Army Not Happy With Modular Handgun System

The Army’s Modular Handgun System hasn’t all been smooth sailing, according to recently released Pentagon documents indicating persistent problems with the Sig Sauer platform.

An annual fiscal report released by the Pentagon’s Office of the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation detailed potential issues with the Sig Sauer XM17 and XM18 platforms. Among those listed were drop safety concerns, double ejections and stoppage issues with the use of certain ammunition.

Possibly the most glaring problem for the pistol platform was a drop safety deficiency discovered by Army researchers during evaluations. The report states that during drop testing of the Sig Sauer pistols, an empty primed cartridge would discharge if the striker was struck. Sig Sauer implemented an “Engineering Change Proposal” immediately after it was alerted to the drop safety issue, according to the report, eventually correcting the deficiency by tweaking the trigger group mechanism.

In a strikingly similar case, Sig Sauer underwent public scrutiny in August 2017 regarding drop safety concerns in its P320 variant — the platform the MHS is based on — after it was demonstrated that the pistol would discharge a primed cartridge when dropped or hit at a certain angle. Consumer backlash was fierce and eventually forced the company to issue a voluntary recall on the P320 platform.

Drop safety concerns weren’t the only alarms raised by Army testers. The full size XM17 and compact XM18 reportedly also experienced routine double-ejections — when an unspent ball round ejects alongside a spent round. The problem was persistent in both pistols, enough so that the Army stood up a root cause analysis team to trace the issue. The DoD reports the investigation is still underway.

In addition to ejection deficiencies, stoppages also seemed to be a common theme between the pistols. The Army defines a stoppage as “any deficiency that prevents the pistol from operating as intended, but is corrected through immediate action.”

During Product Verification Testing the MHS platform demonstrated more stoppages with ball ammunition than special purpose ammunition, but the report also noted that slide stoppages accounted for nearly half of XM17 stoppages and 75 percent of XM18. During these, the slide failed to lock to the rear after the last round.

Army marksmanship experts were quick to point out that the slide lock stoppage was most likely due to user handling. In the documentation, the DoD emphasized that a high hand placement can engage the slide stop lever on the Sig Sauer pistols, which prevents the slide from locking to the rear. The Army emphasized that better personnel training would likely correct the issue.

Sig Sauer’s MHS award over competitors Glock, Beretta and Smith & Wesson has been a hotly debated topic since the gun maker pulled off the $580 million win. Glock filed a bid protest in Feb. 2017, arguing that Army Material Command did not properly evaluate the MHS proposal. The Government Accountability Office slammed the door on Glock in June 2017, denying the challenge.


  • Patrick

    Should have chosen Glock or HK.

    • GomeznSA

      Ya gotta wonder just how many G19s and G17s they could have bought – just for what they spent on the ‘trials’.
      Shhhh, here’s a secret that the procurement folks apparently are trying to keep hidden: there is no one size fits all………………..doesn’t keep them from trying though.

      • Patrick

        My brother is a LT in the LA State Police. He’s in charge of firearms for the entire state police. He was a big Sig fan until he finally shot a Glock. He switched the state police to Glocks within a year.

        • Deplorable Robert

          I carry a G32(.357 sig) and its so good. High power cartridge and good energy(500ft/lbs) and the FMJ will go through anything including soft armor up close. Has NEVER JAMMED. NEVER! And will not accidentally fire . You can use it,fully loaded and chambered, FOR A HAMMER. It will never fire unless you pull the trigger. Guaranteed.

          • Patrick

            I had a Sig P220 and P229. I loved them both. The Sig that the Army received does seem to be fraught with problems, though.

          • Deplorable Robert

            Hope they get a fix done. Our soldiers deserve the best, regardless of cost. Maybe theyll have to go back to colt. Seems to be most of their picks.

          • Deplorable Robert

            Didn’t Ruger try out for the contract too? Now Remington has a 1911. Have an opinion on the new Remingtons?

          • Patrick
          • Deplorable Robert

            Ive shot colt, ruger, glock, Beretta, taurus and a cheapo .380 pistols. I like glock the best. A little thick at the web of my hand but I’ve gotten used to the feel and it shoots better than anything else I’ve shot before.

          • Patrick

            I agree. I have two Glocks. Models 17 and 22. I just bought an HK VP9 that I like a lot as well. Have to see how well it holds up.

