The US army’s long and often controversial effort to replace its longstanding sidearm, the M9 9mm pistol made by Beretta, took an interesting turn this week when Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley reportedly asked the Army Special Operations Command if it was possible to buy Glock pistols. According to Military.com, Milley also previously asked Defense Secretary Ashton Carter to grant service chiefs the authority to approve aquisition of new equipment, as long as they do not require new research or experimental technology.
“We are not talking about nuclear subs or going to the moon here. We are talking about a pistol,” Milley said at a House Armed Services Committee hearing earlier this month.
Milley has long criticized the expensive and time-consuming process to find a new combat pistol for the army and air force, also known as the Modular Handgun system. Last year the army launched its XM17 competition, allowing larger rounds than 9mm. Currently Glock, Walther, Smith & Wesson, FN Herstal, and Beretta are reported to have entered the competition with pistols that they claim meet the army requirements. Beretta previously submitted an improved M9A3 to the army, but later replaced that with the APX strike-fired pistol. Heckler & Koch has not confirmed if it will enter the competition.
Although many soldiers like the M9, some have called for more stopping power in the form of a larger round, and even some have asked for a return to the venerable M1911. Others have also noted the lack of features on the M9 and requested a more modular pistol. The XM17 contract could be worth up to $580 million, and testing itself may cost $17 million.
Milley balked at that price.
“The testing—I got a briefing the other day—the testing for this pistol is two years,” he told Fox News. “Two years to test technology that we know exists. You give me $17 million on the credit card, I’ll call Cabela’s tonight, and I’ll outfit every soldier, sailor, airman, and Marine with a pistol and I’ll get a discount on it for bulk buys.”
However, the specific model of Glock that Milley requested may have some experts scratching their heads. According to anonymous source, Milley is reportedly considering the Glock 19, a compact 9mm pistol with a magazine capacity of 15 rounds and a four-inch barrel. That would not likely satisfy the critics of the current M9 and its 9mm cartridge.
The Glock 19 has seen military use by forces in Brazil, France, India, Israel, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Sweden, various police departments around the globe, and the Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command.