Marines and sailors will take part in the current testing of the new Army handgun while one of the top small arms experts for the Corps is looking to adopt a compact version of the sidearm for certain Marine billets.

The XM17, or Sig Sauer P320 as it's known among civilian circles, was picked by the Army to replace the M9 handgun this year.

Soldiers at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, began recent tests of the weapon with cold weather gear and alongside M4 firing tests, according to Army officials.

The U.S. Army Operational Test Command release did not specify which Marine or Navy units would participate in handgun testing.

Chief Warrant Officer 5 Christian Wade, the small arms expert for 2nd Marine Division in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, recently told Marine Corps Times that while he hasn’t been able to test the XM17, he did purchase the civilian variant to get a feel for the weapon.

The Marine Corps Combat Development Command has previously stated that it will partner with the Army to purchase and field the XM18, a compact version of the XM17.

Gunner Wade said that Marines will soon conduct a service review to determine which Marine positions need the new compact variety.

“We prefer our pistol be as compact as possible without loss of capability ... after all, it’s a pistol,” Wade said. “As soon as the U.S. Army is ready to sell them to us, we will begin this program.”

Wade is already working on a requirement for a concealed carry handgun using the Glock 19M, a variant of a handgun already used by some Marines.

The gunner recently posted an online video as part of his “Fact or Fiction” series to dispel rumors about reliability of both the M9, the service sidearm used by soldiers and Marines for three decades, and the Glock 19.

In the video, he rapid fires through three magazines with both weapons without either jamming.

In May, Chris Woodburn, deputy at the Maneuver Branch of Marine Corps Capabilities Development Directorate, outlined small arms modernization plans for the Marine Corps at an annual arms conference.

During the presentation, he noted that the Marine Corps was participating in the Modular Handgun System source selection program with the Army to better inform its own replacement of the current service pistols by the early 2020s.

A chart used in the presentation shows the M9 Beretta and Colt M45A1 timelines running until 2025, overlapping with the XM17 MHS from 2023 to 2025. The MHS timeline extends until 2035.

Todd South has written about crime, courts, government and the military for multiple publications since 2004 and was named a 2014 Pulitzer finalist for a co-written project on witness intimidation. Todd is a Marine veteran of the Iraq War.

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