After the US Army, the US Air Force as well as the US Coast Guard, it's the turn of the United States Marine Corps: the USMC just announced that they have adopted the modern duty P320 Modular Handgun System (MHS) as their new 9mm service pistol. In contrast to the US Army, that adopted the P320-M17 full-size, version the USMC has choosen the compact variant, the P320-M18.
Actually, the decision to replace the current service pistols with the P320-M18 was made last year, since the Corps’ 2019 Fiscal Year Budget Estimates already showed that the USMC was going to replace its M9s, M9A1s and M45A1 with 35,000 SIG Sauer’s Modular Handgun System pistols. The procurement will cost 6.3 million USD, and the Marines will also replace their M007 pistols, that is their recently acquired Glock 19M pistols.
SIG Sauer P320, a history of success
The M17/18 pistols were selected by the US Army in 2017 to replace the M9 (Beretta 92) service pistol. They are based on the modular system of SIG Sauer P320, a polymer striker-fired concept that has proven itself in both the United States and worldwide markets. The new handgun is the first “modular” pistol in the US military, featuring interchangeable backstraps.
Last February the P320-M18 version also passed the US-Army Lot Acceptance Test (LAT) with outstanding results. All weapons in service of the US-Army must pass 5.000 fired rounds with 12 failures or less: three P320-M18 fired 12.000 rounds each with zero failures in total.
The Director of Operation Testing and Evaluation (DOT&E) Annual Report, which provides an independent review and analysis of the U.S. Department of Defense weapons systems, stated that, “the MHS meets or exceeds requirements for accuracy, lethality, ergonomics, and safety,” adding that, “both the XM17 and the XM18 are operationally effective and suitable.”
The P320-M17 is also available on the civilian market (see here). The compact M18 variant of the P320 MHS in Europe is only available in black and not in FDE. However, as explained by SIG, “there are no differences in regards of reliability, quality or precision between the two versions”.