pointed at his leg

          • Correction…he was the “only professional”!

          • Kivaari

            He was kept around to be a good example, of what a bad example is.

          • Rocketman

            Yea, a professional DEA moron.

        • ZEBRA-wit-RABIES

          “professional enough” strikes again.

    • M

      Also cue the other guy who sneers and says that the US armed forces won’t pick any handgun without a manual safety even though it’s been fielding the Sig for decades

      • Uniform223

        here I am!

        • J.T.

          You are forgetting about the M11/P228.

          • James B.

            I don’t know all the units which get M11s, but aviators who carry them because of size limitations on our vests often carry them unloaded (ammunition bagged separately) because of FOD issues.

        • Kivaari

          I don’t know what they do today, but in the Army National Guard in ’82-’83 we all had to qualify with handguns. Ammo was scarce so we did not “train” with them. We did have to shoot anyway. Only 2 people in my unit fired “expert”, we were both civilian cops.

      • Joshua

        That’s not regular Army….

        The issue is that soldiers are told to keep the Beretta with a empty chamber and safety on, yet somehow NDs still happen….can you imagine a gun without a manual safety?

      • Rock or Something

        If Big Army actually decides to issue Glocks to regular troops, they will probable ask for manual safeties to be added as part of the package.

        M11 (Sigs) were only issued to certain Soldiers, not in general quantities like the M9.

        • Add a grip safety to that and they’ll have a plastic 1911!

    • Kivaari

      Those people simply can’t adjust to modern life. There are many handguns that are much better choices than the M1911. Those people usually think that an M1 rifle remains the best combat implement ever made. Both WERE fine guns 70 years ago.

  • marine6680

    The MHS program is a bit of a bureaucratic nightmare, and requesting ammo sourcing as part of the deal makes it worse still.

    But I think the goal of getting a handgun that can fit many people’s hands through adjustable backs traps or grips, is a good idea. The recent article about averages lays out the why pretty well for those still unsure as to why such a requirement is needed.

    But I just don’t see Glock as having that modularity, so I don’t think they are the right choice, as solid of a pistol as they are. The gen 4 has some adjustability, but is still lacking in comfort for a large portion of people.

    There are options available that offer adjustability, and are just as reliable as Glocks. Some have proven themselves over several years of service in police work and other places. Some are newer, but from companies with solid reputations. So a scientific test and evaluation would not be a bad idea. Controlled testing for reliability and resistance to the elements, weed out the ones not good enough, and of the ones left, pick the one that balances cost, desired features, and reliability. I would imagine a competent team could do the testing in well under a year.

    One thing is for sure, it wouldn’t be as hard as they are making it out to be currently.

    • I think I’ve said before that if you put a gun to my head (huehueh) and made me pick, I’d probably choose the HK P30.

      • marine6680

        I do think the 320’s modularity is a bit bonus to the military. Not from the adjustability, but from the maintenance and book keeping side of it.

        The serialized item is the sub-frame, which is basically just a U-channel with the slide rails. Not likely to wear out any time soon, the slide rails are beefy and will last, the frame itself is unlikely to get damaged short of being run over by a tank on a hard surface.

        All the parts can be easily replaced as needed, as the sub-frame keeps trucking along. They would rarely need to take a serialized item off the books. Less need to decommission a weapon or other hassle that comes with removing a firearm from service.

        • Anonymoose

          If we could get a P320 with modular backstraps and grip panels and a manual thumb safety (leaked MHS pictures showed one with a safety), we’d have a pretty clear winner.

          • Nicks87

            I just don’t know about the 320. To me it felt cheap and Sig isn’t making the quality guns that they used to.

      • cs

        I second the nomination of the HK P30, it’s a solid, comfortable, easy to point, shooter with a very consistent trigger.

    • Kivaari

      I think the “Modular” concept is based on the increased use of the word, as opposed to any actual need. It is just a buzz word, like “networking”, “having a stake hold” or a “task force”. In a couple of years the whole thing will be called some other buzz word.

  • Don Ward

    At this point, they should just use the GI Joe approach to weapons procurement. One guy has an Uzi. Another an M2 Browning. Another a katana and bow and era. And someone else with a flintlock pistol and a parrot.

    • Gecko9mm

      This actually sounds like the most logical solution actually.

    • BattleshipGrey

      They should do the same thing for uniforms as G.I. Joe too. Just show up wearing whatever you want.

      • Nicks87

        That would be cool until someone shows up for a deployment with just a duffle bag full of man-thongs and their PPE.

        • Beju

          Is that where it goes from cool to awesome?

          • Nicks87

            Maybe for some people… Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

        • Pontificant

          Got your PT Belt!?

        • Phillip Cooper

          Why must you attack my life choices?

    • USMC03Vet

      Who the hell brought skis? We are in the jungle trying to find Cobra’s secret base of operations.

