Marine Corps Fields New Service Pistol
by U.S. Marine Corps Matt Gonzales, Systems Command
For the first time since former President Ronald Reagan’s
Administration, the Marine Corps is fielding a new service-wide
Marine Corps Systems Command began
fielding the M18 Modular Handgun System in September 2020. This
striker-fired, semi-automatic, 9-mm pistol is based on the Sig Sauer
Model P320. The M18 will replace all other pistols in the Marine
Corps inventory, including the M9, M9A1, M45A1 and M007.
The M18 Modular Handgun
System is a 9mm, striker-fired pistol that is replacing other pistols in the Marine Corps inventory, including the M9, M9A1, M45A1 and M007. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tessa B. Corrick)
“All Marine Corps units with a pistol will receive an M18,” said
Brian Nelson, M18 project officer at MCSC.
Marksmanship Training Centers, Reconnaissance Battalions, Provost
Marshall Offices and Marine Corps Security Forces will be the first
to receive the M18. MCSC projects fielding to conclude by fiscal
How M18 Differs From M9
The M18 comprises capabilities previous pistols lacked. For
example, the M9—the most widely issued pistol among Marines—is a
steel-framed, single-action/double-action hammer-fired pistol. This
means it is a heavier, metal gun with two different trigger pulls
for single- and double-action.
Conversely, the M18 is lighter and does not
include two different trigger pulls.
“For some Marines,
having two trigger pulls, like with the M9, is difficult to get used
to because different forces are acting upon the gun,” said Sgt.
Randall McClellan, pistol program manager with the Weapons Training
Battalion aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia. “With the
M18, the trigger is going to be the same weight every time.”
The M18 has increased modularity when compared with previous
pistols. The gun includes interchangeable components to fit small,
medium or large hands. It comprises a receiver module inside the
pistol grip that enables Marines to remove the trigger mechanism and
insert it into a new grip size, said Nelson.
The weapon also
includes an accessory rail that enables Marines to attach lights or
“Marines can attach more things to the
M18, such as a red-dot sight, once approved for use,” said
McClellan. “The modularity and ergonomics of the gun benefits the
warfighter, as they can change parts out more easily.”
handgun is an Army-led program fielded in 2017. The program consists
of the M17—the full-size pistol—and the M18. MCSC is only purchasing
the M18, the compact variant, as well as holsters through the Army
The Marine Corps’
Combat Development and Integration collaborated with the Army on the
development of the M18 requirement. CD&I requirements managers and
other Marines actively participated in the assessment and selection
of the MHS.
“The M18 is unique in that it is a utility player
capable of supporting a broad range of missions in which a handgun
is required,” said Billy Epperson, the Infantry Weapon Capabilities
Integration officer at CD&I. “Because of this versatility, the M18
will replace the four pistols in the Marine Corps inventory.”
Tom Vass, the Army’s project officer for the M18, believes the
weapon will greatly benefit Marines, noting how it is a more
reliable, accurate and effective pistol than previous ones.
“Overall, the adoption of the M18 by the Marine Corps is an
extremely positive decision that will benefit the Corps and enhance
Marines’ safety and effectiveness when conducting missions,” said
‘Very Emotional’ Transition
In June 2020, a group of Marines and civilians from various
Marine Corps organizations, including PMO and Marine Helicopter
Squadron One, converged upon a firing range aboard Marine Corps Base
Quantico to learn and qualify with the M18 during the Instructor and
Key Personnel Training.
June 25, 2020 - A Marine instructor shoots the M18 Modular Handgun System at a firing range during Instructor and Key Personnel Training aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia. Marine Corps Systems Command began fielding the M18 in September
2020. The striker-fired, semi-automatic 9-mm weapon will be the Marine Corps’ new service pistol. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by David Jordan)
After the two-hour event, Marines and
subject matter experts spoke about the benefits of the system. Sgt.
Journey Granados, a weapons trainer with MCB Quantico’s PMO, said
the M18 is much easier to grip and shoot than other Marine Corps
“I feel more comfortable holding the M18 than I do
holding the M9, largely because of the interchangeable grip,” said
Granados. “This pistol is definitely easier to shoot, is a lot more
accurate and should improve Marines’ qualification score.”
The requirement for Marines to qualify with a pistol will not
change. Those required to qualify annually will still do so, said
Nelson. Combat Marksmanship Trainers will qualify with the M18
during New Equipment Training, and these individuals are responsible
for qualifying other Marines.
“The only thing changing in the
qualification course now is the verbiage in regard to single
action/double action and the decocking,” said Nelson. “WTBN will
hold the marksmanship symposium later this year, and they will
review data to decide if the course as a whole will need to be
Maj. Mike Brisker, weapons product manager in
MCSC’s Program Manager for Infantry Weapons, expressed excitement
for the M18 because of its capabilities and its potential in helping
Marines carry out their missions.
“This is the first
service-wide replacement of the pistol since the M9 in the 1980s,”
said Brisker. “The M18 is important in terms of modernization and
Fielding the M18 is part of a larger effort to
modernize and increase the lethality of Marines. The addition of the
M18 to the Marine Corps inventory will be an exciting experience for
many Marines, said Nelson.
“This is the first new service
pistol in more than 30 years, so it’s going to be a very emotional
transition for Marines,” said Nelson. “Fielding the M18 is a big
step for the Marine Corps.”
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