US Air Force Begins Issuing M18 Pistol

    USAF M18

    Tech. Sgt. Brady Craddock, Air Force Gunsmith Shop NCO in charge, fires an M18 handgun. The Air Force Security Forces Center, in partnership with the Air Force Small Arms Program Office, has begun fielding the new M18 Modular Handgun System to security forces units (U.S. Air Force photo by Vicki Stein)

    The US Air Force has begun to issue the new M18 Modular Handgun System to Air Force Security Forces. The new compact M18 will replace both the Beretta M9 and the older SIG Sauer M11A1 pistols with Air Force security personnel.

    Interestingly, the Air Force also noted that the M18 will also replace the last of the Air Force’s .38 Special Smith & Wesson Model 15 revolvers which are still used during training of the USAF’s military working dogs. Staff Sgt. Richard Maner, the NCO in charge of the 37th Training Support Squadron’s armoury at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, after testing the new pistol said:

    This is going to help shooters with smaller hands. It also has a much smoother trigger pull, leading to a more accurate, lethal shooter. The M18 is a smaller platform weapon, but it gives the shooter more capabilities over the bulkier, larger M9 pistol.

    USAF M18

    The Air Force Security Forces Center, in partnership with the Air Force Small Arms Program Office, has begun fielding the new M18 Modular Handgun System to Security Forces units (U.S. Air Force photo by Vicki Stein)

    Similarly, Master Sgt. Casey Ouellette, 341st Military Working Dog Flight Chief JB San Antonio-Lackland, said:

    The M18 is a leap forward in the right direction for modernizing such a critical piece of personal defense and feels great in the hand. It reinforces the muscle memory instilled through consistent shooting. It’s more accurate and, with a great set of night sights and with their high profile, follow-up shots have become easier than ever before.

    Here’s a video introducing the M18 put together by the USAF:

    Master Sgt. Shaun Ferguson, AFSFC Small Arms and Light Weapons Requirements program manager, said:

    Once all security forces units have been supplied the new weapon, we will supply special warfare Airmen, Guardian Angel/(pararescue) communities, OSI and other high-level users, aircrew communities and other installation personnel will be issued the handgun as well based on requirements.

    The issue to USAF security force personnel comes as part of the USAF’s Reconstitute Defender Initiative which seeks to increase the lethality and capability of the Air Force’s security personnel. To date, more than 2,000 of the new M18 pistols have been delivered to Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, regional training centers at Guam and Fort Bliss, Texas, Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, and F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming. They are now being issued to Air Force security force personnel. It is expected that security personnel will be equipped with the M18 by 2020 with the rest of the Air Force following.


    Matthew Moss

    Matthew Moss – Assistant Editor.

    Matt is a British historian specialising in small arms development and military history. He has written for a variety of publications in both the US and UK he also runs, a blog that explores the history, development and use of firearms. Matt is also co-founder of, a new video series on historically significant small arms.

    Reach Matt at: [email protected]