Last year the U.S. Army decided to replace the Beretta M4 with a new battle pistol, the M17 made by Sig. This is now the second time that the military has decided that no American gun maker can produce a handgun that works well enough to be carried by our troops in the field. Sam Colt and D.B. Wesson must be rolling over in their graves.
If we can’t design and manufacture a small arm that can make the grade, I would assume that at least the soldiers who will carry this new gun will at least know how to use it in the proper way. But thanks to a link in The Firearms Blog sent to me by one of our Contributing Editors, Dave Buchannon, I’m not sure that this is the case.
The 101st Airborne has released a video of some troops firing the new gun; they also have posted a bunch of pics on a Flickr site, with one pic (above) showing some kind of big-shot officer playing around with a gun. Of course he knew the gun wasn’t loaded, he’s only standing in the middle of a shooting range and everyone knows that guns are never loaded at a range.
But leaving aside the fact that Major Whomever-He-Is probably hasn’t held or shot a gun since who knows when, what I really found interesting are the numerous pics of soldiers actually banging away inside the range, in many cases with what appear to be firearm instructors telling them how to proceed.
I have to assume that these pics are going to show up in some kind of training manual for the men and women who have to learn the ins and outs of shooting the M17. And the reason I say that is because every gun manual that I have ever seen always comes with a chapter on the do’s of firing the gun as well as a chapter on the don’ts. And I can tell you without fear of exaggeration that some of the photos of this gun being shot are definitely candidates for being put in the don’ts chapter; they certainly shouldn’t be included with the do’s.
There’s a pic, for example, of a Ranger holding his right hand around the grip and his left hand underneath the grip, what we call the ‘teacup’ style of holding a handgun, which basically means that you are trying to control the gun with one hand. Now one-handed shooting works great in fast-draw contest at the turkey shoot held at my local range, but it’s not something you want to do when you’re trying to keep a military weapon on point of aim.
Then there’s another great pic, this one I really like, of a trooper whose left thumb is rubbing up against the slide. If he presses the slide hard enough with his thumb the gun might jam, if his touch is a little softer the felt recoil will basically result in his second shot going God only knows where.
If these pics represent how our armed forces have been trained to use a handgun I simply don’t understand why the military bothered to select and buy a new gun at all. The gun looks nice, it has a pretty sandy-colored finish and it comes in two sizes I guess because female soldiers usually have smaller hands. Actually, the smaller size is known as the ‘compact’ model, which will probably end up being worn by officers since the grunts are supposed to carry more weight. Either way, the U.S. taxpayer is going to be laying out $580 million bucks for a weapon which as far as I can tell, the troops don’t necessarily know how to shoot it straight.
For all we know, within a few years it won’t matter whether our military will know how to use any weapon at all because everyone’s talking about future conflicts being fought only with drones. If that happens, maybe we’ll see a lot of surplus Sig pistols coming on the market the same way that the Colt 1911 will be arriving soon.