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Archive for the ‘PEO-Soldier’ Category

US Army Releases Draft Next Generation Squad Weapons Requirement

Thursday, October 4th, 2018

Earlier today, Project Manager Soldier Weapons, issued a DRAFT Prototype Opportunity Notice (PON) for Next Generation Squad Weapons (NGSW) in order to seek Industry questions and comments to assist in shaping the NGSW program strategy to rapidly develop and deliver prototype weapons and ammunition. Their intent is to engage Industry early in order to provide the best materiel solution for the NGSW program. Additionally, the Government intends to hold an Industry Day to provide program overview, clarification, and address questions.

While related to the ongoing Next Generation Squad Automatic Rifle Prototype Opportunity, the new NSGW program consists of two weapons, the Next Generation Squad Weapon-Rifle (NGSW-R) and the Next Generation Squad Weapon-Automatic Rifle (NGSW-AR). The NGSW-R is the planned replacement for the M4/M4A1 Carbine and the NGSW-AR is the planned replacement for the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) in the Automatic Rifleman Role in Brigade Combat Teams (BCT).


The current NSGAR PON is funded and includes AAI Textron System, FN America (with two entries), General Dynamics-OTS Inc, PCP Tactical, LLC, and SIG SAUER Inc. I expect it will continue through the end of the contract as the government has learned much from that effort and it shows in this latest notice.

Additionally, offerors must develop two different ammunition cartridges utilizing government specified 6.8mm projectiles.

* General Purpose (GP) per Drawing titled “6.8MM GENERAL PURPOSE (GP)”. The GP cartridge provides all-purpose solutions for combat, limited training, and basic qualification.
* Surrogate per Drawing 13072652. The surrogate cartridge is designed to mimic the behavior of combat projectiles from a weapon design standpoint. Surrogate projectiles may not be completely representative of the final combat ammunition configuration which are expected to vary during development. Surrogates are intended to be a close replacement shape of the final combat rounds.

This is not the 6.8 SPC cartridge evaluated by SOCOM in the mid-00s and available commercially. The only thing this has in common, is caliber. The Army desires increased range and lethality with lighter weight. However, specifics remain classified and only available to companies actually participating in the program.

The Army plans to award three companies OTAs and for each prototype OTA include 50 NGSW-R weapons, 50 NGSW-AR weapons, 850,000 rounds of ammunition, spare parts, test barrels, tools/gauges/accessories, and engineering support as defined in the Statement of Work.

The Army has also issued some basic parameters they are seeking.
The NGSW-R and the NGSW-AR prototypes shall:
a. allow for ambidextrous operation and controls;
b. include a removable flash hider, suppressor, and a tool for removal after firing or for maintenance;
?c. include a tactical carrying sling with quick release attachments;
d. include selection positions for Safe, Semi-Automatic Firing, and Automatic Firing modes;
e. be resistant to corrosion, abrasion, impact and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense (CBRNE) contaminants, decontaminants, battlefield-chemicals, electromagnetic pulse and cyber-attacks;
f. reduce visual detection via a neutral non-reflective, non-black color not lighter than Light Coyote 481 and not darker than Coyote 499;
g. function in all environments and weather conditions, including marine, high ?humidity, rain, and desert conditions; ?h. be compatible with combat clothing (including body armor and Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment), CBRNE, wet weather, and cold weather gear;
i. provide interchangeable magazines between both weapons if NGSW-AR utilizes a ?magazine; and
j. include MIL-STD-1913 equivalent rails capable of mounting Rifle Combat Optic, ?Close Combat Optic, Aiming Laser, Family of Weapon Sights–Individual, Squad-Fire Control and other legacy enablers.

Interestingly, unlike the current NSGAR PON, there is no fire control component associated with this latest effort. I feel this is a much better strategy which will allow industry to develop a best of class fire control system once the ammunition and weapon are worked out.

According to the Draft Notice, the period of performance for each prototype Other Transactional Authority is estimated to be up to 27 months, but I expect they will be conducted concurrently. Following successful completion of this OTA, the Government intends to award a follow-on production contract. The follow-on production contract is anticipated to be a Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) based contract without further competition but the Government reserves the right to award a follow-on production OTA without further competition.

Also, there won’t be any vaporware when the Army opens this PON up. Offerors will be required to submit prototypes of both weapons along with their proposal.

