General Dynamics to Manufacture M&P Barrels for Smith & Wesson

General Dynamics and Smith & Wesson are deepening their partnership past the impending Modular Handgun System solicitation. Per a Press Release, Smith & Wesson has “awarded” General Dynamic’s Ordnance and Tactical Systems division a multi-year contract “to produce hammer forged, military grade gun barrels.” The release goes further to state that these barrels will be issued in the M&P pistol, which the two companies have submitted for the XM17 Modular Handgun System (MHS) competition.

This is a surprising announcement, but upon deeper analysis, it makes sense. I, and many others, originally postulated that Smith & Wesson opted to use General Dynamics as the prime contractor given its long history of successful contract management. Smith & Wesson, while successful to small department sales, would find itself at a business development disadvantage compared to the other established ordnance companies.

Given the enormous cost pressures on the MHS contract and even within the civilian market, I suspect that General Dynamics is only providing the Cold Hammer Forged blanks as they have the capability for other platforms including .50, 40mm launchers, and larger bore weaponry. Personally, I would doubt that GD is machining the blanks, likely opting to outsource to lower-cost shops.

In the Press Release, both companies are putting on a positive face for the contract through statements from senior managers. From the Press Release:

“With 32 years of experience in producing military grade, hammer forged barrels, General Dynamics brings additional cost-effective manufacturing capability to Smith & Wesson for the Army’s XM17 Modular Handgun System competition,” said Tim McAuliffe, vice president and general manager of medium caliber ammunition and weapons for General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems. “We believe our combined capabilities will provide the Army with the most advantageous MHS solution while expanding our global strategic partnership.”

James Debney, President and CEO, Smith & Wesson, said, “A key initiative within our strategic plan has been the continual development of our flexible manufacturing model through added component outsourcing.  That approach has served us well by providing a solid and highly adaptable manufacturing platform for growth.  Our contract with General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems represents an enhancement of that initiative and demonstrates the evolution of our partnership.  Together, we believe we are well positioned to compete for the Army’s XM17MHS program, for which we recently submitted our proposal.”

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.

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


  • Lance

    Not new, General Dynamics have been in the gun business for a few years now.. They make bullets for the Lake City arsenal including M-193 55gr, bullets M-855 62gr bullets, and 7.62mm M-80 147gr bullets for Lake city to make military ammo contracts for.

    • Dave

      Huh?? They don’t make Lake City ammo. They were making some of the Canadian ammo, which was sold by midway during the M855 scare, and components are sold thru various businesses.

      • Christian Hedegaard-Schou

        He said they make bullets for Lake City, not that they made loaded cartridges for Lake City.

  • Patriot Gunner

    I wonder how much (if any) difference this will make to the MSRP of the M&P line in the civilian world. I would imagine that the quality of the barrels will improve, not that they were bad before.

    • Google M&P Accuracy Problems, and you will find many reports of accuracy issues with the S&W M&P series.

      • Drew

        All of the results are about 5 years old.

        • Curious_G

          On top of that, they aren’t guaranteed. I have a relatively early 9mm that does not exhibit any problems.

      • Zach Robinson

        The accuracy issues are more or less resolved, I have not seen any new M&P’s from the past 2 years that have had accuracy issues. Also all of the accuracy problems were related to the 9mm M&P, not the .40, .45, or difficult to find .357SIG. I sent in a 2011 production M&P9 that I acquired in a trade, for shooting 12″ groups at 25 yards. S&W replaced the barrel and it shoots repeatable 4″ groups at 25 yards now. For being a mass-produced, non-match grade barrel, I’m happy with the M&P’s.

  • tony

    Not too many can afford to wear out a mp barrel as is

  • USMC03Vet

    hahah here we go. Welcome to the absurd world of defense contracting where the end product is created by 50 different companies. Sounds like they are about to get a US government contract.

    • Joshua

      Thinking the same thing.

      Plus with the CSASS and the Army having the option of buying the TDP after the initial lot of 30….Army knows exactly what they’re doing.

    • ChierDuChien

      Better than having the Chinese make them.

    • Curious_G

      What is absurd about it?

  • Sianmink

    Maybe the GD engineered barrels will improve the lackluster accuracy of the M&P platform.

    • USMC03Vet

      *tips muddygirl fedora*

      Any last requests, Sir?

  • LazyReader

    Welcome to the world of defense contractor style manufacture where 100 companies in all 50 states get to make something and monkey’s put it together.

    • Curious_G

      …or just the world of manufacturing where you turn to a subcontractor/supplier that can fill in the gap where you can’t produce the volume you need.

  • Joshua

    The 1:8 5r barrel that comes on some of the models now is supposed to be pretty good. Wonder if these barrels will still be available?

  • Remember that General Dynamics’ holdings include the former Saco Defense. Besides their long history with the M60 machinegun and the Mk 19 grenade launcher, they also manufactured replacement M16A1 barrels for the DOD. Saco was SIG-Sauer’s US representative for the XM9 pistol trials. At one point during the 1990s, they were producing some of Weatherby’s bolt action rifles and even manufactured the Desert Eagle for Magnum Research. Colt also briefly owned Saco from 1998 to 2000, before selling Saco to General Dynamics.


    So where are the pics of the new Gen2 M&P?

  • Curious_G

    Why is “awarded” in quotes?