US Army Distributes New Handguns, Still on Hunt for New Rifles

© AP Photo / Dario Lopez-MillsUS Army soldiers belonging to the 1st Platoon, Able Troop 3-71 Cavalry Squadron and members of the South Carolina National Guard. (File)
US Army soldiers belonging to the 1st Platoon, Able Troop 3-71 Cavalry Squadron and members of the South Carolina National Guard. (File) - Sputnik International
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The US Army has distributed 2,000 new M17 handguns manufactured by Sig Sauer, according to an October 3 news release, but the service “is still looking for a new rifle that uses a 7.62mm cartridge.”

Commissioning new firearms in the US military has been a process with its fair share of drama. Earlier this year, the Army moved to scrap the Beretta M9 in favor of a Sig Sauer modular handgun system. The completed deal, worth $580 million, was the subject of an appeal by Glock, which had competed for the deal to supply troops with handheld firearms. At least 280,000 M17s will eventually be integrated throughout the army.

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When the process of picking a new handgun became cumbersome, US Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley quipped June 1 the service just needed contractors to produce a pistol, "not the lunar landing."

The Government Accountability Office dismissed Glock's renewed bid June 5.

But the service still needs to acquire new rifles — at least for temporary purposes — while longer-term models are developed.
According to Brig. Gen. Brian Cummings, Milley "wanted an interim combat rifle, or he was only going to fulfill a requirement to have a squad-designated marksman in each squad," which is referred to within the services as a squad-designated marksman rifle (SDMR).

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The service can field the SDMR or an interim combat service rifle (ICSR) to meet the need for a 7.62 mm weapon. Perhaps someone might suggest a 7.62 mm Kalashnikov AK-47.

The SDMR is a semi-automatic M-16 modified to hit targets further away than previous variants. Multiple news outlets reported that the ICSR program was offline and had been killed in order to keep the M-4 weapon, but the US Army has confirmed those reports to be false. The service is still seeking commercially available weapons for the ICSR program.
Neither SDMR nor ICSR represent "the long-term way ahead," Cummings says. "The long-term way ahead is a brand new rifle for all of the Department of Defence called the Next Generation Squad Weapon.

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