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By Thomas Phippen
The Army has selected the Sig Sauer P320 to replace the 9mm pistol the service has used since the Cold War, ending a nearly 3-year search for a suitable replacement.
The contract is worth a maximum of $580 million, including ammunition and and accessories for an undisclosed number of weapons, the Department of Defense announced Thursday.
If the Sig Sauer passes field testing, the P320 handgun would replace the M9A1, made by Beretta. Sig Sauer beat out other gun makers thought to include Beretta, Smith & Wesson, Glock, and FN Herstal.
“We are both humbled and proud that the P320 was selected by the U.S. Army as its weapon of choice,” Ron Cohen, chief executive officer of Sig Sauer, said in a statement. “Securing this contract is a testimony to Sig Sauer employees, their commitment to innovation, quality and manufacturing the most reliable firearms in the world,” Cohen said.
The Army released a draft solicitation for the Modular Handgun System program September 2014 so gun manufacturers to prepare to compete for the contract. The service then released a 350-page solicitation of what Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain called “byzantine” requirements.
McCain also said that the total cost to taxpayers, which Army officials maintain will be between $300 – $500 million, at closer to $1.2 billion once all costs of testing and complying with “unnecessary requirements” are added in.
Republican Senators Joni Ernst and Thom Tillis criticized the MHS program as an example of overwrought bureaucracy during confirmation hearings for Republican for incoming Secretary of Defense Gen. James Mattis.
“Take a look at their 350 page micromanaging requirements document if you want to know why it’s taking so long to get this accomplished,” Ernst said in the hearing. (RELATED: Army Spent $350M Trying To Figure Out Which Pistol To Use. Now Congress Wants Mattis To Intervene)
“I can’t defend this,” Mattis said, replying to Tillis’ question. Mattis also mentioned that he did not have the most current information on the pistol replacement effort.