M17 MHS to Arm Soldiers Down to Team Leader Level

    The M17 MHS as first issued with the 101st Airborne. US Army photo by Sgt. Samantha Stoffregen, public domain.

    The US Army has announced a decision to field the M17 MHS as a sidearm to more soldiers than were previously issued M9 handguns. Where previously only senior leadership were authorized to carry handguns, with the new M17 and M18 Modular Handgun System squad and team leaders will be authorized. The move is intended to give those leaders greater flexibility in close quarters battle. Military.com reports:

    “When I need to go into a confined space, negotiate some battlefield task where one of my hands is busy, I need something I can engage the enemy with with one hand,” Eastlick said.

    Cpl. Jory Herrmann, a team leader with C Company, 1-506th, said he is pleased that he will have a more compact weapon for times he has to operate in cramped conditions.

    “It’s more useful to have a handgun on your side than a rifle trying to low crawl under tight quarters,” Herrmann said by phone. “I think it is going to add a whole new dynamic to close quarters combat.”

    Initially, the Army looked at fielding the MHS to every soldier, but eventually decided there was little benefit to that arrangement:

    Army weapons officials have decided that “we did not want to dual arm the entire Army,” Eastlick said. “We looked at those forces that close with and destroy the enemy in close combat as their primary function.

    “We did some basis of issue drills where we looked at dual arming the entire infantry particularly dismounted infantry soldiers, engineers, scouts, and what we concluded was the 75th Ranger Regiment — being the premiere infantry regiment in the world — they also have a different training regimen than the big Army infantry battalions do.”

    First Lt. Andrew Borer of 101st Airborne’s C Company, 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, said he didn’t think it was necessary to arm every soldier in the squad with a pistol alongside their individual weapons.

    “There is no real need for us to dual arm the basic rifleman, but having our team leaders armed with both the XM17 and the M4 allows them to better control their teams … where ever the fight takes them, said Borer, who telephoned into the roundtable from Fort Campbell.

    The new handguns will usually be loaded with the new 9mm M1153 Special Purpose ammunition, which is related to Winchester’s famous T-Series line of jacketed hollow point ammunition. The ammunition expands in the target, producing an estimated 25% more effective wound, according to Army officials.

    The decision was announced as the members of the 101st Airborne received their first M17 and M18 handguns, the first of the new MHS weapons to be fielded in the Army. The ceremony, attended by Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley and Senator Tom Cotton, saw the turnover of roughly 25 pistols to members of the 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, out of 2,000 pistols that have already been delivered. Deliveries of the new handguns are expected to continue into next 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]