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“One of the principles of a commercial-off-the-shelf acquisition is that the government must be clear on what it is seeking to buy. This lack of clarity will likely result in top handgun makers not competing as many of them are not large defense contractors, which means that our soldiers won’t necessarily get the best handgun that commercial industry has to offer.” – Senate Armed Services Committee report on the Army’s Modular Handgun System in McCain: Halt Army Handgun Program, Choose the Bullet First [at]

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  1. The military procurement system spends money…..and that is their primary goal. Getting the ‘best’ is way down the list!

    The best handgun is already available to the general public! Just pick one!

    I’m not a McCain fan politically, but he is dead on about this issue!

    • Agreed, McCain is wrong about almost every strategic thing he says. On this, right on the money. Although really, asking that the Army specify a cartridge isn’t really rocket science. $100 says they go with a 5.7 produced by FN.

      • Someone flippantly mentioned the govt. giving the contract to FN, for the FiveseveN. Then, others mentioned ball ammo wouldn’t work against body armor. How about this – FiveseveNs loaded with SS190 (armor piercing) ammunition?

        Yes, the weapon is more expensive. What are our military members worth?

        • I will be one of the first people to praise that move. Same energy roughly, even with ball. Not sure why they’re worried about a pistol round penetrating body armor, considering the Beretta doesn’t. Huge trickle down of surplus ball ammo, yes please.

        • A finite amount, to start. If not then we must all be ready to pay 100% in taxes using the same reasoning.

          And if it’s a finite amount then we have to figure out whether the costs outweigh the benefits. I’d say we should worry more about primary weapons than a sidearm to start.

      • I have already expained this. It will default back to the M-9A3 as proposed by Beretta. They are marketing the updated M-9 to the bugeteers at OSD CAPE. It will go “sorry PEO small arms but there is no money for a new pistol and our cost and operational effectiveness analysis says Beretta.”

        US Army: meet your new pistol, same as old pistol.

        • One of the ways a govt purchasing agent gets to steer a contract to a pre-determined contractor is through solicitations designed to prove no other contractor can provide the requested item. Expensive, but effective.

  2. The Government procurement process is as flawed as it gets. No matter what a RFP says about the award criteria the contract will be awarded to the lowest bidder because any other decisions actually requires the awarding activity to actually work and provide justification for the award. “Best Value” is nothing but a buzz word.

    • Yes.

      Back a few years ago when I was looking into contracts for my business, I was appalled at the number of projects that were listed as “Sole Source” that had at least 1/2 – 1 dozen companies I knew of off the top of my head that could fulfill the specs.

      That was a head scratcher.

      I finally came to the conclusion that for a small operator like me, not inclined to hire someone whose sole job it was was to “maintain the contract,” DoD and related contracts were not for me.

      The paperwork and similar hassles just weren’t worth it from a cold, hard, objective business standpoint.

      • A large business simply pads a politicians pocket. Then the politician gets the military to put certain provisions into the contract that only they can provide. Every government contract in existence is handled in this exact way.

        • Actually there is a more mundane reason for sole-sourcing. Simply put, large corporations likely have more experience, are more reliable in deliveries, and do have deep pockets should legal action be necessary. Smaller businesses can easily be overwhelmed by the volume requirements in government orders, and fail to perform (all too many examples). An additional concern to government purchasing agents is the time and expense of ramp-up and familiarization with the requirements. As a tax payer, would you want your money spent on contractors with a proven history and ability to more easily absorb government contract provisions and oversight, or would you prefer to gamble on a smaller, inexperienced enterprise to get it right the first time? There was once a $500million contract for facility maintenance and repair across the country. The winning contractor also had a requirement to sub-contract 3% of all work to disadvantaged businesses. The winner was a name-brand national company with decades of experience, and a nation-wide network of service centers. After a pre-bid conference detailing requirements, and after a post-award conference again detailing requirements and expectations, the national company came back 6mos later and said they did not understand that the term “firm fixed price” meant exactly that. The contractor admitted they believed a) the words didn’t really mean what they state and b) they didn’t think they could make money at a firm fixed price. This was a huge corporation. Would a regional or smaller company have been able to muster the required workforce and resources any better? Would a regional or smaller company have been able to make money on a firm fixed price contract? Even going with sole-source can sometimes not work out right, but the landscape is littered with failed efforts to engage smaller firms for large contracts. If you have been following the blog about the proposal to contract for a new military side arm, one of the concerns posted (and reported in news media) is the ability of some of the gun manufacturers to actually design, produce and ramp-up capability to deliver in the numbers required, on the directed delivery schedule.

