The US Air Force is now supplying Sig Sauer M18 9mm pistols to its security force units. The new model of pistol replaces the 9mm that has been in use since the 1980s.
In 2017, the US Army chose the Sig Sauer M17 and M18 pistol to replace the M9 9mm handguns it had been using since 1985.
The other three branches have gone on to make the models their official handguns. While the Army, Navy and Air Force chose the M17 model as their primary handguns with the M18 being used for specific roles, the Marines chose the M18 as their official handgun.
The M18 is a more compact version of the full-sized M17. It is typically assigned to service members who need to carry a concealed weapon.
In early 2019, Sig Sauer announced that the M18 had passed the Army’s Lot Acceptance Test (LAT). Typically a weapon passes this test if it can fire 5,000 rounds with a maximum of 12 stoppages.
The M18 was fired 12,000 times without any stoppages. It also met all the requirements for parts interchange, consistency in firing pin indent and trigger pull measurements, and all workmanship standards.
According to the president and CEO of Sig Sauer, Ron Cohen, the M18 sets “a new standard for reliability in service pistols.”
The M18 is a 9mm striker-fired pistol. It has a coyote-tan PVD coated stainless steel slide with black controls. It comes equipped with SIGLITE front night sights and a removable night sight rear plate.
The selection of the M17 and M18 service pistols ended one of the most rigorous and competitive selection processes in American military history.
Sig Sauer won the selection by developing a variation of its P320 pistol. The contract was awarded to Sig Sauer in January 2017 and calls for the delivery of 480,000 pistols over 10 years. By February 2019, the company had already delivered 20,000 of the sidearms.
Sig Sauer is headquartered in Newington, New Hampshire, and is part of an international group of companies.
Schweizerische Industrie-Gesellschaft (more commonly known as SIG and translated to English as the Swiss Industrial Company) began in 1853 in Switzerland as the Swiss Wagon Company with the intention of becoming a successful wagon factory.
When the Switzerland Federal Ministry of Defense issued a challenged for Swiss companies to develop a rifle to be used by the military, the Swiss Wagon Company developed a state of the art weapon known as the Prelaz-Burnand rifle. They won a contract for 30,000 rifles in 1864 and changed their name to SIG.
In 1949, the SIG P49 handgun was released. It gained a reputation for performance in battle and in competition.
It was soon followed by the P220 which was issued to service members in the Swiss army and the more compact P230 which was used by the Swiss police. The SIG handguns became known for exceptional reliability and innovative features.
In the 1970s, SIG expanded to include Hämmerli Target Arms from Lenzburg, Switzerland, and J.P. Sauer & Sohn, GmbH, of Eckernförde, West Germany. In 1985, the company formed SIGARMS, Inc. in the US.
In the 2000s, SIGARMS increased its market share with contracts in law enforcement and new products for civilians. In 2007, they changed the company name to Sig Sauer.
At the same time, they tripled their work force and invested $18 million in manufacturing facilities and equipment. Sig Sauer is now the largest of the SIG companies.