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The Military United States Technology

Makers Compete To Produce US Army's Next Official Handgun (military.com) 469

HughPickens.com writes: After 30 years in use, the U.S. Army's official handgun, the Beretta M9 pistol, is being retired. The AP reports that firearms manufacturers are competing for a rare chance to sell the U.S. Army a new handgun that would replace the current Cold War-era model. Critics say the M9 is too bulky for small-handed shooters. Troops who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan complain it's not as hard-hitting as they would like, and it can't easily accommodate the accessories now common in the civilian firearms market, such as swappable gun-sights or gun-mounted lights. "It's a little one size-fits-most" says Rodney Briggs.. "It's been around for a really, really long time, and it's just old and outdated." Read more, below.
Hugh Pickens continues: Army has a lengthy list of requirements. Among them, it wants a handgun with an adjustable grip that can easily fit large or small hands. That way, shooters don't have to adjust their grip mid-fight to operate hard-to-reach buttons or levers. The gun should accommodate sights that make it easier to shoot in low light. It should have a rail on which soldiers can easily attach additional equipment, like infrared pointers. The military also wants a gun that can be equipped with a suppressor, which muffles the sound of gunshots. Beretta intends to enter a new pistol called the APX into the competition. The new gun is a major engineering departure from the M9. It has a polymer frame like more recent handguns and can meet the Army's other requirements. Beretta has publicly complained that the government never formally requested efforts to improve its M9, which the company said is a standard procedure for upgrading platforms. "If you look at the history for a variety of weapons, you'll find all along we'll have used spiral development, product improvement. Where was the requirement they notify prime contractor with an opportunity to fix the problem?" says Howard Yellen, a military adviser for Beretta.
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Makers Compete To Produce US Army's Next Official Handgun

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  • by sycodon ( 149926 ) on Thursday October 22, 2015 @11:48AM (#50781421)

    I'll stick with my Kimber [kimberamerica.com], thank you very much.

    • I have a Kimber too, but the M9 is arguably a better firearm in every way but the trigger. It probably would have made more sense to adopt the Browning Hi-Power way back when IMO, but that's water under the bridge. The 1911 has a bunch of hardly unique but still annoying problems from which most modern firearm designs don't suffer. Having to customize a new MSH or safety for every different 1911 is a bit stupid in this day and age.

      • Re:Kimber (Score:5, Insightful)

        by tripleevenfall ( 1990004 ) on Thursday October 22, 2015 @11:59AM (#50781541)

        Aren't reliability and weight big concerns with the M9?

        I'm not sure why they don't just switch to a Glock in .45. Cheap, durable, repairable, cost-effective, and very reliable.

        The importance of the sidearm is decreasing in warfare, so if you're at the point where you need to use one, you'd probably rather have .45. Being able to carry more ammunition for a pistol doesn't seem like it would be the concern it once was.

        • Re:Kimber (Score:5, Informative)

          by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday October 22, 2015 @12:05PM (#50781607) Homepage Journal

          Aren't reliability and weight big concerns with the M9?

          They're big concerns with the 1911, too. Even a commander-style pistol is still plenty heavy. And the 1911 has extra stuff to go wrong, especially if you load it up with an extra safety as Kimber does (along with many others.)

          I'm not sure why they don't just switch to a Glock in .45. Cheap, durable, repairable, cost-effective, and very reliable.

          Well, they cited the issue of fitting the hands of smaller shooters, so in the modern day none of these firearms are really applicable. They should probably be looking at a SIG.

          The importance of the sidearm is decreasing in warfare, so if you're at the point where you need to use one, you'd probably rather have .45.

          H&K M&P .45, then. The trigger is considered to be not that great, but there are mods that improve it, so perhaps with a little revision it would make a nice piece. Three grip sizes, external extractor. However, they're going to want to stick with 9mm because of the cost consideration, and the modern style of never using one bullet when five will do.

          • Re:Kimber (Score:4, Informative)

            by MAXOMENOS ( 9802 ) <maxomai@nospAm.gmail.com> on Thursday October 22, 2015 @12:12PM (#50781659) Homepage

            Well, they cited the issue of fitting the hands of smaller shooters, so in the modern day none of these firearms are really applicable.

            A gen 4 Glock comes with multiple backstraps --- I can pick the one I want and get the hand size I want. My hands are too small for a gen 3 Glock 20 or 21 but can grip a gen 4 21 with ease.

