US Army Names First Unit to Receive M17 Modular Handgun System – 101st Airborne

Original Caption: "U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Todd A. Christopherson fires an M9 pistol at the weapons range on Forward Operating Base Thunder in Afghanistan's Paktia province, Oct. 18, 2013. Christopherson, a public affairs noncommissioned officer, is assigned to the 101st Airborne Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Justin A. Moeller"

The US Army has released the name of the unit which will be the first to receive the new M17 Modular Handgun System pistols produced by SIG Sauer, and that is none other than the legendary “tip of the spear”, the 101st Airborne stationed at Fort Campbell in Kentucky. Soldier Systems posted an article detailing the announcement, which also carries a promise that other units stationed at Fort Campbell will receive the new handguns early as well. From SoldierSystems.net:

Earlier today at the NDIA Armaments Conference, PEO Soldier’s PM for Soldier Weapons, LTC Steven Power stated that the First Unit Equipped for the M17 Modular Handgun will be the 101st at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, during the first quarter of Fiscal Year 18. He also stated that other units on Fort Campbell would also receive the first of 190,000 Pistols the Army plans to buy.

In addition to multiple other Army units on the post, the 5th Special Forces Group ( Airborne) and elements of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment are also there. Yesterday, USASOC Deputy Chief of Staff for Requirements (G8), COL Samuel Ashley stated that despite adoption of the GLOCK 19 by elements of the command, it was part of the Army’s fielding of the M17 as a replacement for their M9 pistols.

The announcement was made over the National Defence Industrial Association’s (NDIA) 2017 Small Arms Conference, held from May 1 through 4 in Fredericksburg, VA. The Program Manager for Individual Weapons commented about the new Modular Handgun System in an article for Military.com, clarifying the oft misunderstood “Modular” moniker and hinting at the special purpose ammunition that will be paired with the new pistol:

“It has increased lethality, faster target acquisition, better reliability,” Lt. Col. Steven Power, who runs Product Manager for Individual Weapons, told an audience at the National Defense Industrial Association’s 2017 Armaments Systems Forum.

Power said there have been a lot of misconceptions about what the requirements community meant when they described the new pistol as modular.

“This largely focused on the shooter’s hand size and the enablers that the weapon is compatible with,” Power said, describing how the MHS offers different grip sizes and can accept various attachments such as lights and optics.

The base configuration of the full-size XM17 pistol will come with Tritium sights and three magazines — one standard 17-round magazine and two extended 21-round magazines. Army equipment officials are developing a holster for the MHS as well.

One aspect of the MHS that Army officials have been reluctant to talk about is the type of ammunition the service’s new sidearm will use.

A new Defense Department policy — that allows for the use of “special-purpose ammunition” — allowed the Army to require gunmakers to submit ammunition proposals along with their pistols to be evaluated in the competition.

The ammunition chosen to go with the Sig Sauer is a “Winchester jacketed hollow point” round, Power told Military.com.

But before it can be issued, the Pentagon must complete a “law of war determination,” which is scheduled to be complete in the next two months, Army officials said.

“Before we can field it, we have to have a law of war determination on the specific ammunition that was submitted with the handgun before we actually continue to field it to the soldier,” said Col. Brian Stehle, head of Project Manager Soldier Weapons.

“We have a law of war determination that stated that this type of ammunition is usable. We are very confident that the winning ammunition will be usable.”

It seems very likely to me that the “Winchester hollow point” is either the latest iteration of the Winchester T-Series or a variant thereof (possibly optimized for greater penetration). However, that remains speculation, as the exact round that will become the M1153 Special Purpose Ball round is yet unknown. The MHS program specifies two ball rounds, the XM1152 Ball (an FMJ) and the XM1153 (JHP). Additional detail can be found in this IAA Forum thread from May of last year.



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 is also the author of the original web serial Heartblood, which is being updated and edited regularly. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


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  • BattleshipGrey

    I’m surprised there haven’t been any photos release of Army personnel using the M17 from the trials yet. Just did several searches and can’t find one.

  • Dickie

    Increased lethality???

