The 101st Airborne Division Is the First to Get the U.S. Army’s New Sidearm
The M17 and compact M18 are more ergonomic than the M9
Soldiers with the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division have been the first to receive the service’s’ new nine-millimeter pistol. Weapons developers and soldiers say the new M17 and M18 pistol, designed as a followup handgun to the Army’s current M9 Beretta, is expected to change combat tactics and techniques.
“You can close with the enemy in close quarter combat and engage the enemy with one hand. It is tough to do this with the M9,” said Lt. Col. Martin O’Donnell, spokesman for the 101st Airborne.
The new pistol is built with a more ergonomic configuration to better accommodate hand grip techniques for soldiers and rapid hand switching in combat. Developers say the M17 brings much tighter dispersion, improved versatility and accuracy.
“With this weapon, you can change quickly from right hand to left hand. If you are shooting something that is not comfortable on your hand and can’t get a comfortable grip, it is not as accurate,” said Sgt. 1st Class Andrew Flynn, 101st Division Master Gunner.
The new handguns are built with an external safety, self-illuminating sights for low-light conditions, an integrated rail for attachments and an Army standard suppressor conversion kit to attach an acoustic/flash suppressor. “It increases target recognition and increases capability with night sights,” Lt. Col. Steven Power, an Army weapons product manager, said.
The Army is now buying thousands of full-size XM17 and compact XM18 versions of the new nine-millimeter pistol. The XM17 fires 147 grain jacketed hollow-point ammunition.
“This adds a whole new dynamic to close-quarter combat. A standard pistol cannot change grips or allow a soldier to switch from a right-handed shooter to a left-handed shooter. This is a great capability for us to put in play,” Flynn said.
Close-quarters combat, while considered indispensable to successful counter-insurgency warfare, is still relevant to large-scale, force-on-force, mechanized combat. Urban warfare — from city combat in World War II to house-to-house fighting in Hue City in Vietnam — is a long-standing part of major war.
Power explained that the Army’s M17 acquisition effort unfolded on an accelerated timeframe, moving to contract within 10 months. “We are dual arming the infantry at the position of team leader and above,” Power said.
The fast-tracked acquisition effort, which merged work from the Army Research Lab and the Army’s Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center, drew heavily from modeling and simulation to expedite development of the new weapon. The Army has been closely coordinating with the Special Operations community regarding training and development of the new handgun, given the consistency with which close-quarter combat is conducted by SOF.
The M17 and M18 pistols are manufactured by Sig Sauer, who earned the $580 million contract to produce the weapons in January 2017. Other competitors included Glock, FN America and Beretta USA.
This article originally appeared at Scout Warrior.