  3. Just withdraw from the dum-dum bullet clause of the Hague convention and let our soldiers carry real ammo. Then your M9s will work just fine.

    • I’m not sure what the used of fragmenting and hollow point bullets would do for the battlefield. Certainly they would cause more damage to the body but when fighting against people with body armor wouldn’t ball ammo be better? Not a ballistics expert.

      • Against body armor ball ammo is just as useless. A modern ballistic tip duty load is superior to ball in almost every way.

        • Yet there are other considerations. How much ammo weighs, costs, and performance need to be considered. Is it better to choose a lighter overall weight and carry more rounds or is it better to carry heavier ammo and less rounds? Can the bullets be made in massive quantity, by multiple manufacturers, at a reasonable cost? Personally, I don’t understand why the military got away from the .45 in the first place.

        • Gman,

          You answered your own question. The biggest difference between .45 and 9mm is weight per round. I can pack two rounds of 9mm for every round of .45. With modern bullet designs, the 9mm is just as effective in a sidearm and far more controllable for the end user.

          Not every soldier or Marine is a 250lb tactically operational operator. In fact, the troops who tend to be issued sidearms tend to be on the lower end of the PT scale to begin with. For them, a 9mm round offers the perfect combination of performance, weight, and controllability. A pistol will never replace a rifle, but within its expected performance envelope a 9mm handgun is far preferable to a .45 ACP 1911. It’s lighter, carries more ammo, and your troops should be reliably able to hit something with it. The slight degradation in performance, again when using modern ammunition, is more than offset by these advantages.

          Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of .45 ACP, but I don’t have to lug around a full sized duty pistol all day in what is, essentially, an office environment.

        • Buy Glock 17s with the same discount law enforcement gets, train with Winchester Train, load for combat with Winchester Defend.

          That’s my bit of government contract work done.

    • They should’ve taken Beretta up on the M9a3 and been done with it. It addressed a lot of their complaints about the M9 and was going to be cheaper on the tax payer to boot.

      • Yes, exactly. Beretta listened to the problems, came up with a decent solution, and is ready to go. But no, doing that would not line Lockheed or Northrup’s pockets with $5 million to do some study to find out shit that half the commenters on TTAG could just tell them for free.

      • One of the biggest complaints I heard about the M9 was the fact that the slide was too easy to pop off and the safety was too easy to engage accidentally. A striker fired design or a P220 series would address both those problems. Charging an M9 in gloves without actuating the safety is damn near impossible. What’s worse, that same safety is very hard to disengage under stress.

        • The slide was too easy to pop-off??? Only in Lethal Weapon 4. Not a concern.

          As far as the safety being to easy to put on, that is a real concern. But it is easily solved by 1) the lower profile safety lever or better yet 2) just going with the G model (safety lever sprung to up) and – God forbid – teaching people how DA autos actually work. That would stop NCOs with nothing better to do from running around and wringing their hands because “your safety is off”.

        • @achmed

          I’ve popped the slide off an M9 using an overhand charging technique gripping the slide in the middle. It’s very easy to push the button and the lever without feeling it. This is especially true on worn pistols where those parts don’t have as much spring tension on them. My point is that with a good design, that should not be possible. I was never issued an M9 so it’s not really a problem for me, but I’ve heard people bitch about that non-stop. Having recreated the failures, I can agree that even the slide thing is an issue. (less common, but still an issue)

        • On a side note, as one of those NCOs running around busting people’s balls for safety discipline… There’s a good reason why. I’ve seen idiots walk around with their M9s holstered with the hammer back. That’s just pants on head retarded.

