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Senator John McCain On The Army Modular Handgun System Program

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Arizona Senator John McCain issued a five page report on the ongoing US Army Modular Handgun System selection, criticizing key points of the ongoing program. The report starts by establishing that the US Army is no stranger to expensive and ultimately ineffective weapon systems programs, and then goes on to detail what he feels are key errors in the ongoing handgun selection program, including:

  • An overly complicated 350 page requirements document, which among its contents specifies extraneous details such the size of the handgun’s exterior packaging and that “paper used for correspondence” must use “1” margins”.
  • The lack of a caliber study and unified caliber choice, and the lack of focus on caliber studies already conducted by entities such as the FBI and U.S. Special Operations Command, instead conducting “an open caliber competition” among vendors.
  • Conducing the Modular Handgun System in lieu of allowing for the selection of handguns, ammunition, and accessories already approved by USSOCOM and JSOC.
  • Not allowing rank and file Soldiers the opportunity to test and provide feedback on the handguns.
  • Senator McCain’s report is relatively brief, yet does a good job of touching on all the ongoing issues with the current Modular Handgun System program. I’ve got to say, I agree with much of Senator McCain’s criticisms. However, while I agree that the Army should just adopt a pistol already in the system, placing the decision on which one to use on a Brigade commander, is not the best course of action.

    It’s worth a read. You can check it out by clicking the image above.


    76 Responses to “Senator John McCain On The Army Modular Handgun System Program”

    1. The Stig says:

      Glock 17

      External thumb safeties are a design flaw.

    2. Chase says:

      All the same could be said for the camo improvement project.

    3. Mike Nomad says:

      Interesting reading. The line that stuck out most for me:

      “The Army is also demanding the full technical data rights to
      the winning manufacturer.”

      In my mind, that dooms the outcome to being shit. Unless…

      “… the Army already has a preferred outcome in mind and is just going through the motions with this “competition”. By purchasing both handguns and ammunition from a single vendor on a single contract, the total value of which could exceed $1.2B, the Army’s selection process favors larger companies over smaller ones…”

      Sure, go back to the 1911 platform. It sure would make it easier to throw Colt a bone.

    4. Brent says:

      I wonder if it will take 8 years to get into service like the FNH SCAR.

    5. Mike Mike says:

      The Army has one group more than qualified to select a handgun…AMU. It doesn’t take a 350 page document.

      • Seriously ? For shooting what – 3 gun, Camp Perry and the Olympics ? Get real

        AMU ain’t been pushing things forward for the end user like…..


        • Matt says:

          Bingo was his nammo.

        • straps says:

          Thanks for getting my weekend off to an awesome start/with a smile on my face.

        • Thomas says:

          AMU guy gave Pat MacNamara insight on how to not group low and left with a Glock. “Sink more finger in the trigger!”

          • And your point is ? It’s all about pulling the trigger straight to the rear – whatever works for you as a shooter to do that is key. The AMU didn’t break that code – trust me. AMU didn’t help rescue 70 about to be slaughtered hostages from ISIS last week – let’s keep it real here.

            • Thomas says:

              My point is a CAG/Delta guy sought out advice from an AMU guy, and that advice was sound. By the way an AMU guy figured out how to shoot a Glock straight and not have to compensate by adjusting his sights. That information was passed on to a CAG/Delta guy. Thanks AMU! When someone has to adjust sights to make up for low left groups, frankly that is just sloppy. Yes Larry, let’s keep it real. Whoever said anything about ISIS?

              • Jon, OPT says:

                I pointed the same thing out to my entire unit of SF guys who had just been issued Glocks, being capable of providing that one snippet of info doesn’t mean I should be the proponent for everything handguns.

                I think the best proponency for this is an existing combat arms focused unit that does high volumes of shooting, whether Range 37, Range 19, or one of the existing T&E units out there. AMU is incredibly good at what they do, but they are training for competition not combat. Historically techniques and equipment choices trickle down from SOF to general purpose forces, why should this be different? Especially considering the nature of the task.

                Another example parallel to this is test jumping gear free fall is done by a specific unit, you wouldn’t go hit up the Golden Knights for that info, sure they are proficient jumpers, but they aren’t a battle focused proponent.

                Just my .02

                • Thomas says:

                  Hey Jon

                  I get what you are saying. In my organization I worry about institutional inbreeding and I am constantly telling my people that a lot can be learned by having an open mind and seeing what other teams are doing. Case in point, Larry Vickers training with “Game shooter” Rob Leatham. Rob Leatham does not shoot for pin point accuracy. He shoots to hit the target. His expertise is constantly sought out by Tactical guys. Combat shooter seeking the expertise of a Game shooter.

