As we’ve reported, the U.S. Army is in the midst of evaluating and testing entries in a contest to determine what its new service pistol will be. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said this week he could save a lot of time and money by simply making a decision.
“We’re not figuring out the next lunar landing. This is a pistol. Two years to test? At $17 million? You give me $17 million on a credit card, and I’ll call Cabela’s tonight, and I’ll outfit every soldier, sailor, airman, and Marine with a pistol for $17 million. And I’ll get a discount on a bulk buy,” Gen Milley said to an audience at a Washington D.C. think tank on March 10, according to this story from armytimes.com.
Reports have surfaced that Milley is searching for alternatives to the multi-year Modular Handgun System effort, including potentially extending the Army Special Operations Command’s current pistol contract, according to this story from military.com.
The Army launched the XM17 MHS competition in late August, 2015 to find a replacement for the M9 9mm pistol, made by Beretta, which has been the service pistol for the U.S. military since 1985 when it replaced the .45 ACP 1911A1.
Milley has criticized the program’s 356-page requirement document and lengthy testing phase slated to cost $17 million for technology that has existed for years.
The story says that, behind the scenes, Milley has done more than criticize, including asking the Army SOC’s G-8 office, which oversees fielding of equipment, if there is room for the Army to join its pistol contract to buy Glock 19s, according to a source who asked to remain anonymous because he is not authorized to speak to the media.
The Glock 19 is a striker-fired, 9mm pistol with a 4-inch barrel and a capacity of 15 rounds with a standard magazine, and an accessory rail. They retail new for $500-$600 each. The story says the USASOC is currently paying a base price of about $320 for each Glock 19.
At that price, the Army would have to shell out about $91.8 million to buy the 287,000 pistols called for in the MHS effort.
Currently, the MHS program is projected to cost about $350 million, Army officials say. The Glock 19 doesn’t mean many of the requirements in the MHS documentation, including a more powerful chambering than 9mm.
Most special operations forces use 9mm pistols (either Glocks or Sig P226s) or 1911s in .45 ACP.
“I think it’s absolutely ridiculous that you don’t have the authority to pick a pistol for the Army,” U.S. Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA) told Milley during last week’s House Armed Service Committee hearing with all of the service chiefs present.
“I would bet that the four of you in uniform could probably in 10 minutes come up with an agreement on what the platform should be,” he said in the story. “I would think that with a quick click or two on an iPad that you could figure out what the retail price of the pistol was, what a decent price for that pistol was, and what we should be paying for that pistol if were were buying it in the quantities that we were buying it in.”
Scott later said, “I can’t help but wonder that if it’s this bad with a pistol, what about optics, what about rifles; all of the things we are buying? How much bureaucracy is in there? What we could remove that would allow you to equip your men and women better, faster, and with less money?”