        • @pwrserge

          Well, I was issued it and carried it a year in Mosul and never worried about the slide coming off. I’m sure if you tried you could manage to take the slide off in something that looked like racking it overhand. Most people that complain about this as a problem saw it in the movies. I will grant you that this is a weakness of the design. And it is a POTENTIAL problem if you are grappling over the pistol, but an adversary in that situation could deactivate about any auto. Anyway, in a combat zone you should be shooting him on the way in before he lays a hand on your gun.

          As far as the safety, this is a DA/SA auto pistol. The thumb safety decocks the pistol. If the safety is then placed back on fire, the gun is fired with a long DA pull like a DA revolver. There is ZERO safety-related reason to leave the safety on at that point. The gun also has a passive internal firing pin safety. (Of course you can’t be walking around with the hammer cocked, that is different). Now, leaving the safety on does have an advantage if somebody snatches your gun. But that is not a safety reason.

          All of this is why Beretta came out with the G model, for people who just want to use the safety as a decocker. Do you believe the 92G is unsafe? Anyway, if you corrected me in Mosul, no offense, but after you turned the corner I just chuckled and put the gun back back on fire in case I needed it. I didn’t want to mess with the poorly placed safety.

          This discussion is emblematic of many things wrong with DoD acquisitions. Instead of spending the money for more training time and ammo, and teaching people the right way, it makes more sense to funnel another $50 million to some beltway bandit for a study about obvious stuff.

        • The other thing we could do better in the Army is – shocker – actually maintain small arms. “Maintain” not as in do stupid white glove inspections of M16s or destroy the rifling with steel cleaning rods, but at least roughly track round counts on small arms and do preventative replacement of springs and small parts.

        • Given that my favorite home carry is a SIG-P220 (sadly, the Walther must take it’s place when I venture outside), I think you know my answer to your safety question. I very rarely busted balls over M9 safeties, I did bust balls over idiots who carried them like they were 1911s. (The M9 safety rant was something I reserved for people who pissed me off for other reasons.) Switching to the G model makes a lot of sense to people who know about guns and their practical use. To the average procurement drone? Not so much. The really hilarious part is that swapping all the M9s in service to a G configuration would only require a few spare parts and some armorer time. No new pistol required.

        • The Taurus PT-92 is the perfect cure for these “ills.”

          The PT-series is the original Beretta 92 “optimized” with the magazine release moved up to be thumb-operated and the Safety Lever functions as both Safety and Decocker. And because the Taurus Safety/Decocker is frame-mounted; ala JMB’s M1911; no accidental engagement while racking the slide.

          Since the design is virtually identical to the M9 the armorers would require only minimal training on the gun’s internals.

          FYI: the Beretta barrel and locking block mechanism fits the Taurus perfectly…and a simple change to the mag release would allow for the Taurus to accept the Beretta magazines quite nicely.

          I’m certain that for a government contract like this, Taurus would be more than willing to forge its own “Vertec”-style frames…like those that the Beretta M9A3 utilizes.

          And the “kicker” here would be that the Taurus _should_ be millions of dollars cheaper to obtain. 🙂

        • Taurus?

          No inter-changeable barrels, no adjustments to the grip, no interchangeable frames, not multi-caliber capable. Government is looking for a Swiss Army Knife weapon, not a bastardized single function piece of steel or plastic.

    • 1) We never actually signed it.
      2.) It only forbids the use of expanding bullets on like and similar nations with recognized militaries who signed it. So “if” we signed it, we couldn’t use expanding bullets on English troops, but it would be A-OK on jihadi terrorists. However, we are a nation of political pussies, so we abide by a document we never agreed to, on enimies that’s are not even recognized in the document.

