The U.S. Army took its time carefully considering which pistol should be included in its arsenal. However, the decision was made earlier this year and it’s SIG Sauer that gets the contract, The Washington Post reports.

SIG’s P320 pistol will replace the M9 Beretta, which has been used since the mid-1980s.

“I am tremendously proud of the Modular Handgun System Team,” Army Acquisition Executive Steffanie Easter said in a press release. “By maximizing full and open competition across our industry partners, we truly have optimized the private sector advancements in handguns, ammunition and magazines and the end result will ensure a decidedly superior weapon system for our warfighters.”

The Army’s search for a new pistol started back in 2011, according to The Post. L last year, the Army was down to 12 finalists. Beretta included updates to the M9 when the Army announced it was looking for an upgrade, but SIG was ultimately awarded a contract valued around $580 million for the “modular handgun system,” The Post reports.

Related: Army to Allow Hollowpoint Ammo for New Pistol

u.s. army p320

Credit: SIG Sauer

What Made The P320 Stand Out?

Firearm experts gave SIG’s 2014 release a nod from the beginning. Many said it was the only true “modular” pistol, The Post reports.

Simply put, the capability to swap calibers from a 9mm to a .357SIG or .40S&W with only a few parts to change set SIG apart. Swapping calibers is a rapidly-growing trend in U.S. military weapon programs, The Post reports. However most systems, like the SCAR series of rifles, are relegated to Special Ops. It’s also worth noting Special Ops currently uses the SIG P226.

If Not The P320, Then What?

Had SIG’s polymer, striker-fired pistol not been the U.S. Army’s choice, a long list of pistols could have been chosen. The list includes pistols from Beretta, though not the M9, Glock, Springfield and Taurus.

The 12 replacement options, according to Tactical Life, were:

  • SIG Sauer P320
  • Beretta APX
  • CZ P-09 MHS
  • FN Herstal
  • Glock 17 Gen4 and 22 Gen4
  • Heckler & Koch VP9 and VP40
  • KRISS USA Sphinx SDP variant
  • Smith & Wesson M&P
  • Springfield Armory XDM
  • STI-Detonics Defense STX
  • Taurus PT24/7 OSS
  • Walther PPQ M2

The Ultra-Popular 9mm

The popularity of 9mm pistols is well known.

Even back in 2014, amid the middle of the U.S. Army’s search for its new pistol, the FBI’s Training Division released a study endorsing the 9mm Luger pistol round as the best option for law enforcement handguns. The study also recommended that departments avoid switching to larger rounds, considered more lethal.

Based on a number of factors the FBI considered including weight and availability, it concluded the 9mm round penetrates far enough into the target, allows shooters to carry more rounds and is more widely available than other rounds.

“Most of what is ‘common knowledge’ with ammunition and its effects on the human target are rooted in myth and folklore. … Handgun stopping power is simply a myth,” the FBI said in its May 2014 report. “There is little to no noticeable difference in the wound tracks between premium line law Auto enforcement projectiles from 9mm Luger through the .45 Auto.”

Related: Does AARP Want Your Guns?

Featured Image: SIG Sauer