Guest post by Brent Sauer.
On January 17, 2017 Sig-Sauer was declared the winner of the Army Modular Handgun System (MHS) competition. Sig-Sauer’s P320 based M17 / M18 design beat out designs from Beretta, FN, Glock, CZ and Smith & Wesson to name a few.
In addition to fielding new pistols, the Army is fielding an entire ‘system’ of accessories that include a holster kit manufactured by Safariland and a new family of ammunition consisting of five different rounds. The ammunition in the program is the M1152 full metal jacket (FMJ), M1153 Special Purpose, M1156 Dummy, a Drill round and an inert round. The Army also wanted a Pistol Aiming Laser (PAiL) for the warfighter that would provide the soldier with a white light, infrared light (IR) and an IR aiming laser.
On September 5, 2018, the Product Manager, Soldier Precision Targeting Devices (PdM SPTD), located at Ft. Belvoir, Virginia published a Request For Information (RFI) for Competitive Procurement. The RFI requested data from potential sources for a Pistol Aiming Laser (PAiL) with Laser/white light Illuminator, that meets performance requirements set forth in the Modular Handgun System Capabilities Production Document Addendum for the Pistol Aiming Laser Module.
To find the soldier a light with the desired capabilities, the Army conducted an evaluation between the LaserMaxDefense (LMD) Pistol Enhancer (LMD-PE-IR-1) and the Streamlight TLR-VIR-II weapon light. Evaluation of the offerings by LMD and Streamlight took place in the summer of 2018.
LaserMaxDefense Pistol Enhancer LMD-PE-IR-1
There has been some discussion on the internet as to why the DoD didn’t select an existing, proven weapon light like the Surefire X300 or X400. These two lights were disqualified from consideration for the PAiL requirement because one of the design requirements in the DoD industry solicitation was for the pistol aiming lights submitted for evaluation to not extend past the muzzle of the M17/M18 pistol. Here are a few photos that I took to demonstrate the differences in light profiles.
On January 17, 2019 LaserMaxDefense (LMD) announced that they were awarded an initial contract from the U.S. Army for 20,000 Pistol Enhancers. The PAiL is being fielded in a kit that consists of the M17 pistol, a Pistol Enhancer and a specially designed holster from Safariland shown in the following photo.
Photo courtesy of Soldier Systems Daily
A U.S. Army Infantry company was authorized nine M9 Beretta pistols. Under the Modular Handgun System fielding plan, Army pistol authorizations increased to 46 pistols in the an Infantry company. Pistols are being assigned to soldiers in leadership positions from the Team Leader level up to the Commander and First Sergeant. Each pistol issued in an Infantry company will be issued with a PAiL and holster.
Some of the more notable features of the LMD Pistol Enhancer are:
* Battery compartment is on the bottom of the light body. This enables the battery to be changed without removal from the pistol. This ensures retention of laser zero.
* The laser is located inline with bore of the pistol increasing accuracy once zeroed.
* The windage and elevation can be adjusted with a slotted screwdriver or multi-tool.
The multi-position switch on the left side of the PAiL has the following functions:
White dot- White light
Red dot- Off
Green dot- IR light and IR laser
The black button at the rear/top of the PAiL body on the left and right side is the main on/off switch for the unit. It is easily manipulated from each side with the index finger.
One item that seems to be complained about by soldiers using the PAiL is that the IR aiming laser is on anytime that the IR light is on. The IR laser/light cannot function separately from each other.
The LaserMaxDefense Pistol Enhancer comes in a small, sturdy cardboard box. Inside the box is a pink bubble-wrap envelope that contains the Pistol Enhancer, a clear ziploc bag with one CR123 battery and one Pistol Enhancer booklet.
The U.S. Army does not have a separate Technical Manual (TM) at this time and the LMD booklet fills the role of TM at this time. Here are some excerpts from the booklet.
Overall, The LaserMaxDefense (LMD) Pistol Ehancer/PAiL brings a compact improvement in functionality to the M17/M18 pistol as part of the MHS fielding program. The integration of the aiming laser into the light unit could translate to faster target acquisition and increased lethality once the PAiL sees use in a combat environment.
The features of the Pistol Enhancer/PAiL are:
175 lumens (typical) of white light
175 mW (typical) of 850nm illumination
850nm 0.7 mW max (class1) eye safe aiming laser
|Height:||< 1.4″ (not below trigger guard)|
|Weight:||2.6 ounces with battery|
|Housing Material:||Glass filled nylon can be in black, desert tan, or FDE|
|Switching:||3 position rotary switch|
|Activation:||Tactile feel button located on both sides of the unit for easy location in the dark. Single tap on single tap off + Momentary.|
|Power:||Single CR123 reduces previous battery requirement by 50%|
|Battery life:||2 hours continuous in any mode|
|Bore sight retention:||within 4 inches at 50 yards|
|Operating range:||-10° to 50° Celsius|
|Immersion:||1 Meter for 30 Minutes|
|Price:||$349 per unit|
Currently the LMD Pistol Enhancer is only available to the U.S. Department of Defense, government agencies, law enforcement agencies. Personnel that work for a DoD, government or LE agency can also purchase the units by contacting LaserMaxDefense from a DoD/government/agency email account.
There is some discussion of a revised PAiL for the civilian market. I think a version with a visible laser in place of the IR laser would be a popular accessory purchase by people who have had the opportunity to purchase one of the Sig-Sauer M17 Surplus pistols that came onto the civilian firearms market in 2019. I have used my personally purchased LMD Pistol Enhancer and Sig-Sauer M17 Surplus pistol in the photos in this article.
For owners of the Sig-Sauer M17 Surplus pistol, there is Facebook group dedicated to these pistols and accessories at:
For more information on the LaserMaxDefense Pistol Enhancer see the links provided below.
This Laser and Light Combo Could Find Its Way Onto The Army’s New Handgun 23 JAN 2018
Army Close to Selecting Lights, Holster for New Service Pistol
Army Times (Gear Scout) article discussing the new pistol light requirement and mention of competition between LMD and Streamlight. 11 JUL 2018
Army In Search of Laser/Light Module for Modular Handgun 24 JUL 2018
Request for Information (RFI) for Competitive Procurement of
Pistol Aiming Lights with Laser / Illuminator 5 SEP 2018
Federal Contract Opportunity for Pistol Aiming Light (PAiL) W91CRBPAiL 5 SEP 2018
XM17/XM18 MHS Executive Summary 2018
LaserMaxDefense Contract award announcement 17 JAN 2019:
LaserMaxDefense article 22 JAN 2019
Army Times Article Referencing the PAiL 22 JAN 2019
Soldier Systems Daily article 28 JAN 2019:
Soldier Systems Daily PAiL Holster article 7 FEB 2019
PAiL Holster 2 JUL 2019