    • The “Dum Dum” clause is Article IV (3) of the 1899 Hague Convention. We don’t have to withdraw from it because the United States never signed it and it was never ratified by the US Senate.

      McCain is, has and always will be a political hack. And as in all other things he expounds on, he is 100% wrong about the pistol procurement.

      The Army is going to stick with the 9mm (and all federal agencies will be changing to it shortly) and the only off the shelf pistol that matches the procurement spec is the Sig P320.

      Holsters for the M9 and M11 with accept the P320 as will the magazine pouches so no new gear there. The bullet accepted will be something close to the 124 gr HP Gold Dot or something very similar.

      Mark down the date and time boys and girls because I will win the “name the pistol and bullet” sweepstakes.

  4. Good God almighty. How hard is this shit to figure out. It’s going to be 9mm. They’re not going back to 45 as much as a lot of people love it. .357 Sig and .40 are both bad choices because they beat up guns and the Army does not maintain pistols as it is. Knowing DoD acquisitions there’s probably some retarded “capabilities” chart where half the capabilities have nothing to do with winning gunfights.

    Your tax dollars at work!

  5. The A81 9mm pistol procurement process:

    1. Look at ammoseek for Federal HST 9mm +P 124 grain HST
    2. Buy product located in item 1.
    3. Load product in item 1 into Sig 226, or modified Goocks. Done!

    Then A81 reads TTAG and starts jonesing for a 229 Legion…

    Seriously Winchester Ranger or HST would work great on the ammo front. The M9 is ok, but an American-made Sig 226, Glock, M&P, Sig 320, 1911, etc. would all work just fine. I eliminated Croation, German, Austrian, and non-US guns because LE and military try to contract stuff made in the US. I eliminated Remington because they suck, and didnt include Ruger because they aren’t making a high end 1911. In not sure if Walther and HK have any production plants in the US.

    • I went to the range on Saturday, fired 5 different pistols, and then sat down to clean them. Without going into too much specifics, I would note that the Sig 320 was By Far the quickest to clean well. I was just doing field strips on everything, but with the 320 I could remove the entire serialized trigger/mechanical pack, and then thoroughly clean it and the frame with no further disassembly. Glocks are quicker to clean than most pistols, but the 320 is in a class by itself.

      Also, whatever finish they use to coat the outside of the barrel is just bombproof – much better than the coating on my 226 or any Glocks.

  6. Isn’t the point of having a common round to share logistics with others in a pinch? And how many enemy combatants have been killed by short vs long gun fire? As a secondary weapon, I’d pretty much prioritize weight and reliability over anything else. The only nod I’ll give is to the .45acp for subsonic suppression, but the general army doesn’t need it. My conclusion: polymer gun firing 9mm nato, or don’t change.

    • C.S.

      Your questions and comments are getting to the heart of the matter. What does the U.S. military want a combat handgun to do? Once they decide that, they can figure our which cartridge and then which handgun.

      If the U.S. military is going to hamstring themselves with ball ammunition which is about the worst possible bullet design for rapidly stopping hostilities, then .45 ACP is the best choice in ball ammunition. (The bigger, the better when it comes to ball ammo.) If the U.S. military will allow semi or full wadcutters, hardcast lead with large meplates, and/or hollowpoints, then other calibers might make more sense.

      The final question to ask: does the U.S. military want a handgun that can penetrate standard level II ballistic vests? If so, that rapidly narrows the viable field of viable cartridges (cough, 5.7, cough).

        • Good question.

          I have also thought about a sabot round for .357 Magnum with something like a 50 grain, .23 caliber bullet. A full power load coming out of a six inch barrel would have to be pushing every bit of 2,000 feet per second at the muzzle. However, I doubt such a round would be CHEAP which means the military would probably not be interested … not to mention the fact that we are talking about a revolver platform.

        • Hah! I just realized that a .22 TCM is basically a .357 Magnum cartridge necked down to .22 caliber! Who needs a sabot round for .357 Magnum when you can just neck down the case?!?!?!?

