House Wants to Cut Army’s M9 Replacement Money

Army-M9-1200x800The U.S. Army’s effort to replace its M9 9mm pistol with a new Modular Handgun System may be facing another hurdle now that lawmakers in the House want to kill the service’s $5.4 million fiscal 2016 budget request.

The language in the House Chairman’s mark-up of the fiscal 2016 National Defense Authorization Bill comes three months after the Army announced it was delaying the MHS competition in late January.

The program would replace the 30-year-old M9, made by Beretta USA, with a more-powerful, modern handgun. The Army began working with the small arms industry on MHS in early 2013, but the effort has been in the works for more than five years.

The effort to replace the M9 could result in the Defense Department buying 500,000 new pistols during a period of significant defense-spending reductions.

The Army’s decision to delay the launch of the MHS competition followed a report about the December decision of the service’s Configuration Control Board to deny Beretta USA’s submission of a modernized version of the M9 pistol, the M9A3, as a cost-saving alternative to MHS.

Beretta unveiled its M9A3 in December as an engineering change proposal to the current M9 contract. The improved M9 features new sights, a rail for mounting lights and accessories, better ergonomics and improved reliability, according to Beretta USA officials.

The Army formally rejected the M9A3 proposal in a Jan. 29 letter because it went beyond what a traditional ECP is supposed to do. As a result, Army officials said they could not alter the original M9 contract and the M9A3 would have to be submitted as a brand new pistol, the source familiar with the letter said.

The service decided to delay the MHS program to give Army weapon officials time to improve the formal request for proposal to the small arms industry, according to Army officials.

The proposed congressional language in the House mark-up rejected the Army’s $5,417,000 request for “HANDGUN” under Procurement of Weapons & Other Combat Vehicles. The language cites “schedule delay” under the entry.

It’s too early in the budget process to know if the Army will get this money since the Senate still has to do its version of the 2016 defense spending bill mark-up.

MHS is set to cost at least $350 million and potentially millions more if it results in the selection of a more potent pistol caliber, according to small arms experts.

Current plans call for the Army to purchase more than 280,000 handguns from a single vendor, with delivery of the first new handgun systems scheduled for 2017, according to Program Executive Office Soldier officials. The Army also plans to buy approximately 7,000 sub-compact versions of the handgun.

— Matthew Cox can be reached at

About the Author

Matthew Cox
Matthew Cox is a reporter at He can be reached at
  • VTGunner

    Until we change to hollow points, what 9mm we’re shooting doesn’t matter

    • guest

      True words

    • zoneofsubduction

      As if this will ever happen. Hollow point bullets are against the Hague Convention of 1899.

      • guest


      • VTGunner

        Something we never signed, therefore aren’t bound to follow

    • one and one thousand

      Wrong as long as it is 9mm it will matter. Make yourself useful, load my .45 shells please.

      • Herdgrunt

        The half of ninety served me well in the late 60’s!

  • Christopher

    Wonder who has a Beretta Factory in their state.

    • David K.

      Aren’t they based out of Georgia?

      • Lance

        No both Maryland and Tennessee.

    • Patrick

      Tennessee has a new one so does Massachusetts

  • ERonc

    Were in Accokeek, Maryland (admin left there) but moved manufacturing recently due to their last governor being a anti-gun guy. Previous to that they built a warehouse in Virginia and were thinking of locating there with manufacturing but didn’t care for the next governor elected there. So the winner of the new state-of-the-art manufacturing and R&D facility is Gallatin, TN.

  • Lance

    More sense this whole MHS is ICC all over again and since we will not leave 9mm NATO there is no point in going to another pistol glad congress may stop this waste of money.

  • I still think Army should allow troops to carry their own personal pistols (with a waiver that they are responsible for any liabilities, maintenance and supplies for the pistol). I know many police departments have a policy that permits the type of weapons that they can carry that isn’t standard issue. I think this will save government a lot of money.

    • VTGunner

      Yeah but police can just go online or to a local gun store and buy parts/magazines/whatever. Can’t exactly do the same thing in Africa, Iraq or wherever else. Utterly dumb idea

    • Mike

      And just how would they Army resupply all the ammunition during a 4 day firefight? Could be as many as a dozen calibers that could be used by the troops. for this reason, it would not work.