I find this overall strategy sound as it allows for the concurrent development of ammunition, carbine and automatic weapon with all three ready at about the same time. The Army hasn’t seen such a potential sweeping change to weapons systems since the fielding of the M1 Abrams Tank and M2/3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle in the 1980s. Then too, the Army simultaneously replaced major weapon system, ammunition and fire control. While there were certainly unforeseen challenges all across DOTMLPF solution space, that sweeping change made the Army both more lethal, and more efficient. Hopefully, the Army’s leadership fully comprehends the changes they are working to unleash.

Data rights are going to be a big deal for this program. The government wants to not only select a weapon but then also have full rights to the Technical Data Package, even owning it outright. Unfortunately, that isn’t how companies make money. It costs a great deal for industry to develop technologies. They make it up by actually manufacturing the technology over time. Hopefully, the government and developer of the best system will be able to work out an agreement favorable for both parties.

The DRAFT NGSW PON is subject to change based on feedback received. The Government requests that all questions and comments are provided to ACC-NJ by December 7, 2018.

For full details, visit

US Army Announces Intent To Award 3 Additional Sole Source Contracts For Sub Compact Weapons

Saturday, June 16th, 2018

Last month, Project Manager – Soldier Weapons (PM-SW) queried industry about commercially available off-the-shelf (COTS) Sub Compact Weapons (SCW) In 9mm. The SCW is a highly concealable sub compact weapon system capable of engaging threat personnel with a high volume of lethal and accurate fires at close range with minimal collateral damage. An SCW includes but is not limited to functional weapon, magazines, cleaning kits, suppressors, specialized tool kit (if required), spare parts, slings, carrying cases, manuals.

Last week, they announced the intent to award firm fixed price sole source contracts to 10 companies. The weapons purchased will be evaluated to help inform current industry capabilities. What is learned will be used to create an SCW Capability Production Document for the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence, so that a solicitation may be crafted.

Currently, Personal Security Detail (PSD) made up primarily of Military Police, utilize pistols and M4 carbines. However, there is an operational need for additional concealability and lethality. Failure to provide the selected SCW for assessment and evaluation will leave PSD military personnel with a capability gap which can result in increased war fighter casualties and jeopardize the success of the U.S. mission.

On 15 June, PM Soldier Weapons stated it also intends to solicit and award sole source contracts to the following:

Award Number: W15QKN-18-P-0048
Awardee: Heckler and Koch Defense Inc for HK UMP9 Sub Compact Weapon
Amount: $10,850.00

Award Number: W15QKN-18-P-0049
Awardee: Angstadt Arms Corporation for Angstadt UDP-9 Sub Compact Weapon
Amount: $15,950.00

Award Number: W15QKN-18-P-0050
Awardee: Noveske Corporation for Noveske Sub Compact Weapon
Amount: $17,200.00

US Army To Begin Fielding Squad Designated Marksman Rifle In September

Sunday, June 10th, 2018

WASHINGTON — The new Squad Designated Marksman Rifle, or SDM-R, is scheduled to be fielded at the brigade level starting in September, according to the Program Executive Office Soldier.

The new SDM-R is based on the Heckler and Koch G28E-110 Compact Semi-Automatic Sniper System, or CSASS, and will provide infantry, scout, and engineer squads the capability to engage with accurate rifle fire at longer ranges, said Capt. Weston Goodrich, assistant program manager for Soldier Weapons, PEO Soldier.

The SDM-R improves lethality by increasing the effective range a force can engage with an enemy. The new rifle was on display in the Pentagon courtyard May 24-25, along with 50 other technologies designed to increase infantry squad lethality.

“The Army’s current rifle technology is most effective below the 300-meter range; however, Soldiers are fully capable of fighting beyond that threshold,” Goodrich said. Comparatively, snipers are typically used at 600 meters and beyond.

“The new rifle addresses the 300 to 600 meters range gap outlined in the 2015 U.S. Army Small Arms Capabilities-Based Assessment,” Goodrich said.

“The Army is working to equip each squad with a predetermined amount of marksman rifles,” he added. The rifle is capable of firing either M80A1 Enhanced Performance Rounds or XM1158 Advanced Armor Piercing Rounds.

The new rifle will be equipped with a different buttstock and barrel twist than the CSASS model and carries a base weight of about 9.9 pounds. The rifle will also be outfitted with the SIG Tango 6 variable 1×6 power scope.


