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.
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.