      God damn it, Snow Blind!!

    • ZEBRA-wit-RABIES

      YES!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Uniform223

        I would hate to be the S4 shop for the G.I. Joes…

        • ZEBRA-wit-RABIES

          Just be happy you are admin champ

        • FCUK ChierDuChien!

          FCUK ChierDuChien

        • A gun nut’s dream and an armorer’s nightmare…

    • plumber576

      …and knowing is half the battle!

    • Phillip Cooper

      How does one carry an “era”, let alone use it as a weapon?

      Time is intangible.

  • ProLiberty82

    I’m hoping the MHS program gets to run its course, if only for the reason that we will see a batch of new/updated handguns come out of it for the general public as well. I really want to see that new “Gen 2” M&P, maybe we will finally get that Glock 19 sized 9mm M&P and with a new trigger to boot.

    • JumpIf NotZero

      People seem to forget the HK45, FNS/X, M&P and others came from “failed” handgun trials. There are already confirmed M&P changes since GD is getting involved.

      So no issue, it’s a win for us.

      • Drunk Possum

        I don’t call millions of wasted taxpayer money a “win” but I see where you’re coming from.

        • Zach Robinson

          I wouldn’t necessarily call it wasted, as there are new handgun designs that will eventually hit the US market as a result of the MHS procurement program. I’d personally rather my tax dollars go to R&D for new handguns that I can eventually buy, rather than crony programs like the F-35. The fact that Gen. Milley is wanting to kill the MHS program this far into it is more annoying than the procurement process itself, especially after the dollars that manufacturers have poured into R&D projects to submit.

  • nadnerbus

    Your proposal to adopt multiple models, and then surplus them when they break is interesting for more than one reason.

    It’s an economical way to jettison worn weapons, however I can already hear the usual voices screaming about how we are selling weapons of war to the general public. I guess the CMP 1911s set a precedent for it, but I don’t see that plan going off well politically.

    But secondly, advocating adopting many handguns is a tacit admission that the procurement system is so completely broken, and that the simple act of selecting and procuring a SIDEARM in the US military has such a prohibitively high cost, that it is more economical to simply not select one.

    That is definitely a sign of the times. I would personally rather see the acquisition process radically overhauled, as even if you sidestep the problem in this instance, it is just going to keep coming up over and over again for future programs, and it is going to bankrupt the military.

    • You could look at it two ways, I think: The other being that the basic level of rigor needed to commit to one design is so high that it is outweighed by the very well-defined nature of handgun technology. There are a huge number of essentially similar and very suitable handguns out there, so many in fact, that there’s no need to pick just one.

      And this way, you don’t step on the industry’s toes by forcing Glock to produce SIGs, or Beretta to produce Rugers, or whatever, and you avoid the Army undertaking a lengthy development program to create their own new design that can then be sourced to multiple contractors… All that sounds like wayyyy too much work to me.

      • Gecko9mm

        Seems like you’d have training issues. If they went with Glock, they’d be carried Condition 6. Hammer down. Slide locked open and magazine in a locked container in the base commander’s office that can only be accessed after an authenticator is used to verify permission. The use of 9mm has been authorized.

        • No training issues if you kept the requirements tight. Adopt a fleet of pretty much the same striker-fired pistols with no manual safeties (or maybe with them, since you’d be potentially handing out a lot of big contracts, people might be willing to jump up and down for you).

          • Gecko9mm

            From what I understand, the average soldier gets very little training and trigger time with a pistol. So I think the expectations are a little high. I dunno, it seems to me for the sake of supply chain and training, wasting more energy and time to adopt another pistol is pointless.

        • Geoff

          You forgot to include that it’d have a trigger lock. It’s extra “safe” that way, you see.

      • cwolf

        70% of an items life cycle cost is in operations and maintenance.

        The reality is the Modular Handgun program is a relatively minor cost.

        The problem occurs when folks buy things that don’t work. For some reason folks get cranky when a gun fails in combat.

        Personally if I were the PM, I’d have tasked the goat shooters to identify the best caliber, bullet design, etc. while doing concurrent studies on needed grip sizes, sights, and training systems.

        Part of the issue is an emotional one. We stamp KD shooters as ‘experts’ who can rarely hit moving targets and who expect tiny bullets to do magical things. Therefore we have to focus on high fidelity training as much as hardware. Otherwise expect more decades of whining.

        Then set contract specs and buy by service. Why? A potential 520,000 gun buy is too big for a variety of reasons. Plus each service has unique operating environments.

        Plus politically spreading the buy around keeps more folks happy. As long as the buys are in relatively coherant organizations, logistics is manageable. Hypothetically, SOCOM wants suppressors, high volume mags, full auto, etc. USMC wants optical sights and salt water corrosion resistance. Navy wants lanyards. Whatever.