In addition to the new squad rifle, the CSASS is slated to undergo production qualification testing and should be approved for limited user testing sometime in early 2019.

“The CSASS is smaller, lighter, and more ergonomic, as the majority of the changes were requested by the Soldiers themselves,” said Victor Yarosh, who works on the program at Soldier Weapons. “The rifle is easier to shoot and has less recoil, all while shooting the same round as the M110. [Additionally,] the CSASS has increased accuracy, which equates to higher hit percentages at longer ranges.”

As a replacement for the M110 — which is a longer, heavier, less ergonomic semi-automatic sniper rifle — the CSASS was developed to support snipers as they execute a broad spectrum of missions.

“An Army sniper is a kind of force enhancer because they execute a number of missions,” Yarosh said. “They provide a surveillance mission where they use their high-powered scope to observe activity downrange. A sniper can pin down an enemy force through sniper concealment and engagement to provide the right shots at the right time. They can also prevent an enemy force from moving out of cover, which allows our maneuver forces to exploit the enemy by moving into a better position and engage.”

The CSASS will feature a new suppressor and muzzle brake that allows for rapid successive follow-on shots with a reduced chance of detection. Furthermore, the new rifle will have higher power daytime optics, which will enhance a sniper’s surveillance capability and positive hostile identification at longer ranges.


The Army is also working on a replacement for conventional brass ammunition casings to help reduce the load on personnel and weapon platforms and improve mobility, according to Todd Townsend with PEO Ammunition.

“We’re currently working on drop-in replacement ammunition for the existing 7.62 family of weapons optimizing for the M240 family of machine guns,” Townsend said. “Ounces are pounds. So if we can take a pound out of a Soldier’s weight load, a Soldier could be more effective by carrying other important things.”

Currently, the program is evaluating three casing concepts and comparing them to the weight of brass ammunition. The first one is a stainless steel metal injection molded case. The second is a brass case with a polymer body. And the last is stainless steel with a polymer body, Townsend said.

PEO Ammunition is slated to launch into the testing phase sometime in the coming months. Portions of the test data from the new rounds will be sent back to the developers to help improve the product.

“We’re looking at doing a full-up qualification by fiscal year 2021. We are aiming for a fielding by FY22,” he said.

Program managers responsible for the new 7.62 ammunition program have partnered with the other services, including U.S. Special Operations Command, and forces in the United Kingdom.

“We’re looking at other calibers as well. One of them is 50-caliber round,” Townsend said. “We will continue to coordinate within all test areas to make sure that we don’t do redundant or unnecessary testing.

“The Joint Light Weight Integrated Product Team ensures that all the services are all working toward one common goal of lightening a load.”

By Devon L. Suits, US Army

US Army Intends To Award Sole Source Contracts To 10 Companies For Sub Compact Weapons

Saturday, June 9th, 2018

Last month, Project Manager (PM)- Soldier Weapons (SW) queried industry about commercially available off-the-shelf (COTS) Sub Compact Weapons (SCW). The SCW is a highly concealable sub compact weapon system capable of engaging threat personnel with a high volume of lethal and accurate fires at close range with minimal collateral damage. An SCW includes but is not limited to functional weapon, magazines, cleaning kits, suppressors, specialized tool kit (if required), spare parts, slings, carrying cases, manuals.

Based on what they learned, the U.S. Army Contracting Command – New Jersey (ACC-NJ), on behalf of Project Manager (PM)- Soldier Weapons (SW), intends to make the following Firm Fixed Price contract awards, on sole source basis, to the following:

Award Number: W15QKN-18-P-0034
Awardee: Colt’s Manufacturing Company LLC for CM9MM-9H-M5A, Colt Modular 9mm Sub Compact Weapon
Amount: $22,000.00

Award Number: W15QKN-18-P-0037
Awardee: Beretta USA Corporation for Beretta PMX Sub Compact Weapon
Amount: $16,000.00

Award Number: W15QKN-18-P-0038
Awardee: CMMG, Inc. for CMMG Ultra PDW Sub Compact Weapon
Amount: $8,500.00


Award Number: W15QKN-18-P-0039
Awardee: CZ-USA for CZ Scorpion EVO 3 A1 Submachinegun
Amount: $14,490.00

