The program to replace the M9 pistol had its critics from day one. Beginning with what was the point in changing pistols if the Army was going to stay with the 9x19mm cartridge. Beretta came to the Army with the M9A3 pistol, which met over 80% of the characteristics the Army wanted, as well as an upgrade program to convert existing M9 pistols to the new configuration (M9A2). The Army decided to decline this and move forward with a new pistol.

The program started off well. There were many entries from most of the large firearms manufacturers. After initial testing, the Army was down to two pistols, the Glock and Sig Sauer. This is where the problems begin and contractual obligations were not met. Both pistols met the XM17 criteria, however, Sig was significantly lower in price than the Glock. So without doing the Product Verification Testing, the true testing that shows if a pistol is military grade (22,500 round testing, environmental testing (extreme hot and cold), ice, sand, salt water, interchangeability, destruction, etc.), the Army announced the Sig P320 as the winner.

Mind you the two pistols never were tested against each other, so the Army had no clue which was the better pistol. Because of price, they just stopped conducting any further testing. This was a clear failure on behalf of the American soldier. The Army did not do their due diligence to be sure our troops had the best the industry had to offer. Before first deliveries the P320 exhibited problems that would have shown up in PVT testing. Glock protested and the Army rejected it. The conduct of the XM17 program by the Army is well worth an investigation by a Congressional Oversight Committee. It will be interesting to see the outcome and whether we will ever know which pistol was actually the best.


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    Technical Specialist, 10 years in forensics, veteran, technical writer and armorer instructor.