Reader SACorey writes:
Speculation about the upcoming U.S. Army pistol evaluations and Beretta’s new M9A3 abounds. The Army says they want a new modular handgun to replace the venerable 9mm Beretta, but if history is any indication, the guidelines put forth for the evaluation process are meaningless. All the murky visions in everyone’s crystal balls that seem to be pointing toward candidates like the FNX-45, S&W M&P, and GLOCKs will prove to be unfounded . . .
The U.S. military procurement process — mercurial to say the least — has shown that stipulations set forth for designs are meaningless. The Army is known to capriciously select equipment before any evaluations are performed. They’ll then declare any results that are contrary to their selection as moot. We saw this most recently in the process to evaluate a M4 replacement, where it was clear the decision was made before the competition even began.
But in the event that the procurement process gets past this first hurdle, the Army tends to select a product they didn’t know they needed until they saw it. That was the case when Harley Davidson went outside the specifications and subsequently won the contract for motorcycles.
Also, never forget that bias towards old technology dominates all governmental and bureaucratic processes as demonstrated by the selection of the M14 (in 7.62x51mm designed to perform exactly like .30-06) over the AR10 and FAL (the right arm of the free world). That demonstrated that the Army didn’t necessarily want something new (just a Garand with removable magazines and full auto capability … and who doesn’t want that?). Similarly, I’d like my next girlfriend to cook and clean like my ex, but with a better attitude and the body of a pin-up model.
Given these trends in Army procurement, let’s look at a rundown of potential pistol competitors:
|Caliber||Flush Mag Cap||frame||modular||Pic Rail|
|SIG SAUER||320||9×19||17 (full size)||Polymer||yes||yes|
|Smith & Wesson||M&P9||9×19||17||Polymer||no||yes|
Any of these models can be made to work with suppressors and all are offered in non-reflective finishes and should pass all other stipulations set forth for the evaluation process.
Moving forward, let’s engage in a little speculation:
- The Army will not take a pistol that is not DA/SA in keeping with ye olde ideas regarding second strike capability, so we can effectively eliminate S&W, GLOCK, and the SIG 320.
- Modularity is moot since no DA/SA pistol (aside from the SIG 250) is offered with such capability.
- Aluminum frames make generals feel warm inside (otherwise we would already have the FNX).
- Only one other competitor has been deemed better than the M9 in the past (I’m looking at you, SIG)
Given those assumptions, there are only three real competitors in the race; the default M9A3, and the Sisters SIG, 226 and 227. The deciding factor will be the ammunition choice … and any real willingness to actually spend money. Since the Army hates change almost as much as it does writing checks, the M9A3 will win despite the fact that a preferred move to .45 ACP would make the SIG 227 the likely winner.
The SIG 227 is the pistol the USMC should have chosen instead of a Series 80 1911. Sadly, I was not appointed to make that decision.