Award Number: W15QKN-18-P-0040
Awardee: Lewis Machine & Tool Company for MARS-L9 Compact Suppressed Weapon
Amount: $21,900.00

Award Number: W15QKN-18-P-0041
Awardee: PTR Industries, Inc. for PTR 9CS Sub Compact Weapon
Amount: $12,060.00

Award Number: W15QKN-18-P-0042
Awardee: Quarter Circle 10 LLC 5.5 CLT and 5.5 QV5 Sub Compact Weapon
Amount: $24,070.00


Award Number: W15QKN-18-P-0043
Awardee: SIG SAUER, Inc. for SIG SAUER MPX Sub Compact Weapon
Amount: $20,160.00

Award Number: W15QKN-18-P-0044
Awardee: Trident Rifles, LLC for B&T MP9 Machine Guns
Amount: $36,000.00

Award Number: W15QKN-18-P-0045
Awardee: Zenith Firearms for Z-5RS, Z-5P and Z-5K Sub Compact Weapons
Amount: $39,060.00

These weapons will be evaluated to help inform current capabilities for the Capability Production Document for the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence. Currently, Personal Security Detail (PSD) military personnel utilize pistols and rifles, however, there is an operational need for additional concealability and lethality. Failure to provide the selected SCW for assessment and evaluation will leave PSD military personnel with a capability gap which can result in increased war fighter casualties and jeopardize the success of the U.S. mission.

US Army Issues Next Generation Squad Automatic Rifle Prototype Opportunity Notice

Wednesday, March 14th, 2018

The U.S. Army Contracting Command – New Jersey (ACC-NJ), on behalf of Project Manager Soldier Weapons, is seeking proposals in regards to a Prototype Opportunity Notice (PON) for Next Generation Squad Automatic Rifle (NGSAR). The NGSAR is the first variant of the Next Generation Squad Weapons. The NGSAR will address operational needs identified in various capability based assessments and numerous after action reports. The NGSAR is the planned replacement for the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) in Brigade Combat Teams (BCT). It will combine the firepower and range of a machine gun with the precision and ergonomics of a rifle, yielding capability improvements in accuracy, range, and lethality. The weapon will be lightweight and fire lightweight ammunition, improving Soldier mobility, survivability, and firing accuracy. Soldiers will employ the NGSAR against close and extended range targets in all terrains and conditions. The NGSAR support concept will be consistent and comparable to the M249 SAW involving the Army two-level field and sustainment maintenance system.


NSGAR promises to be the most significant change to small arms technology since the 1960s. In one program, they hope to replace both the M4 carbine and M249 SAW. Hopefully, this won’t prove to be another Individual Carbine program where industry spends millions of Dollars and offers significant improvement, but institutional momentum gets in the way of progress. Fortunately, the Chief of Staff of the Army supports this initiative, but the program schedule will take it out long past his tenure. Hopefully, it will remain an Army priority.

Acquisition Methodology
The US government is trying to speed up the way it procures material for the Department of Defense. This program’s means of acquisition is a lot more like how the military procured the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle than how they purchased Modular Handgun System.

The Army’s schedule for NSGAR is also very aggressive. Lots of time and money has been spent on the Lightweight Small Arms Technology development effort which has been used to inform this effort. It’s gotten them this far, but the fact that they are moving forward with NSGAR tells me that at least someone realizes it’s still not yet ready for prime time. That means we are going to see a lot of new ideas with NSGAR.


The purpose of this PON is to award up to five Prototype OTAs with the goal of developing, within 12 months, a system demonstrator representative to include a functional prototype weapon, 2,000 rounds ammunition(s), fire control (day and night), bipod, suppressor, enablers (optional), spare part(s) to support firing 2,000 rounds, special tools, and operator manuals capable of firing and demonstrating the proposed capabilities to meet the lethality requirements. The goal is to develop system demonstrator representative of a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 6 and Manufacturing Readiness Level (MRL) 6.

A system Demonstrator refers to a functional prototype weapon, 2,000 rounds ammunition(s), fire control (day and night), bipod, suppressor, enablers (optional), spare part(s) to support firing 2,000 rounds, special tools, and operator manuals capable of firing and demonstrating the proposed capabilities to meet the lethality requirements.

Following these efforts, a full and open competitive PON for a follow-on system integration prototype project may be announced. Participation in this system demonstrator PON is not required for participation in the follow-on system integration prototype project.