        • U_S:

          Yep. 🙂

          The cost per round is right around $0.35-0.40, so it’s not too far out of line with 9mm. The rounds themselves pack in about like a 9mm does, and they’re lighter per round.

          The recoil is unbelievably light and the slide is very easy to rack – small pill moving very fast, so minimal recoil for the muzzle energy.

          The big fireball and earth-shattering “ka-BOOM” might be an issue, however.

  7. We know what we’re getting: A 9×19 plastic fantastic. I just wish they would roll a dice over it and take whoever won the first roll.

  8. HPs are now allowed in combat. That was a recent change in policy which could give the 9mm a much needed performance boost if the right ammo is chosen. Having spent 10 years in the DoD procurement system, I’d like to point out that price is not the bottom line, but it is a factor. Quality is hard to judge on a developmental system, but more easily assessed on an existing product. The track record of the company in delivering acceptable merchandise in a timely manner at the agreed to price is taken into account. Multi-sourcing is another option, in case one company can’t do it all. Life cycle costs are perhaps the hardest element to factor, and one can never be sure the company will still be around and able to perform quality service in 20 years. So part of the decision is always a crap shoot. The idea of buying COTS (commercial off the shelf) merchandise is based on the notion that the troops would prefer getting better equipment now rather than the best equipment later. This seems to work best for many consumable and disposable products, but not as well for complex systems that may be needed for decades. Yes, DoD has long emphasized legacy weapon systems, but technology changes so rapidly today that by the time the specs are written and approved, they may be obsolete. DoD has been adapting to this reality, but it has been difficult for the procurement process to transition to such flexibility and agility. Certainly it can be done, but we are talking about the nation’s largest bureaucracy. It’s a Gordian knot that may best be unraveled the way Alexander the Great did it, but I’ll leave that to others to decide. As for acquiring new handguns for the military, my preferred solution is to allow members to acquire their own and demonstrate proficiency with them. All DoD need do is specify acceptable caliber(s). For those who do not wish to purchase a sidearm, let them be issued something COTS. I wouldn’t put a lot of time and money into this. DoD has far greater concerns to deal with, and a pistol, like a knife, tends to be a very personal item.

    • They are not allowed in combat simply because we insist of not withdrawing from a 100 year old treaty that was written when autoloading weapons were still newfangled inventions. There is no logical reason why the military should not be allowed to use the same ammunition as police.

        • and no we didn’t and by the way, if the US Senate doesn’t ratify the treaty, it has not effect.

          If it did, we would already be surrendering our firearms to the UN like President Sparklefarts wants.

        • Have read where (not documented today) the SC declared that if the US acts to fulfill the provisions of a treaty, the treaty stands as ratified, supplanting federal law (and maybe the constitution). In contracting law, this is called “ratification” by action. In international law, this might be under the term “accession”, or some similar word meaning acquiesce, or act as if.

        • whatever……………….

          But 106 years later both Great Britain and the US are still not signatories to the convention

        • Apples and Oranges Bud. One is a matter of internal law, the other is a matter of executive policy. The President can choose to implement any treaty he signs, ratified or not, so long as the scope of the action falls within his existing authority.

        • I don’t see your point, as mentioned we’ve got SEAL, Recon, and Ranger teams, which are also some of the best and most respected SF units on the planet.

        • Don’t forget their other UKSFs: SBS, SFSG & SRR, along with the Canuks’ PPCLI. 🙂

          Never forget that modern “Special Forces” originated with the British Army’s Commandos and the combined service (Canadian/American) “The Black Devils” (aka: “The Devil’s Brigade”).

    • The British carry Israeli style (Condition 3 = magazine inserted, no round in chamber) and prefer to rack on drawing. This is not a common carry method for U.S. Military who prefer to go Condition 1 (round in chamber with Safety on) to eliminate having to rack the slide.
      To sum up, the Brits train differently and have different requirements that may not translate to us.

