SIG Sauer announced this week that the U.S. Marine Corps is adopting the M18—the compact version of the U.S. Army’s Modular Handgun System (MHS)—as its official duty pistol. Speculation the branch would go with one of the two MHS versions was put to rest in the Navy’s 2019 budget estimate [PDF]—published in February 2018—although there was no early indication it preferred the 3.7-barreled version over the 4.7-inch barreled M17 receiving widest distribution by the U.S. Army.
The fiscal document’s Family of Infantry Weapons Systems also signaled an end to much of the Marine Corps sidearm diversity. “The Modular Handgun System will be purchased to replace the legacy M9, M9A1, M45A1, and M007 pistols with a more affordable and efficient pistol for maintenance,” it explained. “The MHS also provides modularity and greater shooter ergonomics over the current models which will allow for more accurate fire for military personnel of different sizes.” The M9s were standard issue, but the M45A1 typically went to recon and the M007 went to specialized units, including criminal investigation officers and helicopter team members assigned to Presidential duties.
“The Marine Corps announcement to put the M18 in service with the Marines is a very exciting development for SIG Sauer, and a true testament to the success of the MHS program,” said Ron Cohen, president and CEO of SIG Sauer. “The Marine’s procurement of the M18 brings the adoption of our Modular Handgun System full circle, as this means, beginning in 2020, either the M17 or the M18 will be officially in service with every branch of the U.S. Military."
Fighting units are expected to begin receiving M18s sometime in 2020, although a limited number of samples and testing batches have been received by the Marine Corps. This year the branch is scheduled purchase 35,000 at a price of roughly $6 million.
Results of a Material Reliability Test—released earlier this year—reported zero stoppages in three M18s selected for the exercise as they churned through 36,000 rounds (12,000 each). It set a new high-water mark for the protocol, which traditionally requires each gun to digest only 5,000 cartridges.
The M18 is a 9mm, striker-fired pistol featuring a coyote-tan PVD coated stainless steel slide with black controls. The pistol is equipped with SIGLITE front night sights and removable night sight rear plate, and manual safety.
Full replacement of the M9, which has been in service with the U.S. military since 1985, is a lengthy process. M17s and M18s were issued to members of the 101st Airborne in November 2017, for example, but units from the 82nd Airborne deploying the Afghanistan this month are carrying legacy M9s.