TTAG never holds posts for more than a day; even the “evergreens.” Not so fool.com. Writer Rich Smith’s post on the competition for the Army’s new sidearm sat on the sidelines for almost a week, during which time TTAG’s post on the Army’s decision to punt Beretta from the competition to replace the Beretta 92 appeared. His prose may be delayed by bureaucracy but he’s no fool, our Rich. Smith sees Smith & Wesson’s November hook-up with General Dynamics as part of a clever strategy to win the Army’s handgun contract . . .
General Dynamics is more than just a gunmaker. (It’s a tank maker, and a maker of nuclear submarines, and of surface warships, too). General D is also a major manufacturer of ammunition for the military, supplying hundreds of millions of rounds of small-caliber (and large-caliber) ammunition annually. According to General Dynamics’ most recent 10-K filing with the SEC, munitions and armaments contributed $1.8 billion in revenues to the company’s $6.1 billion Combat Systems business (data from S&P Capital IQ).
As such, the company is almost uniquely situated to cater to the Pentagon’s preference for a new caliber of ammunition more effective than the M882 9mm standard (.357 SIG, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP rounds are rumored to be under consideration), perhaps specially designed to work well in a new pistol from Smith & Wesson. Or, an alliance between the two companies might be able to offer the Pentagon a “deal” on the up-front cost of handguns, hoping to make it up later on selling the Pentagon bullets. Because as any gun owner can tell you, over the lifetime of a gun, you spend a lot more on the bullets than on the gun itself. (We call this the razor-and-blade business model.)
Meanwhile, the “discussion” on the appropriate caliber for the next gen military sidearm rages on. The comments underneath Rich’s post are rich with high caliber kvetching.
Not to poke that bear (much), but I reckon that “buy American” has political power and the military has an uncanny ability to pick the worst of all mil-spec options. I’m betting Smith gets the gig (over GLOCK and FNH-USA and the rest) with .40 S&W becoming the caliber of choice. You?