      • We of the USAF Security Police…er, “Security Forces”…carry the M9 in a version of “Condition 2”: loaded magazine, round chambered, hammer down, Safety OFF.

        Just “Draw, Aim & Squeeze.”

        • safe enough for revolvers, right? why not da/sa auto-loaders?

          which kinda makes you wonder why any da/sa auto-loader needs a safety, of any kind,

  9. Obama should ban the military from carrying guns. Guns are dangerous and too often used against peaceful Muslims. This would set a good example for the public that would pave the way to a gun free peaceful world.

  10. Govt employees are generally terrible at requirements development/analysis. Outcomes based contracting is demanding of thought and understanding….on the part of the requestor. Govt just cannot get away from heavy specificaitons (generally related to fuzzy internal processes, or the desire to steer a contract). Because every clause in the govt contracting reg is the result of vendors cheating (yes, cheating) throughout our history, govt believes that if they can nail-down every aspect of a contact, the contractor will have little or no wiggle room to over-charge and/or supply a defective product. Great theory, but non-govt contracting types are more experienced and wily than their govt counterparts. So, it is not surprising the govt ends-up with a product that is worse than intended, at a much higher cost. (F-35, anyone?).

  11. Go to the M&P with a thumb safety and be done with it.

    Not that I’m a fan of thumb safeties, but from my time in the .mil I can almost guarantee they won’t trust their regular troops with a pistol that doesn’t have one.

    • “Not that I’m a fan of thumb safeties, but from my time in the .mil I can almost guarantee they won’t trust their regular troops with a pistol that doesn’t have one.”

      Very true:

      Few people even know that Browning’s own “final design” for his .45 ACP pistol was the M1910; and that it was designed to be carried with a round chambered and the hammer cocked: the “safety” being that the Grip Safety had to be depressed for the weapon to fire.

      To satisfy the Army’s “exe spurts” he had add the Thumb Safety; hence the “M1911”; but even then the Army required the troops to carry the pistol in “Condition 3.”

  12. 1) This is an awful lot of pain, effort, and money to spend on a backup weapon system. The time and money would be much better spent to improve the soldiers’ primary weapons system or some other aspect of their gear. If a better handgun is needed for special applications, they should do a limited procurement instead of a service-wide replacement.

    2) Seriously, how many top handgun makers are not also large defense contractors? Beretta, SIG, H&K, Glock, and FN are all defense contractors, even if they don’t all have US contracts.

    3) There really isn’t much new in the way of handguns in the last century. Either they use some version of Browning’s tilting barrel or Walther’s fixed barrel. If anyone is innovating, they are keeping it quiet. Given the sameness of everything on the market, there isn’t much chance that the Army will miss out on the next great thing in handguns.

    There are a lot of problems with the Army’s procurement process, but I think Senator McCain is barking up the wrong tree.

    • I just the other day handled a handgun with a rotating barrel locking system. Also, there have been decent firearms with Pedersen actions, though the recent Remingtion 51 was not one of them.

      • You’re right, I missed one. The rotating barrel has been around for a long time too, as has Pederson’s action. Pederson’s action has never worked well for high pressure cartridges. The .380 is the most anyone has been able to get it to handle reliably. Either way, you still have a pistol with a magazine in the grip and a slide operating on the short recoil principle. No variation on how the barrel moves (or doesn’t move) has been proven superior for a service weapon.

  13. This is a stupid debate that will result in millions wasted. The handgun is a secondary weapon in all US armed forces. Period. It’s doubtful, and probably impossible to ever get HP’s for 9mm approved for general us outside MP’s and MSGs. 9mm ball ammo doesn’t penetrate even level IIa armor. If we are fighting troops wearing IV armor (which we never have) then it’s of limited value. So you need a .45 to at least stun your opponent and knock them on their ass. If they are unarmored (which most of our adversaries have been ) then a .45 ball will be just fine to do the job whereas a 9mm ball is of questionable effectiveness. It’s why many SpecForces are going back to the .45 with their own procurement abilities. Lot’s of .45’s available these days, pick one. For a military secondary weapon, where ball ammo is likely to be the only ammo type ever used, it makes the most sense. There – I just saved the GOV millions and now we can move on.