        I want a pistol program (guns, ammo, sights, holsters, training, ranges) that human beings under stress can shoot accurately to kill Bad Guys. The FBI has innovated. More needs to be done.

        • Visolat

          FBI went from 9mm to 10mm to 40 S&W and now back to 9mm again. The Army leadership, who know less than the people who post on this board, are ready to go down the same rabbit hole.

          I happen to know more about what is going on in this domain space than most everyone that hasn’t signed an NDA or is slated to be on the on the source selection. The Army will never, never, never pick a pistol that does not have a manual safety, so for all the folks with pipe dreams about their favorite plastic pistol, if the design won’t accommodate it, it is out.

          You say 70% of the lifecycle cost of a weapon system is after it is bought and fielded, you are wrong. For a weapon system that will last as long as the Beretta, it is more like 90%. So if you are doing a $350M procurement, 30 years from now you may have spent up to $3.5 billion maintaining that system. If you look at it that way, Milley complaining about $17 million in testing is pretty dopey.

          So for the procurement, when you do the reliability model calculations, a $10 difference in price of mags or a slide may be the determining factor in who wins.

          • cwolf

            I agree with you.

            The 70% figure came from the acquisition folks. I’m sure it was a general overall data point.

            The problem with both the 556 survey and the pistol survey is that the interviewed soldiers were stating their shots weren’t knocking enemy fighters down. Aside from that data being observations/opinions, not hard data, other studies show (a) shooters are not trained on and don’t hit moving targets and (b) small bullets generally don’t knock folks down (after all all the casualty studies show the wounded to dead ratio is around 15:1).

            Therefore, asking industry to prove a caliber is more lethal is very difficult. More lethal than what? How do you measure that? Human beings are a wide mix of tissues. They are not a steel plate that falls down.

            My general experience in working with the CD and research communities is that few folks do a comprehensive bibliography. I would be seriously surprised if such a bibliography for this acquisition exists. I’d be surprised if the proponent even talked to the FBI.

            Your right in that the acquisition community worries about a variety of costs that are invisible to the avg citizen. You might invent a wonderful magical bullet that is $2/round, but Lake City would have a cow. Even worse, if it required new machines that were slower. 2 B rounds/year requires some serious high speed, high volume machinery.

            $17M in testing over 2 years is basically budget dust. When you’re betting Soldier’s lives, testing is important. Although not in the same ballpark, when we moved to qualifying in IBA, ammo costs went up 40% at one post. Why? Inadequate testing behind the M16A2. Ignoring the moral issues…. how can you send a soldier into combat with a weapon they can’t shoot?

            Besides, many of folk’s “favorite” guns might flunk (as did many guns in previous tests).

            The Glock buy is a non-starter. You can’t expand a limited buy to a 520,000 item buy (520,000 being the buy with options). They’ll be flooded with law suits.

            Basically the acquisition community abrogated its responsibility to determine the requirements. If that sounds harsh, sorry.

            The real requirements should focus on “shootability.” What combination of caliber, cartridge design, bullet design, bore axis height, trigger, sights, weight distribution, training, et al gives you a weapon most soldiers can shoot accurately under stress. The test would be a dynamic combat course against shoot-back targets (using simunition). Etc.

            I know…… fidelity is expensive and hard to measure.

            A key part of this exercise should be to bring people’s fantasies back to reality. Movie/TV shootings aren’t real.

            I had a Gwynn arm pistol once. Easy to accurately shoot. Big. Heavy. 556. But the muzzle blast would deform your brain.

            The FBI settled on 9mm for 3 reasons (maybe a few more). It met their penetration tests. More agents could shoot it accurately. It allowed more onboard rounds. I suspect their negative experiences with the .40 (maintainability/repairs/durability) contributed and maybe costs.

            At this point the acquisition folks have circled so much they’re sort of stuck. They can’t just buy a gun they ‘like’ because they have to be able to defend the buy with hard data. Otherwise they’ll spend the next ten years in court.

            And so it goes. Big mess. Finger pointing. Name calling. Pouting.

            Enjoy. 🙂

  • El Duderino

    More hullabaloo about the least important weapon system. MPs and others expected to use a handgun in sudden action should have a no manual safety handgun and be trained in its use. Have you guys seen the kinds of awful holsters they issue in the military? A pistol w/o a manual safety will be a problem. Unless we replace them all with hard holsters that 100% protect the triggerguard, and maybe even not then.

    • Uniform223
    • Nicks87

      I was an MP in the Air Force and we were issued an Uncle Mike’s triple retention holster when I got to my first base in 98 and then it was replaced in 04 with Safariland 6004/6005. So the military has been issuing hard holsters with trigger guard coverage for awhile now.

      • El Duderino

        Yes, MPs in particular…but not everyone. Check out a tanker holster sometime. 1940 technology.