          • oops self edit (Score:4, Insightful)

            by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday October 22, 2015 @02:43PM (#50783013) Homepage Journal

            S&W M&P .45, that is. Has the added benefit of being a US company.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          I carried a 1911 for 5 or 6 years, and my final summary is: what a piece of shit.

          Too heavy, not enough rounds, clunky as fuck. They CAN and DO jam no matter what the 1911 fanbois say. The whole grip-safety thing is pointless as fuck.

          Yes, it's durable. So fucking what. Glocks are durable as hell, almost to the point of being "dishwasher safe".

          I switched to a Glock 17, later to the Glock 19 and I carried that for the next 25 years. No complaints whatsoever. (These days I carry a S&W MP Shield, but only be

          • Too heavy, not enough rounds, clunky as fuck. They CAN and DO jam no matter what the 1911 fanbois say.

            I'll avoid the flame-bait to address a couple of things:

            weight is relative, and it ain't *that* heavy. The "clunky" bit needs a more specific angle... clunky in what way?

            As for the jamming, yeah - if you buy a cheap knock-off brand and then use shitty reloads (or ultra-cheap factory rounds) that aren't properly set for headspace, it will most certainly jam - that's guaranteed in damned near every semi-auto pistol in existence.

            (I reload my rounds, and am religious about length. I also ground down the feedram

        • glock has fat grip. yes, I have one (17). I also don't like the extreme variability in weight between the gun fully loaded and when it gets near empty, but then I used to shoot in competition and combat use bigger group sizes not so much an issue

          • Re:Kimber (Score:4, Informative)

            by JustAnotherOldGuy ( 4145623 ) on Thursday October 22, 2015 @12:54PM (#50782075)

            I also don't like the extreme variability in weight between the gun fully loaded and when it gets near empty

            Yeah, I hate having 17 chances to hit my target instead of 7. What a pain in the ass, eh?

            Seriously though, in a defensive encounter the last thing on my mind is "Oh no, my gun is getting lighter."

            • Anyway, that's a feature - not a bug. When you've run out of ammo, you want to be able to run faster.

            • by cb88 ( 1410145 )
              There's always a silver lining... it'd make it easy to know if I need to reload without looking.
      • I admittedly don't know a lot about guns but the APX seems like it solves none of the issues, is ugly, has too many parts, and would likely be very hard to keep clean in a non-gun range setting.

        • Re:Kimber (Score:5, Interesting)

          by MachineShedFred ( 621896 ) on Thursday October 22, 2015 @12:49PM (#50782019) Journal

          I once talked with a law enforcement officer who was deeply involved in choosing the next sidearm that a major city's police department would be carrying, and he said it really came down to two choices for them:

          If you want durable and reliable, you go with a Sig Sauer.
          If you want durable, reliable, and light, you go with a Glock.

        • I admittedly don't know a lot about guns but the APX seems like it solves none of the issues, is ugly, has too many parts, and would likely be very hard to keep clean in a non-gun range setting.

          My thoughts exactly. Lotta moving parts in that sucker, almost like the Heckler and Koch's.

          A bazillion parts all with tight tolerances and a million little springs and cams and doohickeys, AKA "a bazillion ways to go wrong".

      • Re: 1911... Gotta agree on the safety, but most of the unique problems can be mitigated. For instance, the too-narrow-for-most-folks grip can be bolstered with decent grip pads. The 'damn those rubber spring grommets wear out too fast' issue is fixed with polyurethane ones (or do what I do and just double-up the number of grommets used - lasts longer, softens the recoil, and it doesn't give you that little jitter/jarring effect on the slide return that polyurethane seems to present).

        Tangent-time: I love usi

        • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 )

          Re: 1911... Gotta agree on the safety, but most of the unique problems can be mitigated. For instance, the too-narrow-for-most-folks grip can be bolstered with decent grip pads. The 'damn those rubber spring grommets wear out too fast' issue is fixed with polyurethane ones (or do what I do and just double-up the number of grommets used - lasts longer, softens the recoil, and it doesn't give you that little jitter/jarring effect on the slide return that polyurethane seems to present).