    • Christopher

      Arming troops with pistols are a relic of WW2. It’s not going help when your under attack by guys with AKs, G3s and FALs. The Army should have invested in PDWs like the SR-635 or Magpul PDR years ago. Dozens of countries have adopted either 5.7×28 or 4.6×30. Beating them to the punch.

      • seans

        They are not primary weapons. They are a complement to rifles. No one these days just gets issued a rifle overseas.

        • Textanker

          Not true. In an infantry squad, no-one has a pistol. Only crew-served weapon team members get a pistol (M240B Gunner).

        • Christopher

          A pistol won’t be useful when a forward operation base is attacked.

          • Textanker

            WTF does that mean? Do you think that’s ALL the Army does? We just defend FOBs? I was in a lot of vehicles during my tours, and I used my pistol several times. Weapons go down in combat, and while your trying to get it backup, sometimes the enemy gets close enough that you need to use a pistol.

            The pistol is just another tool in the tool box. A PDW is too big for a Crew-Served Weapon member, and they are still too big to be used in Combat vehicle crew members and aircrew. The best thing about a pistol is you can carry it ALL THE TIME. You’re not setting it down to do maintenance on a vehicle, or work on a terminal.

          • Christopher

            How well does a 9mm or 45 pistol work against any armor that is class IIIA or above? Not very well. Might be good short ranged against an enemy that doesn’t have any. A near peer adversary will not go down easy as an insurgent.

            Obviously you never carried a PDW or SBR. The American combat experience isn’t the only valid one.
            The MP7(the size of an UZI), P90 and MSMC are way smaller then a full sized rifle. Currently the M4 is issued as back up for crew-served weapons. Both PDWs/SBRs are small enough to replace pistols but still can penetrate IIIA rated armor.

          • Textanker

            “Obviously?” – What other assumptions about me can you make that are “obvious”, Sherlock? Astound me with your powers of deduction.

            Let me repeat: The MP7 can’t be carried in a holster, nor the P90 or any other PDW. And for your “near peer” argument, the pistol is not supposed to be a primary weapon.

            And since “The American combat experience isn’t the only valid one”, just what other combat experience or military was the article talking about? I don’t disagree with your point, but the article isn’t about the Russian or Chinese Army.


            Use Google first before saying an SMG sized weapon can’t be carried in a holster. As I just found pictures of an MP7 in one. Making you’re assumption misinformed.

            It also doesn’t have the be the MP7, a PDW caliber pistol like the Five-Seven doesn’t have much weight. It weighs less then an M9 fully loaded. Other countries armed forces carry the MP7 and FN-57 without issues. Though rather dumb of HK not to make their own 4.6mm pistol.

            9mm/11mm pistols as a backup weapon won’t cut it on future battlefield with pockets of resistance supported by neer peer nations. Such as patrols in the Pacific.
            In the near future more then often then not they will be going up against irregular forces. Backed up by an adversary like Russia, China or close enough.
            The Army and Congress need to think long term rather then assuming that troops will go up against terrorists with Soviet Era weapons.

          • WillH

            The 4.6x30mm and 5.7x28mm have their niche roles, but if we’re assuming near-peer enemies, then I doubt they’ll be doing soft armor only. More likely they’ll be in rifle plate which PDW calibers won’t punch through. Another thing about PDWs is they basically have to rely on high magazine capacity, high cyclic rate, and extremely light recoil to get the job done even on unarmored opponents.

        • seans

          I meant to say that no one just gets issued a pistol these days.

          • Textanker

            Once again. not true. We had several unit members that were only issued pistols. But they were in jobs where they would rarely, if ever, have left the FOB (Tactical Operations Center personnel, Signals, MI, Cooks, etc.) The real pisser is when you’re issued a CSW, an M4, AND a pistol.

          • seans

            Every cook, signals, and MI guy I have ever seen, including all JOC personnel are given a rifle, they may never actually carry it, but they get one on the books. Maybe your units was different but I have yet to see otherwise.

          • Textanker

            Surely not every guy. I’m talking about a IBCT with over 3K guys. I’m not saying that they shouldn’t have been issued a long arm, but they weren’t (or they somehow managed to leave it at the home station armory for the entire tour). Our dumbA#$ of a BDE Commander thought that it was cool to walk around with shotgun. He was mercilessly made fun of by us line dogs, of course.

            Weapon density is dictated by MTOE, and at the BDE level, there are several positions that only rate a pistol. Chaplain, Surgeons, and other medical personnel as well. That IS a requirement of the Law of Land Warfare, as well as military tradition.

