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101st Begins Fielding of XM17 Modular Handgun System

Late last week, the US Army’s 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, received the first of over 2000 new XM17 Modular Handgun Systems, making them the First Unit Equipped with this capability. Division commander, MG Andrew P. Poppas commented, “this is another 101st, first.” MHS consists of the XM17 and XM18 compact pistols as well as XM1152 Ball and M1153 Jacketed Hollow Point (Special Purpose) ammunition.

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To learn about this initial fielding, which occurred just 10 months after contract award, I was invited to Program Executive Officer Soldier at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. On hand was LTC Steven Power, Product Manager Individual Weapons, Project Manager Soldier Weapons, located at Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey.

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Mr Daryl Easlick of the Maneuver Center of Excellence Lethality Branch discussed the history of the MHS requirement which dates back to 2008 as an Air Force requirement for a Non-Developmental Item handgun. The Army adopted responsibility for the M9 handgun replacement because of life cycle concerns. They also wanted improvements in ergonomics, safety, and integration of accessories via a rail along with integrated night sights. All of these improvements would have been extremely difficult to make happen with the M9 platform. The answer was a new pistol which coalesced as the Modular Handgun System requirement.

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Mr Tom Taylor and Steve Rose of M17 manufacturer, SIG SAUER, were also on hand to provide supporting information. The MHS is manufactured in their factories in New Hampshire. They’ve teamed with Winchester is the largest provider of small caliber ammunition to the US Government. Despite the open caliber nature of the MHS solicitation, MHS is a 9mm weapon, which falls in line with FBI studies. Winchester’s Mr Glen Weeks says that the new ammunition is 25% more lethal than previous ammo. The so-called Special Purpose round is a Jacketed Hollow Point, based on already available ammunition and features a 147 grain projectile. The ball ammo offers a 115 grain projectile.

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Above, you see a Safariland holster which is a component of MHS. It offers several mounting options and is commercially available. However, it’s important to note that this is an interim solution which will be fielded with all of the Low Rate Initial Production MHS, which is limited to just 10 percent of the total procurement. According to Ms Sequena Robinson, Product Officer, Product Manager Soldier Clothing and Individual Equipment, at PEO Soldier, they should have fininshed source selection on a new holster system to support MHS by the time it moves to Full Material Release. PM SCIE, has worked closely with PM SW to offer the holster component of the MHS.

LTC Power was reticent to discuss the full fielding schedule. Not because of delays. To the contrary, the Army is looking at ways to speed up the fielding. Not just this program, but across the board. In fact, MHS was sped up by 18 months. In just 10 months, Both Army and SIG got a lot done. SIG had to produce pistols in the exact configuration the Army planned to purchase and two iterations of testing, all before an actual purchase contract was awarded. Then, they required additional testing of production guns which had to be produced in a new secure area in their factory. Winchester had to accomplish the same things for the new ammunition as well.

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SFC Andrew Flynn serves as the 101st Division Master Gunner. He is responsible for the Division’s small arms and in particular the roll out of MHS. His comments on the pistol were that it is an “excellent weapon. Soldiers will be able to transition to it with no trouble.” LTC Power also mentioned that the consistent trigger pull of the MHS aids in familiarity and decreases training time.

With fielding of MHS, Infantry team leaders and above will now wield dual weapon systems; both carbine and pistol. The concept is that, due to increased capability, the pistol is now an offensive weapon, day or night. 1LT Andrew Borer and CPL Jory Herrmann of C Co, 1st Bn, 506th Inf Regt, 1st BCT, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) were in the range during the initial fielding. Both were confident that MHS makes them more lethal. Interestingly, this significant Basis of Issue change was possible because of cost savings compared to the legacy M9 program.

