Smith & Wesson Gets Axed from MHS Trials


The extremely popular M&P pistol has been dropped from the MHS competition.

Smith & Wesson has been dropped for the Army’s next-generation handgun competition. The Army, with the Air Force, is leading the military’s search for a new sidearm to replace their aging stocks of Beretta pistols.

“In a Smith & Wesson [Securities and Exchange Commssion] filing, it was revealed that the Department of the Army informed them their entry into the Modular Handgun Program would not pass to the next phase,” reports the Firearm Blog. “The news is surprising given Smith & Wesson was favored as one of the three entries that would make it through the down selection process.”

Smith & Wesson, partnering with General Dynamics, has been vying for the next big military handgun and ammunition contract. Exact details about why the M&P pistol was cut from the running are not known. The U.S. military is looking for not just a new pistol, but possibly new ammunition as well. As self-defense ammo improves on the commercial market the military is looking for better ammo for soldiers on the front line.

The Modular Handgun System, or MHS, is expected to be the next sidearm for American soldiers. The modular requirement seeks a grip frame that can be resized to fit the majority of people’s hands. The military is also looking for a gun with standard and compact versions to suit mission needs.

Smith & Wesson is an industry leader when it comes to supplying law enforcement and security with modern handguns. The company’s Military & Police series, or M&P pistols, has become standard-issue across the country, thanks to its modular grip frame and left- and right-handed controls.

See Also: Army Chief Wants to Sidestep MHS Pistol Program

Beretta M9A34

Beretta introduced the A3 version of their military sidearm last year. The military instead continued the MHS program, which includes the Beretta APX.

Not every company in the competition is advertising their involvement. Other companies that are rumored or confirmed as competitors include FN USA, Glock and SIG Sauer. Beretta has also introduced a new polymer pistol, the APX, designed to replace their current sidearm already in service.

The bulk of the military’s handguns are reaching the end of their lifespan. Firearms have a limited service life and environmental factors like dust and sand can severely limit them. Instead of repairing or replacing existing stocks the military is looking for cheaper off-the-shelf options for duty.

Today’s commercial handguns have a lot of newer features that the Army or Air Force’s guns do not have and they are more affordable, too. The MHS program favors polymer-framed, double-stack pistols. The program does not specify caliber or cartridge, specifically non-NATO standards including hollow point rounds.

In addition to 9mm NATO, the MHS program is open to .40 S&W as well as other cartridges, possibly including .357 SIG and .45 ACP. Other companies reportedly competing for the bid include CZ USA, Heckler & Koch, Kriss USA, Springfield Armory and Walther Arms.

Beretta introduced the A3 version of their 92-series pistol in an attempt to route the MHS program entirely. The military turned it down as the MHS standards require features that the A3 doesn’t have, specifically, the MHS program is looking for a handgun with a closed slide and no slide-mounted controls that can interfere with handgun operation.

About the author: Max Slowik is a writer with over a dozen years of experience and is a lifelong shooter. He has unwavering support for the Second Amendment and the human right to self-defense. His ambition is to follow Thomas Paine, as a journalist by profession and a propagandist by inclination.

{ 30 comments… add one }
  • BENJAMIN October 1, 2016, 5:14 pm

    What be wrong with a 9+21 This round was designed by the Israel Military to armed there Military It is also used in competition and is a very good round. It would not take much to build for all you need is to change the length of the slide and mag!

  • Reggie October 1, 2016, 3:53 pm

    The military should reconsider the 1911 platform. The weapon is the most reliable and accurate. It comes in 9mm and 45.
    The 1911 has the capacity to be designed for 14 round in 45 acp and 15 rounds in 9 mm. It can be designed for lights and red dot sights. There are some designs in polymer. It the military wants to improve things for the service member. Choose the 1911 (USA).

    • Grizzlyczguy84 June 6, 2019, 10:27 am

      Oh hell no! The 1911 is antiquated hardware! It is absolutely NOT more “reliable” that modern striker fired guns.