        • seans

          I meant that no one is just issued a pistol overseas. They are a complement to your primary weapon.

          • Airborne_fister

            While I was in Afghanistan. I was issued an m4 with a 203 and an m9. I was deployed with a national guard unit. Also I was an FO who was a gunner at times.

  • Muttling

    Let me get this straight, the M9A3 is being rejected because Beretta did more than they were supposed to do in an Engineering Change Proposal????

    “The Army formally rejected the M9A3 proposal in a Jan. 29 letter because it went beyond what a traditional ECP is supposed to do.”


    • nobody

      It wasn’t rejected, they are simply requiring Beretta to enter it in the competition to test it along side the other guns as it makes so many changes (the entire frame and slide are different) that they can’t upgrade the current M9s to the M9A3 and would instead have to replace them.

      • Stormcharger

        I guess the +1 was for giving false information…

        No, the major components of the M9A3 are 100% compatible with the current issue M9. The frames and slides are interchangeable, it is one of the design features for the M9A3 as it is intended as an incremental engineering change not a new weapon. Had anyone bothered to even Google it, the M9A3 ECP is readily available to read for yourself.

        • nobody

          You can’t upgrade the M9A1s to M9A3s without actually replacing the frames and slides, Beretta even admits this and says that they would be able to upgrade the M9A1s to their M9A2 standard which will “nearly replicate” the features of the M9A3. This information is even on Beretta’s website on the page about the M9A3 under ECP summary at the bottom of the page:

    • guest

      The Army knows what they want and need. They will convey that information to their contractor (Beretta). There is no need for the contractor to think for themselves or to dream up unasked for additions and enhancements to a weapons system. The Army slapped Beretta’s hands for doing so.

      • MrSinister

        The Beretta modifications specifically addressed all the complaints of the Army, regarding the current model. Hence, they weren’t randomly “thinking for themselves”, they solved the problem(s) the Army claimed existed.
        But, being that the Army wants a new pistol (they don’t need one), you get the standard “no” reaction.
        Army complained about a rail..rail integrated.
        Army complained about the safety.. safety angle fixed and optional decocker only.
        Army complained about lack of threaded barrel… threaded barrel added.
        Army complained about no modular grip.. modular grip added.
        And just as importantly, Beretta offers the M9A3 to the Army cheaper than the current model which is obtained for rock bottom prices, under 300 dollars per unit. So you have a gun that addresses all the complaints, is more durable, and cheaper, and everyone is already trained on it. Problem solved.

    • 45k20

      It’s not just about “going above and beyond” the ECP.

      If other prospective bidders view the M9A3 as being favored, and beyond the original contract, it will mean major headaches for the Army procurement dept. I work multi-million dollar contract procurements, and THAT is a hornets nest the Army wants to stay out of. Beretta just wants the contract without having to bid for it.

    • Merriweather Jones

      I think the military should purchase the best weapons that can be found for a reasonable price for the good of the service man. In my opinion most of the top service brass consider the foot soldier cannon fodder and it does. not matter how many are killed. I consider this policy criminal.

      Another thought the US Weapon policies are Ludacris. Citizens should be encouraged to learn to be proficient with weapons for the good of the nation. As the world grows more dangerous the U. S. is sticking it’s head in the sand. Take a look at history the Swiss requires their citizens to keep their military weapons at home and practice regularly as a consequence Hitler avoided Swiss land during WWII.

  • JCitizen

    They might as well go ahead and cut it. What were they going to do, start using 9mm +P ammo for more power? NATO is not going to drop the whole thing, and adopt a radical new round, just because the US gets it’s britches in a bunch!

    • guest

      NATO spec 9mm is already and what some ammo manufactures consider 9mm+P

      • JCitizen

        I can believe that! My brother has what looks like an M-9 with British special services markings, that won’t shoot anything short of NATO ammo.

      • JCitizen

        The main point is trying to get NATO to adopt a whole new cartridge is like trying to watch lava cool!

  • CTOCS77


  • Textanker

    Does anyone who reads this forum actually know ANYTHING about logistics? Anyone? Anyone? Does anyone here work anywhere that requires one to use their brain.

    8 out of 11 comments were completely ridiculous. EVERY F#$%^IN TIME that there is an article about the Army buying ANYTHING, the “Fraud, Waste and Abuse ” comments start flying. It reinforces my opinion that 8 out of 11 readers of this forum live in their Mommy’s basement.

