New M18 SIG Sauer Modular Handgun System issued to USAF security forces


The U.S. Air Force Security Forces Center, in partnership with the Air Force Small Arms Program Office, has begun fielding the new M18 SIG Sauer Modular Handgun System to security forces units as part of the Reconstitute Defender Initiative and its effort to modernize weapon systems and increase warfighter lethality. Vicky Stein (USAF) reports on We Are The Mighty.


New M18 SIG Sauer Modular Handgun System issued to USAF security forces 2
SIG Sauer M17 handgun (Picture source: Army Recognition)


The M18 replaces the M9 Beretta, which has been in use for more than 30 years. This new weapon is also projected to replace the M11A1 Compact used by the Air Force Office of Special Investigations and the U.S. Army M15 General Officer pistol used for military working dog training. On January 19, 2017, it was announced that a customized version of the SIG Sauer P320 had won the United States Army's XM17 Modular Handgun System competition. The full-sized model will be known as the M17 and the carry-sized model will be known as the M18.

In May 2017, the U.S. Army announced that the first unit that will receive the M17 would be the 101st Airborne Division by the end of the year. At the same time, the rest of the U.S. Armed Forces revealed they also intend to acquire the handgun, making it the standard sidearm for the entire U.S. military. The services plan to procure up to 421,000 weapons in total; 195,000 for the Army, 130,000 for the Air Force, 61,000 for the Navy (M18 compact version only), and 35,000 for the Marines.

The United States Marine Corps is replacing its M9, M9A1, M45A1, and M007 handguns with the Sig Sauer M18 handguns. The M9 and M9A1 were produced by Beretta while the M45A1 was made by Colt and the M007, which was only recently accepted as a variant, is made by Glock. Although it has been announced that the US Coast Guard is also adopting the M17/18 handgun there are no purchase numbers as yet.

A key benefit of the M18 is that it can be customized to individual shooters with small, medium or large handgrips. "This is going to help shooters with smaller hands. It also has a much smoother trigger pull, leading to a more accurate, lethal shooter," said Staff Sgt. Richard Maner, 37th Training Support Squadron armory noncommissioned officer in charge at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, who had an opportunity to test the weapon. "The M18 is a smaller platform weapon, but it gives the shooter more capabilities over the bulkier, larger M9 pistol."
So far, more than 2,000 M18s have been delivered to JB Andrews, Maryland, the Air Force Gunsmith Shop, Air Education and Training Command Combat Arms Apprentice Course at JB San Antonio-Lackland, two regional training centers (Guam and Fort Bliss, Texas), Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, and F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming. All security forces units are expected to have their full authorization of M18s by 2020 with the remainder of the Air Force to follow.
"Once all security forces units have been supplied the new weapon, we will supply special warfare airmen, Guardian Angel/(pararescue) communities, OSI and other high-level users," said Master Sgt. Shaun Ferguson, AFSFC Small Arms and Light Weapons Requirements program manager. "Aircrew communities and other installation personnel will be issued the handgun as well based on requirements."


 

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