Army's New Service Pistol Getting Rave Reviews at the Range

2nd Lt. Michael Preston fires an M17 pistol during a pistol qualification range, October 10, 2019. (U.S. Army/Pvt. Matthew Marcellus)
2nd Lt. Michael Preston fires an M17 pistol during a pistol qualification range, October 10, 2019. (U.S. Army/Pvt. Matthew Marcellus)

The Army's new Modular Handgun System (MHS) is creating a lot of excitement on the range, according to soldiers from the 1st Armored Division, who recently got the chance to shoot the service's new 9mm sidearm.

Since its adoption in 2017, the MHS, made by Sig Sauer, has begun to replace the Army's Cold War-era M9 9mm pistol, made by Beretta. Soldiers from the 1st AD's 1st Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team from Fort Bliss, Texas recently shot the new M17 MHS for the first time.

First Lt. Shannon Martin, an armor officer assigned to 1-67, noticed the enthusiasm soldiers showed during the recent training day at the range.

"I think having a new weapons system has sprouted interest," Martin said in a recent Army news release. "We have soldiers who say 'cool, I'm so excited to go and shoot these,' so it creates more interest in qualifying with a handgun."

Martin said she first saw the M17 during a deployment to Korea.

"We saw the M17 and we were all excited to get our hands on them, train with them and to see what's different about them," she said.

This summer, the Army approved the MHS for Full Material Release, a program milestone that certifies that the new pistol meets all of the service's performance requirements.

The full-size M17 has a striker-fired operating system and has 17-round magazine capacity compared to the M9's 15 round capacity. The MHS also consists of a compact M18 pistol which will replace the service's M11 pistol.

Most soldiers, however, will be issued the M17, Army officials have said.

Both models of the MHS have an ambidextrous external safety, self-illuminating tritium sights for shooting in low-light conditions, and a rail for attaching accessories such as weapon lights. The primary service round for the MHS will be the new M1153 9mm special purpose cartridge, a 147-grain, jacketed hollow point for improved terminal performance.

"It feels a lot smoother and a lot lighter than the M9," 2nd Lt. Michael Preston said in the release. "I feel like the transition to the M17 will benefit us greatly in combat. Just from being out here today I was able to shoot well and notice that it felt lighter."

The M17 is slightly lighter than the current M9, but soldiers said they are happy about any weight savings, according to the release.

"When we climb out of our tanks, less weight is good," Martin said in the release. "Every ounce that you shave off the equipment is less weight for soldiers to carry. So, for those infantrymen who are rucking miles at a time, it is good for them to have less weight that they're carrying so that they can focus on staying fit for the fight and being ready to go."

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at

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