                  I am not saying the AMU, Golden Knight or Team X is the authority or the end all be all, I am just saying you can learn a lot from other teams that have similar skill sets.

                  Have a good one Sir.

    6. Matt says:

      To start off with, John McCain did not write this. He had it researched for him. Then he had it wrote for him. Then he had it compiled into the present pretty document. All by his aides. Then he may or may not have read the entire thing but most definitely memorized the talking points along with the probable QA cheat sheet his aids made for him so he can answer the one or two questions someone, some where, may ask him.

      With that said, We The People do not need our senators wasting their, and their aids, time with stuff like this. We need them working on the trillions of debt, the free EBT card masses, and general worthlessness of our country. And if they could stop messing with our Constitutional rights that would be fine also.

      Seeing McCains name on this just reinforces my feelings on the fact McCain the Rino needs to retire. Him and his class of republicans have let We The People down.

      • SSD says:

        Just so that I get this straight, you think this is no business of the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee?

        You have no idea what are you talking about. Hit the books and learn a little something about our system of government and who does what.

        • Matt says:

          Yes. That’s exactly what I believe. Politicians have absolutely no need to be involved in the decision making process of what and how our military does it job.

          As far as John “King Rino” McCain being the mystical chairmen of the SASC? Big freakin whoop. He is the poster boy for all that is wrong with our country, ie the politico aristocratic “elite.” He been around for about 15 years to long. From reports, he can’t answer a question without his aide telling him the answer. There are reports this is due to early onset Alzheimer’s. It’s time for him to be put out to pasture. Simple as that. He is no longer effective.

          As far as knowing our system of .gov? Get real will ya? What’s up with you and your insults? Just because someone states an opinion that doesn’t coincide with yours you get all pissy like kid. Grow up dude.

          • Random Commentator says:

            Opinions on Sen. McCain aside, politicians have absolutely no need to be involved in the military decisions? I’m not all that smart but last I heard the Commander in Chief is a civilian politician (and has been for about the last 239 years) who Constitutionally very much has a say in military decisions… Then there’s the role of Congress with the whole checks and balances thing. Why is it elected politicians shouldn’t be involved in decisions of appointed officials?

            • Matt says:

              Civilian should give the mission. Not how to fight the mission. Not how to perform. Not where to go. Not when to go. Not what to use. Just the broad mission.

          • Tazman66gt says:

            As bad as you are shitting on McCain you would think you are a Trump supporter.

            • Matt says:

              I’m a Carson supporter, with a sprinkle of Rand. But heck, I will vote for anyone other than Hildabeast Rotten Clitown.

          • SSD says:

            Normally, I’d let a guy just go on but you are a fool. You don’t seem to grasp how and why we have civilian oversight of the military. Thank God better men crafted our Constitution and system of government.

            • majrod says:

              I believe in civilian control of the military. That’s part of the Constitution I took an oath about.

              That said, Congress is making us but more tanks when we have like 5k in mothballs.

              Congress is not infallible and McCain more than most…

              His committee’s paper (which he is responsible for) is rife with errors. His spin on requirements seems self serving (Ruger has a plant in Arizona). His comparison to the ICC is irrelevant. Not every study/program results in a new weapon being adopted. The $14mil spent saved us $2.5 bil on acquiring weapons that were a whopping 1-2% more reliable. That’s like spending $5 to buy a gun publication before buying a $1k gun.

              • SSD says:

                His comparison to IC is spot on.

                Even better than spending a little bit of many to save a lot, is spending none at all. If there’s no intent to go through with a program, don’t do a half-assed job of launching one in the first place.

                • Matt says:

                  It’s all politics. Politics have no business being any where around the armed forced. Unfortunately, people like you, who don’t seem to know any better, think it is a good thing.

                  • SSD says:

                    Kid, everything is politics. You just don’t know enough yet to understand that.

                    • Bill says:

                      I’m out of my field, but isn’t war itself the ultimate attempt to impose one party’s political position on another?

                      I cracked a book or two.

                      • SSD says:

                        “We see, therefore, that war is not merely an act of policy but a true political instrument, a continuation of political intercourse carried on with other means. What remains peculiar to war is simply the peculiar nature of its means.”

                        -Carl von Clausewitz

                    • Matt says:

                      It’s the lesser man that resorts to insults in a debate when they have been proven wrong.