According to Division Master Gunner SFC Flynn, they have identified a requirement to train its Soldiers who are dual armed, transition techniques. MCOE’s Mr Easlick commented that they are using lessons learned from SOF elements like the 75th Ranger Regt and Special Forces Groups. However, the Army’s intent is not to provide both pistol and carbine for all Soldiers. Mr Easlock mentioned that while every Soldier who closes with the enemy could benefit from a pistol and carbine, balancing training and resource requirements led them to this current course of action. However, the Army continually assesses its basis of issue for all equipment.

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The Soldiers of the 101st like the modularity aspects of the pistol. Particularly, the ability to change the grip. On the range some swapped their grips from the standard Medium version in order to be more comfortable and consequently, more lethal. However, based in glove sizes within the Army, most Soldiers will likely stick with the Medium grip.

LTC Power addressed questions regarding concerns over SIG’s civilian P320 firing when dropped. He said that the XM17 incorprates components which prevent that flaw and that the Army’s test protocols are more stringent than law enforcement testing. In fact, according to LTC Power, who witnessed Army testing, the XM17 did not exhibit this flaw at all.

Integration across program offices to support MHS has been excellent. It is a system and the Army plans to increase its capability. I’ve already mentioned the holster and ammo pouches coming out of PM SCIE. But the Army has an unfulfilled requirement to suppress MHS. Additionally, they are working through the Soldier Enhancement Program to field a Pistol Aiming Laser. Finally, MHS slides are pre-cut and feature mounting plates for red dot optics. This is an upgrade capability that hasn’t even been addressed yet.

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In addition to the 101st, other units on Ft Campbell, such as Criminal Investigation Division, are also fielding MHS. In the case of CID, it is the XM18 which features a smaller frame.

The next fielding of MHS is with 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade at Fort Benning, Georgia. Ultimately, the Army has a requirement to field over 238,000 MHS.

US Army photos by SGT Samantha Stoffregen, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) Public Affairs

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52 Responses to “101st Begins Fielding of XM17 Modular Handgun System”

  1. Adun says:

    Any idea why they are shooting with the rear thumb tucked and both thumbs so low that they stay below the slide? At first I thought it was just the first picture, but it looks like everyone is shooting that way.

    • Gerard says:

      I noticed that too. Thats not an efficient grip

    • Flutter Kicks from Hell says:

      They’re probably still teaching 20+ year old shooting methods. It seems their CATM cadre need some updating.

      I also still question the Army’s selection of this particular handgun. I wonder what kind of backroom palm-greasing went on to make this stick.

      I work at a LGS and of the dozen or so P320’s we’ve sold, about 30% came back with serious safety/function issues.

      I’m not saying the Army should have picked ______ gun. I’m saying they should have literally picked any of the other submissions.

      The Marine Corps seems a lot more pragmatic. They are switching to Glock 19’s (dubbed the M007) without spending millions of taxpayer money to simply go with what’s proven and works.

      • Seans says:

        The MHS SIG submission is different than the commercial P320. The major fix to the the 320s drop safety issues came from the MHS sigs.

      • Seans says:

        The MHS SIG submission is different than the commercial P320. The major fix to the the 320s drop safety issues came from the MHS sigs.

      • Tazman66gt says:

        The Marine Corps choice of the G19 was primarily for the plainclothes investigation group, not for general issue across all groups. The M17/18 is still meant for across the board use. Since there were basically only 2 submissions you ARE saying they should have chosen the Glock, even though their submission didn’t actually provide the full modularity that the request called for. It seems to me you are just another Glock fanboy trying to hide your lovefest by trying to act morally righteous. Not to mention the fact that the M17/18 submission isn’t the same as the commercial 320’s and the commercial 320’s have been updated to the M17/18 internals. But, keep trying, you might get someone to believe the crap you are spouting.

        • Flutter Kicks from Hell says:

          I would pose that “modularity” prescribed by the requirements was in regards to grip modularity, a requirement that both submissions fulfilled. If not, then how did the initial 6 submissions get whittled down to the Glock and Sig if the Glock didn’t meet the criteria?

          Have you read the MHS conclusions? It’s hilariously biased when comparing the submissions: the overall total contract, Glock’s Price, being “more expensive” than the Sig offer (which only covered the price of the compact costs).