    • Jeff Smith

      I think that is referring to the gun when paired with its “special purpose ammo” (Winchester T-Series hollow points).

    • Steve Truffer

      Ammo:weight ratio. More holes poked per pound.

    • Phillip Cooper

      JHP.

    • James Young

      I would say that every soldier carrying Winchester JHP in 21 round mags would increase lethality over the FMJ in 15 Beretta mags.

  • Tim

    “Law of war determination”…..assume we do this for every other (vastly more lethal) system?

    • Stu

      I do have to chuckle at that. You can vaporize someone with a MOAB but ping them with a 115gr JHP and it’s off to the war crimes tribunal.

    • Bierstadt54

      Hollow point ammo is considered to be banned by the Geneva Convention, or one of them, anyway. That is why we have had to use FMJ ammo. Hollow points are allowed to be used against terrorists and operations other than declared war, so I assume the Pentagon has decided its lawyers will be able to make some case that now the Winchester hollow points are not expanding ammunition under the Convention and thus usable in declared wars.

      • Xerxes036

        Hague Convention not Geneva the clause in that treaty that bans JHPs was never ratified by the USA but the military chose to abide by it anyway.

    • Literally every weapon system and munition issued by the US since 1974 has been reviewed by OJAG-IA during its development and before its fielding to determine its legality.

  • Major Tom

    Hmm…extended mags of 21. Any bets they might pick up the nickname “Blackjacks”?

    • CommonSense23

      No.

    • Phillip Cooper

      Why would they?

    • God I hope not.

  • James Young

    Did I read that right? The ammunition they decided to go with is a “Winchester jacketed hollow point”. That’s a huge change. Also interesting that they are using full size frames with 17 and 21 round mags. I thought they were going with the Compact version.

    • The photos of the XM17 all show SIG’s “Carry” grip shell, judging from the three rail slots. The Full Size grip shell has five slots, while the Compact has four.

    • Holdfast_II

      Does it matter? You can use a full-sized, carry or compact grip with the full-sized slide. Though if they are using 17 rd mags I would think the compact is off the table unless they want a dirt-trapping gap.

    • Rob

      The compact model will be fielded as the M18 and will replace the M11 in service. The M17 is the full size gun that will replace the M9. In my opinion they should just standardize on the compact and call it done.

      • Phillip Cooper

        Which M11 are you referring to?

        • Anonymoose
        • Twilight sparkle

          Is there another m11 that I don’t know about?

          • JoelC

            Ingrahm maybe.

          • Twilight sparkle

            Know of it, just didn’t consider it since it wasn’t adopted by any branch that I’m aware of.

        • FOC Ewe

          The Sig P228 that CID, CI and a few other “concealed carry” organizations. Bonus points for those with Hobbit hands who need a sidearm. There are plenty of P226’s in that same category for some reason as well…

      • James Young

        Ah, that makes sense. If it were me I’d like a Carry with a 21 rounder. Makes the most sense in a combat situation I would think. The Compact isn’t really much smaller

  • But what about Patrick’s rumors that it failed testing, and Glock’s protest not getting dismissed at the same time as FNH’s protest of the ICE award as being evidence that they are true?!? 😉

    As a FYI for those that don’t follow Federal budgeting is a full quarter ahead of the calendar year so Q1FY2018 is on the calendar Oct-Dec 2017. So it seems to me that the Army is pretty confident that Glock’s protest will go no where.

  • Phillip Cooper

    It’s about darn time we use JHP!

    • Anonymoose

      The Kaiser is rolling in his grave.

  • Evan Morris

    Any guess when it will be available in civilian market?

    • Sam Damiano

      It already is, unless you want a fancy box that says “Just like the Army uses” on it.

      • Just Sayin’

        I don’t think you can get the M17 color combo with the New Jersey thumb safety yet.

        • jimmy craked corn

          You can get black, tan or a mix of the two.

    • Xerxes036

      SIG has no idea when that will happen the contract gives the Army control over the M17 version of the P320 they have to give SIG the OK to sell it commercially.

  • Henry Reed

    Doesn’t matter all that much since most soldiers will never fire their sidearm in combat at all.