Earlier this month, TFB relayed a report first posted on Military.com’s KitUp! site about the 3 major non-Army services – Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force – all accepting the M17 as their next service handgun. However, thanks to the hard work of Matthew Moss writing for Task & Purpose, we now know that does not seem to be true. Matthew reports for T&P:
Not so fast, though. Task & Purpose asked representatives of the individual military branches about their plans to replace the venerable M9, and for the most part, they’re not yet on the same page as the Army.
Asked if the Marines intended to replace the M9 with the M17, a spokeswoman for the service told T&P, “No decision by the Marine Corps has been made.” She added that “the Marine Corps is looking at it, and has been involved in all testing, but we do not have a timeline yet for procurement.”
“The Navy plans to procure a Modular Handgun System through a multi-service contract,” a spokeswoman for the Navy’s Naval Sea System Command told T&P — but since the Army’s MHS contract is being contested, she couldn’t say when the Navy’s buy might actually happen; certainly not anytime soon.
The US Air Force did not respond to Task & Purpose’s request for a comment before publication.
With Glock contesting the MHS contract in court, and the SIG having been selected through an Army-driven trial, it isn’t entirely surprising that the other three services might not be ready to get on board.
At this point we’ve seen almost 13 years of effort from the Army towards selecting a new pistol, and with the Modular Handgun System selection, there finally seems to be light at the end of this tunnel. The effort to select a new handgun started with the Future Handgun System (FHS) program which was initiated on October 1, 2004 – the requirements for which fairly closely resembled those of MHS. In early 2005, SOCOM initiated the selection process for a new handgun for special operations forces, called the SOF Combat Pistol.
By the fall of 2005, FHS and SOF Combat Pistol had been merged into a new program, Joint Combat Pistol, which notably featured a requirement for .45 ACP caliber instead of the NATO-standard 9mm. However, US Army dropped out of the program in March of 2006, and SOCOM then abandoned the effort in September of that year. In the intervening year, the US Air Force began a program for a new handgun (Air Force Future Handgun), which was rolled into the Modular Handgun System effort beginning in 2008. The MHS program officially launched in January of 2013, almost a decade after the original FHS program.
Given such a lengthy development history, it is difficult not to hope that MHS will shake out and settle the issue once and for all.