Modular Handgun System
The primary reason for replacement of the M9 is that they are reaching the end of their life cycle. This was one reason it replaced the M1911 in the 1980s. Firearms are given a lifetime round count, after which they are no longer guaranteed to operate properly. Parts like the trigger or internal spring can be replaced multiple times, but when the steel frame begins to deteriorate, the weapon becomes unreliable and unsafe. Wear-out rates for the pistols are increasing, and rebuilding them doesn't remedy the problem. Other than simply giving newly-built M9s, the Army is opting for a new weapon to address design weaknesses.
The U.S. Army initially required the MHS to be more effective, accurate, and reliable than the M9 pistol. The MHS requirement called for a non-caliber specific weapon with modular features to allow for the adaption of different fire control devices, pistol grips, and alternate magazine options. The weapon will fit various hand sizes and will mount targeting enablers using Picatinny rails. The new weapon will incorporate detection avoidance by having a non-reflective neutral color and will be operable with sound and flash suppressor kit in place.
In January 2013, the Army released a Request for Information (RFI) to assess available handgun technologies and U.S. small arms industrial production capacity for the Modular Handgun System. The announcement seeks information “on potential improvements in handgun performance in the areas of accuracy and dispersion out to 50 meters, terminal performance, modularity, reliability, and durability in all environments.” The handgun should have a 90 percent or more chance of hitting in a 4 inch circle out to 50 meters consistently throughout the weapon's lifetime. Ergonomic design should minimize recoil energies and control shot dispersion. Features include, but are not limited to, compatibility with accessory items to include tactical lights, lasers, and sound suppressors. Full ambidextrous controls are required and there is interest in ergonomic designs that can be controlled by female shooters. There is no specific caliber, but terminal ballistics at 50 meters through 14 inches of ballistics gel will assess lethality compared to M882 9mm rounds. Specific interest is given to pistols that can accommodate higher chamber pressures over 20 percent greater then SAAMI spec for the cartridge without degradation of reliability. The RFI calls for 2,000 mean rounds between stoppages, 10,000 mean rounds between failures, and a 35,000 round service life. Manufacturers are asked to provide production capacity estimates on minimum and maximum monthly rates, as well as the lead times to achieve those rates. Estimated pricing is requested for quantities of 250,000 to 550,000 handguns.
The requirement for the new pistol originated with the MHS program initiated by the Air Force in 2008. It has received Joint Requirements Oversight Council (JROC) validation. The MHS program will select a commercial off-the-shelf handgun in financial year (FY) 2011–2012. Testing will be completed by FY2013 and type classification is expected in FY2014. The MHS will replace the M9 pistol on a one-for-one basis.
See also 
- Outdated Weapons Bring Calls for Speedier Upgrades - Nationaldefensemagazine.com, January 2013
- "Emerging Technologies". 10. Retrieved 20 November 2010.
- U.S. Army Explores Potential Modular Handgun Systems - Defensemedianetwork.com, January 15, 2013