Selection of new Army and Air Force sidearm
The Department of Defense will soon chose three finalists in a competition to be the U.S. Army and Air Force's new sidearm. One of the three finalists could go on to outfit all of the services, with total sales of of 500,000 handguns—but not before the Pentagon bureaucracy makes it as long and complicated as possible.

The Modular Handgun System (MHS) is a $17 million dollar effort to replace the aging Beretta M92 handgun. First adopted in the 1980s, the U.S. Army's Berettas are beginning to wear out. The M92 is also a product of another time, and hasn't kept up with recent advances in pistol technology.

The first requirement is that the new handgun surpass the M92 in accuracy, reliability, ergonomics, durability, and maintainability. In a 2006 report on U.S. infantry weapon reliability, the M92 scored at the bottom compared to the M4 carbine, M16 rifle, and M249 squad automatic weapon. In every category, from handling to accuracy to maintainability, the M92 came in dead last—or tied for last. Twenty-six percent of soldiers polled reported their weapon jammed while shooting at the enemy. Forty-six percent reported they didn't have confidence in their pistol's reliability.
 
The MHS will also incorporate new advances in infantry small arms. The pistol will have a modular grip system, a recent development that involves interchangeable, different-sized grip panels to accommodate larger or smaller hands. This has become an important feature as the percentage of women in the military—who tend to have smaller hands—has jumped 50 percent since the 1980s when M92 was adopted. 

The handgun will have an integral MIL-STD 1913 Picatinny Rail underneath the barrel, allowing the attachment of gadgets such as flashlights and lasers. It will also have a threaded barrel to accommodate a suppressor and should have low recoil. 

Currently there are twelve bidders for the contract, including the Beretta APX, Ceská Zbrojovka's CZ P-09, FN Herstal's Five-Seven Mk 2, General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems (GDOTS) and Smith & Wesson's M&P polymer handgun; the Glock 17 and 22; and Sig Sauer's P320. An updated version of the M9, the Beretta M9A3, was rejected by the Army and won't be involved in the competition. 
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