          Also, looking “military drop test requirements,” have you looked at that criteria? 3 foot drop fall onto a 1″ rubber mat. Yeah, those sound like field conditions.

          And we’ll see how the Styer v. Sig lawsuit goes, considering the P320 blatantly violates the internalized chassis system the Styer L9/M9/C9/S9 series of pistols have patented. It’s funny since the Styer is an infinitely better pistol.

          That being said, and me not being a Glock fanboy, I would say the Steyr to be a far better pistol. Having shot the Steyr M9-A1, Beretta APX, the Sig P320, Glock, S&W M&P9, etc. I can say all the submissions shot better than the Sig. That’s just my opinion. Not worth even $0.02 as I’ve still to this day been paid for any of them.

          But if a few careers/bank accounts can be propped up by the US Army selecting a mediocre pistol via a multi-million dollar procurement process, by all means. Let them eat cake.

          Didn’t mean to trigger your immediate butt-hurt. There’s a cream for that.

          • Flutter Kicks from Hell says:

            No spellcheck for this: Should read as *Steyr*

          • Tony E says:

            Steyr will have an uphill battle with their patent infringement lawsuit considering its being applied to both the the P320 and the P250. The latter being out for much longer than the P320.

          • Tony E says:

            Glock only submitted and correct me if I’m wrong a G19/G17 hybrid handgun and a G22/G23 hybrid. Two guns with a compact slide assembly with a full size grip.

    • straps says:

      “If you let joe put his thumbs anywhere near that slide, joe will mangle his thumbs in the slide and will sustain an injury that will require an LODD, creation of a specialized PT program NOT requiring the use of the thumbs (or some sort of documentation that allows joe 3-4 days to recover), a 15-6, relief of every commander in joe’s chain of command, and cancellation of the pistol program. The only solution is to induce a training scar that prevents effective follow through.”

    • JP says:

      Same question. I don’t like being keyboard commando but here I am.

    • Ex11A says:

      Have you never fired a SIG? On the old 226/8/9 line the slide release and decocker were protected by a big “hump” that kept your hand from going above it. Looks like the M17 has a similar effect with the add-on safety and slide release.

  2. AC says:

    As soon as I saw the pics, I knew someone would comment on that.

  3. shirocco says:

    Looking better than Beretta… still not Glock (steel mags etc.).
    Btw. those soldiers need to work on their grip.

  4. MED says:

    I like sigs, but I still can’t believe they didn’t choose glock.

  5. some other joe says:

    …..

    So much to unpack here, and no voice to do it in this forum.

  6. EzGoingKev says:

    Who is getting the 147g hollow point ammunition?

    • SSD says:

      It’s a special purpose ammo that is in the inventory and will be issued as needed.

    • some other joe says:

      Basically anyone deploying, once sufficient stocks (of both gun and gunfood) are in the inventory. M1153 is postured to be the primary go-to-war ammo.

    • EzGoingKev says:

      So we are no longer following the restrictions set by the Hague Convention?

      • some other joe says:

        It’s special purpose, not a JHP. Totally….

        On a serious note, that is what was briefed on Monday, when about half of these pictures were taken. SP for war, ball for training. “Like cops do.”

      • Seans says:

        We haven’t really been worried about the Hague in regards to ammo for a long time now.

    • DSM says:

      Our on-duty guys have been carrying JHP in garrison for years, Mk243 if memory serves me correctly. But overseas it’s always been ball. I don’t doubt what soldiers getting the equipment are being told, after all they were there being told it, but I’d like to see the final read on what the plan is there.

    • ArmyAmmoGuy says:

      the XM1153 will be a conditional release. Small quantities will go out to certain commands up until the get-well date

  7. Jon Demler says:

    THE ARMY DOES NOT KILL PEOPLE WITH PISTOLS!!! Sorry for the outburst but I have read so many posts about pistols and the Conventional Army. I will try to put things into a very broad frame to highlight the simple fact that handguns do not matter in the big Army.

