It is finally official: The SIG P320 will definitely be the US Army’s next service handgun. Soon after the January announcement of SIG Sauer’s win of the half-billion-dollar MHS contract, gunmaker Glock filed a protest on the decision with the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The GAO had until Monday, June 5, to make a decision on whether to hold up the contract or allow the program to continue with procurement of the SIG handgun. Today, the news is out: The GAO has rejected Glock’s protest, and the MHS program can now move forward with procurement of the SIG M17, according to a story from Army Times.
The GAO’s decision effectively concludes the 13-year-long search for a new US Army handgun, which began with the Future Handgun System back in 2004. The SIG M17 is the winner, and will be the next US Army service handgun… Or will it? As Rambo said, in military procurement “nothing is over!” While the closure of the GAO’s decision is welcome (though, maybe not for Glock), the story of the M17 is far from over. As a comparison, the program to select a replacement for the M1 Garand lasted 14 years until a decision was made, from 1943-1957. Yet, 4 years after that decision was made in 1961, the chosen M14 was still not in the hands of front line US combat troops in Europe due to continuing delays and production problems, and the rifle controversy erupted again. Nor would it be truly settled for another 7 years after that, until 1970.
This is not to suggest that I expect SIG’s guns to have severe production issues, but rather that I’m not holding my breath that the matter is totally settled yet. There is still plenty of time for surprises.