          Tangent-time: I love using the .45 ACP hand-cannon, especially when compared to the (IMBO shitty little) 9mm Glock-style pistols... it may carry less rounds (that can be mitigated a little with a 10-round extended magazine), but it's drop-easy to disassemble, made of solid metal, has few moving parts to worry over, puts up with a ton of abuse, and still maintains a fair degree of accuracy. It's also way easier to customize (for instance, lightening the trigger w/o buying a kit to do it, grind-polish the feed-ramp for smoother loading of reloads, different springs for better recoil response, vented barrels, etc). Finally, I can get parts for it for next to nothing at most gun shows (e.g. a new barrel, grips, recoil mechanisms, etc).

          ** FWIW I have a Springfield and an ancient Colt (the latter is an heirloom Army-issue from WWII)

          I like my "shitty little" Glock-type 9mm. Except in my case it's a 9mm Sig. Never had any issues, it's light, has rail on it for my laser, and was nice and cheap at just over $300. In my opinion the guy walking around with the 1911 prominently displayed on his hip is no different than the 50 year old guy who commutes to work in the brand new Porsche: they want people to see it and they probably never will (or have the skill to) use it for what it was designed for. That being said, I am really jealous ab

  • law enforcement is down-sizing their handguns as well. the .40SW is being replaced by the 9MM.
    • by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Thursday October 22, 2015 @11:57AM (#50781511)

      law enforcement is down-sizing their handguns as well. the .40SW is being replaced by the 9MM.

      Given that US police seem to hit ten innocent bystanders for every bad guy they shoot, I'd recommend they downsize to Nerf Guns.

      • by Foobar of Borg ( 690622 ) on Thursday October 22, 2015 @12:05PM (#50781593)

        law enforcement is down-sizing their handguns as well. the .40SW is being replaced by the 9MM.

        Given that US police seem to hit ten innocent bystanders for every bad guy they shoot, I'd recommend they downsize to Nerf Guns.

        Indeed. There is a lot written about the militarisation of the police. But, they've only been militarised with respect to the hardware, not with respect to actually knowing what they are doing.

      • by tomhath ( 637240 )
        Citation needed.
        • by 0123456 ( 636235 )

          I take it don't watch the news?

          What was it, sixty bullets to hit the Asian woman in a pickup truck they misidentified as their black male 'cop killer' suspect last year? And that was someone who wasn't even shooting at them. Nine innocent bystanders they shot while firing dozens of bullets at one guy who was shooting at them last year or the year before?

    • But they're practically identical, the .40 being only a hair larger than 9mm. Not much of a change.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 22, 2015 @11:58AM (#50781515)

    I was in the USMC right at the switch from the 1911 to the M9.

    Problems with the M9:

    - Fragile.
    - Trigger return spring easily lost when grips removed for cleaning (this renders the weapon useless).
    - 9mm, not exactly a hard-hitting round.
    - Locking block fractures and cracks. Not a Browning link/linkless tilt barrel design, so unnecessarily complicated.
    - Magazines too fragile compared to 1911 magazines.

    Good things:

    - Accurate
    - Easily controlled during rapid fire

  • by tnk1 ( 899206 ) on Thursday October 22, 2015 @11:58AM (#50781521)

    An updated M1911? It's not like people aren't already carrying it as a backup sidearm.

    • by MAXOMENOS ( 9802 )
      Field stripping a 1911 vs field stripping a Glock --- Glock is easier by far. I imagine other modern pistols would try to be similarly easy. (And yes, I'm aware we're also talking about the US military that uses the M4, but small gains here and there add up.)
      • The 1911 comes out to a few more parts when field stripped, but I honestly don't find it harder to field strip. In some ways its easier IMHO because you don't have to pull the trigger, and sometimes it's frustrating to pull the Glock slide back just the right amount to take tension of the takedown lever without the striker cocking.

        Don't get me wrong I wouldn't field the 1911 either despite being a big fan of it (I've got a Glock and 3 1911's), but field stripping it isn't bad at all.

        Personally, I'd be in fa

  • by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Thursday October 22, 2015 @11:58AM (#50781527) Journal

    "Critics say the M9 is too bulky for small-handed shooters"

    Read: women.

    Seriously, people: infantry combat is STILL one of those old-fashioned things where size and strength are really fucking important. You're not going to be able to design a smaller, lighter gun for petite little hands that ALSO has (as the rest of the article explains is needed badly) an increased stopping-power (which is primarily about the kinetic energy striking the target).