    • cwolf

      Holster design is an important issue.

      A manual safety can easily be knocked off in a bad holster design.

    • Every serviceman I’ve seen with a pistol in the last ten years has been using a more modern holster, even if a bunch of them are the God awful Serpas.

      I cannot recall the last time I saw the old tanker holster, leather flap holster, or the Bianchi UM84 in service use by US forces.

  • De Facto

    Why the G19? Wouldn’t the G17 make more sense if this will be the only sidearm issued to an MP/Officer? I don’t understand why there’s not as much love for the G17 as there is for the G19.

    • Twilight sparkle

      The 19 fits people’s hands better and if concealibility were ever an issue (which would be very very rare but not impossible) the 19 has a much easier profile to hide than the 17 does.
      Plus the 19 can take full sized magazines and personally I think they look cooler with a 17 mag in 😎

      • Billy Jack

        See that article about averages when thinking the 19 fits people’s hands better. My hands (XL/2XL glove size) are a bad match for the horrible grip ridges. I love full size Glocks. I understand the love for them. I can’t partake but I don’t really need to. Since I’m not a small person even conceal carrying a full size pistol isn’t a problem.

        • Twilight sparkle

          I sell guns and it just seems like a lot of people prefer the grip dove of the 19 over the 17, the thing that my customers buy a 17 for is either duity or mag capacity. People in other places may prefer the grip on the 17 though, I can’t really generalise from expierence just in central Texas.

          • De Facto

            Gotcha. Well I’m a sucker for full sized pistols, so the G17 or the G34 would by my vote if the army decided to go with Glock. Though I think it’d be kinda neat if we went with something similar to the russians PP2000 instead.

          • Twilight sparkle

            Submachine guns are kinda out of date. Handguns are basically just meant to get you to your rifle, not to replace it.

            The ruger mp9 would have been cool in the 90’s though.

          • Billy Jack

            I only prefer the grip of the 17 because of the finger spacing. It’s nothing special. Even Hickok45 likes the 19 and he has large hands. I spent some hours at the range trying to like one but couldn’t ever get comfortable with it. I’m sure if I had no choice I’d find a way.

    • CommonSense23

      It can fill both full size and compact. Thats what it is doing in NSW, replacing the 239 and 226.

    • 19 takes up less real estate when mounted on a chest rig.

    • A G19 can do a fine job in the same role a G17 does (it does have the same size magazine as the current standard service pistol), but a G17 is sub-optimal at filling in for a G19.

      Sort of why most armies dropped the idea of really long rifles for Infantry and really short carbines fr Cavalry and Artillery, way back before the end of the 19th Century – a mid length rifle fit the bill 99% of the time.

  • Silverado

    If it was my choice I’d absolutely require either an American designed & produced weapon or at the very least a weapon completely manufactured in the US. If NATO wants to buy German pistols hey that’s great. They can do that. But if you’re going to spend US taxpayer provided dollars (aren’t they all?) on a new pistol for American troops in my world the choice would be pretty straight forward and easy. Meet my criteria and we can do business. Otherwise take a hike and sell your over priced guns to NATO…

    • I’ve actually seen a ton of Glocks in Russian use, in photos. SIGs and HKs, too.

    • pbla4024

      Do you want to outlaw any export of US made weapons to foreign armies as well?

      • Silverado

        I want fair trade – if they do business with us, we’ll do business with them in a like manor, so if that’s what you’re describing then yes that would be fine. I’ve had quite enough of the free trade variety of the snake oil the elites would like to peddle as being fair. It’s not. It’s time to put American workers in the number one spot especially if they’re being paid via US taxpayer funds to produce a weapon for US Forces…

        • cwolf

          See Berry. All guns have to be made in US.

    • DaveP.

      You do know that the Glock is manufactured in Smyrna, Georgia… right?

      • john huscio

        It was my understanding that the majority of Glocks made in the US were for foreign markets…

        • I believe most of the US production is for domestic use. US cops and civilians buy a *lot* of guns, and US produced stuff is subject to ITAR approvals.

      • Silverado

        I have no problem with there being any brand name on any weapon. As long as it’s made here in the US by American workers. Granted that wouldn’t be near the investment that a car company or one making airplanes has to make but the point is that those are American taxpayer dollars. So those weapons, if they can’t be completely American like Colt, Ruger or S&W, then the foreign company would be welcome to come in and setup the manufacturing facilities that it needs to do the job. Hundreds of thousands of military weapons paid for in taxpayer derived funds ought to be manufactured right here in this country by American workers in American based locations.