This Future Follow-On System Integration Prototype Project may be initiated with a new competitive PON requiring a system demonstrator (minimum TRL 6, MRL 6) bid sample and proposal. The combined evaluation of bid sample test results and proposal may result in the award of up to three independent OTAs. The OTAs may include decision points (e.g. Critical Design Review (CDR), Test Readiness Review (TRR), Product Qualification Test (PQT), and other critical tests) to continue or discontinue the OTA throughout the acquisition cycle. The system integration prototype project may include a full system integration, ensure a producible product that is safe, interoperable, affordable and sustainable through modeling, simulation, user evaluation and testing with a goal of delivering production representative systems achieving a TRL 8 and MRL 8. OTA deliverables may include 350+ weapons with fire control and other enablers, over 1,500,000 rounds of ammunition, spares, special tools, and manuals. Successful completion of the system integration prototype project may qualify Awardees for continuation into a follow-on production and deployment (P&D) effort without further competition.

Although the government states that a vendor need not participate in this go around to bid on the next, past experience has shown that participants in the initial effort glean a great deal of feedback, giving them an obvious advantage.

After that, the government may pursue a Future Follow-On P&D Effort(s), awarding up to two independent follow-on production OTAs or up to two independent Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) based contracts with a period of performance up to ten years. The P&D effort may include low rate initial production, operational test and evaluation, full rate production, fielding, and sustainment capability. Deliverables may include over 15,000 weapons with fire control and other enablers, over 30,000,000 rounds of ammunition with planned transition to Government run production (pending intellectual property if required), spares, special tool, manuals, and depot support.

Industry Challenges
Teams must be formed which include Weapon, Ammunition, and Electronics manufacturers. Due to the fast pace of this program, if they aren’t already working together on a strategy, both they and the government will miss out. Additionally, as I’ve critiqued in the past, the insistence on classifying program data has served as a bar to entry for many potential solution providers who cannot access program data.

To participate, offerors must meet at least one of the following conditions:
(A) There is at least one nontraditional defense contractor or nonprofit research institution participating to a significant extent in the prototype project.
(B) All significant participants in the transaction other than the Federal Government are small businesses or nontraditional defense contractors.
(C) At least one third of the total cost of the prototype project is to be paid out of funds provided by sources other than other than the Federal Government.

That means, all of the large, traditional defense contractors who were anticipate will be paying quite a bit out-of-pocket to participate.

NSGAR prototype candidates should be 35” overall length including a suppressor which must offer 140 dB performance. NSGAR will feature Safe, Semi-Automatic and Automatic modes, with 400m dispersion.

Although the desired rate of fire is 60 rpm, this initial go around is to define trade space. That rate of fire is going to be a challenge with a box fed weapon, although rumor has it the government prefers a magazine over beltfed.


The ammunition must be “20% less than an equal brass case weight volume of the entire cartridge.”

Fire Control
Fire control is a critical component of this program. It’s inclusion alone will keep many firearms manufacturers from participating due to the costs and unique technical expertise required to produce these components. Likewise, Electronics manufacturers will lack the know how to produce firearms.

The system demonstrator is encouraged to include additional capabilities such as: advanced fire control (direct view optic with variable magnification, laser range finder, ballistic calculator, environmental data, disturbed reticle, etc.), powered/intelligent rail (including data transfer), ammunition capacity (belt or box fed), and other enablers which enhance military utility.

Offerors have until April 9th to make their submission. PON proposals will be evaluated on Concept, Feasibility and Price with all three
having equal weight.

Read all of the details here.

Some of this information is derived from the NSGAR Industry Comments.

PEO Soldier Visits FN America

Tuesday, March 13th, 2018

During a recent visit to FN America, BG Potts, Program Executive Officer Soldier, looked “at emerging technologies for the Next Generation Squad Weapon.”

He didn’t just look. He also got some range time with some of FN’s rarer examples. He was photographed firing the HAMR (Heat Adaptive Modular Rifle), which was FN’s submission for the USMC Infantry Automatic Rifle program back in 2010. It uses a SCAR style upper, with a lower capable of accepting STANAG magazines. But the real secret sauce was a mechanism which converted the weapon from closed to open bolt operation based on how hot the weapon was, in order to keep it cooler.

Image source PEO Soldier’s Facebook page.

