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The U.S Army has begun distributing its new pistol, the Sig Sauer XM17 Modular Handgun System (MHS) to selected units, the first of them is the 101st Airborne Division, that was issued about 2,000 pistols recently

The Sig Sauer 9mm XM17, and the more compact version XM18, are replacing the Beretta M9 as the Army’s service Handgun, in the first change in more than three decades since the M9 was first introduced as the Army’s sidearm in the Cold War era back in 1986.

Over the next 10 years, the Army will field the new pistol to all Army units.

Fans of the new weapon are citing factors like better accuracy and tighter dispersion that will enhance soldiers’ lethality. It is also hailed for being easy to use, as well as more comfortable and efficient.

The XM17 and the XM18 are variants of Sig Sauer’s publicly available P320 pistol.

The Army version has different magazine requirements. Soldiers will be able to utilize both standard, and extended capacity magazines. Both pistols can be outfitted with suppressors, and lasers and lights can be attached using an integrated Picatinny rail.

There’s also self-illuminating night sights for optimum combat effectiveness in challenging light conditions.

One of the primary goals in the shift has been to provide soldiers with enhanced performance, together with better durability and adaptability.

Another key development is that younger soldiers will be able to get their hands on this new pistol. The Army will be issuing this new sidearm down to squad leaders and team leaders as well.

According to, previously, junior leaders were excluded from carrying the M9s. This new policy is expected to apply to all Army units receiving the XM17. As a result, new training will most likely be developed focusing on skills like shifting from the M4 to the pistol and vice versa.

Over the next decade, the Army plans to buy 195,000 pistols and will distribute them to all units.

Nothing should be more important than the opinion of the soldiers who will relying on the new weapons, and the Army’s testing was extensive before the new sidearm was selected. Committed to the goal of ensuring the best pistol was selected for soldiers in the future Army, a team traveled to different testing sites throughout the country.

Fort Bragg’s excellent ranges were used to test the pistol in realistic conditions and different scenarios were used such as testing the new Sig while in cold weather gear.

In addition to the Army, testing was conducted through the military as well with sailors, airmen and Marines participating. Different specializations were also involved pilots, crew chiefs and infantry putting the new weapons through their paces and providing feedback.