U.S. Army weapons officials plan to issue the service’s new XM17 Modular Handgun System to three units by the end of the year.
The 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky is scheduled to begin receiving 2,000 9mm XM17s in November, according to an Army press release.
The 3rd Cavalry Regiment at Fort Hood, Texas, as well as one of the Army's new security force assistance brigades are also scheduled to receive the MHS by the end of 2017, Brig. Gen. Brian Cummings, commander of Program Executive Officer Soldier at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, said in the press release.
The Army awarded Sig Sauer a contract worth up to $580 million Jan. 19. Sig Sauer beat out Glock Inc., FN America and Beretta USA, maker of the current M9 9mm service pistol, in the competition for the Modular Handgun System, or MHS, program.
The 10-year agreement calls for Sig to supply the Army with full-size XM17 and compact XM18 versions of its 9mm pistol. The pistols can be outfitted with suppressors and accommodate standard and extended-capacity magazines.
The service launched its long-awaited XM17 Modular Handgun System competition in late August 2015 to replace its Cold War-era M9 9mm pistol. The decision formally ended the Beretta’s 30-year hold on the Army’s sidearm market.
The current plan is for the Army to buy 195,000 MHS pistols.
Other services also have embraced the MHS. The Air Force is scheduled to buy 130,000, the Navy plans to buy 61,000 and the Marine Corps plans to buy 35,000 MHS models.
Cummings also said that the new pistol may see more action than its predecessor, the M9, which was primarily issued as a personal protection weapon. The M17 and M18, Cummings said, have also proven good for close-quarters combat, and so might be issued to some units and soldiers to fill that role as well.
"We're looking at more than the traditional basis of issue, where we are doing a one-for-one replacement," Cummings said.