LAS VEGAS — The Army’s new pistol comes with one feature that offers a lot of potential — a rail system for mounting accessories that’s a lot like the one on an M4 carbine carried by nearly every soldier.

What that rail allows for is a laser or a light — or both.

That’s exactly what officials with Program Executive Officer Soldier explained during a media event in November.

Officials with the PEO programs that oversee the Modular Handgun System and its M17 and compact M18 handguns, along with experts from the Maneuver Center of Excellence’s Lethality branch, said the programs were working on a combination light/laser to give the soldier both illumination and aiming devices — whether looking through night vision devices or not — in one.

Lasermax Defense Director of Military Products Christopher Gagliano, who is also a retired Marine Corps sergeant major, told Army Times at the annual Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade show here that the company has sent prototypes of its “Pistol Enhancer” — a white light, infrared illuminator and infrared laser combination device for testing by officials at the PEO program.

The company is currently building 100 units which will be delivered later this year for further testing.

The device is less than 3-inches long and less than 1.5-inches wide or tall. It slides onto the rail in front of the trigger guard, beneath the upper receiver and barrel.

Outside of the Special Operations Forces community for each of the branches, the regular Army has not had a sighting device with these capabilities available for its sidearm. The M9, a 1980s-era Beretta 9mm pistol, originally lacked a rail to support such devices and standardized training for most soldiers did not include such technology.

Soldiers with the 101st Airborne Division, the first to receive the pistol late last year, are developing dual arms training modules for soldiers. It is not clear yet which unit will provide instruction for laser and illumination handgun shooting for the service.

Todd South has written about crime, courts, government and the military for multiple publications since 2004 and was named a 2014 Pulitzer finalist for a co-written project on witness intimidation. Todd is a Marine veteran of the Iraq War.

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