Smith & Wesson M&P9 Eliminated from Army Handgun Competition

S&W M&P, c Nick Leghorn

The Army’s Modular Handgun System competition continues to chug along, shedding contenders which don’t make the cut. The latest victim, according to Smith & Wesson’s own SEC filings, is the S&W M&P9.

The concept behind the MHS competition is to find one firearm platform that can be modified to fit any role, from full size combat handguns for front line troops to compact concealable versions for investigators and military police. Previously the military had to stock completely different firearms to fit each specific role which had the unfortunate consequence that none of the magazines or spare parts fit and the gunsmith spare parts kit size pulled a Donald Trump.

We have already seen a couple competitors fall away, and S&W isn’t a surprising addition to the discard pile. Still in the running are the top competitors in my opinion: GLOCK and SIG SAUER. The GLOCK 17M and 19M have a lot of parts commonality and can achieve the requirements of the contract with an existing and proven system. SIG SAUER’s P320 on the other hand is tailor made to exactly meet the spirit of the contract by providing an extremely modular handgun system. Personally I think the P320 is going to be the eventual winner but we will have to see.


  1. avatar Tile Floor says:

    I didn’t realize they were still plugging away at this, I feel like every other “competition” as of late it will get totally scrapped in the end anyway.

    1. avatar neiowa says:

      Its all theater. None will ever be purchased. Certainly if Hellery is elected.

      1. avatar tdiinva (now in Wisconsin} says:

        I said this from the beginning. It doesn’t matter who gets elected, a pistol is well down on the Army’s list of shortfalls. They don’t even need a new pistol until the next decade because will be buying out the Beretta contract. I think OSD/CAPE is going to tell them that if they want something new then they should by the A3. Beretta addressed all the Army’s issues with the pistol.

    2. avatar David Acklam says:

      That’s because the Army is fond of having competitions to buy things we actually do not need… Like a new mass-issue pistol.

      With the exception of SF, Aviation, MPs, and Medics, the pistol is a ‘status symbol weapon’.

      Troops aren’t taught to use it in combat…
      It’s a way for people to show off the fact that they work in an office all day while deployed, and are high enough ranking to not need a ‘real’ weapon…

      There are millions of other things the Army actually needs, other than new general-issue firearms.

      If we are going to replace a plain-old gun, replace the M2HB for crying out loud (keep the caliber, but switch to a modern, gas-operated machine gun, a ’50cal M240′ if you were… Something similar to the Russian KORD)…

      1. avatar Hoplopfheil says:

        If I was an officer and got to carry a “decorative” weapon, I’d want it to be one of the old Colt 1903s.

  2. avatar gargoil says:

    i would agree. this seems to be exactly what sig was marketing for when they created the p320.

  3. avatar 2A approved says:

    So its not a performance problem, its a logistics problem.

    1. avatar Detroiter says:

      Most military program requirements are driven by logistics problems. The cost of training and stocking and stock piling is huge. Let alone the cost of doing that half a world away.

      Just one example: the cost of a 5 dollar gallon of fuel in theater balloons to well over 500 dollars (minimum–)after transport

      Other parts are no different.

  4. avatar Gilbert says:

    I shoot/carry a SIG P226 and have shot the compact 320 in 9mm
    I really like the same trigger press on every round, but only have been able to shoot the compact with medium grips.
    Would love to get a carry size with large grips to test drive.
    Would possibly be my new carry gun, and the next “last gun I will ever buy”
    PS: Hate the mushy trigger on the 2 Glocks I’ve shot, but has only been 2 guns, and the grip angle on one of them had me shooting the ceiling.

  5. avatar Hello World says:

    Stupid. Switch to the 6.5 bullet already for rifles. Handguns are almost unnecessary. Have them choose between a 9mm or .45 depending on preference.

      1. avatar Hello World says:

        Yes. Better stopping power, still light weight, fits in AR mags, excellent at distance, same lowers…why not? A pistol is pretty useless most of the time when in combat.

        1. avatar Sunshine_Shooter says:

          There are so many, expensive logistics problems with what you are advocating, and to fix a problem that doesn’t really exist.

        2. avatar The Other Matt says:

          A pistol is useless in combat??

          Tell that to Sgt. York

      2. avatar anonymoose says:

        The latest LSAT carbine is a real chunk (heavier than a SCAR-H), but it launches a 123gr 6.5 boolit out of a carbine barrel at 3000fps, which is what a 6.5 Creedmoor does out of a 28″ barrel. I’m not saying it will be the next infantry rifle, but it would be one hell of a DMR.

        Also, the pencilpushers will make the decision on the MHS, as they did with the 92SB, and the Glock 17M will “win,” even if it’s the self-disassembling model, and I am saying this as someone who hates Glocks and especially 9mm Glocks.

    1. avatar Stuki Moi says:

      5.56 is perfectly adequate way beyond the range of almost all engagements, and beyond most soldiers’ range of accuracy.

