USAF Continues Security Forces Roll-out of the M18 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)

    Back in March, we reported that the Air Force Security Forces Center had received its first Modular Handgun System compact M18 pistols. Now the first USAF Security Force Squadrons are receiving their first pistols with the 673d SFS, based at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska, receiving new M18s.

    Captain Dane Johnson, the 673d SFS’ logistics officer said:

    Our unit is transitioning to the M18 as part of the RDI, a career-field approach to improving mission effectiveness over the next few years. The initiative seeks to increase the lethality, and modernize the weapon systems and capabilities of security personnel.

    The USAF’s 2020 Budget Justification Book states that between 2018 to 2020, 131,200 pistols will be purchased replacing all of the Air Force’s M9s, M11s and Glock 19s currently in inventory. This is projected to cost just under $25 million. The Justification Books describes the MHS programme as:

    a DoD, non-developmental, COTS, full & open competition for a new DoD handgun to replace all M9s, M11s and Glock-19s in the inventory. The M17 and M18 are 9mm, lightweight, striker-fired semi-automatic pistols. USAF A4 has decided that the M18 will be the only version used.

    Interestingly, the Air Force is also budgeting for a total of 250 General Officer’s Handguns, which we are yet to see but is based on the M18, at a total cost of $5,800. The new General Officer’s Handgun will replace the S&W Model 15 revolver which is used by Military Working Dog trainers.

    Captain Johnson, at 673d SFS, added that the new pistol’s ergonomics are a big improvement:

    The biggest benefit of the weapon is the customizable handgrips, which allow the shooter to choose a small, medium or large handgrip. This option allows each individual shooter to achieve a steadier grip. The M18 also has a smoother trigger pull than the M9. All these factors will help increase the shooter’s acquisition of target and the accuracy of a shooter.

    A total of 2,000 M18s have been delivered to various Air Force bases around the US, including: Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, the Air Force Gunsmith Shop, Air Education and Training Command Combat Arms Apprentice Course at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, two regional training centers (Guam and Fort Bliss, Texas), Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, and F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming. All USAF security forces are expected to be re-equipped with the M18 by 2020, followed by the rest of the Air Force.

    Sources: 1 2

    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]