Sept. 23 (UPI) -- The U.S. Marine Corps officially began fielding the M18 Modular Handgun, its first new service pistol in 35 years, it announced on Wednesday.
The Beretta M9, adopted by the Marines in 1985, will be replaced by a handgun based on the civilian Sig Sauer Model P320, with all M9s in the Marines' inventory scheduled to be replaced by 2022, the branch said in a press release.
The M18 was developed through the Army's Modular Handgun Systems program, and is currently in use by the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard.
The Marine Corps ordered M18s under a program to supplement the 20,648 it procured in 2018 as part of its $17 million request for infantry weapons. It expects to order a total of 30,305 new pistols.
Formal Marksmanship Training Centers, Reconnaissance Battalions, Provost Marshall Offices and Marine Corps Security Forces will be the first Marine units to receive the M18, the Marines said.
The new pistol is lighter than its predecessor, has interchangeable grip components to fit a range of hand sizes, can be equipped with lights or lasers, and offers two different trigger pulls for single- and double-action shooting.
"For some Marines, having two trigger pulls, like with the M9, is difficult to get used to because different forces are acting upon the gun," said Sgt. Randall McClellan, of the Weapons Training Battalion at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va. "With the M18, the trigger is going to be the same weight [amount of force] every time."