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.”