                      • SSD says:

                        I haven’t been proven wrong at all. You however, bloviate about things you don’t understand.

                • Oglee says:

                  The difference is the M4A1 is a superb weapon, the M9 is a mediocre weapon.

                  • SC says:

                    The M9 is just fine. The Army’s abused and neglected M9s aren’t fine. The Army needs a handgun maintenance program not a new pistol to neglect beyond belief. I’ve seen M9s with recoils springs that were probably original to the guns in 1985— no wonder the guns are beat to shit.

                    The guys running this program were told this by the guys who really understand handgun use and maintenance but I’m sure that will be ignored. Then again I doubt this program will go anywhere.

                • majrod says:

                  I can’t document that there was no intent to go forward with from the ICC. Maybe you have some. I haven’t seem it but maybe you have some…

                  In any case, studies are conducted all the time to develop information and/or evaluate kit and yes they cost money.

                  If nothing else the ICC created a pool of info on a variety of weapons some were promoting as the replacement to the M4. The ICC showed the juice was not worth the squeeze. It was the equivalent of buying a publication to get info or even better renting a gun at the range to see if it’s worth it. People do that all the time with no intention of buying the gun. Is that a waste of money?

                  • SSD says:

                    It was the same open caliber buffoonery as MHS.

                    IC wasn’t a study. It was a program and industry spent a great deal of IRAD to give the Army what it asked for. Yes, it was a large waste of money for industry.

            • Matt says:

              Don’t take everything so personal. Jeesh.

    7. CAVstrong says:

      Let me do it. I can pick a new handgun….and camo pattern, and improved carbine, and “ground combat vehicle”…..

      Seriously though I am beginning to think the Army needs to revive the position of Commanding General. Someone who can make unilateral decisions. Some might be good, some may be bad but I think it would be better than trying to determine everything by way of committee.

    8. Brian says:

      And if those corporations who fund McCain don’t like the outcome, they’ll have him kill the funding.

      • SSD says:

        Did you read the report? Your comment leads me to believe you didn’t bother.

        • Matt says:

          Do some research SSD. Just because McCain says one thing in a report, doesn’t mean he will actually do that in the real world. This wouldn’t be the first time he has done that. McCain is bought and paid for by the Super Pacs. He is beholden to the Super Pacs so much that it isn’t even a secret. He is a real world Manchurian Candidate.

          • SSD says:

            Welcome to politics. For instance, I abhor his stance on Berry. But this report is dead on.

            • majrod says:

              His paper is rife with errors.

              He dings the Army for cancelling helo programs the SecDef cancelled or Congress wouldn’t fund. Meanwhile the Army has to mothball all scout/light attack helicopters to pay the bills.

              Which requirements are superflous? Ambi controls? Modularity? Mean time between failure? I get specifying briefing binder size is silly but lumping all the requirements as “bad” is flagrantly dumb. His spin on requirements seems self serving (Ruger has a plant in Arizona).

              His comparison to the ICC is irrelevant. Not every study/program results in a new weapon being adopted. The $14mil spent saved us $2.5 bil on acquiring weapons that were a whopping 1-2% more reliable. That’s like spending $5 to buy a gun publication before buying a $1k gun.

            • Matt says:

              Oh. It’s politics. That makes it all right.

              Get real.

    9. Chucker says:

      Maybe we can get Leland Yee to source the new pistols. I heard he’s got a good line on AKs and RPGs….

      “You want guns? I think we can get guns.”

    10. Echo says:

      Is the JSOC caliber study he references open source? I hadn’t heard of that before.

    11. JSGlock34 says:

      Worse, the Army continues to buy M9s on existing contracts, even with Beretta offering to provide the M9A3 under the Engineering Change Proposal. Even if the Army has zero interest in the M9A3 for the MHS, why continue to buy M9s when you can buy the M9A3 under existing contracts for the same price? At least the M9A3 adds an accessory rail, night sights and the option for a more ergonomic grip.

    12. SurfGW says:

      In the new Table of Organization has no one below Battalion Commanders/SgtMajs rates a pistol. Stop training SNCOs and company grade officers on pistols and make pistols a special duty weapon like shotguns. End this competition, save money and free up training time for things that make us combat effective (unlike pistols) and if the special duties want a weapon, it will be their contract.

      • Rob says:

        TOE for what units? Tankers, MPs, medics, pilots…none of them are losing their pistols.

    13. majrod says:

      The study doesn’t mention Ruger has a plant in McCain’s Arizona and is rumored to not be participating in the MHS process.

