The U.S. Marine Corps is fielding a new service-wide pistol replacement for the first time since former President Ronald Reagan’s Administration.
Marine Corps Systems Command (MCSC) began fielding the M18 Modular Handgun System in September. This striker-fired, semi-automatic, 9-mm pistol is based on the Sig Sauer Model P320. The M18 will replace all other pistols in the Marine Corps inventory, including the M9, M9A1, M45A1 and M007.
“All Marine Corps units with a pistol will receive an M18,” said Brian Nelson, M18 project officer at MCSC.
Formal Marksmanship Training Centers, Reconnaissance Battalions, Provost Marshall Offices and Marine Corps Security Forces will be the first to receive the M18. MCSC projects fielding to conclude by fiscal year 2022.
The M18 comprises capabilities previous pistols lacked. For example, the M9 — the most widely issued pistol among Marines — is a steel-framed, single-action/double-action hammer-fired pistol. This means it is a heavier, metal gun with two different trigger pulls for single- and double-action. Conversely, the M18 is lighter and does not include two different trigger pulls.
The M18 has increased modularity when compared with previous pistols. The gun includes interchangeable components to fit small, medium or large hands. It comprises a receiver module inside the pistol grip that enables Marines to remove the trigger mechanism and insert it into a new grip size. The weapon also includes an accessory rail that enables Marines to attach lights or lasers underneath.
The handgun is an Army-led program fielded in 2017. The program consists of the M17 — the full-size pistol — and the compact variant M18. MCSC is only purchasing the M18 as well as holsters through the Army contract.
The Marine Corps’ Combat Development and Integration collaborated with the Army on the development of the M18 requirement. CD&I requirements managers and other Marines actively participated in the assessment and selection of the MHS.