    "Finesse" all the Ranger tests you want, but "average woman A" will not perform as well in combat as "average man B".* This is just another example of how/why.

    * that said, there are a crapton of wastrels, layabouts, and good-for-nothings in the lower bracket of the male bell curve that will be outperformed by exceptional women because the women have the mental attitude necessary to be successful, which can get you a long way.

    • by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Thursday October 22, 2015 @12:03PM (#50781565)

      Doesn't matter whether women are in the front lines. If they're in combat zones, they need weapons they can shoot... it's not like the bad guys will play nice and only attack the guys in the front lines.

      • by tnk1 ( 899206 )

        True. Support troops can and do come under fire. They need weapons they can use to defend themselves.

        That said, I hope they don't make the combat arms carry inferior weapons just because support needs them to be more convenient.

        • Support needs a hand gun to be usable by all of the army not just guys with big hands. Remember one of the requests is to add a rail to the handgun so it can support accessories like a light, laser sights, etc. Currently special forces have specialized hanguns for this purpose but those are not used by the regular army.
    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by JMJimmy ( 2036122 )

      Wow you're sexist. People come in all shapes/sizes http://bit.ly/1MGwynO [bit.ly] and have different abilities that make them uniquely suited to certain situations over others.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        He's not sexist. I spent almost 10 years in the Marine Corps in a combat MOS. I can tell you first hand you man up or you shut up. The military doesn't need to cater to everyone. People need to learn how to use the tools. No one babied me or the thousands of other Marines I served with. We were expected to learn the tools of the trade, service rifle and handgun, as well as some crew served weapons like M249 SAW and M60, Mk19, as well as others. There were some small male Marines who had some issues with the

    • by ageoffri ( 723674 ) on Thursday October 22, 2015 @12:20PM (#50781735)
      I get that reading the article is too much for /. , but not even reading the summary, that is inexcusable. The summary makes it very clear that the method to accommodate different hands is to have adjustable grips. Change at most 3 parts and have a slimmer or thicker grip.
    • by avandesande ( 143899 ) on Thursday October 22, 2015 @12:24PM (#50781767) Journal

      Men's hand size vary quite a bit. If you look on male dominated gun forums there is tons of discussion about customizing for this.

    • Yes women, but also Men who are smaller stature.
      One size fits most, means it usually doesn't fit anyone. Giving it the ability to be adjustable and fit in many hand types is much more useful. As very small population actually fall as average. Usually they are above or below average.

      For the Army, the side arm is part of their job. As a key component of the Armed forces is well being armed.

    • You're not going to be able to design a smaller, lighter gun for petite little hands that ALSO has (as the rest of the article explains is needed badly) an increased stopping-power (which is primarily about the kinetic energy striking the target).

      Rifle and shotgun rounds are for stopping power. Handguns are for when you don't have anything better. At that point, ability to get rounds on target trumps everything else. If you miss, it doesn't matter if you're shooting a .25 or a 10MM. You're better off with a gun that fits your hands and you can shoot properly than a hand cannon that you can't hit the ground in front you with.

      Also, the difference between the major handgun rounds is negligible; military FMJ rounds will just never deliver the energy to

    • The only reason that women don't have to register for Selective Service like men do according to the Supreme Court is that women aren't in combat. If that changes then women will need to start registering.

    • by UnknowingFool ( 672806 ) on Thursday October 22, 2015 @12:35PM (#50781901)

      Seriously, people: infantry combat is STILL one of those old-fashioned things where size and strength are really fucking important.

      In an ideal world with clear and discernible front lines, you would place your best troops for combat there. Modern warfare these days is more about guerrilla forces. You will have people in combat that are not front line soldiers. Therefore you will have women in combat. Also you are neglecting the fact that not every male in the Army is 6 feet tall and 250 lbs of muscle. Some male soldiers are short and thin.

      "Finesse" all the Ranger tests you want, but "average woman A" will not perform as well in combat as "average man B".* This is just another example of how/why.

      What does that mean? Are you one of those that believe the conspiracy that the two female soldiers that passed the Ranger tests only because they were rigged? My understanding of modern combat is that with weapons like assault rifles and hollow point bullets, there is less importance on the physical size of the shooter. Even historically like in the Battle of Stalingrad, the Soviet Union used female snipers. No one questioned them about how their size and strength.

