US Navy & Air Force Order the XM18 Compact MHS

Matthew Moss
by Matthew Moss

The US Navy and Air Force have confirmed their adoption of the compact variant of the US Army’s new pistol, the Modular Handgun System.

Last month the US Navy confirmed the procurement of 60,000 XM18 MHS pistols, the compact variant of the SIG pistol. The Navy will replace its Beretta M9s and SIG Sauer M11 pistols with the new sidearm. Navy spokesman Ben Anderson confirmed to that the “money has been allocated for contracting this year, with delivery to the Navy to commence in FY19.”

At the same time the US Air Force has also confirmed that it will adopt the XM17 / XM18 Modular Handgun System to replace its existing inventory of ageing Beretta M9 pistols. An Air Force spokesperson, Laura McAndrews explained that the Air Force has “started the procurement process and plan to buy approximately 130,000 weapons.”

SIG Sauer Compact M18 (SIG Sauer)

Both the Navy and the Air Force were joint partners in the Army’s Modular Handgun System Program and had input into the evaluations. McAndrews explained that “as a joint partner in this endeavor, we determined the [X]M18 MHS, the compact version, will best meet the Air Force mission needs, and selected it as the standard handgun for all Air Force users.”

This means that both services will be procuring the M18 compact variant of the Modular Handgun System rather than the Army’s full size M17. The M18 has a shorter slide and a 3.9” or 9.9 cm long barrel and, like the M17 can feed from 17-round standard magazines or 21-round extended magazines.

The last service to confirm its adoption of the Modular Handgun System was the USMC who recent confirmed that they have budgeted over $6 million for 35,000 Modular Handgun System pistols. The Marine Corps, however, have not yet confirmed if they, like the Navy and Air Force will prefer the smaller, more compact M18.

Sources: 1 2

Matthew Moss
Matthew Moss

Managing Editor: & Overt Matt is a British historian specialising in small arms development and military history. He has written several books and for a variety of publications in both the US and UK. Matt is also runs The Armourer's Bench, a video series on historically significant small arms. Here on TFB he covers product and current military small arms news. Reach Matt at:

More by Matthew Moss

Join the conversation
3 of 43 comments