      McCain wants to change the process…

      Related? Maybe not, maybe so.

      • Matt says:

        Good point.

        Then again McCain real home state is Washington DC. 😉

      • Jon, OPT says:

        Considering that Ruger supposedly outperformed the 92F during the trials for changing to a new pistol back when they switched from the 1911, you may be on to something. I do not have written confirmation for reference, hence my verbiage.

        • Terry B. says:


          I don’t recall Ruger’s submission. But I do remember that the SIG 226 and Berretta 92F were the final two contenders. The SIG 226 reportedly outperformed the 92 but Beretta came in with a much lower bid.


    14. Bill says:

      This whole program is a waste of money.

      • Matt says:

        Speaking of waste of money how many tax dollars do you think it cost the US citizens to produce this colorful report?

        • Dan says:

          Care to tell us your opinion on Feinstein, Cruz, Clinton, Obama, etc.. while you are at it? Regardless of his relations with SuperPACs, the people of Arizona elected John McCain and he is a sitting member of a committee that oversees a civilian controlled military. The fact that he uses aides is beside the point, it is a delegation of tasks all elected officials do. What is productive is a public official demanding the U.S. Army stop wasting money in its unethical contracting processes. SSD even wrote an article regarding changing contract requirements and harming industry.

          • Matt says:

            A civilian controlled military, huh? When is the last time a real citizen, not a politico elite aristocrat over saw the military. The .mil is one big bureaucratic red tape nightmare that needs to slim down and get back in fighting shape.

            I agree with you Public officials should demand .mil stop spending money on unethical processes. But then again, the same guy (McCain) that is harping about the pistol fiasco is the same guy who pretty much spent 100s of millions of dollars on moderate terrorist in Syria and no positive results. None. Nada. In reality we just armed the more extreme terrorist better than they were before. And all for what?

          • majrod says:

            Dan & Matt why is the program a waste?

            If you say the sky is green should we believe that also?

    15. Fly On The Wall says:

      I discussed this with the SSD HMFIC yesterday
      My takeaways were:
      1. The Chairman of the SASC is correct in stating the Army has managed to create a byzantine system that has led to paralysis by analysis, pie-in-the-sky requirements, and nit-noid chickenshit detail requirements while leaving out big defining requirements like caliber. You cannot have folks “think outside the box” while precisely defining the mold marks of the box. This is, of course, indicative of the whole Army acquisitions and DoD acquistions process, a giant self licking ice cream cone.

      2. At the end of the day, there’s only two real contenders: Glock 17/19 and Smith and Wesson M&P 9/9C. The Smith is the likely winner since it was designed from the outset to have a manual safety as an option. Glock was not and adding one at this point in its engineering lifecycle would be a kludge. Every other contender is an also ran.

      3. The idea of having an Army Prescribed Handgun List to allow commanders to pick-and-choose MTOE items is absurd. Neither training nor doctrine could be standardized and it would end up being a clownshow of gun handling and maintenance based on what the Colonel or 1SG read in the latest issue of “Gunz And Bullitz Tactical Digest” after the shiny “Best 1911 EVARRR” article. Remember, the GPF are NOT gun guys and handgun training will be WAY down on the list of action items after mandatory transsexual sensitivity training and keeping the pacing items in a green status.

      • SSD says:

        Despite assertions to the contrary, most SOF guys aren’t gun guys.

        • Matt says:

          What is a gun guy anyway. Can they shoot a weapon proficiently? Then. They are a gun guy.

          • SSD says:

            No, that doesn’t make a gun guy. A gun guy knows about marksmanship, training, weapons, optics and ammunition. A guy who can shoot a gun can’t tell you why a gun functions (im)properly.

          • Bill says:

            There are guys who don’t care what gun you give them, they will shoot whatever it is proficiently. They don’t have “favorites” or features they have to have to win a fight. They know that the most important element of any weapon is the nut that holds the butt.

            It’s crap like this that makes me wish I could trade all my pistols and get my first S&W M13 M&P back. It was tricked out ’cause it had Pachmayr stocks on it.

      • Bill says:

        From the outside looking in, you’ve done an artful job of describing nearly every LE agency of any consequence, and also every level of government decision making, down to how the township decides which sickle-bar mower to buy for cutting the berms on gravel roads.

        I had to take our mandatory sexual harassment training two years in a row, I guess I was doing it wrong.

    16. This may get some ire but for a “general-issue-conventional-force” handgun the M9A3 ECP does it all and more.