GRAPEVINE: US Army Pays $207 Per Pistol to SIG SAUER for M17 Modular Handguns

    With SIG’s recent win of the $580 million dollar contract for the US Army’s Modular Handgun System pistol, many are asking just how the American outlet of the Swiss-German SIG Sauer could have won such a large contract, especially against what many perceived was the strongest contender, Glock. Some saw the very text of the MHS solicitation as being biased towards SIG’s entry (which I do not think is true), while others assumed some backdoor deal must have occurred.

    SIG’s victorious MHS submissions. Image source:


    The answer may be far simpler than that. SIG, having learned its lesson from the XM9 trials where it was beaten by the inferior but cheaper Beretta 92FS, simply underbid the competition. And how! Unconfirmed reports coming from the “writer grapevine” – specifically contacts of Andrew Branca’s – claim that SIG bid just $207 per P320 pistol to win the MHS contract, an incredibly low price even for a bulk order of modern polymer-framed striker-fired handguns. Although the exact quantity of pistols being procured is not known (because the contract is for an indefinite quantity over an indefinite delivery, called “IDIQ”), it is estimated that hundreds of thousands of pistols will be procured. The $580 million dollar figure does not just include those guns, however, but also spares, accessories, and even holsters, all to be procured from SIG Sauer.

    The low procurement cost per pistol puts concerns that the M9 was “good enough” and that no pistol should have been selected to replace it essentially to bed: It’s very difficult to imagine that the M9 could have been kept operational for the projected lifespan of the M17 handgun for less than a mere $207 per gun, especially since the M9 uses lifed aluminum frames which eventually need replacing. In the long run – and probably the short run, too – the SIG P320 is likely actually cheaper than keeping the M9 on, especially when one considers just how ludicrously easy the P320 is to maintain when compared to its predecessor!

    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. He can be reached via email at [email protected]