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Infantry Weapons

US Army’s Modular Handgun System struggled with shooting ball ammunition

31 January 2018

The US Army’s new 9 mm Modular Handgun System (MHS) suffered several issues during testing with ball ammunition, but passed its tests with jacketed hollow point expanding rounds.

A soldier with the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) fires the new M17, or MHS, at the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) indoor range in November 2017. (US Army/Sgt Samantha Stoffregen)A soldier with the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) fires the new M17, or MHS, at the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) indoor range in November 2017. (US Army/Sgt Samantha Stoffregen)

During the MHS' product verification test (PVT), the Pentagon's testing office found the pistols suffered a notable number stoppages and double-ejections when firing XM1152 non-expanding ball ammunition. Its performance with XM1153 special purpose (SP) expanding rounds was much better. New 9 mm ammunition was part of the MHS contract and included XM1152 ball and XM1153 SP.

The US Army in November 2017 began fielding its first M17 sidearms to the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, which is to receive about 2,000 of the pistols. The long-running MHS project, intended to replace legacy M9 Beretta pistols, was awarded on 19 January 2017 with a total USD580.217 million ceiling. The army selected the 9 mm Sig Sauer model P320 as the M17’s basis.

During PVT, the full-size M17 with ball ammunition met its requirement for mean rounds between failure (MRBF), but not its requirement for mean rounds between stoppage (MRBS). The compact M18 did not meet either requirement with ball ammunition, the Pentagon’s Director for Operational Test & Evaluation said in a 24 January report.

The testing office said it was still compiling a report for the Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) event. Those tests were done only with the XM1153 SP munition and the "ball ammunition was not included due to the PVT reliability problems and the initiation of an engineering team to determine root cause analysis". IOT&E is conducted on production, or production-representative equipment to determine if systems are operationally effective and suitable.

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