        • Alejandro Fener

          According to your point of view the US couldn’t sell any gun, weapon, missile, warplane, etc. abroad, because all the procurement ought to be domestic. Yet the US is the World’s biggest weapons exporter …

          • Silverado

            We’re talking about a replacement pistol for the US armed forces paid for with US taxpayer dollars. I see nothing wrong with what I propose and would say that if Airbus and assorted car manufacturers can do it it should be a relative piece of cake for a pistol manufacturer to do the same thing. Especially IF they want to participate in this lucrative proposal…

    • john huscio

      Only problem is there aren’t many domestically made pistols, or more to the point, well made domestically produced pistols…….British and Norwegian armies use Glocks, New Zealand uses p226s, Spain uses the HK USP and so on….

    • FarmerB

      More and more foreign militaries (and parts of the US military) are using Glocks. UK and NZ are two recent examples. I really don’t see that defining local flavours of kit and local-company procurement mandates is a good use of taxpayers money – esp. when it comes to something like sidearms, which are effectively 1) commodities 2) secondary for ‘ordinary’ military personnel 3) fairly low cost. I’m no Glock fan boy, but I can understand that in the General’s position, I’d just want to order a few 000,000 of them and move on.

  • I wonder if they purchase the Glock, will they be issued with the standard plastic sights?

    • CommonSense23

      The military glocks come standard with night sights.

  • Drunk Possum

    2011. Sup now?

  • mechamaster

    Alternative other than Glock ?
    Well… I think CZ75 based handgun is nice too. In 9x19mm.
    Or maybe Stryk A / Stryk B / original Strike-One pistol is nice too.

  • HenryV

    It is a secondary weapon. I think officers should be able to buy what they want. And MPs extra just need something that goes bang when the trigger is pulled consistently.

    • bucherm

      > I think officers should be able to buy what they want.

      Why stop there? Every infantryman should be able to just buy whatever rifle or carbine they want too! Who cares about standardization?

      • HenryV

        You don’t know much about small arms and how the military use them do you?

        And why the aggressive tone?

        • bucherm

          >You don’t know much about small arms and how the military use them do you?

          Prior service, actually, and most of my time in was force protection stuff. There’s a reason why we have standardizations, so that there can be interoperability with the serviceman(or woman) next to you.

          I do like how you just ignored the logical progression of your “Officers can just buy what handgun they want”.

          >And why the aggressive tone?

          Woof, shipmate, I can tell who wasn’t actually in the military if you think that that was “aggressive”.

  • aPackOfWankers .

    Why not give every soldier a voucher to buy a weapon from a list of approved pistols.

    • JumpIf NotZero

      Because when I solve problems – I use bigger ones to do so 🙂

    • Mutenri

      Because it makes the guy in Logistics cry themselves to sleep.

    • Frank

      As long as the list of approved pistols consists of just one, sure.

      • aPackOfWankers .

        Standardization is great and all, but a free market competition is also great. Imagine an approved list of 5 sidearms. How much of a logistical burden would that really be? And, you could have a vote every year in which servicemen voted on the worst of the 5 guns, and a gun to replace it on the list.

  • gunsandrockets

    If Glock 19 are too tricky for Army grunts to use safely, just train them to carry IDF style.

  • Captain obvious

    A pistol is a secondary backup weapon in the military. The problem with the MHS is trying to be all things to all people. The solution is simple to buy one proven, sturdy, reliable design and have people adapt to it. Don’t over think it. Don’t try to be the end all, do all. People are infinitely flexible and will adapt to what ever you give them.

    • marine6680

      A lot of research has gone into these things… And a system that try’s to be one size fits all leads to reduced or poor performance for people that the design does not fit well.

      Some basic adaptability for various hand sizes, is a good and useful thing, already common in modern handguns.

      The problem isn’t the requirements asked of the pistol, but if the bureaucratic nature the program has taken on. This leads to slow and expensive selection of equipment.

      • Captain obvious

        I disagree. No matter what you do you will never fit everyone. Trying to is what complicates things and bogs down the system. Considering that the pistol is secondary weapon for the military, just choose one that works and people will adapt to it.

        • That’s the advantage of something like the Sig 250/320 type pistols.

          Aside from making the gun more concealable, the only thing you’d have to swap to fit a particular shooter is a plastic part with one moving part (the mag release), that would cost Big Green about $20-30 in quantity. At that point, you could issue the grip frame to the shooter as TA-50, and he or she draws the slide group and trigger assembly from the arms room, drops it in, and goes to town. Sell the damned grip frames in Clothing Sales for Joe’s who lose or damage their issued one and don’t want to sign a Statement of Charges.

          Once Joe assembled his pistol into the grip frame, it’ll only have to come.off in three circumstances –

          1. Cleaning.

          2. Turn in of the “arms room parts” to ETS or move to a different unit.

          3. Turn in of the “arms room parts” for repair or replacement.

          One gun, multiple.hand sizes, minimal logistics issues.

  • Kevin Riley

    ..