    • 33838656

      Only 8 out of 11? I think you’re being optimistic there.

    • Nam grunt.

      To most of these people, the only experience they have is dressing up like rambo and going to the range.

  • Textanker

    The idea behind the MHS is sound. If you can a single platform and make it do several things (Backup weapon, Primary for MPs & CID, Suppressed and Low Light for Special Operations, then that is a win for everyone. As usual, most of you aren’t thinking the in long term. The US Army needs a pistol that will be viable for the next 25 years.

    And BTW, Hollow-Points aren’t used due to our agreement with the Hague convention, which has as a component parts of the St. Petersburg Convention, which doesn’t allow expanding bullets of less than 400 grams.….

    FMJs are better for military use: they feed more reliably, and have better penetration through cover.

    • guest

      Properly designed modern pistols digest HP just as well as they do FMJ. Failure to digest HP is a sign of sloppy design and/or workmanship.

      • Textanker

        Not in a combat environment they don’t. Most pistols carried by military personnel are carried for months or years in a holster. It may be days between cleanings, and dust and crud can get in the feed ramp. In a humid environment, you can get oxidation in a matter of hours. When you need a pistol in combat, you REALLY need it to work reliably.

        • guest

          If what you say is true, people are lazy and not cleaning their pistol daily. I live in a very humid climate and you don’t get oxidation in hours if it is clean and oiled.

          • Textanker

            Ding ding ding! The “lazy soldier” argument rears it’s head. I just lost a buck to myself.

  • seans

    Hollowpoints are used by the US military. Socom has been using them for over two decades now. The idea that a FMJ is more desirable for military use out of a pistol or even a rifle is antiquated. If the cover is capable of stopping a pistol caliber hollowpoint its going to stop ball pistol rounds also. Again if FMJ was desirable you wouldn’t see SOCOM loading their pistols with hollowpoints.

    • Textanker

      Really? So hollow point 223 rounds will penetrate as well as tungsten core Green Tip M855s? I must have been asleep during the material penetration class at Benning. And ALL of High School physics.

      And of course, when I was on the initial MHS at Benning and several of the entrants (FNX-45) couldn’t reliably feed HP, but ate ball all day long, I must have dreamed that as well.

      You are correct about SOCOM. But SOCOM uses them depending on threat they expect to face, as well as the concept that they are conducting operations against un-uniformed personnel, so they are performing a law enforcement function. CID and MPs also use JHP. SOCOM doesn’t use JHP if they are going to face military personnel with body armor or hard cover.

      • Joshua

        m855 has a Dr appt steel core…

        Black tip M995 has a hardened tungsten core.

        Somehow getting something so simple, so wrong destroys the credibility of the rest of your argument.

        • Joshua

          Hmm, supposed to read M855 has a crappy steel core… Yet my phone read that as Dr appt…seriously phone…

  • Textanker

    Cartridge, Caliber 5.56 mm, Ball, M855 Lead Free (United States): 62-grain bullet with a steel penetrator tip over a tungsten-composite core in a partial copper jacket. Primarily used during training in countries with strict lead disposal laws. [green tip]

    “Somehow getting something so simple, so wrong destroys the credibility of the rest of your argument.”

    No it doesn’t. Even if I was wrong about the something “so simple”, it still wouldn’t matter. You still haven’t defended your assertion that HP has the same penetration as ball. The concept that a technical fallacy is destroying my entire argument is the same method that conspiracy theorists use.

    • Joshua

      Have you ever used M855? M855 is steel cored, there is no tungsten in M855…at all…none, ziltch, nada, zero.

      I have made no assertions, I simply pointed out and error in your argument that anyone with any experience with the rounds could have pointed out.

      M995 is the tungsten cored 5.56.

    • Joshua

      Wait, so I googled that sentence and it is from Wikipedia. Best part is it’s source is some crack pot website claiming the XM8 is the next individual rifle.

      So you got any real experiences outside of Wikipedia using bad information?

      • Textanker

        Assertion: “If the cover is capable of stopping a pistol caliber hollowpoint its going to stop ball pistol rounds also.” – So far, no defense.

        • Joshua

          I never made any assertions. You must have me confused, I simply pointed out a flaw in your argument.

    • 11b20

      You are referring to the m855a1 genius, if you are going to have on smarty pants make sure you’re not wearing them backwards.