PEO Soldier Checks Out LSAT

Wednesday, February 21st, 2018

Originally an AAI (now part of Textron Systems) science project, under the auspices of several different government programs, the Lightweight Small Arms Technology weapon and its Cased Telescoped has been under development for decades (and untold millions in development costs).

Here, BG Anthony “Tony” Potts, Program Executive Officer Soldier, fires the 5.56mm Cased Telescoped Light Machine Gun Feb. 14 during a visit to Textron Systems.

The CT LMG with 1,000 rounds weighs 28.5 pounds vs. an M249 with 1,000 rounds weighing 48.9 pounds. That’s pretty impressive. The favored technology for the Army’s upcoming Next Generation Squad Automatic Weapon program, is the TC round which will not fire from existing weapons in the Army’s inventory and current ammunition will not fire from the LSAT weapon. Although, the ammunition is lighter, you’ve got to have the right weapon to fire it. Conversely, current ammunition could also be lightened by going to a polymer case. And then, there’s the whole issue of reducing stoppages on LSAT, which requires the weapon to be dismantled.

Can’t wait to see how it performs in source selection. The IC criteria set the bar pretty high.

Modular Handgun System – Things Aren’t As Bad As The DOT&E Report Implies

Friday, February 2nd, 2018

A recently issued report from the Department Of Defense’s Director, Operational Test and Evaluation Office (DOT&E), on the Modular Handgun System has been picked up by bloggers and the headlines have been sensational. They’re being shared online at face value, with few people taking time to read the source document. You can read the whole thing here, and I encourage you to do so, but I’ll use extracts throughout this article.


I’ve spent the past few days going back and forth with DOT&E and PEO Soldier, who manages the program, to clarify information in the report.

From the received responses, apparently the situation is not as dire as the authors of other stories would like their audience to believe.


Each year, the Department Of Defense Operational Test and Evaluation Office (DOT&E) submits an annual report of test and evaluation activities to Congress.

The 2017 report was published on 26 January, 2018 and includes details on numerous test activities in support of Army procurement, including those of the joint Modular Handgun System. MHS consists of militarized versions of a standard (M17) and compact (M18) pistol, manufactured by SIG SAUER and based on their commercial P320 9mm model. the weapon has a common trigger pack and swappable frames to make the switch from M17 to M18.


The weapon was selected for procurement just a year ago on January 19, 2017. Since then, it has served as a model for fast track acquisition reform.

The procurement announcement was met with displeasure from fans of fellow contender GLOCK who pointed to G19 use by USSOCOM as ample reason to broaden its issues within DoD. The SIG contract award was formally protested by GLOCK, but their effort was not sustained by the Government Accountability Office.

Drop Misfires Background

In August of last year, a blogger demonstrated that the commercially available SIG P320, which the MHS is derived from, would unintentionally discharge if dropped at a certain angle. Almost immediately, the internet began to call into question the safety of the Army’s version of the handgun. SIG analyzed the problem and quickly issued an interesting fix for their commercial gun; a new trigger pack based on the MHS trigger. SIG stated that the Army’s handgun already had a different, lighter trigger than the civilian model and had not demonstrated the same issue. SIG offered a voluntary upgrade to the new trigger for P320 users.

In November, I attended a media round table hosted by PEO Soldier to provide an update on fielding of MHS. One of the topics was unintentional misfires caused by dropping. LTC Steven Power, Product Manager Individual Weapons, Project Manager Soldier Weapons, assured everyone that MHS has not experienced such a failure.

Naturally, when I ran across this statement in the DOT&E report, I wanted clarification, because it went against everything I’d been told.

“During drop testing in which an empty primed cartridge was inserted, the striker struck the primer causing a discharge. SIG SAUER implemented an Engineering Change Proposal (ECP) to correct this deficiency by implementing lightweight components in the trigger group mechanism. This fix may have contributed to the splintering of two triggers during the IOT&E”

DOT&E Report

DoD Drop Testing

Before I get into what I learned about this statement I need to explain how DoD conducts drop testing. The procedure is contained in 4-10 of Test Operations Procedure 03-2-504A “Safety Evaluation of Small Arms and Medium Caliber Weapons” . The actual test is called the 1.5 m (5 foot) drop test which requires that a firearm loaded with a primed, empty, cartridge case be dropped from the height of 1.5 m unto a clean, dry, and level concrete surface at six different angles. The goal is to see if the firearm discharges or if the drop affects the function of the weapon.