      The trend towards ever shorter barrels, “may” indicate a caliber increase. But then, the concomitant trend towards higher velocity for armor piercing, along with lower recoil for close range urban ops, pulls in the opposite direction.

      Fitting it all in one weapon, isn’t going to be easy. Once the generation of “analysts” who made their career from pooh-poohing subguns are replaced with fresher minds, perhaps we will be back to a bifurcation between urban and open field weapons.

      There have been plenty of advancements in potential subgun calibers since the heyday of the MP5. Just as, like you point out, there is now plenty of evidence that 6.5 is one heck of a caliber for more open range firefights. Particularly as improvements in optics, ranging and spotting, enable engagement at ever longer ranges.

      1. avatar David Acklam says:

        Logistics trumps ‘the perfect gun’ in any fight.

        If you issue both SMGs and rifles (rather than rifle-caliber carbines) you have to stock, supply & issue 2 different calibers of ammunition.

        That makes for a major supply-chain headache at all levels.

        By standardizing on 3 *essential* calibers (5.56, 7.62×54, 50BMG) you reduce the amount of supplies you have to truck to/from operational units substantially.

        While there are more ‘special’ types of ammo issued, in a pinch troops can fire the ‘stock’ stuff through any issued weapon… It may not work as-well, but it will *work*.

        This no longer applies once you start making multiple STD-A issue weapons for the same role (like an ‘urban’ rifle/SMG, vs an ‘open field’ one).

        Beyond that, there is very little difference in combat-power achieved by changing small-arms around. The real killing power is in belt-fed MGs & artillery.

  6. avatar David B says:

    I expect the .gov to change the rules at the last minute or just ignore the rules altogether and just give it to Glock. Remember a few years back, Ruger, who acts like they are above criticism, ran a contest asking folks to submit their modified 10/22. The winner of the best modified and customized gun would see their gun mass produced. The rules were clear you could submit 1 gun and it had to be real. The winner was a guy who submitted 2 guns that were photoshopped.
    This is no different. Somebody will slip a few Benjamins into the right hands and Glock will emerge the victor. Has Glock ever been known to skirt the law?

    1. avatar neiowa says:

      So your think outcome will depend on what $300 or $700? Right.

  7. avatar Ryan says:

    So should they just call it the Smith & Wesson P from now on?

    1. avatar BLoving says:

      Very cute! But no, seriously: the “M&P” designation is an homage to the Military and Police models like the classic Model 10, which did serve our soldiers in limited numbers for several decades.
      On a different note: I’d still have liked to see Ruger toss their new American model into the ring.

  8. avatar Ryan says:

    So should they just call it the Smith & Wesson P from now on?

  9. avatar Omer Baker says:

    Does this mean S&W will change M&P to just P if the military won’t use them?

  10. avatar Hannibal says:

    It’s funny how they purposefully set criteria to exclude the Glock and Glock went and changed its pistol just enough so they had to bring it in the trials anyway… would be funny if it won but I think there have to be people behind the scenes making sure that won’t happen, for some reason.

    1. avatar Five says:

      I agree. When you see one entry that seems perfectly-exactly tailored to the requirements, especially if the requirements are rather detailed, then it is more likely the requirements were actually tailored to fit one specific entry and that the winner had been pre-determined before the bid was even opened.

    2. avatar David Acklam says:

      Glock’s ‘stock’ design *should* be excluded, due to the lack of a manual safety.

      Most of the Army’s non-MP ‘pistol wearers’ would shoot themselves in the leg/foot/whatever if issued a Glock.

  11. avatar Tim says:

    Big ‘win’ for S&W. The sooner they get off that sinking ship, the better. No one should want that contract.

  12. avatar Fred Frendly says:

    If Hillary wins the military wont need new guns, they will be disarmed in her quest for “smart power.”

    Search the name “Sgt. Derrick Miller”, the DOD railroaded him into a life sentence at Leavenworth for shooting an Afghan insurgent who tried to steal his gun. Because killing the enemy on the battlefield is racist, xenophobic, or something. Doesnt seem to matter he is a black guy, Al Sharpton and the BLM gang have no comment.

  13. avatar Ralph says:

    The military is so patriotic that it just eliminated the only American-owned company from the competition. Nice.

    1. avatar Raoul Duke says:

      Well to be fair the Smith isn’t that reliable of a handgun. Look up the Military Arms Channel on YouTube where his testing that included the other competitors showed the Smith to be the least reliable of the three. A handgun going into the elements of a battlefield needs to handle them and the Smith choked badly even in water!

      So the only one at fault here is not Glock (made in Georgia) or Sig (which might as well be considered American now since everything is made in New Hampshire and the Germans don’t want them) making good handguns but S&W making a bad one. Like other posters above said Smith should drop the military moniker in M&P for this gun since it seems that it can only work in a sterile range environment.