    • Kivaari

      I have talked to quite a few Hi-Point owners, and they are the kind that leave the loaded pistol floating on the floor of their truck or jeep. They don’t lock their vehicles, so they are open for theft – and don’t care. I’d be embarrassed if I was found with a Hi-Point. Owners have no self-respect.

  • Will

    There is one glaringly simple reason General Milleys idea is highly unlikely to be accepted.
    IT MAKES SENSE AND IS COST EFFECTIVE!!!
    The problem I see with the “Revolving Door” concept of buy what ever comes down the pike is training. Training and retraining are crucial to maintaining proficiency with issued firearms. If you keep giving soldiers, marines, airmen and sailors a new firearm every few years the MUST be retrained with the new firearm.

    Buy the Glock 19! It’s a proven design. Relatively inexpensive. Drop dead easy to maintain and can easily be modified to fit each persons hand.
    With the “Blue Gun” series trainees can be given VERY GOOD meaningful training.
    General Miley’s idea is a WIN/WIN situation for all concerned……except Beretta.

    • Joshua

      And all the soldiers who manage to ND a M9 with a emtpy chamber and safety on.

      Seriously, it happens all the time.

      • Nicks87

        Sad but true.

    • cwolf

      Actually a blue Simunition slide accessory might be a good idea.

  • ARCNA442

    I’m really not seeing how your proposal is realistic. Why would the Army want to spend time shipping handguns back to the manufacture for every problem, no matter how small? Wouldn’t it make far more sense to be able to replace small parts in the field rather than deprive a soldier of his weapon for who knows how long while it is returned to the manufacturer to have a drop in part replaced? And if some supply of parts is desirable, than the lack of standardization would multiply the required inventory many times.

    You even bring up the Army’s push for standardization as evidence that standardization is unnecessary. If keeping a number of different models in inventory is the answer, why didn’t the Army see this then? While the recent history of the US Military may make such a scheme appear more feasible, in a full scale war, attempting to find efficiencies by returning weapons to the manufacturer for repair would be rather misguided.

    Finally, you suggest standardizing on a single magazine pattern (why you would want use Glock’s rather than Barretta’s when huge numbers of the latter are already in inventory, I don’t know). But there are no quality handguns that share magazines. Thus, you would either end up with effectively single sourcing the contracts, or with modified weapons of questionable reliability.

    • Hi ARC,

      The idea here would be to have replacement pistols on hand at all times. Modern handguns are capable of going for 50,000 rounds or more without a major parts breakage, and they are not used in the field with anything like the regularity that rifles are, so each individual unit should in general last for quite a lot time. When one does break, it’s simply turned in and a replacement is issued, as it would be it any other gun. However, instead of the pistol that was turned in being repaired, it would simply get surplussed to a contractor who would fix them, and resell them to a third party (possibly US civilians, through the Civilian Marksmanship Program?).

      As for this suggestion being “the answer”, I said in the post that it wasn’t. It’s just one idea. The logistical criticisms, although they can be addressed, are still worth serious consideration.

      Simple, I think Glock makes a better magazine.

      Or, you’d spur the industry to settle on a single magazine type. This is essentially how handguns are designed today: Each manufacturer does not normally design their own magazines, they farm that out (usually to Mec-Gar). Glock is an exception to this (and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that their magazine is superior, but I digress). So, the Army would say “here’s the magazine pattern we will be using (that could be Glock, or Beretta, or some in-house Army development to keep it fair), and here are the other specifications we require (chassis construction, unserialled polymer frame, tilting barrel, striker-fired, ambi controls, these are just suggestions but reasonable ones). Anyone can win a contract, and even if someone else wins the contract, you could also win the contract now or later. There will be multiple winners and it’s not fixed, so anyone can bid at any time, even years down the road. So, the gun companies would have a huge incentive to conform to these requirements, and since it wouldn’t be a big deal for them to design around the existing magazine pattern, they would probably do it in the hopes of getting one of these lucrative contracts.

      Keep in mind, too, that this isn’t an “AK/AR” magazine situation. Virtually all double stack pistol magazines are identical in design, except with minor changes in configuration (slightly different magazine catch placement being one of the most common ones). The only real exception to this is Glock, and it’s not that different, either. Getting manufacturers to standardize on a magazine pattern would therefore be pretty damned easy, if you waved contracts under their noses.

      • ARCNA442

        How many replacement pistols would need to be stocked? While major parts breakages are certainly rare without excessive round counts, springs and small parts usually need replacement at around 5,000 rounds. Further, I expect that most damage to military weapons is the result of rough treatment rather than being shot. Would a pistol with a broken slide stop or slide release (to name two more commonly damaged parts) be surplussed or repaired? And if repaired would it be done by an Army depot or the original manufacturer?

