Go to triangular compass
Left arrow

Beretta M9: Dead, Long Live Sig Sauer M17

Mammoth Sniper Challenge
Mammoth Sniper Challenge
January 23, 2017
Share on Twitter
Share on Facebook
Share on Linkedin
Copy Link

Stay Up to Date on American Grit

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

The first time I saw the Beretta M9 was in the 1987 film Lethal Weapon. At the time it was a cutting-edge weapon that suited Mel Gibson’s portrayal of a slightly-off-his-rocker ex-Green Beret-turned cop and provided a contrast to Danny Glover’s more traditional six-shot .38 revolver. The M9 quickly became a Hollywood mainstay, appearing in other big-budget action films like Die Hard.Maybe it was because of the weapon’s Hollywood fame, or maybe it was because the military made almost no advances in armament innovation during the 90’s, but for some reason the M9 stuck around. It stayed in the armories of conventional forces while Special Operations Forces were able to choose their own handguns (they overwhelmingly chose Glocks; the SEALS chose the Sig P226).

I remember deploying with a dog handler friend of mine whose Belgian Malinouis found several IED’s by itself and helped prevent us from running into several more. He was the only person in the squad to be issued a pistol, which he was supposed to use one-handed while he held his dog’s leash in the other hand. He was given an ancient M9 that looked like an Iron Age artifact. The magazine springs were so worn out that you could drop the bullets into the magazine with no resistance, where they would rattle around like tic-tacs in a half-empty container. The first (and only time) he used it to defend his dog against a wild Afghan hound, it shot once and jammed.In an era where the next-generation fighter jet is $163 billion over budget and cutting-edge ships have to be regularly towed around, I never expected the US military to actually pick a replacement for the M9 handgun, nor did I expect them to make such an excellent choice as the Sig P320. I especially didn’t expect the Army to do it with uncharacteristic swiftness and a distinct lack of bureaucracy.https://youtu.be/gZTRjXD7AVUThe P320 is an excellent handgun. Polymer-framed, striker-fired and exceptionally reliable, it is a modern-era offering from a company with a history of producing handguns for the Navy SEALS. The only downside to adopting the Sig P320 is that Special Operations Forces, such as Army Special Forces and Marine Raiders, who already have contracts for the Glock 19, are using an entirely different system with different parts. I don’t foresee this being much of a problem, though; the conventional forces don’t get the kind of funding that SOF does, although they both deserve a reliable, striker-fired modern pistol.This is the kind of event that everyone—congressmen, citizens, soldiers—should be applauding. For months, critics have lambasted the Army’s Modular Handgun program and wondered aloud why the military didn’t just pick a handgun right off the shelf. Why not just go full Glock?And they were right. Modern handgun design is so far ahead of where it was in the 1980’s. Firearms companies are innovators, spurred in large part by the escalation of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and additionally by the huge upsurge in average Americans owning firearms. The average grunt went from deploying with iron sights on his M16A2 in 2003 to upgraded M4’s with lasers, Trijicon ACOG’s and quad rails by the time I went to Afghanistan in 2009.This contract is a godsend for the average soldier, who now has a pistol that hasn’t sat in an armory for 30 years, and one that might actually be able to hit then enemy when it counts. You don’t have to be a SOF operator to have a working pistol any more.Lethal Weapon turns 30 years old this year. I’ll always appreciate the film, the same way I’ll always appreciate what the Beretta M9 did in regards to increasing magazine capacity and reliability in the 80’s. But not all things about Lethal Weapon stand the test of time (Mel Gibson’s hair comes to mind), and neither did the M9. The M9 is dead. Long live the M17.

send a letter to congress
Adds section
Next Up
No items found.