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The 101st Airborne Soldiers Receive The First M17 & M18 Pistols

101 Airborne Test Firing the M17 & M18 Pistols

The Screaming Eagles are the first unit to officially receive the new M17 and M18 pistols. Known commercially as the SIG Sauer P320 pistols, the company won the bidding for the Modular Handgun System (MHS) contract of the U.S. Army beating Glock, FN America and  Beretta USA in the process.

"What a great day,” Colonel Derek K. Thomson, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Divisions said in a press release from Sig Sauer. “To witness modernization firsthand as my soldiers became the first in the Army and this storied division to fire the new pistol is an absolute honor.”

The 101st Division received the first batch of the M17 and M18 pistols with 2,000 units delivered at Fort Campbell last November 17. After being inventoried, the pistols were then test fired last November 27 and 28.

In the same press release, Ron Cohen, President and CEO of SIG SAUER, Inc., said “We are both humbled and proud that the P320 was selected by the U.S. Army as its weapon of choice. Securing this contract is a testimony to SIG SAUER employees and their commitment to innovation, quality and manufacturing the most accurate and reliable firearms in the world.”

The M18 is the more compact version of the M17 and the contract, which is worth US$580 million, stipulates that the company will supply the U.S. Army the new pistols over a 10-year period. The M17 replaces the M9 pistol from Beretta, which was the official sidearm of the Army since 1986.

“That’s pretty dated technology,” said Lt. Col. Steven Power, Project Manager Soldier Weapons, individual weapons product manager, talking about the M9 pistol. “The specific performance improvements of the MHS over the M9 include better accuracy, tighter dispersion, and better ergonomics, which when combined, result in a far more lethal pistol.”

“The world has changed since the strength and resilience of this division was forged during the maelstrom of World War II,” said Maj. Gen. Andrew P. Poppas, 101st ABN DIV (AASLT) commander. “In order to maintain our decisive edge, we must continue to outpace our potential adversaries with more lethal capabilities, from the modular handgun system we fielded today to the innovative and adaptive air assault concepts, equipment and training the 101st continues to perfect.”


All photos from 101st Airborme.