For the first time, team leaders in the Army’s 101st Airborne Division will be issued pistols along with their M4 carbines. Those pistols also happen to be the newest addition to the service’s small arms arsenal, and the division was the first to receive them.

The M17 and its compact version, the M18, arrived at the 101st Airborne’s Fort Campbell, Kentucky, headquarters this week, and a handful of soldiers got to fire the weapon fresh out of the box.

The M17 is the Army’s new handgun and eventual replacement for the M9 Beretta, which was first fielded in 1986.

“That’s pretty dated technology,” Lt. Col. Steven Power, individual weapons product manager for Project Manager Soldier Weapons, said in an Army release.

 

“The specific performance improvements from [the Modular Handgun System] over the M9 include better accuracy, tighter dispersion, and better ergonomics, which, combined, result in a far more lethal pistol,” Power said.

The soldiers in the 101st received more than 2,000 handguns on Nov. 17, according to the release.

The M17 or Modular Handgun System is shown at a warehouse at Fort Campbell, Ky. The 101st Airborne Division is the first unit in the Army to field the service’s new handgun. (Sgt. Samantha Stoffregen/Army)

The M17 or Modular Handgun System is shown at a warehouse at Fort Campbell, Ky. The 101st Airborne Division is the first unit in the Army to field the service’s new handgun. (Sgt. Samantha Stoffregen/Army)

“It is easier to fire and simpler to operate,” said Sgt. Matthew Marsh, a 101st soldier. “The pistol felt very natural in my hand. I am excited to take my experience back to my unit and share it with my soldiers.”