The Marines Go Compact – USMC Begin Issuing MHS M18

Matthew Moss
by Matthew Moss
A Marine from the Weapons Training Battalion, running the new M18 through its paces at the range (Cpl. Nathan Hall/USMC)

The US Marine Corps has confirmed to TFB that the Corps will be procuring only the M18 compact variant of the Modular Handgun System. Back in March 2018, the USMC confirmed that they would be procuring the SIG Sauer Modular Handgun System and while it was stated that 35,000 MHS pistols would be purchased they did not stipulate which of the two pistols they would be issuing. The Marine Corps followed the USAF, who also recently began fielding the new M18.

SIG Sauer’s MHS Compact pistol, the M18 (SIG Sauer)

The Corps has now begun to issue the new pistols. From the 2020 USMC Budget Justification Book we know that 32,832 pistols are to be procured over the next two years, 20,648 during 2019 and a further 12,184 in 2020, at a cost of $175.50 per pistol. The total cost of the procurement will be $5.76 million.

The Budget Justification Book briefly describes the USMC’s plans for the MHS:

The Modular Handgun System will be purchased to replace the legacy M9, M9A1, M45A1, and M007 pistols with a more affordable and efficient pistol for maintenance. The MHS also provides modularity and greater shooter ergonomics over the current models which will allow for more accurate fire for military personnel of different sizes.

Col. Hall of the Weapons Training Battalion points out the M18's ambidextrous features (Cpl. Nathan Hall/USMC)

Brigadier General Joseph Shrader, the commander of Marine Corps Systems Command, explained the Corps’ choice of the MHS last year, saying:

In a lot of our decisions, one of the things that really factors into the calculus very strongly is, what’s the Army doing, and does it make sense for the Marine Corps to go that way with them. Or are there enough compelling reasons — operational, business, all those things we look at — that we stay our own path.

Shrader went on to note that the USMC was looking at the compact M18 but pure fleeting with the M18 had not been confirmed. The decision has now been made and the Weapons Training Battalion at Quantico began receiving the new pistols this Spring. The Marine Corps shared a video showing the new pistol in action, with the Weapons Training Battalion’s commanding officer Col. Howard Hall talking about the pistol. Col. Hall hails the gun’s major feature as its modularity, saying it gives the USMC the “ability to fit the gun to the shooter rather than forcing the shooter to fit the gun.”

Check out the video below:

The USAF is currently rolling out the M18 to its security force squadrons and the US Navy is also set to procure the MHS. The M18 will be a one-for-one replacement of the current Beretta M9 and Marines will begin to be issued the M18 in 2020 with the roll out due to be completed by late 2023.


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:

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  • Cmhjeepster Cmhjeepster on May 17, 2019

    Duh, there's the P320 (fullsize m17) and the P320 compact (m18) the only diff might be their color. Sig is offering the clone of the military version also.

  • Paul Hacker Paul Hacker on May 17, 2019

    Well folks.... get a grip. It is still just a 9mm. Shoots the same 9mm as the M9, Glock, HK, etc... Holds just about the same ammo and weights just about the same. Big deal.

    I find it very hard to get excited about new 9mm and 5.56 basic weapons fielded today. None are game changers. There is no great leap forward.