          • mdrod1

            Great choice of Glocks!!! You know which models to pick.

          • Patrick

            Thanks! I’ve had the 17 since the ’90s.

          • Alan404

            Might it be that products intended to be sold on the civilian market benefit from more care and attention that stuff issued to the simple soldier?

          • Patrick

            I don’t think it is the lack of care. When I was in the Corps, I cleaned my weapons daily. I don’t think it’s a lack of care that is causing the weapon to fire when dropped or double-ejections. Do a search for the problems with the Sig P320. I posted a link in my response to Robert below.

          • Patrick
  • CSMagb .

    I’m surprised… I own several Sigs and never experienced any of these issues… The company typically produces quality weapons…

    • MrT

      I agree. Yes, the cheap steel cased Russian ammo is not working with my P320, but I just feed it with cheap brass cased German ammo, and it works like a clockwork. Easy solution. 🙂

  • dan conrad

    the 1911 platform was good for a very long time and still is. they are made in double stack configuration in .45 and probably in 9mm as well. why not stay with a proven winner?

    • GomeznSA

      Not necessarily agreeing (nor disagreeing either) but – SHOCK – they can even be had in DAO configurations and – SHOCK – the mainspring housing can be changed to fit many different sized hands!
      Full disclosure: I carried a M1911A1 as an MP and made do with the arched mainspring housing. Flat ones on my personals.

    • Earlybird

      Glock is a proven winner and more modern as well

  • Tom

    Had a P250 with a similar modular design. It was a POS. Failed constantly. Sig service was great. They took it back, swapped me for a refurbished P239 and I love it. We need our military to have reliable weapons. Sig will make it right, but it shouldn’t have gotten this far.

  • Deplorable Robert

    Glocks ROCK. I KNOW cuz I carry and stake my life on it.
    S&W, Beretta, H&K, Sig Sauer, Colt are all great weapons.
    Go with Glock if you’re smart .

  • elcue

    Even the Taurus pt 92 would have been a better choice if the grips were not so fat. If they wanted to save money.
    Glocks are just not safety minded enough. The should have worked with American made S&W. With the amount of hand guns the government would have ordered it would have been a winner for everyone. Why doesn’t our own military insist on AMERICAN MADE weapons.

  • eliasr

    Should have chosen Glock or HK.

  • David Lathrop

    Should have chosen Glock – They Rock !!! Never had a jam or any problems at all – won’t discharge when dropped – no double eject ,ever.

  • hoyingla

    Should have stayed with Colt. They have always been a quality and reliable firearm. Those who wined about it fail to admit it was the operator behind the trigger who were the problem with hitting the target

  • hdrider

    I agree with HK and Glock but to be fair the double ejection problem sounds like a magazine problem

  • JDW

    These problems should not exist. When you have a weapon that you are depending on to work regardless of situation, should work. Hey “mr bad guy” wait a moment, my gun doesn’t’ work! OK! Maybe, keep it in plastic! Maybe yell time out, gota clean my gun. Either the damn thing is quality or not. There are no time outs.

  • MrT


    The drop-safety thing is more like a Youtube drama at this point.

    I keep shooting mine, had no problem with any double ejection.

    The ammo IS an issue, it hates steel cased Russian ammo. But everybody knew that. I knew it at the first test shooting when I had the 1st range visit with mine. So there is no way the military didn’t know about it. But why would they care about Silver Bear ammo? All they need is brass ammo and that’s it. I shoot ALSO cheap German brass ammo and the pistol works flawlessly with it.
    Just make sure that the US military is not buying the ammunition from Moscow based factory. 😀

  • lara

    Should have chosen Glock or HK.

  • pagolo romano

    I agree with HK and Glock but to be fair the double ejection problem sounds like a magazine problem

    • Earlybird

      Surely they are using factory mags desi9gned to be used with the weapon!

  • Sveta

    Had a P250 with a similar modular design. It was a POS. Failed constantly. Sig service was great. They took it back, swapped me for a refurbished P239 and I love it. We need our military to have reliable weapons. Sig will make it right, but it shouldn’t have gotten this far.

  • Juanito Ibañez

    I have always questioned the Army’s “need” for a ‘modular’ pistol.

    A pistol which can have the grip “sized” to the individual: Yes.

    “Modular”: WHY?

    BTW: admittedly, I was pulling for the Beretta M3 – for commonality of current training and accessories (magazines, holsters, etc.).