SIG SAUER’s Position

Since I had discussed the drop misfire issue with SIG in the past, I thought I should check with them. They responded by telling me that it was DoD’s report and they’d be the best place to seek out my answers.

Requesting Clarification From DOT&E

Initially, I contacted DOT&E with a list of technical questions. In particular, I wanted to know when and how they identified this malfunction. After some deliberation, DOT&E spokesperson, LTC Michelle L Baldanza offered this statement regarding the technical questions I had posed, “I will have to let the report stand for itself. You are welcome to contact the Army about this.”

What she was telling me was that the information had originated with the Army and all they had done, was collate it into their report. I’d need to go to PEO Soldier for the answers I was seeking.

PEO Soldier Responds

I approached PEO Soldier about this statement, asking how and when it had occurred. They did not provide details on any test failures but rather provided the statement below, which seems to refute the DOT&E report.

When tested in accordance with the TOP 03-2-504A, the weapon passed in all drop orientations.

PEO Soldier

Even then, despite several requests, they refused to provide a date when the 1.5 m TOP drop test protocol was accomplished. It should have initially been accomplished during source selection, while the Army evaluated the vendors’ candidate pistols and I was able to verify this information from other Army sources who were not authorized to speak publicly about the topic.

Splintered Triggers

The DOT&E report mentioned two “splintered” triggers. Of course, this became a central theme to call the program into question. I asked about the issue. The triggers still worked. PEO Soldier related that they “did not remain smooth and comfortable to fire,” saying it was an isolated issue, and not the result of a design flaw or on-going manufacturing problem. To put it into perspective, they’ve only encountered this issue in two pistols, out of approximately 10,000 purchased to date. It’s so rare, it shouldn’t have found its way into a report intended to discuss major issues.


Ammunition / Reliability Issues

MHS includes four 9mm cartridges, manufactured by Winchester, but there are two primary rounds. The XM1153 Jacketed Hollow Point (referenced above) also referred to as a “special purpose”‘and the XM1152 Ball.

Additionally, there are two reliability factors, Mean Rounds Between Failure and Mean Rounds Between Stoppage. Both MRBF and MRBS were measured during Product Verification Testing as well as Initial Operational Test & Evaluation.

MHS was tested for MRBF and MRBS in both M17 and M18 configurations with JHP as well as Ball ammunition.

According to the DOT&E report, the MRBF reliability requirement for MHS is 5,000 MRBF for a 98 percent probability of completing a 96-hour mission without a failure. The MRBS reliability requirement is 2,000 MRBS for a 95 percent probability of completing a 96-hour mission without a stoppage.

During PVT which is an early test, the XM17 and XM18, with special purpose munition, met its requirement for both MRBF and MRBS:

– The XM17 demonstrated 8,929 MRBF (99 percent probability)
– The XM18 demonstrated 8,333 MRBF (99 percent probability)
– The XM17 demonstrated 1,923 MRBS (95 percent probability)
– The XM18 demonstrated 2,155 MRBS (96 percent probability)

During PVT, the XM17 with ball ammunition met its requirement for MRBF but not its requirement for MRBS. The XM18 with ball ammunition did not meet its MRBF or MRBS requirement.

– The XM17 demonstrated 6,944 MRBF (99 percent probability)
– The XM18 demonstrated 3,906 MRBF (98 percent probability)
– The XM17 demonstrated 343 MRBS (75 percent probability)
– The XM18 demonstrated 197 MRBS (61 percent probability)

Obviously, there’s a difference in how reliable the weapon is, based on the ammo used, and pistol configuration. Consequently, the Army decided to investigate the Ball ammo issues and moved to the next phase of testing solely with the JHP cartridge, which they consider is their “go-to-war” ammunition.

During IOT&E, 60 of 120 stoppages for the XM17 and 63 of 85 stoppages for the XM18 were failure of the slide lock to the rear at the last round. At least some of these stoppages were the result of poor grip. Additionally, 60% of these stoppages (75 of 123) were experienced by just eight shooters out of the 132 who participated in the IOT&E. Based on information from the Army Marksmanship Unit which is cited in the DOT&E report, it appears that the majority of those stoppages were caused by shooters disengaging the slide catch with their thumbs.