        I am curious about your assertion that firearms manufacturers don’t design their own magazines. While I know that the actual manufacture is usually contracted out, I would think such a critical part would be part of the design from the beginning. While most pistol magazines are fairly similar, I think that is more because they have to fit the same general design constraints than because they are actually identical. Given how many manufactures offer several very similar pistols that don’t have compatible magazines (Sig in particular), getting multiple companies to standardize might be rather more difficult than you say.

        I agree with you that the Glock magazine is probably the best out there and the new Magpul version might end up being even better. However, if you specified it as the STANAG pistol magazine, you would still have the problem that no other handgun currently accepts it. And while having the Army basically design their own pistol and then let companies bid for the manufacture sounds good in theory, the fact is that committee firearms don’t have a great track record.

      • Nicks87

        “Modern handguns are capable of going for 50,000 rounds or more without a major parts breakage”
        Replace “Modern handguns” with Glocks and that statement would be true. Otherwise I think 50,000 is a stretch. Our dept had Sig P229s that couldn’t make it past 20,000.

  • Spencerhut

    I like your idea, now getting a bunch of selfish & self-interested people/companies to buy your idea will be interesting. In a world where the end result of equipping our people with handguns that work was all everyone cared about, your idea is great.

  • Mmmtacos

    There goes my pet-peeve again:

    “The polymer frame features an accessory rail for mounting lights.”

    Yes, we know it mounts lights. That’s why they put it there, it’s for lights and lasers 99.99% of the time (the other 0.01% is that one guy that actually bought the pistol bayonet rail accessory). Damn it all, I will keep complaining as long as they keep saying it.

    While I’m on the subject of rails, and as per a recent comment: would they really go with a non standard rail? I know some special operator types use the Glock anyhow, but they use just about whatever they fancy.

    • If I was Big Green, I’d tell Glock (or whoever), “We’re buying a half a million guns. Use the stated rail design, or don’t bother bidding.”

      The productuin numbers for the next standard US service pistol is going to be huge, far beyond the numbers the DoD buys. *Because* it’ll be the new US service pistol.

  • Matrix3692

    Why not just initiate an In-house program for the handgun design, then out-source the production?

    • They could, but then you’d probably be looking at an even bigger program than MHS.

      • Matrix3692

        It might be a bigger program, but it could offer a lot less headache in the long run.

  • Steve Milliron

    Just curious as to why you think Glock’s magazines are the best design.

    • Thanks to the steel-in-polymer construction they are very durable, and the steel coating they use (which is also on some other magazines) is extremely lubriscious.

  • Lance

    Think this is all showing what ICC and MHS where and are all about. Some politician or General likes a type of pistol/rifle and wants to force his pick on the whole army. Its doesn’t make sense to switch to another 9mm pistol from another, at least MHS open the door to a new caliber which would warrant a new pistol. In the end inter fighting will delay or even end MHS and the fact were still producing M-9s may add more mystery so what end up happening in the end. Who know M-9A3 may still win out????

  • Ed

    Since were may be going to issue Blocks why not for general issue goto Clock 17s bigger holds more ammo and is more comfortable than a 19. UK and Austria use 17s anyway.

  • TJbrena

    Just buy the P320. It’s modular enough handgun and it shoots good to boot.

  • zxcvzxcv

    I’d still like the MHS program to go through, simply because I’m convinced that the design of having the slide rails removable from the frame like on the Sig P250/P320 and the Ruger American is the future and a win for a handgun built that way would likely push other manufacturers to start designing new handguns that would be built that way more quickly.

  • CR

    Surprised the army’s not considering Sig’s P320!

    • ARCNA442

      They are.

  • Sulaco

    “Modern handguns are extremely good at sitting in holsters for long periods without being shot.” Well, yes. Except I pulled my Glock 19 out of my duty holster at the range for a qual shoot one time and unknown to me while in the holster apparently a spring had broken and I had a one shot pistol in my hands…..granted this is a rare happening but still scared the begeues out of me.

  • Gregory

    How about we just issue the army Obama guns, a straw and wadded up paper.

  • Blackhawk

    The problem with your approach to pistol purchases is mainly the difficulty of standardizing training for different types of pistols. Most Army types don’t get enough training with their pistols to be proficient and safe now; imagine the nightmare of teaching soldiers a different manual of arms for each different type of handgun.

    • I don’t think it would be that different to train someone on a Ruger-brand Glock than a SIG-brand Glock…

      • Blackhawk

        Your suggested solution doesn’t sound like “Ruger makes a Glock; Sig makes a Glock;” it sounds like: “Ruger sells their 9mm pistol to the Army, Glock sells their 9mm pistol to the Army, Sig sells their 9mm pistol to the Army, which sells/returns them when they are broken.” At least, that is the way I read your suggestion, and that’s certainly the way the Army treated revolvers when we had them.

