Army Picks up Pistol Search Where AF Left Off

Another interesting couple factoids from yesterday’s chat with PEO Gen. Fuller and some of his top honchos is the Army’s search for a new, so-called “modular” pistol.

According to Col. Doug Tamilio, the PM for Soldier weapons, the Army basically took over where the Air Force (who for some reason were running the original program for an M9 replacement) left off. The requirement has been approved already, and the JROC is on board, but the Air Force decided not to fund the program in ’09. But the Army is picking up where the Air Force dropped the ball and taking it through development.

Basically, the Army wants a handgun that can be both modular in caliber, barrel length and grip size.

“Not only in the form, fit function of the weapon, but in the caliber,” Tamilio said.

That seems like a tough requirement to achieve. I know of only a couple handguns on the commercial market that can switch out easily, but this could turn into an armorer’s nightmare in the field.

“Guys who are in air crews may want a specific caliber. And those in direct combat may want a larger caliber,” Tamilio said. He added that the Infantry School has taken a look at the Air Force’s requirement and is preparing a letter to put on top of that that blesses the findings and sends it on to TRADOC and the G-3 for a blessing, then it goes into the POM process for a competition.

My colleague at Army Times Matt Cox asked a good question on top of that, wondering what a new modular combat pistol would do to the service’s search for a personal defense weapon.

Basically, Tamilio said that some people who might get PDWs would instead get pistols. The Army wants carbines across the force, Tamilio said but “there’s a lot of guys exiting trucks, that don’t need to fight the 300-500 meter range, they need that short 200 meter range in. And that’s where the personal defense weapon comes in.”

The pistol will still be issued to “augment the force” for machine gunners, officers and senior NCOs.

“So instead of saying we have a requirement for 275,000 pistols, that may get cut down — so now we say we want 200,000 of those and 50 or 60,000 of the PDWs,” he said.

So in sum, the Army will have a new pistol requirement, a PDW search, a new Improved Carbine requirement and eventually “a new long gun requirement for within the squad.”

It’s a good time to be a gun maker, huh?