    • I wasn't aware that they were letting Average Men into the Rangers nowadays. And I've only seen reports from the mainstream press, but the women vying for Ranger spots do not seem particularly average, either.

  • This is how Gaston Glock got in the handgun market, a contract for a new sidearm for the Austrian military. I don't know handguns. All the makers have compact models now, and it seems like Glock took over the American handgun market some time ago. What do you think the chances are the US military switches to a polymer sidearm?
    • This is how Gaston Glock got in the handgun market, a contract for a new sidearm for the Austrian military. I don't know handguns. All the makers have compact models now, and it seems like Glock took over the American handgun market some time ago. What do you think the chances are the US military switches to a polymer sidearm?

      Heh, what are the chances of you finding a manufacturer still using steel?

      I think the US Military is not going to be able to avoid polymer, especially with the grip requirement, which is easily accomplished with a polymer frame (polymer-frame vendors have been offering different backstrap sizes for years now to accommodate various hand sizes).

      Sounds like the Gen4 Glock 21 would be a good fit, or perhaps a G17/19 (9mm vs. 45 caliber depending on capacity, stopping power, and recoil control requirements). Th

    • Well Special Forces have used the USP MK 23 for a long time now which I believe is polymer. The main reason I suppose it has not been adopted is cost as it was specially designed for special forces and not cheap.
  • The 1911A1 is still the most perfect pistol ever made & the .45 ACP is still a beast.

    • I was going to post the same thing. Unfortunately the army will probably find it isn't expensive or complicated enough.
    • fanboi nonsense.

      the actual model 1991 not as durable, not as safe, doesn't have the capacity, will jamb when dirty (I shot one in matches for years with standard 830fps 230gr hardball) and will rust under humid/corrosive conditions, and has a slide spring that will go flying.

      Many modern guns solve these issues. M1911 a great gun of the 20th century, but progress has left it behind.

  • Just give every soldier a 3D printer and let them make custom guns as needed.
  • Next problem? Getting the ammo into production.

  • Does anybody know reasons why something like the FN Five-seven should not be considered instead of another 9mm? Link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]
  • by Macdude ( 23507 ) on Thursday October 22, 2015 @12:49PM (#50782025)

    Reading the summary, it sounds like the army has looked at a Glock brochure and just listed everything there as their requirements.

    Of course this is a military procurement so the requirements will change at the behest of vested interests until the gun is unsuitable for the dozens of new roles it's required to fill and many times the original estimated cost. Then it will be put into production and the soldiers will be forced to use them -- then the smart soldiers will just bring their own Glocks to work.

    • by geekmux ( 1040042 ) on Thursday October 22, 2015 @03:14PM (#50783295)

      Reading the summary, it sounds like the army has looked at a Glock brochure and just listed everything there as their requirements.

      Gee, and this sounds nothing like it did back in the 80s when the requirements read like a Beretta brochure.

      By the time we're reading about the requirements, the model has likely already been designed, and possibly even chosen.

      Glock had a hard time with requirements previously due to the lack of external safety, but that's a fairly easy design fix. Other vendors already have that, along with interchangable grip backstraps and rails. Honesty, I can think of half a dozen current models that fit the description from various vendors.

      I think the real decision will come down to them accepting a polymer frame design or not, since a good portion of the shooting industry chose to follow Gaston down that path.

    • then the smart soldiers will just bring their own Glocks to work.

      No. They won't.

      The really wonderful thing about a military-issue sidearm is that if it breaks, you can turn it in to the armory and they'll hand you a new one. Won't work so well if you're using a non-issue weapon....

  • Is the official term for manufacturer changing to maker now?

    People have always made stuff yet it seems like "maker" is some kind of new term to describe something that has always been happening.

  • by Spy Handler ( 822350 ) on Thursday October 22, 2015 @02:33PM (#50782931) Homepage Journal

    20 round standard mag and modern as all hell. The small caliber/high velocity ammo (same principle as the 5.56 AR rifles) hits just as hard if not harder than .45 ACP/9mm/whatever if you take into account that the military cannot use hollowpoints.

    • by plopez ( 54068 )

      Does it fragment on impact like the 5.56? How about body armour penetration and penetration of glass windshields and car bodies? From what i was told the 5.56 was a bit small to stop car and truck suicide bombers due to lack of penetration.

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