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


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