Should The U.S. Army Replace The Beretta M9 ?

T.G.I.F. and what a week it was. This Friday’s shoot-the-shit topic is about the U.S. Army’s Modular Handgun System (MHS) or more commonly known as the quest to retire a tried and true venerable veteran, the M9 9mm semiautomatic service pistol.

I’ve taken the liberty to post the solicitation synopsis below; however, if you’d like to read it at the source simply click here.

Solicitation Number: W15QKN15R0002

Notice Type: Special Notice

Synopsis:

Added: Sep 29, 2014 9:58 am

Solicitation Number: W15QKN-15-R-0002
Notice Type: Modular Handgun System – Special Notice To Post DRAFT RFP
THIS IS A DRAFT RFP FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. PLEASE DO NOT SUBMIT PROPOSALS.
The Army Contracting Command-New Jersey (ACC-NJ), on behalf of Project Manager Soldier Weapons (PM SW) anticipates awarding an Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) Firm-Fixed Price (FFP) Contract to support the Modular Handgun System (MHS). This Full & Open Competition (F&OC) intends to award 3 IDIQ contracts for Production Verification Testing (PVT) units and then down select to one awardee for production units.
The Government is encouraging industry feedback to see if there are cost drivers in various areas that do not add value. Please submit questions via email to Vincent Turco, at vincent.f.turco.civ@mail.mil; and Dan Potempa at: daniel.l.potempa2.civ@mail.mil; not later than Wednesday, 15 October 2014 5:00 PM EST.
The Modular Handgun System (MHS) will consist of a new handgun, ammunition, supporting accessories, and spare parts. The system will consist of a full size and compact handgun or just one handgun that meets full size and compact requirements. The MHS will replace the existing family of handguns in Army inventory, leverage commercial technology to mitigate gaps and shortcomings in presently fielded weapons, and counter current and emerging threats. The MHS is planned as a competitive acquisition seeking a commercial/Non-Developmental Item solution to provide Warfighters with a best-value system that features increased lethality, increased accuracy, improved ergonomics, and a higher degree of reliability/durability over legacy handgun systems. The applicable NAICS codes are: 332994 and 332992.
To obtain a copy of the latest DRAFT Purchase Description (PD) AR-PD-177, AR-PD-179, AR-PD-180, AR-PD-183, AR-PD-184 and other Distribution D documents, interested parties must email a signed and approved DD Form 2345 Military Critical Technical Data Agreement, a completed AMSTA AR Form 1350 Technical Data Questionnaire, and a completed and signed Non-Disclosure / Non-Use Agreement
to Mr. Vincent Turco (email: vincent.f.turco.civ@mail.mil) and Dan Potempa (email: daniel.l.potempa2.civ@mail.mil) or mail to same at the address listed below.
This announcement should not be construed as a Request for Proposal (RFP) or a commitment by the U.S. Government. The U.S. Government does not intend to award a contract on the basis of this announcement. THIS IS NOT A SOLICITATION AND DOES NOT OBLIGATE THE U.S. GOVERNMENT TO ISSUE A SOLICITATION. The U.S. Government will NOT ACCEPT proposals at this time.
This event is for U.S. Government planning purposes only and constitutes a request for exchange of information pursuant to FAR 15.201.

The Army has established four pillars of performance and those are:

  1. Modularity
  2. Enhanced Precision
  3. Enhanced Recoil Recovery
  4. Ergonomics

Taking those line item by line item I’ll start with modularity.

Does anyone really know what the U.S. Army envisions Modularity to mean: caliber conversion, different shaped slides, different length barrel, interchangeable fire control group? By Army definition the pistol is a secondary weapon. Better yet, what is it about the M9 and M9A1 that is not modular. The only thing you need on a pistol is a rail system for accessories like lasers and light and maybe a choice of frame sizes.

Moving to Enhanced Precision, the Army is looking for a pistol that will deliver a 4″ group throughout the 35,000 round expected service life of the system 90% of the time. I don’t know of a pistol on the market, from a major company, that does not meet or exceed that requirement COTS, including the Beretta M9 at 25 yards.

So, how would you address the precision issue? Training! Soldiers are not being trained adequately, and by all indications there is a conspicuous absence of sustainment.

Enhanced Recoil Recovery is something that a manufacturer can get his teeth into and there are a number of recoil mitigation strategies already in place, but this is what the Army is looking for:

Regardless of caliber, the pistol needs to be able to come back on target quickly so that soldiers can make rapid and accurate follow-up shots, since handguns are inherently weak compared to rifles.

However, as all pistol shooters know, this is not solely a pistol issue it’s a shooter issue to be addressed through training. Any blowback design has enough mass moving rearward that will cause the muzzle to rise. So, I’m not sure what the Army’s thought process is with this one.

The last point is Ergonomics. Shooting is like running, the gun must fit the shooter’s hands if you want to shoot well, no different than your running shoes, and I see this as an important issue.  However, the downside is that it forces the Army into a polymer frame pistol decision. And quite frankly I would not want to go to war with a polymer frame anything. So maybe the solution to the problem is standardize on two or three models offering the desired ergonomics.

My personal experience with the M9

  1. simple to maintain
  2. accurate (excellent sight radius)
  3. reliable
  4. adequate magazine capacity
  5. safe to handle
  6. fits my hand like a champ

Chime in and share your thoughts with us. This is a shoot-the-shit so anything goes!

Have A Great Weekend Everybody!

 

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