PoW: So You Want A New Platform? That’ll Be $580M, and 3 Years Behind The Times… | Vol. 4 / No. 14.3

The SIG Sauer P320 | Photo: Rouven74, CC BY-SA 4.0

In which our very own Prudence of Wyoming discusses the pros and cons (mostly pros) of the new half-billion-dollar contract for the US Army’s new sidearm.

The US Army is getting a new handgun platform, and gun nerds (yes, we’re a Thing) are excited. The P320 chambered in 9 x 19mm1 Parabellum was introduced in the North American market on January 15, 2014, and the Army has finally jumped through the hoops to acquire a weapon that can be fitted to the person actually using it. Meaning, the weapons can quickly have their frames changed out to smaller or larger sizes to best fit the hands of the servicemember they are assigned to, for more precise shooting. And in the world of lead things going very fast, precision is key.

The previous service pistol, the Beretta M9 has been the standard issue pistol since 1985, or as long as my oldest lil sibling has been on this Earth, when it replaced the .45 caliber 1911 single-action pistol.

Some say the 9mm doesn’t have the stopping power needed,2  some counter that argument with the fact that the rifle rounds the Army, Navy, Air Force, NATO, Marines… well, everyone, really, uses (the .223/5.56 NATO — which some of you may recognize as being 22 caliber) are smaller than 9mm anyways, and again, unless it’s dropping from a plane, it’s not a death ray no matter what caliber it is anyhow. Either way, while the main issued device will be 9mm, the P320 can easily (read, by a trained Grunt, that doesn’t even have to be an armorer or gunsmith) can have the barrel and guts swapped to change caliber in the field, as needed. Finally,3 we have a winner in the competition to produce the next one, which will hopefully see the US through the next 20-odd years.

Other big improvements:

(Seriously, you have to PULL THE FRIGGING TRIGGER to get the inner works to move in many pistols in order to take it apart to clean it. Reason # I’ve lost count why I’m driving the Party Bus to Hel because this amuses me in a very dark way: Idiot shoots himself while cleaning gun) Why is this a big deal? Well, none of that shooting yourself while cleaning the gun nonsense (sleep deprivation is a Very Big, Very Normal THING in the military) and easier breakdown = more cleaning = longer lifespan and less failure.

Lefties don’t just die sooner than Righties, they often have to just put up with right-handed weapons, leading to less accuracy. Or, ya know, you might be pinned down in a firefight, and your offside hand is the only one you can use at the moment, no bigs.

Doesn’t take a genius to know that a loaded chamber is dangerous if you’re expecting it to not be, but from the outside, it’s damn difficult for noobs to know how to tell (and even for pros- it’s a very subtle notch, not usually colored differently, that sticks out a tiny bit more on the typical pistol, and not really good at being a visual cue).

“What does that even mean??!!” you say? Well, less dirt gets in through the opening where the trigger comes out of the housing, meaning less dirt gunking up your werkz, less jams, and less wear-and-tear overall as your pistol operates without being ground down from the inside.

“You’re still speaking gibberish!!” you shout?! It’s just a common name for a standardized rail to mount stuff- lasers and lights in the case of the under the barrel rails- so you can adapt the weapon to less-than-funsies situations.

While I can ramble on about the dead-smooth-as-silk operation of Sigs in general, and can’t quite convey to you, the non-gun nerd, how nice it is to see the military acquiring something NOT laboriously over-designed and re-invented just for the military — let’s just leave it at this: the whole Army MHS program was designed to let the weapon save money, by making a standardized platform that can be adapted, easily, to each user, and with add-ons that haven’t even been designed yet. (it’s almost like the “modular” portion of Modular Handgun System MEANT something!)



1. Proving the US is ACTUALLY pretty OK with the whole metric thing.

2. Rabbit Hole.

3. Army Chief of Staff Milley criticized the lengthy testing process for MHS that’s slated to cost $17 million. “The testing — I got a briefing the other day — the testing for this pistol is two years,” Milley said. “Two years to test technology that we know exists. You give me $17 million on the credit card, I’ll call Cabela’s tonight, and I’ll outfit every Soldier, Sailor, Airman, and Marine with a pistol and I’ll get a discount on it for bulk buys.”

Back to top.


Prudence Wyoming is an irregular contributor to This Week In Tomorrow.


Thanks for reading! Except for the very *very* occasional tip (we take Venmo now!), we only get paid in our own (and your) enthusiasm, so please like This Week In Tomorrow on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @TWITomorrow, and tell your friends about the site!