Weapons manufacturer Steyr Arms filed a patent infringement case against Sig Sauer alleging that the latter’s P250 and P320 pistols use the same “plastic housing and multifunction metal part removably mounted” Steyr patented back in 2001.
The P320, which recently won the U.S. Army’s Modular Handgun System competition, was adopted by the Army as the M17 back in January. Troops with the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell in Kentucky will receive the new sidearm first.
Sig developed the P320 from the less successful P250 in the early 2010s, long after Steyr was granted its patent. The P250 came to market in 2007, followed by the P320 in 2014. Why launch a legal challenge now?
It’s likely that the extremely lucrative and prestigious $580 million Army contract for a projected 300,000 pistols has made Sig a target for rival manufacturers: Steyr’s challenge comes hot on the heels of Glock’s Government Accountability Office protest lodged in February, which is still ongoing.
The P320/M17’s key feature is its fiberglass-reinforced, polymer grip-frame module, which acts as the weapon’s lower frame. The modular polymer chassis allows the pistol’s slide and trigger pack to be fitted to frames with different grip profiles. This system offers much improved modularity over the Beretta M9 currently used across every branch in the service.
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