FORT BELVOIR, Va., July 9 (UPI) -- The U.S. Army competition to replace its M9 handgun has been expanded to include new types of ammunition for them.
The change to the service's draft solicitation for the new handgun project, called XM17 Modular Handgun System, was presented on Wednesday at an industry day for interested vendors at Picatinny Arsenal, N.J.
"Expanding the XM17 Modular Handgun competition to include special-purpose ammunition will provide the warfighter with a more accurate and lethal handgun," said Richard Jackson, special assistant to the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General for Law of War. "Other types of ammunition allow the XM17 Modular Handgun System to be optimized by vendors, providing a more capable system to warfighters across the spectrum of shooter experience and skill level."
Jackson told the industry day participants that federal, state, local and military law enforcement elements routinely use expanding and fragmenting ammunition, such as hollow point bullets, instead of full metal jacket -- or ball -- ammunition in handguns because of their increased capability and the Army is looking at doing so as well.
The Army currently plans to purchase more than 280,000 new handguns from a single vendor, with deliveries to begin in 2018. The Army also plans to buy about 7,000 compact versions of the new handgun.
"Handgun technology has advanced significantly thanks to lighter-weight materials, ergonomics and accessory rails since 1986, when the M9 entered the Army's inventory," said Debi Dawson, a spokesperson for the Army's Program Executive Office Soldier. "The Army is seeking a handgun system that outperforms the current M9 system. It also must be modular, meaning it allows adjustments to fit all hand sizes."
The Army said representatives from more than 20 companies attended the industry day event but did not identify them because of federal procurement restrictions.