In the words of Connor MacLeod, "There can be only one." That line, of course, is from the 1986 movie “Highlander,” and may or may not have resulted in my godson’s name choice. Regardless, when it comes to the Modular Handgun System (MHS) trial to determine the next service pistol for the U.S. Army, it would appear that a version of the SIG Sauer P320 that will eventually wear the U.S. M17 name.
The most recent piece of news regarding the MHS was that the protest filed with the Government Accounting Office by Glock, Inc., had been denied. In a post I wrote about the GAO announcement on June 5, there was quite an uproar on why Glock’s protest was denied. The protest was, of course, anticipated, and they happen on just about every big government contract from fighter jets to galoshes. While the GAO gave some of its reasons, it did not stop the speculation on social media, which included assertions that Glock did not meet the requirements of the Army’s RFP. That is a supposition firmly denied by Glock.
Here’s an example of the online backlash: “First. The Glock was not 100% modular. Second, the Glock did not have the REQUIRED manual safety and Glock refused to install one.”
In another comment, the following questions, too, were raised: “Did the military change the requirements? I thought they required a manual safety? Or was this why it was denied.” There were more, many more. And some expletives may have been involved.
According to statement from Glock's Vice President of Operations Josh Dorsey, "GLOCK, Inc. met or exceeded all of the mandated threshold requirements set forth in the RFP by the Army." Glock has some folks that know their way around the government contracting system, and there is no way they would whiff on a thumb safety.
Images have been obtained of the actual Glocks made for the MHS trials. Despite speculation, the MHS guns were not a G17 or G22, they were actually a G19 in 9x19 mm and a G23 in .40 S&W—and if you look, there are no finger grooves on the frame. Also, no threaded barrel version is pictured in the accompanying images, but like the extended magazines shown, there would have been such barrels to meet the RFP’s requirements. SIG Sauer has not been releasing images of its threaded muzzles, either. It is unknown if Glock submitted both 9 mm and .40 S&W versions at this time.
While there is no chassis and shell (which kept Glock outside of Steyr’s patent, a story for another time), current Glocks offer the firm’s MBS or Modular Backstrap System, allowing some accommodation for hand size. There do not appear to be any replaceable side panels. Whether the Army considered the frame with MBS versatile enough is unknown. Interestingly, if you look closely you will see a lanyard loop on the base of the grip frame. Clever.
The Glock pistols submitted for the trial had some features unfamiliar to most of the Austrian maker’s pistols. In particular there is a bilateral thumb safety included on the frame behind the slide lock. On the left side it is a shallow paddle, but on the right side it a lever that extends from the recess at the back of the frame for the mechanism housing pin. Again, clever.
I have been told that Glock has no immediate plans to offer an MHS version of the G19 pistol, but now that I have had a look at it, I think it is something that would appeal to quite a few shooters.
When it comes to the actual U.S. Army contract, Connor MacLeod was right. But, other makers that vied for the XM17 have introduced a new generation of commercial sidearms with much appeal for the shooting public. The FN 509 is already available and was covered here, and the Beretta APX pistol is on dealer shelves.
Who knows what Glock’s management is thinking, but perhaps it would be nice were a G19 MHS to appear on the shelves next to its fellow MHS competitors. I must say I find the bilateral thumb safety version of the G19 the most interesting Glock development since the rollout of the G42.