  • Norm Fishler September 30, 2016, 9:14 pm

    Bob Smith,
    Normally I’d agree with you, but the M-9 points like a framing square with a 2×4 handle. If you like them that’s fine, but were I going into battle and had a choice between an M-9 or a couple extra mags for my rifle, it would be a no brainer . . .

  • Robert Smith September 30, 2016, 5:28 pm

    “The bulk of the military’s handguns are reaching the end of their lifespan.” Really? The oldest ones only date from the early 1980’s. Not old for a gun. (Look at all the WWII Mausers & Garands still running strong.) Just replace some springs, worn parts, mags, etc. on the ones that need it. The 9mm has a long and sucessful record on the battlefield, going back to WWI and in hundreds of wars since. Keep the M9 and give the taxpayers a break.

    • Bernard Kraft September 30, 2016, 6:37 pm

      The Beretta is garbage compared to these newer style weapons. I was a small arms guy, they are wore out and the slides have a lot of slop from being shot over and over and over

  • James R Day September 30, 2016, 11:59 am

    The reason is simply politics – As the same fate of Colt, the Department of Defense are no longer using American Gun Manufacturers.

  • Keith September 30, 2016, 10:57 am

    I was in the Army (1975-1989) when the “military” was holding the competition to replace the venerable M-1911A1. At that time the rationalization was that the US Military “needed” to acquire a sidearm that used the “uniform NATO pistol round.” In other word, the 9 mm round.

    The other argument for the 9 mm round was that the new sidearm needed to have less felt recoil so that soldiers would not have that “first round flinch,” making the first round fired to be more accurate. This was also one of the arguments when the military was replacing the M-14 with the woefully under-powered M-16.

    Currently, the military is looking to replace not just the sidearm but also the “main battle rifle.” One of the arguments for replacing both of these firearm is that a “harder hitting” round is necessary in both the rifles and pistols that our military uses.

    Here’s an idea, with all of the current technology available some company should modernize the M-1911A1 and the M-14 by making the firearms of lighter, more durable materials and engineering a recoil system to lessen the “felt” recoil. The rounds for both of these firearms are already battle tested and they are both great when compared to the 9 mm and 5.56 rounds. Remember, these firearms are to be used by our military so issues of over penetration and other issues normally considered for police and civilian shooters should not really be considered when selecting the appropriate military round.

    “We” need to give our soldiers weapons with appropriate rounds that can literally kill an enemy with a single round in a combat environment. The .308 and the .45 rounds will do this job effectively in the hands of a trained soldier.

    These MHS trials are really nothing more than one more way to pump tax dollars into the economy while doing nothing to really improve the primary weapons of our armed forces. This is nothing new when it comes to the procurement of military hardware. Does anyone remember the “Sgt York?”

    • Tom Horn September 30, 2016, 5:26 pm

      Very sound and logical idea.

  • Brad H September 30, 2016, 10:35 am

    The FN is a great firearm. The FNX is light, grip adjustable, easy field-strip and relatively inexpensive. The only negative to this weapon is the long return on the trigger in DA. I love my SIG, but the price is high comparitively.

  • BJG September 30, 2016, 10:25 am

    I’m sure it will go to some foreign Country. Probably China, since we like to buy so much from them.

  • Mike Kern September 30, 2016, 10:07 am

    The mere fact that Smith and Wesson is the first one dropped from the list tells me the process is corrupt!Have owned or shot the other contenders on the list. If I had to go to war I want the M+P on my side.

    • I'm Your Daddy September 30, 2016, 11:00 am

      No need to cry over it, there are plenty of better options than the s&w. Like any Sig or XD. Besides pistols are last resort weapon anyways.

      • Alan September 30, 2016, 4:38 pm

        Whatever, Anyone in the world of poly pistols that thinks that one is so much better than another hasn’t been paying attention, or is simply biased.
        And your one of them.

      • Junior October 3, 2016, 10:38 am

        The XD is made in Croatia, and not eligible to be considered because its not made in the U.S. And despite what you read in Guns & Ammo, and American Rifleman, the XD is not on the same level, for function, or quality, as the guns on this list.

