The military may soon have a new pistol. After 10 years in the bidding process, they have approved a contract worth $580 million to New Hampshire’s Sig-Sauer. They have chosen the P320 pistol as the weapon that most soldiers will carry.
Great News for New Hampshire Economy
This gun is likely to be manufactured in New Hampshire, according to the Union Leader. The company currently operates facilities in Newington, Dover, and Exeter. In each of their facilities, the company currently has job openings. They have also contracted with Great Bay Community College to help train new employees. Sig-Sauer also points out that developing high-paying jobs in these communities benefits everyone from the local grocery store to the gas station. Finding employees looking to build pistols may be a problem with the state’s unemployment rate at less than 3 percent.
Stiff Competition from Gun Makers
Other companies competing for the contract included Beretta USA Wesson and Glock Incorporated. The government will not say exactly how many companies competed or how many proposals it received. Each company was allowed to submit two proposals for different caliber pistols.
What Does the Contract Say?
The contract calls for the purchase of up to 280,000 pistols by the Army over the next 10 years. An additional 212,000 pistols could be purchased by other services. Before any guns are purchased, the company must complete further testing taking up to two years. This testing will cost taxpayers $17 million.
Other Handguns Still to be Used
Some soldiers may, however, still be carrying specialized weapons. Glock 9mm pistols may still be used by the Green Berets while the Marine Special Operations may use the Glock 9mm or the .45-caliber Colt 1911. Navy SEAL’s are already using the Sig-Sauer P226 along with Heckler & Koch’s .45-caliber HK45C.
What Pistol Does the Army Use Now?
Currently, the military uses the Beretta M9. This weapon was approved for use in 1985. The process to approve that gun was also very lengthy. Many current soldiers say they would be better off to throw their pistol at an enemy than try to shoot them with it. Therefore, the new addition is very welcome news.
Why so Long?
Many have questioned why it took the government so long to pick a new pistol pointing out that they were not talking about putting a man on Mars. The process began in 2008 when the government decided that they needed an updated reliable pistol for their soldiers. It did not gain much traction, however, until 2015 when the government issued a 350-page document spelling out the specifics of what they wanted in a new gun. The government then had to issue competitive bids which were due by February 1, 2017. The government announced their final decision at the world’s largest gun show in Las Vegas.
Army acquisition executive Steffanie Easter says that she is very proud of the open competition process resulting in the purchase of this gun. She says that the competition encouraged manufacturers to make better handguns, ammunition, and magazines.
Many lawmakers question the wisdom of the process saying that it is not their fault that it took so long to approve a new pistol. Chief of Staff of the Army Mark Milley says that it is the layers of bureaucracy that haunt procurement. On March 10, 2016, he told a Washington D.C. to think tank that he thinks the system needs to change.
He stated that if the government would give him $17 million on a credit card that he would go to a gun store and get every soldier a pistol tonight.
Since that will likely never happen, he suggests a plan where the Chief of Staff of the Army could appoint a committee to make a decision that the government would endorse. He finds it particularly troublesome that many of the pistols in the competition were never fired by a soldier.
Reviews of the Sig-Sauer P320
Many who have seen the prototype for the Sig-Sauer P320 are very impressed by its flexibility. According to Wired, the pistol can be easily configured for a variety of body types. The Army was very particular about demanding this feature because of the number of women who are now in the military. The government also wanted a pistol that could easily accept different attachments making it useful in many different circumstances. This pistol is also able to accept different caliber of ammunition.
According to the National Rifle Association, Sig-Sauer has eliminated many of the problems that people complained about with the company’s previous pistols. While in the past, their pistols tended to send a bullet high, this one has a much flatter projectile. Therefore, it is easier for soldiers to hit what they are aiming for even intense circumstances.
While it took 10 years to arrive at a decision, the people of New Hampshire are very proud to see this pistol come out on top. The new high paying jobs will be a welcome addition to the state.