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 "It's been around for a really, really long time, and it's just old and outdated."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.