    All of the services pull this garbage. They waste millions of taxpayers money, then decide that the particular item is too expensive to field to the troops. Then they shuffle the money to some boondoggle of a project, i.e. the F-35. The Army is notorious with this when it comes to infantry weapons. The M4 is an “improved version of a weapon developed during the Vietnam War (1962). There have been countless programs to replace it, but none have gained enough traction to actually make it to the troops.

    Honestly, who needs a pistol besides SOF, infantry, pilots and a few assorted other groups who actually see front line combat ? Govt waste is the biggest enemy right now. The DOD has done multiple accounting studies and they have reached the same conclusion every time: there is so much waste in the procurement system now, that they can’t even track how much money gets wasted.

  • JohnD

    You can never design a weapons system that fits everyone’s needs. Some user will not be happy! The upgrade M9A3 seems like a good compromise. the 9mm isn’t the most powerful round in town but most carrying a pistol do not use it as a primary weapon! Let them that needs get the more specialized pistol! Delta, SPECOPS, MPs, CID, seem to have that need so let them buy what they need for their specific task. The M9 is an ok weapon, I would not own one but carried it on my 3 tours of Iraq. I qualified expert with it and the M1911. I love my.45 but many cant shoot it because they go to the range twice a year! The M9 is adequate as a secondary weapon. Spend the money on the M4 upgrade or a newer version of the M113! Spent the money well, not on gimmicks!

    • guest

      Well said and very true.

    • del greening

      if they are close enough to use a hand gun,, you want a 45 cal…. any hit is going to hurt…a damn glorified .22 ain’t going to cut the mustard…and anyone who goes a month without target practice,,, better be heading for the range…

  • one and one thousand

    Why can’t we just get the one pistol that will never fail as it has never failed me, the 1911

    • WillH

      I would like to preface this by saying the M1911 is indeed one of the finest weapons ever made. However, its design came from an era when labor was cheaper than materials. Nowadays the opposite is true. The 1911 requires higher maintenance and hand fitting as a rule when compared to newer designs. In fact, SOCOM put their foot down and said “no 1911s” around the time they adopted the HK45 Compact. There’s also the fact that a 1911 that’s actually going to meet the requirements is going to be expensive: at least 1500 a pop. Now add in the more expensive maintenance. Finally we’d have to convince NATO yet again to change calibers.

      I love the 1911, it’s a true classic and I’ve got a bone-stock Colt Series 70 in my safe (I use an M&P 9 full size as my main sidearm as I use +p/NATO velocity loads which are only one grain and 150 fps behind the 125 grain .357 Magnum load and I have 18 rounds at my disposal which is very useful for dealing with multiple badguys which is becoming an increasing trend), and if it had an ambi safety and night sights, I’d carry it without complaint. But as a general issue weapon to PV2 Joe Schumuckatelli, the 1911 is not ideal.

  • Big Daddy

    I never thought I’d say this, get a Glock. They are modular and the Army will love the idea that everybody will hate them. I do think the S&W M&P might be a better choice though. The M&Ps can easily have a safety the Glock not so easy. But both platforms are very modular. Either one can be made to use a .357 SIG, .40 S&W or 9mm barrel and still use the same ejector and extractor, recoil spring assembly also. I know I have conversion barrels on some of my Glocks and M&Ps. They work great, no issues. The real issue is ammunition, the new G2 Gold Dot would have been a great idea if it worked, it doesn’t.

  • del greening

    like the gun haters say,, a gun is to kill.. well that is what troops are required to sometimes… why are the top end people so damn crazy about the pray and spray toys… MY GARAND fullfilled the design requirements…no sweat…

  • peedee wyre

    Give me a .45, thank you, a 1911 with some ‘slop’ in the action will do nicely. Those ‘European .38s’ (9mm) just don’t have enough a_s behind them, IMHO.

  • lorddunsmore

    Beretta delivered form, fit and function to the Army with the M9A3. What the Army really wants is something other than the 9mm. The NATO round has a higher velocity than the 9mm+. NATO rounds wear out the M9s faster. Any other modern round (.40 S&W, .357 SIG) short of the .45 ACP will wear out the barrel just as fast as the NATO 9mm. I think the Army is bored with the M9 and want a new toy.

  • msgdew

    All these comments and no one has blamed the Pres. for the 9mm’s problems; seems like every other topic written is his fault.