    In conventional operations (not swoopie things) Infantry Soldiers are usually tasked with missions that contact enemy forces. An Infantry Soldier does not spend much time on shooting a pistol- nor should they. The only actual Soldiers in an Infantry Line Platoon that are even MTOE’d them are the machine gunners and guess what? They should be working in a crew to employ their guns, machine guns not handguns. Nobody else has a care about a pistol because they have rifles, squad-automatic rifles, 40mm systems and shoulder-launched rockets. Oh and don’t forget javelins. Going up from there an Infantry Line Platoon may have access to .50s and Mk-19s. On top of all that, it’s most likely that if you’re somewhere fairly bad you can utilize some sort of indirect fire, hopefully at least 60mm mortars, but there are also 81s, 120s, perhaps your weapons company has a TOW around, and then maybe you’ve got support from FA in the form of 105s, 155s or HIMARS. Just to top it off there could be rotor or fixed-wing support also.

    Now I’m sure that this being the internet people want to “well my buddy said…” and “my Company did…” my above statement but again I’m trying to generalize and the bottom line remains the same. I have only known a few people that have used their M9 in combat and even less that have used it to actually defeat an enemy. There are other applications where pistols are used by non-Infantry units in non-Infantry roles but they are not resulting in EKIA.

    If the Army wants to give Soldiers new pistols, then give them new pistols because it doesn’t matter a whole lot.

    • Stu says:

      Shhh. We’re on a roll here. We went from an obscene level of focus on combatives to, now a new handgun.

      At the rate we’re going we might get a new rifle/carbine to replace the M16/M4.

      In the next 5 to 10 years. Which is fast if you know how the system and process really works.

    • John says:

      I see this mainly being used for guardian angels on a fob with questionable allies.

  8. J says:

    It is the Winchester 9mm ammunition being produced for the M17 pistol, not Remington ammunition that is indicated in this article.

  9. Kango says:

    At least they didnt go with the Serpa holster.

  10. Joe says:

    I seem to remember this guy named Ash Hess and some other guys writing a manual for this handgun that if read, taught, and reinforced might have saved Big Green from this bad PR photo op.

  11. pbr549 says:

    I’m surprised the Soldiers aren’t wearing the ACH.

  12. Joe says:

    The M18 is wasteful, 0.8 inch shorter barrel and no correspondingly shorter grip does not a compact make. Barrel length doesn’t affect concealability, so… why?

    • lcso264 says:

      because it sounded like a good idea to a pencil pusher somewhere, or was your question rhetorical ?

    • PNWTO says:

      Because some Army Officers are eagerly awaiting their cushy “retirement” jobs at Sig.

    • Tony E says:

      The grip modules for both MHS pistols are the “carry” model frames my guses is the Army only wanted one grip module size for both pistols if they truly went for the full size frame the rail would go the full length of the slide assembly.

  13. Marcus says:

    Is Regiment getting the MHS?

    • SSD says:

      Yes, all SOF.

      • Marcus says:

        Thanks. Did we have any SOF involved with the solicitation and evaluation, or will their first encounter be when it’s delivered?

        • SSD says:

          This pistol was adopted as a service common item. USASOC had input in the requirement, as they do any every Army requiremen. however, they did not run the acquisition, Furthermore, SOF did not participate in test and evaluation of MHS.

  14. SN says:

    I lol’d at the reason given for transferring the program to the Army.

    The Army had a hissy fit when they foind out the AF was running a weapons evaluation and had Congress terminate the AF program.

  15. Garcia says:

    I was a bit surprised that the Army chose to continue fielding pistols at all.

    I recall discussions concerning the replacement of the M9, included 3remarks that the Army was looking for a significant increase in lethality. In consideration of just how poorly ne 8arly all Soldiers fire pistols, and the terminal ballistic limitations of the 9mm cartridge, I suspected that the Army might field a weapon system like the MP7 and it’s 4.6mm cartridge.

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