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

Nathan S
by Nathan S

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
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.

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  • Daniel E. Watters Daniel E. Watters on Apr 04, 2016

    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.

  • Curious_G Curious_G on Apr 06, 2016

    Why is "awarded" in quotes?