  • walter September 30, 2016, 9:54 am

    any pistol in a combat mode is a backup weapon when your main weapon fails or is lost,in nam we carried s&w 38 wheel guns ,anything is better then a stick,9mm is good enough

  • Bisley September 30, 2016, 9:28 am

    We need to go back to the .45 — 9mm is not enough for the intended purpose. The CZ 97 would be my choice for strength, accuracy and reliability, but it doesn’t meet the standard for adjustable grip size (nor would the 1911) — maybe we should stop putting girls with tiny hands in positions where they need to be armed?

  • Ridgetop12 September 30, 2016, 8:44 am

    Al of this political wrangling, testing, and typically burdensome specifications are what makes this process so annoying to the taxpayer. The average soldier or Marine rarely uses a sidearm in combat except as a last resort according to every veteran I’ve spoken to. Bring in the people who depend on a pistol for their lives every day as consultants; police officers. My guess is the result would be a SAO .45. One round center mass and the issue is usually settled.

  • Neil Kennedy September 30, 2016, 8:42 am

    I personally believe that the FN 57 should be looked at very closely. A handgun of this type can give a combat soldier a great advantage. It is and has been in use with some military in the world with great success.

  • Bill September 30, 2016, 8:36 am

    It appears to me that the new requirement for a closed slide is very telling. Obviously they have had some issues with debris and the slide not functioning. I would encourage anyone to put themselves in the shoes of a service member in a situation when they need the weapon to function properly and it does not.

  • Tom Horn September 30, 2016, 6:46 am

    Being an owner of four S&W M&P’s, I’m speculating that the Military axed the M&P’s related to the thin wire take-down lever inside the grip. The take-down lever would be awkward to manipulate in a combat ‘high stress’ environment, or with gloves on, and can be easily bent if too much pressure were applied. I would probably go with a handgun that had easy to manipulate external take-down controls.

  • Ed September 30, 2016, 6:46 am

    Never liked the 92, always felt too big and bulky in my hands. That being said why can’t our own Gov’t support our own firearms manufacturers. I was so shocked when they chose a foreign company to arm “our” soldiers! I cannot believe that between all our AMERICAN companies they could not find any that would meet their specs. Fine example from our leaders. If our own Government won’t buy American why should we!!!!!!

    • Charles Kimberl September 30, 2016, 8:28 am

      It’s just our globalist aspiring government. Our ball-less Congress should set these parameters.

    • Kyreloader September 30, 2016, 8:46 am

      Didn’t you know?
      We are no longer innovators with top of the line products. We have become a country of fat, lazy consumers. Cheap Chinese style disposable junk, that’s where the big profits are. So go down to Wells Fargo, if you have any money left after they have robbed you blind, and spend spend spend so we can make America great again.

  • Dan miller September 30, 2016, 6:29 am

    I agree! We really don’t need a new handgun! What we need is more training. Spend more money on Ammo bought from American companies!

    • Tom Horn September 30, 2016, 8:17 am

      Last time I checked, Beretta was an Italian manufacturer. As a firearms sales person, I spoke with many returning vets from Iraq and Afghanistan. Many had objections to the 92’s, mostly related to the condition these weapons are now in.

      In a gun fight you need every advantage you can get. I am for giving that advantage to our Service Men and Women. I have spoken with many SF vets. Many of them swear by Sig, and H&K.

      I too, prefer USA made. Seems to me Ruger, or S&W could come up with a good service pistol that would fit the bill.

      • Junior October 3, 2016, 10:51 am

        I’d suggest you do a little research before you suggest a Ruger. Since you suggested them I’m guessing your not aware that the Ruger American is the first model in their line of semi auto handguns that is capable of meeting the most basic military spec of having a forged barrel. The SR line of handguns all have cast barrels. Ruger wasn’t able to meet the Specs of the competition.

  • Tom Horn September 29, 2016, 11:35 pm

    The way this Country is going, they will probably choose a High Point 9mm.

    • JJ357 October 1, 2016, 7:51 pm

      LOL, Yeah and one of the requirements for the hi point will be putting the sights on sideways

  • Don September 29, 2016, 5:29 pm

    Bullshit, more Gov’t wasteful spending. We don’t need a new handgun.

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