  • Blake

    “USASOC is currently paying a base price of about $320 for each Glock 19”

    Funny, that’s about the market price for an Italian police-surplus Beretta 92S…

  • Blake

    Personally (& this kinda goes along with Nathaniel’s suggestions), IF a pile of taxpayer money were to be spent on “selection programs” (as opposed to the actual purchase of actual weapons), rather than the “spaghetti testing, from a wall’s perspective” method of issuing endless tenders, would the Armed Forces not be better served by designing weapons to meet their own needs (in coordination with the defense industry), specifying the fabrication tolerances/standards, & contracting the production to multiple bidders so that nothing is dependent upon a single source?

    Isn’t this how it used to work?

  • Kivaari

    The Glock 19 is perhaps the best combat pistol on the planet. Though I was issued a Glock 17 for over a decade. I went in hating the things. After 30,000 plus rounds through the tube, I became a believer.

    • Hilltop

      As I told one of my young firearm protégées, if you shoot a Glock well you should buy one. If you don’t shoot it well then we live in wonderful time of reasonably priced and reliable handguns. For my own part, I’m more fond of the Walther PPQ but only because I shoot it more accurately. But, Glock has been and remains the standard for reliability with the added bonus of wider support.

  • Phillip Cooper

    The “just surplus it and buy more” idea demonstrates the author’s inexperience with procurement.

    You don’t simply “surplus it”, there’s entire processes and mountains of paperwork involved even for old computers (without hard drives or memory), let alone sensitive items like firearms.

  • Matt Lamoureux

    I’m far from an expert, but a backup weapon is to be used in a crisis situation when everything else has failed. Wouldn’t it then be a bad idea to have a revolving door of issued weapons? Wouldn’t the operator want to carry something they are completely familiar with, and can grab and use almost on instinct, not try to remember what type of safeties this model has?

  • 3 wheeler

    S&W shield would be a better buy and a better piece of equipment.

    • BigFED

      It doesn’t do ANYTHING that any other pistol does!!!

  • A Fascist Corgi

    I don’t care what the gun community hive mind thinks. Selecting a service handgun without a thumb safety is a really bad idea. Statistically speaking, we know that handguns that lack thumb safeties have more accidental discharges. That means that these Glock 19s will probably kill and injure more U.S. soldiers than enemies on a battlefield.

    • Kivaari

      There are no accidents, there are man caused screw ups. Training is the key to safety. Glock could easily add a manual safety, but they really don’t need one. Glocks are never cocked until the trigger is pulled completely to the rear. Safety is a mind set.

    • BigFED

      And you are the same type of person that wants a manual safety on a revolver! Having to worry about that manual safety has probably caused more casualties than it saved! Metro DC police found out the hard way that ANY handgun can be a problem. Just check the issues that happened when they adopted the HK P7.

  • Steve_7

    Isn’t the TDP part of the MHS contract? So they can buy them off anyone after the initial contract runs out. Anyway, they’ll never adopt the Glock because of all the lawsuits Glock is currently facing.

  • The Concerned Conservative

    GLOCKS SUCK…but they are cheap as dirt and as common as a social disease.

  • machgman

    this article was a wate of time.

  • CavScout

    What’s all this BS about selling off old-new pistols toa some civilian crew? That’s so far from the point of this, it’s not even funny. I agree with the General, and I’m far from a Glock guy, but just throwing in for Glock 19’s at this point is smart. Best part is they’re smaller than the M9’s. Honestly, they should buy Glock 19’s (gen 3) and the sub compact version too. Again, a backup is a backup, and should be smaller.

  • Chuck Mahon

    I think this is an wonderful “good enough” solution – and an appropriate use of resources given the climate. The Glock 19 is a perfectly appropriate weapon for our soldiers. Training and simplification of weapon condition levels in the manual of arms would be introduced with this. I think the fear, uncertainty and doubt of not having a manual safety is just that – FUD. The priority is to get a “good enough” solution to replace the overly complex M9, at a lower price point. Glock delivers an FDE frame, barrel and slide, modular holster, etc. This allows us to “move on” to the next priority for our warriors – we put the sidearm procurement to bed for another 20 years.

  • Herk

    Let’s just go back to allowing troops to buy their own sidearms. It was de rigeur in the 19th century and not all that uncommon as recently as Vietnam. For dudes who ‘need’ a pistol but won’t buy their own, give them one of the aging Berettas or SIGs that are already in inventory.

    Not that our government would ever go along with this solution; even if they didn’t hate the fact that we’re armed, the simplicity and sensibility of it would horrify them too much to even consider it.

  • BigFED

    The issue of “modularity” is a red herring! Having the ability to “customize” the weapon only goes so far! If that weapon fails or one has to use one other that “their” weapon, it may be modified where the person takes longer to familiarize themselves with their “new” piece! That is why we have standards!