The Army posted photos of soldiers testing the new modular handgun system, the Sig Sauer P320, at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, on Thursday.
Most of the soldiers present at the August 27 tests were from the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, according to a release.
While no other branches have signed up for the P320, the Army said sailors, airmen, and Marines will also take part in the testing, drawn from across units and specialties.
“We wanted to make sure that we have a huge sample to make sure that we’ve got this right — that the Army has it right,” Col. Brian McHugh of Army Operational Test Command said.
Sig Sauer won the $US580 million contract to produce the Army’s new sidearm, replacing the Beretta M9 9 mm pistol, in January, beating out Beretta, Glock and others.
The decision was challenged by Glock, but the Army rebuffed Glock’s calls for more tests.
In August, concerns were raised about the P320 after video emerged showing a similar model Sig Sauer pistol firing when dropped. The gunmaker has voluntarily distributed an upgrade kit meant to address the issue (though the P320 is not affected by the upgrade).
The Army said in July that it would begin fielding the new sidearm in November, distributing about 2,000 of them to soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. However, officials from the Program Executive Office told Military.com that fielding would begin in October.
You can see photos of US soldiers putting the P320 to the test below.
'These are the soldiers who would be using the weapon every day, so getting their feedback on the pistol is really what is important for operational testing,' said Maj. Mindy Brown, an Operational Test command test officer.
Source: US Army
Soldiers testing out the new pistol discussed how it worked with the M4 as well as how it functioned with cold-weather gear. Sig Sauer boasted the P320 is adaptable, with interchangeable grips and convertibility to 9 mm, .357 SIG, and .40 Smith & Wesson calibers.
The M9 Beretta was introduced in 1986 and is reaching the end of its serviceability. 'The specific performance improvements from MHS over the M9 are in the area of accuracy, dispersion (and) ergonomics. And ergonomics isn't just about the comfort of the shooter,' Lt. Col. Steven Power, product manager of Soldier Weapons, said in July.
'It's good. We don't really get the opportunity to test the equipment in the unit we're in,' Sgt. 1st Class Kevin Custer of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment said of the exercise.
'It's a great opportunity for soldiers to get to shoot more rounds,' said Sgt. Emily Todd of the 16th Military Police Brigade. 'It's nice to have a forward look into what the Army might use some day.'
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