Army Says 9mm Not Enough, Pursuing Modular Handgun System

    Originally started back in 2011, the US Army has re-energized the Modular Handgun System program and has set an “Industry Day” for July 29th at the Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey.

    The Army Times interviewed key members of the Modular Handgun System back in 2011 explaining the reasons looking for a replacement for the M9. In short, its all the reasons the shooting community has known about for decades but is primarily motivated by the pistols reaching the end of their service life.

    “The M9 is at the end of its lifecycle,” said Maj. Art Thomas, small arms branch chief at the Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, Ga. “It is an old weapon. We can do a lot better with what technology can provide us now.”

    Lethality is among the M9’s several “limitations,” said Daryl Easlick, project officer for close effects. The requirement for a new pistol calls for “an increase in permanent wound channel,” which suggests something more powerful than a 9mm may be on the horizon.


    Hamstrung by ball ammunition, the Army is completing a  full caliber study at increasing wound potential. This study is currently being conducted by the Army. Considering high-pressure rounds like .40 and .357 SIG cause premature wear, this looks like an effort to move back to .45 ACP. Final cartridge selection will be discussed at the second industry day.

    However, reading through the documents, it does not look like the military wants to move back to a 1911 platform. While an argument can be made for the platform like the USMC’s M45, the demand for modularity and advances in ergonomics. My guess is that the Army is looking for a polymer-framed, completely ambidextrous handgun with a external safety similar to the 1911. The striker-fired H&K’s, M&P’s, and Sig will certainly be considered.  Defense Media Network sums up the intent of the program best:

    “Systems are encouraged to utilize ergonomic and design improvements to minimize the effects of greater recoil energies, reducing the degradation of shooter-in-the-loop dispersion thereby improving the probability of hit,” it adds.

    The “modular” aspects of the MHS vision include, but are not limited to, compatibility with accessory items to include tactical lights, lasers and sound suppressors.

    In terms of handgun reliability, the RFI identifies interest in designs with ratings of at least 2,000 rounds MRBS [mean rounds between stoppage], 10,000 rounds MRBF [mean rounds between failure] and 35,000-round service life.

    Currently, the Army is on track for an RFP to hit the street in August, with 60-90 days for industry to respond. From down-selection, there will be two years of testing and trails before a final decision. The full funding profile of the program will not be revealed to the industry, but likely numbers are replacement of all M9s in inventory (over 400,000 units).

    Interestingly, the USG is looking to go down a “best value” contract lane, allowing them to pick their favorite, not necessarily one that performs satisfactorily at the lowest price. The specifications are not yet finalized, but the Government plans on releasing a draft RFP for comments and evaluation prior to the final RFP draft.


    Vendors will be allowed to submit a maximum of two (2) designs each.

    Details from FedBizOps on the second industry day Industry day are below. You can see the original RFI and Q&A from the first industry day at the Army’s web portal.

    The Project Manager Soldier Weapons (PM SW) will be hosting a second Modular Handgun System (MHS) Industry Day on 29 July 2014 at The Cannon Gate Catering and Conference Center, Bldg #121, 121 Buffington Road, Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey. The purpose of this Industry Day is to: expand on information gained from Industry Day #1, to further exchange information with the industry regarding the handgun and ammunition draft purchase descriptions, and to better refine the acquisition strategy. This event is for U.S. Government planning purposes only and constitutes a request for exchange of information pursuant to FAR 15.201.

    This announcement should not be construed as a Request for Proposal (RFP) or a commitment by the U.S. Government. The U.S. Government does not intend to award a contract on the basis of this Industry Day. THIS IS NOT A SOLICITATION AND DOES NOT OBLIGATE THE U.S. GOVERNMENT TO ISSUE A SOLICITATION. The U.S. Government will NOT ACCEPT proposals at this time. NOTE: The U.S. Government will not be responsible for any expenses incurred by a vendor’s decision to participate in this MHS Industry Day. All travel and other associated costs are to be assumed by the interested vendor.

    The MHS Industry Day will start at 8:30 am EDT on 29 July 2014, with check-in beginning at 7:00 am EDT at visitor control as well as the Cannon Gate Catering and Conference Center. Industry Day will consist of a general session information briefing followed by an open forum question and answer session.

    The Government intends to cover the following topics during the general session:

    Program Overview
    Handgun Requirements
    Ammunition Requirements
    Enablers /Accessories
    Programmatic Environment, Safety and Occupational Health Evaluation (PESHE)

    The Government does not intend to discuss the following topics with Industry during this Industry Day include:

    Test Procedures and Test Schedule
    Internal Acquisition Process/Funding

    Immediately following the general session, vendors will have the opportunity to submit written questions, which will be answered during the open forum question and answer session. The questions, and answers to all of the questions will be posted on Fedbizopps at a later date. Vendors will not be identified in the public announcement. All vendor information will be treated confidentially and discreetly. No vendor promotional items or giveaways will be allowed from industry. No cameras, tape recorders or other reproduction devices will be allowed.

    Due to limited space and time, ONLY FIREARMS AND AMMUNITION MANUFACTURERS WILL BE PERMITTED TO ATTEND. No more than four (4) representatives may attend from each vendor. This restriction will be strictly enforced. All registrants must provide a Government issued photo identification at check-in. INTERESTED PARTICIPANTS MUST REGISTER NO LATER THAN JULY 8, 2014. NOTE: FOREIGN VISITORS PLEASE BE COGNIZANT OF THE ADDITIONAL TIME REQUIREMENTS FOR REGISTRATION.

    The draft purchase descriptions for the handgun and ammunition are marked Distribution Statement D. These purchase descriptions will be provided separately upon request and receipt of a completed Non-Disclosure Agreement, which is attached to this Industry Day announcement, and proof of compliance with any other required ITARS regulation. Please send your request and completed Non-Disclosure Agreement to the point of contact listed below.

    All visitors must be registered in the Picatinny Arsenal Security System prior to Industry Day.

    To register you MUST contact Mr. Vincent Turco, Contract Specialist, via email at, [email protected] and Dan Potempa at [email protected] Interested vendors should include the following details in the registration email: company name; CAGE code; names of each (of the up to four (4)) representatives who will attend the Industry Day; and the nationality of each attendee. Each attendee must also provide a signed Non-Disclosure Agreement.


    NOTE: Foreign individuals will need to be approved and comply with all instructions determined by the Army Contracting Command Foreign Disclosure Officer. Information on foreign individuals will need to be received no later than 30 days prior to attending.

    Any request for a substitution of personnel must be received no later than 48 hours in advance of the scheduled Industry Day and is subject to approval by the U.S. Government.

    For additional questions, registrants may contact Vincent Turco, Contract Specialist, via email at, [email protected] and Dan Potempa at [email protected] No telephone inquiries will be accepted.

    In the event of inclement weather, please check the Picatinny website: for the status of delayed opening or closure.

    Contracting Office Address:
    ACC – New Jersey, Center for Contracting and Commerce
    Building 9 Phipps Rd
    Picatinny Arsenal, NJ 07806-5000

    Point of Contact:
    Vincent Turco
    Contracting Office Address:
    ACC – New Jersey, Center for Contracting and Commerce, Building 9 Phipps RD, Picatinny Arsenal, NJ 07806-5000

    ACC – New Jersey, Center for Contracting and Commerce, Building 10 Phipps RD, Picatinny Arsenal, NJ 07806-5000
    Vincent Turco, 973-724-2016
    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.