      1. avatar MidwestTruther says:

        Military Arms Channel test was NOT a stock M&P 9 but one with a modified trigger (Apex). Full details of the trigger mod were not given. And FWIW- Glock also had FTFs in MAC testing. Other videos posted on YouTube found STOCK M&P 9 to be at least as reliable as Glock, if not better.

  14. avatar TruthTellers says:

    I don’t care which pistol ends up getting chosen, I just want to know what caliber will it be? Will 9mm still be it? Will the Army go back to the .45? Or will something like the .357 Sig or even .40 come out as the new cartridge?

    I’ve thought for the past few years that the .357 Sig could possibly be the next pistol cartridge for the military. It’s got high velocity, tolerable recoil, and the bottleneck design should help decrease failures to feed.

    1. avatar Fred Frendly says:

      No way will NATO standard 9MM be replaced. 45 will still be available to Special Forces.

  15. avatar Locke_n_Load says:

    Glock 17 or 19 with grip cut down for Glock 26 mags, when you need fullsize, you have mag spacers for guys in the sandbox to keep on their mags for a full hand grip. When you to conceal, run 10 round glock 26 mags for shorter grip and less printing. Done.

    1. avatar anonymoose says:

      They don’t really conceal in the military unless they’re some super-secret SOCOM “advisors” with MP7s and crap. The 17 is about the same size as an M9 (maybe a little shorter and thinner). I have a strong dislike for Glocks, but if it had to be a Glock now I’d vote for a G35 with a 9mm conversion barrel so they could potentially go back up to .40 or .357 (which was pretty much the whole point of calling it the “MODULAR Handgun System” in the first place). If Glock made a 21 with a 41-thick slide and a conversion barrel and mags for 9mm, .40, .357, and 10, and the grip-size of the 29/30 (with the 10/11-round pinky mags for normal use of course) it would be the ideal modular Glock. You can change a 20/21/40/41 to 9mm with the right combination of slides, and you could probably fit 18 to 19 rounds of 9mm in a Glock 20 mag, but the feed lips aren’t exactly right for hard use.

  16. avatar Bobiojimbo says:

    Bearing Arms has some more details on which guns are still in the running:

    Apparently the Beretta APX and Sphinx SDP are still contenders.

  17. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    More pointless and expensive shopping for small arms by a military bureaucracy that hasn’t actually won a war since WWII.

    1. avatar Ralph says:

      And in WW2, our military bureaucracy had plenty of help.

  18. avatar W says:

    P320 is a new firearm. Not that many have been issued. Not that many have been stress tested. It would be somewhat of a risk for the Army to order that many, given the relatively blank slate of their issuance/ performance.

    The Army should buy something off the rack with a long, good service record. Unless, of course, long, good service records are not the primary objectives.

  19. avatar Frank in VA says:

    I was hoping this article was going to explain why the S&W was cut. Did it fail some endurance test? Was it something else?

    1. avatar Ralph says:

      Good question. S&W announced that it didn’t make the cut, but nobody has said why.

      Maybe it’s because S&W is an American company that sells to American civilians.

  20. avatar Nanashi says:

    If Glock wins, I wonder if we’ll see a bigger market for Glockless M17. You can already make an entire gun with no OEM parts, though for many parts your options are limited (for lower you have 2 options as far as I know: Lone Wolf or Specter 80%)

  21. avatar Hoplopfheil says:

    They should have picked the Ruger P89 all those years ago… Or the Star Model 28.

  22. avatar Daniel Henderson says:

    Don’t forget that Sig is an American company now based in the Live Free or Die state. Beretta and FN both have sizable manufacturing bases to make whatever is asked. What I don’t know is how large Glock and H&K’s US resources are since most Glocks still are made in Austria and H&K builds just the HK45 on our soil.

  23. avatar WilliamB says:

    I wonder how many who posted here actually used a sidearm in the military…or served at all for that matter. I served but never had or was trained to use a pistol. Our unit in Vietnam only the CO had a pistol. The rest of us had M-16 or M-16 and an M-79 grenade launcher. I think our M-79 guy may have had a choice but chose the M-16 to supplement his single shot grenade launcher. Who even wants a semi auto pistol when you’ve got a rifle with full auto. If I had to face an angry BLM mob, I know what my choice would be.

    BTW, I think some off the shelf reliable pistol in a preferred caliber is what makes sense. The Army can adapt easily enough, although 125 years of experience with semi auto handguns has taught the Army the value of a manual thumb safety. Glock has added safeties for military and police contracts elsewhere. I’m sure they’d have no problem with a G17 thumb safety.

  24. avatar Magicmanmb says:

    Actually pistol makes perfect sense for the urban combat that Jade Helm etc… has been prepping for. It’s likely Obama or God forbid Billary is planning on trashing the posse comitatus act.

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