Once the Army understood it’s a software and not a hardware problem, they began to modify Marksmanship Training to ensure that Soldiers do not unintentionally engage the slide catch lever when firing the MHS. It’s a simpler solution than redesigning weapon parts.

In fact, the MRBS demonstrated during IOT&E is significantly increased if this stoppage is eliminated:

– The XM17 demonstrated 708 MRBS (87 percent probability).
– The XM18 demonstrated 950 MRBS (90 percent probability).

The weapon is capable of meeting the standard, given the right shooters.

Although they have a Conditional Material Release for both types of ammo and have been firing them since November, PEO reminded me that MHS meets, or exceeds, all operational requirements, including MRBS, with the XM1153 jacketed hollow point ammunition for which it is optimized.

While I take issue with how some things are presented, overall, the Army agrees with the findings in the report.

“The DOT&E report accurately conveys the test results.  It is normal and expected during testing to find opportunities to improve a system.  The testing determined that the MHS had a lower Mean Rounds Between Stoppage (MRBS) with ball ammunition than it has with the “go-to-war” jacketed hollow point round for which the system is optimized.  In July 2017, the Army formed a Tiger Team to perform a detailed root cause analysis of the ball ammunition issues.   Their analysis has resulted in a number of modifications expected to enhance MHS performance and reliability with ball ammunition.”

PEO Soldier

Much has been made on other websites about the pistol’s performance with the XM1152 Ball ammunition. Which, by the way, is a new cartridge, unique to this weapon. The truth is, it is safe to operate with both.

However, this isn’t good enough for the Army as they continue to consider performance improvements. PEO Soldier spokeswoman Ms Dawson explained, “It is simply not meeting its reliability requirements with the ball ammunition and has experienced stoppages and issues with “double ejections”.  Double ejections? I’m intrigued.

Double Ejections

Aside from the drop testing issue, I had hoped to get to the heart of “double ejections”. It’s referenced early in the DOT&E report.

“Both the XM17 and XM18 pistols experienced double-ejections where an unspent ball round was ejected along with a spent round.”

DOT&E Report

Until this week, I’d never heard the term used. PEO Soldier echoed the DOT&E definition.

“A double ejection is when a live unfired round is ejected along with the casing from the round that was just fired.”

PEO Soldier

Semi-Auto pistol’s don’t work that way, it’s a physical impossibility. So, I asked both DOT&E and PEO Soldier to further describe the malfunction in case it has a more commonly used name. Neither organization would. And yet, they’ve used it; over and over. PEO Soldier even set up a Tiger Team to get to the root cause of it. Reporters have parroted it as it were a common term. I even approached several individuals with extensive experience in Army pistol marksmanship and they were also unfamiliar with the term. Since nobody knows what it is, I’m not sure how they’re going to fix it. But whatever it is, the weapon is performing while using the JHP ammo.

In Summary

What we’ve learned:
-MHS is safe and passes drop standards
-MHS is reliable
-The trigger works
-Stoppages can be mitigated with training
-It introduces a jacketed hollow point ammunition capability
-The Army is working to improve its performance with Ball ammunition
-No one knows what a “double ejection” is except PEO Soldier, and they’re not telling

But this is the most important at part of this whole story. The Army is very confidant in MHS. In fact, PEO Soldier spokeswoman, Ms Debi Dawson released this statement:

Testing was conducted with warfighters from all Services, and their feedback about the MHS has been overwhelmingly positive.  The MHS meets, or exceeds, all safety and operational requirements with XM1153 jacketed hollow point ammunition for which it is optimized. The test results published in the Director of Operational Testing and Evaluation (DOT&E) report are being used to make the MHS even better.

PEO Soldier

Unfortunately, there are some pieces of data in the report which seem to be given greater importance than they should be, once put into perspective. In another case, testing which is claimed to have taken place hasn’t been accounted for, and refuted in other statements.

Greater care should be taken when providing input to these annual reports. They are used by Congress to monitor key programs. Additionally, the data has been used to undermine confidence in a program that is doing very well, as new unit after new unit is equipped with this improved capability.


There’s a reason DoD tests. Every program finds unanticipated issues which must be fixed in order to field the piece of equipment across the force. Some come up years after a system enters service. If you read through the entire 2017 DOT&E Annual Report, you’ll find issues of every type, arising for every program showcased in the document. While much has been made online about MHS, when you break it down, it’s not as bad as it’s been made out to be, if you know what questions to ask.