    • That’s McCain’s point. Picking the a new pistol when we’re still using a century old ammunition design is pants on head retarded. A far better option is to withdraw from the ammunition sections of the Hague convention.

    • Special Operations Forces are not going back to the .45, sorry .45 fanboys. Delta gave up the .45 and 1911 almost a decade ago and went with Glocks. Marsoc’s famed 1911 Colts they got, didn’t work out so well. Why they now have Glock 19s. The major use of 45s in SOCOM was for suppressed use in either the MK23 or 24. Which is slowly dissappearing thanks to the .30 BLK.

  14. IMHO – Gov procurement does what it can. I (again IMHO) think our Uncle (Sam) fields our troops with some of the very finest stuff.

    PERSONALLY – I was happy with the M9 [I’ll pause whilst I’m stoned to death]. But I hope, no matter what, that (all the different color green guys on) the BLUE TEAM don’t get anything that’s NOT AT LEAST AS GOOD AS THE M9.


    • This (Colorado Springs) is most definitely a military town, and I hear a lot of griping about the M9–much of which is attributable to the ammunition. I agree 9mm ball is a bad idea. The most economical upgrade would be to switch the ammo and keep the gun. That would give something that I suspect is more effective than 45 ball fired out of whatever model you fancy (be it a 1911 or a G21).

  15. Many good points.
    The safety, slide release and stopping power (shot placement matters far more than caliber or type of bullet) are all addressed by training. No new hand gun will fix Training issues. Add to that numerous NDs and the USMC and Army are getting away from issuing pistols to anyone not Battalion Commander or SgtMaj or above. The specification was written vaguely to prove that there is no proper replacement and the Army can keep the M-9.

      • Except that the Army has more discussions about the color of socks to wear with the PT uniform (black vs white) than about pistol anything. Replacing the pistol is clearly not a priority.

      • One govt sometimes tries to move industry is to look into the private market and see what is available. If they find something that can easily (a big, big if) meet requirements, the statement of work/statement of objectives just might point to one vendor/contractor. Good RFPs will allow time for industry to analyze and decide if existing products can be reasonably modified to meet the requirements (which are best put in words of outcomes, not details). Industry can determine if there is enough market outside government that will supplement the cost of modifying or developing new product. In the best of circumstances, companies will attempt to compete with products near what the government wants, and near what already exists that meets requirements.

        But if the taxpayer wants government to purchase the best available, and only one company makes that product, what would you have government do? Would we be happy to have the government declare, “We looked around, found something that is a near-perfect fit, but in order to be fair, we accepted something less because there were more companies available to produce a less adequate product.”

        Of course, there are always those who think a piece of pipe, a bullet, a rubber band and a nail is a suitable firearm, and cheap at twice the price.

    • To be fair, the safety is a design flaw, not a training issue. Charging the pistol without hitting the safety requires far more dexterity than most people are capable of in the middle of an adrenaline dump.

  16. The round is the most important factor. The delivery vehicle less so, but there must be a consistent rationale between the two. For instance, if 9mm is chosen due to minimal weight for round count, then a plastic gun must also be selected for the same reason. And multiple user adjustability, reliability and ease of maintenance all steer towards the SIG 320. All that now remains is the price per unit, where SIG has always been at a disadvantage. But that pales in comparison to the wastage in the bid process. So SIG it is. Sorted.

    • Not so fast.

      One use for an RFP is defensive. If an agency is pressured to make a purchase the agency doesn’t really want (and Army Ord folks would prefer infantry and others have single-shot .22s so as to conserve ammunition, and “make every shot count”), the agency creates an RFP with requirements that cannot be achieved. Once the bids are in, and no contractor qualifies, the agency staff can report back that they tried, but there was no way to actually obtain the item. Staff then goes back to protecting other sections of turf.


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