The Army is getting a new handgun – and the Marines may follow suit, even if it takes a while.
The Army announced on Jan. 19 that it has selected Sig Sauer's P320 version of the Modular Handgun System and the new sidearm will replace the M9 Beretta, the Army's pistol of choice for more than 30 years.
Historically the Marine Corps has followed the Army's lead on key weapons and infantry gear items. For example, after the Army adopted the M4 carbine, the Corps did the same in 2015 to replace the M16 rifle for infantry battalions.
Barbara Hamby, a spokeswoman for Marine Corps Systems Command, told Marine Corps Times that the Marines will stick with the M9 Beretta for the foreseeable future.
"That said," she added, "the Marine Corps is collaborating with the Army to shape the modular handgun requirements."
The bureaucracy of purchasing new weapons is notoriously slow – the Army’s search took more than five years. And the Corps has not officially begun the process.
"The Marine Corps currently has no active requirement to move to the modular handgun system, Hamby said on Jan. 20.
Sig Sauer beat out Smith & Wesson, Beretta and Glock for the Army contract worth up to $580 million, which includes firearms, accessories and ammunition.
Details of the new gun include:
- The P320, released by Sig Sauer in 2014, is a polymer striker-fired pistol, according to a statement from the gunmaker.
- The P320 is the first modular pistol with interchangeable grip modules that can also be adjusted in frame size and caliber by the user. It can be adapted to shoot 9mm, .357 SIG and .40 S&W ammunition, according to Sig Sauer.
- Although neither the Army nor Sig Sauer announced which caliber the Army chose, media reports say the Army chose the 9mm version.
- The Army is buying both the full-size and compact P320.
- All pistols will be configurable to receive silencers. They also will have standard and extended capacity magazines.
- Soldiers should start getting the new handguns this year, with all of the contract’s weapons delivered over a period of 10 years.
- The gun boasts a stainless steel frame that allows users to "change caliber, size and fit at will," according to promotional material from Sig Sauer. It also has a "cleaner, crisper trigger reset, safe takedown and unprecedented modularity," the company said.
- The pistols will be produced at Sig Sauer facilities in New Hampshire, the company said.
Staff writer Meghann Myers contributed to this report.